A Memorial

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From time-to-time an interesting obituary—which we choose to call a memorial—is brought to our attention, which tends to give us an insight into the lives, as well as the state of mind, of our ancestors. The obituary for Stephen Dickens Parker, which was published in the Green Forest Tribune, Carroll County, Arkansas, on July 15, 1897 , certainly falls into this category. –Ed.                                                      


Stephen Dickens died at his home in Long Creek township on July 5, 1897. He was born in Green County, Missouri in 1849. His parents both died when he was about six years old, leaving him and five other boys to battle with the cares of life alone. They lived together and kept house until they were grown.

He emigrated to Carroll County where he has lived a quiet citizen until his death.

He was married to Laura Dickens (Laura Alice Erwin) in 1872 . He professed a hope in Christ about twelve years ago, but never gave any public expression to it until a few weeks before his death when he made a bright profession of his hope, leaving assuring evidence of his future peaceful rest.

He leaves a wife and three children, one son and two daughters, to mourn his absence and to make their way through the world as orphans as he did.

Just a few hours before his death he said to his little daughter that he knew the Lord would provide for them.

A Friend


By request we publish the following letter dictated by Stephen Dickens just before he died. It is a. letter to his Brothers, Matt and Louis Dickens, who live in Green County, Missouri. It reads as follows:

                                                                     Denver, AR.

                                                                         July 3,1897

Dear Brothers:---By the assistance of our brother Robert, and Madison M. Butler, the boy that you were acquainted with in 1866--That year you lived on the George Johnson farm and he lived at William Ayres; on Dickey Whitlock's place. The same is my neighbor and is with me today, and is the writer of this message to you.

Dear Brothers, I desire while yet alive, to say something to you, knowing my time here on earth is short and the time of my departure is near at hand. I want to say to you, as kind, loving brothers, I have no fear of death. My day is bright and clear and I am willing to go at any time the blessed Lord calls for me, let it be long or short. I know God's goodness has ever been great to me, but the brightest hours of my life is now, and I can say truly that the life I now live is by the faith of God.

Dear Brothers, the words of our dear father are still with me, which said to his children to meet him in heaven. Those words are precious to me and are written in my mind as with an iron pen, never to be forgotten. They have followed me through life and were a great comfort to me in sad afflictions and last troubles on earth, which it seems I could not endure if it were not for them. Also our dear mother, whose loving end tender words for her children have been precious to me-­too precious for my tongue to express. Even her last song, that cheered her in death, is of great comfort to me now, as they were to her then.

I also want to express to you my gratitude for the kindness of my neighbors and friends, who have given me so much Comfort in my sufferings and afflictions.

Now, I want to say to all, as it is near my last words, PREPARE TO MEET DEATH in such a way that you will meet the smiles of our Heavenly Father. My dear companion wants to join me in expressing to you her gratitude, knowing this is the last time she will ever be permitted to join with her husband in passing a gratitude on earth, that the people have been so kind to us in our troubles, that we have been made to realize the blessings of God, that even a cup of water in the name of the Lord is precious, and they shall not lose their reward, knowing that the Lord will never leave or forsake, but in every time of trouble will lead the way.


Nothing more did he say, only requested that all his relations and friends to take warning and prepare to meet death.


Marcellette is a great-granddaughter of Laura Erwin Dickens. She wrote: “This was sent to me by Vineta Wingate, who works at the Carroll County Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc., in Berryville, Arkansas.

When I called one day I discovered that she was a Blevins. She later sent me a lot of information about the Blevins family (Grannie Capps father was Dr. Stephen Blevins). Vineta’s mother is Adeline Myers, and I told her that I had several generations of information on the Myers family. I know that I sometimes bore people unto death with my family research, but I am so fascinated when I get a look into the lives of my ancestors that I am eager to share it.“

In the late 1800s and early 1990s three of the four daughters of Thomas Johnston Erwin, with their husbands and many members of their extended families, moved west from Carroll County, Arkansas to an area in the Cherokee Nation that would eventually be designated Cherokee County in the State of Oklahoma.

The eldest of the three was Margaret Mary Erwin who was married to William L. Capps. The next oldest was Laura Alice Erwin, described above, and the third was Harriett “Hattie Erwin who married John Rains Hargis.                                                                                                             -Ed.