“Above all, let your aim be to present the Holy Scriptures in such a manner as will make them realize, that upon a full compliance with the divine commands laid down therein, depends the final and eternal welfare of their soul. This should be the greatest and grandest aim ... This is the one great object that we should never for a single moment lose sight of, and all we say and do should contribute to the one great and grand thought of the eternal salvation of souls.”
– The Rev. Frank Foust (1862-1945)

Ladies and gentlemen, as a longtime pastor in Highland County, the Rev. Frank Foust preached countless sermons over a half century. During those years, he saw many moments of joy – he officiated marriages and baptized souls into Christ – yet he was also on hand for times of sorrow as he conducted a multitude of funerals.

As we mentioned earlier in the series, back in the 1800s and early 1900s, it was not uncommon for families to lose children as infants or at a young age. Just walk through a cemetery and look for the grave markers with little lambs on top. You’ll find them.

Foust married a Gossett, Addie Viola Gossett (1870-1942). Addie’s parents, Worth and Sarah Gossett, are my great-great grandparents. They had 10 children and lost two as infants. Worth and Sarah’s oldest son, Ira Gossett (1867-1936), and his wife Mary Ann “Annie” Cochran Gossett (1868-1923), had seven children and lost three at a young age.

The children of Ira and Annie who lived to be adults were Grace Ellen Gossett Hawk (1890-1950), Lillie Evelyn Gossett Turner (1891-1979), Claude Cochran Gossett (1894-1955) and Letha Fern Gossett Teets (1903-89). They lost three children at a young age, a baby boy in 1896, a baby girl in 1900 and a young son, Otho Milson Gossett, who was born in 1898.

Foust officiated young Otho’s funeral. An article in the newspaper read, “Otho Gossett, aged 11 years, son of Ira Gossett and wife, died Saturday afternoon (May 15, 1909) with dropsy. He had been sick for four months. Otho was a bright little boy and a faithful Sunday school scholar. He leaves a father, mother, three sisters and one brother besides a host of relatives to mourn his loss. Funeral services were held Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock at the (Pricetown) Christian Church, conducted by Rev. Frank Foust.”

Ira’s younger brother, Orland Gossett (1872-1938), had six children with his wife, Molly Pulliam Gossett (1877-1944). Five lived to adulthood, Nellie Blanche Gossett Patton (1895-1923), Hazel Faye Gossett Walker (1896-1973), Laura Lee Gossett Sauner (1899-1989), Forrest Pulliam Gossett (1904-75) and Naoma Gossett Prickett (1914-2000). They had a daughter, Lucy Gossett, who was born in 1908 and died at age 15 in 1924 of consumption, which is now known as tuberculous.

Another Gossett daughter, Minnie Belle Gossett (1875-1966), who married Minott Robinson Pulliam (1872-1961), had a daughter, Madge Pulliam, who died in 1904 at the age of 22 months and 16 days. It is said that young Madge died as a result of eating green apples. Minott and Minnie did have three other children who lived to adulthood, Blanche Pulliam Ruble (1898-1981), George Hubert Pulliam (1905-1992) and Hester Pulliam Hill (1909-2001).

When you walk through cemeteries, you can often tell which tombstones have been there for a long, long time just by the way they look. Like ornate old houses and buildings (the Bell Mansion in Hillsboro being one example), when it comes to certain old monuments, they just don’t make them like they used to.

The same can be said with obituaries. Perusing old newspapers, I came across an obit of a young boy who died more than a century ago. He was buried in the Barker Cemetery in Pricetown with the Rev. Foust officiating the funeral service. We’ll conclude today’s offering with the young boy’s flowery obituary.

“Delbert Alvin Landess, son of A.W. and Clara A. Landess, was born Oct. 2, A.D. 1901, departed this life April 13, 1911, aged 9 years, 6 months and 11 days.

“He was a bright promising flower, and being taken so early in youth makes the burden heavier. Yet it exemplifies the saying that ‘In the midst of life, we are in death.’ Thus with our tear-dimmed eyes and sorrowful hearts, we humbly submissively bow to Him who said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.’

“And so, when gathered around the hearthstone, the family circle is for the first time broken, and that vacant chair causes us to weep and unconsciously lisp the name, Delbert; the answer is echoed back from that Great White throne, ‘I am here papa, mamma, waiting for you.’ Then we cease to weep, for we know that little Delbert is with the angels, watching for us to enter the pearly gates.

“He suffered for nine long weeks with that dreaded disease, pneumonia. But God released him and bid him welcome. And thus he has paid his debt, and can say as of old: ‘Oh! death, where is thy sting; Oh! grave, where is thy victory.’”

“Besides papa, mamma, three brothers and two sisters, he leaves a host of loved ones to mourn his loss, and as we lay his little form in the cold ground, say our last farewell, with aching hearts we say, ‘thy will, Father be done.’

“The funeral services were held at the Christian Church Saturday afternoon, April 15, conducted by the Rev. Frank Foust.

“The sunshine of life has been clouded, the hopes in our hearts have all fled; with grief has our joy been enshrouded, we are weeping, for Delbert is dead. Often from our hearts came the bitter cry, Why, oh why, should our darling die; Then comes the answer so solemn and deep, ‘Our boy is only asleep.’ So humbly and submissively we bow, to Him who doeth all things well; and gently lay our hand on his brow, as we say, ‘Delbert, farewell.’”

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next week.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached at roush_steve@msn.com.