Obituary of Mary Thayer Blanchard Fraser Brooks

The Brimfield News, Brimfield, IL. Vol. 35 No. 21, Thursday, May 30, 1918. P. 1, C. 3-4

Mrs. Mary T. Brooks

Mary Thayer Blanchard, daughter of Ira and Voadicia Blanchard was born in Kingsfield, Maine, Jan 31, 1836, and died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. E. R. Ristine at Mt. Vernon, Iowa, May 24, 1918, aged 82 years, 3 months and 28 days.

The family emigrated west reaching Chicago in the year 1841. From there they journeyed by stage to Peoria county, Ill., as the railroad had not yet penetrated this western country.

June 21, 1851 she was married to Dr. W. J. Fraser, a Presbyterian pioneer preacher of Illinois. Dr. Frazer was one of the saddle bag ministers who introduced religion and founded the church in this western country.  Before their marriage he had ridden through all the eastern half of Iowa spying out the land before the coming of the great army of settlers.  The year following their marriage they drove over much of the same territory, preaching and ministering to the scattered settlements and small towns of eastern Iowa.  Their journey carried them through Albia, Ottumwa, and as far west as Des Moines.  Ultimately they settled in Kirksville, Iowa, where they lived and worked for some time.  From there they went to Missouri, but as the war drew near and the feeling between the north and south intensified along the Missouri river, Dr. Fraser, a man of profound convictions about slavery, a strong abolitionist, found the enmity of slave owners and sympathizers hampering the work and endangering his family to such an extent that he was compelled to move.  With the family he returned to Illinois where he lived until his death in 1876.

Jan. 10, 1881, Mrs. Fraser was married to Cyrus Brooks who died in 1886.  She was the mother of seven children, two of whom, George L. Fraser and Mrs. Laura Fraser Ristine survive her. At the death of her younger daughter [Clementine Fraser Rusk who died in 1894], leaving three small boys, the oldest four years and the youngest four months of age, she took charge of the little motherless family and devoted herself to their care for many years, and it is interesting to note that one of these boys, Lester W. Rusk, was graduated from Cornell college [Mt. Vernon, Iowa] in the class of 1915.

For the last fourteen years of her life Mrs. Brooks made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Ristine, busy and happy in her home and church life.  She joined the Presbyterian church early in life and for many years shared the toil of her husband in the Presbyterian ministry.  She later united with the Methodist church of which she was a consistent and devoted member at the time of her death.  Religion for her occupied the center of her life.  She had entered into the experience of perfect love and rejoiced in its possession.  The fruits of this experience showed in her fidelity to the services of the church, in her generosity in giving, and in the consistent practice of prayer and testimony.  Her constant witness could be summed up in the expression, “The Lord had done great things for me, whereof I am glad.”

Brief services were held at the home in Mt. Vernon and the body was brought to Brimfield on Monday for burial in the family lot in Brimfield cemetery.  A short service was held at the home of Rev. R. Pacey [Mary’s brother-in-law, Richard, husband of her sister Clarissa, a Methodist pastor] Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 o’clock, the regular service being held at the M. E. church at 2 o’clock conducted by the pastor, Rev. Varney Jacobs [pastor of M. E. church], assisted by Rev. G. W. Scott [pastor of Congregational church]. Music was furnished by Mrs. H. O. Cady, Mrs. Mary Reinbeck and Will and Judy Harding.  The pall bearers were Ira Catton, A. S. Herriott, H.O. Cady, S. H. Neikirk, Chas. Hayes, and Henry Memler.

The relatives desire to sincerely thank the friends and neighbors for their help and sympathy at the time of the burial of their loved one.

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