Sarah Collum-Sweet and Strong

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a compilation of facts, dates, culture, data from research, and names combined with creative writing. This story was written November 19, 2014.


 Sarah Collum – Sweet and Strong

By Faye Collum Fairley




 Sarah Collum was a real “Georgia Peach”.  She was the oldest daughter of David Collum.  Unfortunately, at a very early age, Sarah was introduced to death and grief.  Her father died when she was only eleven years old.She began looking up to her younger brothers for guidance and protection. 

 She was probably overwhelmed by suitors wanting to claim her hand.She was intelligent, beautiful, and hardworking, but her attributes did not stop there.Being the only girl in the family, she learned well  how to hook up the team, saddle the horses,  plow the fields, chop the wood, milk the cows, slop the hogs, any outside work at all.  Being the only girl also enabled her to learn all the inside work as well.  She could clean, cook, sew, attend to the sick, and care for children.  Her many talents were rare, and very much in demand for any man seeking a wife.

With her brothers constantly by her side, it was difficult for a suitor to get close enough to “court” this lovely young lady. Sarah was in love, though, with a man named John Osborne.John had won her heart and they had big plans for a large family and a long life together.  Sarah wanted lots of children, because it seemed sad to be in a family with only three children. 

 Sarah knew this was the beginning of a wonderful life.  Sarah and John married in1823 and soon started a family with a beautiful daughter.  Martha was her pride and joy.  Soon after, Mary came along, and added even more excitement to their life.  Little Amanda was the third child, and Sarah was ecstatic with her three beautiful girls to play, and dress, and show off.  Sarah was very happy with her girls and so glad they came along earlier than boys.  When her girls were 6, 5, and 4, Sarah had her first son.  Life was perfect for Sarah, three beautiful girls, and soon 3 wonderful sons.  Sarah was on her way to the large family of 10 children in her dreams.

 In 1840, Sarah was expecting her 7th child.Their world was turned upside down however.  Sarah’s devoted husband died before her baby was born.  There is no way of knowing the cause of death; no records were uncovered from that time.  We can only speculate the cause of his death.  Our ancestors were hard working, dedicated people, but their thought of recording data for posterity was not high on the list of priorities.  They were lucky to make it through all the hardships.  John was 50 years old; that was a typical age of death in those days.

  Sarah had her 7th child, it was another boy.  Her life was full and busy.  Seven small children and no husband made life very difficult.  The older children were immense help to her.  Sarah went through many hardships raising the children, but she did a great job.

  Martha Jane married in 1842, it was sad for Sarah to lose her oldest daughter in marriage, but they remained close.

 Martha Jane had her first child two years later.  Her family quickly grew into a family of five wonderful children.  When Martha Jane was pregnant with her sixth child, her husband died unexpectedly.  No explanation was found for the cause of his death.  Her husband was only 32, so we can only speculate that it was a severe accident during work, fatal illness, or foul play.  Knowing the cause of death in no way minimized the pain felt by poor Martha Jane.  She was distraught and devastated beyond words.

 Sarah’s oldest daughter was now overcome with pain and agony of losing her mate.  With five children to care for, and one on the way, the grief overwhelmed her.  Martha and her children moved in with Sarah to get the care that only a loving mom can give.

 In March of the same year, Sarah’s daughter Mary also lost her husband to a sudden death.  His death was also not recorded.Two daughters stricken with the loss of their spouse turned to their mom for comfort and help.  Sarah’s heart was broken for the girls, as she knew all too well the pain of losing a spouse.  Her compassion was also for her grandchildren, for she also knew the pain involved in the loss of a father.

  In December of the same year, Mary’s youngest child passed away at only one year old.  Poor Mary lost a spouse and a son within months.  Sarah encountered a pain not yet experienced when she lost her young grandson, but she knew her daughter Mary needed her comfort and support; she had to be strong.

 In 1847, Sarah was met with a grief and tragedy that she almost didn’t make it through.  Her third daughter, Amanda, died at only 17.  Again, no explanation of any kind is found concerning her death.  We can entertain thoughts of bad illnesses, as medical procedures were so young in the nation at that time.  This loss, in addition to the pain already endured, sent Sarah into a deep depression.

 For five years, the family members pulled together, and made life bearable with all the loss.  In 1860, Sarah’s life was stricken with another loss, her oldest daughter Martha died leaving six children with no mom or dad.  Again, no information is available for the death of Martha.  Sarah was crushed; her life seemed to be one disaster after another since she was a girl.  Martha’s children ranged in ages 17 to age six.  Sarah knew what was required of her.The care of these children was the utmost priority; Sarah was gradually withdrawing into a silence no one could explain. 

 In 1861, three of Sarah’s sons came to her informing her of their intentions of leaving to fight in the war.  By this time, Sarah had raised her own children, six of her grandchildren; she had lost two children, a grandchild, two sons-in-law, a dad, and a mom.

 A part of her was screaming inside, a part of her was giving up.  Over all the years, she couldn’t cry enough to stop the pain.  She couldn’t pray enough to stop the grief.  She couldn’t hurt enough to stop the loss. Her only escape was to withdraw from life, but that was not an option.  Sarah was only 58, but had livedan unprecedented life of grief and adversity.

 When her sons left home, Sarah somehow withdrew deeper into a shell.  She was protecting herself from bad news.  A part of her kept an ear open for good news, but the logical part of Sarah knew it would most likely be bad news.The latter part of 1862, Sarah received news of the death of one of her sons. Falling to her knees, Sarah could only see the smile of Wilson as he left, saying, “Ma, don’t you worry about us.” 

So much grief, so much pain, the agony had overtaken her life.  In her mind, she still had two threads of hope that perhaps she would not lose another son.  They seemed like tiny threads to Sarah; she felt so oppressed. 

A messenger came to her in early 1863 reporting the death of her second lost son, John C.  Her hope was gradually dwindling away into nothingness.  The sorrow and desolation had grown larger than life.  Her smiles had gone many years ago.  The cheerfulness was non-existent. Only one tiny thread of hope kept Sarah going.  With robotic, methodical actions, Sarah made it through her daily activities, but there was no happiness or contentment to be found. 

Sarah had withdrawn from most of life’s activities.  Her last tiny thread of hope was still there, but her mind and heart told her to not get hopeful.  Sarah’s life had proven that being positive only produces disappointment and pain.

 In late 1864, a messenger approached the house with the heartbreaking news of her third son lost in the war. Sarah’s last bit of hope had diminished; her soul was crying in total defeat.  No expectation, no hope, no reason to go on; Sarah withdrew into a shell of resistance.  She lived another six years with a guard around herself for protection.

 In 1870, Sarah met with the ultimate loss.  At only 19 years of age, her granddaughter Elizabeth passed away.Sarah had raised this granddaughter.

This was not the biggest loss, but the one that carried Sarah over the edge.  Her heart was finally broken to the irreparable condition.  In the same year, Sarah Collum Osborne was laid to rest.

 In a cemetery in Chambers County Alabama, lies one of the strongest ladies in our entire lineage.  Rest in peace sweet Sarah Collum; I am hopeful that I can be half as strong as you.

The End


Sarah Collum 1803-1870 daughter of David Collum 1774-1814 and Elizabeth Smith 1780-1837

Children:  Martha, Mary, Amanda, John, Wilson, James, and Alfred.

Submitted: June 19, 2017

© Copyright 2021 faye collum fairley. All rights reserved.

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