Thursday, April 3, 2008

Life of Enos, Part 8

After Enos Christman returned home to West Chester, he repaid his former employer's advance, with interest, and he and Ellen were married on Oct. 20, 1852. They departed immediately for Washington, Pa., where Enos would take up an offer from a former fellow apprentice, George Stouch, to be his partner in a new newspaper, The Commonwealth, espousing the cause of the Whig party.

Not long after their arrival here, Enos received a grievous letter from John L. Haines in Sonora, Calif. "I am writing for the purpose of conveying to you the melancholy news of the death of D.W. Clinton Atkins, your fellow traveler through many trying times during your sojourn in this far-off land," the letter stated. "...on Christmas morning I thought I would go to see him and spend the day. It is impossible to describe my surprise when arriving at his cabin, blocked up with snow, I found him there alone, covered with smallpox and totally blind. He was sitting over his stove with a blanket around him and scarcely any fire. As soon as he became aware of my presence, he burst out crying and said, 'I am glad you have come for I thought I was to die here by myself and my cabin be my grave.' "

Atkins died on Jan. 4, 1853. Enos could not help recalling him when he and Ellen, then about 6 months pregnant, returned to the Philadelphia area for a visit and went down to the port to see the clipper Europe, on which the two young men had begun their adventure.
"What trying times those were for Atkins and myself," Enos wrote in his journal on May 9, 1853. "It is a true saying that health is the greatest of blessings. How easy it was for Clint to walk into trouble. He saw more hardships in three years than in his whole life before, and he breathed his last in a lonely cabin in that far-off land.
"But the thought of the dear burthen on my arm broke into my musings and reminded me that all was well with me. Indeed, my hopes have been gratified and I have realized a fortune."

For Enos and Ellen, their life together had just begun, and all did indeed seem well. It would not stay that way for very long, however.

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