Friday, November 24, 2006

Letter of Jesse Philips to the Philips Family Reunion, 1877

West Union, Fayette Co. Iowa

May 5th 1877

Dear friends: In reply to your kind invitation to the Philips Reunion to be held at the Vincent Baptist Church, in Chester County, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, May 30th, 1877. -------

It will be impossible that I be with you; gladly would I mingle my voice in Songs of praise and prayer with yours to the precious name of Jesus on this delightful occasion; but circumstances forbid this much desired interview; but perhaps a little of my history might be interesting to some kind friend present. I am the oldest Grand Son (except two) of Joseph Philips Jr. who came from Wales to this country in 1755. I am the oldest Son of David (and Sichey) Philips. I was born November 11th 1808 on the farm my Grandfather Joseph Philips first settled on in Allegheny County PA. 8 miles from Pittsburgh. My Grand Father and Grand Mother Philips, also my Father and Mother, were members of the Baptist Church of Peters Creek; where in my boy days I often heard my dear old unkle David (Grandfather’s brother), Preach very kind Interesting Sermons, while the tears trickled down his and many other cheeks. At that time in my life this was very strange to me, but I remember well it caused me to love that dear old Unkle, and I have learned by sweet experience that it was joyful to the humble followers of Jesus then, as well as at this day, and I often look back, I trust with a thankful heart, that my surroundings were so wisely ordered by kind Heaven.

In early life I felt quite an interest in the missionary cause, and often wished I was a man and prepared to engage in the same work with the ever to be remembered Judson. I was quite ambitious and made considerable progress as a schoolboy of that age, and when quite a boy Kind Providence forced (I may say) me into the schoolroom in Ohio, as a Teacher. There my dear Wife a little harmless flaxen haired child was one of my pupils. I soon learned to love the work of teaching, and I am sure you will think so when I tell you I have served 44 school years, imparting instruction to the youthful mind; and still I am engaged in this delightful work. I have a very interesting school in Union Seminary of earnest searching for truths of vital interest to all for our time and eternity.

Dear friends, I have sometimes thought perhaps my work as a teacher surely was done; but a still small voice in unmistaken accents sounded in my ear; woe be unto me if I cease to train the immortal mind. I verily believe it is my calling and I trust I shall not wear a starless crown, because this has been my most pleasurable employment.

I must now leave you; may kind Heaven smile upon you; may peace be in all your songs, in all your prayers, and may the influence of God’s holy Spirit guide us each one in every good work is the prayer of your far away friend and well wisher Jesse Philips.

N. B. Jesse Higbee, the oldest son of Obediah and Sally Higby, a Grand Son of Joseph Philips and Joseph F. Dildine the oldest son of John and Polly Dildine also a Grand Son both my cousins (their Mothers being my father’s sisters) were a little older than myself. I had 7 brothers and five sisters 13 in all. N.B. and my Dear Mother, with thanks to the Lord, said, I have lived to see all our dear children hopefully converted, all followers of Jesus. I am sure you all will repent. Amen – Grand Father 78 years, Grand Mother at Death 70y 6m 3dy. I have Grand Father’s family bible. I am 72 years old this day. Perhaps you will have a printed report of this Philips Reunion in some Periodical. Please send a copy to my address.

West Union

Fayette Co. Iowa

I love to correspond with good friends

My Oldest Sister Mary Philips ([-- ---?] Married Joseph Philips, not changing her name) celebrates a Golden Wedding the 10 of May. They are smart [?] for their age.

N.B. Strange I have never taken any medicine from a Doctor in my life. God is ever kind to me.

Enclosed you will find a song of my composing. I have made it a part of my pleasurable employment to compose School Songs to suit any and all occasions of my Schools. I have over 100 preserved of that character, and we sing more or less each day in school. Our family are all singers. We have two sons Alsines A. Philips and Marquis W. Philips married and living near. Sarah Jane Hewit a married daughter in Ohio, Lucinda M. How[e] married living in one mile of us. Lydia A. Philips, Josephine, William F. and Jesse E. Philips are living with me. My dear wife was called home to rest with Jesus last September. Praise the Lord for the blessed hope of meeting loved ones gone before. Sing this song if you see fit and think of the poor unworthy Poet, and his request contained therein.

[transcribed by G. Edward Philips, 24 November 2006]

O, Think of the Friends Far Away

O think of the friends far away,

So pleasant, so cheering, so true,

Who would love to unite on this day

And join in the union with you,


Far away, far away, O think of the friends far away.

Far away, Far away, O think of the friends far away.

May Jesus, my Saviour be there,

And indite your petitions for me.

Let us meet in his name everywhere,

That joyful the union may be. – Chorus

Some loved ones have gone to their home,

And their smiles nevermore can we see;

How joyful when Jesus says “come

To join in the union with me.” – Chorus

Come hear, blessed Saviour, this day,

Let our hearts all be filled with thy love;

When parting, go with us we pray

To meet our dear loved ones above. – Chorus

Sung to the tune of “The Home Over There” composed by Tullaus C. O’Kane

Note on manuscript: To the tune on Page 90 called “The Home over There” in Gospel Hymns, by P.P. Bliss & Same key composed by Jesse Philips May 7th, 1877.

  • If you would to listen to the tune, try this site: