The remainder of this post is a complete transcript of that letter, one that she wrote to George in mid-February 1886, after Indiana marriage records proved that he had committed bigamy, but before he confessed on February 28. Emma's desperation is palpable.
Please be aware that the document is in poor condition and a few words are illegible. The paragraph breaks indicate where each page of the letter ended.
best of you to be developed and the evil to be crushed out. I do not write to reproach you George, for I am sure your own heart has made your reproach bitter as gall now. I cannot understand either why knowing all this was inevitable, you came back when you were away, but my child, there is only one thing now for you to do to save yourself as much as possible, and to set Cora and I right before the public. If you do not do it Cora and I had better both be dead, for in this frantic effort to help you to happiness and to God as we believed, we have become so woven into
your life that everybody suspects us. My friends tell me that I can no longer be deceived in you, that to even write you now will involve us in the suspicion of being accessories to Sarah’s murder. Oh! God! George you know how innocent Cora and I are of any knowledge of this matter. A trial would simply kill us to go through it, with all the community embittered as it is there, not one friend left to us. There is only one thing for you to do if you hope for God’s mercy, or that we can ever think of you without a shudder, go before the Judge and Pros. Atty. And make a square clean confession,
and tell them that Cora and I did not know that her marriage was not an honest one. Confess what you cannot escape if it comes to trial, that you are guilty of bigamy, and it will make your sentence lighter. Tell the truth—the whole truth and nothing but the truth about your last interview with Sarah. If you deceived her as well as us, as you hope for God’s forgiveness tell it. Make a clean breast of it. Otherwise all my power to ever do any good in this world is gone, and those poor, dear children are worse than motherless. If you
tell the truth you cannot suffer any more than you will anyway, but you can very materially alter everything in our lives. The world will never excuse or understand the long fierce fight I have made for your salvation, for few feel toward a man who has been in prison as I do. The whole public, and I have thousands to answer to [illegible] your one, will not excuse or in any wise palliate anything [illegible] looks like condoning the [illegible] of a man who has had your experience. They cannot understand how I have treated you as a mother would a sick child, always hoping
for complete, entire recovery. They believe me to have done even worse than you. I cannot believe that you have had a hand in putting Sarah out of the way, but the charge of bigamy is proven beyond a doubt. You will still stand a chance for your life, even with a term at Jefferson City, which is inevitable; so at once if there is one grain of kindness or manhood left in your heart, confess your crime, and throw yourself on the mercy of the court. If you were not as blinded by your own misery you could readily see
how you yourself had bolted the doors of communication between you and us all. Truly this is an exemplification of the truth that I am always preaching, that by our own sins and wrong-doing we shut ourselves away from God and heaven. If you had not deceived me, a divorce could have been procured, and everything done right, but when you deceived your best friends without a cause, you likewise cut your won throat. It is not worth while to tell you what an agony of soul this has all caused me.
You know me well enough to know what I am suffering. It will be a little ray of light to have this suspense and agony ended, even tho’ I can never think of you again except as the poor convict, but I have not yet lost hope that out of this black pall of gloom, this suffering will purify your soul, and though we should never meet on earth again there is a chance yet, that we may meet in Heaven. I implore you, understand me, and do not think I mean to say one harsh or cruel word to you. For all the injury you have wrought
I freely forgive you as I hope for God’s forgiveness, and amid all the storm and clamor of the populace, there goes up to God hourly, and will while I live, the heartbroken cry “Oh! God pity and save George.” There is no hope left of the bright future we had hoped for you in this life, but it is not for very long now. If the suffering of the body can atone for the mistakes of the head, and the sins of the soul, let us thank God; and now do everything, I implore you, to repair the wrong, and to set me right before the public so that I can fulfill
my promise made, when I little knew or dreamed of what it meant, that I would see that these children were brought up for God, and usefulness in this world. It is not for myself I ask this. It is first for that poor crushed girl who poured out all the wealth of her love upon you, next for those helpless children who have no one else to stand between them and the world now, and most of all for the vindication of the religion that brought me to you first in prison and that led me to stand by
you through all these years, and that the thousands who have been converted to God under my influences may not forever doubt the honesty of my purpose or the truthfulness of my profession. Could I speak one word to cheer you, poor child, how gladly I would. You came into my life strangely. God only knows why out of the thousands you should have been the object of such care and solicitude, but that problem will be answered in the other life. Accept the result of
this violation of law as the only expiation you can make; trust God for his mercy, don’t let go of His word, for while every body else believes you to be “devoid of all goodness,” Cora and I do not, and we shall hope yet that we shall find you in Heaven. I believe it is not possible that one who has prayed for you as I have shall be disappointed. And tho’ I learned that you said “there was no God, and nobody was good,” I am convinced that is not your real sentiment. When I hear that you have confessed, and will make the
best of the inevitable, and like one who believes himself to be preparing for an eternity of heaven or hell, try in all things to do the right that the brightest hopes you have ever had may not forever be disappointed, then I shall know that I have not been wholly deceived in you. I am breaking oh! so fast under this agony, yet I dare not stop my work. You know how I have become involved trying to help you and I must pay those debts.
It is entirely beyond my power to shield you from the results of your wrong-doing, but I shall never lose hope of your final salvation while you live. It is no use George to rebel against the punishment. You can only make the best of it. But it would not be half so hard to [illegible] to serve [illegible] in prison as it is to have all these years of self-sacrificing toil misrepresented, and the world maligning me as a hypocrite, a fraud, an imposter, and most
Of all bringing contempt on Christs cause. No one knows better than you how sincere I am, how in the home, in my private life, I have tried to live as in God’s sight continually. Cora, poor [illegible] has only one hope left now, and that is that your course may be such now as that you may obtain God’s forgiveness, and [illegible] be saved in that brighter world where there will be no sin to contend with, and all will help our growth in goodness, and
The sympathy and love which we have longed for in this life will be a part of the very atmosphere of Heaven. If you do not make this reformation I must [illegible] down to death with the agony of believing that there is nothing left in you that is good. I shall not doubt your repentance [illegible] I hear that you [illegible] to confess. I can’t come to you for many reasons. I can only implore God to pity you and save you. You ask “What can I do, what can I do.” I have given you the only answer. God help you poor boy.