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Alonzo Batson’s Last Day On Earth

A life that should have been bright glorious ends in sadness and misery.

     Any ruin is sad; but a human ruin is saddest of all. Whoever or whatever struggles for a life and sinks back down battling bravely until engulfed by utter ruin moves our profoundest sympathy. The plants scorched beyond endurance by summer heats and slowly yielding up its feeble life, touches our sympathy as it was a sentient thing.
     The consumptive person, in whom the citadel of life has already been taken by insidious disease, and whose strong will matches itself against death and resolutely scorns to own defeat, though fading color tells of failing strength, calls out a sympathy that is painful in its intensity --a sympathy intensified by our yearning desire to aid the sufferer in the unequal struggle, and our utter inability to give effectual aid.. Such a wreck of health --such ruin of womanly beauty or manly strength --moves us to grief. But the deeper, darker, more profoundly miserable and utterly desolate, is this sight of a strong man yielding to the mastery of drink --the gradual loss of self respect, the decay of the moral sentiments, the growing paralysis of the will; until utterly indifferent or defiantly reckless, he staggers through the dark delirious to the doors of death. Not with one wild leap does any man go down this fearful abyss of sin and shame. The end is reached only after innumerable resolutions have been made and broken; after many a brave effort on the part of the victim to withstand the demon who is pushing him on, and when at last, disarmed of noble purpose, without the will to resist or the ability to comprehend his disgrace, he sinks into utter and irredeemable sottishness and drifts almost unconsciously to his doom, the saddest picture in human life.
     Since the “Pilgrims” advent into New Castle, he has occasionally observed shuffling about the streets a forlorn creature with limbs wasted by the blight of disease. The pinched features, the poor garb, the gaze of settled melancholy looking from the hungry eyes, told a story both pathetic and eloquent. The wrecked form bending under physical pain and mental woe, was fighting the hard battle of poverty ---the bitter poverty that crushes pride and bows down the unfortunate victim in humiliation and disgrace, he was admitted to the Henry county poor-house on August 27, 1885.
     Sometimes in the leafy June, when the summer sun had warmed the earth into life, and the birds were singing in the green trees margin the pellucid waters of the willow-fringed Blue river; or in the autumn when the year had donned his coat of russet, he would wend his way with faltering step from his pauper home to the busy scenes of New Castle, where still lingered in his mental vision the scenes of a once happy home. As he crossed and re-crossed the Blue river its silver waters stole noiselessly away beneath the shadows of overhanging trees and the broad green fields stretched out before him, greenery, brighter and more glorious than ever before. But he passed them unheeded, or their beauties were shut out by the great black shadows of his poverty, disgrace and afflictions.
     In the big brick house owned by Henry county, on the hill one mile north-west of New Castle lived this man, a ward of the county and fed by her charity. Once he was a strong, vigorous man, an excellent mechanic, intelligent and honest; but strong drink and paralysis reduced him to poverty and sent him to the poor house. On last Friday night March 24, 1887, a second stroke of paralysis smote him and he lay down in death. Pain was no more,
     Heartache was no more, hunger was no more. In the morning the great sun rose, shooting a warm gleam athwart the room in the pauper home and fell upon a pinched and pallid brow. The wasted hands were folded upon a pulse-less breast --- Alonzo Batson was dead at the age of forty two years. Kind friends had not forgotten him however, and when apprised of his death they came, tenderly prepared his body for burial and laid it to rest in the Batson family cemetery. If he could have expressed a final wish in his dying hours, he would have certainly requested this.

2009 UEB

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