Mrs. Mary Jane Sherman, Spiritualist of Talent, Oregon
Undated newspaper clipping
[probably 1926 when Mrs. Sherman died]
by Charles W. Sherman
Mrs. Mary J Sherman, who passed away in Ashland, Oregon February 25, was quite a remarkable woman.
She had an agreement with a friend, Mrs. Elizabeth Breeze of Talent, OR that each should write an article and that the survivor should read that article at the other’s funeral.
Mrs. Breeze, being the survivor, read the article written by Mrs. Sherman at the undertaking parlors, Feb 28.
Written in the year 1903, it is in part as follows:
“ I am seventy one years of age. I feel my health failing. As a believer in Spiritualism I think funerals should be a time of rejoicing, and not of sorrow. And I do not believe in funeral sermons; such are my instructions.
I remember that the happiest time of my life was in early childhood.
My parents were Scotch Presbyterians, and believed in the doctrine of the Elect: that only certain ones were chosen to be saved; the rest of mankind to suffer eternal punishment.
In my girlhood I used to ask my parents many questions about religion, for I was of an inquiring mind. They informed me that I was sinful and wicked, not one of the elect. I suffered great torment, thinking I was among those to be damned.
Later in life I fond the Free Will people; people who believed that persons could be saved simply by professing faith of their own free will. This greatly relieved me and I joined the Methodist church.
Again later in life, after I was married, and was the mother of children, I still remained dissatisfied and as before I pondered many questions. Among them I wondered; could a mother who was in heaven be happy with the knowledge that her children were suffering eternal punishment? Could a loving and just God, who possessed pre-knowledge, create a world with millions of people made in his own image, and punish these people through eternity because in the exceedingly brief span of their life they had performed certain sins?
The more I thought about it the more restless I became, the less content with the creed of the churches.
Finally in my investigations and search for truth I came to the study of the philosophy of Modern Spiritualism. I found that Spiritualism, like the churches, believed in eternal life, but more than that, in the eternal progress of life, also; hence, differing from the churches, it did not believe in eternal punishment. It believed that every person who realized that he had done wrong in this life or the life to come, might make right this wrong, and could continue to grow and expand in Spirituality. The philosophy of Spiritualism satisfied my soul. The feeling that I had found a great truth caused a sensation of tranquility to permeate my being. It increased my love for God and Man together.
I believe in a great First Cause called God. He is manifested to us through Eternal Law. The Laws of God and the Laws of Nature are one and the same thing, which only Man, is his limitations, has not fully comprehended: science in time, will reveal God. As yet Man is finite; life is a struggle for individuality and separate identity; but eternity offers no limits to Man’s possibilities.
I believe that I should have the privilege to think for myself and work out my individual destiny; and I insist that others should be granted the same privilege. Therefore I believed In Free Thought and the great principal of Universal Mental Liberty.
I believe that in our search for truth our minds should be unbiased, and that we should accept this truth wherever it may lead us.
I do not like the creeds and dogmas of the churches. They hamper in the search for truth, lead to bigotry, and in past ages have caused much persecution and suffering. Many have been burned at the stake because of creeds and dogmas of the churches.
I have my regrets in life. I regret that I have not done more for children. As the poet says the child is the father of the man; to benefit the man we should begin with the child. I regret that I have not done more for the cause of Woman. Men can not be free until their mothers have proper conditions in which to bear them. To improve human life commence with the children and mothers.
I welcome Death, because I believe Death is only a door to a new world, and with it ends the physical suffering of this world. I welcome Death because I believe that with it comes the grand opportunity to complete the work begun here.
I welcome Death because I believe that it relieves me of the limitations of earth life and will permit me to continue the search for truth and to grow and expand in the Realm of the eternal mind. It will enable me to acquire knowledge and Power that are impossible in this life.”
Following the above article another written
by Charles Albert Roberts
Entirely aside from her ideas and opinions I shall always think of my grandmother as the head of a family, the institution which it is claimed nowadays is disappearing so rapidly. She it was who gave the diverse individualities of us cousins unity. She was the Matriarch.
When I was a boy I used to lie near her on the carpet for hours, listening to her stories of our relatives distinguished for one thing or another. Since boyishly I found most interest in heroes, the majority of her tales were of the Indian fighters. There was Brady, the scout and pioneer. On one occasion, being tracked by blood-thirsty redskins, he put his moccasins on backward to deceive them into thinking he had gone in the opposite direction. Andy Jackson was a cousin several times removed – how many, a discreetly refrained from asking. One ancestor had crossed the Delaware with Washington. There were many others.
Always sympathetic and interested in the ideas of her grandchildren, she liked to hear me talk of my work, the curious life of the shops. Although at first they gave her a shock she thought the pagan modern customs of talk and dress splendid. It was perhaps a reaction in accord with her views in religion from the narrow barbarism of the church of her day. Anyway my modernism and her opinions got along famously.
My brother says that one of the happiest times in his life was the short time he lived with grandmother. And my one sorrow and regret, on leaving Oregon at the ate of twelve, was at parting with “Grandma”