Source: REGISTER OF OLD SETTLERS , BOOK One, page 362a
submitted by Neal Carter, October 13, 2007


At Monte Vista, near Los Angeles, Cal., November 26, 1892, died T. THOMAS S. BATTELLE, 80 years, 8 months and 6 days.

The old settlers of Muscatine will recognize in the above announcement that another of the early pioneers among them has passed away. While it is true that he and his family did not remain there as long as many, yet he and they made and left an impression for good which the many years since they left have not effaced from the memory of those who knew them. Soon after moving to Muscatine, in the 40’s, he bought and ran the then large steamboat, “Ospry,” in the trade from St. Louis to St. Paul, and no captain of a Mississippi steamer was ever more popular than he. Afterwards he kept the American House, which stood on the corner where the Olds’ Opera House now stands, and he and his good wife, with her sister, Miss Sue Culbertson, were in a tower of strength to the Methodism there in those early days. The power of Capt. Battelle’s excellent voice, which almost always led in song from the “amen” corner, and Miss Culbertson’s eloquent and heartfelt prayers, during protracted meetings, will never be forgotten by the writer, who was then only a lad, and doubtless the same is true of hundreds of others.

In 1852 the Captain and family removed to Northern California, coming across the plains in that primitive way which required great hardships and privations. Settling in Sierra county he was a prosperous “rancher” and a prominent and very influential citizen for many years. Here their children grew up, and there their eldest son, Thornton, and daughter, Mary, now live while a younger son, George, now lives at Sacramento. The second son, Albert, having died several years since, as did his wife. He finally sold out and removed to Los Angeles early in 1885, and here married her who is left as his widow to mourn her loss of as kind-hearted and noble a Christian man as it has ever been our lot to know.

A peculiarity of his religious life was that he was always a better man than he claimed to be, and his religion was never used as a cloak to his shortcomings. It was the writer’s privilege to know and admire him, as a boy might know a man, in his early life, and to keep him in mind as a sort of model to try to attain, and now, for the past seven years of his riper age, to know him intimately and love him dearly for the pure and beautiful life he had lived. Shortly before he passed away he asked his good wife to bring him his scrap book and had a friend copy therefrom the following beautiful poem, as expressive of his life and hope in death, and asked that it be read at his funeral, which was done. It bears on its face that sweet spirit of the unselfish humility, which all who knew him must recognize as true to his life as if composed by him:


The time for toll is past, and night has come,
The last and saddest of the harvest eves;
Worn out with labor, long and wearisome,
Drooping and faint, the reapers hasten home,
Each laden with his sheaves.

Last of thy labors, Thy feet I gain,
Lord of the harvest; and Thy spirit grieves
That I am burdened not so much with grain,
As with heaviness of heart and brain,
Master, behold my sheaves!

Few and light, and worthless, yet their trifling weight
Through all my frame a weary aching leaves;
For long I struggled with my hapless fate,
And staid and toiled till it was dark and late,
Yet these are all my sheaves!

Full well I know I have more tares than wheat,
Brambles and flowers, dry stalks and withered leaves;
Therefore I blush and weep, and at Thy feet
I kneel down reverently, and repeat,
“Master, behold my sheaves!”

I know these blossoms clustering heavily,
With evening dews upon their folding leaves,
Can claim no value or utility,
Therefore shall fragrance and beauty be
The glory of my sheaves.

So do I gather strength and hope anew;
For well I know Thy patient love perceives
Not what I did, but what I strove to do;
And though the ripe ears be small and few,
Thou wilt accept my sheaves.

Farewell, dear friend, farewell, till we
Meet on brighter shores than these.

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