"Plucked By God To Bloom In Heaven"
E. Octavia- Daughter of John M and Mary J Harrison
Born Dec'r 10, 1858 - Died August 15, 1876
"No Sin Could Blight Or Sorrow Fade. Death Came With Friendly Care."
"The Opening Bud To Heaven Conveyed, And Bade It Blossom There."
So reads the original inscription on the headstone of my grand-aunt Elizabeth Octavia Harrison, who passed away barely past her 18th birthday in 1876. She was the daughter of my great-grandparents, John Milton Harrison and Mary Jane (Coppedge) Harrison, and sister of my grandfather John P Harrison.
Though worn by time and barely legible now, the headstone inscription was thankfully earlier recorded by local historians and transcribed in a booklet entitled: "The Cemeteries and Headstones of Maries County, Missouri- A Personal History", compiled by Gail Howard and Mozelle Hutchinson.
Hers was one of the first headstone inscriptions I came across when beginning to research my ancestry several years ago. I have always wondered what took the life of the young lass called Octavia, whose headstone bore such a touching inscription of tenderness. She was apparently the eldest sibling in a family of 11 children, the first-born child of my great-grandparents. "Plucked by God as an opening bud...to bloom in heaven". Next to her lies her father, the Civil War Veteran who outlived her by 23 years. This week, with the help of a cousin who lives near this country cemetery that is now on private property, a new headstone is being placed for her father John Milton Harrison, to replace his worn and badly deteriorated stone. I hope in the coming year that we can manage to get Octavia's stone cleaned and restored as well.