The following is the entirety of the memorial:
Some Account of the Life of Rebecca B. Steer
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee - Isaiah 26:3
Wilson Edgerton, Printer, Columbiana, O.
"Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord; yea, saith the spirit, for they rest from their labors and their works do follow them." - Rev. 14:13
Her family and friends have believed it would be right, for some account of the life and exercises of our dear departed - Rebecca B. Steer - to be recorded for the comfort and encouragement of those who may read these few pages.
Her parents, Elisha and Phebe Brackin, were members of the religious Society of Friends, and resided near Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. Rebecca was born 4th Mo. 10th, 1825. She had one sister, Deborah, who died while at Mt. Pleasant B.S. [ed: Boarding School]. Their mother died while they were quite young, and being thus left without the care of a mother, Rebecca spent many of her childhood days at her grandfather's, Jacob Branson, the father of Ann Branson, so that they were thrown much together, and soon became fast friends, and not only childhood friends, but they were close lifetime friends in the fellowship of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, accepting it, as it was delivered to early Friends.
Rebecca showed in early life more than an ordinary love for retirement, for reading the scriptures and religious books, especially the lives and travels of ministers, showing a desire for the company of religious persons. While but a young girl she accompanied Mildred Ratcliff as hand maid, of which she spoke in after years with satisfaction.
When she was near seven years of age, her father again married. Of this, in her seventy-third year she said, "An own mother could not have been dearer than she was, and she only feared she had not faithfully done the part of a daughter."
She was married to Israel Steer, 10th Mo. 30th, 1844, at Short Creek, Ohio [ed.: the minutes state that the marriage took place on 10/21/1844], and afterwards became a member of Concord particular meeting. They had seven children, all of whom lived to man and womanhood, and until after the fifty-sixth anniversary of their nuptial vow, the Angel of Death did not enter their door.
She, being of a delicate constitution, was much of the time confined at home, and passed through several very severe spells of sickness, but she always seemed animated with the hope, that is an anchor to the soul, manifesting entire resignation to the will of Him, whom it seemed to be her bread and meat to serve.
She was especially exercised that her beloved off-spring should be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and within the Society of which she was a consistent member. Her desires and travail of spirit were not alone for the religious welfare of the young, but she took a lively interest in education, she and her husband being useful members of the Boarding School Committee of Ohio Yearly Meeting for a long term of years. If her prayers and example are not as bread cast upon the waters, returning and bearing fruit, we believe it will not be laid to her charge, but that it may be said of her, "she hath done what she could."
Early in life she became useful in the church, filling many important offices to the satisfaction of her friends, and to the honor of Truth; being an Elder thirty-six years. It was her endeavor to attend all meetings when her feeble health would permit, and was desirous that her family should be with her, and when there her countenance gave evidence that she was not an idler in her Father's house.
She was endeared by her meek and quiet spirit to a large circle of acquaintances, and her home was always a welcome place for the entertainment of travelling Friends, her husband participating in the full enjoyment of their society. It was the custom of the family including all who were temporarily under their roof to read a portion of the scripture, before entering upon the duties of the day; and on First Day afternoons the family was collected and a time spent in reading from some religious writings. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage, she wrote: "Truly, I need the pen of a ready writer to convey to my beloved children and grandchildren the feeling of parental solicitude, the aspirations that have often ascended to the Throne of Grace, on their behalf and my own, that we might be kept in the safe enclosure from the snares and temptations that are in the world." May we be fitted and prepared through mercy, when done with time here, for an entrance into the mansions above, not one missing.
"We feel that a wiser Hand than ours,
Hath guided and planned our day,
Poured blessings down in richest showers,
And chastened in love alway."
The following extracts are from "notes," as she was pleased to call them, which were found after her death, and they testify of her exercise of spirit not only for her own household by consanguinity, or for the members of her household of faith, but for the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom on the earth.
7th Mo. 7th, 1862. Another week gone, and how have I been occupied? Does the great work of life keep pace with the day? How stands thy account, oh my soul, with thy God? Day by day and hour by hour, have I tried to watch, but oh, the hindering things of time! Wilt thou, my heavenly Father, grant a little strength, to thy unworthy child to walk more nearly as Thou would have me; grant me wisdom to go out and come in before my dear family, so as to be an example worthy to be followed.
8th Mo. My aspirations are indeed to the Throne of Grace this evening that I may persevere in the endeavor to walk in the straight and narrow way that leads to life. I have some very close trials to bear, but thou, Holy Father, knows what is for our good; I accept it as from thy hand, and want to say, "Thy will be done."
1870. This day went to see a dear friend who seems to be near her end. I feel very much burdened since leaving, I hardly know why unless it is because I did not leave a little message that presented. Oh! that I may be more faithful to little pointings of duty. My soul is indeed bowed before a gracious Redeemer in humble prostration that he would in condescending mercy, enable me to perform whatever he requires at my hands.
1875. Alluding to the burial of a friend. "Oh! saith my soul, may the few remaining days of my life, if such should be allotted me, be spent in endeavoring to work out my soul's salvation, that when the solemn period arrives to me, and friends and relatives are gathered around my silent remains, as they are at this time around his - my purified spirit, having been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, may be singing the songs of the redeemed. Oh! matchless love, oh! condescending mercy to poor fallen man!
4th Mo. 10th, 1877. This day I am fifty-two years old, strange that I have arrived at that age. Innumerable mercies have I been partaker of, although afflictions and trials have not been
wanting. The last year and a half, I have been an invalid, but contrary to the expectation of almost every one, the opening spring finds me enjoying so much of returning health, as to be able to walk around and enjoy to some extent the beauties of awakening nature, for which I think few have a keener relish. But what is this compared to the arising of the Sun of righteousness, to the poor, weary heavily-laden, sin-sick soul, causing it to rejoice in the light of his glorious countenance.
12th Mo. 31st, 1877. The last of the year and my theme will be mercies and afflictions. Perhaps I had better put them all together - all mercies. Since writing here, I have again had many severe turns of illness, but am now able to attend meetings, which I esteem a great privilege. I am still favored with so much signs of life, as daily and hourly to crave more dedication of heart to the cause of my great and good Master.
4th Mo. 10th, 1879. I almost tremble at times at the thought of the responsibility resting upon me again on being brought upon the stage of action, after apparently being so near the gates of death, time and again the past three years. Oh, be pleased, the great Author and Preserver of my life, to be near me the remaining portion of time, thou appointest me here. Keep me from evil, I entreat thee, and prepare me, when done with time, for an entrance into the kingdom of rest and peace.
10th Mo. 7th, 1879. Having attended Yearly Meeting the first time in four years, she says: - How marvelous that I should again enjoy comparative health! "Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Oh, that Thou would cleanse me more and more that I might be enabled to offer to thee an offering in righteousness, and be prepared to join the angelic throng in ascribing praise to thy ever worthy name forever.
2nd Mo. . "When the judgments of the Lord are in the earth, the inhabitants thereof will learn righteousness." May this be the case at the present time, when great destitution and suffering have been caused by high water along the Ohio Valley. Thousands are left homeless. How thankful we should be for the comforts by which we are surrounded. Yet I cannot be satisfied with anything short of the dear Master's presence.
8th Mo. 11th, . Yesterday we were called upon to witness the death of our dear aged Uncle, Jonathan Fawcett, who was in his eighty-ninth year. He was bright in his old age, a lover of the Truth and the friends of it. To all classes did his broad charity and Christian interest and sympathy extend, so that he was much beloved.
10th Mo. 31st, 1884. This day, forty years ago, my dear Israel and I were joined in the solemn covenant of marriage. Forty years! How much has transpired! What record have they made? Oh! merciful Father, wilt thou blot out my manifold transgressions, and continue to encamp around me and mine, unworthily though we are. I feel that I can say as Simon did, when queried with, "Lord, thou knowest that I love thee." Shed a little more light on my path, if consistent with thy holy will.
8th Mo. 1st, 1885. On some of the family going to visit an absent sister, she writes, may "He, who is touched with a feeling of our infirmities," and knoweth the path each of us take, be near and round about her and hers through this wilderness world, and may she, with my own poor self, become prepared, when done with time, to enter into the rest prepared for the righteous.
6th Mo. 8th, 1886. Let me again say, mercy and goodness have followed me still. "Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." The trials and afflictions that are permitted are yet mercies, to incite to diligence in the spiritual warfare, to make us more watchful, more prayerful. A little more than a week ago, my dear and honored Aunt Ann Branson started on a religious visit to Friends in Canada. Weak and frail as she is in body, the spirit is strong in the Lord and the power of his might, whom she judges able, if he puts forth, to go before and enable her to perform his requirings. Her dedication and faith are surely a lively example to us all.
8th Mo. 22nd, 1889. This day our dear daughter, Phebe, left us to spend a little time at Flushing for special medical care, having been a close home prisoner for some years. The ways of Providence are indeed a great deep. What is in store for her is uncertain. I hope she may be resigned to whatever, in wisdom, may be allotted her, and that the dear child many be kept from murmuring. Let not Thine hand spare, nor Thine eye pity, until we are made fit temples for Thy holy spirit to dwell in.
10th Mo. 2nd, 1889. Another annual gathering in session, and I am only permitted to meet with them in spirit. I am sorry to keep my dear daughter who is with me. May she and all my dear children have their reward for their loving care. Eliza Varney, David Heston, and Thomas Whitson are in attendance. May they be dipped into a feeling of the true state of the Church, and be enabled to minister thereto, in the authority of Truth.
12th Mo. 25th, 1889. This year death has again been in our midst. Our dear aged cousin Asenath Raley in her eighty-sixth year, called as in a moment's warning. A long and useful life ended. Also Thomas E. Atkinson a pupil at Barnesville Boarding School, the first death at that institution. "Thou hast all seasons for thine own, oh death!" I crave, through unmerited mercy, to be able to say: -
My life, if Thou preservest my life,
Thy sacrifice shall be;
And death, if death shall be my doom,
Shall join my soul to Thee.
10th Mo. 31st, 1892. Many times day and night, I bear my precious children and grandchildren on my heart before the great Author of our being, desiring he would visit and revisit, that he would draw them with the drawing cords of his heavenly love, and make them useful in their day and generation... "What shall I render unto the Lord, for all his benefits!" I feel to say: "I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord." Oh, forsake me not as age approaches, and strength declines, but quicken me, and favor me with the sweet visitations of thy pure spirit, and clothe me with the white robes of thy righteousness.
4th Mo. 10th, 1895. Seventy years old today! My prayer is for more dedication to the will of my loving Father in heaven. Attended meeting in which dear ----- appeared in testimony, I hope to the satisfaction of friends. May such be preserved humble and watchful, that they may not hurt the cause they have espoused. It is cause of rejoicing, when any of our dear young people turn their faces Zionward. Truly I can have no greater joy than to see the young endeavoring to walk in the Truth... And for all my dear friends, both older and younger, do I crave that the Father of mercies would visit us more and more with the tendering influence of his pure spirit, drawing us nearer to Himself and to each other, that the prayers of softened contrite hearts might ascend as incense to the Throne.
1st Mo. 1st, 1898. Another year is just begun.
“Kind year, give our spirits freer scope,
And our hearts strength to work while it is day.
But if that day must slope tombward,
Oh, bring before our fading eyes
The lamp of life, the hope that never dies.”
The earth today is clad in a robe of pure white, but soon will be sullied by earth’s impurities. Oh, that the pages of the book which records our life work, might be spotless as the driven snow! It will only be in boundless mercy, if we are kept from the snares and temptations that assail all; which, if yielded to, sully and defile. Only by watchfulness and prayer are we led along in this Christian path which leads to blessedness. If I could only gather my precious family and dearly loved friends in one bundle of love, with our faces Zion-ward, our example saying to those around us, come follow us as we are following Christ, then indeed would this be a “happy new year’s day!”
5th Mo. 28th, 1898. This evening a dear little granddaughter was laid in the silent tomb, under peculiarly trying circumstances. Her disease diphtheria, and their friends were not permitted to be much with them. Only four days since she attended school. I trust the dear child is now one of that white robed throng, a companion of saints and angels in the regions of light, beyond the reach of sorrow.
10th Mo. 8th, 1898. My times are in thy hand, oh, my Father, and will thou not over-rule all that is permitted to come to me, for my good? Our Annual Assembly has again gathered and separated. I have been much with them in spirit, desiring that the Lord would encamp round about them. The passage has been much in my mind: “walk round about Zion, mark her bulwarks consider her palaces.” Many of our pillars have been removed, but the power is the same. May sons and daughters be raised up as of yore to speak well of thy excellent name!
Thus did this dear friend’s mind seem to be stayed on the Master. “As the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress,” so did her eyes seem to wait upon her God, until he would have mercy upon her. Each day she endeavored to have a time of retirement, a quiet hour alone, and we believe this habit largely contributed to the calm peacefulness, which was the atmosphere of her life.
Her daughter, Phebe, for twenty years an invalid, seldom leaving home, was almost her constant companion, and they were very closely united in spirit. Her dear husband too, was almost helpless for several years. The three being thus kept from active life, spent many quiet hours together. This beloved daughter had been very ill for two weeks, which her faithful mother felt most keenly, when she was suddenly taken with dysentery, on the 12th of Eighth month, 1901. The symptoms were not especially alarming, yet she steadily grew weaker.
On the morning of the 26th Phebe’s purified spirit was released from its frail tabernacle, we trust, to join with the spirits of just men made perfect, in singing to songs of Moses and the Lamb.
The mother being in an upper room knew little of what was transpiring, but on the morning of the final leave taking, she seemed marvelously raised out of her stupor, to comprehend all that was passing, and desired all her children to come to her bedside. In a few minutes, they were all present and she said, “I just wanted to see you all together once more,” alluded to this being the first break in the family ranks, “the first missing link!” “Fifty-seven years and not a funeral from our household.” She spoke of the inexpressible sweetness that seemed to pervade our home these few days, desired a blessing upon all, and hoped nothing might come to disturb the peace she then felt, and overcome with weakness and emotion said, “I seem unable to say more.”
She gradually grew weaker and weaker, until the third of Ninth month, when she quietly passed away. Much of the time when partly conscious, she seemed to be in prayer, giving expression to some of her thoughts. On taking leave of one of the family, which seemed to be for all, she said “The Lord keep thee, the Lord bless thee, farewell.”