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Thistles And Lilies: Abigail Starbuck Coffin

SKU: CCB1018362-Meta
Abigail, my triple great-grandmother, was a pioneer, doctor and midwife. Her life was filled with heart-breaking trails and unfaltering faith. She spent her life bravely moving forward, serving others and finding joy.
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My trials cannot compare to those of Abigail Starbuck Coffin; Pioneer, Doctor and Midwife. She was so brave.For example, I haven't experienced the loss of a child or spouse, persecution or even severe hunger and cold. However, through my own life experiences I look to the example set by Abigail - to serve others, and to find beauty and joy on everyday life. 

Here daugther wrote of an incident on the Pioneer Trail:

"When it came time for us to leave Council Bluffs we did so & journeyed on, walking most of the way. In crossing the Platt[e] River, my brother Nathan was washed downstream. My mother stood out on the wagon tongue & threw the whip to catch him. He missed it the first time. She threw it again & he caught it. She succeeded in pulling him to her by guiding the oxen downstream, reaching out and getting hold of his hand & brough him to safety..."

Mabel Johnson Owen wrote of her:

"She was a great lover of flowers and knew the names of most of them, she never ceased telling her children of their beauty and fragrance. In the latter years of her life, she would take her grandchildren and go up in the hills in her old wagon to pick wildflowers. In the dusk of the evening, I would see her come back, loaded with beautiful flowers and tired children, singing the beloved songs of childhood."

Although Abigail died many years ago, a bit of her story is always present in my own home. The thistle at her feet is a classic symbol of hard work, suffering and Christ's deliverance. Facing the viwer at the lower edge of the painting, grows a lily. This symbolizes the purity Abigail nutured in her own garden through loving care and faith. The floral wallpaper in the painting passes from the background, through the figure to the garden ground in the painting.

While I am certain Abigail (just like all of us in modern times) was not perfect, the stories and family history that have passed down to me remind me to live a more beautiful and pure life as we pass through trials and heartaches.