Sarah Bird Northrup Ridge
by Paul Ridenour
The obituary preserved in a scrapbook kept by Mrs. Clementine Boles of Fayetteville reads:
Mrs. Sarah B. N. Ridge died, at her residence in Fayetteville on Monday the 21st of March. (It is believed the date should have been the 31st since, according to the perpetual calendar the 21st did not fall on a Monday in 1856 or 57.)
Mrs. Ridge was the daughter of John W. and Lydia Northrup. She was born on the 7th of December 1804 at New Haven, Connecticut and consequently was at the time of her death, in her fifty-second year. She was married to the late John Ridge at Cornwall, Conn.,, when she was 19 (1824). Immediately after her marriage, she removed with her husband to Georgia where she remained eight years and then emigrated to the Cherokee Nation West in 1836. (A letter from John Ridge indicates they actually left Georgia in 1837).
At the commencement of winter, Mrs. Ridge was attacked with a severe case of pneumonia, in the skillful management of her disease by her physician, it was hoped that her health could be restored. But death was only stayed for the time being, she was attacked again on the Sabbath evening at about 9 o'clock and breathed her last on the following morning.
It is contemplated that at a future time the Rev. Cephas Washburn will, in a funeral discourse give a full account of the life and history of Mrs. Ridge. He knew her intimately, and is therefore peculiarly qualified to speak of her virtues and worth.
(Washburn was related to the Ridges through the marriage of his son, J.W. to Mrs. Ridge's daughter, Susan).
After the murder of her husband in June 1839,, Mrs. Ridge truly bore 'dead heart in a living bosom.' All hopes of happiness on this earth were gone and she lived only to obey the dictates of duty in educating her children and preparing them for the rough battle of life. Nobly did the noble woman perform her task. Never did children have a stronger panoply of moral training thrown around them than the desolate ones who are left.
She was pure in heart, not a whisper of ill-will toward Mrs. Ridge ever fell from human lips. Her kindnesses, her gentle disposition were too well known in this community to require the slightest comment in this notice.
Long before she died, she was qualified to take her place in the holy throng of Heaven. It is needless to say that her death was a triumph of good deeds and religion, such a death as the most exemplary Christian-walk alone can give. For twenty-six years, she had knelt at the feet of her savior and laid before him the petitions of a broken and contrite heart.
Her remains were buried at Mount Comfort on Tuesday last. A large concourse of citizens attended this funeral, the last rites were performed by the Rev S. Wells. That minister, with the deep feeling attendant upon the heartbreaking duty of bidding an eternal farewell, could not, more than feebly express the sympathy of all who stood sorrowing and tearful around the grave.
(This obit was on file in the Arkansas History Commission in Little Rock - unfortunately the typewritten copy of the obituary does not give a date; neither does it indicate where the original was published.)
Mount Comfort Cemetery (Fayetteville, AR)
The folks at the Washington County Historical Society, Frank Williamson, and myself have walked the cemetery but have never found her grave. Several stones are unmarked, broken, and unreadable.
Directions - From US Hwy 71 west of Fayetteville, exit 65 (marked as Porter Road) and turn left on Mount Comfort Road (watch the road signs closely at this intersection - Porter Road goes the other direction). Approximately 1.3 miles after turning, the cemetery will be on the right. The cemetery was founded in 1828 and is very well maintained.
Mount Comfort Presbyterian Church
Mount Comfort Cemetery