To Mary Lamson

2 March 1865


[MS in Finney Papers 2/2/1]


Oberlin 2d March 1865


My Dear Sister Lamson

Yours of the 25th ult. was recd last evening.

In regard to the report you mention I

reply 1. I am not aware that my Dear Wife

ever took opium in any form or in any

quantity while she lived with me. She never,

to my knowledge, kept the article in the house.

She never spoke of needing it. Manifested no

tendency toward its use. The only use I ever


heard of her making of ^ was, her son told me

that just before her death when she was at

Brooklyn, under the direction of a physician,

her nurse gave her 10. drops of Laudanum.

This he told me on my express enquiry in regard

to all they had done for her.

2. There was enough for gossipers to make a story almost

The facts were these. Before she was my wife she had

a severe attack of inflamation of the brain. For

this she was treated but never altogether recovered.

She was su[b]ject, before I married her, to seasons of

such fearful head aches as quite distracted her.

[page 2]

Nothing was found to relieve her but a powerful

stimulant. On some occasions these stimulants

had been administered too freely. So great was

her suffering that she would take any thing

from which she hoped to find relief. She would

take any powerful stimulant which might be obtained

in small quantities & repeat the dose often

until she found relief. It had sometimes happened

that she had taken so much as to stupefy her.

Of this I knew nothing until after I was engaged

to marry her. When our engagement was known at Rochester

some of my friends, who had heard some gossip that

had got abroad about this matter, wrote me

about it. She gave me a frank statement of the

matter. Those best acquainted with her entirely

concurred in her statement. So did her Physicians.

These paroxisms occurred during the delicate health

that followed her great bereavements, & as she was

at that age that rendered her health precarious.

I was quite satisfied with what I learned &

married her. I saw no tendency in her to use

stimulants. She seemed not to need them appeared

not to care for them in any form. When her health

[page 3]

began to decline towards the close of her

life, her fearful headaches returned

with the same symptoms as manifested before

I married her. If servants were left to take

care of her, in her desperation she would call

for remedies so frequently as occasionally to get

too much, for she could bear but little.

If I, or her daughter was with her, all would

be right, as we knew how much she could

bear. When in one of those paroxisms she was

totally unable to judge as to what she could

bear, & would sometimes take any thing she

could lay her hands on, being quite

beside herself - Her consumptive tendencies

directed our attention at last from her head.

I had feared apoplexy. She fell once while

at her toilet, in the morning. After that she

could never lie in a certain position without

an unindurable swiming & virtigo of the

brain. After she left home the ulcer in her

lungs discharged freely & then the disease

in her brain took on a fatal type. During her

last two or three days at Syracuse, her sons inform

[page 4]

me that she called often for stimulants

which they administered in small doses but

without effect. From this they engendered

a story, as I heard in Syracuse, that she

died of delirium tremens. I never heard

any thing of her taking opium until you

mentioned it in your letter. There is a Mrs. Burrell

living here, who was from Andover & who was there

last summer. She was a friend of Mrs. F. & should

not think she would say such a thing. There are

several families of that name within 20 miles of

Oberlin. The talk about her hear was set on foot


by some highered ^ girls & especially by one who

became offended with Mrs. F. without any good

reason, & left in a rage, & took much pains to

injure her. Mary, My Dear wife was what you

saw her to be. She was certainly one of the

best & most pure & useful of women.

Give my kindest love to Brother Lamson & love

& kisses to all the children. Give my love

also to Delia Woods. Julia will write.

I hope you will have a great revival.

We are still enjoying a blessed work.

My health is quite good. I preach as

usual. Do come & see us.

God bless you all forever

C. G. Finney



D. L. Leonard, in his "Notes upon Talks with Pres. Fairchild" Vol. 2, 1 July 1897, p. 19, wrote of Finney's wife: "Had queer spells wd shut hers. up & was thot by some th she 'took something'. Died off E. in such a spell, in hotel."