THIS DAY IN VIRGINIA HISTORY
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August 20, 1886
Robert J. Downing Wrote to His Father
Writing from Cherryvale, Kansas, where he practiced law, Robert J. Downing (b. ca. 1851) wrote to his father, Judge Samuel Downing (1808–1891), of Lancaster County, Virginia, with the tragic news that his son, “Little Bobbie” had died of diphtheria. Writing eloquently though in grief, the younger Downing lamented that “[t]he lovliest and most promising bud in the garden of my expectation has been nipped off by the Merciless hand of Death.” Robert Downing's seven-year old-daughter, Ida, while also stricken with diphtheria, was recovering from the illness when the letter was written.