Since we have discussed much about the life of Elizabeth S. Irvine, I feel it proper to close with her death. The local newspaper obituary gives many tidbits on her life that would not be found elsewhere. She lived 91 years of history. But then, we all live history. All of us have remarkable experiences, and the times we live in are filled with happenings that our children, grandchildren and descendants will find most interesting. Let’s write these experiences down and save them for future generations.
The Richmond Daily Register, Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky
Friday, November 26, 1920
Mrs. William Irvine Dies at Home Here
Descendant of Most Prominent Families of Early Days, Comes to End of Long Life
Mrs. Elizabeth Shelby Irvine, widow of the late William McClanahan Irvine, died at her home “Irvinton,” Lancaster Avenue, November 25th at 2 p.m. She was the daughter of Col. David Irvine and Miss McDowell. Her mother was a daughter of Dr. Ephraim McDowell, the most noted surgeon Kentucky ever had, and a granddaughter of Kentucky’s first Governor, Isaac Shelby. Her grandfather, William Irvine, was the first clerk of Madison County, having removed to this county from Virginia before Madison was made a county. Only a few weeks ago Mrs. Irvine presented to the court room a very handsome portrait of this pioneer, and first clerk of the court. She had previously given a portrait of her father who was also clerk of the court for many years.
It is apparent from these facts, briefly stated, therefore, that her people were among those who from the beginning had an active part in the making of the history of both our county and state.
Mrs. Ivrine was born in Madison in May, 1829, and at the time of her death had attained the great age of 91 years and six months.
In her girlhood she was a pupil at the famous girls’ school of Dr. John H. Brown, who was a distinguished educator and Presbyterian Divine of this city from about 1829 to 1844. This school was conducted in the building of the First Presbyterian Church. Later Mrs. Irvine was sent by her father for the completion of her education to Philadelphia. Here she acquired all the graces and accomplishments considered so essential for a young woman of that period.
Returning to her home after an absence of two years, she enjoyed all the pleasures, and participated in all the gaieties of this and the neighboring counties. She was chosen to present the battle flag to Captain Stone’s Company on their leaving for the Mexican War.
There was ever about her father’s home, and it was but a type of many such, a gracious welcome for all its guests, a charm of conversation, an absence of familiarity, combined with a grace and dignity of its own members, which has brought that period to the present generation with almost a halo.
All these characteristics Mrs. Irvine had and maintained in her personal intercourse and in her home to the end.
When only eighteen years of age she married her cousin, the late Col. William M. Irvine. They lived for a while on the farm where Mr. Lewis Neale now lives, but later her father presented to her the beautiful house and grounds where she has lived for almost seventy years.
Her married life, while singularly happy with her husband, was marked by many sorrows in the loss of children. Only one grew to maturity. Her last child and namesake, just budding into a beautiful young womanhood, passed away while at school in New York. This crowning sorrow remained with her to the end of her life, but ‘she did not sorrow as those who have no hope.’
Mrs. Irvine was in many respects a most remarkable character. She loved books and read them, she loved flowers and cultivated them, and she had for her home a love amounting almost to a passion. After the death of her husband, without previous training, she assumed full and complete control of their large combined fortunes and managed them with wonderful sagacity. She read the daily papers to the end of her life and was interested in all current events.
She was loyal to her friends and convictions, faithful and liberal to her church. She is the last of her family in our community; her going marks the passing of race who would have given strength and standing to any community as it has certainly to this. It might truly be said of her as was of the great Cardinal:
‘Lofty and sour to those who loved her not;
But to those who sought her, sweet as summer.’
She will be buried from her home Saturday, the 27th, at 3 p.m., and her remains will rest in the lot of the Richmond Cemetery where four generations of her people lie.
Short services will be conducted at the home by her pastor, Dr. R. L. Telford, of the First Presbyterian Church. Friends are requested to omit flowers.
Judge David Irvine White, a son of her sister, the late Mrs. Sarah White, is here from Huntsville, Alabama, for the funeral of his aunt, and his sister, Miss Susie White, is also expected. Another niece, Mrs. Richard Walker, is now in New Orleans, and is not expected to be able to get here.
Mrs. Irvine had two brothers, Col. I. Shelby Irvine, and David Irvine, both of whom died without children. Her sister was Mrs. Addison White.