A Mother’s Chair, A Mother’s Love

  • Alice M. Hummer
This chair belonging to Mrs. Eddy’s mother was one of the early artifacts obtained by Mary Beecher Longyear, when starting the Museum collection.

The lines of this Windsor chair capture the eye with their elegant simplicity. Among the early artifacts that Mary Beecher Longyear purchased for her collection, this rocker was probably once hand-painted.

What drew Mrs. Longyear to it was the fact that it had belonged to Abigail Ambrose Baker, the much beloved mother of Mary Baker Eddy.

No portrait or photograph is known to exist of Abigail, but the chair may help us envision the Baker household in the 1820s. It is not hard to imagine this mother of six settling by the fire at the end of a day, sewing in her lap, rocking as she worked. It is equally easy to picture some of her offspring seated nearby. “Her presence, like the gentle dew and cheerful light, was felt by all around her,” a contemporary wrote.1

Abigail Baker nurtured all of her children, but she was particularly close to her youngest, Mary. Decades later, Mrs. Eddy still remembered her desire as a small child to simply be in her mother’s presence. The little girl would quietly take hold of Abigail’s apron strings and follow her from room to room as she went about her housework.2  The maxims her mother taught her also remained in thought for many years: “Count that day lost whose setting sun finds no good done,” Mrs. Eddy once quoted to secretary Calvin Frye in the 1890s.3  The same was true of the song Abigail sang when tucking little Mary into bed: “How can I sleep while angels sing, / And hover o’er my bed; / And clap their wings in joy to Him / Who is their glorious head?”4

Through their mother’s tender love, the Baker children gained a sense of the love of God. When teenage Mary became ill as she struggled with the harsh doctrine of predestination, Abigail’s tender ministrations brought healing. “My mother, as she bathed my burning temples, bade me lean on God’s love, which would give me rest … ,” Mrs. Eddy wrote many years later. “I prayed; and a soft glow of ineffable joy came over me. The fever was gone….”

The lessons of Abigail Baker’s Christian love never left her daughter. The inscription on the cemetery monument Mrs. Eddy had erected in her family’s honor speaks of her mother’s lasting impact: “Her life the grand realities impart, That fix their records deeply in the heart. Gratefully inscribed to the memory of her mother by Mary B.G. Eddy.”

  1. Rev. Richard S. Rust, quoted in Retrospection and Introspection, 5, by Mary Baker Eddy.
  2. Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson, Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, Amplified Edition (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1994), 15.
  3. Calvin A. Frye note, Feb. 28, 1890, A11058, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library, Boston, Massachusetts.
  4. Jewel Spangler Smaus, Mary Baker Eddy: The Golden Days (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1966), 37.
  5. Retrospection, 13.