Will was asleep when his mother came into his bedroom to tell him the news. She woke him gently and said with a hint of excitement, “We have an invitation to visit Mrs. Eddy in Concord [on] July 4th!”1
It was 1897, and Will and his family lived in Kansas City, Missouri. The city where Mary Baker Eddy lived, Concord, New Hampshire, was half a country away. It would take more than two full days and nights to ride the trains all the way east. But that didn’t seem like too long! Will was 9, and he loved eating and sleeping on the trains.
He was up in a flash. Nothing would stop him from going on this adventure. The opportunity to see Mrs. Eddy was a special privilege. After all, her discovery of Christian Science had changed the course of many people’s lives. Her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, helped them understand how much God loves and cares for His children. Reading the book, many people were healed of sickness, injuries, and other troubles in their lives.
On July 1, 1897, Will boarded the train in Kansas City with his 7-year-old sister Helen, his mother Jessie, his aunt Eleanor, and some Christian Science friends, including two other seven-year-old girls.
For hours at a time, Will watched the shifting landscape of fields and farmlands, cities and towns pass by as he gazed out the window. One of the most thrilling parts of the trip was the Hoosac Tunnel, where the train chugged through almost five miles of darkness underneath the mountains of western Massachusetts! But there was just one thing interrupting all this excitement: his sister, Helen. Every time their mother tried to comb her thick, curly hair, she shrieked and cried.
Grown-ups and children who visited Mrs. Eddy’s home on July 5, 1897, posed for a picture in their best clothes. Think About: The thermometer on the porch of Pleasant View that day showed 102 degrees. Can you imagine wearing a three-piece wool suit or a long skirt in that weather? What might it have felt like?
The Eagle Hotel in Concord, New Hampshire, where Will and his family stayed. Think About: It took Will and his family two days of train travel to get to New Hampshire. Why might a family spend so much time and money for such a short visit to see Mrs. Eddy?
A postcard showing Pleasant View, Mrs. Eddy's home in Concord, New Hampshire. She lived there from 1892 to 1908. Think About: Did you know Mrs. Eddy was one of the most famous women in the United States during her time? Why do you think people might have bought postcards of her home?
Will and his family rode a horse-drawn vehicle called an omnibus from their hotel to Mrs. Eddy’s home. It may have looked something like this. Did you know that an omnibus was sometimes called a “barge” back then? Think About: We talk about riding a “bus” all the time—to school, for example. Where do you think the word “bus” might have come from?
In the last few days, a painful red bump had appeared on the top of Helen’s head. She was very uncomfortable in the hot and crowded train, and her head hurt. Every time she cried, Will got more and more annoyed. Finally, he told her she was spoiling the whole trip for everyone!
Can you imagine how Will’s mother responded to his outburst?
All the time, Will’s mother and aunt were comforting Helen and praying for her, and they continued to pray as the train moved on.
When the group finally arrived at the Eagle Hotel in Concord, New Hampshire, Mother and Aunt Eleanor settled Helen into bed, and then they prayed for her some more.2Neither of them ever told anyone exactly how they prayed, but it was certainly a chance to remember how much God loves and takes care of each of His children, including Helen.
The next morning, Will was amazed at the all-you-can eat breakfast at the hotel, especially the dishes of sliced pineapple that waiters brought to their table one after another! But his mother was focused on getting Helen ready for the day’s events at Mrs. Eddy’s home and fixing her hair around the bump. She prayed again while she washed and trimmed the hair, and so did Aunt Eleanor. Tears streamed down Helen’s face, and she didn’t want to wear her pretty straw hat with daisies around the brim. Finally, they were ready to do what they had come to do: take the horse-drawn omnibus from the hotel to Pleasant View, Mrs. Eddy’s home.
When the group arrived at Pleasant View, Will was allowed to explore the grounds. He soon found the table where lemonade was being served and he drank a cold, sweet glassful. When it was time for Mrs. Eddy to speak, she talked about freedom and “the liberty of the sons of God,”3 because the day before had been the 4th of July. Other adults spoke too, including some men who had fought in the Civil War.
After everyone spoke, Will, Helen, and their mother joined the long line of people filing past the porch to say hello to Mrs. Eddy. As their family neared, a gentleman told Will to take off his hat, as a sign of respect. Mrs. Eddy waved at Will when she saw this. He felt her eyes were smiling every time she looked at him.
Will and Helen looked up at Mrs. Eddy with joyous faces. She gazed at them and at their mother, and then threw both children a kiss. Mrs. Eddy expressed the most perfect motherly love, so it was easy to understand why so many of her students called her by the affectionate name of “Mother.”
Later, Will’s mother walked by herself toward the trees that lined the front yard. She was very quiet, and Will had to remind her when it was time to go back to the hotel. Afterward, she said she learned about God’s mothering love that day, when she watched Mrs. Eddy with Will and Helen. She remembered, “There was a bird sitting on the limb of a tree, and I saw the same love poured out on that bird that I had seen flow from Mrs. Eddy to my children. I looked down at the grass and the flowers, and there was the same love resting on them. … This Love was everywhere, like the light.”4
It was the love of God, she said.
Will and his family took a carriage back to the hotel. Up in their room, when Aunt Eleanor went to wash Helen’s hair, she noticed something wonderful. The bump was gone and there wasn’t even a red spot left. Helen was completely healed!
Will remembered that joyous day for a very long time. When he grew up, he became an engineer. He was an active Christian Scientist who had healings of his own, and he even wrote a testimony for the Christian Science Sentinel!5
Some years after their trip to Pleasant View in 1897, Will Cooper and his mother, Jessie B. Cooper, wrote down their memories of their visit. This story is based on those memories.
Katie Beth Haydon is a Longyear member and a writer.
This Longyear for Kids article was originally published in the spring/summer 2023 Longyear Review, a publication that is free to members. If you’d like to join and receive this print newsletter, please click here.
Will Cooper reminiscences, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, the Mary Baker Eddy Library, Boston, Massachusetts (hereafter referenced as MBEL).
Jessie B. Cooper reminiscences, MBEL.
Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, 251.
Jessie B. Cooper reminiscences, MBEL.
Will Cooper, Christian Science Sentinel 51 (Jan. 22, 1949): 171.