Horatio Spafford was a well know business man and lawyer in Chicago in the 1860s, where he lived with his wife Anna and their five children. He was a prosperous man, heavily invested in real estate along Lake Michigan and a devout Christian.
In 1870 a series of events lead to tragedy in the Spafford’s life. That year their only son, only four years old, died. The following year, still grieving the loss of his son, the Great Chicago Fire began and destroyed the majority of his investments. Becoming concerned about the toll these events were taking on his family, Spafford arranged for his wife and four daughters to take a vacation trip to England. After an unforeseen business deal kept Stafford from departing with his family, Spafford remained in Chicago, but promised to join his family later.
Several days passed when Spafford learned that his wife’s ship, the “Ville Du Havre” was struck by the Loch Earn. It sank only twelve minutes with two hundred twenty six lives lost. The next day Spafford received a telegram from his wife that simply read, “Survived alone, what shall I do.” After receiving this news, Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York. It was on this voyage, struggling with his grief, that he penned the famous words to the hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.”