|Henry Neill, Kentucky to Samuel Neill, Co. Down
|Irish Emigration Database
|works in the mercantile business
|Louisville, Kentucky, USA
|Co. Down, N.Ireland
|Donated by Hilary Murphy, 45 Ava Avenue, Belfast BT7 3BP
|Centre for Migration Studies
Louisville, Ky. [Kentucky?] Sept 6th 1841
Dear Father, I embraced the opportunity of writing to you
hoping these lines may find you and all friends well as they
now leave me. As you are already aware I left this place for Iowa
on the 23rd July. I arrived in St. Louis, Mo. [Missouri?] on the
26th, paying $3.00 passage, provision &c [etc.?] cost $2.00. I
left there the same evening on board the Mermaid for Burlington,
where we did not arrive until Saturday the 31st owing to being
detained by low water in getting over the Rapids. We came to
Keokuck (at the foot of the Rapids) on the evening of the 28th
where we had to wait two days for a smaller boat to take us over.
Passage provision &c [etc.?] from St. Louis cost about $5.00.
On arriving at Burlington at 4 O’Clock on Saturday I stored
my Baggage, and started out on foot for my Brothers, where I
arrived without difficulty at 7 O’Clock. On arriving there I found
them all well. Misses Neill who is a pleasant cheerful and affectionate
woman expressed great happiness on seeing me and during my
stay treated me with the greatest friendship. Their young heir my
namesake is as fine and healthy a child of three months old as I
During my stay (which was between two and three weeks)
I was mostly engaged in travelling to see the country, with the
exception of three days which I spent at Camp Meeting.
Camp Meetings are peculiar to the Methodists tho [though?]
sometimes held by Presbyterians and others. My Brothers wife is
a Methodist and like many of the more prudent members is often
displeased with some of their over-zealous peculiarities. The
encampment is erected in the woods and in front of the Pulpit or
preachers stand they have what is called the mourners bench,
where those sinners who being convicted by the force of the
sermon or exhortation go in and kneel down or sometimes lie
down. The whole assembly will then sing and pray alternately,
singing very lively airs and in their prayers in which they all
speak audibly each in his own strain will represent those
mourners on the brink of hell, and damnation staring them in the
face, during all this time the Class leaders and other zealous
members are busily engaged in enticing or forcing all they can to
go to the mourners bench in all these things the females take an
active part praying singing and hallooing as loud as the men.
In the meantime those mourners (though crying lamentably)
as they received the spirit (as it is termed) or evidence of the
forgiveness of their sins, will rise and jump and halloo Glory
Glory Glory Hallelujah &c [etc.?] until they are completely
exhausted, sometimes falling down and remaining as it were in a
trance for some time, and sometimes they will sing and shake
hands and hug one another (male and female) which they term
getting happy. But from all I could say on this matter you can
form but a faint Idea of their proceedings. Neither do I wish to
say much on the subject, as it is to me a matter of doubt who then
there be in it reality or not. In reasoning with them they quote
scripture freely, referring to the day of Pentecost etc. we often
have Camp Meetings, in the neighboring [neighbouring?] woods
here, but I never before had either time or inclination to spend
more than a few hours on a Sunday at any of them but enough of
And now to speak of the country, tis [it is?] one of the most
beautiful in appearance (in its natural state) I ever beheld, being
wood lands and prairies interspersed having the appearance of
large fertile meadows, interspersed with groves of timber.
Our land is principally timbered which is most valuable in that
part as timbers will in a few years become scarce, as some places
in large prairies they have to take timber a distance of 6 or 8 miles
to make fence. Around about Burlington the country is thickly
settled, farmers holding from 40 to 640 acres each, few under the
former and very few over the latter.
It is contemplated by many in that neighbourhood to sell out and
move farther back as soon as a purchase be made of the Indians,
which is expected to take place in the course of our next session
of Congress. The contemplated purchase consists of a large tract
of rich and fertile lands, lying west of the present boundary of
Iowa, and now in posession [possession?] of the Indians.
I cannot at this time say anything by way of advising you
to come to this country as it seems almost like striving against fate.
But should you be able to accomplish a sale of your property on
reasonable terms (if it be the desire of the family as I said before
you could take shipping for New Orleans, from thence to St.
Louis and then to Burlington, and should you be spared to arrive
in safety, you may easily picture to yourself the probable results.
It would be Johns desire as well as mine that you and a portion of
the family, should live on the place we now own. And the
stronger and more youthful members of the family go back to the
new purchased should it be found suitable or expediently or if not
by paying a
little more, there can be land (plenty for all hands)
bought in the neighbourhood of Burlington of those people who
wish to go farther west.
As to Brother Matthew and myself we are both very well
here for the present but have no surety of how long it may last it
is well therefore for us to try to have a home there, to which we can
resort in case of necessity that I have already accomplished, and
no doubt Matthew in a few years [torn] the same. His success
now depends upon his own [torn] I make no doubt if He be expert
at the business, [torn] year He can have His salary doubled.
Owing to the [torn] pressure in business and his incompetency (as
is the [torn] all who are unacquainted with the manners of the [torn]
I found it difficult to place Him in a situation to [torn].
But I at length succeeded though at a low salary.
I left Brother Johns House on the 18th of August. He [torn]
came with me to Fort Madison, a distance of 20 miles, [torn]
that night in Mr Amos Ladds (Her Brother) and [torn]
John left me at Keokuck, and returned to his Broth-------
[Brotherinlaw?] at Ford Madison, I then (next day) took passage
[torn] where I arrived on Monday the 23rd of August on the [torn]
evening, I took passage (Cabin) to Louisville at $9. [torn]
I arrived on Saturday 28th Augt [August?] making my journey [torn]
eight and nine hundred mile in five weeks and [torn]
at an expense of about $25.00.
Johns wife is a woman of a middle stature [torn]
made, being smart and active, and I think something you [torn]
He is, She appears to be altogether such as one as He [torn]
kind affectionate, and agreeable. She was born and raised in the
State of Indiana, she sends her compliments to all friends in
Ireland more particularly to sister Margaret, thankful for her
attention in writing, and expresses a desire that she may yet see
Her in Iowa. Brother Matthew joins me in duty to you an [and?]
Mother and compliments to all our enquiring friends.
Your distant Son
P.S. Matthew expects you to
write on receiving this.