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Title: Robert Patterson, Milwaukee, USA. to "Dear John".
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FilePatterson, Robert Sr/24
SenderPatterson, Robert Sr
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender ReligionProtestant
OriginMilwaukee, USA
Recipient Gendermale
SourceDonated by Mr. and Mrs. S.V. Thompson, 4 Grove Park, Lenzie, Glasgow, G66 5AH
ArchiveThe Ulster American Folk Park.
Doc. No.9508150
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 14:08:95.
Word Count3282
Transcript823 Clybourn Street Milwaukee
June 15th 1888

Dear John, Thirty nine years ago today I
landed in Newyork [New York?] to try my fortune in
the New World, & in great need of fortune's
favor, being about as poor a man I think
as ever landed there.
Thirteen years afterwards, in 1862, I wrote
you an anniversary letter, at which time these
states were in the throes of civil war and great
doubt existed as to whether they were to continue
as United or DIS-united States, McClelland was
advancing on Richmond & great things were
expected from him & the vast army he commanded,
all soon after to end in defeat slaughter and
disappointed hopes - A greater than McClelland
at that time stood among us, but it was not
till a year afterwards that he found his proper
place, and it took more than another year to
overwhelm the confederacy & break it to pieces.
Again in 1875 another thirteen years had elapsed
and I wrote you on the same anniversary, and
promised that if we were both living I would write
again on the event - I had little hope or expectation that we
would both or either of us survive to see the day;
but I have lived to see it & so far as I have information
so have you- I thought at that time that
you & I & Alexr [Alexander?] would all go out in the eighties,
and we may yet, but the probabilities are now
against it & it is likely enough that one or
more of us may see the last decade of the century.
I remember that in 1875 I remarked to you that
at this date you would be about the same age
that my father was when he died, not of old age
or infirmity but of an accidental and very
rare disease - I shall not speculate on the
next thirteen, some one of the three might see 1901
and not have lived longer than some we have known,
grandmother Patterson for one, but the chances
are so very small, that it is better to dismiss it from
the mind & leave it where it belongs in
the hands of Him to whom belong the
issues of life & death- I attended the funeral of
a neighbour in May who was born in the same
month as myself and was just 20 days younger.
His name was Todd and he was a native of the
Co,[County?] Monaghan. I have never known any one that
came so very near my own age and I was forcibly
reminded of the saying of our Saviour, Two
men shall be grinding together, one shall be taken
and the other left. Two men shall be in the field
together, one shall be taken & the other left. This
man Todd belonged to a sect of which I suppose
you know nothing in Ireland. They call themselves
Christian disciples sometimes & sometimes Christadelphians.
They hold that when a man dies he is dead in reality
till the resurrection & that the doctrine of the immortality
of the soul is of heathen origin and was engrafted
on the Christian facts after the primitive
and apostolic times. They quote numbers of Scripture texts
which I, ( but I suppose it would not be so with you ) find
it difficult to answer- One is that of the apostle Paul
when he asks what advantage to him had been all his
sufferings if the dead rise not. They would tell
you he would have been in joy and felicity according
to modern theologs, [theologians?] if his soul had been
in an intermediate state, but that he appears
to have had no idea of such a state- while
acknowledging no creed themselves they would
refer you to the two earliest creeds, the Apostles
and Nicene, in both of which the belief is expressed
of the Resurection of the dead but no mention
made in either of an immortal soul or an intermediate
state. Parables like The rich man & Lazarus
they explains as being merely allegorical, & they
expect Christ to come at the last day when he
will raise the dead separate the just from the
unjust, destroy - not punish eternally - the latter
& thus reign. not for a thousand years but for
all eternity on earth- They are a very small
sect, perhaps there are not forty in Milwaukee
& there were just about as many forty years ago
as there are now - yet they keep up the organization
and are very strict livers.
I receive regularly the Weekly News, except
in one instance - The paper for Decr. [December?] 31st
either had never been mailed or it miscarried by the
way- I read with great interest the history
of Orangeism so long as it continued but it
dropped out like a knotless thread at the
wrong time just as you remark when we could
remember it in our early time, just when Sir
Harcourt Lees & other pillars of the Order
were coming to the front. I remember all the
old songs he quoted as sung by Wm.[William?] Lewars &
others & many that he does not mention - Lisnagard?
indeed I had forgotten till it was recalled
to memory, but "the third tree in
Garvagh" sung to the air of the reels of Tulagh
Gorum, sounds in my ears as if I had heard
it but yesterday - The most interesting parts
to me were the first organizations at Loughgall
and the conduct & services of the Orangemen during
the rebellion of 98. You had not begun to send
the paper regularly at the time of the organization
so that I am still poorly posted on the subject
From another source I learned long ago that the
day after the battle of the Diamond the victors
met at Loughgall and organized the first
Orange Lodge - About the year 1842, which is just
half way between that time & the present, I had a
conversation with The Rev [Reverend?] Holt Waring on the subject
and he told me that the early warrants were written as
pieces of common paper, not well written & perhaps
he might have added poorly spelled - But however
this may be at the worst it is an acknowledgment
[acknowledgement?] that it originated with the common people
and though he and some others of his class were not
backward in joining it and forwarding its objects
met for half a century, it was mainly, almost
entirely, carried on, conducted & continued in existence
by the common people- You will remember
that in our early time there were but few
of the wealthier class of farmers in the order & that
its rank & file were made up of the weavers carpenters
blacksmiths and other artisans of the labouring
man- True indeed there was always a Grand
Lodge in Dublin composed of men like the Earl
O'Neill & others in the upper walks of life, but
there was little in common between the head
& the body except the brotherhood of the Order
It was the democracy of the brotherhood that preserved
it - In the open lodge the hired man sat with
his employer & on equal terms with him - It was
the same in the processions where he might march
alongside before or behind as the case might be,
& when he died the poor man had the same
Orange honors paid to his remains as the richer
man - Twice in those days an attempt was
made to supersede the Order by other Societies,
having the same objects in view, and both
were failures - The first was the establishing
in 1828 of Brunswick Clubs, ostensibly to
run parallely [parallel?] with the Orange Society but
intended really as I believe to take its place.
They lasted a few months & then died an easy
& natural death. The rank & file of the Orangemen
knew all about William of Orange & his
his sic doings in Ireland, but they knew little
& cared less about the early Georges of Brunswick
none of whom had ever seen Ireland, Rulers
who were little more than figure heads on a
throne that was sometimes in great danger of being
occupied by one or other of the Pretenders - The
next attempt was about the year 1834, when a
Conservative Society was started, It was an imitation
of O'Connell's old Catholic Association, having
its head in Dublin and collecting funds all over
Ireland, but it lasted no longer than the clubs,
and died without a struggle: No other attempts
that I can remember was made against Orangeism
by its friends in the upper walks of life,
and being left alone it still survived & progressed
under its former & original condition. But ten
or twelve years afterwards, I think about the
middle of the forties, it began to be joined by
that class who had formerly held aloof from it,
and so far as I can see from report, (not being on the
ground myself,) the peers and gentry for the last forty
years have been as deeply imbued with the
Orange spirit as even the peasantry themselves.
They had tried various ways of weaning the common
people from their allegiance to the honoured
name of King William & having always failed ,
the gentry at length came to the people. Like
the prophet of the Turk, when the mountains would
not come to Mohommet, Mohommet went to the
mountains - and the two seem to be getting along
together very well - In the history of the Institution
given in the Weekly News I could sometimes have
assisted the writer with facts in our own locality
never put on record - That of the schisms among
the freemasons is one; when "Stoneyford they marched
foremost it was them wore the green, Next came
bold Ballinderry boys for the Orange so keen" In
one of your letters you allude to the song and speak
of it as the production of a man whose name I forget.
It is the recollectionof both me & Alexr. [Alexander?] that it
was always attributed to George Bush, my fathers
old weaver, who owed him money for 40 years & I have
no doubt died in his debt. Another in the assembly
on Leslie's hill to prevent the formation of the first
Orange Lodge at Lr.[Lower?] Ballinderry when one shot from
a blunderbus decided the battle & ended the war.
It was a fortunate shot wounding a dozen or more
& killing no-one - about this affair also as you know
there was a song which perhaps some of the oldest
inhabitants could still sing or recite - Considering
that Ballinderry & Aghalee were a very focus of Orangism
[Orangeism?] they appear greatly neglected in the narrative
and I am surprised to see so little of Ballinderry
in the notices at the present time - I often see Glenavy
mentioned but in the old time it was nothing compared
with Ballinderry. I was amused at one thing
in the history - It appears that in 1816 there was a
procession on 12th July in Lisburn when the Rev Dr.
Cupples preached to them from a text in Galatians
"It is a good thing always to be zealously affected in
a good cause" Now if Mr Lilburn had brought his
narrative on to 1829 I could have told him that the
same old Doctor preached to the Orangemen again in
the same old church from the same old text on the
same anniversary. I heard him & while I remember
little about the sermon I remember the text perfectly.
I suppose he thought the sermon might be needed
again & salted it down for future occasions.
I noticed all about the Wm Fox of Belfast & the
Halls of Narrow - Water in the early part of the
narration & have no doubt but the former was
either the father or an uncle of our Ballinderry
curate. I believe with you also that Sergt.[Sergeant?]
Winter was the same breed as the Diamond Winters, for
I find it was the Armagh, not the Monaghan
Militia Regiment, that was at Ballinahinch & it
was to this Regiment he belonged & after the battle
wrote the letter to our uncle Roger - I noticed also
about our uncle Robin being at a meeting at the
Maze protesting against the Union of 1800 -
about which I can only quote the old saying that
times change & men change with them - I remember
my father saying that his father on
his deathbed said he would rather have parted
with one of his arms than to have the parliament
taken away from Ireland - The feeling
here about Home Rule has changed nothing
since I wrote last - It seems taken for granted
that there is no argument in the case, and what
is more provoking that it is a demand almost
unanimous on the part of the Irish people. To
correct as far as possible this error about four
months ago I cut from the Weekly News a letter
from a presbyterian Minister of Belfast named
Magill to his friend in England discussing that
subject, prefaced it with a few remarks of my own
very temperately written & headed by the request to
"Hear both sides" I and another laid it before the
the head editor of the Sentinel with a request for its
publicationin its columns - He seemed to think it
strange that Irishmen could have anything
but one opinion on the subject, but said he
would look it over carefully & if it was suitable for his
columns he would insert it - That was the last we
heard of it - It went to the waste basket & remains
there - This is our free country & free press so much
spoken of & boasted of - The editor was afraid to
publish it lest it might cost him subscribers & advertisements,
& so he let it drop through - it would have been different
if we Irish Protestants were as numerous a faction
as the Irish Papists, but being as we are a miserable
minority he could afford to neglect us & all the
resource we have is to grin & bear it - In one of
your letters you speak of the pleasure it affords
you when you see the crocuses & other early flowers
first appearing - It is the same with me, but with
me I think it a pleasure multiplied by ten -
From my earliest recollections, from the time the Walshes
performed in Walkington's paradefield, about 1814 or
15 or perhaps both years, when my father lost me
& found me at the bottom of the field with my bib
filled with primroses & daisies. the love of nature & of
flowers with me was not only a pleasure but a passion.
My father told me the reason of it long afterwards.
My mother he said was at all times fond of nature
& of flowers, but especially so, almost passionately
so for some months before I was born. I felt
then & still feel the thrills of the remark - And when
I see a man, such as Wordsworth describes, to whom
" A primrose by the river's brim; A yellow primrose
was to him, And it was nothing more" I don't
envy him or his apathy to the beauties of nature
So that feeling & the love of books, also very early
developed in me, & also inherited from my mother,
I owe the greatest pleasures of my life, & if I had
to live it over again I would not exchange them
for the wealth of all the millionaires you could
name - I have often been thankful in my
inmost heart for these gifts, knowing what a
compensation they were in my many trials and
tribulations. Burns had the same feeling in him strong
as when he says "Upon a Summer's Sunday morn
I walked where nature's face is fair forth to view the
corn And snuff the coller [cooler?] air" & again "while
briers & woodbines budding
green & paitrick's scraichin losed at e'en, And
Mornin Pussie whiddin Seen surprise my muse" -
In the last quotation he is very faithful to nature
The poem was written about [fastiness?] ([shrovetedy?])
which is in February or early in March, about which
time the briars & road [trims?] begin to show their green
leaves & are among the earliest harbingers of Spring
The call of the partridge to his mate is still in my ears
tho' I have not heard it for forty years & occurs about
the same time - We have not these pleasures in America
We have no early spring - In February the earth is
still as hard as metal & it is not till towards the
end of March or beginning of April that we
have a crocus in flower - Two years ago I had
them at the end of March - this year not till the
middle of April, after the crocus we have hyacinths
& tulips & then thro [through?] the summer any quantity
of the usual hardy perennial flowers, & late into
Autumn - The spring, if it could be called such is
an uncertain quantity - some years doing pretty
well - others like the present being cold & rough
with two or three of the last days of April, having
a summer heat & thus on the 2nd May a fall of 6 in.
[inches?] snow which lay for two or three days before it
entirely disappeared - It does not matter much in the
end for even they grow very fast when the
growing time comes so that there is generally an
abundance of everything in the end
In several of your letters you have alluded
to our old Sunday School at Turtle's fort, and I
am always glad to hear about any of our old
pupils, even the youngest of whom must since
be far advanced in life - The allusion to one
who remembered me giving out the hymn " O
God of Bethel by whose hand Thy people still
are fed." was especially pleasing to me, and
I am happy to think that the simple prayer
has had a continued effect on even one mind
The hymn always was & will be a favourite
of mine - It was peculiarly suited to my wandering
and in one of its lines had an especial meaning
to one who had more than once to use it not
in a general or parrot way but literally
" Give us this day our daily bread - "
I have only room to say that we have had no sickness
or mishap of any kind since you last heard
from us - One child a female was born a week
before Christmas, making three now living
& all healthy children - My son is or will be
in July 36 yrs old, nearly as old as I was when
I left Ireland. He still continues at work &
means to do so till he pays off a few hundred
dollars still owing on a property he bought last
year - I have not heard from Alex for about 5 mos [months?]
at that time he and his were well
robt. [Robert?] Patterson
I forgot to say that I got two England Church Papers
and the views of different places in Belfast & vicinity.