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Title: O'Brien, Maria Wright to O'Brien, Joseph Sinton, 1841
CollectionThe Transatlantic Letters of an Irish Quaker Family_1818-1877 [B. Jackson]
SenderO'Brien, Maria Wright
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationstudent
Sender ReligionQuaker
OriginPhiladelphia, Penn., USA
DestinationLake Erie, NY, USA
RecipientO'Brien, Joseph Sinton
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count3052
Genrerecovering from illness, going back home, enquires about the farm, correspondence, enquires about family and friends
TranscriptPenn Township, Phila. Co. 6th mo 10th 1841

My Dear Brother
Although I have not yet received an answer to my last letter I will put off writing no longer. I received a letter from
A. Bell a few days ago containing $30. Tell father I am very much obliged to him and hope it may sometime be
in my power to repay him. A. Bell says in his letter that rather had, in his letter to him, said that you had not heard
from [me] since 2nd month, which I think is very strange as I wrote in 3rd month in answer to those, by that young
gentleman by the name of Taylor. I was not very well when I wrote but am perfectly recovered now. I was very
sick for about ten days, so that I could not be in school and Dr. Bettell [Bettle?] attended me every day for a week.
He is a very fine friend of Cousin Mary's and I have great reason to be grateful to him, as he was so very kind and
attentive in perscribing and he gave me a great deal of excellent advice regarding my health and how to take care
of it in the city, which has been a great benifit to me; and after all when I came to ask him for his bill he said he
had none against me and no charge except that I should follow his advise. I shall ever feel a real esteem for him
which time cannot obliterate, and indeed I have found a great many kind friends, not only those who ate relatives
but those who are entire strangers, and when I leave here I shall think with pleasure of the pleasant hours I spent
in this city.
I feel very anxious to get home, now the spring seems so pleasant. I feel as if I would like to be home to sow
my flower seeds and have the fun of helping you make sugar; and another thing, the country is so much more
pleasant than the city in the spring, though I have the advantage of some of the city people for I can. If I choose,
come out to Aunts where I am now, having been prevented from returning to town this morning by the rain
which has continued all day. Tell mother that I have just finished a new dress that Aunt has given me. She has been
saying to me today that she wants me to stay until September and she says so much about it that I don't hardly
know what to do. I am afraid she will be affronted if I insist on coming home in June, which I have intended to
do [all?] along. I told her that thee and I had been talking of setting up a school soon but she says that it would
be more to my advantage to stay, so I don't see but I am settled for the ensuing summer - although I cannot say
that it is a way I would prefer, could I have my choice: however, it may be that it will be better for me. I will do
as thee and father and mother thinks best. I do not know that I will continue in school all the time, as the Dr.
says that I must not confine myself when the weather is very warm; and Aunt says that if I do not go to school I
must come and spend my time with her, such a great kindness in her. She lives so retired, just as I like it and I think
I would enjoy myself very well if I felt perfectly satisfied to stay, but I would much rather come home as I think
it time that thee and I were settled in some way of making out for ourselves, besides trying to assist father and
mother all we can.
How are you getting on with the saw mill? Cousin James is very anxious to know something about it and thinks
very hard of father for not writing to him. I wish father would write to him, Joseph, and will thee tell him so, and
tell him also to be particular as cousin is so very anxious, and do make some good excuse for not writing before.
What all are you doing on the farm? How many cows are you milking this summer? Did you have a hard winter
in your part of the country? How did all the cattle and things do during the winter? Who did you sell the brown
mare to? I hope to someone who will be good to her. Has Aunt Lydia [Southwick] and Phoebe [McMillen]
moved. How is Aunt Lydia this winter? Next time thee has an opportunity, give my love to her. Tell her that I had
not forgotten her though I am far away. Give my love to Racheal and Susan Healy, also to Mary Ann and finally
to all who may take pains to inquire after me. I suppose that thee did not know that I sometimes hear from thee besides when thee writes. I have another
correspondent who is much more punctual than thee. From whom I hear regularly once a month. The last letter
I had was ah out three weeks ago, when my friend mentioned having seen father the day before writing and the
same day that my letter was received. I wish father had known something about it, as it would have been a great
satisfaction to you all to hear that my health was perfectly restored. However if any of you still go to Buffalo again
you may gain some information concerning me by inquiring of a friend of mine who lives there, and whose name
it is needless to cell thee as no doubt thee knows who my friend is.
I wrote to Susan Candee a few weeks ago and I am beginning to look for an answer from her and Julia. Does
thee often go to Pontiac, and how are the people getting on there? Tell Mary Arnold and Elmira Lewis it would
give me great pleasure indeed to write to them but my time is so much occupied that [it] is with the greatest haste
I am obliged to write to such of my friends that duty requires me to, and that I would be extremely happy to hear
from them. Joseph, I hope that thee is improving every leisure moment in stocking thy mind with useful
knowledge, as thee will no doubt find use for all thee can possibly acquire. Does thee often go up East among the
neighbors. If thee does I suppose that they are inquisitive about me. Please remember me affectionatly to them all
and say that I often think of the pleasant summer I passed among them and say that I hope to see them all again
at some future time, though when that will be it is impossible now for me to say, but I hope soon. It seems to me
that I will enjoy myself better than ever when I get home again and I often re live, in imagination, the pleasant
days I have spent in the forests of Old Collins. Yes, Joseph, although I am separated from my dear Father and
Mother, Brothers and Sister, My love for them is still the same and it seems indeed, as if it was increased by absence
instead of being diminished.
I was very glad indeed, thee may be sure, to hear that Thomas had been so well the past winter and I trust that
with care he may be perfectly restored to health. Has Stephen Hussy's people been at father's lately. What an odd
fancy to move to Buffalo to live. I suppose that it is all Chloe's doing, no doubt, in order to get her just a little of
the city polish, and dear knows they need it bad enough. I tear it will be very little advantage to them. Give my
love to them all when thee sees them and tell Abbie I would be very happy indeed to get a letter from her and
Delphia. I had almost forgotten to ask thee, how are the young people in the East neighborhood, on any better
terms with each other than they were last summer. What of Lydia Ann Horn? Does she ever inquire after me? What
is she doing all this time? Has Christianna McMillen come home yet? Are Geo [McMillen] and Mary Ann [née
Wllcox] getting along now. Remember me to George Lennox and Betsy. Tell G. that I have not found a city
beaux yet that will suit me and that I don't think I will very soon, though I have some acquaintance with several
very intelligent gentlemen and I have no reason to complain of inattention to me. I went with one of them a few
days ago to see the Frigate Mississippi launched. It was a splendid sight indeed and such a one as I never expect
again to see. The gentleman who went with me said that he had seen several vessels launched but never one as
beautiful a sight as this one. There were thousands and thousands collected to witness it. There were forty-three
steamboats in the harbor at a little distance from the shore, loaded as full as they could be; besides, all of the small
crafts in the river were loaded with men, women and children all eager to behold so imposing a sight. She is built
for the Navy and one of the first vessels ever built in this city.
Aunt has gone to bed about an hour ago and it is time I was also beginning to think of it, although she told
me to sit up as long as I wished. I sometimes think Aunt will spoil me: she humors me and tells me to [do] just as
I wish when I am here. But goodnight, Joseph. I will try to finish this at least in a week and send it.

Philadelphia 5th month 17th 1841
Brother, I was at cousin James a few evenings ago and enjoyed the sincere pleasure of reading a letter from father,
m which it grieved me to hear of the dull prospects in your part of the country, although it is little if any better
hear. Everyone is complaining of the backwardness of the season, which they say is at least three weeks later than
usual. And one of the colts is dead! I don't think I have felt so bad about anything of the kind and if it would have
done any good I could have sat down and cried about it. I thought of a few lines in Moore's "Lalla Roock"
where he says -

"I never reared a bright gazelle
To glad me with its soft blue eye
But when it came to know me well
And love me; it was sure to die."

I suppose thee will think it is a rather a ridiculous idea to quote poetry on such a subject but it just happened to
come into my head and so I thought I would write it. I think thee and Thomas will be feeling very bad and it will
be so hard for you on account of not having a team to work about the mill. Bur I hope that nothing more will
happen and that me young cows are doing well. I suppose you will have more of a dairy this summer than last
Has mother spun much of the flax. That is one of the reasons why I wished to come home this spring in order to
have spun some, but 1 suppose they will hardly get it all spun, so I will have some to do when I am home. Would
thee like me to return soon or stay till autumn: now tell me thy mind candidly on that oppinion for I want to show
thy letter to Aunt. And then if thee will write something chat seems like a good excuse to come home, perhaps she
will not say so much about my staying. I would like to have gone home soon enough to have taken a school for
the summer, as I find that teaching school agrees with me much better than I thought it would and I begin to think
that I can get used to almost anything.
I suppose that thee would hardly believe that I can walk nine miles in one day without feeling inconvenienced
from it, except a little soreness in my ankles the next morning. I did do it however a few days ago and often I have
set out and walked five miles without feeling at all fatigued. I did it yesterday, and the day before I went out with
a young girl who boards here and goes to school. Her mother is the matron of the Brockly Hospital, so I went to see the institution and stayed with her 7th day night, and first day Dr. Bettell came out for me. It is reather more
than five miles here and coming home we came by Gray's Ferry which made it near seven miles in coming home
and today I feel no worse for it. I think I can beat thee walking now, that is in pavement, which I find not nearly
so tiring as the ground, though at first it was more so.
One or our boarders is going home and we all feel very sorry. She is a most honorable girl and one with whom
I have been on most intimate terms and I shall feel the want of her society. She is from New Brunswick. Her
name is Hennrietta Suydam. I suppose thee will remember seeing in the papers an account of a murder of a man
of that town. He was cousin to Henrietta and she says a most worthy man, and I suppose that thee has heard also
that the man that murdered him was hung last month.
I am now going to ask thee some questions; tell me in thy next letter all about the farm. How much you have
planted and sowed, how many chickens and cockrals you have got, and every thing thee can think of. Take a large
sheet of paper and fill it full. I think that among you you might, when I alone can fill this large sheet and you have
all the things 1 feel interested about to tell me of. When does father and mother think we had best begin school
and in what place — as a small boarding school at home? Has thee been counting anything about it yet. Does thee
think thee will fake another school next winter as thee did, if we should not get agoing with ours. Did thee have
any trouble in thy school last winter. If thee thinks of taking another distant [district?] school, thee had better get
inspected sometime this summer. | his spring go to Squire Pitcher and ask him to renew thy certificate and I
think he will. Now don't forget to do so and be ready when the times comes if thee should happen to want it.
I look forward with a great deal of pleasure to meeting you all and hope it will not be long, although I almost
dread getting ready to start as I will have so much to take care of. I will have two trunks and a box of things that
Aunt is sending. Cousin James has a trunk that he brought from Ireland that he is going to give me to put my things
in that my trunk will not hold, and then I think I will have enough for any person to get along with. Aunt did
think of sending the box on before me but now I suppose the merchants have all returned from New York and
there will be no other way than for me to take charge of it. She is to pay all the freight, so thee will have no trouble
with it but to get it as well as me. She says she wishes to dispose of all her things before she dies. Ask father if he
thinks there will be any difficulty in getting along with the box and whether he thinks I had best under take to
bring them.
Tell mother that I have been attending yearly meeting last week, although not every day. I was at five sittings
and was very much interested one day in the report of the Indian committee which was read, and a long address
from an Indian to the friends thanking them on behalf of his nation for the kindness they had from them. Sarah
Underwood from Rochester was there and William [S.] Burling. The meeting was very large and they are about dividing U as they did in N.Y. and having a meeting in the Northern part of the state to be called Fishing
Creek yearly meeting. I went one day to the O. [P?Philadelphia?] Yearly meeting two weeks ago.
Thomas Richardson's brother stayed but a short time in the city and I didn't get to see him, but cousin James
gave him my letter to Aunt Jane. Thomas went with him, his rather being very sick and out of health and wanting
to see him. I wish thee or father would write me on the reception of this immediately, and tell me what to do about
staying. I will feel in suspense until I hear from home and have your opinion on the subject. I asked Mrs. Fling a
few evenings ago about staying and she said she would be glad to have me stay if I would like to, but I hardly know
what I would like. Sometimes I think I would like to stay and on the other hand I think I would like to return
soon. Our school is not run on friends plan at all. Mrs. Fling is not a friend, but quite gay and sees a deal of gay
company, but I don't think it would make any difference with me. Farewell, with love to all I remain

Thy affectionate Sister
Maria W. O'Brien