|O'Brien, Thomas to O'Brien, Joseph Sinton, 1850
|The Transatlantic Letters of an Irish Quaker Family_1818-1877 [B. Jackson]
|Waynesville, Warrren Co., Ohio, USA
|Collins, Lake Erie, NY, USA
|O'Brien, Joseph Sinton
|account of family connections, climate, the community in his part of the country, price of land, local economy
|Waynesville, W[arren]. C[ounty]., Ohio, 5th Mo., 1850
My Dear Cousin,
Thy unexpected yet truly acceptable letter came to hand twelve days after date, which will account for the delay
in receipt of an answer at least In part. I regret very much I never knew thy father's location exactly during his life
time, this being the first direct information i have ever had on the subject, though I several times made enquiry
relative thereto. I always had a great regard for thy father: he and Uncle Joshua Waring & myself being not much
different in age were playfellows and schoolfellows, & these endearing ties of childhood being strengthened by that
of consanguinity made me feel a great attachment for them, tho I had no opportunity of exhibiting it relative to
thy father for many years. By thy account he has arrived at that goal towards which we are all hastening, even the
young, & I hope he was favoured to close his eyes in peace & in the prospect of happiness thro an endless eternity.
Uncle Joshua Waring deceased several years since and ended his days in peace. How comfortable to reflect on
the exit of those who have thus bid adieu to time, who seem anxious to enter into an enjoyment of an endless
eternity, an eternity of bliss. I met with an individual once who told me he had seen thy father, but he could not
tell his place of residence, or anything relative to his family if I recollect rightly, having just seen him at meeting.
The individual was George Hut ton. It would be quite a gratification to me once more to salute thy mother and
to have an introduction to her children. We will probably see quite an alteration in each others appearance from
what it was upwards of thirty-five years ago, when we trod this earth with elastic step in all the vigor of adolescence.
But time, with me at least, has changed: my health has been rather infirm for about five years, tho I am gradually
(judging from my general feelings) gaining ground, gradually regaining health and strength; but I do not look for
any return of the vigor of youth nor do I expect like the fabled Hebe to enjoy petpetual health or youth.
1 believe I will now give you a little sketch of the genealogy & peregrinations of your relatives and friends
enquired for— & firstly Uncle George Taylor & Elizabeth™ [Bess O'Brien] my Aunt his wife, I think, made no
stop of consequence till they arrived in Cincinnati, where they stayed a few months and finally settled in the S.E.
corner of Fayette Co., Indiana where they remained till their death. Aunt died about a year before Uncle: his
health had been delicate and his remaining energy and vigor seemed to give way, hastened no doubt by that
occurrence - they have been dead nearly twenty years. Mary, Susan. John- George, William & lane their children
all married but John. William lived but a short time after his marriage. The children are not doing or have not
done very well, that is are not comfortably settled, tho they got enough to enable them if economical to carry on
business to advantage. The boys got a quarter section of new land each, worth at the time maybe $600 per quarter,
besides which each child got say about $1000. John is inclined to keep what he gets, Jane married a Methodist preacher
— he is located I know not where - the other children are not healthy, Susan especially is very weakly indeed.
Uncle George Valentine stopped in Germantown near Philadelphia some months, when he moved to the West
and finally settled on the farm immediately south of Uncle Taylor's or what belonged to him & afterward to his
children. Uncle and Aunt had but the one child, John, who is married & has four I think remarkably fine
children. They all live together on the farm. Uncle & Aunt have become quite infirm, and Uncle especially. Aunt
fell on the ice several years since & broke her hip, since which she limps a little.
Uncle Joshua Waring settled on the land immediately west of Uncle Valentine's, where he continued till his death
about five years ago since. His widow Aunt Margaret (Haughton) still holds the farm. Their children were Thomas,
Maria, John. Joshua H.. Lucy. William & Abigail. Maria married & lived not many months. John married &
lives on the home place taking charge of it. The others unmarried except Lucy. William is qualifying himself
for the practice of medicine; Thomas lives at home with John; Lucy is married to a man of the name of James L.
Allen & lives in Milton in the S.W. corner of Wayne Co., la.: they have three children, all little girls. Joshua H.
died when quite a child.
Ann Wright & John J. are living in Cincinnati, their children Lucy Landen/Sanders. Anna R[ebecca] Bradbury
a widow, Sarah Jane Campbell. Maria, John L. William H.. Charles & Fredrick all living.
Jane Haughton married John Taylor and they finally settled in Cincinnati & became quite wealthy. They have
four children: the oldest died when very small, a girl; Anna, & Joseph. The g[M] are both married. Joseph has
taken a trip to California; there was no necessity] for his going in search of gold as he had plenty if he wanted ...ly
take good care of it but if he should live to sow his wild oats he may become a steady, useful respectable man. Jane
Taylor, cousin Jane, lost het husband (he was a nephew of Uncle Geon>e Taylor's & came to this country in the
vessel with him), more than a year since. She is married again to a man of the name of Jonathan Clarke from some
part of the state of New York: he was a widower, but had no children living I believe. I have not seen them since
Joseph D. [Doyle] Thompson & Lucy [nee Haughton] stopped in Philadelphia a while, then moved to
Cincinnati where they stayed some time & finally settled near Uncle Valentine, where Lucy still lives. Joseph was
intemperate tot many years and finally left his family: what became of him we never heard, but he is probably long
since dead. His children Alfred H.. Maria, Edwin, & Isabella are all married. The youngest girl. Ann, died a few
weeks since of the prevailing fever of [he country. Cousin Lucy is m very delicate health & has been so for many
years. William Henry Haughton903 married & lives near Liberty, Union Co., Iowa: he has two children, Richard
and Lucy. Maria Haughton died unmarried: she always made her home at J. D. Thompsons and was a very amiable
young woman. Richard Haughton married and lives in Cincinnati, he has a very amiable wife & five children. He
has not done very well in the world.
Thy remarks relative to the changeableness of climate will hold good with us; extremes I might almost say ate
very common; at least our climate is very variable. This remark holds good with respect to the northern & western
states more especially, but I think persons enjoying pretty good general health do not suffer or seem to suffer from
these changes. Delicate constitutions suffer from them and disease is no doubt often accelerated thereby. But I
believe the diseases of the present day are more commonly occasioned, shall I say, by luxury & unsuitable clothing,
especially these fashionable womens shoes, than by climate or any other natural cause. Almost a total change has
taken place in dress, diet & employment since we came to this country and a very great change has taken place in
the physical powers of the females. Especially this great change cannot be attributed to climate. With respect to
the probability of enjoying health I would for any thing I know quite as soon risk your situation as ours; and also
with regard to the subject of education, I think your state regulations relative to district schools ate greatly to be
preferred. They are calculated much better I imagine to subserve the cause of education. I am well assured that
New England schools are vastly ahead of ours & I suppose those of New York are conducted on the same plan.
If so, the subject of education should claim your serious consideration when about to make a change. It is true
that this state appoints individuals in each county to examine persons proposing to teach school as to their
qualifications; but from some cause this examination amounts to little more than a form - very few applicants are
rejected and little if any attention is paid to the schools or to the manner of conducting them. Persons anxious to
obtain an education at High Schools or Colleges will meet with a very good opportunity of improving themselves
in almost any part of this state more so probably than in any state west of us, & with regard to the south you know
that education is almost out of the question except for the wealthy.
The remaining pan of thy letter I scarcely know how to answer, as they are subjects on which each person is
best qualified to judge for himself; as to society most people ate so much taken up with business of some kind that
they can hardly take time to be friendly or inquire after each others welfare. Of course little time is spent with any
view to improvement, except occasionally some person in passing may give or deliver a lecture on some scientific
subject. Such lectures in the large towns are sometimes pretty well attended. There is quite an improvement
however in the morals and general conduct of the community, and this is a very important advance made and may
be considered a harbinger of better times.
As to the price of land, that depends very much on its quality and location - in this vicinity land rates from
say 25 to 40 dollars per acre; owing to soil improvements, nearer to Cincinnati lands ate higher; but land of very
good quality &c improved will, in consequence of the owner becoming involved or of death and being the property of heirs, often sell very low much below an average price. As Co the produce of the soil, that depends very much
on its cultivation. People generally cultivate neatly twice as much land as they ought: the land chat with good
cultivation would yield 75 bushels to the acre seldom yields more than fifty. Much of the land between the
Miamies is capable of yielding 60 bushels to the acre and on the bottoms much more. It was supposed by judges
that one lot on this farm on which I live, owned by Thomas Evans & tended by a man of the name of Ridge yields
80 bushels to the acre, and the land a few miles north of us are said to produce neatly or quite 100 bushels to the
acre. In parts of Indiana and in Illinois the land is remarkably rich, so that persons desirous of raising grain would have an opportunity of suiting themselves as to the quality of land. But in those rich locations it is very frequently unhealthy - chill & fever very frequently prevails - & they suffer so much from sickness year after year that they
become willing to sacrifice the prospect of wealth for that of health.
Farmers hardly ever confine themselves to one branch of business: they often & mostly make a market for the
greater portion of their grain by feeding it to stock & thus make it doubly profitable. Farming is the principal
occupation of the inhabitants of this section of the state & the southern part of the state of Indiana. In this state
in this part of it in the proximity of the tail roads, farmers can easily dispose of their grain: but at any considerable
distance from canals or railroads, grain is frequently very cheap. The wheat crop this season was much injured by
the rust, which caused good grain to bring $1.00 per bushel but commonly it does not bring within 25 cents of
that price. Corn brings from 25 to 35 per bushel, shelled & delivered at the depot along the tail toad or on the
canal. Within half a days drive a person can frequently get it 10 or even 15 cts less by the bushel, while in parts
of Indiana and Illinois any quantity may be purchased at 10 to 12 cents per bushel - and some seasons as low as
6 ¼ cents per bushel.
Oats & potatoes are raised in considerable quantities: potatoes are this season worth about 50 cents per bush
owing to the failure of the crop last season. Flax is frequently raised in considerable quantities for the sake of the seed, which at this time is worth $1.50 per bushel - commonly from 75 to 100. Some parts of this state also
Indiana & Illinois, where prairie land prevails, they turn their attention principally to grazing. Owing to lateness
of the spring and so much rain having fallen latterly, people are very much behind hand with their crops and had
this not proved a rainy day, I should probably not have answered it till next; and as I am anxious to send it by this
days mail I must bring it to a close.
I have by writing in such haste made several mistakes, which please to excuse. I expect to go to Indiana in about
six weeks and to continue there till after harvest when I propose returning to this neighborhood. Anyone who can
thus slip about may be supposed unremembered [unencumbered?] or not blessed with a family I have always remained in, shall I say, a state of single blessedness or wretchedness. Not one of our relations died of the Cholera during the last visitation: John J. Wright of Cincinnati lost his youngest daughter during the first visitation All our relations in about their ordinary health quite lately: I was out at Uncle George Valentine's about three weeks ago I remain in dear love to thy mother and to you all, though I cannot name you (give your names in thy next).
Thy affectionate Cousin
Please excuse haste, mistakes &c &c
N.B. - Please answer this soon