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Title: Edward Hanlon to Brother Bernard
CollectionUlster Migration to America. Letters from three Irish Families [R.A. Wells]
SenderHanlon, Edward
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationfarmer
Sender Religionunknown
OriginNebraska City, Nebraska, USA
DestinationBallymote, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
RecipientHanlon, Bernard
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2322
Genreemigration prospects, farming prospects, description of land
TranscriptFrom: Nebraska City
Date: 4 March 1871

Dear Brother,

I received yours of 15th January in due course which finds us without any change
since you last heard from us (to go further west). If I read right you read right. Now dear Brother, my plans as I had then formed them was like this: that we should go to work in spring and put in a crop on my place and immediately after harvest and thrashing and getting up our hay, we would leave the children to gather the corn and raise the potatoes and attend to the fall work. We ourselves should take a two horse wagon covered, taking our provisions and bedding, sleeping in the wagon and cooking for ourselves on the road, and explore the country parts of the States of Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. That is south or southwest of here. It would take
us about six weeks. There will be 14,000,000 acres of the best land in the country
come into the market this spring on the southern borders of these states. It would
have been settled many years ago had it not been Indian reserve land. By this mode
of travel the cost would be light and our chance of seeing and gaining a better
know ledge of the soil, climate and probable improvement of the country we should
pass through with the prospects of schools, churches and soforth. There is any
amount of Government land yet in these states and we could lake a quarter section
each as a homestead, that is 160 acres, and enter more at S125 per acre, and if we
could find a location to suit us I would not want less than a half section each, that is three hundred and twenty acres, and let our main business be raising stock, hogs. horses, mules and horned cattle. Now you may see from this that it was more for your benefit than my own that I thought of moving, as I have enough land here for me. My time but if we thought after examining the country we would not be
bettering our condition we should not leave here. That is why I impressed on you
the necessity of husbanding your means. There are three farms almost adjoining me
now that could be bought. One, 160 acres, 60 improved, would be sold for [3500?]
dollars, two thousand down, balance in one and two years. The other two have the
same number of acres unimproved. One is eighteen hundred dollars, the other two
thousand, part cash and part on time at ten per cent per annum. Now dear Brother,
if you were here, and even unable at the present to buy a place, we could get along
together. Which I am sure we could, your family of boys being more advanced in
years than mine and able to work. Which would be capital for you, and I verily
believe they could do more for themselves and you than they could do there. I have
all the land under cultivation that it would be possible for us both to farm. My
calculations, if on consultation we did not adopt that above plans, that I would get to work and fence in the timber for a hog lot and put in from fifty to one hundred hogs, and buy all the young stock we could find money for. We could both make more money than we could in any other way for the present, as we could do all the labour within ourselves, except a short time in the year and feed all our grain on the farm.
I am better calculated for that than for weighty farming in small grain, and it would also suit you better. Now dear Bernard, my great desire would be to cultivate a friendship between our children, that they might befriend one another when we
would be no more. They might not stand in need of one another pecuniarily in this
country as in that, but equally if not more in other respects. When I bought here I
only bought one hundred and three acres and a half. Since then I bought one hundred
and 12 acres which I was obliged to go one thousand dollars in debt for at ten percent interest. With paying the principle and interest and keeping my family, and taxes and labour as high as it had been, and a small family to support, it kept me close to the wind. Last fall 1 sold all the horses and cattle I could spare on an eight months credit. It will come due this spring and then I will be able to pay off the principle and interest on the farm and have something left to go in to stock again, which is more money making than grain. Last year with additions to my buildings and fencing which I was obliged to have, it cost me six hundred dollars. I was failing last fall some three months, but not bedfast. I blame over work last harvest and summer. If I thought you could not make yourself a home of at least one hundred and sixty acres, if not at once, in very few years, I never would advise you to come. I had three letters from your daughter Mary. She informed me of thinking to join her Uncle Mick, which I approve of. She will find an affectionate uncle and be safe under his charge as if at home. Not that I think she is going to make any great fortune after making a respectable living, except chances which seldom come. I would have brought her on here only this being anew country and me not living city, her place would likely be there. I thought Pittsburgh would be best for her at present. I have not had a letter from her for over three weeks. I think she must be gone there. I really think you can force a sale of your place. I see by late papers there has been compensation allowed to several cases. My impression was that the bog would have sold well. However, well or ill, my view would be for you lake your family to this country, as they will be all certain to come anyhow, and they will do much better under you than without you. Neither disendowment of the Church or a land bill is going to make Ireland prosperous. Repeal of the Union and home legislation, which I think will surely come, if it should not in our time, is the only salvation for poor Ireland. Dear brother, I try to draw a true picture of my position and the prospects a man might hope to gain by coming to this country as I can, that you may be better able to judge for yourself in what you should do [ ] The prospect is that we raise acrop this season. improved land this distance from the city is worth from 20 to 35 dollars per acre, unimproved 10 to l5. From my corner to the centre of the city is nine miles. This state is equal in square miles to all Ireland geographically. This state is situated in the centre of the continent. West lies the states of Montana, Idaho, California, Territories of Wyoming and Washington. All of them abounding in minerals, gold, silver, copper, lead, coal and others, a never failing source of wealth. The pacific railroad now completed from east to west will cause the travel and trade to follow through this section for all time to come. It is bounded on the east by the Missouri River, navigable for three thousand miles for boats of hundreds of tons burden. It is one third to one mile in width. Nebraska City is on the banks. There are rival towns on this river in each of these young states where the river flows along, each competing for the great metropolis of their several states. Nebraska City bids fair to be the great commercial point in the state. Dear Brother, you wish me to advise with you in respect lo trades for your children. I assure you. Dear Brother, it is an important move in their lives. Even with that experience I have I know not what to say. Put a boy to a trade in that country, you are obliged to give an apprentice fee, with the loss of from four to five years time, and clothing. If in a country place they don't get the trade as a competent workman without in some other country working a year or more after proficiency. It is one out of five hundred that ever makes more than a living. It is so with carpenters, shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths, saddlers, masons, jewelers and all other I know of, and 1 have associated with them all. If the boy must get to a trade let him choose for himself after mature deliberation that he may not be disgusted with it afterwards. For myself or children I would choose farming, it's true not in that country. If your boys should get trades, force of circumstances will oblige them to leave your place. Is not sufficient to give more than one a living. Dear Brother, if I knew your wishes and your exact circumstances and how much you could realise for that place, and which would be sufficient to locate you here with land enough to keep your family around you and make enough to get themselves homes of their own. You might never be as comfortable, at least for a long time, as you are there. But you would leave your family more independent if any of them
has the inclination or talent they might adopt some of the professions, lawyers,
doctors, or mercantile business. In this country it only requires perseverance,
prudence and talent. If they adopt mechanism in place of giving an apprentice fee
they get pay from the first year with a gradual increase, and don't require the time to become master of their business. There are three papers published in this city. I will send you one of each. You may glean some information from them. Dear
Brother, if it should meet your views to send Mick to me, I am obliged to hire
strangers. And if he is an industrious boy and be governed by my advice, I will pay
him all the wages he is worth, and care for him as much as you can. I know he could
do better for himself than he could do by going to a trade there. With his experience in a year or two here, knowing your circumstances he could fully advise you in what it would be most in your interest to do. Edward James or the balance of the children keep to school. Have no favourites in the family. Oblige them to retire early, rise early, work at any kind of labour that is not inconsistent with their years. Make them your confidant in what you think it's proper they should know. Govern more through love than arbitrary measures, and through the same they will be more likely to obey. My Dear Brother, this much I have said not knowing whether it would meet your approbation and for fear of reflections hereafter its almost with reluctance. But looking at the past, with my poor father's family scattered over the world and he in his declining years almost alone, and you with your five sons, may be not better, if as well. If located here in a certain amount of real estate I don't sec how you could fail to better your condition and mat of your family, which is the main object. You now have no near relatives there except my Uncle Jacky, and he may not be long.
Your family is yet undivided but it might not be long, which would make the move
more difficult and less satisfactory. Dear Brother, taxes here now are high. My tax
this year on personal property and real estate is sixty-two dollars. It may last so for a few years or even higher, but is only temporary. In cultivating corn we plant four feet each way and cultivate with one or two horse cultivators. It takes about 700 bushels of com to fatten my hogs and to feed my stock through the season. The price of pork ranges from seven and a half to 10 dollars per hundred. It lakes eight hundred a year with turkeys and chickens to do my family. I consume twenty-five sacks of flour with com meal, one hundred pounds to the sack, in a year. Sometimes I kill a cow or steer. And keep half and sell half. Potatoes, onions and all kinds of root crops we raise in abundance. The climate is colder in winter and warmer in summer than you have there, with much less rain. A man like you in Ireland holding the amount of land I do free, would not pretend to work any himself. Not so here. Labour is honourable and seems necessary to success. I have many times seen our Chief Justice of this judicial district take his pail and go into his barnyard and milk two or Three of his cows between 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning, and work on the roads with sweat pouring off him. He lives half way on the road between here and town. This is the general rule rather than the exception. He who by the plow would thrive must hold or drive. You may have difficulty making out this scroll, but you can arise a meaning. Write as soon as this comes to hand. So no more at present. We all join in sending our warmest love to you and family. Also to father-in-law's family.

Your affectionate Brother,
Edward Hanlon