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Title: John Kerr to James Graham
CollectionUlster Migration to America. Letters from three Irish Families [R.A. Wells]
SenderKerr, John
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationschoolmaster
Sender Religionunknown
OriginSt. Clair, Penn., USA
DestinationNewpark, Co. Antrim
RecipientGraham, James
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1342
Genrefamily, economy, politics
TranscriptFrom: St. Clair, Pennsylvania
Dale: 12 August 1844
A man in this neighbourhood is now about to set out for Ireland; I therefore
embrace the opportunity of writing to you, although I have but a short time to write
this letter, as he departs soon. I have not taught school this summer, but have been
at an academy of Mr. Wright, Presbyterian Clergy man, learning Latin, Mathetmaticks,
etc. I have been here since the beginning of May and will remain until the session
closes, about the first of next month when I shall, I think, commence again to teach
school. This is the way the greater part of the students obtain their education here.
Since I last wrote I have been in good health—this summer has been a moderate and
healthy one. I received William's letter on the 27th of April last; but I never got the
one that Uncle David wrote, as William informed he wrote one. William's second
letter, like the first, (which he and A. Black wrote), contained news unexpected and
distressing—the news of Aunt Matilda's death. Indeed it was an occurrence which
I little expected. Oh! how little did I think when I left Newpark, that in less than 2
years after I would have been gone, two of that family would be no more. William
forgot, or rather neglected, to mention of what disease or at what time Matilda died.
I wish when you next write you will remember to mention these. I see by William's
letter that he has entered the Police Force, and indeed I must say, that he might have
done worse. Every young man should endeavour to support himself as soon as
possible and to acquire in his younger days what will be of use to him in manhood,
and in old age. Although a trade would be hereafter more useful to William, and by
preferring that to his present situation, would have been more prudent, yet in his
present occupation he has amply opportunity for improvement, and acquiring that
which may be useful to him hereafter. William may attend to his duty strictly, and
this he should be very careful to do, and at the same time acquire by perseverence
and energy a good education; and he may be assured that whenever his lot may be
cast, whatever may be his situation in life, a good education will be a most valuable
acquirement. Let him not trifle away his time in those trifling and useless pursuits
which arc too common with many in the army, and doubtless also in the Constabulary,
and may I add with a great part of mankind. I will write to William sometime in the
winter, and will mention these things to himself which, if he remember and practise
may be of use to him when he perhaps may least expect. I may merely add at present,
that die letter he wrote me does not show much desire of improvement and
composition; he appears to have written it, as I am obliged by haste to write this one, without either taking time to make choice of his words or to correct his errors; he
should write every letter over, once or twice, if he wants to improve his style. I will
give him a few hints on this subject when I write to him.
The "Towns" now in this country are considerably improved. The commerce of
the country has risen from its late depression and if the "Yankee" refrain from their
former course of mad speculation, the trade of the nation will doubtless become
good again. The markets at present in Pittsburgh arc without much animation.
Butter is very cheap in summer on account of the difficulty of preserving it during
the heat. All the best however it is far inferior to that in Ireland; people here say this
is accounted for, when the close proximity of the sea to all parts of Ireland, and the
distance of the sea from this place is considered. This may be one cause, and very
likely, as the people here have to give salt very frequently to horses, cows, sheep,
etc. This is done by laying down a handful of salt to them in the manger, or on a flat
stone in the field, when they will greedily lick it up—I thought it somewhat strange
when I first saw this.
I am very sorry that I did not get Uncle David's letter—it must have been lost in
some way in this country. I received 4 Dublin papers sent by you, and a Bristol
(English) paper. The Warder containing the speeches of O'Connel’s counsel I did
not get. The Warder is an excellent paper, but strong conservative, too much so for
my taste. I received also about a month ago 3 numbers of the Belfast Chronicle and
also a [small?] slip containing die proceedings of a meeting held in Antrim on the
making of a new railway. I was very much gratified to learn, that there are some
prospects for a railroad from Ballymena to Belfast. 1 think it would be of great
benefit to that part of the country. Farmers and men of influence in die country
should support that, and indeed every undertaking, for the good of the country.
From my heart I wish it success. O'Connell, I see is imprisoned at last, I hardly
expected this. Although I cannot agree with him on his views of repeal, yet I must
say 1 sympathize with him, and feel for him [ ] circumstances. Indeed I must say,
that I believe O'Connell, sincere in his exertions for his country; he has done much
to promote its welfare, and however he may be mistaken in the present instance, still
a man who loves Ireland, I cannot dislike. You may think I have imbibed principles
too radical in this republican country. Well, if it be the case, we shall not like each
other the less for a slight difference of opinion. I sent you some papers in the winter,
and would have sent one every week, but I thought you would scarcely think them
worth the postage, except when anything particular occurs; besides, all I send I think
do not reach you. I sent you a Pittsburgh paper lately, with accounts of the late riots
in Philadelphia; of the first riot that took place, I could not get the paper at the time to send. You will learn by the papers that we have no peace here any more than you
have in Ireland. The "native America" party and the Irish were the beginners. The
object of the "Natives" is to prevent foreigners from being naturalised until 21 years
in the country. This the Irish do not like—for my part 1 care not a straw whether they
pass this law or not; I am very well contended of still remaining a subject of your
little queen. The election of the President of the United States will soon lake place,
then I will send you papers. The two great parties, Whig and Democrat, have each
a candidate; the former, Henry Clay, the latter. Governor Polk; there is another
candidate among the "Liberty" or anti-slavery party, but I forget his name. You need
not write until I write again, as I am not certain where I may be. I will give the
direction in William's letter which you can open. Tell Wm not to put a cover on any
of his letters, as it subjects them to double postage—his letter costs 50 cents; besides
the least scrap in a newspaper costs as much as a whole one, you may therefore as
well send a whole one. My letter is very full, excuse my errors. The man calls
tomorrow morning very early. It is now 11 o'clock at night. I hope you arc all well-
give my love to all. I have room to say no more and believe me yours till death.

John Kerr