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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
OriginPerrysville, Penn., USA
DestinationNewpark, Co. Antrim
RecipientGraham, James
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1644
Genreteaching, acquaintances, politics, emigration
TranscriptFrom: Perrysville
Date: 3 September 1846

I write once more from the same place, Perrysville, and in the same occupation,
teaching school. I shall be here for six months; after that I intend to quit teaching
and to leave Pennsylvania. It is my intention to go westward. I have been employed,
since I wrote last, in teaching, and for several reasons I am tired of it. First, it is very
severe on the health; I have been much troubled with a pain my side which I believe
is caused by confinement and want of exercise. When I walk I do not feel it.
Secondly. I believe I can get better work at a more healthy occupation. I received
A letter from William, containing few lines from James, about the first of March last.
I was glad to learn from them that you were all well. Wm Kyle came last winter to
see me. We wrote then to you and to his Father, which, I believe you received, as
William has received an answer. I went to see Wm about a week ago—he and all
the family were very well. Nancy was very glad to see me as she had not seen me
since she came here. At first she scarcely knew me and I suppose would not if she
had not expected me there. Wm has a cow and 3 or 4 pigs; he rents a house and a
garden with pasture for his cow. He is getting along very well. David is living with
a farmer, a neighbor to Wm, he gels his food and clothing and is sent to school in
the winter. He is a fine large boy, and is able to drive two horses and wagon in true
Yankee style. Thomas lives at home and is a large boy. Elizabeth is able to run about
and talk; and perhaps they will soon have another, a young Yankee by the bye. We
had a hard winter, and this summer has been, sometimes very hot—sometimes cool;
for it is never cold here in summer. The thermometer frequently stood at 960 in the
shade, some said at 1020, rather warm for comfort. There has been a great crop here
this season of everything except potatoes, which are rotting already in the ground.
The tariff law of this country is reduced, as you may have seen by the papers.
Many here denounced the government for this, as well as for the Mexican war. This
war certainly might have been avoided. It was brought about principally by the slave
holders. Their object is to acquire more territory and consequently more influence
in the national legislature. The Oregon question, you see, is settled and England it
appears got more than she asked. Well, if England had been Mexico, or as weak as
she, Jemmy Polk, the President, would have kept it all. But Britain has too many
big ships and "John Bull" is too determined to be imposed upon or "humbugged"
by "brother Jonathan." I sec that the Whigs have obtained the power now in
parliament. Well I believe they deserve it, as they are the more liberal party. I sent you some papers in the winter and spring and a temperance journal a few
weeks ago. When you have read it, I wish you would send it to William. When you
send a paper to me, tie a strong cord round cover and all. I will send you more. You
never mentioned if you got those papers which I sent with some seeds in them: I wish
you would let me know if you got them and if they grew. I gave a letter to Mr. Wright
to you which he sent enclosed with a note, requesting to hear from you. He would
have liked to have visited you and would have done so, if you had written and invited
him. Indeed he only wanted for an answer to his note to go. Let me know if you
received my letter and his note, and if you answered him. I think you would have
been pleased with his visit, and you might have, at least, answered his letter—he has
been a kind friend to me.
I believe David has not yet gone to a trade. If he would have the courage to come
to (his country he could learn a trade in three years—that is he would have to serve
only 3 years—besides he would receive as much during his apprenticeship as would
support him; and then get better wages as a journeyman. He is now about the proper
age, young enough, indeed for some trades. A tradesman is belter here than in
Ireland. Perhaps a painter is as good there, but for others they are better paid here.
I intend to leave this place about the first of March; if David could come with anyone
Emigrating to this country about a month or two after this, he would reach Pittsburgh
before I would leave, and then I think there is little doubt, that he could obtain a
situation as an apprentice. If, however, this would be impracticable, if he could not
get here with certainty before March, he could come next summer or next [winter?]
to St. Louis by the way of New Orleans. When I leave this I intend going to St. Louis
in the State of Missouri. It is a place of good business and a good place to learn some
trade. If no changes take place, I think lean have as much interest there as will enable
me to get David an apprentice to an excellent trade, very useful in this country and
likewise very lucrative. It is making patterns for the machinery that is used in steamboats,
and in various other works of machinery. The patterns are made of wood, just
the same as models for wheels, which are to be cast in metal. It is about the best trade
in this country. David could come by himself to St. Louis by New Orleans. By that
way he would have no difficulty from imposters, either on shipboard or when he
would land, and then it is quite easy to go up the river by steamboat. St. Louis is not
so healthy a place as Pittsburgh but there is not much difference. I could scarcely
advise him to undertake to come to this country by New York, Philadelphia or
Baltimore, by himself, that is, with no man with him whom he knew and upon whom
he could rely for protection; but he might come by Orleans. If he comes now,
however, let him be sure to be here before March, as long before it as he can; if he cannot be sure, do not come yet. Be decisive and when determined to, "go ahead"
as the Yankees say. If he comes, write to me when he is about to start, and when
he arrives in Philadelphia and when he arrives in Pittsburgh. He can come from
Philadelphia here by stage coach or by canal if it is not open. All that he will need
with him is 1 dozen of linen shirts, = dozen of checked shirts—let the collars of all
be stitched on the wrong side and not deep collars. 1 dozen pair of woolen socks
and as many cotton. 2 summer and as many winter vests. 2 pair of woolen trousers
and 2 of linen, both made wide: a good frock coat of good cloth and one of coarses
stuff for wearing; bring no summer coat. Get all you clothes made well. 1 would
rather have none than to have them awkwardly made. Belfast is the place where you
can get them well and cheap. It injures a person here to be dressed in clothes which
do not fit and it does so in Ireland, if people but knew it. Get fine shoes or rather
half boots. Let no nails or sparables be put in the sole; bring a good leather trunk
for your clothes.no wooden fixing. Now David, if you intend to come attend to these
things I have mentioned. Give no money to fellows who will come upon deck and
present papers to you when you land etc. Ask the Captain on such occasions: but
you must pay for getting your trunks drawn or carried. Sell your provision trunk
where you land or give it away; do not bring it a yard with you. David can do better
here than in Ireland. He will want want for nothing while learning his trade, besides,
he won't have a tyrant or a master. There are difficulties here it is true, and
difficulties in getting here; but there are advantages. Let him decide immediately,
if he would rather wait; it might be as well to come to me at St. Louis however, he
can lose little by coming now, if he can at all get. All he can lose by waiting is his
time. If he does not come now let him be very diligent at school, and try lo improve
in writing grammar. Arithmetic and let him study Mensuration which will be useful to him.
I wrote July a year ago to A. Black, but received no answer. Perhaps he has
forgotten or neglected to write or, did not care, or all three together. Well, non me
vexat. Write me immediately, let me know what David's intention is and what trade
he [prefers?]. How are you all? If David intends to come let him be in a hurry, if
not, let him wait till he hears from me again. Send me papers. Give my respects to
all. I have no room to name them. Direct Perrysville, Alleghany County,
Pennsylvania as before. I remain yours affectionately.

John Kerr