|Mary Cumming, Petersburg, [Va?] to Margaret Craig, Lisburn.
|Irish Emigration Database
|Cumming (n. Craig), Mary
|middle class housewife
|Petersburg, Virginia, USA
|Lisburn, Co. Antrim, N.Ireland
|T 1475/2 pp.85-88: Copied by Permission of Miss A. McKisack, 9, Mount Pleasant, Belfast.
|The Public Record Office, Northern Ireland.
|Document added by JM 02:09:1993.
|Blandford Nov. [November?] 17th. 1812
I never before felt reluctant to begin a letter to my beloved
Margaret, for never till now had I bad news to communicate.
Oh, my dear Sister, how you will be grieved to hear that God
has been pleased to take to himself my darling child. The
little angel breathed her last on the fourteenth September,
and "winged her early flight to heaven".
When I look back on the last three months it appears to
me like a frightful dream. I dreaded this Fall, but little did
I think we were to experience such sickness as we all have done.
I was taken with a bilious fever about the middle of August,
which confined me to bed for three weeks, during my illness
my sweet infant took a bowel complaint, from which she never
recovered. This is the most dangerous disease that children
have in this country, my beloved child lingered in it for
three weeks, two physicians attended her, but all would not
cure her. Oh, dearest Margaret! it almost breaks my heart
when I think that my lovely baby is gone for ever. Oh, that
you had seen her, you would not wonder at my sorrow. She was
one of the most beautiful infants I ever beheld, and so good,
she was too good to stay in this troublesome world. I believe
she knew me, for when I would go to take her out of her little
crib-bed the darling would look up at me and laugh, she was
beginning to take notice of everything, but she is an angel
in heaven, and in that happy place I trust in God I shall
meet my little Mary.
It will be long before I can get the better of her loss,
for I am so lonely without my sweet pet, but I will try all I
can to be resigned to the will of Providence.
"The numerous ills of life to prove
To us survivors may be given,
My babe has scaped this gloomy train,
And winged its early flight to heaven."
These lines I think of very often, they are the last verse
of the beautiful little poem my dear Father gave to my
Mother on the death of Arminella, I brought them with me.
My dear William has suffered very much as well as myself this
Fall, he had the same kind of fever that I had which confined
him for a long time. He is now, thank God, almost quite well,
he walks to Petersburg ever day. I am getting better every day
though still very weak. I was not sufficiently careful of
myself after my first illness and was taken ill again and
with one complaint and another have been confined to my room
for nearly three months, but we now have fine, cold, frosty
weather, which will soon bring us round again. I now know too
well what ague and fever is. This has been among the most
sickly Falls ever known in Virginia. I do not know from what
cause. The physician that attended me told me he visited
from thirty to forty patients every day in Petersburg. A lady
who lived near me this Fall lost two fine children in less
than a fortnight, but there have been very few deaths among
grown-up persons. This is a sad unhealthy climate, but I have
had my seasoning, as they call it, and hope not to be ill
again during my stay in this country, which I trust will not
be very long, for oh, I long to breathe once more my native
air in darling healthy Ireland. It is the country for me.
They talk of the wetness of the weather, but what matters
when the people have no agues and fevers? I do not know what
I should have done during my illness if it had not been for
Mrs. Freeland, a lady of my acquaintance who lives very near
me. I never experienced so much kindness and attention from
any stranger as I have done from her at the time poor William
and I were so much distressed that we could do nothing. She
came here, ordered everything to be done that was necessary,
and indeed appeared more like a kind relation than an acquaintance.
She came every day to see me, till she herself was
taken ill, but is now almost recovered, she spent Sunday
evening with me. Dearest Margaret, how you would love her
if you knew her. Mr. Freeland is a Scotchman, they have two
fine children, both girls, the eldest (Agnes) is a great
favourite of mine, she is fifteen years old, just about the
age of my darling Rachel. She is very fond of me and brings
her work and sits with me very often. When I get well she is
coming to stay some time with me. Whenever I would say to my
dear Mrs. Freeland how much I felt obliged to her for all her
kindness I am sure she would reply "You would do the same for
me if I were in your country". I can never forget her uncommon
attention to me. When, my beloved Margaret will I receive
another letter from you? I have not had one this long long
time. Your last was dated 28th. May. I am sure you have
written several since that time but none have come to hand.
I would have been very uneasy had I not heard by a letter
from Mary Cumming that you are all well. William had one
the other day from Mr. Cumming dated August, in which he mentions
that the Strawberry Hill people were all well. Still I
am most anxious for a letter from yourself. My beloved Margaret,
what would I give to see you and all the dear dear inmates
of Strawberry Hill once more. Will the time ever come that
I shall be with you all again? I trust from my heart it will.
My affection for you increases every day. God bless you, for
if anything happened to you my happiness would be gone for
ever. I think as you do that there never were sisters loved
each other as we did and do. I have great reason to be
thankful, for I enjoy a thousand blessings and that first and
greatest of all is having the best of Husbands, which I have.
My dearest William is my constant comfort and support through
all my trials, he is so kind and indulgent to me that now I
feel quite lonely when he goes even to Petersburg. You would
require to be in the house with him to see all his kindness.
God bless and spare him to me. He is very busy overseeing
his labourers every day and getting the garden put into nice
order. This is a sad stupid letter but my spirits are not
good. Will you tell my dear Father that I wish he would write
to me soon. Give my affectionate love to my dear friends in
Armagh. Tell Mary I am very much obliged to her for her kind
letter which I will answer when I am better able than at present.
I hope my darling James and Rachel are well. I am rejoiced to
hear my dear Father is in such excellent health. Long long may
he continue so! William joins me in the kindest love to you
all, and wishing you every happiness, I am my darling
Margaret's ever affectionate
M. [Mary?] Cumming.
It is William's opinion that the war cannot last long, the
great majority of people of information and property are for
peace. God grant that we may soon have matters settled. I forgot
to mention in my last letter that I had made inquiries
respecting the young man of the name of Morrison that my
Father mentioned, but I cannot hear of any such person teaching
school in Petersburg. Write to me dearest Margaret, whenever
you receive this and let your letter be very long. I wish
you would send your letters to Liverpool directed to the care
of William Brown and Co. [Company?] and they send them by the first
opportunity. William has received several lately from that
place. I suppose Miss McNally has left Lisburn long before
this. I hope she and Margaret are well. When you write give my
most affectionate love to them. I intend to keep myself constantly
employed as I can this winter, for thinking much does
me a great deal of harm.
Oh, my dear Margaret, will you and I ever wander about
Strawberry Hill and talk of the days that are gone? I trust
we shall, I will write soon again when my spirits are better.
You have got the pictures by this time, I suppose. I hope
you will think them like, once more, farewell!