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Title: Letter from John Donnan, Pennsylvania, America to his Parents
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileDonnan, John/38
SenderDonnan, John
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationfarm employee (ploughs, looks after cattle)
Sender Religionunknown
OriginPennsylvania, USA
DestinationCahard, Co. Down, N.Ireland
RecipientDonnan, Hugh & wife
Recipient Gendermale-female
SourceD 2795/5/1/5: Presented by Mrs. Chas. [Charles] Donnan, Cahard, Ballynahinch, Co. Down
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland.
Doc. No.9311601
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogAction By Date Document added by C.McK., 23:11:199
Word Count1660
TranscriptLetter from John Donnan, Pennsylvania, to his parents, Mr. and
Mrs. Hugh Donnan, Cahard, Co. Down, 11th September, 1848

September 11th Pensylvania [Pennsylvania?], 1848

Dear Father and Mother
I received your letter on the 25th August which gives me
great pleasure to hear that you were all in good health, I
now embrace the opportunity of writing a few lines to you
again to let you know that I am in good [health?] at present
as I never knew what it was to have an hour of sickness since
I came into this country thanks be to God for all his mercies to
me, as it was neglectful in me not to state some of the inquiries
you made I shall now with pleasure, I am not living in the same
place I was at first I only wrought 6 days to Mr. Riddle as I
found a place that suited me better and longer employ I then
engaged with another farmer named Humphrey Gearsley at 10
dollars per month and found in boarding and washing and other
little necessaries I stand in need of, he does not go to any
place of worship he has only two little girls, you want to
know a little of his mode of labour and what kind of kettle
[cattle?] he has 103 acres about 6 acres of wood land becides
[besides?] a mill for grinding wheat oats and Indian corn, he
has about 8 acres of wheat 6 acres of oats 6 acres of Indian
corn and 15 acres of hay only about 15 bushels of potatoes I
raised them the day I received your letter he keeps 3 horses 4
cows 9 stears [steers?] or bullocks and 2 oxen, some of them
weighs about 8 hundred weight kettle [cattle?] of all kinds
are much the same as in Ireland. horses are better in general
than in the old country, the harvest was all settled about the
1st of August wheat and oats are all creadled a man can creadle
from three to four acres per day land is all english measure here
the corn is mostly cut at this date some of it is twelve feet high,
wee [we?] have the oats ground ploughed for wheats I have ploughed
here three or four days after the oxen the [they?] have neither
blind reins coller [collar?] [henes?] back rope traces nor
doubletree the yolk for thing [this?] is composed of a piece of
wood about 4 feet long and 6 inches on the square hollowed out at
the ends for the upper part of theirs [their?] necks, there is two
holes bored through each end of the wood about 8 inches apart and a
bow of hickory wood about 3 inches in circomference [circumference?]
is bent around the nacks [necks?] of each ox the ends of which is
put through each hole and head above, there is also a ring steepled
[stapled?] in the centre of the above named piece of wood with a
strong chain hooked their [there?] from between the oxen to the
plough, the [they?] are trained to go by the use of language, the
[they?] draw in the cart and wagon much the same way the cart and

wagon has one shaft comes between the oxen I have mowed three or
four days i [I?] can mow an acre per day very easy with these syths
the [they?] are from three feet and a half to four feet two inches
long and very narrow. I churn once a week the churns are somewhat
like a beer barrel with a handle in the one end like
the handle of yours fans and dashes are in the inside,
the [they?] only churn the top of the milk I have thrashed
[threshed?] a few days wee [we?] lay down a stook at once and
threshed the one side and then turns it and so on, we sometimes
tramp it off with the horses, I sometimes cut wood and
different kinds of work I have not very hard to work I
pleas [please?] you may let James Thompson know that if he was
here he would not have to walk about very long until he would
get plenty to shoot at you may also let him know that I put a
few lines in his letter to Mr. McKee and he wrote me a long
letter and gave me great incouragement [encouragement?] to
come out to his part of the country but I understand that
it is not so healthy a country as this is, and he told me
when I would write home to send his kind love to James
Thompson, Miss and family and to all my father [father's?] folks.
I wish to give you a little idea of the common wages,
for labouring on a farm, by the year, is commonly 100 to
120 dollars, by the Month in the summer season from 10
to 12 dollars in the winter season from 6 to 8 dollars per
month there can be little work done in the winter for 3 or
4 months common wages are 50 cents per day only in harvest.
a creadler gets one dollar and a quarter per day for mowing or
[making?] [paper torn] hay or other work in harvest is
commonly 1 dollar per day, [th--?] [paper torn] most of
farmers rears his own cloverseed I have creadled about 2 acres
of cloverseed and helped to haul it in and thresh it. an acre of
good clover produces about one bushel and a half, a carpenter
gets from one dollar to one dollar and a half per day and found,
a mason gets much the same wages, tailors get about 7 dollars
for making a ful [full?] suite [suit?] the people mostly all
wear boots Frances [Francis?] and me has got each of us a
pair, his cost 3 dollars and a half and mine cos [cost?] 4
dollars. I think you will be able to furnish some idea of the
mode of labour and of wages in this part of the country, I may
say that we sit down here three times every day to as good a
table as the best gentleman in your land in fact the
commonality of people here does not know what to eat or what
to drink or what to wear, it would be unenssasry [unnecessary?]
for me to ask you to come to this country but it would be the
Best thing the Rest of the family could meet with,
Dear father this is a beatiful [beautiful?] country there is
some of the greatest spleandure [splendour?] i [I?] ever saw

in my life, there is different kinds of places of worship there
is a great many quakers here and Methodest [Methodist?] meetings
we sometimes go to A Methodest [Methodist?] Meeting and sometimes
to a Presbyterian Meeting not very far off us, you want to know
if true that Shaw Mageen was turned out of the vessel But it was
not true he came all the way But he kept very quiet and was very
seldom on deck, we had plenty of victuling [victualling?] with us
we sold some of our bread and bacon and part of our spirits,
there is about one fourth of this part of the country wood land
and the rest all labourable in general farmers does not labour
more than one third of what land the [they?] possess as the grass
and hay is as much valued to them as the grain, all the taxes my
master pays is about 40 cents an acre, some people has as much as
20 acres of Indian corn here and some people has as many cows as
from 16 to 25 in general, you would not know a poor man from a
rich by his dress as poor and rich are so well dressed and all eat
at the same table in general I may let you know that Francis has
paid me the two pounds he borrowed and my uncle Thomas wishes you
to let his brother John know that he has got his two pounds, this
has been a great fruit year here, every farmer here has his own
orchard I have eaten more fruit of different kinds since I came
here than ever I eat in my life, I may let you know that I wrote
this letter in philadephia [Philadelphia?] with John Donnans
[Donnan's?] Sister as my second month was ended on the 7th day
of September I took two or three days to go and see some of
the splendure [splendour?] of the city the Market street of
philadelphia [Philadelphia?] is about 4 miles long and there
is some of the greatest splendure [splendour?] and quoricity
[curiosity?] I ever saw it would not enter into your head that
there was such a beatiful [beautiful?] scenery in the known
World. it is about 17 miles from philadelphia [Philadelphia?]
to where wee [we?] live Mr. Gearsly has offered me wages to
stay all winter with him But I am not sure whither [whether?]
I will stay or not Francis and me thought fit to send one
letter between us and the one of us pays for posting it in the
post office and the other can releive [relieve?] yours and you
and his people can send a letter the same way if you think fit,
and you can cut this sheet in two so that each may have their
own part
my uncle Thomas wishes to know from whoever writes first if
John Thompson of Ravara received the first letter respecting
their passag [passage?] bearing dat [date?] the 22nd May and
also if his Brother John got the other two he sent to him When
you write direct you [your?] letter to the care of Mr. William
Fox Liner Post Office Delaware county Pensylvania
[Pennsylvania?] America for Francis Donnan I have nothing more

at present to state But I send my kind love to all my Friends
and Neighbours I Remain yours truly John Donnan.