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Title: Rev. John Orr, Portaferry, To John M. Orr, [Chicago?].
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileOrr, Revd John/93
SenderRev. John Orr
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationclergyman
Sender ReligionProtestant
OriginPortaferry, Co. Down, N.Ireland
DestinationChicago, Illinois, USA
RecipientOrr, John M
Recipient Gendermale
SourceCopyright Retained By John McCleery, 80 Circular Road, Belfast,BT4 2GD.
ArchiveThe Ulster American Folk Park
Doc. No.9702164
Partial Date
Doc. TypeLTE
LogDocument added by LT, 10:02:97.
Word Count1880
TranscriptPortaferry, 2nd February 1848.

My dear John,

To give you any just idea of our state for the
last three weeks it would be necessary to have kept a diary
and to transcribe it for your perusal: Poor William Henry
has been very ill of fever. I begin to write you this
letter during one of my nights of sitting up and watching
Feb 21st & 2nd your Mother, Jane Ellen, Margaret & Eliza
Stoupe are all worn out with fatigue and sitting up, but
thank God have been hitherto preserved from disease. Isabella
Filson most friendly sat up for two nights during the worst
of the attack and Eliza Anne McCleery one. He had an attack
of influenza at Christmas and never fully recovered from it,
tho he went to school regularly after the vacation. We state
the commencement of the fever from the evening of the
day on which the last letter to me was posted. Surgeon
Chermside was first called in, and Doctor Filson afterwards
on Thursday the 20th of January. Since that time they have
visited us regularly twice every day, and some days three
and four times. on Friday the 21st we had great hope that
the crisis was past, but a relapse took place that night,
and for the next four days scarcely any hope was left. On
Saturday morning the Doctor agreed on a certain mode of
treatment, and 8 powders came [and?] are to be given every
four hours. Dr. Filson called up at 2 O Clock before going
off to N.T. Ards [Newtownards?] to see Mr Dorrian formerly
of Backall, who is since dead. Dr Chermside was here at 8
O Clock, and he was proceeding apparently as was expected,
and directions given to continue the powders during the
night. Dr Filson came home at 11 O Clock and then came up,
and found such a change that the medicines had to be
discontinued; his head was shaved and kept cold with vinegar
and water, and a blister applied on [Sat] Evening to his
Stomach which rose remarkably well, and with God's blessing
was instrumental in prolonging his life. On that Saturday
Evening your Mother wearied out with anxiety and fatigue
went to bed in your old room - awoke about three O C [Clock?]
next morning in the belief that she was in for fever also.
God however was graciously pleased to order otherwise, you
may imagine if you can my feelings and state of mind on
going to preach that Sabbath. Dr Filson instead of going to
meeting came here administered an enema, and shaved his head.
I never felt more powerfully the truth of the 1st verse of
the 46th Psalm - To add to our anxiety there was a letter
from Margaret Orr stating that your Grandmother at Ballybeen
was dangerously ill of Influenza - which epidemic has been
very prevalent this winter. I was unable to leave home to go
to see her - I am happy to say she is again recovered and
your Uncle Robert also, tho not able to use his right arm
with any freedom.
In the midst of our troubles your letter of the 6th of Decr.
arrived and tended to cheer us: your Mothers apprehensions
however were, that in your next you would be writing to Wm
[William?] Henry, and that when it comes he wd [would?]
not be here - but in Templecranny. Thank God he is recovering
tho' very slowly. This is the 24th day since he began to
complain, and he cannot yet turn himself in the bed, nor even
give the least assistance in doing so - yesterday he got
some wine mixed with jelly. As however this letter will not
be posted till this day week; I hope to be enabled to report
progress before its departure. In the midst of his delirium
he said some uncommonly smart and severe things, at which
even his Mamma could not help laughing. One day when she was
wanting him to take medicine and saying he would break her
heart, he turned round his head and said 'Are you sobbing,
Mamma?' On her calling him 'My big man,' he replied, 'Im no
man yet - for I cannot drink punch.' The severest things he
could think of, he would say to Jane Ellen, Margaret, Eliza,
& Eliza Stoupe. To add to our annoyance Eliza Stoupe has
been laid up all day with a sick headache [throwing?] off -
and Margaret & Eliza have been acting as housemaid & cook.
And a right cook Eliza Orr makes. Nancy Dodds came home
this evening as a second servant, & I expect Eliza Stoupe
will be well enough tomorrow.
In the midst of our watching and attendance on Wm
[William?] Henry, the thought frequently occurs, that if you
be attacked with fever, or any illness far, far from home,
what kind of attendance you would have. No Mother's nor
Father's nor Sister's hand to turn you in bed, or administer
Medicine, or sooth you with their presence and attention.
While health remains you may do tolerably well - and ah!
dear John, be careful of your health both the health of the
body and of the soul. May He that keeps Israel keep you. May
He that preserves his people, preserve you from all ill!
Thus far have I written during the watchings of the night
- and now at 3 O Clock to raise Margt [Margaret?] to take my
place, and then return to rest.
Feby. 7th Since I wrote the foregoing I am happy to inform
you that Wm [William?] Henry continues to improve tho' very
slowly. To day I carried him lying across my arms into the
Drawing Room and laid him on the Couch, where he has
remained since 12 O Clock - and I write this beside him at
Seven. He is getting a good appetite - Farina, Arrowroot -
[Fleensmery?] - & [Snipes?] - come generally every day in potatoes,
together with wine, jelly & [-orke?]. Four or five boils
have broken out on his stomach where it was blistered &
making him very uneasy. Last night was the first one for
three weeks in which we all got to bed.
I am sorry to say that Dr. Filson is very ill of fever. He
was in here on last Tuesday night, and told me when going
away that he felt cold. He was very ill both on Saturday
night & last night. This morning Drs Knox, Brohoran,
McGiffert & Chermside will all with him together (sic). His head
has been shaved, and a blister was put on his Stomach today.
May the Lord bless the means used, and spare him to his
family & the community. He has been one of our best friends
in our trouble. There have been several cases of fever in
the town and the country lately. Robert & John Jeffrey & Mr
[Louphry?] are both very ill of it. Robert's is a very bad

I am sorry to say further that I had a letter from your
Uncle James McCleery requesting a renewal of his acceptance
for œ50 which was due on the 4th inst. I had to grant it -
and this puts it out of my power to accommodate you with
œ100 - as you request - & which I was disposed to do - you
must try & borrow in America, if you find it necessary -
We were rather disappointed in not receiving either a letter
or paper by the last mail - As Dr Bowden got one bearing
your initials it relieved in some measure our disappointment.
I presume you are aware that the mail is now dispatched once
a fortnight during the winter months, on every alternate
During Wm [William?] Henry's illness we had uncommonly
severe weather. Frost and snow. For three weeks Dr Filson
was very much exposed and fatigued. From Saturday till
Wednesday he was three times in N. T.ards [Newtownards?]
either going or returning before day light, or after dark -
in uncommonly piercing weather - Wednesday the day of Wm
[William?] Dorrian's funeral at Ardkeen was one of the
coldest I have experienced. I met it at Gravestone. I think
over fatigue brought on his illness - at least predisposed
him to catch infection.
Feby. 9th The blister on Dr Filson's stomach rose very
well in 6 hours. He has been more quiet since. I saw him
this morning, and he is not worse than I expected to find
him. We would not [wait?] for a favourable change before
Saturday, as all that have begun to recover before the 11th
or 13th day have invariably relapsed. He is yet perfectly
Robert Jeffrey died yesterday Evening. John is recovering.
Wm [William?] Henry has slept very well during the last two
nights. We have him today on the Couch in the Drawing Room.
Some of the boils are better. There is still one very
painful one.
There was a great turn out this morning in Church. Saml.
[Samuel?] Wilson of Tullynacree was married by Mr Scott to
Miss Jane Lawson of Rochefield. There were no less than six
cars drove up the Church road. I think it was in my letter
of 30th Oct. that I mentioned poor Thom [Thomas?] Gelston's
death - About a month since Dr. Filson was several times in
Strangford sent for to see Mrs Gelston, who thought she was
dying. She has recovered as the Doctor predicted and was to be
married this morning, for the fourth time, to a man of the
name of Smyth [Smith?] from Dunsford - So James McComb is out.
Wm [William?] Henry is now eating a roasted apple, and
sends his love to you and hopes you are well - Your Mother,
Jane Ellen, Magt [Margaret?] & Eliza desire to be
affectionately remembered to you - They are all well. Mrs
Sarah McKibben has been poorly, but is recovered.
I have not seen Mrs Welsh for some days, but we hear every
day by her maid Rachel Sloan. She has a slight attack of
Influenza, but is again recovered. If I do not send her
love to you I will be greatly blamed. She is very anxious
about your welfare, I assure you.
I have not heard from Ballybeen for some days. The last
account your Grandmamma was still very weak, but able to be
out of bed for a part of the day. Mrs McGiffert of
Ballytrustan was buried last Friday. Jane Ellen had a letter
this morning from Mary Shaw, in which she mentions her
Father's death after a tedious illness.
Mr Warnoch & the family are in their usual health. Miss
Margt [Margaret?] is I think much better than when you left
this. She still takes a very active part in the management
of the Sabbath School and in the collection of Funds for
building the new School House.
We have recd. [received?] accounts of Wm [William?]
McCleery's arrival at New Orleans in the Huron - where
Thomas Warnock & he met about the 1st of the new year. I
continue to send you the Derry Standard once a fortnight.
Believe me, Dear John.

Continue to write regularly. Your affectionate Father

John Orr.

Mr J. [John?] M. [Malcolm?] Orr Esq.