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Title: Thomas Warnock, New Orleans to John M. Orr, Chicago.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileWarnock, Thomas/49
SenderWarnock, Thomas
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationbusinessman
Sender Religionunknown
OriginNew Orleans, Louisiana, USA
DestinationChicago, Illinois, USA
RecipientOrr, John M.
Recipient Gendermale
SourceCopyright Retained by John McCleery, 80 Circular Rd, Belfast BT4 2GD.
ArchiveUlster American Folk Park.
Doc. No.9702136
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 10:02:97.
Word Count2655
TranscriptNew Orleans 31st March 1848

My Dear John,

I received your letter of the 9th February on the 28th
informing me of your intended journey or adventure. I admit your
spirit of enterprise & would like well to have shared the
pleasures & fatigues of your trip. I got your paper the other
day which you sent from Kalamazoo dated 3rd of March which I took
for the day of your arrival there & in referring to the map I think
you had not lost much time in going that distance. It seems by
the paper and it's advertisements to be quite a civilized place
& to contain a good many opponents in trade who in their
advertisements show a good deal of wit.
I think you must have experienced a good deal of cold
weather as some of the Northern papers talked about the mercury
being below zero. How did you get on with the Indians and did
you meet many. Had you a guide or companion of any kind. Had
you to bivouach [bivouac?] or is the country so thickly inhabited
that you could always meet with a nights lodging. I hope you
will be safe returned by the time this reaches Chicago & have
some of the Indian names your Father used to give us in his
descriptions of the missionaries. If you have time and
inclination, give your opinion how I could stand a Northern
winter, now that you yourself have experienced one; is it
as I have heard it described, that although the cold is so
intense, yet from the stillness of the air it does not
affect so much as the cold weather at home: this is what
I have heard said of Canada. Have you had any scating
[skating?] or sleighing, from the animated accounts I
have heard of the sleighing excursions, I think it
would almost reconcile one to the cold. How can the
people get on with their out-door work, is it
stopped altogether. Let me have a description of all
the customs and ways of the folk during the frost.
There has not been what I would call cold weather since I
came here, in January there was a frost every night for a
fortnight but then the sun during the day shone out and
gave as much heat as we have at home in June. Indeed the
whole Winter was something like our Summer, in the evening
the air had the soft balmy feel of a September or August
evening. I came to New Orleans with strong prejudice
against it but that fled before I was a month here. You
know the bad character it has at home but I must say I was
never in so quiet a city in my life & feel just as safe as
if I was in Portaferry. I live out in the outskirts of the
city near the woods & come home sometimes late & very often
never meet a soul. I have not seen a row since I have been
here & there is far less crime committed in it than in
Cincinnati. The worst thing that I see in it is slavery, and
that I abhor and hate. Willy McCleery left this on the
2nd of March, he was two months here & I saw him two or three
times a week & we always spent Sunday together. He looks
quite well & is grown a great big fellow. He and his
Captain get on very agreeably together, more like two
brothers than anything else. Willy thought a great deal
of him. They have gone to Trieste with a cargo of cotton
& he told me when I wrote to you to remember him to you.
I had a letter from home last mail & the other day got
one from Rachel & E A McCleery. Our folk were just as we
left them and your family were all well except your
William Henry who has had a very bad Typhus Fever, but
has now recovered. Eliza Anne says she never saw such
an anxious & affectionate creature than your Jane Ellen
during his illness. She says Jane Ellen is a good deal
thinner but looks very well & is cheerful as usual.
Eliza Anne gives me a good deal of news of what is
going on. She & our girls say Portaferry is
miserably dull. They have, that is the Sunday School
teachers, got up a Quilting match & have commenced
two quilts which she describes as very fine, which
are said to be sold & the proceeds to be applied to
the funds for building the Schoolhouse. Mr Nugent is
planking the Rock. I think my Father will patronise
it as much as anyone. Mr Scott has made a great many
improvements about the Church. Dr Filson has had
Typhus fever but is now better; what do you think:
the old surgeon was attending him. Dr Tom sometimes
takes a spree now and again. There has been a good
deal of influenza. Old Jack Donnan is dead. Mrs
Thomas Gelson is married again to a Blacksmith from
Dunsford: a few days after they were married she sent
him home to his Mother. Another of the Miss Lawsons
is married to one of the Wilsons of Tullanacrew; old
Davy is working wisely - he is getting them off his
hands. Andy McDonnel's were put up to Auction; James H.
bought what he had in Marlfield; but Andy bought in
Ballywhite, he is still drinking hard. Lord Bangor is
of age and they had a great ado's in Strangford. E Anne
says her Brother has thrown off the Frock and now
looks quite sparce; he is as droll as ever and has
become quite a lady's man. She says he is very lonely,
no one to go with, but he keeps his spirits well. Many
a time, Willy and I wished you & he had been with us
when we were sauntering along New Orleans streets; I
think we would have cut a swell that would have astonished
the natives. Her Mama still complains of Rheumatism &
toothache. Her Father just the old cut and so is Maria.
God bless her every morning she rises, is as cheerful,
good humoured & beautiful as ever; E A only says she is
well but I put the corollary to it. Many & I may say
every day I wish for the enjoyment of but half an hour
with her & your Jane Ellen. To me they seemed the
Personification of Female perfection. Often & fondly do
I think of the many truly happy evenings I spent in their
company; & I hope that God may grant that you and I may yet
have that enjoyment again. To be in the society of two such
beings would tend to make me a better man than all the
Bibles ever printed, or all the sermons ever preached. To
live in their atmosphere would have the effect of subduing
all unworthy passions in my nature, to please them would be
to me, my greatest desire; to displease them, my greatest
unhappiness. I thus write to you my dear John, in the same
strain that many of our conversations partook of when
walking at home. What would you give for a walk along the
Walter shore, or through the Demesne, or over the Derryhill.
John I cannot get home & Portaferry out of my head; all that
I hold dear on this earth belong to it. I dream of it nearly
every night; last week I thought you had set up a shop in
Portaferry & I was selling you a lot of leather but
somehow or other I could not tell you the price of a single
article. James has bought a pony and rides out to the farms;
he has to wear spectacles at night when reading and the girls
have great laughing at him; they say that he is always under
the impression that I will go home. It is reported that the
[W Cammon?] is failed or asking for time. Mr Johnson is in the
Keg of bran again. Young Hugh gets on as usual. Markets are
very low in Ireland but low as they are, the poor can but
buy with difficulty. They talk about potatoes as a curiosity
& wonder if I ever get any. James has had a great crop of
turnips & has been feeding a great many cows. What do you
think is going to become of our poor country; will it
always be going back & still in difficulties. I heard H.C.
Bowden has got settled for 3/6 in the œ, with all his boasting
he has bought himself to a pretty pass. James Guisson is here
& a son of Mr Cramsies came out in the same vessel & had
been in the hospital here, ill with ship fever & has now
gone to St. Louis; he is rather a wild one. Business is
awfully dull here; the news from England of the constant
and gradual decline in prices there has had a parallel
effect here. I have not been able to do anything for
myself yet, as everything has gradually drooped since I
came here; so that if I had bought anything I was sure
on losing and it would be well if half the people had
not been in business, as they have not made their
expenses. A great many speculated in the beginning of
the season, always expecting that each succeeding mail
from England would bring word of an improvement in prices
but in that they have been grievously disappointed. Some
things, viz Corn, Cotton, Provisions have fallen since I
came from 30 to 50 per cent. Failures have commenced, &
the Banks have refused to discount paper; except of the
most undoubted kind. There have been immence quantities
of produce come down the river but fully 2/3rds have
been shipped on the packers account to the Boston & New York
rather than accept the ruinously low prices they would get
here and therefore only 1/3rd has been left for speculators
and regular traders; this you will perceive has shortened
business very much some days it is as dull, I have heard some
of the residents say, as in the summertime when the epidemic
is raging. You will see the drays hauled up along both sides
of the street anxiously waiting to get something to do. I lost
$99.66 on my speculation of whiskey and oil, this was a bad
beginning but a bad beginning sometimes has a good end, at
least so I hope. I deal largely in hope and although such a
commodity does not always return a good profit, yet I will
hope on to the end of the chapter. I seem to have been following
the bad times, but this I could not forsee. Living here is very
expensive; I cannot live here (& I do it as economically as
possible) under $40 dollars per month. This with the loss I
met & travelling here has made cosiderable inroad on my small
capital, so I have determined to try some of the Northern cities
where if I can make but little, I can live on little & if you
think that I can stand the cold of Chicago, I will go there
when I leave this and start something in a small way. I should
like very much to be in the same town that you are living in.
It is very lonely to be in a place where everyone is
comparatively strangers. I have said nothing of my
determination to go North in any of my letters home, as there
is no use in saying anything about particulars. Even if I
could do a successful business, I would not like to live in
New Orleans, for by living here for a number of years, unfits
a person to live in a Northern climate. The Winter season is
delightful but in the Summer people are stewed alive, the
air is so damp and heavy. Those who I see live here constant
lose their hair & teeth and have a most curious look, some
of them get fat & flabby and others very soon look old. For
a person who has plenty of money there is no place he can spend
the Winter more pleasantly than here, there being lots of
amusement of every kind. About a month ago I got a situation
in a large Western produce House as the only way to preserve
my capital & I will take off as much this way as will pay my
expenses. For the first three weeks I had very much to do,
working from 8 in the morning to 9 & 10 o'clock at night.
Nearly all the goods sent them were shipped to New York. When
you write direct your letter to Robert Park & Co, 5, Lafayette
Street as Mr Park & I live in the same house. We pay for the
rooms and the cooking of our meals & buy the necessaries
ourselves, in this way we have our meat cheaper & more
comfortable than in the Boarding Houses. Mr Park's nephew
came out from Ireland in February & is living with us. James
Fetherston is doing very little and I think never has done
much. There have been some Belfast vessels here for more than
four months & some of them two months waiting for freights.
There is an immense fleet of vessels here now and has been all
Winter. Henry Maxwell was here for about six weeks and sailed
last week. I dined with him on board one day & I was telling
him I thought I would see you before long and he wished to be
remembered to you; he was saying as much as that he was going
to get married but he would not tell me to whom. I find that
this paper is so thin, I have to change my handwriting.
Captain Mearns was expected here but he has not arrived yet.
There has been a young lady & her brother amusing us for
several Sundays with Baloon [Balloon?] ascensions & there is
now an opposition one. Last Sunday, it was to go up but it
burst when they were inflating it. Sunday is the great day for
exhibitions. I am sorry to say that I have to take the pills as
usual; I was in great hopes that by a few months in this
climate that I would have got clear of them but it has not been
of any use and I must only live in hope. Archy has bought a
cottage in Newport, a small town opposite Cincinnati across on
the Kentucky side & is living there with his wife who still
continues in very bad health. If business gets so dull that I
should lose my situation, which I think will be the case, I
will start immediately for Chicago. You might send me a Chicago
newspaper, I would like to see how the town supports the Press.
Do you think that I would have the chance of a privateship in
your Company. Do you wear Mustachios if you do I will begin to
cultivate one in anticipation. I would like very much to have
seen you the day of your parade; I don't think I would like to
fight, a little show however would do no harm. I will tell you
all my journeys when I see you; and now my Dear John goodbye
and I remain your friend
Thos [Thomas?] Warnock

You must not say anything about my going from this
when you are writing home I will tell them in my next letter.

I am now writing in my bedroom
& it is so hot that I am perspiring
how do you feel