Main content

Title: J.Wightman, U.S.A., to Eliza Wightman, Belfast.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileWightman, James/23
SenderWightman, James
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender ReligionProtestant
OriginElizabethtown, Penn., USA
DestinationBelfast, N.Ireland
RecipientWightman, Eliza
Recipient Genderfemale
SourceCopyright retained by Prof. J.A.Faris, 15 Coney Island, Ardglass, Co. Down. BT30 7UQ
ArchiveUlster American Folk Park.
Doc. No.9708181
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 29:08:97.
Word Count1809
TranscriptSingle Paid 18 3/4

Oct 10 [Despatch
postmark 10 Oct 1833?]
[---- -- --?]

Miss Wightman
No.34 Upper [Queen?] St.

NO 6
33 [Dublin datestamp 6 Nov 1833?]

(Duplicate) Conway July 6th 1833
My Dear Eliza
The long period of suspense and anxiety
I suffered was happily terminated by the receipt of your
letter of the 4th April which came to hand by mere
accident - Our friend Russel Kennedy enclosed it
in a leaf I had a few lines from him myself expressing
a desire to see me in Philada [Philadelphia?] but
(Irishman like) he neither informed me in what part of
the city I've even a letter I've ever a letter would
find him - he directed his letter "Conways house, « mile
west of Conways creek, now in length this embraces a "pretty
considerable" space, and after traversing (for aught I
know) the course of this noted stream up and down north
and south, & at length found a resting place at the
village of Falmouth where the creek discharges itself into
the Susquehanna about 6 miles from here, the Postmaster
of which sent me word of the letter being there, not however
he ascertained by enquiry where such apersonage resided
to whom such a "big" letter was directed - you not
adverting to either of my last two letters leads me to
conclude that neither of them reached you, the last was
directed to Dublin - I have mentioned my suspicions to
[----?] that the Postmaster of Middletown with whom I
mailed I believe all my letters to Europe, embezzled
my letters through the mercenary object of pocketing
the postage paid on them to New York - to answer one of
the first enquiries you will make on opening this I have
to say that I never enjoyed better health than I have
done the last year - my sight is somewhat impaired owing
to the injury I revceived by the breaking down of the
stage a few years ago, so that when reading small print
by candle light I must have recourse to spectacles - The
winter before last, Harriet and I had severe attacks of
bilious fever. The vital spark was nearly extinct in her,
but the application of a poultice of horse radish to
the stomach invigorated the heart and affected a recovery
- her little brother William was [removed?] from this vale
of tears, the preceeding summer he was three months old,
and his death was occasioned by an inflammation of the
brain - Harriet is now without a playmate - she is very
fond of her books and walks « mile to school every day
the weather permits - I look forward with impatience and
pleasing anticipation to the day in which we shall all
be united under one roof - a day which trusting to the
goodness and confiding in the wise dispensations of
Providence I fervently hope is not far distant - after
I make some improvements on the property I expect to
receive a reasonable price for it - and then farewell
to America - I am fairly sick of it, at least of this
section of it, which is highly settled with "Cobbed
ear'd" Dutch or Germans, (for both names are here
synonimous [synonymous?]) whom I rate in the scale of
civilization but one degree above the Hottentots,
unsocial, ungenerous, illiberal, uneducated, mean and
mercenary - I cannot speak so of another kind of
animals we have here, whose [vain?] and familiar
propensities are rather of an intrusive and annoying
nature, I mean the "Country Borns" yclept flies -
even now whilst I write, some half dozen of the most
scientific of them are exploring the veins of either
hand, a sweet toothed gentleman has just now punctured
my lip with his proboscis foolishly thinking to extract
nectar therefrom, some are tickling me on the ear,
and others are endeavouring to ascertain whether my nose
be like achillies heel - they will pilfer the ink
from my pen, and this will account for the appearance of
so many words being faintly written to avoid the
imputation of being insectiverous one has to keep "a
sharp look out" while one eats or several of them will
accompany every other mouthful to the gastrick [gastric?]
region - our evening and night society is no less
agreeable, the flea the bug and the mosquito have such a
tug at you, nor can all the attention to cleanliness
bestowed on bed or person secure you from their attacks
these have the ague, but as this only makes its appearance
"once in a while" we may let it pass with the other ills
that flesh is heir to - I wish you had mentioned where
the lady resides , by whom you sent the parcel for Mrs.
W. 'tis strange she could not find us out for every person
within two hundred miles of this knows, or has heard of,
thre "big brick house" near Conway - Mrs W. regrets the
non delivery of it very much - The harvest has set in here
pretty briskly - the grain ripens so rapidly that it
requires great exertions to get it cut in proper time -
During its continuance all mechanical employments are
suspended, carpenters, shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths,
weavers, milliners, and mantuamakers all turn out - we have
several harvests, first comes the hay harvest about mid
summer, then the grain harvest which comprises the whreat
and rye then the ([-ats?] harvest) then the timothy (meadow
cats tail) hay harvest and then the oats harvest all in
quick succession - the corn husking comes in October -
I mean the Indian corn - for with you corn and oats are
synonimous [synonymous?] - harvest work is here no
childrens play - the hands are in the field at « past
four in the morning, breakfast at six, dine at 12, sup
at five and quit work at eight - the thermometer in the
shade ranging from 90 to 100 - seldom a day but some
of the hands "back out" - for my own part I stand it
"right well" sans coat, sans waistcoat, sans stockings
and I have never been obliged to "give out"yet - so
so superstitious are the Dutch here, that except in
harvest the moon governs all their operations so that
one may with some propriety term them lunatics, pulse
and grain must be sown when the sign is up, that is, when
the moon is in the ascending mode - [c--l--ts?] must be
sown or planted when the sign is down, or the moon in
her descending mode - this however does not do in
every case - for flax must be sown on good friday be
[Di---ce?] where she will, and potatoes must be planted
on a particular day of a particular week - to ensure
durability some kinds of timber must be felled in the
first quarter, some at the full and others in the last
quarter of the moon - to enumerate the charms they have
for their different ailments would fill a volume - a child
that has the whooping cough must be placed thrree times
in a small hopper, if a man cuts himself with an axe or
another edge tool, the instrument must be carefully wiped
& laid away , or the wound will not heal - marriage is an
infallible cure for a broken leg (illegitimate pregnancy)
&c &c. Crime in its most atrocious character is encreasing
in an alarming degree in this most moral of all moral
communities nor are the perpetrators confined to that class
of society to which such miscreants usually belong - within
a little space the sheriff of Washington County was hung
for the murder of his wife - a Mrs. Chapman was tried and
nearly convicted on a charge of poisoning her husband, for
which her paramour and accessory was executed - a methodist
preacher to the eastward was acquitted of the murder of a
young woman with whom he had an illicit connexion, but so
strong was the conviction of his guilt that he has had
several escapes for his life since - A ruffian is to undergo
the sentence of the law in a few days for the murder of a
Mrs Hamilton, the widow of a medical gentleman - the
occasion was her refusal to marry him - he inflicted no
less than 13 wounds with a dirk - our high spirited gentry
at Washington are not behind in the march of civilisation,
during the late session of congress they endeavoured to
elevate the character of the government and the country by
cowhideing, dirking, cudgelling, and pistolling each other.
cowhideing or cowkissing is performed by the application
of a sort of horsewhip, formed of untanned cowhide, cut into
thongs, and twisted together in form of a horsewhip - I have
been to a Dutch funeral a few days since - the Dutch have
generally a grave yard in the vicinity of the dwelling house,
after the interment the people return to the house where a
sumptuous repast is prepared for them, frequently out of
doors - two or three fowls cut up and stewed, with a few
pounds of veal or beef dressed in the same manner (for they
have no idea of dressing a whole joint in this part of the
country) comprises all the animal food - these are
distributed over the table on plates - saucers and small
plates with molasses, apple butter, bonny clabber, pickled
cucumbers, & red beets profusely scattered on the table
furnish the rest of the repast - no other vegetables of
any kind - [showers?] of tabacco sakin [sacking?] [sprinkle?]
the floor and clouds of segar [cigar?] smoke perfume the
air - as one leaves the table, the place is occupied by
another - neither change of plate or knife or fork is
necessary - several will use the same utensils - bonny
clabber or [smear?] [case?] is made of coagulated skim
[skimmed?] milk (for the Dutch dont skim their milk until
it has stood several days) beat up with a little fresh
cream - a layer of butter is first spread on the bread,
then a layer of apple butter, and on this is laid a layer
of bonny clabber forming a rich compost for the stomach
- I have not room to enquire for some friends whom I
should like to hear of - I suppose my aunt ward is very
infirm as well as aunt Kennedy - I should like to hear of
[Mrs?] [McCleans?] family, (Dublin) it would amuse me to see
[Wm?] Coulson with a little one on each knee, he used to
blush if you would mention a lady to him - I shall write
to your aunt [McAlester?]in little time - Give my love to
youe sisters and may God bless you all is the fervent
prayer of yr [your?] affect [affectionate?] Father
J. Wightman