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Title: McIlrath, James L to McIlrath family, 1874
CollectionThe McIlrath Letters: A family history in letters from New Zealand to Ireland (1860-1915) [Bassett, McKee et al.]
SenderMcIlrath, James L
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationfarmer
Sender Religionunknown
OriginSouthbridge, Canterbury, New Zealand
DestinationKillinchy, Co. Down, Northern Ireland
RecipientMcIlrath family
Recipient Gendermale-female
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count542
Genrenew railway, local economy, taxes, decease
Canterbury N.Z.
September 6th 1874

Father Mother & Brothers
I now write to let you know that we are all well and has been since
last I wrote to you, and hopes you have all enjoyed the same blessing.
I would have wrote before this only I thought to have all our likeness's
to send you before this but there is no place we could get them nearer
than Christchurch a distance of more than thirty miles so you can
guess it is no easy task to take young ones so far but the railway is
formed now right up to Southbridge and the telegraph is finished
they are coming up fast with the sleepers and rails, it is expected
to be opened for traffic by the first of February next we are within
about two of your miles from the station so we will be able then to
go to Christchurch and back in one day. I was thinking of getting
a photographer up then and having house, garden and all taken and
sending them to you.
Times has never been better since we came here than they have
been since last I wrote. Cattle is 75 per cent higher than they were
two years ago Land property is one third higher than when last I
wrote I would get fifteen pounds, £15 per acre now quick. There was
a sale of town sections 1/2 acre each in the township of Southbridge
by public auction August 27th which fetched up to £30, thirty
pounds per half acre free forever all that is to pay here in the shape
of taxes is one pound per house annually which is called school rates
the bachelors dont like to pay that then there is a road rate levied
according to the net annual value of property that is, what rent if let
the property is worth supposing 100 acres to let at 10 shillings per acre and the rates be six pence in the pound it would amount to £1-5-0
but if one shilling rate £2-10-0 which is the highest rate levied and
depends a great deal on the people themselves if they complain on the
bad state of the roads and wants them repaired then a rate is levied by
what is called the Road Board but no more than one shilling rate m
one year. The Board receives so much yearly from Government and
with the rates added is how the roads is kept up. The members of the
board receives nothing for their service they keep a clerk to inspect the
roads but very likely I have wandered off to what dont interest you.
I bought three of the above sections I shall very likely put up some
cottages on them and let them the emigrants is coming by thousands.
And now for the family we have John, William and Jane one
little girl died when six weeks old so I am not so far on as you were
informed. John is named for father, Jane for mother and William for
Agnes's father.
Yours Jas. L. McIlrath.

Please write soon and not take two or three months over it like I did.
I must try and write a little oftener