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Title: Stewart, Frances to Browne, Catherine, 1823
CollectionRevisiting Our Forest Home, The immigrant letters of Frances Stewart [J. L. Aoki]
SenderStewart, Frances
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationhousewife
Sender Religionunknown
OriginDouro Township, Newcsatle District, Upper Canada
DestinationClongill Rectory, Ireland
RecipientBrowne, Catherine
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2978
Genrefamily life, description of the land
Transcript1823: March 11
To Catherine Browne [et al], Clongill Rectory

DouroCottage!! 11th March 1823

My beloved Sisters & Aunts of Clongill

Yesterday morning we had the delightful [feast] of 2 mails from England,
2 sets of letters from Clongill, 2 sets from Cheltenham & 2 from dear Mrs.
Stewart, the first we have yet secured from [ ]. You may guess how we
felt at this most unexpected & wonderful account of our dear Aunt Bess's
Accouchement for I can call it nothing else. I had formed very gloomy
presentiments from the former letters & had been preparing myself &
trying to arm my mind, feeling sure of much worse accounts. You may
then judge of the delightful sensation I felt at reading so many accounts
of her amendment from different quarters & finding that all agreed. I
read the letters over & over & never closed my eyes all last night with
thinking over all their contents.
Our letters from our much loved Mother were not so cheering as
they contained the news of the death of poor dear Anna Mathias, who
we all loved extremely & little Lucy Bellingham, who has been a favourite
of mine ever since the time of our beloved Elizas death when this little
girl shewed such strong affection for her Mother.
Besides all these letters Tom received Uncle Suttons enclosure
of a Bill of Exchange for £55.7s.ld British which George Kirkpatrick enclosed to us & mentioned in his letter the safe arrival of the poor
old Montreal letter which indeed my dears was not worth wishing &
watching for so long. I wrote it in hasty moments & when my mind
was in a state of [ ] about poor weeny Bessy who I thought at the time
was [in] a very hopeless state. She continued very delicate all summer
& all the time we lived at York but grew better in a miraculous manner
from the time we left that vile place. The Garrisson indeed is healthy
but York is an odious place tho' not at all dark or gloomy for we saw it
in hot sunny August & Sept'r when gloomy would have been refreshing.
My beloved Catharine you never before your last letter told me
of that pain in your side. I hope that [those] all powerful waters of
Cheltenham have been of permanent service to you [ ] now my dear
dear child always tell me the truth about your health & every body that
I love for it is indeed mistaken kindness to put off mentioning illness
or to deceive a friend at a distance. Your two letters were dated Oct'r
& Nov'r. Mrs. Stewarts Ditto, Harriets latest was 4th Dec'r so you may
circulate this news to the different houses. I wrote to you last 18th Jan'y
& to Harriet from this house on 28th Feb'y which letter I directed to
E'Town as I knew they could have it forwarded to her in [ ] to any part
of England & I was not sure of its arriving at Cheltenham before May. I
think I will pursue the same plan till I think I may direct to Merrion St.
again for her letters are so long coming & mine going that I never feel
sure of their reaching her safe.
Your list of marriages amused us very much, none of the parties
mentioned more than poor little "Skinny." I dislike calling names &
saying anything severe but I cannot resist in the present instance for it
puts me in mind of our little snug suppers in the [ ] at Wilmont, that
time when the rest of our time was passed rather unpleasantly. Oh dear
Catharine, the happy gay time I passed at Wilmont before I was married
& for nearly a year after is now like a dream. It was very delightful
but it was a useless time. I was indeed living like a butterfly then.
Then came the very very unhappy time which I try never to think of.
Then came dear Lakefield where we lived so peaceably & comfortably
with that kindest & best of Mothers. I like thinking of Lakefield. We
lived there nearly two years & indeed it was a happy time. Then came White Abbey where we were with dear good friends too, but it was
not like Lakefield & all the time of our abiding there our minds were
harassed by that nasty old Thomson & besides my own mind & heart
were agonized with the constant dread of our taking this great leap. I
did suffer more about this than about any other thing that ever happened,
for who could help dreading such a step, so very doubtful in its
consequences, besides the idea of leaving so many I loved so tenderly
& knowing how much the step was disapproved of by those 1 valued
& respected most. But I could not help feeling that Tom was right &
I plainly saw where "Duty" pointed so I tryed to smother every other
feeling but no one can tell the pangs I suffered. Oh the bitter pang
when I last parted from you all so dear & from dear dear Merrion St.
But why am I going over it all. I am a fool. I must come to the present
time & tell you about our nice territory here. You will have learnt
from Harriet that we arrived here the 11th Feb'y. I believe I forgot to
describe the place as it is now. Our clearing is at present very small
as the snow prevents much from being done at this time of year. Our
opening around this house is about as large as FitzWilliam Square.
You may imagine the houses of that little square, all very tall trees.
Our little clearing is in this shape. I find I have turned this very nice drawing upside down. So you must turn it. The trees are very high,
higher than any trees I ever saw in Ireland but in general they are
not surprisingly thick for they grow so close that they have a drawup
look. The river runs at that front of the house from which it is about as far from the house as the road is from Clongill [ ]. The bank is a
rapid declivity but not so much as to be ugly. At present there is a
thick border of wood between us & the river through which we have
made some openings & we can see the rushing water in two or three
places from the window. The river here has a strong current & it rages
away carrying huge masses of ice down from the Lake about 20 miles
above us, called Mud Lake. The Otonobee river is a very winding one
which adds much to its beauty. Here it is nearly twice as broad as the
Boyne is at Naven. Altogether as to beauty of situation & fertility of
soil, we could not have been fixed more completely to our satisfaction.
The house is in an inconveniently unfinished & unfurnished state but
as we are to be our own carpenters &c this will reconcile us to the
inconvenience of waiting sometime longer than we should otherwise
do. The frost interrupted the building of our chimnies & we have had
them put up in a temporary way just to do till Spring when we must
have the present chimney taken down & another built. The floors are
also to be laid in summer as at present the boards are only loosly laid
down to season so that we can't do any thing to the inside of the house
till Autumn or next Spring then (probably in Autumn we shall plaister
our walls neatly & make them fit for papering). We shall also plaister
& whitewash the outside but now we have the rough Logs outside &
the Logs smoothed down at the inside of our house. Our kitchen is
24 feet by 18, our sitting room 17 by 15, little bedroom inside 12 by
8 & a tiny storeroom within it or rather between it & the kitchen. At
present we sleep in our sitting room, & the maid & children in the
inside room, but in summer they are to move upstairs where we shall
have two good rooms & a closet & then we shall take possession of
the room next [to] this. The Reids house is the same size as this but
the inside division will I believe be differently arranged. They have
the hall door at one end. Their clearing is twice as large as ours which
gives their place a more chearful appearance but ours will be opened
more as soon as the snow is off the ground when Tom will hire men
& get it done quickly. He intends to have ten acres cleared this spring.
Tom is busy all day making shelves & tables. We have got a bedstead
but it is only a temporary one as he has not any seasoned timber yet. March 13.1 have just [ ] [ ] that our neighbour Mr. Scott the Miller is
going to Cobourg tomorrow so I must [finish this] letter [forthwith] to
send by him to the post office. (Pussy has walked [ ] my paper & dirtied
it all). Thank dear Bessy for her letter & Aunt Sutton for her note & tho'
last not least darling Aunt Sue for her Scrap which is very precious to
me. I lay by all my letters from home by themselves & read them over &
over again. You all managed very nicely, not one of your party told the
same news so that each contribution seemed as if they had come from
different houses instead of different parts of a room. I pictured you all to myself. Aunt Sutton on the sofa with her writing desk before her, [Bessy
at hers] in the corner, you at yours opposite [ ], & the dear Mamsey at her
table in the window next the Piano. Now is this right?
Oh these were lovely letters & I felt so happy reading them. I just
then forgot that 3,500 miles separates us!! One cannot have everything
& I really do think that we only want our friends & church here to make
our happiness complete. The latter I think we shall have in a year or two as there is a village plot laid out at Scotts Mills 2 % miles from this & I
think there will soon be a church, for the township just at the other side
of the river is thickly inhabited at this end & every month increasing
in Settlers. [ ] township will be settled immediately as already numbers
of [ ] [have] fixed on it & are only waiting till it is surveyed to come &
built & clear. [Last week] [ ] just at breakfast time by two sleighs full of Strangers driving up to our door. One of them, a very nice gentlemanlike
elderly man, handed a letter to Tom & the 5 others (who were not
very like gentlemen) set about helping us to make up a good fire for they
were very cold. This elderly man was introduced to us by our friend Mr.
Falkener of whom I told you before & he wishes to take land here &
came to see what "The Bush" looked like. He had never been really in
the woods before. He seemed delighted with the beauty of the spot here
even at this dreary looking season & will probably draw his land in this
township. He is a Quaker & has eleven children. He is an Englishman &
Mullet is his name. The other yahoos (for indeed they were very uncouth
animals) said "they could not see what enducement any gentleman could
find in such a place." So I am in hopes they will not return tho' of course
we need not visit them if we don't like them. Mr. Reid thinks some of
his family will come here next year & perhaps some of ours. I believe
I mentioned before that Gov't have promised that ten thousand acres
should be reserved for 2 years in case our friends should join us. I do
wish greatly that some of our friends who have small incomes & large
families were here for it is the best place in the world for them, but I will never advise any one to come. It is like matrimony. We have been most
prosperous in every thing. Our voyage & journey were performed most
astonishingly when the number of little children are thought of & the
dangers & hardships they were exposed to & Maria Reid & Nancy Bailey
so near being confined & yet no accident or unpleasant circumstance
occurred. When I look back & think of all we have "gone through" since
we left home I cannot help feeling surprise & gratitude to that Merciful
Being who has watched over us & protected us all. Twenty families might
come & not one so prosperous as we have been. I had no idea of the
arduous undertaking. Even at the time I did not perceive the trials nearly
so much as I now do when we coolly talk over & when I think over every part of our voyage from Ireland to York & from thence to Cobourg, for
We were in some danger in that short passage of 70 miles.
You ask how high your three nieces are. Anna Maria is 3 feet 7 inches.
Ellen is 3 feet 1 inch, & Bessheen 2 feet 4 inches & a quarter. I found your present of the nice greenstuff frocks most useful, dear Kate, for washing is so troublesome at this frosty time when every thing must be dried within doors & then the danger of burning is so great when children or old people either wear muslin clothes, besides which the coldness of the
weather makes stuff the pleasantest & best material for winter gowns
& frocks. I have worn a black stuff gown all this winter & the chicks
their little greeny's. In summer cambric muslin or English fine ginghams
will be the pleasantest & coolest every day coloured gowns, & calico for
frocks. I have not worn any additional clothing this winter more than I
did in Ireland. The only difference I made was wearing a flannel chemise
instead of a flannel petticoat & then my other chemise over the flannel
& one upper petticoat & ray gown. The great secret is wearing flannel
next the skin & I have found this quite enough. Out walking at Cobourg
I never wore more than my old grey cloak. Sleighing, my dear Plaid & my
[-coat] over it, was the greatest muffling I ever found necessary even at
night. Here I seldom put on either cloak or bonnet when I go out to take
a race which I do every day two or three times. The cold is sometimes
very extreme but I have never found it disagreeable. On the 4th of March
at 5 in the morning the thermometer was 18 below zero & for three days
was always 5 or 6 below zero at seven in the morning but we had good
fires & when I went out I ran & never felt cold.
Pray remember me to all my friends & tell Mrs. Stewart we got her
letters & thank her & the rest of the writers from our hearts for them.
Tell her she did not tell us her present direction. So you must tell us soon.
Tell her I am going to write by this post to Mrs. Mitchell but do you write
dear for fear the other letter sh'd be lost. Reids all well.
Bessy's extract from Mrs. O'Barnes letter was indeed gratifying tho'
my conscience told me at the time that I ought to feel ashamed for I
know how little I deserve such praise. I don't accuse dear Mrs. OB of
being a flatterer but I think her warmth leads her to think too highly of
people or at least of me. Pray give my affectionate love to her in which I am joined by Tom, & Mr. Reid who is just come in desires his kindest
regards may be added & pray to her you write to her tell her to forward
our kind remembrances to Enniskillen. I have a great respect & esteem
for Doctor OBeirne, not much for his wife, entre nous — but you need
not tell this.
I am glad you have got the Montreal letter. I believe I told you in it
of the great kindness of the Mountain family. Indeed I never can forget
the interest both the Bishop & Mrs. Mountain expressed about us nor the
affectionate manner in which they took leave of us. I have been waiting
till we came to our land to write to Mrs. M. for I think I ow£ her that
slight attention & my letter shall go tomorrow I think if I can possibly
make time to write tonight. Pray thank Miss Wren for having introduced
us to such a very friendly & agreeable a family. Remember me to the [ ]
family & particularly to dear Mrs. Montray. You are very welcome indeed
to send my letters to darling Aunt Waller & my beloved Maria who is in
deed & in heart my sister. [A line that follows has been heavily crossed out].
Pray give my tender love to Aunts Sutton & Sue & Uncle & Bessy & ditto
to my dear Allenstown Aunt & Uncle & sisters & brothers, & ever love
your doating & etcetera sister & brother. Fra.S. & TAS