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Title: Stewart, Frances to Kirkpatrick, Catherine, 1848
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
RecipientKirkpatrick, Catherine
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2334
Genrewedding, family life
Transcript1848: May 3122
To Catherine Kirkpatrick, Ireland

Auburn 31st May 1848

My dearest Catharine,

Last week I had a great part of a letter written to you but from low spirits & one cause or another I could not manage to finish it in time for
Saturdays Mail & so I have just thrown it into the fire and have taken a
fresh sheet to make, if possible, a better attempt. You will be alarmed at
my being in such low spirits & will naturally fear I have met with some
new affliction or got into some fresh trouble but tho' I have met with a
very great loss, it is not so bad as to amount to an affliction. I have lost three members of my family! — my darling Bessie & the two Browns who
have been 15 years as my own sons & under my care! And on Wednesday
night, or rather on Thursday morning last, Edward carried my sweet Bee
off & neither of them can or will ever be in exactly the same position
again in my family circle, tho' they will I am sure never change in affectionate & tender fondness for the poor old Mother they have been with
heretofore. On Friday Robert Brown (who remained here after the wedding)
drove me over to pay them a visit & they kept me till the next day
& I did enjoy the 24 hours most exceedingly. However, I must go back
& "begin at the beginning" as the children say. They both wished to be
married on my birthday & so on Wednesday last, the 24th, the ceremony
was performed in our drawing room by Rev'd Mr. Taylor, our clergyman.
We had merely our own family & some of our nearest connections
here as we wished it to be very quiet, for at best it must be a melancholy
business under my present circumstances & of course missing the presence
of the beloved & tender parent who had given away our two elder
daughters & who had always given the bride the first tender embrace!! But tho' not with us in body, I trust his blessed Spirit watched over us &
witnessed the ceremony he had himself directed should be performed in
a reasonable time "after," when he so solemnly joined their hands & gave
her to him last September. Dr. Hay performed the part of a father on the
occasion & gave my dear child away. Our party consisted of Mr. & Mrs.
Taylor, Dr. Hay & Anna, Ellen & Charles Dunlop, Edward Brown & his
two brothers Templeton & Robert, Anna Falkner who came some days
before to spend some time here & Fanny & Kitty Reid & our own family
circle, all except poor William who was confined to bed with intermitting
fever. The ceremony was performed about six o'clock in the evening
as we thought having tea soon after would give us some occupation &
take off the silence & formality. The little Bride looked simple, innocent
& composed & behaved with more self possession than I expected, for I
knew she was "heart full." She was dressed in a neat simple manner. The
dress was a pale colour, more blue than Lavender, & more Lavender than
blue, if you can understand what that can be like. It was very pretty &
cool looking. I don't remember the name of the material. It was very soft
& nice looking. The body was made with bias folds round the bosom &
sleeves & buttons all down the front. On her shoulders she wore a very
handsome blond scarf which poor Anna Stewart sent out to Anna Hay,
her hair hung in ringlets round her face & neck having been cut sometime
ago, as it came out so much after the Ague. Everyone seems to feel
interested about both Edward & Bessie for both are much liked & loved
by all who know them.
Then came tea. Anna & Ellen presided at the tea table at one end
of the room & poured out tea & coffee which the boys handed about as
the party sat in groups in different parts of the room. In the middle was
a table with bread & butter, buttered buns, plum cake, little Shrewsbury
cakes & some other kind, all made by Bee, Anna Hay & Anna Falkner.
The Brides cake was cut up. It too was home made & excellent & nicely
iced & ornamented with coloured comfits. It was made by Anna Hay &
Bessie & just as good & rich looking as any bought plum cake. All this
kept us busy till candle light & at [9] oclock we had some nice singing &
playing as both Mr. & Mrs. Taylor are very musical. It was the first time
I had heard any music except hymns or psalms which were sung here on Sunday evenings for above a year & it seemed strange to my ears & melancholy
at first but it soon went off & I enjoyed it very much.
Templeton Brown has a beautiful voice & he & Edward sung together.
Poor Robert was not able to join having had Ague that morning. These
three brothers sing nicely together. Mrs. Taylor played on the piano,
which is the wonder of everybody. It sounds so well & everyone likes
the tone of it so much better than many of the modern ones. Poor dear
old thing, it goes in & out of tune of its own accord for I never allow any
of the common travelling tuners who often come round here to touch
it for fear of spoiling it as they do sometimes & it has not been tuned
for six years! It sometimes gets a little asthmatic like myself in damp
weather but recovers when the air is dry & sounds quite well again but
it is always very low, below concert pitch. However, I suppose you don't
understand or care much about that. At 11 we had a little supper, cold
fowl & lamb & ham & salad & some tarts & Raisins, Almonds & Apples,
&C&&C& the Bride and Bridegrooms health were drank, & we left the
gentlemen after which we heard great cheering and hurrahing. When
the gentlemen had chatted some time over their glasses Edward went to
change his dress & put on a warmer & commoner suit & then went off
to get his Waggon ready & we all went to [ ] up the darling bride & pack
up her trunks & parcels. So it was near one oclock before they started &
a lovely night, the moon just above the trees. I never wished more to do
anything than I did to go with them but I thought they would excuse my
company just then & I said nothing. No one went with them except old
Anne Mclntosh an old servant who lived with me many years ago when
they were all children & tho' she lives 18 miles off she always expects
to be invited to the weddings & to attend the Bride. She always stays
ten days or so & goes home with the Noveaux Mariées. She has been at
Annas, Ellens & Bessies weddings. Bessie has a nice little maid, a young
girl of 16 who came from Ireland last year from near Ballymacash &
whose mother died soon after they came to Peterboro. She is a nice good
little girl & I hope may answer very well for Bessie. On Friday morning
about 10 oclock I reached Goodwood which is nearly 3 miles from this
& there my own dear children met me with smiles & a hearty welcome.
It was a happy meeting to us all & I rejoiced to see so much comfort & prosperity in every part of the premises. The clover looks so beautiful &
green & luxuriant & also the wheat & the woods are so verdant & fresh &
lovely, the house so clean & airy & comfortable, so much neatness & convenience in the arrangement of everything & the laying out of the house
& rooms, that it plainly shewed the young proprietor thought much of
the wee wee wifey when he was planning it all. They would not let me
return home till the next morning as the day was warm & the rough road
& jolting had given me a little headache.
You may suppose how very lonely I felt after I came home. Dear Ellen
had staid with me for some days before & after the wedding to keep me
company & also to remain here when I went to pay my first visit to those
dear ones, but she has her own establishment to take care of & it was
necessary she should go home on Saturday morning, & just as I returned
she was setting off home so that I was only in time to say goodbye.
Then indeed the house did seem empty & forsaken. Bessies room
looked like a deserted birds nest with fragments scattered about, ragged,
& everything out of its place. The boys rooms too were changed for both
the Browns had kept their clothes here till now, as they had no servant
to wash or take care of them or any safe place to keep them till now that
they have got all complete. I have always attended to their clothes & had
their washing & sewing done here ever since they have been with us,
so that when their trunks, boxes, boots, brushes &c &c were all taken
away it seems a complete emptying of the rooms upstairs. On Sunday
too I missed my three dear children terribly for they were my constant
companions in any leisure hours & were fonder of being with me than
any of my own sons. We used to walk & talk & sit together, Bessie, Ted,
Bob & I, & were more like brothers & sisters than Mother & children.
All last winter I used to long for Wednesdays & Saturdays as on those
evenings Edw'd always came & he & Bee & I had such sociable evenings
& when I was overcome with low spirits he used always advise & sooth
& comfort me, or if I was in any dilemma about the farm or the boys
he always put things right & I felt sure that if he saw anything going
wrong or neglected about the place he w'd see that & put it right. Indeed
I have always had a feeling of safety & security whenever Edward was
with us for many years back. Now of course I must relinquish much of this, for having an establishment of his own he cannot be so often here
& not having his little Sweet heart to come to, he will not be so anxious
to come over & having her there. I cannot think of his leaving her. My
dear William is exceedingly careful & really shews much discretion &
judgement in attending to everything so that in fact we do not require
Edward so much in that way, but not one of my boys are companions so
much to my fancy as dear Bessie, Edward & Robert. I think Robert will
sometimes come & keep me company. Poor fellow, he is now very ill with
Ague & much reduced. So is my poor William. His fever has turned into
Ague which is not so bad. I am always afraid now of intermitting fever
ending in Typhus. It is so weakening, but Ague is not so bad. Quinine
seems to have no effect now in stopping Ague & it is in every house in
the country & you go no where without seeing two or three miserable
yellow emaciated creatures crawling about. Williams illness has come at
a busy time & we are obliged to hire people to plough & plant potatoes
which is very expensive. Frank cannot settle his mind to work at home &
is trying to push himself forward on his own farm. I cannot blame him as
he is 21 & he wants to be independent. He is a fine active pleasant fellow,
very much like his dear Papa in his character & ways. Johnny is a steady
hard working lad but having had Ague for two months & being naturally
of a delicate frame his strength is not equal to much exertion. He has
many good points but is awfully selfish & old batchelorish in his ways &
particularities. Frank is the pleasantest companion of any of the boys but
he scarcely ever is at home & never seems to care for any of his own family.
He is now staying at the Browns. We are obliged to keep Charlie from
school which will be a terrible loss to him as we require him to help on
the farm. He too is but weakly as he has had Ague & is growing very fast.
You see now my dear why I have been low spirited since I lost those three
who were everything to me. I have not yet got a housekeeper but am in
hopes of soon having Ellen Duffield & she will be a treasure to me as she
is a most excellent housekeeper in every way & knows practically all that
is to be done in a country house like this where economy is necessary.
She is active & healthy which is another requisite as I am not myself quite
so well able to run about as I once was. We have known the Duffields for
many years so she is no stranger. June I. There was a terrible frost last night which has killed all our
Indian corn, pumpkins, squashes & all the plumbs of which there was an
immense quantity. Today we have good fires on, it is so cold. This day 26
years ago we sailed from Ireland.