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Title: Greeves, John Sr to O'Brien (n. Greeves), Anne, 1826
CollectionThe Transatlantic Letters of an Irish Quaker Family_1818-1877 [B. Jackson]
SenderGreeves, John Sr
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationlinen trader
Sender ReligionQuaker
OriginDungannon, Co. Tyrone, N.Ireland
DestinationLake Erie, NY, USA
RecipientO'Brien (n. Greeves), Anne
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1592
Genrecorrespondence, family news, weather, how to manage flax, advice on farming
TranscriptDungannon 9 month 13th 1826

My dear Ann
Thy affect letter of 4th & 5 mo last to Susanna and Jane came to hand. It was sent to Carlow and is not returned
yet; also Wms letter to Dan dated 4 mo/27th, by which I find that you have had a sickly winter but had got well
again, which is a cause of humble Thankfullness. I have dated my letter from Dungannon where I now reside owing
to my son John getting married about 2 weeks ago to his cousin Mary Sinton, which act caused me to remove
here as I could not have unity with such Manage. I think they have made a bed of sorrow for themselves; I pitty
them. I expect Susanna or Jane will write thee more fully on the subject. I was glad to hear that your little children,
as also your live stock & farm, were in a thriving condition, and hope through Divine goodness you will be enabled
to get in time a Comfortable Independance which I belive every well disposed people strives in upright honest
industry to come at, for I believe any other gain will leave a wound in the mind.
I may first say of myself I am in a measure thankfull that 1 enjoy a tolerable share of health considering my
advanced age, being entered into my 66th year. But I am sorry to say my latter days dont seem the most
comfortable, but if I can be preserved to do my duty faithfully all will be well. I sometimes think that it is well
that thy dear Mother is removed from these scenes of trouble where I trust she is reaping the reward of her honest
endevors whilst here.
We have had the hottest and dryes: summer that I ever remembered: some of our crops hath suffered
exceedingly, the oats and flax and early potatoes, the former in most all the high dry lands had to be pulled and
the flax in many places was not pulled at all. The wheat crop in general is good, the poor seems to have a miserable
prospect, the trade of all kinds is exceeding bad and many thousands of weavers & other tradespeople in the
United Kingdom is out of employ-and the poor here for want of flax will be in a miserable state.
Wm mentions that thou wd be glad to know how flax is managed &c but the difference in the climate makes
a material alteration in the time of sowing, steeping &c and laying out to bleach on the grass. To watch the proper
time when to take it out of the steep as also to take it from the grass, I should think 3 or 4 nights in a stagnant
pool of water wd be sufficient, so that the stalk should sepirate freely from the flax and when taken from the grass
the stalk should seperate freely by rubbing between the fingers. I should think that with you there wd not be any occasion to have it dryed on a fire, for the sun is so strong chat it wd make it fit for beetling and when made soft
fit for scutching, which I think Ann should have some idea of, and when scutched clean it is fit for the hatckell
[hackle]. The usual quantity sown here is about 2½ or 2¾ bushels [= 140-154 pounds weight] to the English acre
and generally sown on ground that potatoes was taken from or some other rich clean ground. About the midle of
4th mo to the 5th of 5 mo is the general time for sowing here but should think your country wd be earlier; but
we like to have the frosts entirely away before sowing. Be sure to have the flax clean wed [weeded] when 3 or 4
inches high.
Wm also mentions that he wd be glad to know how onions is managed when ripe; perhaps Dan may inform
him, but the manner they are done here when they are ripe towards the latter end of last mo, but it is easy to know
for they will die of themselves, to pull them up out of the ground and let them stay in the sun for a few days,
turning them frequently untill the tops are completely withered and have them removed to a dry loft and turn them
once in every 4 or 5 days untill they are completely dried &c.
As for strawberries I know but little of, but I hear that sandy light soil doth best for them with some manure,
as such soil prevents them from running too much to tops, where they will not be so productive &c in rich soils.
Celery seed is generally sown here about the begining of 4 mo in a hot bed or some very rich ground and when
it is fit to transplant, there is a trench made, the breadth of a spead [spade], nearly about 18 inches deep. It is about
half filled with good rich dung from cows and about 1½ inches of fine earth covered over so that the plant will
go into the manure when dibled in. Each plant should be about 6 or 7 inches asunder, the plants should be watered
every evening & covered from the sun in the day time untill they take root. Each plant should be dressed of its
outward leaves when going to be planted but to be careful] of not injureing the heart, and when grown up 8 or
10 inches high add a little fresh mold to them, but be carefull not to cover the heart, & so add mold from time
to time as they grow up, which will make the stalk white and fit for use. Above is the method I used to purshue:
any kind of light soil that doth not lye too high will answer. I have seen good celery here in moor or bog ground.
Our method for field turnips: they are sowed in drills raised up like potatoe drills, with manure neatly covered
up with the plough and when made about 2½ feet asunder to have the drills made flat on the top by rowler or
flatened by spade &c; then thou might make a small drill on the top about an inch deep and thou might sow the
seed with thy fingers or out of a bottle with a quill in it. We have barrows for sowing the seed with a colander that
runs around, with holes in it that moves every time the barrow goes forward which makes the drill for the seed &
sows and covers it at the same time. And when the plant gets up about an inch high they aught to be thined by a
persons fingers, leaving each plant about 6 or 8 inches asunder. The time we sow the common white Norfolk or
yellow for a winter crop is about 24th of 6th month, on clean fallow ground made fine. The rutobags [rutabaga]
or Swedish turnips should be sown a month earlier. The latter is the best for keeping but not so productive; they
are excellent food for cattle here, and the Swedish turnip wd keep to 5th month. I have endavored to give as plain
a description of the above as I could, but wish you had it from a more competent hand. Perhaps Dan may give a
more clear description.
Wm asks Dan the Quantity of hay, potatoes &c is generally raised from an acre of land; we have the English
measure here, at Carlow the Irish measure: it varies verry much according to the ground. This season, hay is
exceeding scarce & dear owing to the great drought, but in common seasons I believe good lowland meadow or
meadow that is iragated wd produce from 2½ tuns to 3 tuns pr acre our measure, but some more or less according
to the goodness of the ground. Wheat that is reconed a fair crop from ¾ to 1 tun pr acre, some of the good land
in the County Armagh frequently more. Oats or barly I know but little of, as I never calculated; potatoes here
generally produce more than the nebourhood of Carlow as they are mostly done in the drill way; I reckon about
200 bushels pr acre a fair crop but in Moyallon Br Sam1 hath a deal more. Our general crop is put into the ground
about the beginning of 5th mo to the 20th and taken out of the ground about the midle of 10 mo at which time
the wheat is generaly sown, mostly in potato ground or in good fallows. Hay harvest commences about 24th of
6 mo on dry lands, and continues untill the first of 10 mo and some later according the different kinds of ground
it grows on; low damp lands is frequently late a cutting. Meadow that can be irrigated needs no manure: the water
is let on about 11 mo & mostly continued until the beginning of 4 mo. If turnips wd grow with you as well as
here they wd be verry valuable. I have had once on a rood of ground nearly 300 bushels turnips; I sold three
pounds worth of them & fed 2 cows during the winter untill spring on them, with some straw &c. I gave thee as
true acct of the above as I could recollect. I remain with dr love to Wm & children

thy afft Father
John G reeves