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Title: O'Brien, Maria Wright to O'Brien (n. Greeves), Anne, 1840
CollectionThe Transatlantic Letters of an Irish Quaker Family_1818-1877 [B. Jackson]
SenderO'Brien, Maria Wright
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationstudent
Sender ReligionQuaker
OriginNYC, USA
DestinationLake Erie, NY, USA
RecipientO'Brien (n. Greeves), Anne
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2168
TranscriptNew York 9th month, 2nd day, 1840

Dear Mother
I arrived last night and as I know not how soon Wilson may return, I thought best to write today and send it to
the office where he is to call before he leaves. I will first give thee an account of my journey. After parting with
thee and rather at the T-House [in Buffalo?] I waited sometime there. At length Wilson came in and told me the
Packet would not start until seven o'clock in the evening. He then went out and to pass the time took a walk out
Main Street, returning by seven o'clock. We went on board the Packet Boat and started off very quickly, the horses
going at a brisk trot and sometimes even faster. The next day at about four o'clock we got to Rochester where we
changed Packets. Though the first boat was a very nice one this one was much nicer, being I think newly fixed up.
The ladies cabin resembled an elegant parlour and all the accomodations were to correspond.
The second day at four o'clock we arrived at Syracuse where we immediately took the rail cars which were all
ready and waiting the arrival of the boat to take us to Utica. The Loco Foco delegation were in Syracuse that
day and as it rained steadily all day I don't think I have ever seen any place so completely covered with mud, and
there were such crowds of people that every place was completely filled with them. There were some persons on
the boat who intended to have stayed there all night but could not get lodgings and so were obliged to go on the
cars. I did not hear any computation of numbers but I should think there were thousands. However I hear that it
was nothing compared to the Whig delegation. Some that were on it were on board the boat and talking about
the differences. Indeed on the boat and in the cars and almost every where, even at breakfast this morning, I heard
nothing but politics. They seem to be the all engrossing topic among the gentlemen, the ladies and even among
the little children. As we came along the river almost every boat we met would give a cheer for Old Tip and the
Log Cabin but when we got on the cars the tune was changed, as they were mostly filled with delegates from
the convention, many of whom left in the cars although it was not over. I heard a gentleman who was in the same car with us say chat there were between three and four hundred
passangers on board and I think he was quite right, as we had a train
of seventeen cars and they were quite filled and many more were left
for want of room. As we passed slowly out of the car office I saw a
great many standing with their valises in their hands looking eagerly
into every car as it passed them to see an empty seat there might be
for them.
We went along quite moderately at first as the rails were very wet
and slippery from the rain, which continued with out stopping for
the whole of the day. However, we soon increased our steam and in
about half an hour we were flying along at a good rate, I assure thee.
We got to Utica just at dusk where we stopped to take time to change
cars. This train did not contain so many cars, therefore although
many were left in Utica we were very much crowded. In each car
there were six seats in pairs, facing each other, and each seat held four
persons, so there were eight of us jammed together in a little place
with hardly enough room to stir, much less breath. I happened to
get a corner seat, which is much more comfortable, as one can lean
and rest better, and another advantage is when I could breath no
longer I could let down the window and get a little fresh air. But we
were obliged to keep them closed most of the time on account of the
rain blowing in, and the sparks and smoke from the locomotive were
very annoying. However not with standing all the annoyances, we
kept on the even tenor of running till we or the engineer saw some
lights shining out ahead and took means to stop and send on to know
the occasion. While they were gone someone came along and said
the Whigs had been tearing up the rails to give the Locos an upset. But in a short time the messanger returned and seeded the fuss by celling that the rain had so risen the water in
the stream that the bridge was washed away and they were busy in repairing it - so we were detained a while. Not
long however as they had hurried and were nearly done. So in about half an hour we passed slowly over it and then
to make up lost time they put on more steam and thee can not imagine unless thee saw it, the rate we went at.
We arrived at Skennectedy [Schenectady] sometime in the night where we again changed cars and took those
to Albany, where we arrived a short time after sun rise, having traveled all night without any sleep except such as
we could get by nodding, as there was glass all around and no good chance to lean our heads. Just as we left the
cars, the bell on the steamboat North America was ringing for the passengers to come on board, so we had Co almost
run about half or a quarter of a mile to get there in time. In about five minutes we started. Wilson had some
business to attend to in Albany. It would detain him two days, so, as I did not like to stay there on expense, I came
on. He engaged a young man who came all the way from Buffalo with us to look after my baggage and get a
porter in N.Y. So I got along without any difficulty at all.
We had a delightful passage down the Hudson. The scenery along the river is truly sublime. There was a young
lady on board with us who had just returned from a tour of sixteen months in Europe who said we had heard a
great deal said of the scenery of the Rhine and the Gaudelquiver [Guadalquivir, in Spain], which were to some
beautiful, very beautiful, but nothing compared with the Hudson. She was very interesting and a small group of
us gathered around her with her vivid discripcions of the places she had seen in her travels. She seemed to dwell
on the beauty of Switzerland the most as a country, but Edinburg as a city she said was the most interesting. The
contrast between the old and the new town produced such a striking effect as you approached it. In speaking of
the Swiss she said that they were such a happy honest hearted people that seemed incapable of not thinking but
that everyone was like themselves in that respect. The Scotish were to speak in a general sense, the most moral and
best informed people she met with. She seemed to like them and their manners and characters very much. She
affected the Scotch fashions in wearing a cloak of a soft kind of large plaid and for a breast pin a small portrait of
Mary Queen of Scotts. She was dressed very neat and plain and she was all together the most interesting person
I have ever met. When at home she resides at Philadelphia but was staying a few days in N.Y. after just returning
from Bristol in the Great Western. She had been up the river as far as West Point and came on board there. We arrived at N.Y. at five o'clock. I got a porter at the wharf who carried my trunk up to the office where we
went in and inquired for the dwelling house. James was in the office, and he gave me a card with the street and
number on it. It was a long walk, I think not far from a mile and I had to almost run to keep pace with the porter.
I was very tired when I arrived. The porter rang the bell of the sale door and the servant girl opened it and he told
her there was a young lady that wished to see the Missus. Rebecca and Mary both came and bad me a hearty
welcome to N.Y. I was ushered into an elegant back parlor where the girls and Willy were alone. James and John
Wright (a clerk) being still at the office, and Abram was upstairs in his room. I sat a short time to rest and then
Rebecca took me upstairs to take off my things. Abram came into the parlour a few minutes after we came down
and in a short time James and John came from the office and we went downstairs to tea. 1 was very tired. Abram
told me to go to bed early as he would talk too much to me.
I went to bed before 9. The room in which I slept contained two beds. Mary and Anne slept in one and Rebecca
and I in the other. We were up before seven o'clock and when we went down breakfast was nearly ready. After
breakfast Abram and the young men went to the office and Willy went to school so the girls and I were left alone.
I believe they keep just one girl. I have seen but one yet. Rebecca says it is sweeping day so she has been busy
sweeping. Mary getting some apples (of which they have plenty on their farm) ready to stew and Anne is darning
stockings. Twelve o'clock - I have just been down to lunch. They do not dine here until three.
The girls wear calico in the morning. Yesterday, when I came in, they were dressed very tidy. Rebecca had a black
crepe, Mary brown silk, and Anne a Moutier Derbur. Though I expected to see everything elegant, it far
surpassed anything I could imagine. Thee may tell Charlotte [a Collins neighbour?] if thee choses that her house
and all her fine furniture would hardly be seen by Abram. The room I am in is very large. It is used as a back parlour
but connects by very large folding doors with the front parlour so that when they want to open it it is simply like
one very large room. One of them is about twice the size of that room we were in in Buffalo. The rooms are
furnished very nearly alike, so that to sit in one and look into the other would almost make one think they saw as
it were the other in a large mirror. There are in every room an elegant sofa, a settee, a table, a mirror with gilt frame
set over marble display tables - the mirrors themselves are as large as a common door - a richly carved mahogany
chair, a large chair. In each room are fire places with black mantels and coal grates. In one corner stands an elegant
bookcase, with a very large mirror in the door and in the other a sideboard. All the furniture is of Mahogany very
heavy and richly carved. All I have ever heard and read about such things are hear more than realized. Abram has
a great many newspapers. One of the tables was covered with them, so I think I can send you some: however, I
have as yet said nothing about it. I was very much disappointed in James Bell. He has dark brown hair - instead
of red- sandy whiskers which he wears very large in fashion. He makes one think of Samuel Healy only a little
taller and in features not any better looking.
I have fourteen dollars and five shillings left of my money. It took more than it would if I had gone by the canal
all of the way, as I had to board myself on the railroad and the steamboat. However I bought but one regular meal
on the way, but after I used up the cake thee gave me, I got another and a kind of small cracker. Please remember
me to all who may inquire of me. Give my love to Cloe H. and Julia and Susan C. if thee sees them. Give my
love to Father, Joseph, Thomas together and wish you all to write in one letter - full as this and I wish better. This
is just as I could get time before I had to dress for dinner.

Thy affectionate Daughter
Maria W. O'Brien

Rebecca desires to be kindly remembered to thee, Father and the children.