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Title: John Kerr to James Graham
CollectionUlster Migration to America. Letters from three Irish Families [R.A. Wells]
SenderKerr, John
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationunemployed
Sender Religionunknown
OriginNew York, USA
DestinationNewpark, Co. Antrim
RecipientGraham, James
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1342
Genreprospects, emigration, advice
TranscriptFrom: New York
Date: 12 June 1847

I wrote a letter to you last week which was to go by Packet (Sailing Packet) on
Monday last, wishing you to send out David, if he will come, as soon as possible;
but as letters by the sailing packet are sometimes lost and often detained, I sit down
to write to you again in the same subject, and will dispatch this one by the Steamer
Hibernia which sails from Boston on the 16th of this month. It may reach you before
the one I wrote on the 5th. I can get David a place, I have no doubt, to learn a trade,
I believe in the city. Since I wrote last week there was a boy wanted to learn the
pattern making business; but here no one would wait so long as would require him
to come here. I stated that I thought a Ship Carpenter a good trade, but I have been
down looking at them and I must say that it is a very labourious business, and
requires one to be out of doors generally summer and winter. So that it would require
a strong frame and a person inured to the climate to stand this. The wages of
Journeyman Ship Carpenters have been higher this year than usual, two dollars per
day, that of Pattern Markers or Machinist is 1 dollar 50 cents and then the latter work
in a shop all the time or at least but seldom out of it. If David comes he can choose
when here. I wrote a letter to William along with the one to you. I did not just bid
him to come and 1 held out no particular inducement, but I know he can do as well
here as I am doing, or as I have done, and I would not exchange my chancee here
for the situation of a policeman in Ireland. If I were in William's place, I would
embark for America. I may perhaps get a situation in this city before David gets here
and perhaps not. If I cannot and if David does not wish to live here without me living
in the same town, we can start for St. Louis in the Western country, where he can
learn his trade and where I think I can get something to do either there or in the
neighbourhood, so that we can see each other occasionally. If neither David nor
William comes I intend to go to sea, on a Whaling expedition, more for my health
than anything else; altho[ugh] I could make 3 or 4 hundred dollars by the enterprise.
My health is however getting better than it was. For a while after I came here I was
weak and I was beginning to fear Consumption; but i am getting strong. If William
intends to come now let David wait for him if he can come in a month or even more;
if not send David on. I will remain in N. York until he comes or until I know he is
not coming. If William wishes to come now he can easily give a month's warning
and have everything ready at the expiration or that time to start with David. Let him
know, however, that I cannot insure him a situation when he get here or even after it He must take his chance as 1 have done, as I am doing, and I am neither afraid
nor discouraged. If I cannot get one thing get another. I am not afraid of starvation
or even or becoming in [straightened?] circumstances, neither need William if he
come here, beside there are chances here not in Ireland. I am stopping now with
Mr. Wright who [is now?] preaching in N. York. He thought I could get a situation
here if I would come, but I have not as yet been successful and I don't know that I
shall be here. My principal object in coming here however was that David could
come here and I would be at the ship when he would arrive, so that he would not be
liable to be robbed, or imposed upon by the thousands who live here by extorting
from emigrants all they can. I informed you in my letter last winter what kind of
clothes David ought to bring. I likewise mentioned these things in my letter of the
5th June. Try to get a vessel sailing from Belfast with few or no pasengers; but don't
wait on a vessel there, for you will Find trading vessels sailing everyday from
Liverpool. [Don't lake his?] passage in Belfast but go to Liverpool,-and avoid if
possible an emigrant passenger vessel, for every one of these coming here was 40
or 50 bad in [he ship fever, a bad kind of typhus. There are now 13,000 sick in this
fever at the quarantine ground near the city. So you see what a risk it is to come in
one of these. There are vast numbers of emigrants coming here now; more than was
ever known before.
It would be as well for David to bring with him what money he has, for he might
need it now more than at any time hereafter. When he will have learned his trade,
there will be no fear of him; he can get work then anywhere almost in the United
Stales. He may bring plenty of shirts and socks, both linen and check shirts and
woollen and cotton socks. As for other clothes he need not bring many, for he will
grow larger and they will not fit him. If he will bring me a dozen of woollen and
a dozen of cotton socks, pick large ones, and half a dozen of linen shirts pretty fine,
and keep an account of the price, 1 will pay him. There is no duty upon things of this
kind. They will pass the Custom House officer as your clothing.
Beside I send in this my measure for a coat which you can get made at Magee's
in Belfast or from any other good tailor there. You will get it cheaper at a merchant
tailor. He is a merchant tailor and by just giving him the measure and choosing the
cloth in his own shop, he will furnish the coat at whatever price you want. If,
however, he does he does not understand the measure which may differ from his
method, he need not make it. I think however he can make it by this measure. I want
the coat an invisible green or invisible blue rather dark. Price #2 or 25s. I would
not care much if it should go#2 10s., but #2 will do. Let him make it as coats are
generally worn in Belfast, pretty full in the skirts. If you are in a hurry he will make it in a day; such a coat would cost here 15 or 20 dollars, so I will save something.
I think this is all. William knows what to bring. When you have engaged the
passage, write me and let me know the name of the vessel and when she will sail,
and I will look out for her. David must drink gruel when he is sick, and when better
eat light food and sparingly for a while. Take a little salts every day from the first.
Bring molasses and use them. Give the old cook a shilling now and again. Bring
oat bread and little biscuit. Plenty of eggs. They will keep. Lend the sailors a hand
now and again in pulling a rope but don't venture aloft except on a calm day. Have
your name on your trunks, and watch and keep them always locked. Keep yourself
clean and stay on deck a good deal in the air. Direct all your letters 62 James Street,
New York. I must close. Give my respects to all, tell David to play the man and go

John Kerr