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Title: John Kerr to his Uncle
CollectionUlster Migration to America. Letters from three Irish Families [R.A. Wells]
SenderKerr, John
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationclerk
Sender Religionunknown
OriginVan Buren, Arkansas, USA
DestinationNewpark, Co. Antrim
RecipientGraham, James
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1260
Genrefamily, prospects
TranscriptFrom: Van Buren, Arkansas
Date: 9 January 1852

It is some time since I heard from you—(he last letter from Newpark was writeen
by James telling me of his intention of coming out here. It was dated (I think in
August). Since then I got a paper from him post marked Antrim November 4 or 5,
I think. I have heard nothing of him since. I expected him here before this as I
supposed he would sail about (he month of October. I have been thinking that he
had given up the intention of coming out at present, or that perhaps he had changed
his course and gone to Australia, as there are very favourable reports from mat
country. If he has gone there or intends to go I would approve of his course. I think
there is a fine opening there for a young man now—in fact for any person. I would
strongly advise him to go there. It would be much better than coming to this country.
There will be openings for men in every kind of employment. It is a very fine
country, most excellent climate;—far more healthy than almost any portion of the
United States. I have had full information about that country. The only thing
objectionable about it is the government.
I suppose Sam [G?] has written to you ere this. I wrote to him sometime since,
but received no answer. He was then in Pittsburgh working on the telegraph line,
so David informed me. He wrote to William and him. Since then, however, he quit that job, it gave out, and the last I heard of him, through David, was that he had been
in Cincinnati, called there to see them on his way up to Pittsburgh from Louisville.
He had come down from Pittsburgh to the latter place as a hand on a coal boat and
was returning and intended to make a trip in the same way to New Orleans—this is
five weeks ago. He had made a trip before this one and got nearly lost. The boat
on which he was got sunk. Sam was down in the hold or cabin and had only time
to rush on deck to save himself. He lost his carpet bag, a good many clothes and 6
sovereigns. In coming up the river from Louisville to Cincinnati he had his
[pocket?] picked on the steam boat of $ 18. So poor Sam has been rather unfortunate.
I advised him strongly through David to quit coal boating—it is a dangerous life and
a very hard one. He could get work at many things, on a farm etc. but not so good
wages. I think he will quit it.
William has been unwell for sometime, for about 9 weeks. David says his
complaint resembles consumption. "He has" says he "a very severe cough, spits a
[great deal?] sometimes blood and sweats a great deal at night." He says "he is
greatly reduced and is very weak." The doctor attending says he is getting better,
but David says [he can't see any change in him?] for the better. I hope William's
complaint will not prove so serious as David anticipates?] I think it is only a severe
cold, as he had not ailed long, nor complained in any way that I heard of before the
middle of October last. I think it did not come on like consumption.
[I am still?] in the same place with Henry and Cunningham. My health has
improved considerable since winter set in and I am tolerably well, but not in perfect
health by any means, nor do I expect to enjoy good health while I continue at my
present occupation. I intend before another year to quit it. I am troubled with
diseases of the nerves, with an infection of the mucous membrane; although my
stomach is weak I don't suffer much now from indigestion or dyspepsia. Cold water
cured that. I feel pains all through my sides or rather a soreness under the ribs, not
seated in any one place but continually changing—this I am confident is from the
nerves, nothing else; for during Sundays when I am walking about I am exempt from
these pains almost always. Active employment is all I want to make me perfectly
well. A friend of mine, Samuel Rainey of New Orleans, intends going to Texas to
commence stock raising; that is raising mules and beef cattle. He wants me to join
him. The business is a very profitable one and very sure. If we can muster the means
I think we will go at it. He has some money and I have a little, I think we can
undertake it with success. We shall go at it next summer if at all. If not I intend to
go to California again in spring; that is, if he should change his intentions before that.
Good grazing land can be bought in Texas for at the most $ 1.25 per acre. Mares can be got for $10 or 12 each and mules raised that will fetch when 3 years old [from?]
$60 to 90 a piece. Beef cattle can be raised very easily, there is no need of feeding
them. The natural grasses are abundant the year round, and New Orleans is a fine
market both for cattle and mules. There is nothing pays better than this business.
Everyone who has been at it for any length of time has done well if they managed
any way near right. I want Sam G. to join us if we go. Rainey [is married?] so there
is a housekeeper.
As I have said, if I don't go at this, I shall steer to California. It is not improbably
however, that [I] might go on to Australia. Vessels arc going from Panama on the
Pacific very frequently to Sydney. I might, should one be there when I get there, go
to that place. I am confident it is a good place just now, and from what I have learned
from men who have returned from California one who will work steadily and not
gamble, California is a good place. It is undoubtedly a very healthy climate. I now
wish I had gone there years ago. I think Sam Graham ought to go along. David K.
would go readily and so would William if he was well. Sam K. can before that time,
take care of himself.
I shall know about April next, what I am going to do. I am saving all the money
I can anyhow to do something better than clerking. I know stock raising is a
profitable and safe business, if one had the capital to commence with. But it would
require about $3000 to begin properly and advantageously.
I would like to hear what has become of James. If he has not started here yet, I
would advise him by all means to go to Australia. Were I in Ireland now, I would
go. If he comes here he can get something to do; but the chances are far better in
Write me when you receive this without delay. 1 want to hear from you all. I hope
you are all enjoying good health. I suppose you heard that Robert Thompson and
all his family and Francis Henderson are in San Francisco. They arc, I hear, doing
well. I am very busy here, up late pretty often. No more, ever yours.

John Kerr