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Title: James Kerr to his Uncle
CollectionUlster Migration to America. Letters from three Irish Families [R.A. Wells]
SenderKerr, James
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationtutor
Sender Religionunknown
OriginWellington, Mississippi
DestinationNewpark, Co. Antrim
RecipientGraham, James and David
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1515
Genredecease, family, prospects,
TranscriptFrom: Wellington, Mississippi
Date: 4 July 1852
I know not how to apologize for my neglect in not writing before now. I must
confess I am much to blame for my neglect. I hope you will excuse me for this once
and I will not be guilty of the like again. I wanted to see John before I would write
and gather some other informations, I was anxious to know. It is my painful duty
to convey to you the news of William's death. He died on the 1st of April of
consumption. David thinks it was his trade that brought on the disease. Wm was
sickly last summer and greatly debilitated but however was able to work, he fell
worse in the fall. In October last he was off work for a short time, but went to work
again and worked for3daysbut was forced to give it up. He caught cold and it settled
on his lungs with a bad cough and spitting of blood. He applied to the best physicians
of the city yet to no purpose. He went to a Water Cure Establishment at Yellow
Springs and remained there for 6 weeks all to no purpose; he kept wasting away to
a mere skeleton. You can guess how I was surprised when I heard of Win's death.
Oh! to think, that was the first news that greeted my ears when I first landed on these
shores! Who would have thought that Wm would have been the first of our family
that would have fallen a victim by that [ ] destroyer of our race.
David is working in die same [ ] shop that he was in, when I was in Cincinnati.
He has not been very well this spring, with a pain in his left side, it has weakened
him a great deal. He is somewhat disheartened since Wm's death. Sam Kerr is
learning the steamboat carpenters business. He is in good health and getting along
pretty well.
John's health has been very bad for some time, so bad he had to give up his
situation in Van Buren. He complains of dyspepsia occasioned by close confinement.
He is now with me and well and will I expect stop with me a few days. Then
he is going up to Pennsylvania to a Water Cure Establishment at Brownville in that
state. I am engaged in the planter's family opposite Napoleon in the state of
Mississippi, to teach his children. I am engaged for a year and get 250 dollars and
found. I have only two boys to teach so you see I will have a great deal of time to
devote to studies. I have been thinking of studying law, as I could in the course of
a year or two be qualified to practice. I have now a good opportunity to do so as I
have the benefit of a large library of Law books, which belongs to my employer who
is a judge of the Probate Court, a Court that corresponds with the Ecclesiastical
Court in England. Besides I have been appointed Deputy Clerk of that Court and it requires one to fill that situation to have a little knowledge of law.
This situation is worth, I reckon, something about $100 dollars, perhaps more.
Now if I could in the course [of?] a year or two be able to practice law I could make
a pretty good living and be able to save something besides. I will in the meantime
study law at least for a while. It will be of use to me if I should never practice. It
is necessary to have a knowledge of law in any business we may be engaged in
especially in this country.
3 did not go to Van Buren as my intention when I left Newpark. When I reached
Napoleon, John, I learned, had desired me to stop there till he would come down
from Van Buren which he expected to do in a few days, but he was delayed
unexpectedly. He sent me a letter of introduction lo Judge McGuire, the gentleman's
name with whom I am engaged.
If John had gotten word when I sailed, the name of the ship, etc., he could have
secured for me a much better situation. You wrote to me when I was in Greenock
that you had written to Sam Graham directing him to write to John, as soon as your
letter came to hand, giving him the proper information concerning me. Sam did not
write a scrap, no, not since he came to this country; Sam's neglect has cost me about
one or two hundred dollars and perhaps more that is, would at the end of the year
been with that much more. I must be content now as it cannot be remedied. If I had
written to him myself before I left home, what I should have done, it would be a great
deal better for at the end of the year. I wrote to Sam G. when I came here, but he
had left on home long before I reached this place, indeed before I sailed from
Greenock. Sam left Pittsburgh for Ireland sometime in January as soon as he
received your letter. He wrote to David the day before he left. He must have been
in Newpark before I reached New Orleans. Sam I guess has seen enough of
America. What he has seen and experienced may be of use to him. I hope it may.
I may not say anything about my passage, only we had a pretty good reaching the
Beleize, the mouth of the Mississippi in 44 days. We lay a week at the mouth of the
Mississippi on account of scarcity of water on the bar.
You remember the land claims that Henry Kelly got about 2 years ago from [ ]
his brother's death. The land I think is in Texas. I will enquire of him where it is
situated, what kind of claims, he would [take?] for it, the quantity, etc. You can tell
him that land can be bought there for 2 cents per acre, the very best of land besides,
it might be very doubtful whether his claims are good or not or even if they were
good it might take more than it is worth to get possession. Further, there is a bill
before the Congress to grant land to every actual settlers and it is very probable that
it may pass into a law for it has passed one of the houses. He may not calculate too high on his claims. If that law passes his claims are not worth a cent for every one
can get a farm for nothing only for settling on it. When you write give me the proper
information on the point.
My health has been pretty good since I left Newpark. This is a pretty healthy
place, some fever and ague. Write soon and give me all the news if the tenant league
is gaining ground and what is prospects of the country, etc. Give by respects to all
my enquiring friends to Dr. Hale and Mr. Orr. I hope may are well. Tell Dr. Hale
I have been making enquiries how a doctor could do here. I have been told that a
smart man who could attend to his business could do well. I could not advise him
to come to Napoleon. It is not a very agreeable place to live. There are five or six
doctors here. Tell old Ann Hart I've sent her letter to David for him to direct it to
Charlie. I think he has gotten it long before now. I must come to a close as my subject
is exhausted I remain ever yours truly.

Postscript. When I write to one I write to you all. I hope you are all well. [ ] That
Uncle David got home safe, journey did his leg no harm. I hope Elizabeth is in good
health, she should [take?] plenty of outdoor exercise. I hope Alex Black is well and
the family. I must not forget old Jamie Finlay, may be long he able to walk up and
down the road and attend to the cows.
I enclose a newspaper to you a description of Corpus Christi Bay in Texas and
its tributaries in Texas. It may be amusing to you. I get it from John, together with
calculations how much can be made there. You may rely upon the truth of it.
If William Miller intends to come out to this country I would advise him to go
to Wisconsin, Iowa or Michigan, or he might come by New Orleans. He can go up
for very little. Or he may come by New York and go to the western part of
New York State and work there a while then go out further west. Wisconsin is the
best place for a working man. It is a fine place, good wages and plenty of work.