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Title: John Kerr to David Graham
CollectionUlster Migration to America. Letters from three Irish Families [R.A. Wells]
SenderKerr, John
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationhardware store keeper
Sender Religionunknown
OriginNew York, USA
DestinationNewpark, Co. Antrim
RecipientGraham, David
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1101
Genreaccount of passage, arrival, prospects, tee-totalling
TranscriptFrom: New York
Date: 29 September 1847

I write to inform you that William and David arrived at this place on Friday last.
(September 24th after a very good passage of 27 days). The vessel arrived in the Bay
here on the 23rd—she cleared from Liverpool on the 27th of August and started on
the 28th. They had no storms on their way and no accidents. W[illiam] says that
several sailors observed that they never had a finer passage nor saw a cleaner set of
passengers; although according to William and David there were some very dirty
devils among them a woman especially who was rather remarkable for bad taste and
want of delicacy to say the least. There were about300 passengers who were all well
when they arrived here. There were 2 deaths at sea. One was that of a sailor, the
other a child. There was a compensation or offset 1 birth; and whether the youngster
is an English, Irish, or Scotch man or American it will be difficult for John Bull or
brother Jonathan to determine. The boys had plenty of provisions—they were sick
3 or 4 days; after that they were very well and had an excellent appetite; nor has this failed them since they came ashore. For either of them, especially David, could eat
as much at one meal as I could at three. By the powers they frighten me, the way
they eat—so much for this.
The steam boat brought them from the ship up to the quay. And David slopped
with the boxes etc., while Wm came to me. He found the house without much
trouble. He rang the bell and I happened to go to the door. The first he said was "Is
there a young man stops here named John Kerr." "Yes" said I, (but I did not know
Wm). "Can I see him" said he. "Yes" I answered, then when I had taken a good look
at him I knew him, he did not however know me. "Would you know him" said I,
"if you saw him." "I would" he answered. "I think not" I said. "I think I would"
said he. "Ah you are a smart fellow" I exclaimed, "not to know me." He said he
would not have known me if he had met me anywhere. And when we were going
down the street he told me he didn't know me yet. We came down and I passed
David on the street but I did not know him. I got a Drayman to lake the boxes to the
house where they were to stop and passed David again and again and was close to
him and looking for him, but I did not know him. At last when I came near him he
looked at me and smiled, said I "Are you David?" "Yes" said he. But I had to ask
William first; I could scarcely believe him. Sometimes I remark to William yet.
"This is not David you have brought with you." There is not a single feature I his
face like what it was when I left Newpark, besides he is as long as corn stalk.
We intend to start for the West tomorrow, I could get David put to a trade here
but as I cannot well remain here, he would not like to remain behind me, nor would
I ask him for New York is not a good place for young persons without friends or
protectors. I prefer the West altogether. I was in a Hardware store for about a month
and a half. It was a small store and I got nothing but my boarding. I left it a few days
before they landed. My employer was a captious devil and we fell out. However,
I had learned all I could with him and sufficient to enable me to get employment of
the same kind in the West I think. William has some intention of learning a trade.
He can get for about 5 years. A trade is the surest and I consider the easiest
occupation in this country. Tradesmen work 10 hours for a days work. Clerks, shop
boys, etc., in retail stores must be engaged from 5 or 6 in the morning until 10 at night
and even until 11 o'clock. It is not so bad in the West and South however. The police
has made a change on William, greater than I expected. He is quite manly now, and
vigorous both in mind and in body. In some respects it is not a bad school for young
fellows; especially if they do not contract the detestable habit of drinking; a habit
which would counteract all the good they might receive. William, I believe, has not
acquired that habit, and I think he will soon be, like myself, a tee-totaler, or Total-abstinence man, as it is called here. So will David I think. A man fond of drink need
not come to this country. The climate is such that the habitual use of intoxicating
drink soon puts an end to the man who uses it. Even a moderate use is injurious—
far more so than in Ireland. Besides when a stranger is seen drinking or in a Tavern
or Grogshed or publick house, or more appropriate still beggar-making houses, the
first time he is suspected, the second avoided and third, if at a short interval put down
as a drinker. Then there is but little confidence placed in him. All who are fond of
whiskey or who are in the habit of getting drunk or quarrelling had better slay in
Ireland and enjoy the whiskey, fighting, laziness, poverty and finally beggary and
starvation, till their heart's content.
The coat they bought me is rather large in the [size?] or where the sleeve joins
the shoulder. It was rather guess work making it, I doubt. I can get it altered,
however. We will write you soon after we get somewhat settled. I will make David
write to you and if he spells as he pronounces, he will write a funny letter. He speaks
like the Dunenae people and murders the Queen's English horribly. 1 am trying to
break him of it, but it is a hard task. He says it is not matter how one speaks, an
observation quite characteristic of an Irishman. I must stop. It is after 12—and my
space is getting small. Give my best wishes to all in about Newparkand at Liskinie,
and believe me ever yours affectionately.

John Kerr