|December the 25 |
From Henry2 York. This letter is unusual in that both the original written by Henry and a handwritten copy have survived, providing a clear example of the editing that occurred in the copies.
Dear Brother and Sister: I am under the painfull nesessety of informing you of the loss and death of my dear wife your sister to my indscrieble grief and sorrow.
She was ill nearly half the time we was in the ship and she died in 3 weeks and one day after landing at Grosse Iland, the goverment station which is situated near the river St. Lawrence 30 miles before we came to Quebec, were an infirmery is kept for the sick.(Notes)
All vessels stop their for the docter to inspect the passengers there. We landed the 2 of September after a very rough passage(Notes) and little did I think in 22 days I should lose my beloved wife.
She desired me to give her love to all her relations and friends and tell them that she was well attended and had more kindness shown her than she expected from strangers.
She gave up all thoughts of recovering the last fortnight and seemed resigned to the will of God. The minister attended her daily and he said no dout she was prepared for a better world where I hope we shall all meett at that great day when the Lord shall number up his people.
The docter thought her disease had began before we left England as she sank so rapidly and she thought so her self as she had not been so well since we all had the fever. I had but little to do besides attending her and the children. Mary and me slept in the same ward, one on each side of her, and was ready to give her any thing she wanted.
She did not grive so much to leave the children as I expected. After charging me to use them well she said she could leave them with more comfort than if she had died in England as she was not afraid they would ever go to a union [poor house] and that I should do better for them hear than at home.
To my friends she desired her love be sent and to cousins and neighbours and said she knowed you would be sorry to hear of her death as you had always been kind to her.
She seemed to waste faster every day and took scarcely any thing but a little wine and water. She lay pretty free from pain tille the last night when she was took with a pain in her body and thought she was going to be confined but alass it was the pains of death. I called the docter. He ordered hot flanells but it was of no avail.
She continued till eleven oclock the next day 24th September when her spirit fled I hope into the arms of our heavenly father who, I hope and pray will receive us all to himself.
I thought at first it was the voyage that hastened her death but when I consider she was the only person beside children out of the ships company that died it seems to have been the will of God. Their was a great many women in the ship but she was taken and all the other left.
We remained heare till October the first then set off for Quebec with a heavy heart. There we went to the shads. It was late at night.
The next day I hunted up and down the river for the Captin of the old ship for the landing money but found they was gone.(Notes) Then I went to the emegrant agent office. It was left their. He paid me twenty one dollers notes. I not likeing soft money I carried it to the bank at Montreal and changed it into soverioegs.
Hear at Quebec it looked as if all the shipping in the world were assembled together. It reached severel miles down the river. The town is seated on a high [h]ill with a large battery witch I went up to see. Here a great many cannon and balls lying which I should think might defy all the armies in the world from takeng it.
I applied for a free passage up the country but the agent haveing to pay me said I had plenty of money. Their was one Scotch family who had a 100 pounds got up free by telling him they had friends up the country and could not get to them.
I went on board a steamer called the Lord Sydnam which was the largest vessell ever I saw, 200 feet long fitted up seperate rooms with glass windows and a good deal of glass roofing. Looked like a palace. I had [paid] 7 shillings to go to Montreal luga[g]e free.
Set off at night, got to Montreal at 8 clock the next morning 180 miles further. This is a surpriseing place for treade; here is a 11 hundered 1 horse carts and trucks kept carting to and from ships and steamers. A great deal of government work going on makeing docks and canels. I was offered 2 shilling and 9 pense a day.
I was very [near] buying a horse [and] a cart but was afraid the work would stop in the winter. Their carts are not much larger than a weelbarrow. There is a large market of meet every day and fruit, some apples and cabbages larger than at home here.
We was waiting for the government boat for a free passage at the sheads. It not coming, two Scotch familyes and we took our passage to Kingston 200 and fifty miles, a part river, a part canel. I paid a dolar and a half for each [of] four children, Henry free, 12 shillings in English.
The papers at home stated this passage from Montreal to Kingston at 18 shillings a head and 2 and sixpence per cart for lugage. I got up the whole distance, fmily and all, from Quebec to Kingston for 20 shillings including sixpence twice for carting boxes to the steamer. In fact, they charge nothing for lugage up to Kingston.
I am sorry I did not bring more things with me. Tools are dear here. My peck airon bar I nearly gave away would be worth 12 shillings here. People should bring all their tools. They would have some thing to work with. I was told not to bring a spade but the spades hear are only fitt to buy and sell again, not work with.
Here was a lame woman with us who went on 2 crutches who did not set sail from Liverpool till the day we landed at Groose Iland. She is going to Toronto to her son and is as forward as us who left 2 months sooner so we see the battle is not to the strong nor the race to the swift, but the Lord that willeth.
We was 4 days coming to Kingston which was teadous on a count of the locks and stoping a nights. We arived at Kingston the 10th October, quite a large town a good market and streets well paved.
Hear we went to the emegrant agent office to get free passage. I failed on account of haveing no friends to go to. He said one place would be as good to me as another and he would send me to Picton free and give me a note to take to a person who would find me plenty of work and good wages. I thought the situation I was in [and] the lateness of the season it would be wise to go. He gave me four great loves of bread without asking.
The Scotch he sent up to Toronto and we parted, the old woman invokeing many blessings on my head. I had asisted them loading and unloading their lugage. They had four times more then me, had been 3 weeks at Groose Iland. The old woman 68 years old, the old man was 72. They had a son with them, was going to join another son at Toronto.
I got my boxes on board the steamer for Prince Edward for Picton. Got here at midnight, was put on shore about 5 oclock the next morning. This was no inviable position and I felt the lonleness of my situation, and the loss of my dear wife. It payed upon my spirits tho naturely strong where almost ready to sink.
I laped the children up and set them together on the things while went to see if I cold find any one up. After a while I found a woman milking a cow. She told me to bring the children up. They gave us our breakfast. The man [took] me about to get a house and brought up our things from the warf.
I took the note the agent gave me to the gentleman. He said he did not want a man to work and he did not know who did. He said he would enqure and I must call again.
I heard of a man that was just come from England. He had bought a farm. I applied to him. He said he would give a job to dig up stumps of trees so I went to work the day after. Having no bed for 5 nights, looking after the children and lugage, I was pretty well tired and glad to have a nigh[t]s rest. I have been at work for him almost ever since by the piece.
Fred has been out 7 days and earned 7 bushels of potatoes and his board and lodging. Thay are 1 shilling a bushell here, wheat 3 shilling and 9 pence, fine white peas 1s and 9 pence, oats 10 pence, flour 16p per stone.
Beef, mutton and pork 3 pence a pound at the butchers but I bought half a pigg weighing 72 pounds for 12 shillings, butter 9p a pound, suger 6p, cofey 10p, candles 9 pence. We make our own sope 4 pence, whiske 6p qart. Labers ern wages 5 shillings a day in harvest, 4 in hay time, 3 to 2 the rest of the year, board all the time. They only give cash in hay and harvest time. I take cash, my master having nothing else to pay with.
Carpenters and bricklayers that can do stone work actually get 7s 6d a day but not always in cash. Shoemakers get 6 shillings for making half boots like mine, and four for making womens boots.
Tailors wages are the highest. Tell Mitchell I could not have got the coat he made up for 5s made up here under 1£. These prices are in currency, 4 of your shillings is five here, an English shilling passes for fifteen pense and is called a quarter dollar. 16s sterling is 1£ currency, but they will [part] with any thing instead of money. We can buy a cow from 2£ 10s to 4£, a sheep for 2 dollars. I pay a dollar a month for house rent and the same for wood.
They who would not beleive John March about his wife's wages for washing had better come here and try. I have found it too true, and an industrious woman is as valuable as a man here.
I have had several applications for the children. Have been offered 7s 6d a month for Mary. Sarah is out and is to have a frock and a pair of boots for this winters wages. I was obliged to part with her for they could not agree. A man offered to take John till he was 21 and school him, clothe him and give him a pair of horses, 2 cows a[nd] 2 oxen but I did not like to part with him so long.
Please to send this to my friends and tell them to answer it directly as it is likely I shall go farther up the country in the spring.
Fred sends his love to his uncle Richard and aunt. Please to accept the same from all the children and myself to father, mother, brothers and sisters and wifes mother, brothers and sisters. I wish you all every blessing and if we should never meet on earth may the Lord prepare us to meet him where we shall part no more for ever.
I wrote from Plymouth last July and from Grose Island September 16. I should like to know if you had them safe. Please to excuse this scribble. I mean to write one to be put in the Mercury as soon as I have sufficent knowledge of the country. These wages and prices are perfectly true but I can not answer for their being the same all over America.
Do not forget to give my respects to Mr. G. Green and his wife. I thank him for his kindnesses and cousin Dickens. We are all well in health and should have been more comfortable if it had pleased God to have spared my dear beloved wife. Mary has grown very much but is a very indiferant housekeeper. She is so young and thoughtless.
No more this time.
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