1816-9: Maria McFadden to Robert McFadden

More research on this McFadden family is needed. A couple of research hours did not yield any positive results regarding either the author or the recipient of this letter. I found another letter written between the same two individuals on the internet though it had not previously been transcribed and had no biographical information attached. I transcribed it hoping that it might reveal some information leading to their identity but it did not. I have posted that letter, written in 1816, and its transcription, along with the other letter, written in 1819, hoping that family researchers might stumble upon this blogsite and help me with their identity.

Piecing together small bits of information, here’s what I would conjecture about these letters and the McFadden family. Both letters were written by Maria McFadden who I would guess was in her mid to late 20’s when she wrote them. She wrote both of the letters to her brother, Robert McFadden, whom I would guess was somewhat older — maybe 30. He seems to have been married to a woman named Jane and had children of his own.

Maria wrote both letters from West Union, a thriving early village in southern Ohio, not far from the Ohio River. Clearly she lived with her parents, natives of Ireland, but she does not reveal their names. Robert McFadden, Maria’s brother, apparently lived in upstate New York and was a merchant. She addressed the earlier letter to him at Argyle (near Glen’s Falls); the latter to Sterling (near Oswego). Robert must have been named after his uncle Robert McFadden who also seems to have been living in Ohio — perhaps Middletown north of Cincinnati.

Maria states in her letter of 1819 that she intends entering into the millinery business having paid a woman from New York to teach her how to make artificial flowers and fruit for ornamenting hats. She does not give the occupation of her father though she indicates he owns real estate and has had to fight in court to retain it.

If you can help with the identity of this McFadden family, please comment below.


Mr. Robert McFadden, Argyle, State of New York

West Union [Ohio]
December the 20th 1816

Dear Brother,

I do not know what to conclude from your long silence. I am beginning to think you are tired holding a correspondence with us or that you have something important that you don’t want to let us know. I am very sorry to hear that we have lost a dear brother but he has left a world of sorrow and trouble for a happier mansion in heaven I hope. Mother has been very sick this summer but is getting better. She says she thinks you very ungrateful for not writing to her. I wrote you two letters and received no answer from you. She is very uneasy to hear from Ireland for to know what situation our sisters are in. I expect Uncle Robert will fetch them in with him in the spring. I allow he will go to Ireland now as he has sold some of his property and finished his house off and rented its for one hundred and fifty dollars a year and has broke up housekeeping. I am very glad of it. We expect him everyday now down this far on his way home as he wrote a letter to us that he would be down here against Christmas.

Father desired me to write to you. He wants to know whether or not you have concluded to come to this country or not. He says he thinks this part of the country would suit you tho there are a great many goods here. There is seven stores in this place but there is a town laid out between this and Chillicothe called Liberty that there is but one small store in and if you will come, he wants you to write so that the may see about buying a lot for you. This town has improved very much since you was here. There is several brick houses built in it this last summer. Father has paid for moulding and burning and laying a brick house and expects to begin in the spring to work at it. He has had a great deal of trouble and lawsuits about his land but has won them all and expects to end it altogether again March, if he is living and well. He is about selling some of his property & he says you know the situation of the country and that he would impress upon you to come but he is afraid perhaps you would reflect upon him afterwards but he wants you to write directly to him what you have a mind to do.

Provisions are very plenty. Wheat is one dollar a bushel, corn two shillings & oats 25 cents. Pork is 4 dollars per hundred. The merchants are buying wheat and pork to send to Orleans which makes them so dear. Father and Mother and the rest of the children with myself send in their love to you and wife and family. We want to know how you come on at trading. Tell Jane that this country is very pleasant and healthy though very formal. Do not be a year before you write now for every mail …. am beginning to think you were buried before you was dead…your sister, — Maria McFadden


Image 36

Robert McFadden, Merchant, Sterling, State of New York

West Union [Adams County, Ohio]
January the 23d 1819

Dear Brother,

Nobody writing. I think it is time for me to take up my pen to answer your letter of the 3d of December. We are all well, thank God for his mercies, hoping that you all enjoy the like blessing. We concluded we would not write as we expected James home every day and we did not want to write till he came home. He came on the 9th inst.. He had a good journey and his health since he left home. He says he wrote to you but received no answer. He saw our friends at Middletown [Ohio] and like you says they live in a state of nature. Uncle Robert is there yet. We have never seen him yet nor don’t expect him till we see him coming. James allows to go in the spring and if nothing happens more than he expects he will see you in next summer. He don’t expect to return for two years after he goes in the spring. He is in partnership with a man that has a patent right for a machine.

Mother still holds up the idea that if you send her word when our sisters comes in that she will go and see you and them next summer. Her and father they want you to write to them about the time you expect the girls in. We are doing well. No bad luck attends us in particular — only money is scarce, and bad what is of it principally. Banks breaking in all direction.

William Thompson was here last spring on his way to Philadelphia and on his return. He is well. We received a letter from him a few days ago and he desired to be remembered to you and so does Mr. and Mrs. Power. This place is still improving and I think if you pay a visit in the course of one year you will be inclined to become a citizen of the State of Ohio. Mother was not well today or she would have written. I have wrote 3 times and received no answer but likely I did not direct right.

I am working at the milliner business and makes ___ing well out at it. I employed and lady from New York to teach me this fall and gave her fifty dollars for staying one month. She taught me how to make artificials and wax fruit and flowers and wax works and morocco hats and other things too tedious to mention. I expect to have a milliner shop next spring.

Sally sends her love to you and says when she write you next spring she will tell you she is married. The mail is making up. I have nothing more to communicate to you particularly — only waiting for you to answer. Mother will write when she gets better. Father and Mother and all the [rest] sends their love to Jane and yourself and the children and me to yourself.

— Maria McF.

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