1836: Richard English to John Watson English

This letter was written by Richard English (1780-1841) and his wife, Eliza (Watson) English (1782-1858), natives of Tyrone County, Ireland who came to the United States about 1801 and settled in Onondaga County, New York. From this letter it appears that the must have relocated to Adrian in Michigan Territory in the spring of 1836. Also writing a portion of the letter is their eldest son, Richard English, Jr. (b. 1813).

The letter was written to John W. English (1814-1894), a second son residing in Spafford, Onondaga County, New York.

1836 Letter

1836 Letter

Addressed to John English, Spafford, Onondaga County, New York

September 27, 1836
Adrian, Michigan

Dear John,

We have got almost tired looking for or expecting a letter from you. We have not had a line from you since last July. We send to the post office two or three times a week but alas, there is no letter from John. Robert wrote to his father on business. There was not a line in it from you. Dear child, have you forgotten us or have you no time, or don’t you want to write to us? I want you to write when you get this letter and tell me which of those three has been the hindrance.

My health is much better than it has been. Your father’s health is good. He worked hard this summer. He and Richard chopped and cleared off five acres of land and got it in with wheat and it looks very well. Richard was sick this summer about the time he was drawing our goods from Detroit. He was very poor and loked like a ghost. He is now fatting up and feels well. We have not got all our goods. We have lost one chiot [?] and one barrel. We have wrote to Buffalo but have got no answer.

Amanda is in her school. She has had a very good school this summer and is very well liked. She has improved very much. I think boarding among strangers so much has wore of that bashful shyness that used to make her appear so awkward. Amanda is much pleased with the country and so is all the family. The longer we live here, the better we like it. Your father likes his farm very much. The location is so good that he could double his money if he wanted to sell. I need no describe the place to you being near the village for I suppose you have heard before now. The old gentleman would be perfectly happy if you and Robert was here. We all want to see you very much. Tell Robert when he writes again to send more than half a sheet of paper; to send a whole sheet well filled. Tell Clarry to write if Robert won’t. Tell the little boys I want to see them very much.

Sally is taking care of Caroline. She has got a little daughter. It was born the 20 of this month. Caroline has been very sick. Her life has been almost despaired of. She worked too hard this summer. William took in boarders and she done the work alone. He wanted to hire a girl but she thought she could do the work alone and so she worked herself almost to death. William will do well here. He has work enough and good pay. He has bought two house lots in the village, has hired Orlow Whiting by the month. Orlow is married to a lady buy the name of Mary Drake. He brought his wife to see us last Sunday.

Has John had a letter from Ireland? Has he heard of the death of his mother? She died last spring. Your cousin Richard attended the funeral the Sunday before he started for this country. He says she never gave John up. It broke her heart to think she had to part with a dear child in the way that she did to go to a land of strangers, young, friendless, and unprotected. [She] knowed not what would become of him or what course he would take. He laid heavy on her mind through all her sickness and spoke his name with her last expiring breath. If John has not yet got a letter, you had better write to him.

I must now lay down my pen and leave some place for your father and Richard. I don’t know that you can read this writing for I am almost blind. I have almost lost sift of my right eye. — your mother

Dear Children,

I write a few lines to fill up your mother’s letter. I want you to come and see me. I want you to see where we are and how you like this place. Robert, I think you would be pleased with this country. You would like to know the price of things here. Wheat is worth one dollar per bushel. Corn seventy-five cents. Oats three shillings. Potatoes three shillings. Butter and pork is very dear. The Prince horse brought me one hundred dollars. We keep the Roan horse and Richard’s mare. Mr. Woodworth would like to know how his mare stood the journey. You may tell him well. Better never was put in harness. I was glad to hear that you got the money of J. Ripley for he meant to be a rogue.

We are going to your Uncle John’s tomorrow. William and Caroline feels bad that you have not wrote to them nor said anything about them in your letters. I should like to tell you about my hunting but must omit that till you come. Yesterday morning I seen about twenty great turkeys in the tops of the trees and there is a plenty of deer. If the little boy was here, they could pick plenty of walnuts. Give love to Clarry and the children and to all inquiring friends. My enemies, I care nothing about.

Your affectionate father, — Richard English

Dear brother,

I take this opportunity to write a few lines. We have not had no frost here. Last Monday I helped one of our neighbors to cut up corn. We ground our hoes sharp to cut corn and we found it was very handy tool. The corn was so large that they had to get a great bench to tie the tops together.

John Wilson lives one mile and a half from us. Mr. Coon has bought in Jackson County and does not like. Lorenzo has quit him. Ephraim is in Missouri. Tell Robert if his roan horse is a great trotter, he will fetch one hundred dollars to go on the railroad. I want you to take good care of my cutter. I want you to write a good long letter. — Richard English, Jr.

2 responses to “1836: Richard English to John Watson English

  • Meagan English

    Richard English is my 5x great-grandfather, and John W. is my 4x GG…where exactly is this letter located? I have hit a road block past Richard…curious to know how you encountered the Tyrone connection. John W. ended up migrating to Adrian as well…about a year later.

    • Griff

      I transcribed this letter for a friend of mine who sold it on e-bay a year or so. I have included all I learned about the family from searching the internet. — Griff

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