Very Dear Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters,
The letter which Bro. John sent that was dated Sept. 11th 1821 I duly recd. about the middle of December, but as my Brother mentioned that probably some other of my acquaintances would write soon, and, haveing nothing of importance to write, I defered from one week to another but none as yet hath arrived, the last that I wrote was dated about the 9th of November 1821.
I thank you for your kindness in answering my letter immediately - I am glad that you always feel interested in my welfare and happiness, but it apears that you are more anxiously concerned than you ought to be. All the advice you have given, and all the remarks that you have made, I have ever viewed as proceeding from affection and goodwill. My situation has been no worse than I have represented it to be, I have plenty to ate and drink, and wear, and at present enjoy good health. I do not owe any Man a Cent, and a poor man here, if his moral conduct is good, is as much respected as the rich, and we can converse familiarly with a person worth twenty or thirty thousand dollars without either taking off our Hatt or feeling any kind of terror, or fear, at all, indeed this independant spirit is carried to an extreem for people is rather rude and does not use that good manners (not in general) as they ought to do, I was much pleased the other day in meeting a person going from market, down in the street with a little dressed Hogg about fifty Wt on his shoulder, he is an independant gentleman he observed to me that he could not have done that in Dublin.
According to Br John's prediction, we have sold all off again, and has declined keeping shop, I took an inventory of our little stock in December and found that we were not doing any good, and the last quarter is much the dullest, and a person proposed at the first of Jan.ry, to take the Shop at our rent and the goods at what they cost us, being such a good oppertunity of disposing of all together, I thought it best to sell of which we did, for we would have had to have done it in the Spring at any rate, on account of the rent, We had to loose a little on some unsaleable articles but upon the Whole thing was well sold, perhaps they would not have given as much by Thirty Dollars at the Auction, the Money we had on hand and what we got for the goods amounted to about five Dollars, more than we put in at first, so that we got a trial of it without loosing anything except the time of three Quarters of a year, and what I had to pay in for my Victuals and about ten Dollars for Shoes and hatts etc. So that I will have about twenty Dollars now less than I had last April, yet after we got all settled I was as pleased as if any person had given me ten Dollars for we might very soon have thrown away all that we had.
It was with the greatest attention and care that I could keep us straight, having all to do myself. We had Seven dollars to pay for a Sign and ten Dollars licence We had to pay for retailing foreign goods, there is a Bill before the House to take that off again, or to proportion it to the property or Amount of goods that people has - the person that Bought our Stock is a Shoe Maker and has turned it principally to a Shoe Store, and what things he got of us, After he took it, I told him that I would attend a while for him at four Dollars a Month and Board and Washing until I found something that would suit me, for I would almost as soon attend for nothing as to be entirely out of place. I have not as yet engaged in anything else, it is a very unfavourable season of the year to find Situations, a person wants me to attend a Wholesale Warehouse for him of Groceries at Seven Dollars a Month, and found or Eighty four Dollars a Year, I wanted a Hundred but I rather think that will be as much as he will give and if another person does not engage with him, it is probable that I may, the Pay would be sure, I could make the Most money at the Iron Works, working at one of the furnaces, I could get a Dollar a Day, two Dollars a week in Money and the rest in trade on any kind but it is so very warm that I do not like much to engage in it yet,
I thank you for your kind invitation for me to return, but altho I have not made much yet I think if all be well, I shall try this Country a while longer. I have very little thought of coming back as yet until I see if things will mend a little, As it respects the times they continue a good deal the same, trade has been very dull of late, but it is no wonder as the rivers has been all froze up for some Months, as soon as they open it will be a little more brisk, provisions still keeps very low, A few days ago I bought three as good Hoggs as I would wish to see (for Stevenson) at two Cents per pound, ready killed and dressed - a small family can live almost as cheap as a Single person.
Febry 14th. I have just recd. a letter from Cousin Cuthbert Harrison dated Novbr 5th 1821. I am really glad to hear that you are well and the observation which my Mother wished his to make is a very kind & Judicious one, namely to do whatever way I think most conducive to my own happiness and wellfare, and I think any kind of Employment is prefferable to the leadmines, even the Iron Mines is not so disagreeable because they have good air to breath and can Earn a great deal more - Cuthbert Harrison advises me to take a Companion in Life but such a one as he describes is not to be found atall, I do not know If there is one in a thousand of that discription, the first I find that will suit I shall certainly make no delay, I mentioned going to a place the Christmas before last Where there was a Girl, I went three or four times after that, for some time at first I thought that she was all in all and had a notion of giving my consent as the Choice rested with me, but I began to find that I was a little mistaken and on examining the Motives which excited my attention I found that the THousand Dollars was the principal attraction, Shortly after I withdrew she Married with an Irishman and proves to be such a person as I took her for, I have frequently thanked the Almighty for his kind providence in various things, if ever I Choose a partner it shall be one that I think I can always Love whether rich or poor -
I have nothing in particular to write about, Solomon say there is nothing new under the Sun, but the way in which we celebrated Last Christmas apeared New to people here. You know when our Saviour was Born there was a Multitude of Heavenly Hosts Sung Praises, and shall not we, I consulted a few of the Singers concerning the propriety of learning a piece and singing it early on Christmas morning, in different parts of the town, and they thought it would be very well, it is a practice they attend to in most of the towns in England, and in New York, and philadelphia, accordingly we mett a few times before and learnt a piece called Nativity (by Leach) which I had in my book. It goes to these lines
"Lift up your heads in Joyful hope etc", there was twenty two of us, Eight women sung treble, Six men and a Clarinet to the tennor, five and a Bassoon to the Bass and I played Counter, the Duett we lett the Women sing it and a light Bass, and then all came on full on the Chorus which really had a good effect, We Sung at about sixteen or more places, and generally three verses at a place, we were afraid of being disturbed by the Rabbling Boys about the Streets at first, when we went out they made a little noise but when they saw that we took no notice of them they went Back., We conducted ourselves with the greatest sobriety so that people could have nothing to make a handle of, as soon as we had done at one place we walked off immediately without saying a word, the tenor in the front, and treble in the Middle, and then the Bass, when we sung we stood in a Sircle so that when any came about they could not disturb us, It was a fine frosty morning, but rather Cold, I contrived to have a good fire on in the Stove so that when we got to our place, which was about halfway through the town, we called in and warmed ourselves, it was then near two Oclock in the Morning, I thought among so much Singing it would be well enough to have some Prayer, accordingly I desired John Marshall to pray with us which he did in a more feeling manner than usual, We went out about halfpast Twelve Oclock, and got home about three, it served as a subject of conversation to the Whole town, some approved of it and others did not, but none that heard it dissaproved of it, Thos Cooper awoke and said it was truly grand,
I did not go to bed that night nor the next day and I got a very bad cold which I am only getting better of now, about two weeks ago I had a bad cough, but I am getting quite better of it now, - There is very much contention about singing in our Meeting house now, Thos Cooper and a few of us wishes to sitt together in the Meeting house but some old Irish Classleaders opposes us with all their might, they will go an hour sooner on purpose to get into our seats, altho we sat in them for years back, altho there is some Irish among the Singers yet the Majority of them is English, and they are envious of us, there is four or five of us English sings Bass, and when they get into our seat We never mind for we always contrive to gett together on some seat, they say if we go on to the gallery they will follow us, they are such a sett of people as you never saw, the Preacher is very much displeased with them. One of our Classmates proposed subscribing 200 Dollars to them if they would build a meeting house of their own. We sometimes introduce a new turn, and they cannot suffer that at no rate, they drew up a protest about it and went about the town and could not get any person to sign it, so they had to Burn it, they then took another method to try and prejudice the minds of the people they got the printers to transcribe the verses of scripture, onto little papers namely "I will Sing with the Spirit" etc and "in Psalms and Hymns" etc and Dr Clark noted to them they are scattering these Bills about without telling what design they are for, the other Market day some person stuck one of them on the Market house and forged two of the principal opposers names to it, how it will end none can tell but it is lamentable when strife and contention getts into a church the consequences is evident the WORK of the LORD is hindered and it affords a subject of Ridicule for the Enemies of the Cross But I have filled up too much of my paper with this subject.
I have just engaged with the person I alluded to before at Seven Dollars a Month and Board and Washing, I only engaged for one Month because I intend to have more the second If I please him I have to go in the Morning and the person is going down to Philadelphia and will carry my letter so that I must close it as it is twelve O'clock at night now I esteem it a great priviledge to hear from you, Give my kind love to Cousin Cuthbert and Jane Harrison and tell them I will Answer their Letter the first oppertunity and will gladly hear from them at any time, Also to the Gibsons family, and I'll tell you what do if you please, Jos. Gibson has had Five Dollars of Mine upwards of two years (and I would gladly lend him a hundred if I had it) and if Thos. Gibsons people will give you twenty two Shillings and sixpence I will lett Thos Gibson keep the Five Dollars, It will serve to inter your letters I wish I had five Hundred to send you it is not worth Mentioning you will do it in a secret way and the next letter Jos. Gibson sends he will give their people credit for the five dollars, be sure to attend to this and you will oblige me and be no disadvantage to yourselves. Jos Gibsons family is well Hannah has lately been brought to Bed and if my memory be correct it is a Son she has got this time All our Weardale people is well to the Best of my knowledge, Mr Whitfield is always employed at Mine Creek as usual and is well, I enjoy good health myself and am still trying to serve the Lord. I always find him to be my best friend. I desire therefore to Love him above every other object. My privileges through the week are limited and my progress in the divine Life is but slow, yet I think I never felt a more fixed desire to glorify God in every instance than I do at present.
I meet in Coopers Class and we have good meetings, I am sorry to hear of the affliction of Aunt Fanny Wilson, She has had a great many trials and afflictions to pass through, if the Lord is about to call her away Oh may he prepare her for and take her into his Heavenly Kingdom where the inhabitants shall no more say they are sick. Write to me again I wish to hear from you all and tell me something of the goodness of God to your Souls and how many of you are bound for the Kingdom of Heaven, I feel very anxious for us all as a family to be bound up in the Bundle of life that when we have passed the troublesome ways of this life We may enjoy an Eternity of happiness at God's Right hand. My love to all friends and to yourselves.
I am your affct Son
The story does not end here. Nicholas Watson wrote to his parents (now in Weardale, Parish of Stanhope) on 12th March 1826, informing them that he had "taken a companion". He vividly describes his wife, their wedding and his work at a time when canals and railways were being built near Pittsburgh.
Each letter was written on both sides of a single sheet of paper 21 inches wide by 18 inches long. Each sheet was vertically divided to form two large pages. The large sheet was folded twice in each direction to make a letter of size 5.25 by 4.5 inches.
The present typescript follows the manuscript as closely as possible and uses the original spelling and punctuation. To make the document more easily readable, a line space has occasionally been inserted to create paragraphs. No space was wasted in the original document.
Connect to the second letter dated 12th March 1826
Comments to Joe Latham