Pittsburgh, March 12th 1826
Very dear Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters,
I received your letter dated Nov 18th 1825 last night, you can not imagine the pleasure it gives me to hear from you, I was growing very anxious to receive a letter, I was just going to write when I received this, This that I have now received is answer to the last I wrote so I have none away at Present, I assure you I am not insensible to your kindness in writing me so regularly - If a letter came from Nich's Gibson to Hawkswell - head, which he sent about 3 Months since, it would inform you that I had taken to myself a Companion
I am afraid my dear Mother will have been distressed on that account, although you did tell me that you would shed tears to hear of my getting married, Yet I fully considered it my duty to do so, and at the same time I can not imagine myself destitute of regard for your feelings and Happiness. If you had been near I should have asked your consent, I think I did mention something about it in my last letter, you know I have been a Lodger about seven years and frequently had a good deal to put up with, I became acquainted with a young woman whose turn of mind suited my own and who I fully believed would make an agreeable Companion, and since we have been married I have been more convinced of it.
They are a family who came from Derbyshire about four years ago and is now living in the neighbour-hood of Pittsb'g, I would like to give you a description as near as I can of the Person made choice of, I think in person she is something like young Hannah Alllison at Chapple or Phebe Watson of Briar Hill used to be, she is of an open intelligent Countenance her age is of near 23 years and has quite a steady Womanly like appearance, With regard to her mental condition she has not had the advantage of a liberal Education but she has good natural understanding and has made considerable improvement in knowledge, especially of the Scriptures and Divine things, she was brought up much the same as we were attended the Sunday Schools, for several years, she can read well, and write a little, what neglect there has been in her parents is not giving her the opertunity of learning, she is very well aquainted with household affairs and is Industrious and acts with Economy.
With regard to her Moral Conduct she has been for a few years a steady member of the Methodist Society, she loves Jesus Christ and all Mankind in proportion as they try to imitate him, she is tender hearted and of affectionate dispositions in Companay and at all times she conducts herself in a polite and agreeable manner and at the same time I believe she is in a great measure free from pride and affectation which secures her the respect of our aquaintances, at leat as much respect as can be afforded in this place, the Principals of Rightiousness has had a deep insertion in her mind such as Justice, Mercy and Truth, she possesses a tolerable share of patience she will well scold with no person even if an occation should be given her for it she will hold her peace I do not reccolect of her ever giving me an angry word since we were married She is remarkably cleanly so long as she has health and strength nothing can prevent her from attending to this, I mention this under this division because I consider it a mark of a Christian "A clean Heart delights in a clean house", all that the neibours has against her is that she spends so little time in sitting in their houses she says that the reason is that they talk about nothing but this and the other neighbour. She is really a "Keeper at Home" she loves to attend to means of Grace, and for us all to attend regularly to family worshop
But you will be listening with all your ears to hear if Nicholas has got fortune, I will remove your suspence at once by telling you that I have not, not in the sense you mean, what fortune she has consists in the things I have mentioned with others of Kindred nature as she did not possess any of this World's goods which is the case with many a good person but notwithstanding this I was fully persuaded she would suit me better than any I had been aqainted with and if we have Health and are industrous we will do well Enough, She is quite content with plane domestic life, - I am afraid you will think me too particular in these statements, but you must excuse me for once, as it is the first time I have write to you about these things,
Her name was Hannah Webster we were married the 10th of last September I rented a House and got what little things we wanted beforehand and was married into our own house on a Saturday evening by the Rev. Mr. Asa Shinn we had about twenty of our friends, Marshalls and Scholeys, Gibsons, Whitfields etc. etc. The people flitted out of the house the same day and we cleaned and whitewashed downstairs and upstairs and got our furniture into it and managed all the cooking the same day and was married in the evening I do not know we were ever so tired in our lives, but we got everything in the neatest order and perhaps a better supper than was ever made at Jos. Browns, Hannah is an excellent Cook although I say it myself and she attended to it with the assistance of a girl, Jos. and Hannah Gibson helped us a great deal that day, we are living about a stones throw from them, we live in a house one room downstairs and one up, we were badly off for want of a kitchen to wash and do any rough work in, besides in summer it makes the room so warm having a fire in it, and as I was off work a few weeks after we was married I put up a board kitchen for nothing but the use of it as long as we live in it the Landlord has found the boards and brick and grate etc, We pay two Dollars a month rent other people has all been raised of their rents but we have not on account of the improvements I made on it, it would rent for three Dollars and is very small too.
Rents are unreasonable high there has been many burnt down this winter. And the population is increasing so fast that any little hut will rent the house that Jack Sigsworth 's people used to live in would rent for 3 Dollars a month - I have just read to Hannah what I have written and she says I have said too much in her favour but I think not so that I will lett it go it is nothing but what I should have said if she had been nothing to me,- I am very much obliged to you for your kind invitation for me to return Home, you will have given up all hopes perhaps of ever seeing me again I ought to have wrote to you myself as soon as I was married but I had nothing else particular to write about and having wrote such a short time before I did not wish to put you to the Expence I wish to enform you that my marrying need not be a entire hindrance to my coming back again However it will be hindrance this summer as Hannah will not be in a situation for travelling. If I had been single I think I should have started this Spring, when I married I did not give up entirely the Idia of seeing you no more, and I found a person who I believed and still believes will be an agreeable companion wherever I am and wherever I go, she has frequently lived out at respectable peoples Houses and sometimes at a considerable distance from her people so that she would not take it as hard as those who have always lived at home and her confidence in me would tend to reconcile her a great deal as she always says that she liked much better to live in England, and from what she has heard me talk about you and hearing the Letters I have received from you she says you are just such people as she would like to live among and associate with and you need feel no more reluctance of my coming on account of being married as my goodwill and atachment to you will be no less and I hope we would not be burdonsome to you.
If we have our health and be industrious I have not a doubt but make a comfortable living, and if we could make you any assistance it would be our duty to do it, Hannah says if nothing be in our way we should think it better to Come to England next Spring that is the Spring of 1827. She is quite willing to come and I would fall into something Mr. Phillips of Lampton wrote me and said if ever he had oppertunity of doing me a favour he would do it for the attention I paid to his Sister Mrs Stephenson after her Husbands Death or if nothing else fell out what you were mentioning relative to shoe making might do very well it would be a good place where Brother Ralph is, and we would be able to help each other very much, I went a few days and worked with a Shoe Maker this winter and learned a little about it, I make all our own shoes and a few pairs for others, I made Hannah a very nice pair of Sunday boots,-- But neither you nor I must set our minds too much on these things that I have been mentioning for we know not what may turn up between now and that time so we must endeavour to reconcile and adjust our minds to whatever may take place.
I do not wish to say positively that we will come back at that time, it is so long until then but towards next Winter I will write again and probably will be able to tell you more particularly. The General Rate of Passage from New York or Phillad'a to Liverpool or Newcastle is 25 Dollars and find their own provisions, -- We have got articles pretty Comfortable into our own house I think I laid out above two Hundred Dollars we have one good Feather Bed and high post Bedstead, and Bedloths costs pretty high, Chaff bed and trunnel bedstead to run in under the other a good cherry bureau with some mahogany on itcost 16 dollars, a pair of good Cherry Tables i Walnut one and I made a very good pine one for the Kitchen, I also made a Dresser with a Cupbard below and 4 shelves above, 12 chairs &c. Our landlord is a Boatbuilder and I buy boards off him and gets the use of his tools and shop to make any little thing I can make I made two Fenders worth Three Dollars and the Iron only cost me a Dollar By being Nailors we get to be half Blacksmiths almost being so well acquainted with most kind of articles I bought them at tollerable reasonable rate so that if we were to sell them the Sacrifice would not be very much I would take time with them and sell them as well as I could but with regard to particulars I will tell you more in my next letter. I have now been at the nailing business about a year and during the year I have lost a great deal of time I have made through the year about the same as I made at the Auction Store that is 192 dollars including the first month I had to work for nothing but I made several little things that we wanted and it is likely that we may do better things next year if all be well I will not have the business to learn as I had this I have got my wages very well as I could not do without it, to live upon and you know it makes a person more anxious about getting their wages when they can not do without it.
I have felt myself very much better and stronger this winter, a few weeks ago we had very changeable weather and a bad cold prevailed I think more general than I ever knew it. apeared the disease was in the atmosphere, not one to my knowledge escaped it several have been brought into a decline by it, we both had it a week or two butt has got pretty well over it again I derived great benefit by taking about 2 tablespoons of Sage boiled in sweet milch when I was going to bed it is an excellent thing for a cold it may be that I will find something that will suit me better than nailing this Spring. I have been looking out and if I find anything that will suit me I will take it as I never can consider nailing a healthy business especially in Summer time.
I wish I had any way of sending a silk Shaul for you my Sister Phebe you are the only Sister that is left and we ought all of us to be Friendly to you your Sister Hannah wants to inclose a Bonnet Ribband in the letter untill we can get you a Shawl but the Expense of Postage would be twice as much as the Riband would be worth Dear Phebe it rejoices my Heart to think you are steadily walking in the way that leadeth to eternal Happiness if it were nescessary I would try to encourage you let us continue to endure the Cross what I mean by this is vollentarily to chose present pain to secure future Joy dissapointments afflictions subduing the flesh and subduing our Spirit all these things will give present pain and may be termed Enduring the Cross nothing can induce us to do this but a consideration of the Joy that is set beforeus The Joy of the Testimony of your own conscience and the Joy of the Devine Approbation, the Joy of gaining a victory over our pride and self will over the Passions and appetites of the body over the tempers of the Mind now a Government over these things is no small source of Joy and this Joy is set before us with the joy of a Happy Death and a Peaceful Immortality where we shall meet with our faithfull friends whom we have loved on Earth, Nanny and Jane and all the pious of every Clime and of every Colour and of every Creed.
Oh that we could always keep this Joy before our eyes you may arrive at it by constantly Looking unto Jesus,--- My father is much failed in his writing I see by it that your hand is quite unsteady but you cannot believe how glad I was to read a little of your Writing if you can write a little in the next I can read it if it is not so well written Dear Parent continue to weatherout a few more Storms until your Heavenly Father says "It is Enough come up hither Dear Joseph I cannot but say a word to you I know that the Principals of rightiuosness was seated in your Heart you could not be bribed to do a dishonest action or to injure your fellow creatures but this is not all the Heart must be given to God. Meditate for half an hour what it is that keeps you away from Jesus Christ you are not strait wed in Him for His arms of Mercy are ever open to receive you sett out at first as you did at first, be not discouraged if your talents is not so gre t as some is remember it is not talents that make a Christian it is the Love of God in the Heartand diffusing itself in the life Seek the Lord by Humble Prayer and he will by the help of his Spirit restore and show the Life giving Blood And parden the sinner once more and bring this again unto God.
I am glad to hear that John is doing well I should have been dissapointed if you had not mentioned him he is very little involved to what many has been if he should prosper in the future he may get out again well enough - I should like to have some guess how far he has fallen behind, I should suppose about 300 pounds Give him our kind repects when you see him.
They are going to bein to Cut a Canal this Summer from Pittsburg to Harrisburg to join the Susquenhanna River it will be to Cut through the Allegheny mountains they are also going to Erect water works to supply the City with water from the Allegheny river there will be want of 5 or 6 thousand Hands I should rather suppose that the labouring wages will be higher than usual they have commonly been 62 cents a Day perhaps some of us may take a bargain of a piece of it if we can that any good can be done that way we are going to have canals in all directions There has to be one from the Ohio River to Lake Erie perhaps at Cleveland Another to join French Creek to Lake Erie at Erie Town it was almost a years debate here wheater to have a canal or a railway from here over the mountains but the ground is not so firm and solid as it is in England, it would be so expensive keeping up a Railway, steam engines is progressing very much here to carry diferent works, we have coal so plentiful it is delivered at peoples houses at 3 or 31/2 Cents per Bushel then Wagons is all marked on them what they hold The Price of Digging Coal and Wheeling it out of the Pitt is 11/4 Cents per Bushel
There is a few of us meets every wednesday night at Mr. Marshall's to hold a Prayer Meeting Mr. Scholeys people and us and a few more meets for some of us English people cannot take any delight in Prayer Meetings, they are conducted in such a wild improper manner but this at Marshalls we conduct the same way as they in England Several of the Super-stitious Methodists wants to prevent us from meeting to sing and Pray because we did not obtain permission from thePreacher but as long as it is attended we endeavour to keep it up You may say I am not situated in Spiritual things as I was in England I assure you it is very much the Case as you say for a Englishman is generallly to modest and diffident to put himself forward and unless he does in a very bold and officious manner he will remain in silence and obscurity there is so many of the Irish and others who rush through everything there is as much striving for office in the Church as for Offices in the State and if they were sold at Auction to the highest bidder they would bring Enormous prices.
You know I was never forward when at home but at any time would rater have sat still and let others officiate at a Prayer Meeting etc, but if a Persons Talents is entirely laid asside they will unavoidable diminish, it is the case also with Scholey and Marshall all the publick way Marshall officiates is he attends a few Black Children in a Sunday School which is very kind of him but he is far from Possessing the Privileges he had at home I have often heard him speak of the oppertunities he had at home and it is rather discouraging for a person to think he is of no use in the World, and it is not so well when one cannot interest oneself in Society, I have heard several English people speak in the Class and have felt that it was a great scource of grief to them that they could not feel the attachment to the Methodists as a body as they formerly did, it is such a place for back-biting and quarreling and going to law with one another you never saw.
We have to get all the good we can from the Preaching of the Word and endeavour to serve our Maker and enjoy ourselves in our own Houses and families these things together with being so far removed from you has been a greater cause of my Spirit being cast down and disquieted within me than all the other things Put together my trials in other respects have been few When I feel my soul most alive to Spiritual things I feel the greater desire to be among you that we might help one another and Encourage one another This was in some measure the case before I came away On Sabbath days I felt a reluctance to come away but like others I took a dislike to hardships and grew impatient if a few relations were here that would kindly associate one with another they might enjoy their own society.
I cannot say that I possess that cheerfulness and liveliness of dispossition that I used to do in England however I will dismiss this gloomy subject What I have been saying has been in regard to people I cannot complain of the dealings of God towards me, I ought to be thankful That I have had food and raiment and wherewith to give every man his due and has had health to procure things honest in the sight of men but I ought to be more thankful for the influence of His Grace in my Heart that he enables me in a general way to possess my Soul in patience and gives me an Inward Peace of mind which those that are of the World is a stranger to, while in this World we are subject to dissapointments and afllictions and troubles over which we have no controll and which is unavoidable and what a blessed thing it is when our minds is kept in peace and feels a sense of Love in the presence of God.
When this is the case we are delivered from everything like Tumult and hurry and confusion and we can view God as a good Being seeking to promote our best instincts by these things then we can give God the confidence and Love of our hearts and say "Father thy will be done". When this is our language we find "rest to our souls" dear friends and kinsman according to the flesh continue to Pray for us.
I often think of you at a throne of Grace and presents you be name to the Almighty Oh that the Lord may bind us up as a family in the Bundle of Life May the Immage of Christ dwell in our souls and may we be kept by the Power of God through faith unto Eternal Salvation do not think Brother Stephen that because I do not mention thy name that I forget Thee No you are all dear alike to me and observat on I make to one is intended for all as far as they are applicable, The Lord has blessed us as a family and he will still bless us My Mother you have had a Sister taken away well she has gone to her rest continue you to Cleave to your Blessed Redemer and when you like her shall come to die "He will make your dying bed feel soft as Downey Pillows are While on his breast you lean your head And breath your life out sweetly there."
My feeling is sometimes excited when I look back on my leaving Ralph he was a little boy and he ran after me past the fur deal yett untill I had to Trot off and leave him crying for a week or two back we have dreamt much of you and sometimew we dream that things happenns some of you but our dreams is not particularly impressed on our minds perhaps it is by thinking about you during the day or being a little restless being the Spring of the year
Jos. Gibson and Familyare all well and sends their kind respects to you and desires you to tell their folk they are well and that they received a letter from Jane Vickers along with the one that I received. Hannah wrote a little on a piece of paper that she intended writing in letter but she says she is such a bad writer that I must copy it out for her and perhaps she can write better against the next I send The following is what she wishes to say Dear Mother I wish to say something to you before my Husband closes his letter although I never had the pleasure of seeing you yet being unitedto your Son makes me feel attached to all the family I am very glad you did not send your letter a year sooner or perhaps Nicholas had got to England and we had never become acquainted with each other.
I can say this that I find him such a Companion as I often used to think I should like to be united with if ever I should marry butI hardly expected to have found such a one, We live together in Harmony and Peace, I wish as far as I can to attend to the duties arrising out of the relation I sustain to him I am more comfortably situated than ever I expected to have been those that lives out at places has had many things to endure of a disagreeable nature but it is rather a pleasure than anything else for me work and be industrious when I have peace and satisfaction and I find so much more pleasure and freedom of mind to be doing things for ourselves than being employed for others although generally I give satisfaction and got highest wages yet it was often by doing two girls work, a few days I have been quilting if I had lived a little nearer I should have asked Sister Phebe to have helped me and I would have helped her as much again It takes one person so long to Quilt a good large Quilt I think I ought to have said something to you all but Nicholas has everything so much to my mind that I do not know of anything I say only I wish to advise Phebe to continue to be a follower of the Meek and Lowly Jesus I recollect very well when I was a single girl, when I gave my mind to Riligion how much better I got through my difficulties and bore more patiently those things that had attendance to trouble my mind and the temptations and trials that I had made me feel my dependence more on my Redeemer and makes me prize better days and as I had no associates that I could converse freely with on Religion I used to spend all the minutes I had from in reading and Meditating about our Saviour and I found great encouragementand help from this while other girls were carelessly running from house to house delighting in nothing but mirth and folly.
You no doubt see such girls around you my Husband says there was some Girls that used to think themselves above walking with Nanny who in point of under-standing and Piety were not to be compared to her do not you grudge them all the happiness that they have and envy thou none of their ways let us therefore be grateful to the Grace that is given and we shall soon receive the crown that fadeth not away which the Lord will give us that day and not to us only but to them also that love his apearing "The everlasting Doors Shall Soon the Saints Receive, Above you Angel Powers, for Glorious Joy to Live, Far from the World of Grief and Sin, With God Eternally Shut in"-- I remain your Afectionate Sista Hannah Watson.
You will excuse my bad writing I have been much hurried I got a large sheet as I suppose it will cost no more than a small one you will pay the postage among you and if ever I can recompense you I will and if not you will be recompensed in the Resurection of the Just, Nicholas Whitfield and family are all well they have one child a little girl called Ann He has been putting up two nail machines this last winter for some people and a few days ago he has commenced cutting nails again I think you had better not read this letter to people tell them we are well and sends our respects to them keep the contents of it to yourselves as it would only set people on talking they know that N. Whitfield is much dissatisfied with his part of the Country there is so much cheating and so much trading one article for another there is far more difficulty than buying and selling for cash I have not said any-thing to him or to any Person that I have any notion at all of coming to England He has aked me to write to Martindale to see how the nailing business do there but I believe Pitts'g as good a Place for getting a living and I dislike moving about.
Give my kind respects to my old partners that is living our love to the friends at Riggs at Justone at Ireshopeburn and Fieldhead and Sidehead, and to my uncle Stephens family when you see them and to all enquiring friends and particularly to all our family We remain your most affectionate Son and Daughter
Nicholas and Hannah Watson
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.
Comments to Joe Latham