1823: Helen Wallace to Robert Smith

If you can help me identify this family, please comment in the space below.

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Addressed to Mr. Robert Smith at Ebenhopewell, Chenango Point, Broome County, State of New York, America; Care of Mr. Alexander Wattles near there.

Auchencairn [Scotland]
January 24th 1823

Dear Robert,

It is with much pleasure I take up the pen to answer your letter we received December 11th, I can return you in your own words that I am in far better spirits than when we wrote to you before. Dear friends are like the strings of a well-tuned musical instrument – when one is touched, the other trembles. I am much concerned for you under all the different dispensations of God’s holy providence; you are in the dark about the baptism of your infant. Be humbled but not discouraged. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday to day and for [illegible] may be safely trusted for deliverance how distressing your condition. Ralph Erskine says in his works, however weak and sinful the poor mortals are home to employs, if the hold no erroneous tenets, yet let the word and ordinances be entertained with due reverence and holy fear: because they are dispensed in the name who hath all power in heaven and earth. Plead with him who maketh a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters to [paper torn] glorious promise of making away in the wilderness and rivers [paper torn] their desert. Read Isiah [?] chapters. I hope you are ingaged with some of your Christian brethren in prayer meetings. The Lord hath promised where ever two or three are met together, there He will be in the midst of them to Bless them: as Mordecai said to Esther who knoweth whether you are sent to that Kingdom for such a time as this: do not despise the day of small things but look over the servants head for the Master’s face: what can make a sermon and a sacrament powerful and efficacious. Nothing but His powerful presence. He can make the feeble as [?] and David as the angel of the Lord. [Scripture citation] and when He exerts his power, [?] covenant reformation will revive: in spite of earth and hell: when the Lord shall build up Zion, He will appear in His glory.

I am in my ordinary health at present, thank God for it, hoping this will find you and your family in the same condition. I have had several turns of sickness since you went away, but through the mercies of God, they continued not so long as they used to do.

I have had many waking hours through the night since I saw you and I employed some of them in making a sort of poem on your journey to America. You did not give us the Capt’s name that took you to New York, which caused me to borrow one. When any person asks who made it, I reply it was an old neighbor of mine. I send you the lines as it is. When you know it is my first work of this kind, you will excuse its errors.

In eighteen hundred and twenty-one
In the end of July, it’s well known
I and my family went away
Bending our course for America.

While life remains, I’ll mind the day
From Auchencairn, I went away
My wife and my young familie
To the Tessie at Glencaple quay.

I ne’er need tell my heart was sair
For I was full of grief and care
To leave my country and dear friends
For a foreign shore in America.

I had not broke my Country’s laws
I had committed no such flaws,
But the gloom of fortune did command
That I should leave my native land.

On the second of August, we set sail
From the Carse thorn in a pleasant gale,
But the seas did beat and the wind did blow
As we went to America.

Now we bade adieu to the Scottish shore,
And friends that we would ne’er see more
For the sail was flapping on the foam
That bore us from our Father’s home.

Adieu ye blithesome cliffs and hills
Renowned in song ye meads and rills,
Though loved so long I must bid adieu
And a long farewell to my friends and you.

Fare well the braes aboon the mill
And Ellerslie, I love it still,
And you Kirkyard where the stone lyes low
That tells the world a tale of woe.

We were six weeks upon the seas
In which we found but little [torn]
For Capt. Williams, he went [torn]
And a guard for him must then be [torn].

Then we sailt on with [torn]
And for St. Johns our course did steer,
And after many dangers past
We reached New Brunswick at the last.

New Brunswick is a pretty town
And stands upon a rising ground,
The spacious ocean round does roll
Which beautifies this barren soil.

With Capt. Hopkins we then set sail,
He took too much money, and used us ill.
Talking of poll money and bonds by law,
We found no such thing in America.

Sure he of mankind had but the name
He to a wolf had a nearer claim.
When he set us down on Fairfield shore,
The sun was set and the night did lower.

The children then began to cry,
Which made my heart heave and sigh.
And look to Heaven who serves us all
For mercy on seven children small.

We got an empty store that night
And rested till the morning light.
And two days after we sailed away
For New York City without delay.

When we this famous town came nigh
The Yankee Hill we past it by,
With all its hostile enginery
For to annoy an enemy.

New York, it is an ancient town,
And is already of great renown,
With seventeen forts and castles rare
To guard it in the time of war.

The ship that brought us from Fairfield
The Capt. of did use us well,
Showed me their charming city hall
White marble front floors, stairs and all.

But all these pastimes on me was lost
Who with adversity was toss’d.
My purse was light and my spirits low
I had no home and far to go.

What cared I for their curious town
Their marble hall and shining bowers,
They were insipid things to me
Who knew not where my home would be.

All costly buildings will decay
Their gaudy grandeur will fade away,
When the last trumpets solemn call
Will shake this vast expanded ball.

John Trewman was the Capt’s name
That brought us to this town of fame,
And here you may believe it’s true
We saw many a strange face and kind one too.

October first, much rain did fall,
A wealthy merchant on us did call,
And made us to his house to go
And real discretion he did show.

He sent the Captain with me away
To change my gold to silver grey
For sometimes their premiums is less
Just as their riches is in store.

The first we met had two percent
My friend with this was not content,
We went where I received four
Which did a little increase my store.

To the good old merchant we’ll bid adieu
And the man whose name and heart was true,
May the blessings on them fa
That was kind to us in America.

October second we sailed away
And for new winds or our aim it lay,
We went on board ere the sun went down
And reached that place next day past noon.

Thus having cross’d the roaring seas
We traveled on till by degrees,
To the house of Wen Scots we came
And Martha Wilson his virtuous dame.

When we came to our own country man
He kindly took us by the hand,
For it was only a year or two
Since he came to America.

We were intend to built a cot
For we have bought a pleasant spot,
With a little haugh that lyeth low
Beside the river Chenango.

Now thanks to Him who the blind does lead
And ‘ay a friend in the time of need,
That has brought us through those dangers
To the stone of help in America.

To our Ebenezer, we’ll here set up
And hopewell, he did us conduct,
May we ne’er forget to praise His name
Who brought us safely o’er the main.

Thee need not seek a sculptured stone
To tell my name when I [?] and gone,
For my poor heart was most broke in two
Ere I came to America.

When death doth come with his pointed dart
And strikes the blow that breaks my heart,
They may dig my grave and lay me low
Within the plains of Chenango.

Then may the King of Kings be near
Still to protect my children dear,
Make them to hear instructions voice
And thy celestial wisdom choice.

Keep them from sin, that noxious thing,
And shame that it doth ever bring,
From suddenly by thy great power
Preserve them in an evil hour.

Now mother, I’ll lay down my pen
To sigh for me it is in vain,
Let us strive to meet on yonder shore
Where sin and sorrow will reign no more.

Now sugatious Helen has got a home
I hope ther’l be no cause to moan,
Though the tears did stream ere they went away
From neths dale braes to America

Rebekah too, that little dame
Against that journey did sore exclaim,
But she’ll forget her gran mother’s twa
Were she seven years in America.

And Johney with his iron plow
He got fraerd Dalziel just new,
He may gor both well and Jamie draw,
And plow some land in America.

And wee bit tam when he’s a man
Nothing of this he remember can,
Nor Jenny that she got a frock
From a fine young lady at New York.

They may toddle about their Father’s door
They may have fowls and other store,
Where morrin has no claim to [?]
And charge their hens and ducks [?].

O had they but a horse or two
Or a yoke of oxen their plow to draw,
They would till their land and their wheat would sow
Upon the plains of Chenango.

May truth and peace ay be in the cot
Of every brave and gallant Scot,
Whom fate hath driven as far away
Beyond New York in America.

Capt. Williams was taken from the cells on the month of May last to his own house. When they told him he was in his own bed, he was a weeping and died in a day or two, It was thought the doctors had given him a dose. James Wilson is recovered and able to work at his trade and sends his love to you. William Davidson at Carhiel went to Dumfries on the fifth of November. He was seen very drunk that night about eight or nine o’clock. He did not return home. It was thought he was in the water, but there was much rain for some weeks and the waters being always bigg, it could not be searched. A number of men made search for him in different roads and fields [for] several days to no purpose. He was put in the papers. He was found on the 12 of December opposite the Netherwood on the Greenmerse side by a herdboy in a creek almost sanded up. He was digged out of the sand by some of the Greenmerse people and taken in a cart and put in the cart house all night. James Wallace and David Jenery went with a cart and brought him home on the 13th. His clothes could not be taken off – only the shoes — the smell was so great. One of his lips a little cut and his face much hoven, noting put on the head, but led [laid] in the coffin as he was with his dirty clothes and the pockets full of sand with a white sheet led over him. The hat and plaid was lost. He was buried on the 14th. See the end of intemperance.

David showed Mr. Wightman your letter. He didn’t say whether he would make the verses or not. He sends you his compliments. Says he talked with Mrs. Buchan about forty years ago [and] was shocked at her ignorance and fanatism. Thinks she died soon after. He talked also with Mr. White, her minister. He was a sort of a scolar but deranged in his mind. John Thomson, fleece dresser, says that Mr. White left his wife and family and went to America with a Miss Gardner about 30 years ago taking all the money they could get with them. Some more of her disciples went to the same place about that time.  It is between 30 & 40 years since she died and her own sirname was Simson.

Thomas Gillespie is dead and Grissel Kilpatrict died on the 20th January. Agnes Wallace’s husband died at Glasgow that harvest after you went away. She is still living there and the boys is at trades. They have quit the shop.

Aunt Margaret and her family is well at present. Sister Jean sends her love to you. They are all well, He son James went to Brother William at Martinmass last. The wages, in general, is growing lower every year. Brother William sends his love to you. He had a child that died in summer four months old. Her name was Agnes. His Laird says he will use him as well as any gentleman in the place will use their tenants. There is a number of gentlemen lowing the rents length of 30 & 40 percent, the markets being very low. Wheat per Bl [?] barley per [?], potatoe oats [?] oat meal per …the fruit was expecting plenty last season the market mostly as full of them as the potatoes and as cheap. [?]

Brother Adam sends his love to you. They are all well. He had another son born about Halloween. His name is James. He is getting a deduction of 30 pounds yearly. Aunt Agnes has been poorly but is got better. The rest of they family in there ordinary way. Uncle and Aunt at Minorive is in their ordinary way for anything we know. He was here on summer and saw your letter, sends his respects to you all. Joseph Couran and his family is well in their health but a little embarrassed in their circumstance. It is thought he will not be able to keep the firm. He has got no word from his son James. This good while John is married last Martinmass on Sarah Johnston his neighbor servant. They are living in a house at Carssiel with John Bryden, James Newland, Mr. & Mrs. Tait.

Andrew Montgomrey, Joseph Smith sends their best respects to you and your wife. There is a general rejoysing in all this place concerning your good luck through the providence of God. David Hunler and Elspeth sends their love to you all. They are living at Gateside since May last and has a park and some cows. Mrs. Thomson is in a wek way. Had to make a sale of her cattle before Martinmass to pay debt. She has given up the farm. Perhaps you have heard by John Fisher’s letter that Mr. Tiffre was led aside before Whitsunday and wed to Miss Allan in summer. He was restored to his flock after Martinmass so had a dry summer but a wet harvest to near the end a moderate soft winter little frost till old New Year’s day. Then a keen frost and a heavy snow. There is great playing at the ice everywhere. A spill was played on the 20 January on Mr. Burney’s lock. At night they came to Kenneth Bell’s and drank whisky and sung songs till the morning and got the worse of liquor. William Robson Riddinwood and James McGee Tunuer Quarrelwood did not leave the house till four in the morning. James McGee had gone of the read. It was thought his dim was for the Kirricks and wandred amongst the snow; his voys was heard for help. About 7 o’clock in the morning the Kirrick’s folk was loading grain, but no search was made to see where or what was the matter. His mother went to Kenneth’s for in the morning. He was not there. They sent their son William her her. They got his track in the snow. Next to the Newmains about ten o’clock by his mother and the boy, scarcely alive, lying upon his back, his arms spread back, his eyes open and glazed in his head. His clothes was wet, dirty, and frozen for he had been in the ditches. By this time the were plenty to assist. He was carried in to sister Elspeth like a fozen stick. His clothes was all to cut before they could get them off – even the very shoes. He was led in a bed [and] the doctor was brought, He got a little blood. Brother James was there on the afternoon. Says the scene baffled all description. He died about 7 at night. There was nothing but weeping, ailing, and distraction with wife, father & ______ praying for God’s curse and the widow curse on Kenneth Bell. His corpse was rold in Eppies blankets and taken away in a cart that night.

Brother David has his well wishes to you and your family. John send his well wishes to you and your family. He has still a thought of coming to America if it was in his power. You need not expect any of them this season. James and Michael is well and sends their love to you all. The first opportunity that Providence gives me of any coming your [?] will fulfill your requests as far as is in my power. There is some things omitted in this till our next for want of [?].

Fairwell, dear Robert. May the almighty be with you and your family. Your affectionate mother, — Helen Wallace

P.S. Brother Michael took your letter and read it to your Mother-in-law. They are all well. We told them we were going to write but no orders came. The Post Master told Michael that the letters went and came by Falmouth and not by Liverpool. John and Michael went out to Edinburgh about the 12 of August and saw King George, the Fourth, landing on a visit to Scotland. It was a grand sight to see the Highland Chieftins and their ______ all in ancient dress, the Royal Archers with their bows and arrows. We came in by Peebls and saw Uncle Adam. They were all in good health. James & William came to see us in October. James is a cliver genteel man, both in person and parts. They were riding on well mounted horses. The 31 verse of the Poem by line in [?] the main read gave us Ellirslie again. Be sure to keep your trist in writing. We are ashamed of being so long in answering yours.

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