This letter was written by George Matthew Moffett (1801-1804), a native of Dunse, Berwickshire County, Scotland, the son of Andrew Moffett (1768-1845) and Elizabeth Hall (1766-1853). George married Allison (“Alie”) Hall. George Moffett is listed in the Charleston City Directory as keeping a store at 9 Burns Lane — near the junction of Calhoun and Meeting Streets in the heart of the commercial district. It appears he came to the U.S. with his wife in the early 1830’s but he did not become a citizen until 1841, three years before his death. Family history says his wife relocated to New York after George’s death. Clearly she was anxious to leave the South where she evils of slavery offended her while living in Charleston.
This letter was addressed to Robert Bennett (1803-1881), a native of Kelso, Scotland. He was married to George’s sister, Isabella Moffett (b. @1803), and was a farmer in Chateaugay, New York — practically on the Canadian border.
[Addressed to Mr. Robert Bennett, Chateaugay, New York]
Charleston, South Carolina
September 16th, 1836
Dear Brother & Sister,
I have intended writing you for some time but now find that if I don’t this week, I will not be able to do so for some time as my time will be fully occupied for the remainder of the season, our fall goods having arrived yesterday from Liverpool so that we will be kept quite busy arranging them preparatory to the commencement of our Autumn business, which we calculate will be upon a more extended scale than it has hitherto been. We got into our new store on the 1st of August and altho it is 100 feet long and 25 wide and three stories high, we find nevertheless it will not be a bit too large.
It is very gratifying for me to be able to say that we as a family and all our friends here are well, my brother excepted who has been suffering severely from a bad cold for some time back but is much better these few days. I am sorry to say that Cholera made its appearance amongst the Color’d population in this City about a month back & has carried off a considerable number. There has also been a few cases amongst the whites but principally amongst that class of people who pay no respect to their own or their neighbors good — Viz. — Drunkards.
A new chief magistrate has lately come into office who to all appearance will do much towards the health of the City — it being his determination to root out all the filth if such a thing is practicable amongst such a filthy race as the Nigroes are. It makes me almost repent (however good my prospects are) that I had ever come away amongst them to see how Alie is tormented with them. She sometimes threatens she will start off and leave us all and wend her way to Canada. She returns you many thanks for your kind invitation to spend her summer with you. And could she have done as the Peatman of Gordon did when he went to Kelso [Scotland] Market — take a pock of peat beneath her to bear evidence — she might have come. But such a journey is not easily accomplished. However, the day may come.
We received a letter from Cousin Mary Hall a few weeks ago. When it left, they were all well. We also had one from Uncle Wm at Liverpool a short time since. His family were all well but the Emigrant had not then sail’d. He enquired very kindly for you. There has also been letters from home…[illegible]…in which both you and us were sadly upbraided for not writing to Bess. Alie has since written and told her that both you and her had written but received no answer from her. James had been laid up with rheumatism for a considerable time but was again recovering, so that she had her hands full.
Have you heard anything of my Uncle George Moffett? He left for Canada some months ago. He is gone alone and if he is likely to succeed, is to send for his family. Should you ever visit Dunda’s, try and find out a Mr. Robert Thomson from Brunswick and say you know me and you will get a Bicker of good sweet milk and the best Peasy Berry in his House. Write soon, and let us know how your crops have turned out. I have almost left no room to say we received your last dated 22d June and sincerely hope your affliction was sanctified. To you all and with kind love in which Alie & she ____. Your affectionate brother, — George Moffett