1846: Clarke Houston to James Alexander Houston, M.D.

This letter was written by Rev. Clarke Houston of Mount Pleasant, Ballymena, County of Antrim, Ireland. In 1824, Rev. Houston married Anne Brown, daughter of Rev. James Brown of Garvagh.

Rev. Houston wrote the letter to his son, Dr. James Alexander Houston who was married in 1839 in Dublin Ireland to Ann M’Aulay, eldest daughter of John M’Aulay, merchant, New York City.

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Addressed to James A. Houston, Esq., M.D., in connection with the governmental press, Washington , forwarded to New York City

Ballymena [County Antrim, Ireland]
September 26, 1846

My dear son,

Your very long silence caused great anxiety to all of us. From March to September was a long time to be without any communication from you — and especially as you encouraged us to expect a letter at May. Each arrival from N. York in succession exerted hope but was surrounded by disappointment.

Your letter which has just come to hand bears two dates with two months intervening. Altho’ you express an earnest desire that I should write soon, with which you will see I have complied, yet I feel at a loss to fix on a mode of address as you did not give me any information respecting it. Your letter is dated at Washington & N. York but I do not know at which of these to address you nor at what place in either of them. I hope, however, these lines may reach you by the same address as two former ones.

It afforded as you will readily believe great pleasure to me & the rest of the family to hear that you & your family are well & prosperous. You have omitted to mention whether your third child is a son or daughter & what is the name. I hope, however, to hear soon from you again & more particularly respecting domestic affairs.

I may state before writing farther that your mother, sister, brothers & myself all enjoy good health at present. This is to be regarded as a valuable blessing at all times. & specially when disease is prevalent as is the case now in consequence of the change of ______ resulting from the diseased state of the potato crop.

In reference to the subject of emigration, I may state that your mother & E. Jane are grateful for your kind proposal, and you will please express for me to Miss Brown sentiments of the warmest gratitude for the very generous & kind offer which she authorized you to convey to me. At the same time, I find that it will not be practicable for me to embrace at present these friendly offers. I could not leave my Congregation regularly without the consent of Presbytery and to emigrate under circumstances that would be considered disorderly would not be advantageous. I do not think that the Presbytery would consent to dissolve the relation between Cullycaskey Congregation & me at the present crisis. There is a trial being made of the Sustentation Scheme as in the Free Church of Scotland. Sanguine hopes are entertained by some that I will improve the condition of the ministers. I have doubts respecting it, but until the result be known, I have not ground to conclude that Presbytery would dissolve the relation on account of inadequate support.

You will see then that thoughts of emigration must be abandoned for some time and you will also clearly see the necessity of attention being given now to the matter that in your matter of March you mentioned as to take place in May. The lapse of time has not rendered the necessity less urgent and I do not know what the consequence may be were it to be overlooked. But I sincerely hope that your reply to this letter on the receipt of it will bring me good news.

The local news in addition to what has been communicated to you from time to time is not extensive. John Luck & Mrs. Hill were married a few weeks ago. James Kennear, Jr. is said to have failed…He is now an Episcopalian! Yesterday I attended the funeral of Archibald Taylor. His death was the consequence of intemperance. P. McVicker has fallen into habits of intemperance & some other irregularities of conduct. W. Morrison has been in great danger of falling to the same evil. It is mournful to contemplate the ravages produced by this destroyer. We are all steady teetotallers.

I hope you shall continue an advocate & an example of [paper torn]. Remember that you put me upon that ground. Altho’ we are far separated, you are many times each day present to our minds & shall when we surround the family altar you are remembered. I hope the multiplicity of your engagements will not engross your time so as to prevent attention to the one thing needful. I will be anxiously expecting a letter from you, and should one arrive before you can write a reply to this, it will be so much the better.

Mother & all unite in kind regards to you & your family. I am, your most affectionate father, — Clarke Houston


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