Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bogg, 31 October 1872

The last letter surviving from 1872, a fall report delayed until news of the next year's rent was known. Aunt's cheese production has suffered from sick cows, and the landlord says he won't raise their rent this year in light of that--but the threat of future rent increases remains.

The weather is wet and an uncle's hay isn't up. And a neighbor has died suddenly. "Mr. Hyslop Cleneries" probably means "Mr. Hyslop who lives at Clenries," a nearby house. There was a John Hyslop living at Clenries who won an award from the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland in 1872, for a "cheviot tup" (a kind of breeding ram)--maybe it was him? "Ten hours illness" seems to be a phrase that often refers to cholera, and there were cholera epidemics about this time (1873 in the US, 1872 in India).

This letter includes a rare reference to Marion's own siblings (her sister Sarah is marrying in London soon). And a not-so-rare reference to Marion's dreams of seeing James Bryden back in Sanquhar, offering to take Marion away to America.

The Bogg
October 31st 1872

My Dear Cousin

You will be thinking I am not a woman to my word at all when I am so long in writing after sending you word that I would write last week. I would have written but Aunt would not let me till once we got our first lot of cheese away and then I could send you word whither Mr. Kennedy was going to make the rent more this year or not so he was here yesterday and he said seeing as the cows had the disease last spring he would not ask any more rent for another year. we got 115 cheese away last week but they were not near so heavy as they were last year. There is a want of thirty stone and that is a good deal. Aunt thinks she will can make up a few stones yet but we had no turnips and the cows are greatly failed. Uncle William has had a very bad time the weather has been so wet that he could not get his hay up and I don't know if it is all up yet and it is past the time of the year for hay wining[?]

I am going on and writting and never asking how you are. I hope you and all friends beside you are well how is your Jeamie getting on I was dreaming about him the other night I thought he was come to take me away to America but when I wakened it was but a dream but I must say I was quite disapointed when I wakened and did not see him many a time we talk over the fun we had when he was here and you can tell him that I could dance a polka with him now I have to tell you from Cousin John Glencross that he is wearing very much for the card you said you would send him he is not getting very strong yet but is better as he has been.

We had a very sudden death beside us last week you can tell uncle Joseph he knows who it is. his name is Mr. Hyslop Cleneries he died in the ten hours illness this is his funeral day. I have some thing more to tell you my sister Sarah is going to be married in about a fortnight after this but she will be married in London so I will not be at her marriage her intended husband is a Jewler I have never seen him so I dont know what he will be like.

Aunt sends her kind love to you and you are to be sure and write and let us know how you are all getting on there was a spree at Brandleys last night and I suppose it was a very merry night there was above forty at it and Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy danced till the last I had a busy day getting them all dressed for it but I was not there I waited at home and was housekeeper. now I must come to a close and give uncle Joseph and aunt Marion my kind love remember me kindly to John Johnstone and Sarah and also your father and Jeamie Bryden not forgetting your own dear self from your affectionate friend Marion Brown

PS be sure and write soon M. B

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bogg, 10 October 1872

This is a long, eight-sided letter, full of interest, to James Bryden in Dunmore. Marion mentions her burnt hand (three times) and a toothache, but also says that she can walk a distance with minimal assistance, which is a big improvement from past letters. The weather is wet and the crops are bad; the cows aren't producing quite as much milk as they had in the spring; Tam Scott isn't home much, and uncle William's hay still isn't got up. Prices are high and getting higher, so much that Marion worried about keeping a supply of coals for the fire.

It's a busy, hard fall at the Bogg. Marion Brown, however, has her mind on other things--Halloween, marriage, dreams, a ring, apples, and the fervent, repeated hope that James will visit Sanquhar again soon. Her joking about her own romantic prospects here is more blatant than in most letters--she says she's in no hurry (at age 29), that she'll maybe come to America first, that one young man had even offered to give her a glass of brandy and put her to bed. It says something about the intimacy of the friendship between James Bryden and Marion Brown that she'd feel comfortable writing such things to a man not yet kin.
The Bogg
October 10th 1872

My Dear Friend

It is with much pleasure that I take my pen to try & write you a few lines altho I have not written to you I have had you many a time in my mind. but I am glad that my hand is better for it was in the way of many a thing as well as writting. I hope you will forgive me for this time for if I could have wrote to you I would before this time.

I was very glad to see from your letter that you was all well and I hope when this reaches you that you will still be enjoying the same precious blessing. We have had a very busy time for it has been such wet weather here they could not get on with the work and every thing has just been kept in a turmoil but we got in all our hay the other day and now they are going to commence to raise the potatoes there is not many diseased potatoes but they are very thin in the ground and for tunips Aunt has none this year they are all rotton with what they call finger & toe I don't know whither the master will allow her anything for the bad crop or not. the cows is all very healthy now but they have never given the same quantity of milk the whole summer as they did before they had the trouble. Mr. Kennedy was here the other day and sold our cheese to a Mr. Crow[?] he lives at Kirkconnel he gets thirteen and six pens a stone for them.

everything is very dear here I think we will soon get no fire the coals is so dear and there is a talk of them rising yet and everything else is as high you say in your letter that uncle John has had a great quantity of fruit this year I wish I had been beside you to get some for I have scarcly ever seen an apple or pear this summer they seem to be scarce in this country.

you want to know if there is any lads coming to see me now it was with pouring out tea to lads that I got my hand burned and Halbert came in last night and asked me when I was going to be married for some one asked him when I was to be cried if it was first Sunday but Jeamie they will have to wait awhile before they hear me cried yet I am not in a hurry to get married I think I will come to America first there is a young man going to be here at Halloween that says he will make me drink a glass of Brandy and then he will have the pleasure of puting me to my bed but I don't think I will give him that pleasure if he thinks it one, you might come over at Halloween and bring Marion alone with you to see the fun. I think by that time I will can dance a jig with you if I keep well.

I have been over at James Hunters two or three times since you was here I can walk over to Brandleys with a very little asistance and not be very tired so you see I am greatly improved in walking I have been very bad with the toothach this last fortnight so you will can understand that my patience will not be very good.

What did you send me the 15 sents for was it to pay the postage of my letter when I saw it I just said that makes my dream true for I dreamed the night before I got your letter that I got a registered letter and a nice ring in it and my name inside so you see I am still going on with my dreaming yet. do you ever talk any through your sleep now. I hope you will not tell them any queer stories about love at my rate.

Katty Hunter bids me tell you that you are to be sure and come over and bring Marion with you and a lot of apples and we will have a Halloween when you come Aunt sends her kind love to you and she is very proud to see your letter to let us know how you are all getting on and you are to remember her to them all and she thinks you may give us another visit if once you was married and let Marion see this country before she leaves it.

uncle William and family is all well but he has not got up all his hay yet and I think it will be in a queer state now Tam has been at Brandleys for a long time and will be for some time yet tell uncle John he will just have to come and take us all across for I don't think Tam & me will ever get Aunt to start. give Marion my kind love and say I will write a letter to her this day week if well give my kind love to uncle Joseph & Marion and you will likely get some fun when the young one comes home or she will not be her useal.

Anthony sends his kind love to you and he says it is high time you was here to look after me I am turning bad enough give my kind love to all that ask for me and execpt of the same to your own dear self. now I will stop my nonsense and hopping this will find you all well I remain your affectionate friend Marion Brown

PS be sure and write soon and not take example by me but perhaps you will have got your hand burned to. MB

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bogg, 12 September 1872

This short note was enclosed with the previous letter to John Glencross, and deals mainly with practical advice about taking "cresses" (creases) out of velvet--to be specific, out of a piece of velvet that James brought over to America, from one Marion to the other. Marion Brown's burnt hand is mentioned again--twice. And, as Marion will express more and more in the 1870s and onward, "I only wish I was beside you."

The Bogg
September 12th 1872

My Dear Cousin

I have had a burned hand or I would have written to both you & James before this I am not good at holding the pen yet but I will try and scrawl a few lines to send with your father you want to know what will take cresses out of velvet well if you damp it on the wrong side and then take a hot iron and draw the wrong side of the velvet across it ought to take the cresses out of it but do not put the iron on the right side of it or it will spoil it altogether I am sorry James got it all cressed for it was a piece of nice velvet I only wish I was beside you if it is not all the worse I think I could put it right for you I will write a long letter to you & James soon but my hand is very stif so I will write you no more news just now your father will tell you who the things is for that Johnstone has we would have sent more but we thought by the way he spoke he had not much room. now I will say goodbye with kind love to your own dear self and some one else I will not name from your loving & affectionate cousin Marion Brown

To Marion

PS be sure & write soon

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bogg, 11 September 1872

A chatty letter from the Bogg to John Glencross, mostly on the subjects of crops and cows. Turnips, potatoes, corn, and the haying are covered, as well as the cow disease hitting Brandley's. There's a list of what the Bogg folks recently sent to Dunmore--two pairs of men's drawers, two men's shirts, a boy's shirt and cravat, an apron and a bow of ribbon for various relations, old and young.

Dear Uncle

You will be thinking me long in answering your very welcome letter for we are always glad to see a letter from you. I hope this will find you & Marion and all the rest of our friends beside you in moderate good health when it reaches you and I am glad to be able to tell you that this leaves us all wonderful well Aunt has not been so strong this last week but I think it is just with working to hard in the hay time when she had none of the girls in the house to help her However I hope she will soon gain her useal strength again.

We have got all our hay up a good while since but it has been such wet weather this some time that we have got none in yet we had it all in ricks before Thornhill fair this year so I don't think we was far behind. We have a fair crop of potatoes and not many diseased yet but the turnips crop is very bad they tell me the turnips is so bad they are not worth pulling so I don't know what Aunt will do this back end for she will have nothing for her cows at all. they are failing sooner this year I think it is oweing to them having the disease in the spring. The same kind of disease is at old Brandleys just now but I hope it will not come to ours again or it will be a bad job.

There is a great deal of repairs going on about Brandleys and they tell me they have not near done yet we have got up a good big hay shed and that will be a great help our byre is all to be repaired to before the cows begins to lie in again so they will not have to be long till they are at it.

Tom is going to be at Brandleys in the harvest time so we will not have him much for some time. Uncle William gave us a call today as he was going down to Sanquhar and he has a good deal of his hay to put up yet and some of it has been lying cut for three weeks and it will not be in good order now he has a very bad turnip crop they are mostly rotten but his potatoes and corn is a wonderful good crop he is wearing very much to have his hay finished for it has been a long hay time for his first year.

Aunt sends her kind love to you all and she sent a pair of drawers to you and uncle Joseph with John Johnstone your ones is the pair with no top band and he has a shirt to you & uncle Joseph and a shirt for Tom and a cravat for little James & Nannie as they got none before and a apron for Aunt Marion and I sent a bow of ribbon for Cousin Marion's hair we would have sent more but Johnstone had not much room.

I dont know what Mr Kennedy is going to do about the cows yet Aunt thinks he will say nothing till the first lift[?] of cheese goes and then he will say what he means to do. Give all our friends my kind regards and except of the same to your self not forgetting James Bryden tell him he must excuse me for being so long in writting to him as I have had a burned hand and has not been good at writting say to him he might write and let me know if his thumb is better now I will say goodbye expecting to hear from you soon I remain your loving neice Marion Brown

PS be sure to write soon MB

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bogg, 25 July 1872

[Image at left: My hand holding this letter, in front of my iMac screen and keyboard]

A letter to James Bryden, now safely landed in America, after a seasick twelve days crossing the Atlantic. Aunt dreams and chides, and laughs at Marion's anxious searching for news of his ship in the newspapers (apparently they didn't always get a newspaper--but when James was at sea, they got one "almost every day"). Aunt even jokes that maybe Marion Glencross won't want James for a husband, and he can come back to Scotland and to Sanquhar to help with the haying. The sending of a verbena plant is discussed, but Marion thinks it would be a "torment" to the folks who had to carry it to America.

This letter seems to be incomplete.

The Bogg
Thursday July 25th 1872

Dear Friend,

I received your very welcome letter on Monday and we was all very glad to see from it that you arrived all safe altho you got a heave going across Aunt always told us that you would be getting a heave after you went away for she dreamed about you so often but you had not a very long voyage when you got there in twelve days. I got a paper almost every day and I could never see the arrival of your boat and Aunt used to laugh and say his is sure to be at the bottom of the sea I am sure your ears might ring for many a time you have been talked about since you went away.

We was very glad to see from your letter that all friends was well when you landed and I know one that would be so glad to see you. We have had a visit of John Johnstone two or three times since you went away and Sarah is a fine strong healthy like girl I think she is very like her Mother in some ways she wants me to set her a verbena plant to take over to Marion she is sure she would be so proud over it. I could plant one with right good will but it would do nothing but torment them going across.

We are started our hay but it has been very wet weather as yet and Tam says if it does not dry up he will run off the field but I think he will not run away so quick Aunt bids me say that you are to come over and give us a hand to get our hay put up and brought into the stackyard now when you have seen Marion and Aunt says if she does not want you to come away and leave her again you are just to bring her with you and she can help to make hay along with you for Aunt is sure she would be the better of a smell of the Scotch hills. Aunt says when so many Scotchmen has come to see there old native country uncle John might come and see his friends to, she is just working as hard as she can now since the hay began she is just running about as hard as she can.

All our cows is better now and that is a good thing she can keep her mind easy over them. I have to tell you if you was here now you could get better swine curds as you got the last time you was here and she is sure she would give you as many as she could sup;

I am very glad you gto all the things safe and I hope they will please her now when you have got them there you must send me word when you write next and I have to tell you from Aunt that you are to mind and not forget what you said that you would write every month Aunt is sure you cannot think that to often

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bogg, 26 June 1872

James Bryden has left Scotland, and Marion is bereft. This letter, written just after he has sailed for America, has no news of the farm, no mention of her health problems, just negotiations about past and future correspondence between Marion Brown and James Bryden, and anxious words about her "duity" and how she wishes she had left for America with him--and how she still wishes to go soon. She is lonely--she can go hours without seeing another person at the Bogg--and in those hours "you may guess where my thoughts is when I am so much alone."

This letter is on blue stationery that bears a poem and sketch printed on the front side. The title of the poem is "Woman's Love," and the sketch is of a bride (or at least, a young woman in a veil). Here's the verse:
Oh! not when hopes are brightest
Is Love's enchantment known.
Oh! not when hearts are lightest
Is woman's fervour shown;
But when life's clouds o'ertake us,
And earth is clothed in gloom--
When summer friends forsake us--
Then Love is best in bloom.

Love is no wandering vapour
That lures with treacherous spark,
Love is no transient taper
That lives and leaves us dark;
But, like the lamp that lightens
The hut beneath the snow,
The bosom's home it brightens
When all is chill below.
The poem isn't credited, but a quick google finds it's by Scottish poet and abolitionist Thomas Pringle (1789-1834), and frequently appeared in anthologies of sentimental poems, under various titles including "Love" and "The Natural Effects of Love." (Pringle was also disabled from a childhood accident, and used crutches through his life, a detail which Marion may or may not have known.) Some enterprising soul printed Pringle's words onto bridal stationery, and Marion chose that stationery for this letter to her departed friend.
The Bogg
June 26th 1872

Dear Friend

I received your very welcome letter on the 22nd of June. I hope when this reaches you that you will be safe landed and all right. you said in your letter that you expected a letter from me before you left home, and you would have written to me before you left home, if you did not get a letter from me before the one you got with the paper you ought to have got one, for I wrote by return of post to you in answer to the first letter I got from you after you left here. However I hope you will get this one all right.

I was sorry to see by your letter that your Father was so poorly it would be harder on you both to part by Jemmie we are not sure of a day whither we part in health of sickness and what is God's will we must submit to it although we may feel our natures hard to bend when we are first tried.

many a time I have felt how hard my nature is to bend when I feel how often my mind rebels against what I know to be my duity, no doubt but you would think me a very foolish girl that day you left me but my mind has been so much set on America for a long time that willingly I could have gone with you I only wish I had a guide like you to take me over, if ever I am there as I expect to be if spared and well, altho you are on the water when I am writting this I often wish I had been with you.

I have had no company since you left some days I sit for two or three hours and never see a face and I think you may guess where my thoughts is when I am so much alone I am wearing very much to get a letter from Marion but if she has not wrote before you land surely you will tell her how much I weary to hear from her and you must be sure to write as soon as you can if spared to land and let me know how you have got on with the things you took away and how Marion is pleased with them I only wish I had been along with you to [page ends]

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bogg, 14 June 1872

Well now, this is a different letter. Unlike the usual plain paper Marion Brown wrote upon, this letter is on frilly, pink, embossed stationery, with pre-printed poetry and cut edges and all. I'm including an image of the letter's front page in this post, at left--it's definitely special paper for wedding greetings. And it's a letter to James Bryden, the man engaged to marry Marion Glencross in America. He hasn't left yet, but will soon. There was apparently a scene when James last left the Bogg, something to do with Marion wanting very much to go to America with him, but also feeling obligated to remain with Aunt Agnes.

The Bogg
June 14th 1872

My Dear Friend

I was very glad to see your kind letter this morning but was sorry to see by it that you are so bad with the cold but I hope by the time this reaches you that you will be better. You say that your Father is worse since you went home if it had been our Heavenly Father's will to have made him better it would have been easier for you to have left him but dear friend all things is ordered for the best and we have no right to say a word but human nature is hard to bend and some times we feel it hard to say thy will be done when we are tried.

I have no doubt but you would think me a very foolish girl that day you left me but you must just look over it my mind is much set on being in America that I felt so much as if I could go with you and still I find it my duty to stop with my Aunt altho I can do nothing to help her I am the only one she has to say anything to but I hope she will soon give up the cows and then we would soon be all on the road. You may tell Marion if spared to see her that it is not my fault that we did not set out with you I only wish we had a guide like you if ever we go across.

Johnstone has never been here yet and letter from her this last week but perhaps it is because I have been thinking so much about America since you left here. we have not had a call of Johnstone yet there is a great talk about his sister going with him when he goes away but I will not say it is true for it was but a story I heard told, but if she goes she is a very quite woman.

now Jemmie I will stop I could write long enough to you but what is the use of writting a lot of nonsense. I will post the paper along with this letter so you may let me know if you get it take my kind wishes to all my friends in America but you know I have a warmer spot in my heart for some as I have for other and you will understand who they are. I am still in the hope that we will all meet in America yet if all goes well except my kindest regards to your own dear self from your affectionate friend Marion Brown

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bogg, 31 May 1872

James is about to visit the Bogg, perhaps for the last time before he leaves for America. Marion has sent him blankets to carry over, and mentions that Tom Scott is injured from a horse. But mainly she's asserting their warm past together--their meeting rituals, her expectations of his visit, private jokes between them, and jokes about swine curds and Aunt's singing. (What are red mouths? From context, I'm guessing young birds?)

The Bogg
May 31st 1872

My Dear Friend

I received your very welcome letter today and was glad to see by it that you was well when you wrote. I saw by your letter that you are going to Glasgow on Monday if well so I have just taken it into my head to write to you so that you may get it before you go away and I hope you will be here on Thursday night and I will be on the outlook for you but I fear I will not be able to meet you at Sanquhar so you will just come up the road yourself and if I see you coming I will try and meet you at the end of the house as I did before but there is one thing I will not let you pass me without speaking as I did the first time I saw you.

I have to tell you from Aunt that she will not promise to sing to you but if spared and well she will have a bowelful of curds ready for you and will be very glad to see you to spend a day or two with us. You speak about me telling the red mouths when you are coming but you need not fear for that for I can soon give them an answer when they ask for you.

I am glad you have got the blankets all right and I hope they please you, but you will tell me when you come. they are busy putting in our turnips just now but I think they will be all done on Monday or Tuesday. Tom has met with a slight accident today a horse ran away with him and he has got one of his legs hurt but I hope it will soon be better. Uncle William is away to his new place and Katty went up with him and she thinks he will be very well put up if once he had got time to put things all right now I will stop for this time and we will can go over all things when we meet if spared and well so I will say goodnight and except of my kind love to you from your affectionate friend Marion Brown

P. S. now mind I will be on the outlook for you on Thursday night M. B.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dunmore Historical Society

I just noticed that there's a Dunmore Historical Society blog up and running since December. Since most of the Sanquhar letters were sent to Dunmore and all of them survived a century or more there, I'm linking to the Dunmore Historical Society blog in the sidebar--give them a visit!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bogg, 23 May 1872

An incomplete letter to James Bryden, a man from Maybole, Ayrshire, who is engaged to marry Marion Glencross. He hasn't left for America yet, but he's been visiting his future wife's family at the Bogg, dancing and eating Aunt Agnes's famous swine curds. Marion Brown clearly has a close friendship with James Bryden--close enough to make fun of a relative's portrait, close enough to say "I have wearied for your company since you went away." James will carry various gifts to America, including "trimings" and blankets.
The Bogg
May 23rd 1872

Dear Friend

I received your very welcome letter today and was glad to see from it that you got safe home and there is one thing I can tell you I have wearied for your company since you went away but I have to tell you from Aunt that she will be glad to see you back to get some more swine curds she is making a big tubful every day now and she bids me say that she hopes you will be as supple and nimble to dance as you was the last night you was here.

I had a letter from America yesterday it was from uncle Joseph they were all well when it left and I got Aunt Marion's card and James I will just tell you what I think she has been like when it was taken I told Aunt that she was just like as if she had been scolding uncle Joseph she is so staring like you will tell me your opinion if spared and will to come back and I hope it will not be long till we see you again. I sent away a letter to your own Marion on Monday and sent her a pattern of the trimings you have got for her and told her to write as soon as she got my letter and let us know if she was pleased with them. And I sent a pattern of the dress you gave Aunt & me. Aunt Marion had a long story in her letter about what you are going to take to Marion if spared to go back I hope Marion will not let her see the letter I sent away to her on Monday or she will know the most of the things you have bought before you go back with them. you must tell her the next letter you write to keep all her letters to herself and not let Aunt Marion see all she gets.

I sent down to Sanquhar today and told Mrs. Macqueen about your blankets and she sent back word that she would send them away from Sanquhar with the mid day train on Saturday so you may be on the outlook for them at Kilkerran Station I think you will get this letter

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bogg, 10 January 1872

A short, damaged two-sided letter this time. Marion sends holiday wishes and reports on her own father's health (poor), a visit from Davie Williamson, apparently a local man who has emigrated and returned on a visit, and in the PS a note about the health of Uncle John's son John Glencross in Carmacoup.
The Bogg
January 10th, 1872

Dear Cousin

I wish you & your Father both a happy new year and I hope it will find you both well [I am?] glad to be able to tell you that this leaves us all in a moderate state of health for which we ought to be very thankful, uncle William and his family are all well you may tell your father [that?] my father is a little better [he?] had what is called watery [paper torn] in his arm and got [paper torn] now when the pain is away he is so weak he cannot walk across the floor. We had a call from Davie Williamson last week and had a long talk about our friends in America he will soon be going away I wish I had been going with him I dont know how it is but I have always the [paper torn] to be in America. There is not[hing?] new going on here just now the cows are all doing very well [paper torn] I will be writting to you before [long?] if well and I will can tell you how heavy the swine was we are going to kill next week. Davie Williamson is going to take a cousin of his with him to America her name is Isabella Johnstone [paper torn] am going a new years card to Uncle Joseph's little Agnes and one to little James and one to yourself give all that asks for me my kind love not forgetting your father and your own dear [self?]

I remain your loving cousin Marion Brown

PS Cousin John Glencross at Carmacoup was no better the [last?] word I got. M. B. Aunt Marion will know who these two cards are from

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bogg, 14 September 1871

Disease and harvest work are the main topics here: Aunt Agnes and cousin John Glencross have both been ill in recent times as Marion Brown writes this letter. Aunt, however, is so hard-working, "she will make cheese till she falls into the whey tub." The crops have also been diseased, both the potatoes and the turnips, but they hay was plentiful and Aunt made a lot of cheese in its season.

Dear Uncle

You will be thinking I am long in answering your most welcome letter and welcome it was for we was wearing very much to get a letter from yourself altho we was always hearing how you & Marion was getting on when uncle Joseph wrote that did not satisify us for many a time both Aunt & myself wondered what was come over you However we was very glad to see from your letter that you was well and I am happy to say this leaves us in moderate health but I think Aunt will do as you said in your letter she will make cheese till she falls into the whey tub she has not been so strong this summer she is often troubled with a pain in her back and when it comes in she can scarcly walk and it is a queer house when she can not go about in her useal way but I hope she will keep well if it is Gods will without his help we can do nothing and we ought to be very thankful as long as we are in a moderate state of health.

I must begin and tell you what is going on about the Bogg all the hay is in now and Tam tells me there is as much as was last year we have two as big stacks and the shed filled and those big ricks so I think what ever is wanting there will be no want of hay the potatoe crop is not so good in some parts they are mostly gone with disease our potatoes are diseased to but not so bad yet as some of our neighbours is they tell me the turnips is not very good either they are going with that finger and toe disease so I think the hay will be the most plentiful crop we have. the cows has been wonderful good this year Aunt thinks her cheese will be heavier this year as they were last year. and for pigs Aunt has not so many this year she will have three ready to kill about Martinmas and one breader she thinks will be a good one and another breeder she does not know what it will do yet there is a disease among swine here just now and a great many people is lossing there swine out and out

I have to tell you from uncle William that he has been at Brandleys in harvest they have all the corn cut but none in yet uncle Williams wife & family are all well at present my father and Brother and all the rest of our friends here are all in moderate health.

Cousin John Glencross at Carmacoup has been very bad he has had inflammation of the lung and liver he was very bad for six weeks but the last letter I got from him he was a little better and able to sit up an hour or two. You are to tell uncle Joseph that we got in all our hay in three days there was five hourse one day and four the other two and you are to say from Aunt that she was well served for forkers she had three young men and one married one John Laing Samuel Ballingtyne Robert Hannen these were the three young ones and Thomas McGeachan and you are to tell him from Tam that the day the five horse was on Robert Hannen and him was very hard kept for there was just three forkers at the stack for three at the field and by the time they were at the head of the stack Tam was begun to spell uncle William had to keep the stack for James Hunter was among sheep.

now I will stop as I am going to write a piece to Marion so I will say goodbye remaining your affectionate neice Marion

be sure and write before long you don't believe how Aunt wearies to hear from you M. B.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bogg, 1 December 1870

This letter is addressed to a Sanquhar friend now living in the Scranton area: Mr. Williamson greeted Joseph Glencross and his family at the train station as they arrived, and wrote to the Sanquhar family that they were well on arrival. Marion Brown thanks him for this intelligence, and encourages him to write more, because the Glencrosses are "very slow at writting." She also encourages Williamson to join her in imagining the day when she herself arrives in Scranton, "altho I cannot walk a step."

Note that this letter landed among the other letters sent to the Glencrosses and Brydens on Helen Street, so Mr. Williamson or his heirs must have added it to the cache.

Mr. Williamson
Dear Friend

We were all very glad to see your kind letter for we were wearing to hear how uncle Joseph had got through his journey. I was very glad to see by your letter that you was at Scranton station to met them. I must say you are a very useful person for you are always ready to welcome the Greenhorns as you are pleased to call them and I hope you may have long good health to welcome them for a face that one knows must be very cheering in a strange country. As you said Dunmore will scarcly be like a strange place now there is so many Scotch people in it. however I suppose it would be a very happy group that night while you was writting my letter at uncle Johns there would be many an old Scotch story told.

You may think it a very strange idea to me to think I will be in America altho I cannot walk a step I have had a great notion of it for a long time and some how I always think I will be there yet and no saying but you may welcome me among the rest of the greenhorns if God sees fit to spare us both.

Tom Scott sends his kind love to uncle Joseph and you are to tell him he is at the dancing school just now and he has as great a notion of America as ever he had. Aunt Nannie sends her kind regards to you with many thanks for your kindness to uncle Joseph and his family when they landed and tell them to be sure and write soon and let her know how all the children is and what rife [?] is saying about America now

there is very little new going on here just now all is very quite. All our friends here are in a moderate state of health in the meantime for which we cannot be to thankful for I am scarcly so well as when uncle Joseph left I am taking the ill turns oftener now the cold weather takes a great effect on me so I ought to be very glad as long as I can sit up most of the day. with kind regards to you and all friends in America I will say goodbye at this time,

Yours sincerely,

Marion Brown

PS I will be glad to see a letter from you at any time convenient. I always think they are very slow at writting M. B.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Aberdeen conference on "Migrating Minds"

(From H-Net--no, I'm not proposing a paper, but it looks like a conference where the Marion Brown letters would fit right in!--PLR]

Migrating Minds: Imagined Journeys - Imagined Homecomings 14-15 May 2009

The AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen will host a conference in 2009 on the topic “Migrating Minds: Imagined Journeys – Imagined Homecomings”. The conference will take place on the 14 and 15 May 2009 alongside the Aberdeen WORD Festival. Literature (both fiction and non-fiction), personal journals and correspondence, and art enable us to explore the impact that journeys and homecomings have had on Irish and Scottish imaginations. Irish and Scottish migrants, as well as those who sought to understand, interpret and exploit the experience of migration, participated in the production and circulation of these accounts and images both at home and abroad. As such, they form an important dimension to any understanding of the Irish and Scottish diasporas. With this in mind, we seek to investigate the idea of migration as a series of narratives and rhetorical tropes that develop over time. Papers that consider diasporic movements from a non Irish/ Scottish point of view are welcome as are those that adopt a theoretical perspective.

Dr. Paul Shanks
AHRC Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies
19 College Bounds
AB24 3DB
Visit the website.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


In somewhat related news:

The National Galleries of Scotland began contributing images to the Flickr Commons project today--can't wait to check that out. I've been following the Library of Congress uploads on Flickr for a year now, and just started exploring the other collections in the Commons.

And don't you love when a new journal article says someone should be doing...exactly what you're doing? I'm referring in this instance to Tanja Bueltmann, "'Where the Measureless Ocean between us will Roar': Scottish Emigration to New Zealand, Personal Correspondence and Epistolary Practices, c1850-1920," Immigrants and Minorities 26(3)(November 2008): 242-265. The abstract:
Personal correspondence is a unique source for migration historians in that it opens an unprecedented inroad into the interior world of migrants. Letters are more than simple means to add colour to historical analysis. By exploring the diverse range of epistolary practices among members of New Zealand's Scottish community, this study takes agency as its point of departure. In so doing, it focuses on the multifaceted roles of letters in the context of emigration. Not only did they record experiences and emotions, they also served as practical means of adjustment by facilitating continuity. They allowed Scots to keep in contact over vast distances, fostered networks, and provided a potent platform for the expression of memories.
Many of the passages Bueltmann quotes from the letters she's using could be paraphrases from the Sanquhar letters. Cool!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bogg, 28 October 1870

This is a short, four-page letter, sent to coincide with the journey of Joseph Glencross and his wife Marion (another Marion!) and son James and others, from Sanquhar to Dunmore, Pennsylvania. Joseph had been one of the last men of the family remaining in Sanquhar; with his departure, Marion Brown's life became a little more precarious, and her reasons to write letters increased. We get a lot of details of the departure, from the perspective of the left-behind family members: was the little boy feeling well? did Aunt Marion keep the velvet safe? How was their passage across the Irish Channel (rumors said it might have been rough)? Marion Brown begs for details.

The other topic of this letter: cheese and potatoes. It's been a good season at the Bogg, and Aunt Agnes wants her brothers to know she's looking at a better-than-average winter this time.

The "Miss Law" who will be receiving the imported velvet might be the Jane Law who was depicted in the portrait with Marion Glencross, which I posted last month.

"The Bogg"
October 28th 1870

My Dear Cousin

I expected to have wrote to you last week but with the hurry of uncle Joseph going away I did not get it done however I hope this will find you and your father both in good health and if all has gone right by the time you get this letter you will have uncle Joseph and his family beside you. I was very sorry to see him going away but if it has to be better for him in America as here we should not grumble at him going away. Aunt Nannie is very dull since he left and she sends her kind regards to you and wishes you to write soon as you get this letter and let her know how they were all on their journey and how little James is for Aunt thought he was not well that morning they left here

you may tell uncle Joseph that Dr. Kennedy was up seeing us the Sunday after he left and was saying he would be getting a rough day on the Irish Channel I may tell you that we have got our potatoes in and we have fourteen carts of good potatoes and surely that was a good crop and we have got our cheeses weighed and got 131 away yesterday and that is a good left of them for they took a good deal of work to keep them clean and Aunt says you have to tell your father and uncle Joseph that she thinks she will get better on as she did last year for the cheeses has weighed better and tell uncle Joseph that William Cron of Kirkconnel has got the cheese this year for there is a talk of Mr. Baird going to fail but for the truth of it I don't know you must let me know if Aunt Marion got the velvet safe to Miss Law it was the only thing she had I was feared about for it was not cut. I have scarcly been so well since uncle left so with kind love to all friends you must excuse me writting more at this time I am your loving Cousin Marion Brown "The Bogg" Sanquhar Dumfriesshire Scotland

PS please write as soon as you get this M. B.