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.