Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Townfoot, 11 October 1880

This letter is in pencil, so it's harder to read than most of Marion Brown's letters.  Maybe she lost track of her ink and pen in the move from Castle Mains?  It also features a child's scribbles, perhaps made long after Marion's pencil left the page.  It's a newsy letter:  Aunt is working as a cheesemaker at Auchengruith, at the George White farm, while the usual family member is recovering from childbirth; Tam is trying work beyond farm labour, hoping it will be steadier.  Marion isn't well, but she's expressing religious resignation, and she's glad that her right arm remains unaffected by the current version of her troubles.

(George White of Auchengruith farm was buried in Sanquhar Kirkyard, grave number 63 in Wilson.  Not clear if this is the same George White mentioned in an 1866 letter from Marion Brown, though a longtime familiarity might explain why Aunt Agnes was asked to come to his aid.)

11th October 1880

My Dear Friends

We was all glad to see your very welcome letter we weary to hear from you when you are so long in writing Aunt and me was talking about you all a night or two before your letter came and wondering how you was all going on and we was glad to see from your letter that you was all well when you wrote and I hope this will find you all still enjoying the same precious blessing for it is truly said that good health is nine tenths of all the Lord has ever given to any man for what is all this world to us if we have not health to enjoy it 

I am glad to be able to tell you that Aunt is in moderate health but is trubled very much with pains in her legs and back she has been at Auchengruith at George White's for six weeks making his cheese one of his daughters has a baby and he was very anxious for Aunt to go and make the cheese till she was able to work again, we are wearing to get her home again at least I am I don't like when she is away if I had not been close confined to bed, but I do feel the want of her very much for her to be away from home and making cheese now but poor body she has always the spirit and there is nothing lifts her spirits like making cheese.  

Tam and his wife and little Samuel are all well Tam has been ????? [line of penciled writing is smudged at the crease] this some time he thought it would be a more steady job than labouring for labouring work is very scarce and for myself I may say I am a poor helpless creature lying in bed and scarce able to ???? [another smudged line on the fold] self  I have very little power in my left arm but I ought to be very thankful as long as my right arm is not affected but our heavenly father has promised that he will lay no more on us than we are able to bear but human nature is hard to bend and some times I feel it very hard to look at the bright side of the dark[?] clouds that comes before me, 

Aunt bids me tell you that she is pleased to know you have such a nice cow and she hops she will do well but she is not much taken up with the turkeys, as far as I hear there has not been good crops this year and potatoes especially and they are moderate in price in the meantime two shillings and four pence per hunderweight for the best early potatoes.

Uncle William and his family are all well I must stop for it has taken me a long time to write this and I am very tired I hope you will not be long in writing give our united love to uncle Joseph and all enquiring friends and except of the same to you all every one from your affectionate cousin, Marion Brown

Monday, September 16, 2013

Castle Mains, 15 March 1880

This is a long, disjointed, torn and damaged letter that contains big news.  Marion Brown, Aunt Agnes, Tam and his little family are moving, from Castle Mains to the Townfoot of Sanquhar.  Their landlord needs their place; the new house will be closer to town, and Aunt isn't too happy about that.  Meanwhile, Marion isn't able to walk right now, and Tam is out of work again.

This letter is not addressed to John Glencross, Marion Glencross Bryden, or James Bryden.  Marion wouldn't call any combination of them "Uncle & Aunt."  I suspect this was sent to other kin in America, and landed in the collection of papers at my family's house sometime afterwards.

Castle Mains
15th March 1880

Dear Uncle & Aunt

I may claim the shelter of the old proverb and say better late than never for I meant to write to you long before this but one thing after another came till this is the first of me and I hope when this reaches you that it will find you all in moderate good health I am glad to say that Tam and his wife and the little boy are in good health in the meantime, Aunt was not very well for a week

time and since they got better I feel weaker but if the weather was a little warmer I live in the hope of getting stronger but I am not able to walk any there is no use grumbling we must try to be content with our lot altho we may think it is a hard one sometimes, labouring work is very scarce around here Tam was idle the most of the winter but he is started to work

with him. provision is very dear but it has been a more open spring and perhaps there will be better crops this year. I may let you know that we are going to leave Castle Mains at Whitsunday Mr. Colvin's sister in law has given up her farm and is coming here to live so that is the reason we have to flit. we could not get a house in the country so we have got one at Sanquhar townfoot and

Aunt says   [splotch]
she will not live [splotch]
when she has to go to Sanquhar to live I am sorry for her she seems to think she will not be at home at all. You have to send her word then next time you write if Tom is started to work and if he is at home and what he is doing and what all the of the boys are doing, you wanted me to send you word about your Wanlockhead friend Well it is not often we hear much about them but last week heard that they were all in good health but William Scott he has been ill since Christmas almost close confined to bed the doctors does not say what is wrong with him I may also tell you that uncle William and his family are all well and my Brother and his family are all well but he is leaving Hucklands and has not got a place yet he got another addition to his family about a month since a son and his name is William I suppose it will be for William Halbert[?] I have to tell you that Robert McWhir is glad to hear that you are well and he would like just to have a day or two beside you now, and I have also to tell you that Jane Henderson that was at Glenlochy when you was there was asking for you she has been at the Castle this last winter looking after the cows. Now I must draw to a close hoping this will find you all well and all other friends well give our kind regards to all friends and except of the same to yourselves from your affectionate neice Marion Brown be sure to write soon.

Aunt is very much put about that she has to go into the town houses is very scarce and rents is very dear. I have to give you Aunt's kind regards time and since they got better

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Castle Mains, 25 October 1879

The crisis is averted-- John Glencross has sent money to Sanquhar, and nobody is talking about emigrating anymore.  Tam Scott insists that trade has picked up in Sanquhar and surroundings, with mine work and furnace work available to laborers.  Prices on staples have also increased, but Tam is confident that he can keep up now.  There's a long description of a drainage project involving Clenneries Burn, Lochburn, Lochlee Dyke.   Tam is so interested in this--and assumes John will also find it interesting--that he draws a small map of the embankments in relation to Black Island. 

Meanwhile, Marion Brown is unwell, again, still. She's having double vision as she writes her part of this letter; John Glencross's generosity has allowed her to pay her doctor and bills for her medicine.  Aunt Agnes wants very much to get back to dairy work, but Marion is convinced she is too old to manage such work now.

Castle Mains
Oct 25th 1879

My Dear Uncle

I lift my pen to say that I got the draft all right for which I thank you very kindly but I am very glad to say that Trade is getting a Grate deal Better hear miners has Got 2 Shillings a day of a rise and the Furnaces is Set a going again which was Blown out this long time and I think If trade continues as it is doing we will have Good trade in about 9 months but Provisions is rising to a aful ransom, Potatoes is now 7 Shillings a Hunderwight and oats is very high and flour is very high and is still rising But if the wadges rise it is not so much [????] that Been an aful Bad harvest hear abouts and worce in England 6 and 7 weeks is about the General thing this year I think I will try the Coles this winter as their is nothing else hear abouts Going on just now I may say that the Sanquhar People has lifted their water from Clenneries Burn above Moseholm and is not going to take any more of Lochburn it was a short job you may tell Uncle Joseph that the black Loch is enlarged to a grate size now the Embankment is 39 Faws 9 Feet and the Embankment starts at the end of the Lochlee Dyke that is just strait for the Island and goes in a half moon turn about all the way across the common and it is a long way below the old run of it i may say that the Green Loch is all deep drained and Put into the Farm river to be used for curling more you may also tell him that old Purdie was asking after him I fell it rather difficult to raise a Topick as I never have had any acquantance I think I can not say much more at Present But I may say that my name is not Thomas J. Scott but Thomas Glencross Scott which is T G Scott But I Begg to thank you once more for your kindness to me at Present which I hope i will Be able to Replace in about 9 months if God Spares me my helth and strenth I Bet To remain your Loving Nephew T. G. Scott

Dear Uncle

Tom has commenced this letter so it is left for me to finish it.  We got our money all right and I was very thankful to you for being so kind as send it to me at this time.  I paid my doctor and medicine and has given what remained to Aunt and I hope God will reward you for your kindness for I can not say that I ever will as I have been so long ill and not like to be strong but we dont known what is before us and it is no use always to look at the dark side of the cloud for that does us no good.  Aunt is always wishing she could get another dairy but the truth is Aunt has made cheese long enough she has a great spirit to go about and work but she is not strong now poor body I am many a time sorry for her and can do nothing to help her.  I cannot write much today I have had sore eyes and while I write I see two pens so I cannot get on very well I hope this will find you all well.  Aunt bids me say you are not to be long in writing Uncle William and his family are all well.  Cousin Mary Glencross at Mennock has been very poorly and is not any better yet I hope this will find you and all friends well with kind regards to you all in which Aunt joins I am your loving neice Marion Brown

[The upper left corner of the front page of this letter includes a small basic map drawn by Tam Scott, centered on Black Island and showing Loch sides and embankments as described in his section of the letter.]

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Castle Mains, 8 September 1879

And now, the immediate aftermath of Tam's letter (see previous post).  It seems Aunt and Marion Brown believe Tam has asked for all the Sanquhar family's passage to America (he has not, in the letter that reached America); and they are a panic that this is not what they want at all.  They need money; that much agrees with Tam's letter. But they'd rather stay in Sanquhar and pay their bills, than endure an ocean crossing.  Marion is convinced she'd risk death in the attempt; Aunt is "like a person not in her right senses" since Tam brought up the subject.  Much of this letter is at Aunt's dictation:  "Aunt has made me write to you... Aunt bids me say..." Meanwhile in Sanquhar, the local doctor is leaving, which is a major event for Marion Brown; she owes him money, and she frequently requires his attention.  (Probably Dr. W. J. Kennedy, who was provost of Sanquhar from 1872-1878).

Castle Mains
September 8th 1879

My Dear Uncle

I hope this will find you all in good health. you will most likely have got a letter from my cousin Tom before you get this from me asking you to pay our passage to America and Aunt has made me write to you to say that it would be much better not to go till the spring at any rate but Aunt is very sore against going she has just been like a person not in her right senses since ever her wrote the letter to you and there is another thing I am not fit for the journey at this time for I am told there is ten chances to one if ever I got to the other side of the water alive it is very hard for me to be as I am not able to do for myself and a burden to my friends and the way I have been for the last six month needing the doctor so much and Tom being so long out of work in the winter and now out of work again it has brought us to be very hard to get on at all and Aunt bids me say if you would send Tom part of the money it would take to pay our passages to help us on to see what will turn up she would be very much oblige to you, and there is another thing the doctor that has been at Sanquhar is going to leave an I will owe him two or three pounds and I was going to ask you if you could send me that much and if it is in your power to do so send what is to me in my own name it is Dr. Kennedy that is going to leave uncle Joseph will know him.  if you send me that much money at this time to pay the Dr. to all appearance I will never be able to pay you but I hope God will reward you for your kindness now I must stop hoping you will get this before you take out our passages and hoping to hear from you soon I am your affectionate Neice
Marion Brown

Friday, January 18, 2013

Castle Mains, 4 September 1879

Another letter by Tam Scott, age 25.  The spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are all far less standard than Marion Brown's, so we know this is his own writing, and the topic seems to be something Marion Brown might not have known about:  Tam is asking his uncle in America, John Glencross, for his own passage to America.  His plan is to leave the rest of the household (his mother Agnes, wife Robina, cousin Marion, and little son) in Sanquhar until he can earn their passage.  The desperation in this letter is intense--there is no work in Sanquhar, Tam has tried going to the nearest city (Dumfries), but without luck.  He's afraid to fall into debt.  He promises to work and pay John back.

In the end, Tam Scott never left Scotland. 

Castle Mains
Sept 4th 1879

My Dear Uncle

I take up the Pen to write to you But I felt It rather a difficult task to write to one that I never Saw nor had any communication with But It is in a Pressing Case of Buseness that I am going to write upon I mean to Beleave that you know the way that I am Placed I have my Mother and my Cousin and my Wife and child to Mantian and I felt it rather a Difficult task to do it just now as I have Been out of work for a good while and have no prospects of getting work as it is not in the cuntry to get It has not Been so Bad in no mans Day that is living her that I can communicate with and I am consulting with rich and Poor and no Prospects of it Getting any Better for a good many years

I Even went to Dumfries and applied for a Police's Place and had Testmonials of Chacter from all my Masters that I Have iver Been with Past the Docter and all But have not Got a place as yet so you se that I would not Stick if their was any thing lick a chanch But I do ashure you that their is nothing to Be got hear In no Line of Buseness that I am going to [???] to is this If i Stop hear I will Get myself into det which will niver Be fit to Recuver my Self from and I Begg of you it it is in your Power to assist me in so far as this to take out my Passage to Sail at once to America.  My Self only and and I would stay and work till such time as I could Pay their Passage but the will not lift in the mean time till the se how I will do

I se By the account of the Papers that the are good Wadges going in america I hop you will Grant what I desire But I would rather that we had all sailled together but But it is much to ask of you I will or I ought to say that I would Be the Better of a little mony to Pay my Team's Expences and I could leave them about 3 Pounds till keep them till I could Send them more mony I fell it a very hard to ask to ask It of you But I will Pay you Back all right if I keep my helth hopping that you will Take out my Passage at once as I am Getting in a very uneasy State hear nothing to do and no prospects I fell my Place very much I beg to Remain 

Yours Truly T. G. Scott
Castle Mains

To John Glencross

Please if you are going to assist me By Return or I must amnegrant Try if you can have me a jobe if you take out my Passage