Letter from Ohio:2


This letter was published in Manx Advertiser Feb 8th1827. It has been reprinted several times, including in Manx, Isle of Man, History of Manx People who came to America.

The William Kneen and the Phillip Kelly are presumably his fellow travellers on the Plutarch though it is somewhat suprising that he did not know the whereabouts of his brother-in-law!

A subsequent letter was sent on Christmas Day when William Kelly and the Tears met for a meal.


Cleaveland, County Cayahogo, State of Ohio, Dec. 13 ,1826,,

It is with the greatest delight I take my pen to answer your letter, which I received the 15th inst., being the first time I went to look for it. I hope this will find you all in good health, as it leaves us at present. First, religion being of the greatest importance to pilgrims on their journey to eternity, here we enjoy the preaching of the gospel in its purity. Presbyterians, Wesleyan Methodists, Anabaptists, and Episcopalians, are prevailing religions in the United States, besides numerous other denominations. There is a brick chapel in this town which serves the purpose of an academy also.

We live in the town of Cleaveland, situate at the outlet of the Cayahogo river lat. 42°0 " long. 30 °W. of Greenwich. The canal commences here, and runs diagonally through the State until it intersects the Great Ohio river, being 350 miles long, and will be compleated in five years more. This town, 15 years ago, contained two log houses, and now contains as many inhabitants as Ramsey, and superior buildings of brick and timber, and in a few years more will be a flourishing town, when the canal will be in operation. Upwards of 100 schooners and 6 steam-boats navigate this lake, and twice that number will not be sufficient in a few years. Three other Lakes lie west of this, and vessels sail upwards of 1,000 miles west from here. I have seen upwards of 50 families of Swiss arrive here in one day. They have commenced a canal from Pitsburg to Philadelphia, which will take seven years to finish it - no country in the world possesses such internal navigation. Farmers at first settling, make log houses. There are inexhaustible quarries of freestone, coals, limestones; marle, and salt springs abound in the Missouri territory. Plains of salt exist ready for use. Most of the lands in the Western States are level, and some a little rolling. No mountains are to be met with in this State, and only a few in any of the Western States.

Most of the land abounds with excellent water springs very seldom you meet with a house but has a well within 20 yards of the house, the inhabitants being very particular in their water. Most of the land at first is covered with timber, and abounds with wild turkies, geese, ducks, patridges, woodcocks, pidgeons, bears, wolves, and deer; but these last three are not to be met with where mankind dwell, and none of them dangerous rattle snakes being the most to be dreaded; there are none of the rest venomous; but rattle snakes are very scarce, and there is an herb, if applied in time, is a certain cure: they will not bite you unless you come on them unawares. An expert axe-man can clear an acre of land in a week. They cut down the trees about three feet above the ground, and heap them up together, and set fire to them, then sow wheat among the stumps, and harrow it. They also sow some sort of grass seed among the wheat in this way it yields from 30 to 60 bushels an acre then let it lye for four or five years, and it bears hay crops of two ton an acre. The sixth year most of the stumps are rotten, so that they can plough it. Most of the land is very fertile.

Fifty miles west of where we live, and in the territory of Meohiga, there are millions of acres of natural meadow land, and also tracts of wood land amongst it, now for sale. You may buy any part of it, which is not taken up, at 1¼dollar an acre, this being the price of Congress land throughout the States. You can buy land within 5 miles of this town from 2 to 3 dollars an acre, by the highway side. I have seen for miles in length, where they dig the canal, that the soil is 6 feet deep, and all as good as the best garden I ever saw. Winter is tolerably cold it doth not commence till after Christmas, and warm weather commences again in March. Along the river, where the water stagnates in the hot weather, fevers and agues prevail; but back from the banks of the river it is remarkably healthy. Pat. Tear and I work for the same man. I was not yet idle but two days, and we went to see the surrounding country. An idle day is a great loss here - at the lowest calculation it is of a dollar. We have rented three rooms till May, at 62½ cents per week. Five quarts of whisky is the allowance of a labourer on the canal per week. Some kill themselves with drinking whisky.

We have not purchased land yet, because we wanted to know where Wm. Tear and W. Kneen settled; and if any of you were to come out that we might buy our lots together, as we would think a great deal of seeing a Manksman here, and we gain information and money by staying here. Painsville is only 30 miles east of us. We intend to go to see Wm. Tear's family at Christmas, and we are glad that you informed us of the place of his residence. We have not heard of Wm. Kneen and P. Kelly since we left them; let us know where they live, and how they are. Salt is 50 cents per bushel, apples 25 cents, potatoes 30, wheat 50, pease 75, beans 75, onions 62½, corn 30, barley 37½, sugar , maple, 18 cents per pound, muscovado 12½, tea , hyson skins 75, , young hyson 100, old hyson,125 , tobacco 12¼, iron3 , cheese 6, butter 10, beef from 2 to 3, pork and mutton from 3 to 4, whisky 25 cents per gallon, cyder , molasses , brandy , wine , rum . One hundred cents make a dollar, and a dollar 4s. 6d. British. Woollen cloths are a little dearer here than in the Isle of Man; linen shirting, calico and silk are cheaper here. Tailors get from 3 to 4 dollars for making a coat; shoes, women's, price 1 to 2 dollars; men's, 1½ to 2 dollars, men's boots,5½ to 7 dollars; green hides, 5 cents per lb; bark the trouble of gathering it; women for washing 1½dollar a day.

From all that I can learn, Mary Kneen and Jane Tear would do well here. A labourer is nearly as good as a tradesman whatever any person doth, he is well paid for. There are very good tradesmen here of every occupation, and live like gentlemen. Women here do no husbandry work hardly, but just go from one house to another. They have their silk gowns and veils; and men also dress in the first stile. Oxen answers better than horses to log and plough wild land, but as soon as it is improved they use horses. They have here very fine horses, excellent cattle, and sheep a common fleece is from 4 to 5 lbs. weight of them; per quarter of mutton 20 to30 lbs. Farmers when they get their land cleared live easily, and fare sumptuously every day. Some have from 2 to30 hogs, 200 sheep, 60 head of cattle, and upwards, and from 5 to 20 horses, make from 1 to 2tons of cheese, and 1 to 2 tons of butter a year. Four or 6 acres is but a common orchard. Tobacco is raised here in plenty, and sugar from the maple tree. Barrels of apples, peaches, and grapes, preserved, are in every house for winter stock.

A man can earn thrice as much here per day, and provisions are thrice as cheap as in the Isle of Man. We have not paid one cent for re. Thomas, and father, and mother enquire, is it worth their while to come out? I say, Yes; and good for every other person that is not better circumstanced than they are. As for such as have plenty of the good things of this world, I say stop at home. I do not want any person to do as I say, far be it from me let every man judge for himself; for if every thing did not suit, they might blame me. I know if we were in the Isle of Man we would all come to this plentiful country again. If any person will come over let him exchange his money in Liverpool, take none but silver dollars, and take the rout as we did it is the cheaper. If any of you will come, fetch some ryegrass and an English plough, with irons complete. They have cast-iron ploughs here every person is allowed to bring the articles belonging to his profession. Earthenware, of a good kind, pays double.

W .K

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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001