logoLetter from Ohio:5


Thomas Kelly had emigrated in 1827 — see journal/diary . This letter was printed in the The Manx Sun 18 March 1828 and was sent to John Cowley near Laxey, Kirk Lonan.

[The text was not split into paragraphs — I have split at a few places to ease the reading.]

The editor added the following text:

We willingly insert this letter, as it contains much needed local information, and written in a style that is likely to take with the writer's friends. He recommends his friend when he writes to employ a good scholar to write for him as the letter would run the gauntlet of the American village, – and this privilege he appears to have taken himself. The language is very American, particularly the word fetch for bring; and the scribe writes better than he composes. Some facts too, slip out, the climate is to be guarded against; for in a few months he had lost his child–his friend Cannell,–and his father was dying in this garden of Eden. The truth is, intermitting fevers prevail every spring and autumn over the whole of America,–and yet more, near the rivers


Copy of a Letter from Ohio

[Verbatim et Literatim]

Liberty and Freedom United.

Concord Township, County Geunga, State Ohio, North America, Jan 2d, 1828

Dear Friend

I have took my pen to write these few lines to you, hoping they will find all my friends in Kk. Lonan in good health, as I and my family are at present , excepting my father — thanks be to God for the same, and for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us since we left our native land. We had a fine passage over the Atlantic of 6 weeks; we had two very severe storms but did not last long: one morning at 4 o'clock we Manxmen were called up to help the sailors to furl and reef the sails, the first mate told us what rope to put our hand in; such wind I never felt, nor ever saw such high sea. I could not compare it to nothing but high mountains, we had no sail but the fore and main top sail, and these were close reefed, — one would think that the ship was sometimes thrown 100 yards by heavy seas; this wind was in our favor and blew from the N.E.; our ship was good on the wind but very wet, she was a dull sailer before the wind, she was very tight, we had not to pump her but once in 24 hours; we had very good officers and sailors; the ship was 500 tons register, her name was Anacreon of Liverpool, coppered and copper fastened, built in St. John's, New Brunswick, North America. Your father have sat many a time with a crooked stick under his arm, but what if he had got the spokes of our ship's steering wheel in his hand, that had given him another trial how to steer.

We carried away our sliding jib-boom going down between Scotland and Ireland, by carrying too heavy sail, we were a week on the banks of Newfoundland in calm weather; there is a fog here still so you can get nothing dry. These banks are 300 miles long and 150 broad, the shallowest place is 18 fathoms deep, our soundings was from 30 to 90 fathoms water, with grey sand on the plumb of the lead; there is hundreds of fishing ships here, although it is 600 miles from land. Except the land of Newfoundland, the first we saw was Sable Island, 400 miles from New York; the first land then was Long Island. We came to anchor at the quarantine ground Tuesday the 4th Sept, anchored there till Saturday morning; this place is 9 miles from New York; we had the liberty to go on shore leave; we got liberty to go in the Sailors Hospital garden and eat as many apples and peaches as we had a mind to, and pocket none.

On Monday we hired two carts to carry our goods from the Anacreon to the tow boat inspector, distance of one mile; on Wednesday at 10 o'clock we started for Albany; the tow boat was 40 yards long and 9 yards wide, towed by the steam boat Swiftsure. We arrived in Albany in 21 hours a distance of 160 miles, paying for our passage 1 dol; for children under 12 years ½ dol. That day we started for Buffaloe in the canal boat Lawrence, Capt. Jas Crowell, and arrived at Buffaloe in 6 days, paying 1 cent a mile for grown persons, half price for children under 12 years; length of the grand canal 363 miles; next day we took our passage for Fairport on the schooner Andrew, of Buffaloe, Capt. Joseph Larby, and arrived there in 25 hours, and paid 1 dol for grown persons, children under 12 years ½ dol.

Saturday, 22d Sept. hired two team of oxen to carry our goods to the village of Painesville, a distance of 3 miles, and paid 1½ dol.; rented a house with a cellar, 2 floor rooms 2 fire places and a loft, for 2½ dol. per month from David Hull; slept there that night, the first on land in America, after 80 days from my native place. This first night we were here there were 33 Manx people in our house at a time. Manx is spoken here in plenty but there is no Manx family here now but;us they have all bought land and are gone into the country but owing to my fathers sickness we cannot leave this place. He has been sick now for 8 weeks and there is no prospect of his getting better — when he came here he was as pert and healthy as ever he was and liked this place well; the girls that came with us are all active at 2 dol. per week Christian Tear is in Orange Lyman the Presbyterian priest's house; Anne Quay is at John Beck's a tailor. Isabelle Kelly, my sister, was in Dr. Storin Rose's house, but now she is at home nursing her father. Isabella Callister is a Avery Tracey's shopkeeper. Our Jane is in Col. Stoor's house, the richest man in the village; this mans hired girl married last Friday and he gave her as portion 200 acres of land, and I hope that he will give Jane 200 too if she stops in. This gentleman has 18,000 acres of land and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and has as grand a house as any in Douglas; his girls all ride in carriages with their misses, and go to balls with them, and are as much thought of as if they were their own girls; they all eat at the same table. Here they scorn to be called a mistress or master, or eat in a parlour — nothing is too good for a worker they say. The women here go very grand – a great many of them wear veils but they have no pride. A poor man that behaves himself and keeps sober (for they hates a drunkard) is as much thought of as the richest; you do not want to put your hand in your hat and humble yourself to the dust when you spake to a gentleman here like you do on the Island; a laboring man can earn as much in 2 days that will keep a family of 7 or 8 persons a week.; the girls here do not work in dunghills like slaves as they do on the Island:— Christaina Tear or Ann Quay have earned as much since they came here as they would in a year on the Island.. You that have boys come here, and you will get trades and school for nothing; and those of you that have no boys but all girls be not discouraged, they will take them from you too. I am hard enough to keep my girls from them, — the more children you have the better; there is no cry for victuals here — no begging, no men in rags, no men striving about work; there is plenty for all — all is liberty, union and love.

Chynda; yn duillag iny vannanagh as jeegh chew elley

This village is situated on the grand river Ohio, which empties itself into lake Erie. 3 miles from here at Fairport there is a good harbour there and a fine trade between and Bufaloe, north lat. 42 long west of London 81. Day in summer 1 hour 40 minutes shorter; in winter 1 hour 40 minutes longer; when it is 5 o'clock with you it is 12 with us so that when we eat dinner your ladies drink tea; but they have tea at every meal here What of this land that is not cleared is all covered with timber, the trees are very large. I have seen trees lying on the ground 45 steps long , and some 7 or 8 feet through; they grow very straight , you can hardly see a crooked tree. The land is very rich, and do not manure it at all, even their gardens — they let the dung be in heaps and is of no use. I have seen orchards with 5 or 6 hundred apple and peach trees in them, but pears is very scarce here; different kinds of timber, 2 kinds of oak, 2 kinds of ash, 3 kinds of maple or sugar tree, 2 kinds of walnut, 3 kinds of elm, 2 kinds of hicory, sycamore, pine, hemlock, cedar, buttonwood, cucumber, beech, fir, ironwood, whitewood, boxwood, chesnut. and wild vine which produces excellent grapes. They make their fences of timber, they do most of their farming with oxen and they are very strong; their gears are of timber the women here makes their own linen and soap. They spin the wool, then they weave it, then they dye it, then they make it into wearing apparel, they are good for house work but they do not work out doors. A township is just like your parishes but larger; the state of Ohio is divided into 45 counties, then to townships of 5 miles square, 22 townships to a county, you see by this that there is plenty of land in the state of Ohio for as many of you as will come here; any one of you that have his land under debt better come here but those of you that have lands clear of debt stop where you are; the cost and trouble is great and more than you are aware of every poor man that cannot get work and victuals for his children would get plenty of both here; the men that promise so much wages to a girl or boy, if they work well will give them more wages then they first did promise them, but on the Island they did give them less if they could, Gristmills, saw-mills, furnaces and forges and fulling mills and dye-houses are here, they do so abundance of iron ore in this State and in the township near this place. This is no place to make much money, but bartering one with another; most of the tradesmen get store pay, that is victuals or any thing you want out of the shops or stores, as they call them. If any one will come don't go to Cleveland, it is a sticky place ; a great many Manx people have died there. I would have you shun that place; if any will come let them come so that they will get here in the latter end of September or the beginning of October, then you will have such a climate as you had on the Island; a different climate brings a change on body; mind this if you love your health. You were thinking when we went here that we were going to an uninhabited place, but it is not so, the houses are plenty but not so thick inhabited as on the Island. Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists and Reformers are here in plenty; an Episcopalian minister preached in this village last Sunday, Monday night and Tuesday evening — his texts were from Acts 16 chapter; St Luke 2:10; funeral sermon on Tuesday evening, text 2 Corinth 5 chapter 1 verse. John Cannell from Jurby's funeral sermon was preached from the 22 chapter of Exodus - 22, 23 and 24 verses, and Deuteronomy 10 chapter 17, 18 and first part of the 19th verse. The works of the Lord go on here as well as on the Island. There is a great revival of religion in the Township of Concord, they have preachers almost every night, and sometimes to the number of 10 and 12 experience religion at a time: the flying angel spreads the gospel every where and well we may call it glad tidings of great joy. You that is covetous and want to hoard up money and grind the face of the poor, or sell them for a pair of shoes, do not come here, there is no room here for such people. How I pity them on the Island that would work and cannot get work, that they are not here to enjoy the blessings of this country, but I do not wish for any drunken men to come here. I have been in the Township of Painesville, Perry, Meriton, Kirkland, Concord, Hamden, Leroy, Chardon, looking for a farm, and I think I was very hard to please, for there was plenty for sale but at last I pitched upon a farm in Concord containing 72 acres, there is a meadow of 18 acres, good plough land, plenty of timber, well watered, a river is the boundary line on one side, a good sugar orchard and orchard of 100 apple , peach, and 5 pear trees, a barn 40 feet long and 30 broad, and a good dwelling house with out offices, there is half of it clear; the purchase money is 800 dols. I have a credit of 6 months; bought of Spincer Phelps the said farm on the 1st January 1828. It lieth 2 miles from the village of Painesville, 5 from Fairport on the lake, there be a sawmill about 300 yards from my timber lot and a dye-house and fulling-mill; ¼ mile from my house a school and preaching house is built on the farm; 40 yards from the house; there is excellentliving springs on said farm.

I would not go up to Hampton, Montville or Leroy to live, if I was to get land for 1 dol an acre, the roads are so bad and the woods so dangerous with bears, wolves, foxes, elks, deer, racoones, poisonous schoukes, porcupines &c and too far from the village to sell or buy anything you want. Land sells from 2 to 50 dol. an acre according to the situation of roads and place; land on the State road sells higher; the roads and streets are 20 yards wide; stage coaches run here in plenty.

Canals are very numerous here and any thing can be carried very cheap from place to place. English ploughs is of no use here but if any one will come let him bring two spades, a little wrought because if that new they will make you pay duty in New York. Any joiner that will come, let him bring his tools except the ripsaw and cross cut; saw mills are so plenty there is no need for this last mentioned tools; bring a holster full of rye grass seed and a few pounds of red clover seed. Land gets cheaper here, and I can tell you how, because when the farmers came here first they bought land from the Congress and had 7, 8, 9 or 10 years credit, but if they did not pay at the expiration of their credit, then the land was to be took from them and sold, and they would not get nothing for the clearing, building or work they had done on it so that they are obliged to sell. Mechanics for work and board themselves, a joiner gets 1¼ dollar, mason 1½ dollar, tiller 1¼ dollar, shoemaker 1 dollar, a smith (by the way they sell their wrought iron) can earn 3 to 4 dollars a day. Any man that could set up a tanyard would be a fine thing. Sadler is a very good trade. Cooper is of little use, they make their coopering in factories, and a man will do as much work as ten coopers. Anyone that will come here to depend on his school, had better stop where he is there is no use for him here, the best gentlemen keeps his own accounts, and they would not have any of you for schoolmasters, their way of teaching is so different you could not manage the business. any of the farmer trades that would set up himself would do well. They want a good sober Manx shoemaker to set up in this village.

Prices of cattle: horses from 30 to 160 dollars, oxen a yoke or pair from 30 to 60 dollars, cows from 3 to 15 dollars, sheep from 1 to 3 dollars, turkeys 40 cents, geese from 40 to 50 cents, hens from 6 to 9 cents. [Provisions ?] is of different prices: beef 2½ cents, pork 3 cents, mutton 2 cents, deer 1 cent, turkey 3 cents; flour per barrel weighing 196lb 2½ dollars, Indian flour, per barrel of 196lbs 1¼ dollar, butter per lb 10 cents, cheese 7 cents, honey 9 cents, apples per bushel 25 cents, tobacco per lb 12 cents, whiskey per gallon, 30 cents, sugar Muscavarbo per lb 16 cents, maple 9 cents, tea 1 dollar per lb. You can see how cheap we Yankees live, but if you were here to see how easy, or you may call it lazy, it would make you wonder. You might travel here for a number of miles that you would not see a person do any kind of work, I thought it a wonder at first and it was so all the way up from New York. There is something in this land that I do not know what it is because it bears crops without hardly any labour. I have seen as fine potatoes as any that I ever saw , grow without any manure, and just setting in the ground; pumpkins grow amongst the potatoes without work, but just sowing the seed and of a yellow colour, the different kind of things growing in their gardens I cannot name, everything that grows here grows without manure. No Mc Crone(1), Sandy or Lambie or any – – –fellows the tax is,every man and boy has to work one day in the road and one cent for every acre of land you have . There have been snow here this winter, but this week is almost as hot as in summer. Jane Kelly, my wife, sends her kind respects to her friends and relations and wishes to tell them that they need not trouble themselves about bringing caps here to wear because all the women goeth here without caps; and there has not been a cap on our little child since we came here, also she wishes to let you know that the rooms here is floored with boards so no one puts his feet on the ground in a house here, they wash the floors every day. The best ladies in the village come to our house and their silk gowns and veils on and they will sit and talk for hours; dress yourself as you have a mind to and there is no "hallos to the gown noa ec e vogh shid" in this place

I think I have wrote a deal but still more things are omitted but if I live I expect to see you all for May. Any one that is for coming had better stop till then and it would save him some money. It would be a great deal better for any one that was never here. My family and I have had our trail of troubles since we saw you, we lost our Isabella on the passage. I have lost my friend John Cannell since we came here and in a few days I think my dear father will be no more — then all my helpers will be gone but let us prepare to follow them. I wrote to John Boyde, Ballaugh, dated the 10th October, and I expect soon to get an answer. I wish you to write soon, get a good scholar to make the letter and let him do it well, for my friends here will want a sight of it. The next letter I will write will be directed to Wm Quay, Jurby, and let him get Thomas Collister to read it for him. I have not heard from the Island since we came here but something of a senseless letter that ever crossed the Atlantic, from Philip Quayle to John Tear, Leroy that was not worth paying one cent for its postage. Write you all particulars, births, marriages, burials, herring season, crops, &c.

I remain your obdient friend

Thomas Kelly

Ta me fenagt neest quoi ta chit magh son y thawry cur ny ennym ock sy screweryn


[Added by FPC]
1: James McCrone was the Duke of Athol's confidential agent — his official position was Chief Tithe agent or Proctor — David Craine in his article on the Potato Riots of 1825 [Proc IoMNHAS vol IV no IV p570] describes him as "a hard and unsympathetic Scot"


To the Manx Museum Library for making available the original newspaper.

 [Genealogy Index]


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