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Transcribed and contributed by Bruce P. Shields 


Francis Findlay at Crofthead 17 Dec 1849 to Thos. Findlay

Morpeth Howard, Canada West. Postmarked Newmilns & Kilmarnock.    

Dear Brother,              

I must confess that I have been careless in not writing to you long before this time but I think you are not much better.  I have been looking for a letter everyday for a long time.  I am almost inclined to think that like John in a few years you will forget your native place.  Whether this may be the case or not time alone can determine.  In your last letter you ask how our crops are likely to turn out.  Our corn is a very fair crop, our turnips were good; we had about two acres but our carrots were deficient.  We had about an acre of them.  Carrots are in general but a very small crop in this quarter.  As for our potatoes, they were good in quality but not very bulky.  We had about half an acre planted with the plough and about an acre with the spaid in the braes which kept us in exercise during the summer.  Potatoes are in general keeping better than they have done for a number of years before.  Yet there is still a little of the failure to be seen amongst them.  We had about half an acre of beans.  They were deficient in straw but well filled.  As for our hay, I never saw as much about Crofthead and should be somewhere between two and three thousand stones.  Farm produce in this quarter is very low.  Best meal will not bring above £1-- 5d per load.  We had a letter from William last week.  He says the farmers are beginning to cry out with them.  They are saying little about it yet in this quarter as they had their cheese to pay this terms rent, but where does the Whitsundayís rent come from should the markets continue low?  In a few years there must be a great turnover amongst them.  As you know a great many of them have but little to lose.

You ask if Francis Cochran Parkfield is staying with James.  I say no.  He was at a feu last summer but I have not heard what he is doing this winter.  Their brother John was killed in Glasgow about three weeks ago.  He had been knocked down by a machine and died in two days.  We never heard anything more about it as none of them ever sent us any word.              

There is always a little doing in the cess trade here.  Miss Wood is still doing a little.  Auchinbart and Burnhead are both pulling up although I believe from what I hear Robert Alsten will do them both.  But Miss Brown Loanfoot is the main topic of the day.  You may see by this what money does as her name was never in the public before.  James Steel and Goursbraehead are two of her main hands, but it is generally believed James Steel will be the man.  Jean Jamieson was married last week to a man in Glasgow.  He had been servant in Boghead with her.  His name I donít mind.  Agness Findlay Dalloy was married not long ago to a tea man in England.  His folks are about Cumnock.  he had been servant in this place before he left for England.  He commenced business on his own account five or six years ago and is said to be doing well if we judge from appearances.  He must be doing well as he presented her with a fine gold watch.  His place is within a few miles of London.  It is also said to be an opening for Mary Morton Ladybrow.  It has been long spoken about.  Whether it may come at last I cannot say.  Friends in this place are well for anything I know.  Moore had a slight fever, but now is quite better.  I sent a newspaper.  I trust you have got it by this time.  Write me soon and tell me if you have ever taken a trip through the country or if you have ever seen any of the Osbornes?  Have you ever seen Robert and how does he get along.  Remind me to all enquiring friends, particularly to brother John.  Does he never think of writing?              

I am, Dear Thomas, your affectionate brother,                         

Francis Findlay.    PS. William Morton is now quite better.  

TO: Mr. Alexander Shields, Peacham, corner County of Caledonea Steat of Vermont. Postmark NY Mar.20, SHIP. Forward to Craftsbury, VT North America.
FROM: Robert Shields, 1828

Dear Brother,
I have now received two letters from you, the first dated May 18, the second 28 July, 1827; and I am very happie to hear from you and of all your safe arivel in
America and of your continued health since you came thear and that you have got a hous to stop in for a time with plenty of work for which you ought to be very thankful. I expected that you would have given us some information hou you and the rest of the family seem to like the place. I am in health at the time with all the rest of your Freands in this place as far as I know Francis Young says that he knows little or no alteration on his Mother since you went away. With respect to news I do not remember much worthie of notice. The Weaving tread has been fully as good Since you went away as it was at that time, the Mason trade has been worse. Wages has been 2 or 3 Shiellens a week lower with scarcitie of work. Labrous work about the same as last year. The Weather has a good deal incleaned to be wet this Sommer, yet we have had an exlant Crop excep the White which has not don as well and I think that in genrall Harvest in this place commenced about the middel of September. Ete Mil is at 1 Sh. and 2d per peck, potatoes 1 Sh. to 10, Cheas 8 Sh. per Stan, Buther 16 or 17 pence per pound, Butcher meat about 8 Sh. per Ston, Appels are very plentie and loer in price than ever I saw them, Inyons are selling in Glasgow about 1 Sh. per Ston. I understand that Robert Mair that Sailed with you to America is now returned home but I have not yet seen him. James Houat died of a water in the head in the month of May and little William has been in a poor State of health. This 3 or 4 months past our Sister Marion with the two youngest Boys have been in Galston with me this some time past and John Dow has got a pertner with him in the Shop. I have not got any Monie from Alexander Aird yet. With respect to Church afaiers there is no great alteration. I have heart that Mr. Osburn is again laid aside but whether it is mostly for pritching Error or for immorality in practice or both I cannot positively say. Mr. Reid has been two Sabbaths at Crookedholm this Sumer but there is littel appearance of any coming forward to assist him. When you write agean you may give us Some information respecting Church affairs in America, at any reat let us know if they then saugh Covenanting ever was in the terms of Comminone in America. I am aware that you must have come through a great deal of anxity and thoughtfulness since you left this place till you came to the place you now ocupay, but if you and the Famlie are in a comfortable way nou thir is less to be said, but we must never look nor expect for much comfort or happiness in the World. Be not overly anxous about the things of this life for they will Soon come to a termination with all of us So wishing you all peass and comfort, health and happiness as far as it Shall be for Gods glory and your good, I remain your afexonat Brother, Robert Shields.

Transcript of Letter: Robert Glass of 636 Hampton Place, Gallowgate, Glasgow 8th Oct. 1862 to Ann Boyd Shields of Craftsbury, VT.

Dear Friend,
Your welcome Letter came duly to hand per the Bearer Mr. Armour whom I sincerely wish may be Blessed himself. and made a Blessing to all connected with him, my Impression of him is that he is a good Man and one that any one would be glad to meet again, we had a long Chat with him and you and your family came in for a full share of it, as we were truly too glad to hear you were Enabled by the Blessing of God to get along so well in your Widowed state a thing we did not know of untill told by Mr. Armour for we have got no letters from Mr. Smith since I sent the Last of the Cash with Mr. James Anderson of
Kilm'k and Ten Pound st'ng as Interest during the time I had it, there was two Installments of it Paid previously by Mr. Smith's orders to two of his friends to assist them in going out And Mr. Anderson promised over and over again to write me on his Arrival and of course I naturely Expected Mr. Smith to do the same But never a word from any of them. We were glad however to hear from Mr. Armour that Mr. & Mrs. Smith was well and no doubt would be glad to have a letter from them. Our Correspondence in this world must soon close and no one knows how soon for after spending a few happy hours with Mr. Armour Last night I was taken ill with the Rupture and had to get two Doctors and it was not until they administered Choloroform to me that they could get it up and by that time it was two o' Clock. I am better to day But still weak from the sore suffering so that we may truly say there may be but a step between us and death. We are both now above 70 and yet we think if we saw your 4 little fellows we could have a laugh with them and you yet. 

You know Aunt is a twin and has still a partiality for them-- About 8 years ago we came to Glasgow as the house I was doing for, as Agent, was putting his Work into a Factory, and I have 20/ per week and gives out all the weft that is used in the Factory to Winders, of whom there is 160 and some of them Calls on me 4 & 5 times for service and all of them twice a day, so if it is not heavy work, there is plenty of it. Every parcel is Weighed out and in. If Mr. Armour can find room for it there will be a small parcel for you as a small Remembrance of us.---

As to your friends, your Aunt Elizabeth Boyd or Mrs. Bicket. She is Dead after going about a number of years on a stilt having got a sore fute -- Agnes is married the third time and I suspect she is better than she was during the lifetime of the two first. He is a Mr. Ramsay Master Builder as to John and Jamie the are about Paisly. But that is all I could say of them --- Your Mothers Brothers and Sisters are all dead but Aunt and James that lives at Troon and who has had twoo shocks of Appoplexy But is so far Recovered as to be able to go to the Garden. His wife and 2 daughters keeps the Post office at Troon and has a Large house rented and lets it out during Summer and in winter has often Captains and owners of Vessels Lodging with them and gets on very well. One of their sons is in Australia and th other one in Jamaica all doing well.--- Uncle Williams family are all dead But James and Jean who is in Saltcots a Baker and has a family all doing Better than him that wee drop hurts him at times. Jean was maried in Glasgow. But the Man left her & is in America & she is not doing well at all.---- Uncle Richards family John, Alx'r & Archibald is all doing real well and their families---- John is a Baker and Grain Merchant. Alx'r is a cabinet Maker, the firm is Alex'r & Craig, Archibald is a Sewed Muslin Mf'r in Glasgow & is in the same position as to Marriage as Mr. Smith, his wife is an English Lady the pay £70 for their house & has a governess & all in Conformity, the are plymouth Brethern.

Uncle John has a son & (Annie) daughter in Australia, the Daughter Mrs. Watherspoon sent me last week a small Nugget of Gold to make a Breast pin & I gave it to Aunt to buy a shawl with the price of she has not disposed of it yet or I would tell you what she got for it -- Uncle Alex'r left no family & his Wido is still in Saltcots. But allows of no correspondence with any of us--- I must Refer you for further particulars to your kind Pastor the Bearer & hoping to hear from you regularly in future I am, dear friend, your truly, Robert Glass.

TO: Matthew Young 6 January, 1812
At Alexr. Youngs, fermar,
Lellylon by Derval
Dated at Sevenside. From Robert Young, Hugh Young.

Dear Brother,
I received your letter and shirt for which I return my kind thanks to my Dear Mother. I was glad to hear of all your welfare, I wrot my father last week which I hope you will have got that is my first. Tell the Second is, I wish you a Good new year and manny hape returns in it. The third is to let you know that I got my new year gift. The first was a new Shirt from my mother, the Second was a guinea from my master, third was a pear of new Bootes and a pear of new Shoes from my mestres, the fourt was half a geniee from my mestres mother. Now I think my mestres is king of my School and wha will be king of thine? My nest tell to let you know that we have a very severe frost and Snow, I wrot my father last week that our mountens were covered but now both hill and dell is covered now my last tell is to let you know our mestres is Brought to the Bed and we have got a fine Boy but we have not got him named yet, which is no littel * Joy amongest us. This is the most of my perticulers at this time. Complements to all friends, I am, Dear Sir, your loving Brother Robert Young. 

*Is it because the boy is not named that they are all so glad? This I think is the meaning....H. Young.

Dear Brother; I received your letter this night and am glad to hear of your success at the new year. You do not tell me who were your king and queen nor can I know what your king gave, you have made such a wretched figure. It is like either a six or a four or nothing at all. If you cannot make a figure that I can know put down a number of strokes and put a mark upon the particular one thus IIIII+I. If it be six this might be the way. I am glad that my friends and relations are all well. I got all the articles last week in safety. My Brother Robert was a Glasgow that very day, I delivered him his parcel with my own hand, and got my breakfast from him. My humble gratitude to my mother for the butter. I am sure there is far more that balance the soap. I am very much engaged at this time. If you all and we are well, I shall not write till after Candlemass [2 February] . But be sure you to write no withstanding. Did Andrew speak of his old friend Hugh wen he was up, or what did he say? I believe he will never write me. Tell Francis that He may call at the carrier next week or the next again. If I can find as much time as I inke my pen and let fall a blot, I shall send it his way. I have taken this way of saving paper because I am a penny out o' pouch with every one of these letters. Write any thing that is cheary for I am in very dull spirits at present. Yours, Hugh Young.

For the good of the congregation at Darvel you may take my seat again and I will pay for it. -- Robert Young.

Dear Parents. Ye are pretty old and I am yet but young. It is therefore almost unbecoming in me to address you. Yet in the character of a teacher wha am always crying about the passing of time, I may only say that another year of your stay here is passed away and thou I hope the time of your passage away is yet at a distance, yet come it must. The very day is fixed in heaven's great register, as therefor this is not the place of our abode it ought to be a matter of great concern what is to become of us when we quit this mortal state. This I hope has already occupied your thoughts; think of it yet again ere it be too late and fly to Him who said he that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out? Every encouragement is given to those who betake themselves to him, he never sends any a wayfare upon their own charges. Nor are his people called to go in a way in which he went not himself, for he also suffered death for the very end that he might destroy death which he hath not only done in his resurrection but also secured a safe passage to all his real followers.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, hear ye also the counsel of the Brother of the children of your father. When we think that with a just calculation of births and Deaths the one of us in our proportion should have died before we were 12 years of age, we ought to be filled with gratitude to God for preserving us so long, & saving strength....

TO: Alexander Shields, Orchard St., Galston near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire
FROM: James Young,
Alnwick 2 January, 1826.

My Dear Brother and Sister,
When families and individuals, nearly connected by the ties of nature, are in the course of providence, far removed from each other, it is certainly both pleasing and gratifying, that such relations have the happy priviledge through the channel of epistolory Correspondence of Conversing with each other, and occasionally renewing their pledges of mutual affection.
It has fallen to my lot to be one of those who have found an asylum in a different kingdom from the Land of his Nativity, yet I can assuredly say, that neither my Country nor kindred, are less in my estimation than had my habitation been within a mile of Loudon hill where I first drew breath and where I first opened my eyes to the Changing Scenes of this unsatisfactory world. Nearly fifty years has rolled over my head and every year, nay almost every day, demonstrates the truth of that portion of Holy Writ, which says "Where we have no Continuing City nor Sure place of Abode?" Let us then, my Dear Brother and Sister while we are pilgrims upon this earth as all our Fathers have been, not only endeavour to become more and more United in friendship's Sacred Tie, but fervently implore, that Our Heavenly Father by the Agency of the Holy Spirit, May Unite us to Jesus Christ by the Ties of Gospel Grace, that when we are brought to the conflicting hour of Nature's dissolution our happy Spirits may meet upon that Cloudless Shore. Never, never more to part.

Both the anticipation and participation of friendly Communications from the North, are to me pleasant and welcome. Especially when Such, are the happy messengers of good news from a far Country, Conveying intelligence of the welfare and prosperity of those who ought to have an interest in our best wishes in the hour of retired reflection.

Will you therefore enter the list of my correspondents, be assured I never grudge the postage of letters that have the Kilmarnock or Falkirk postmarks upon them. I had a letter about three weeks ago from Laurieston, they at that time were all well, about the Same time I received one from Alex, he said he was in good health and was "unca happy among the Highland Bodies" and no later than last week I had a letter from Brother Francis who says our good old Mother had been Seized with a Bleeding at the nose which gave them Some alarm but she was again able to go about, and in a Clear day amused herself with her Book. Francis adds all our other relations were well and expected to keep New Years Day with Currant Bunns, Rebbucks, & Whiskey; you and them have my best wishes for "Your Hale and Weel, May you all be kept tight in thack and Rape, and a Comfortable Meltith as Langs ye're aboon the yird." 

Since I gave over traveling have enjoyed excellent health and I trust my new Concern will ultimately prove to our advantage.
Give my kind Love to all our Brothers and Sisters and when you have an Opportunity read this letter to our aged Mother for whom I bear a filial regard. I cannot fix the time but I hope ere long to be able to visit you once more if not in the Spring I purpose to do it eairly in Summer, if all be well, I do not mind anything more of importance worth Communicating.

Do not be long in writing me, give me a little of the Domestic by way of multum in parvo. Direct James Young Draper, Alnwick, Northumberland. I will now take my leave of you for this time, by wishing you a happy New Year and all that is good for you in this State of being and the joys of Heaven in the world to come. Dear Brother and Sister, the sincere Desire of your affections, James Young.

James Hamilton to A. Shields March 11, 1853 dated Drumlock.

Dear Friends,
We embrace the opportunity of writing you at this time as James Anderson is about to leave this country for
America and we warmly trust that he will be safely conducted o'er the dark blue waves and in good health and spirits deliver you this letter with his own hand. It has been a long time since we have heard from you and although providence has placed us far from each other we have still a desire to hear from you again.

You like ourselves will feel that the spring and summer of our days are gone and the winds of winter are murmering o'er our heads, that every day is bringing us nearer our own end and every year we are spared now, we see only the clouds of winter gathering more thick and dark. Yet such is the course of Nature, such the existence of our present life: all must one day sooner or later walk downward & to the grave. It is vain then to shrink from what cannot be avoided and while we have no help in ourselves, what can remain but that we should take refuge in what will comfort and save looking up to a higher power who can lead through the shadowy valley of death and at last conduct to green pastures and still waters where there is an eternal spring for the children of God.

While we have been spared, we have born the loss of two of our family, Ann and Christina. It is seven years since Ann died after several years of illness of consumption and two since Christina who was but short, being inflammation in the bowels. Ann was aged 30 years and Christina 23. You will see that they were cut off in the prime of life. While to us they seemed gay and promising, we only hope that our loss is their unspeakable gain. We have Mrs. Landy, Hugh, Jennet, and Helen with us yet. William has, since Ann's death, been little or none able for work. He is at this time not altogether confined to bed, but is able to go about a little. James and John is married. James is on a farm two miles from Hamilton, while John and Robert is wrights, and have both set up business for themselves: John is in Darvel and Robert in the Chapelton.

We keep 27 cows this summer and 11 geeze and we make butter and takes the milk to Hamilton. We have 30 acres ploughed and expect to get sowing soon, and time is somewhat later than last year, but it was an uncommon year for good seed time and harvest. We had a good crop of everything, save potatoes, for several years past there is but few planted, being rather a risky crop. Provisions are higher in the prices than they have been for some years bypast. Butter is one shilling per pound, Cheese 12 per stone, Beef 6d per pound, Meal is the most reasonable being 31 shillings the lade. 

It is some time since we have heard from Hugh, but they were well when we last heard from them. Alexander their son is placed Minister in Darvel and Margaret is married. They have three daughters remaining. William is still living in Darvel, he is an old man now but is surprising well for his long age. Wm. Hamilton and Helen's family are all married and they are now living with their son at the Brown Castle, both are in good health. Francis family seems to be a long way from you; I think it is in Michigan where they are. We have had no direct letter from them, but have heard that they have arrived in good health. John's family is all married and he is in health. Think we have given a pretty good detail of all that is going on here, but James Anderson well can tell you better about things than one can write them. We would be glad to hear from you as soon as convenient, letting us know how you all are. Meanwhile this leaves us all in good health except William whoom I mentioned before. All join in their best respects to you all; I remain Yours, Aff'cty, James Hamilton.

Inside flap of envelope: I need not tell yow to write to us, for if yow do not wish to do it, yow ill not do it. Envelope addressed: Mrs. Alexander Shields and James Anderson, State of Vermont, America.








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