Letters To America 1839

William Hamilton to Alex Shields State of New York{of Vermont, America Hairshaw, May 21, 1839 per David Anderson.

Dear Friends,

You are at a great distance from us and by any human probability unable to understand each others circumstances to rejoice in eithers prosperity or weep for each others Woes…, but by the agency of the Divine being the great parent of the Universe and the architect of nature has enabled mankind to Sail upon the surface of the water with rapidity and as it is expressed to fly upon the wings of the whirlwind and search for all Mysteries in the utmost corners of our Land. From the same source I am enabled to sit down and write you our circumstance at this present moment or as we may term it the news of Ald Scotland.

We have got a new Queen as you will see stamped Victoria on the head of this sheet, but what good she may do in her reign is unknown for prophets is forbidden to enter our Land… But I have no doubt to say that there will be some events in her reign that will fill up the pages of History and be a blessing to one class in this realm and a scourge unto another. This generation is stirring and enterprising, Seeking after hidden things, and finding out wonderful things that God has hid from our fathers. Consult for a moment the Great Western that has already brought America and Briten within fifteen days sailing of each other and can carry intelligence in as short a time as sixty years ago it took betwixt Glasgow and London by the quickest expectation. Steam navigation and railroads shows to me to be a peace making Agent betwixt all kingdoms for from the highest to the lowest all wishes to be shareholders and every one has an interest and you see where personal interest is, there is peace and safety if possible… And besides this intelligence can be carried and recarried to and from the utmost corner of this world so that the great family of mankind will at last come to unite together and search after the wonderful Works of God. We must ascribe this to the Wisdom of Him that fills Heaven and earth. We see by these things that you and we although placed perhaps 3000 miles distant can talk to each other with as great ease as if there was no more distance than the mere breadth of Galston Hill. Let us conclude this page by concluding that there is nothing that we see but reminds us of its Creator.

I now begin the task I promised the news of Ald Scotland. There is a very great emigration from Scotland to America, to Australia and VanDeimon’s Land [Australia & New Zealand]. William Alison, second son to James Alison Coldwakning [in Drumclog district near Rylands] is gone away on Saturday the 27 of April toAustralia; two sons and one daughter of Alexander Lauries in Lanfine is likewise gone to Australia and many more from Straven and other places unecessary to mention. Francis Lambie you friend from Straven with a wife and nine children to America, Almont [?] Michigan. James Millar Hasside [Highside? above Meikle Glen] has a daughter in Canada. Elizabeth and William her brother has rouped [sold at public auction] all his effects and going away too. Our Alexander has two brothers in law in the States. William Leisser of Drumboy has two brothers in law in the State of Ohio. There is a numberless concourse of people traveling to, and from America to this country so that it has almost made us door neighbours. I wonder often that there is so seldom communication betwixt us: it is not the lenth of the way, neither is it the cost, but it is the carelessness of us all. We cannot think to write a few lines to a friend because it lies heavy upon our Spirits.

There is an ironwork begun at your old home Galston. It is just preparing with the burnas [Burnhouse?] Ann Burn about 2 gunshots above the utmost house and is doing a great deal of work in building furnaces and other preparations. As some of your connections will likely be sending some accounts of their circumstances with David Anderson as I am doing, I will leave it to them only.

Things is going on in their old usual way and no deaths amongst any of our nearest relatives this long time but George Paterson’s wife in Priestland about a year ago. As for our own family your Sister Helen is turned like her Brother James very fat, not unhealthy according to her age but sometimes complaining a little…and I am something like her. I sometimes complain of a pain in my back, but they sometimes laugh at me and say that it is a natural disorder. The rest of our family is all in health at present. How long it may continue we cannot tell, but Health is a blessing we can never repay. We have Robert John and Anny at home. William in Stobbieside has five children and one dead. They are all in health and your Sister Christina and her Family is all alive and good health. You will find it recorded by the wisest of men that as iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the face of a friend a friend. Although we cannot see other face to face and talk to each other as we have frequently done, yet still is not this a glorious substitute invented by the contriver of all things to teach me to sit down by my own fire side and talk with you in America in the State of Vermont and besides all this we have cause to rejoice that we was born of Christian parents that had the means and the will to teach us the education which we have got. Let us all study to imitate their virtues but avoid their vices.

It is said that trouble Springeth not out of the ground but I have to tell you that we have had the year 1837 and 39 exceedingly bad years, neither of these years was their any meal or seed corn in places such as ours, but the year 38 was not as bad. Although not an avourich year, but we have had an exceedingly good dry seed time this year and we have got potatoes set and all in good order in the month of April. We scarcely ever saw as good a time for putting in the seed. Seed corn has been exceedingly high from 30 to 37 shillings per boll of Edinburgh corn. David Anderson will describe the situation of old Scotland better than I can write you, for if I were to begin on any lenthened detail this sheet would not contain the half that I could say. I ask if any of you has ever been up or over and paid Alexanders people a visit. No doubt you will have heard of Christina’s death on the 10 of March last year. We all see that no age nor no circumstances no place nor no distance can exempt us from death. Let us all be in a prepared State that when we close our eyes in mortal death we may be enabled to open them in immortal Life that we all may meet together in that land where no paid nor sin sorrow or death shall ever enter. One word more: Let not distance change the feelings as climate does the collour, but write frequently and take a delight in communication your minds to your acquaintance and us also. Although we be like some born out of due time we wish you all Gods benediction. WH H.Young Robt.John & Ann H.

Our deceased friends:

They have seen what I have seen,

Endured all that troubles me.

They were whatever I have been

And is what I shall always be.

Before his uncreated beam the sun himself is lost in shade;

but he that draws his light from him enjoys a day that cannot


Dear friends since I wrote this letter your Sister Hellen has had a sore turn of the rheumatism fever, but at this moment she has got clear of this fever but not altogether well although in a better growing way the rest of us is all well and carting peets and going on in our usual way.

Tuesday 21 of May 1839. Wm. Hamilton.

Back Hearshaw, Strathaven, AyrShire, North Britain.


Copyright Friends of Loudoun Kirk © 2018

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