[Letter written by William Heatley to his sister Mary.
This letter was discovered in Barndarrig in January 1996
and given to Fr. Jim Murphy, parish priest of Kilbride /
Barndarrig. Fr. Jim is [interested?] in local history,
attached to the Wicklow Historical Society, and he
deciphered it and passed on the transcript he made to
me. It was addressed to Mary Quinn, Tomdaragh Post
Office, Co. Wicklow. N. T. Mt. Kennedy [Newtown
Mountkennedy?] was written on the envelope in a different
hand. This letter was written just three months after
Heatley's arrival in Iowa.
Wexford Landing, June 24th, 1851
We are all well here thanks be to God for it. I never
got better health. People say I am fatter than when I
left home. Christina has got married in Dubuque City
to a Dublin young man of the name Rowane, he keeps
cornstores and has 840 acres of land near Dubuque
convenient to the convent of the brothers of Melleray
Abbey in the County Waterford. It was someway
extraordinary that Christina was sent for by several
young men in every place she went, first by a young man
in the ship we went over in to New Orleans, and in the
steam packet we went up to Little Rock by a young
captain that was in the Mexican war with Gen. B. Byrne.
He was a Protestant, he told Father Hore he would go to
Mass with her, the like offer was made by several others.
I still thought her too young, but she has improved
very much in sise [size?] and appearance. I have dwelt
on the subject too long only that you should wonder that
we should part with her.
I wrote to Abey [His brother Abraham. N.B. He also had a
son Abraham?] of Killougher and to Mrs. Byrne of
Ballydowling, and to John Heatly [Heatley?].
Wexford landing is about 600 miles above St. Lewis
[St. Louis?] and St. Lewis [St. Louis?] is about 1200
miles from New Orleans. Eliza has got a young [donkey?]
last week, we have called it Maryanne. I have purchased
320 acres of land in this place, two quarter sections.
The first quarter section I purchased I will sell out as
I do not like it as well as this last I purchased. I
bought eight or nine acres of broken ground and have
sowed corn in it and potatoes in it for this year. I am
to begin this next week to build my house, it will be
very near Father Hore's house and about twenty minutes
walk from the church, it is great. Irish people in many
cases lose their religion in this country, but I hope
I never will for I am more attentive to my religion than
I ever was at home. In St. Lewis [St. Louis?] and Dubuque
religion is carried on with greater perfection than I
ever seen it carried on in Ireland.
This country has a very handsome appearance at this time.
To look at any part of it and you would think to have the
appearance of a gentleman's lawn. I have traveled over a
wonderful dale [deal?] of this country before I purchased.
There is a great dale [deal?] that people have to go
through before they can settle themselves to their liking,
for some land will be swampy therefore subject to fever
and ague; other lands will want good springs or timber,
other lands will be too far from priest or Chappel [Chapel?],
etc. The last place of 150 acres I bought is a wonderfull
[wonderful?] handsome place. It is something like
Croneybyrne domain [Cronybyrne Demesne?] but it is four times
handsomer with hills and woods, meadows like gentlemen's
lawns and decorated with flowers of all descriptions
and wild strawberries. I have never seen so handsome a
country in Ireland as this, at this time. The land
here is a ritch [rich?] lome [loam?] with a great depth
of soil and limestone rock. One field would manure a
whole townland in Ireland and have a nuff [enough?] of
ritch [rich?] soil for itself after. What they call
prerialand [prairieland?] here is land cleared of all
woods with grass very tall, some seven feet high, less
ritch [rich?] land with grass two or three feet high.
A great part of this country consists of this type of
land. I have some of the finest timber in my land
that I have ever seen, as oak, hickory, black and
white walnut, sugar maple and a variety of other kinds.
There is a beautiful strame [stream?] of fine water
runs between the wood and the open land. The strame
[stream?] is about the sise [size?] of that below
Croneybyrne [Cronybyrne?] sufficient for a mill. I
bought four large oxen for plowing [ploughing?].
They cost me 110 dl [dollars?]. I bought
two cows, they milk well here. I gave 34 dollars
for them. A wagon I gave 41 dl [dollars?] for
it secondhand, it is nearly as good as new. A plow,
[plough?] 11 dols [dollars?] people say it is wort
[worth?] 15d [dollars?]. The plows [ploughs?] sell
at a dollar per inch, it is in breth [breadth?]
in sock, that is it will cut from 8 inches to
23 inches of a sod according to wide.
The [they?] will rape [reap?] 14 acres of whate [wheat?]
or oats with four horses working a machine with one man
to draw out the shaves [sheaves?], other men will go
thrash [thresh?] out your whate [wheat?] with his horses
at your own place at 5 cents per bushell [bushel?] There
[are?] wonderful machines in this country.
As soon as I bought land in this country I went and
made my protest against the English government and its
Queen and if there could be anything stronger against it
I would, for I abomibly [abominably?] hate everything
English, that curse of mankind that withers every
country she blows her .. (illegible) .. breath on, that
curst [accursed?] race of landsharks in Ireland
that extract everything from the unfortunate
slaves they are over, and will starve
them when they cannot get more. When I think of some
of their pride and the contrast of ritch [rich?] ones
here, I think of Lucifer's children. If in this
country you purchase land if you find gold, silver,
lead or any other mine, it is yours and nothers
[no others?], but under that cursed of governments
in your country, if you lay out your capital on a
horse and cart ... it must be the land devils must have it.
I have received a letter from my brother Abey
[Abraham?] I was a good dale [deal?] shocked at
poor Betty's death. I hope that poor Anne will not fret
for me as I am in good health and spirits at this time
and I hope good prospect before me in this country.
I was writing this letter when I received Abey's
[Abraham's?] of 19th of May. Poor John K.
The only anoying [annoying?] thing here is the mosquities
[mosquitoes?] flies at this time. There were none here
until these two weeks. I am told they will go off in
the last of July. They are worse on Europeans than
they are on the natives.
I received a letter from Miles Byrne, he is very
comfortable at Little Rock (at Arcansas [Arkansas?]).
He is over 14 slaves and has a horse to ride at 174
do [dollars?] a year. We left Charles Redmond at Little
Rock. he had 30 do [dollars?] per month. He fell out
with a Yankee there and it appears that the Yankee
died sometime after and Redmond was afraid to stand
tryal [trial?]. Redmond never paid me the money I
lent him. Mary Fennell is in good health, she lives
with us yet. If her brother was out here with his
capital they would do well. It is hard for a person
to do well here without some capital. Christopher Kain
and Hugh Murphy with their capital and their industry
would do well here as they would secure land forever
for their children that they could not at home.
PS Any wan [anyone?] coming to this country should
fetch a good dale [deal?] of clothing in the woolen
[woollen?] kind as cloth is dear in this country.
Linnen [linen?] thread is dear also. Calico is chape
[cheap?] here, delf is dear, glass is not, all kinds of
tools is dear.
Give my best love to Mrs Byrne of Ballydowlin
[Ballydowling?] to every wan [everyone?] of her kind
family. I will write to her shortly.
Milo Byrne, I had a letter from him at Little Rock.
He is well and in a good situation at 174 D [dollars?]
per year, has 14 blacks to .. (illegible) .. and [a horse
too?] ride about and his board.
The climate of this country is like Ireland as far as
I have seen yet. Give my love to Abey [Abraham?] and his
wife and family, to Christy Kean and to Hugh Murphy and
Mary .... and to poor Anne Heatley, let her not fret,
and to Mark Kennedy, and to John Bryan, John Kenedy of
Wicklow, Mr. Dillon and all enquiring friends. May God
bless them all.
I remain, dear Mary, your very affectionate brother