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Mary Currie's Letters

The following three letters were written by Mary Darroch Currie, daughter of Duncan Darroch, to her cousin Margaret Darroch Reed, daughter of Archibald Darroch.

38 Willmeadow Street,
Paisley, Scotland
Dec. 22, 1879

Dear Cousin,
Your letter reached me all right and I cannot tell you how proud I was to hear from you after such a long interval.

I would have answered your letter long before this but I waited until I had an opportunity of seeing Archie and the others to hear what word they had to send. So you see it was not from any neglect or indifference that I had not penned you a few lines a couple of months ago. You stated in your letter that you had written my father and that he had not replied but I hope you will not think it is occasioned by any indifference on his part for the reason is that he is quite bedfast and has been so for about a year past and before that for two years at least, he was only able to go to the door, the length of the big tree on the burnside opposite his front door. You will readily understand then, that in that frail state it was quite out of his power to write a letter and then again it is not easy now to get anybody in Clachan to write on behalf of one who cannot write, for since John McCallum left Clachan it is difficult to get a person who can write for those who themselves are unable either from sheert inability or from frailty. My father is now 85 years of age, so like your mother he is far past the allotted span. I enclose you his portrait which was taken here about 6 years ago on the occasion of the last visit he paid me here. His two step-sons are dead so he and step-mother are living alone. He took an ill turn the summer before last and I went home to Clachan to see him but he recovered, although I am afraid he will not survive this winter. My son John goes to Clachan every summer to see him.

I see from your letter your family has been a large one and I have no doubt you will find them to be of great service to you in the management of your farm. In April last I reached my 54th year and my husband died 13 years ago. Three of my family survive, John the oldest, Duncan the second and Mary the third and the four younger ones are dead. Three of them in infancy, Margaret, Barbara and James and Marion in her 8th year. My eldest stays with me and is a student in Glasgow College, but the other two are married and have families and both stay in Paisley not far from me.

My brother Neil resides in Linwood, a small town 3 miles from Paisley. He is a gardener and has a large family, his son Duncan being married. He calls here now and again, but I have not seen him since I got your letter. My sister Marion is a widow whose husband was a sea-faring man having been drowned some years ago. She lives in Paisley and gets employment in a thread factory and with her lives her family, two boys and a girl. The oldest being about 14 years of age. John is working as a blacksmith in a ship building yard on the Clyde at a place called Govan about five miles from here as the crow flies. He's a confirmed bachelor and lodges with your Aunt Elizabeth. Across the river from Govan is a small place called Scotstown about 6 miles from here and it is there that Catherine and Archie live about a stone's throw from each other. Catherine ( Mrs. Connell ) is a widow, her husband who was a carpenter having lost his life through falling into the hold of a vessel in course of construction. Her eldest boy is an apprentice carpenter and all the rest are young and at school.

Archie is married and has charge of a horse in a shipbuilding yard. He has hard work and the pay is not great. When he heard I had a letter from you, he hastened hither to hear it read, and was much delighted to learn of its contents. He has always had a fancy to go to Canada and the receipt of your letter has re-awakened and increased that desire. He was brought up to farm work and is a first class ploughman and his wife was also trained to the same kind of work. They would therefore make a good couple for starting a farm. Archie has always been very steady and careful about his means and so he has managed to run up a small account at the bank. I understand he has as much as would take him out to Canada and in addition to that as much as would stock a small farm if that could be done at a moderate figure. He told me to mention to you and ask your opinions as to whether you thought there was any use of his thinking about it. He was saying he would be quite content to work awhile as a servant if situations are to be got at all, so as to give him plenty of time to look out for a small and suitable farm. When you write you might mention what sum would be necessary to start a farm, and you might write as soon as possible as Archie is very impatient to hear what your answer is. I myself think that it would be to his advantage if he were settled in Canada, as he has to slave away all day for about 22/, or 5 dollars per week. He has been married for three years and has a little boy called Archie after your father.

I think I have said all I can say about my brothers and sisters and so regards myself. I retired about two years ago from business and am living at the address at the head of this letter. My son John stays with me and so there are only the two of us. I have every opportunity of entertaining you or any of your family or any of your brothers and sisters and their family if any of you ever resolve to visit the old country. If you do I would make you sure of a hearty welcome and would be happy if you would make my home your headquarters while in the old country.

You are very fortunate in having such good crops in Canada and in getting them gathered in so successfully. The very opposite was the case here, as the summer was an exceedingly wet one and so the crops were not abundant and were late in getting ripe.

I am always getting word now and again from Clachan, but it is never of much interest. The old people are being cut off one by one and unless you pay it a visit you will know nobody in it. When I was there 2 years ago, I found Clachan in the old place and all the pleasant haunts of early youth just as they were 30 or 40 years ago. I found lofty Dunskeig very nearly the same as the day on which you took your farewell look at it. There is no house there not even a stone to point out the spot where as a girly you frolicked about as happy as a butterfly in the summer sun. But below the site of your house is still the beautiful bay as sandy and majestic as ever and defying the ruthless hand of unthinking and selfish landlords. However the level ground between the mark of high water and the fast of Dunskeig is all enclosed for growing crops. There is now a carriage way made around the foot of the hill to the ferry, and from that again through the farm of Loup and Doctor's house. In the village are a lot of modern houses, a fine new church built at the expense of the Laird of Ballinakill and a fine new house for its ministers.

You referred to Nanny Glen and the poor thing was confined to bed last summer. I have not heard how she is keeping. Your cousin Mary McAlpine is a lonely and poor creature. She depends on the parish for her living, getting about 2/ per week, so her existence must be a miserable one. Old McAlister the smith is dead and the young one is married to John McMillan's daughter. The Laird has built them a new house and smithy and old Mrs. McAlister lives alone in the attic of the new house. John Kerr is just the same as he has ever been. Although an old man, he is as frisky and light of foot as a man half his age. He acts as officer in the Parish Church, a situation of which he is very proud. He thinks all the young women of the place are over ears in love with him and listens to & believes any story he hears about their affection for him. Mr. Conkine the schoolmaster died suddenly shortly since and his son succeeded him. Archie is going to send you a paper which gives a description of a trip from Rothesay to Campbeltown and through Kintyre. It was written by Duncan Reid, a son of old Duncan Reid the shoemaker who is now working at his trade in Rothesay.

I enclose your Aunt Elizabeth's ( Mrs. MCLachlan ) portrait. She gave it to me to send to you and sends also her kind love. She is very frail, about 75 years of age and lives in Govan. With her lives a son and John Darroch. She has another son William living and working as a cashier in the shipyard where john works. He ( William ) is married. Her eldest son died during the summer through some affection of the brain leaving a widow and family.

I think I have made this letter too long and I am afraid I will exhaust your patience. I send you portraits of my husband, myself and my son John, who has written this letter on my behalf, my father Archie, your Aunt Elizabeth and her son William Mclachlan ( the name being on the back of each ).The next time I write I shall try and have more to send. When you write you might send as many as are at your command. If you could send your Mother's, I would let my father see it before he dies, as the two were very good friends in the old days. I would give a great deal to see your mother in the flesh and if she was within a day or two's journey I would be off at once to visit her. In conclusion I must ask you to keep me in mind to your brothers, John, Hugh, and James and to your sisters Catherine, Janet and also your mother, husband and family and other inquiring friends. My brothers, sisters and my family all unite in sending their kind wishes. Meantime waiting with impatience for your reply, I remain Dear Mrs. Reid:

Your affectionate cousin Mary Currie

Give my compliments to John and Mrs. McCallum.

 

Brookfield Cottage
Kilbarchan, Scotland
31, August, 1880

Dear Cousin,
I have no doubt you will think I am a very slow coach in taking such a length of time to acknowledge your very welcome and excellent letter. Many a time I felt impelled to sit down to write, but suddenly put the matter off till another day, with the result which usually follows in the wake of procrastination. In looking about therefore for a scapegoat, I am afraid I cannot find a more satisfactory one than, Procrastination, the great thief of time.

But after all perhaps you were not urgent for a reply, seeing that the long spell of silence between us had already been broken, and that we had once more looked on each other's face. I need hardly assure you that your last letter possessed an interest for me, very much enhanced by the excellent photographs which accompanied it. It was to me a rare treat to look once more on the features of your venerable mother. Whenever I saw her card I knew her, altho' time seems to have been busy making deep furrows on her silvered brow. I think, I could also have detected your brother John, if I had met him in a crowd, but as for yourself I must confess that I would have been rather perplexed if you had accosted me on the street and asked me if I knew you.

I was very happy to notice from the photographs that you and John have both such interesting and large families. It is a great treat to look at you both, surrounded by such stalwart sons and good-looking daughters, who will no doubt be a great consolation and comfort to their parents, when the burden of years begins to press heavily on them. In your letter you expressed a hope that I would show your mother's card to my father, but that hope could not be realized, for my father passed away on the 11th of January last, which was about a month before I received your last letter. It was always a strong hope and desire of mine to nurse him in his last illness but my instructions were not properly carried out, for I was not aware that his end was so near, and the first intimation I got of anything being seriously wrong was a telegram announceing his death. I went home to Clachan on the day before his funeral and saw all the arrangements completed. My brothers John and Neil and my son Duncan went to Clachan on the forenoon of the funeral and were present at it. There was a numerous turn out at the funeral, numbers coming long distances to be present to show their respect. His ashes were laid in Clachan churchyard.

The sacred storehouse of his predecessors

And guardian of their bones.

He was laid in the same grave as my mother so that they will now rest together in Clachan 'till the
great Resurrection morn.

I visited the churchyard on the afternoon of the funeral and saw the grave closed up. Clachan churchyard is for me a hallowed spot and when I stood in it and looked around on the graves of young and old I had my feelings softened and my thoughts deepened. On both sides of me the burns trickled past and so to speak, hushed to still deeper sleep those lying in the silent graves, beneath my feet.

" Each in his narrow cell forever laid
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."
" For them no more, the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
No children run to lisp their sire's return
Or climb his knees, the envied kiss to share. "
" Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield
Their furrow oft the stubborn glade has broke
How jocund did they drive their team afield
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke. "

There is a large stone over my father's grave and as the inscription on it may possess some interest for you, I send you below a copy of it. Part of it is in English and part in Latin:

" Here lies Mulmorich Darroch, person, was in Kilcalmonell, who died 10th March 1638, aged 63, and served the cure."
_________________
Moricuis D hic situs est voce fideli quie docuit populum
nuncia letas die.
Memento mori
_________________
Renewed by John and Archibald Darroch, 1864

My brothers caused Dugald Glen to renew the lettering on the stone and make it legible in 1864 - which is the meaning of the paragraph relating to that circumstance. In case the Latin portion should perplex you my son has translated it into English as follows,

" Mulmorich Darroch is buried here, who with a faithful voice, taught the people for a long time the glad tidings "
" They must remember that they die. "

In my father's family bible he has noted the date of his own and family's births and as they may have some interest for you, for the sake of comparison, I append a copy of them.

Duncan Darroch born February 26th 1796
Mary Darroch born April 27th 1825
Anne Darroch born December 7th 1827
Neil Darroch born April 17th 1830
Kate Darroch born May 2nd 1832
John Darroch born July 2nd 1834
Duncan Darroch born January 29th 1838
Marion Darroch February 8th 1840
Archibald Darroch born April 3rd 1843

I may only add my father passed away respected by all who knew him. He led a blameless, inoffensive and quiet life, his walk and conversation was that of a devout Christian and he was able to say like Paul " for me to live is Christ and to die is gain "

My brother Archie paid me a visit shortly since, and I asked him if he remembered the expression about a dog's generation, but it was quite a new phase to him, he having no recollection of it at all. But although that phrase has vanished from memory's storehouse, still he has a vivid recollection of other matters equally remote. He instantly knew your mother's and brothers' portraits, but he was not so sure of yours because you being young on leaving, your features will have gone more change than the rest.

Archie further told me that he remembers quite clearly the morning you left Dunskeig. You went off early in the morning and when he wakened he immediately started off for Dundkeig. When he got there he found of course that you were all gone and he was able to depict on the ground, the footprints which you all had left behind at your departure. When he saw these footprints and the stillness and gloom reigning over your empty house, which was all bustle only the day before and in which he had spent so many happy days, many pleasant memories crowded in upon his mind 'till his little heart was like to burst, and the only relief he got was to shed copious tears. After surveying your house in all its mournful stillness, he retraced his steps to the village under a feeling of great loneliness. He remembers all this quite distinctly, just ads if they were the incidents of yesterday.

I don't think you knew Mrs. Mathieson, the wife of the Innkeeper of Clachan but you will at least have likely heard of her from some of the Clachan folks in your locality who left this country in recent times. Well, poor body, she is dead. She died in Dunoon shortly since, to which place she had gone for the sake of having medical advice readily accessible. The Innkeeper purchased a house in that town some time ago and during the summer let a portion of it to seaside visitors. It also gave his daughters a better opportunity of acquiring a good and fashionable education such as a knowledge of music, which Clachan with all its progress cannot yet furnish. A melancholy thing with her death is this; that one of her daughters, who was assisting to nurse her, received such a shock, when her mother breathed her last, that on the following day the poor girl herself, died quite suddenly. The Clachan people, especially the poor, lament Mrs. Mathieson's death loudly, because she was a very tender and kind hearted woman, and was ever ready to give to the poor. Mr. Mathieson was her second husband and was formerly a foreman at Stewartfield. Her first husband was a Mr. McKinven, who many years ago drowned himself in Loch Ciaran.

When Archie was here last, he told me that little Archie McAlister is still in Pollok's employment and living down at Lagnagorchim. He is married, I understand and has one son.

The Clachan church is undergoing extensive repairs inside and outside. They are taking all the seats out and putting in new ones and a wall is to be built around the whole churchyard. The prencentor's desk which your father used to fill is now occupied by Coll McKechnie but although he has officiated for some years he very often breaks down and makes a mess of the hymns. The beadle of the church is more famous than the precentor, for he is no less a person than the celebrated and ever young John Kerr. John is still very simple minded and is made a butt by all the young men of the village.

Old Mrs. McAlister, the widow of the smith and sister of John McCallum, is confined to bed and very ill at the present time. She is living in the attic above her son John's home. The Laird of Balinakill built a new smithy and house for young John McAlister on the site of the old one and it is really a very handsome and commodious structure. The other smith, the Harts are all gone now, Baldy, Angus and their father, so that John McAlister has all the work of the countryside.

You will notice that my address is a new one. I sold my house in Paisley and removed to Kilbarchan, which is five miles west from Paisley and is a fine healthy country district. Having been reared in the country and there being no necessity for my staying in the town since I gave up business, I had a strong desire to retire into the country in the evening of my life. I have a nice cottage of 7 apartments and a large garden and the house has the green fields on all sides of it. It is a splendid place in summer but as regards its character in winter I shall know better six months hence.

I get papers from you and your brother for which I am obliged. They afford very interesting reading. I sent you a paper the other day with a piece of heather enclosed which was off Dunskeig. I shall send more in another paper in case the former does not reach you. I shall try and get a root of heather for you, which you could plant as a memento of your native hills.

I send you some portraits along with this letter, for division among your brothers John and Hugh and yourself, in return for the portraits you and they sent. In the portrait of my daughter and her husband and child, it is her second baby Mary Killoch who is seated on her knee, her first baby Mary Darroch having died a couple of years since in the midst of her teething.

I forgot to mention in my last letter, that your cousin George Menzies, Mary McAlpine's half brother died awhile ago. He has left a widow, but no family. He was a gardener at Scotston, just beside the place Archie resides in. He was very upright and religious and was much thought of.

I wonder if you ever come in contact with the McBrydes and if you know anything about them. I have the addresses of two of them beside me, but it is an old story and they may not be at the places mentioned now. The addresses I have are as follows.

Mr. John McBryde
Caledon
3rd line, 3rd lot
Cheltenham Post Office
Upper Canada

Mr. Malcolm McBryde
Westminster
County of Wellington,
Tempo Post Office
Canada West

I was asking Archie about David Connell and I ascertained that he is working away at his trade as a tailor and lives in Glasgow. Archie sees him often and he tells me that David is sometimes to be seen at the corner of Broomilan Bridge of Glasgow, preaching in the open air in Gaelic to the Highlanders who congregate every Sabbath at that bridge.

I am afraid your patience will be too severely tried before you reach this point of my letter, so I think I shall best consult your comfort and temper by drawing the letter to a conclusion, and in doing so I must not neglect to say that I have very great pleasure in writing you, and am very sorry that I put it off so long. However I beg of you not to follow my bad example but to write me the first opportunity you get. Remember me to your mother and brothers and sisters and I may add that Archie left a special message with me to send you all his affectionate regards when I should write. My family all unite in sending you their best compliments and also to all other friends within reach of you.
I think you will now experience a feeling of relief when I have at last reached the point of subscribing myself.

Your affectionate cousin
Mary Currie.

 

Brookfield Cottage
Kilbarchan, Scotland
20 May 1881.

Dear cousin,
You are aware of course that poor human nature is beset by numerous weaknesses, and that one of these weaknesses which is exceedingly common is a great readiness to make promises and an equally great unwillingness or perhaps carelessness in fulfilling them. Well, as I am just one of erring humanity, I also have my weaknesses and one that I think is very prominent in me, is that referred to above for although I have little recollection of what I wrote you in my last letter, one thing I do remember and that is that I would be more punctual in answering your letters in future. For all that, here I am answering your letter nearly six months after it was received. I really do not know what excuse to offer, for the simple reason that I am totally without a good and valid one. I might have taken a couple of hours at any time and dashed of a reply, but it was not done, so that the most sensible thing that I can do now is to refrain from crying over spilt milk, which is always a very silly thing to do. However it is sometimes a great advantage to let a letter lie for a few months extra, for at the end of that time, something turns up to afford one a subject to write upon. How I can make this letter interesting is to me a very puzzling question, for my stock of news, never at any time great, was completely cleared out on the occasion I last wrote you. So here I am at the end of the second page and not knowing what I am to say in the least, just knocking about like a ship at sea, without a rudder or like a minister beginning a sermon without having any text or knowing what he can get to say. I once heard a lecture that had as its subject " Nothing ", a short and simple title sure enough, but a difficult subject to speak on just the same. The subject was handled admirably and although the subject of my present discourse is the same, still I cannot make the slightest pretence to get on with it in the successful manner that the lecturer referred to did. However I shall just struggle along in the best way I can, trusting to some subjects turning up as I write and with the full assurance that you will put the strength of my willingness against the defectiveness of the deed.

I got your welcome letter in due course and it was full of interest. I also got the cartes you so kindly sent all as referred to in your letter. I sent my sister Catherine the one that was sent for her, and she was very proud of it. I also got the group containing your sisters and yourself. I would not have known your sisters, still I think I could identify them too from a strong resemblance they bear to Aunts my father had in Clachan, the Harts and the McAlpins.

I got too the one of yourself when you were sweet 18 or rather 22 1/2 and the curious thing is, that I would not have known you from it, although I can make you out quite well in the groups with your sisters and family, and in your other single carte which you sent my daughter. The other cartes were those my son got, so artistically done up in embroidery, of your daughters, Misses Mary and Kate, who are both modest, sensible and nice looking young ladies, and of whom you have every reason to feel proud. Then there is George Walker's card and he appears to be a fine big jolly fellow. I am glad to notice that you give him such a good character for thrift and other good qualities. Being a son of my namesake, I would be very sorry it were otherwise and it will always give me much pleasure to hear of his well-doing and success, for the sake of his poor mother of whose loving care and temder watchfulness and interest, he was so suddenly and sadly deprived.
Then I think it was through you I got the portrait of your nephew John Darroch and young wife. That I think concludes the list of cards received and although I have a very fair collection now, still there is abundance of room left in my album for a lot yet.

You mention in your letter that your brother John had written me. I got his letter all right, and in it he promised to pay us a visit soon, but he has not yet managed to do it. I wrote him the other day and gave him a pretty good scolding for his lack of patriotism, in being so indifferent about the scenes and associations of his early life. I spoke pretty plainly to him and struck right out from the shoulder, so that I hope the words of admonition I gave him will not fall on stony ground, but rather on good ground, so as to produce some result. Perhaps he has some reluctance to loosen his purse strings but I am not going to think so shabbily of him as that, for I am blaming the severe winter for his failure in turning up. It was an unusually severe and stormy winter on the Atlantic and it is just possible that a voyage across the herring pond had a little of the dread to him that it had to an old woman of whom the following story is told. The old woman was going to America and on her first day at sea just as darkness was setting in, she sought out the captain of the ship, and insisted that during the voyage he should always keep the vessel close into the side at night. The captain in order to calm the old woman's fears, promised her that he would do that and that every night he would tie the ship to a milestone. Of course, your brother's fears do not exist to the same exaggerated extent, as the old woman's did but perhaps he entertains them in a modified degree.

The winter in Canada was I understand the most severe that you have encountered since you went there, for I see in our papers here, from letters in the state of Iowa, that it was the worst winter for the last 37 years, and that is saying a great deal for its severity. The temperature I understand was often 27 degree below zero, which is equal to 59 degrees of frost. In such a temperature you must keep your stoves going very cheerfully, I suppose and you would need to have very comfortable houses. The worst we have had for many years, for about two months the temperature kept a good bit below the freezing point, and on two or three occasions, only for a day at a time perhaps, it went down to about 59 degrees of frost. The difference between there and here is of course this, that for long stretches of time you would have the above excessive cold, where as with us it would only last for a day at a time.

I had a letter from John McCallum but he does not say that he was at Minto last fall or winter. Very likely the weather would prevent him, but beyond the fact that he and the rest are all well, there was no news in his letter. You make mention of a small farm which is for sale near your place. I have not seen Archie to speak specially about it to him, but I sent, by messenger, all the news in your letter. I think he has dollars enough to buy some such small place if it was cheap, but as they are likely to get cheaper as time passes, perhaps he will lose nothing by waiting. Had he been single handed, he would not have required to hesitate a moment, for being a splendid ploughman and conversant with all farm work, and some capital in his possession, such a person is just the one that is wanted in Canada, or in the north-west states of America, such as Dakota or Iowa, and such a person is sure to meet with success, if one is to rely on published reports and on the testimony of settlers. But then he is not unencumbered as he is gathering round him a little colony of Darroch's so he must look at the question in all its bearings. Of course, whatever he does will be on his own responsibility, so that he will have nobody either to thank or blame. But my opinion is that he will stay where he is, as the notion of doing something decisive has, I am afraid, either cooled down or left him entirely. I would like it were otherwise for here it will be a continual toil all his days. Of course, in the States or Canada, it would be just the same, toiling from morning till night, the only difference being, that the reward in the one case would be far greater than the other.

You suggest that I should take a trip across to Canada. Well, it is really too bad of you to ask an old woman like me to undertake a journey of 3000 or 4000 miles to a country I never saw, but I would like to ask you a very simple question. What is to hinder you from coming across here to see your native place? Whereas I am a stiff old woman. I think you should just make up your mind to come next fall, and I shall be delighted to be your hostess for as long as you can find it convenient to stay. I shall also undertake to go home to Clachan, along with you, for a fortnight or longer if you like. I don't think Mr. Reed will grudge you a return ticket, for he looks a sort of easy kind-hearted man. A single ticket might do, for I think if I had you once across, I might not care about letting you go back at all. I shall just consider, then that you are to be here in the fall and I shall be keeping a sharp look out for you when the time comes. You see you must consider that travelling is now a very different thing, from what it was 30 years ago. You will likely have a railway track from your place to Toronto and from that place you will get a steamer down the St. Lawrence, and before you had time to look well about you, you would pass Islay on the larboard side of the steamer, then slip around the Mull of Kintyre and go right up to Greenock or Glasgow. The whole thing is so easily done that you would never think it was so simple till you try it in the fall. A train is got from Greenock up to Glasgow and from Glasgow another is got, which in thirty minutes will leave you within ten minutes' walk of my house. In the Highlands too, travelling is nowadays, shipped of all its discomfort, and it is also very cheap. For example, a person going from Glasgow to Clachan hardly needs to walk 50 yards; as splendid conveyances are got all the way. This is how the journey is now made. You join the steamer " Columbia " in Glasgow at 7 o'clock A.M. and this steamer is a perfect palace for grandeur. The steamer reaches Greenock at 9, and a lot of passengers who leave Glasgow ( by rail and one hour behind her ) join her here. Those taking this course avoid the unpleasant odours of the Clyde above Greenock and also because they do not require to leave Glasgow at such an early hour. The steamer then goes away through the beautiful Kyles of Bute and reaches Tarbert at 12 o'clock. A coach is waiting at the pier to go right on to Campbelton, and this coach passes through Clachan at 2 o'clock. So that in 6 hours after leaving Glasgow, you step out of the coach at Clachan Inn, or rather Ronachan Inn is its name, and the first person you would see in John Kerr, with his bare head and shoemaker's apron on, for the Sheriff having little to do, or rather desiring to do little, is always sure to be on the alert when the coach arrives. The whole of the journey costs from Glasgow to Clachan 1 dollar and 36 cents.

When the " Columbia " arrives in Tarbert, you can get to Clachan another way. A coach takes you to West Loch Tarbert, you there join the Islay steamer, which plies daily, and sail down West Loch Tarbert, one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland and are put ashore at the ferry below Dunskeig. I can pronounce the name of the ferry but these Highland names puzzle me to spell them, though it is something like Portschelion. I think you will easily recognise from what I have said, that your trip in the fall, can be speedily and comfortably accomplished.

You drew my attention to the fact that I had omitted to allude in my last letter to little Nanny Glen. Well nanny is living yet and likely to do so for a good while yet, although she has her little bit touts now and again. She is pretty often troubled with her stomach and is sometimes confined to bed on that account. She lives alone in a very small apartment, which suits her gigantic proportions quite well. Of course she is a very poor creature and gets I think, some 50 cents from the parish authorities each week. She also goes out among the farmers to take care of children whose mothers are too busy to bestow the necessary amount of attention on them, and she is always a great favourite among the children. On such occasions she of course, gets her board and a small allowance besides. So it is in that way that Nanny contrives to get an existence. Many years ago she called on me in Paisley, and nearly all the children of the town kept following at her heels, each bent on seeing " The Wee Wife " as they called her. She created a great sensation among the youngsters of the town, and while she was in my house, my door was continually besieged by hundreds of delighted children. You were saying you wrote Nanny twice and got no answer. Well, you are not to feel disappointed or angry at Nanny for that, for the poor thing would perhaps not be able to afford 5 cents for postage. If you had enclosed a dollar for her, I think she would have promptly answered you, at least you can try the experiment if you like and you will see if I am right in my conjecture.

A long time ago Mary McAlpine gave my son particulars of the manner in which John was deprived of his farm, and which at his death, he was taking steps to recover. These particulars she got from your sister Janet, and it appears that the man who is in possession, got the farm in John McAlpine's absence and on swearing false affidavits regarding the improvements which John had effected on the land. Your sister says that John complied with the act as regards improvement and cultivation of the land and that her husband and another man went before the Crown Land Agent to make affidavits in John McAlpine's favour. The whole proceedings however, came to an abrupt termination through John's death. My son is going to reopen the matter by writing the man in possession, to compromise Mary McAlpine's claim or failing that to give power of attorney to some person or agent in the locality to prosecute her claim to the value of the lot at her brother's death. Your sister promised to give all the information she could in establishing her claim. I think your sister's address is, Mrs.Robt Brown, Port Sydney, P.O. District of Muskoka, Ontario. If anything can be got out of it for Mary, it will be a great boon to her, and, that is the reason it is worth while reopening the matter and making an effort in the poor creature's interest.

Since writing you last my daughter's only child died, a small interesting little girl of upwards a year old. She dwindled away under the severity of her teething.

I shall have a new address after the 28th of this month, as I have bought a house in Lochwinnoch and shall be moving to it on Whitsunday. Lochwinnoch is only 4 miles west of Kilbarchan, so I am not going far away. Where I am is a nice country place, but the house is a very cold winter house, and it is 10 minutes walk from Milliken Park station, which is the nearest railway station to it. You would not likely consider 1 1/2 miles a great distance from a station, but we look on it as such here. The house in Lochwinnoch turned up in the market for sale, and as it is only half a mile from the station and much more commodious than the one I am in at present, I will therefore be; M. Currie, Mona Villa, Lochwinnoch, Scotland.

I send by this newspaper post a report of the trial to involve the Laird of Balinakill in a heavy money payment. The evidence explains the case so there is no use in me going into particulars. Even though the Laird loses, it will not ruin him, although it might ruin any ordinary man. I hear it is said, that he is a millionaire, or in other words, that he is worth five millions of dollars, so if that is true, he could easily pay the amount of the claim without feeling it very much. His cartoon appears in the " Glasgow Bailie ", and I send it to you along with this.

I enclose you an old Carte of mine taken I think upwards of 10 years ago, but the only use of it will be to you is that it will help fill up the Scotch department of your album.

Another carte I enclose is that of a few of the members of the Clachan company of the Argyllshire Artillery Volunteers. This company used to be very strong in numbers as all the young men of Clachan were members of it, but it gradually dwindled down and finally ceased to exist some time ago. Some of the young fellows in the spirit of fun, got John Kerr's name enrolled as a member, so John continued to be a volunteer until a few years ago. The joke however was not carried so far as to make him an officer but he remained, what I might call a full private or perhaps rather a fool private. He could never learn the drill being so thick-headed as hardly to know his right foot from his left. A few of the artillerymen got their portraits taken in a group, by a travelling photographer who was passing through Clachan. John Kerr being, of course in the group. I knew that the carte was in Clachan, and I wrote for it and got a Paisley photographer to make a copy of it and in that way, I am able to send it to you. You will notice there are six artillerymen in the group, and if you glance your eyes to the left of the group I shall describe then all and shall begin at the left side -

  • 1st - George Mathieson of Ronachan Inn, Clachan, standing on the extreme left, leaning on the sword, he being lieutenant of the company. I hear that Mathieson is going to the States or Canada next month to start farming. He is reputed to be a man of means and having been the foreman at Stewartfield, he must be a good farmer. He belongs to Aberdeen in Scotland.
  • 2nd - Neil Robertson, stands next to Mathieson. He was a corporal in the company, and so has stripes on his arms. He is a son of Neil Robertson, who was murdered up past Bravalli. His mother died fully a year ago. His sister lives in Greenock shortly since where she was married.
  • 3rd - John McCallum who is now in Toronto.
  • 4th - JOHN KERR, comes next and as he is so important a person, you will see I have honoured him with capital letters.
    You will notice he stand as straight as a rush, and looks every inch a soldier. Observe how neat his feet are. They are small compared with the feet of the others, and john takes great pride in that.
  • 5th - Archie McCallum, a son of John McCallum's sister Mary.
  • 6th - Duncan Kerr, son of the great John Kerr. He is a shepherd at Stewartfied and he and his father live together, both of them old bachelors. John acts as housekeeper and does all the washing of clothes, cooking and baking, but perhaps the least said about the washing the better.

That completes the lot. I think now that I should be making some signs of closing, as I don't know anything else I can write you about. I send you three cartes of myself and two of my father that you may give them to your sisters Janet and Catherine. You asked me to tell my sister Catherine to write to your sister Catherine and you gave her address, but you forgot to give her full name, as her maiden name would likely not find her. We all unite in sending our kindest regards to all friends within reach of you and we shall be glad to hear how all of you are getting on the first time you have a spare hour to write.

I remain,Your affectionate cousin,
Mary Currie.

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