The following John Wilson letter and autobiography is compliments of Anne Wilson-Dooley, Aurora, IL. The section headings were added and are not part of the original text. The originals (Folder VF-84-4), donated by Mrs. D. Edwin (Anne) Pettit, are at the Sangamon Valley Collection, Lincoln Library, 326 South 7th Street, Springfield, IL 62701.


John Wilson Letter to Scotland

Riverton, IL
Written Feb 1884

My Dear Friend

You will be a little surprised when you receive this letter and find who it is from. I have had no correspondence with any one in Scotland for many years. For a year or more I have been thinking of writing to some of my old acquaintances and have concluded to write to you hoping that you will receive it in the same spirit of friendship and good will in which I write it. When an individual or family leaves their native land and goes to some foreign clime they may soon be forgotten by the friends that they left but they never forget the land of their birth and their early associates. When I left Scotlands shore it was my intention to return on a visit in a few years but circumstances which I was unable to control and which would be useless for me to explain prevented me from returning and caused a radical change in my arrangements for the future.

We are short sighted and changeable beings. Truly it may be said that man proposes but God disposes. May we always submit cheerfully to His guidance who doth all things well.


On the 16th day of next month will be Forty years since we sailed on the steamboat from Annan. A great many changes have taken place with families and natives during that time. Our company numbered seventeen and all arrived safely in the land of their adoption. Since then nine of the number have gone to their rest and only eight remain in this vale of tears. When I left Scotland I had a very imperfect knowledge of the country to which I was going. I imagined that it was inhabited by wild and savage Indians entirely outside of civilization but was agreeably disappointed. I found the country inhabited by Europeans and their descendants. An intelligent and hospitable class of people. The poor Indian had then been driven farther west. You have heard so much about Illinois that it would be unnecessary to give you a very minute description of it. It is nearly twice as large as Scotland having an area of 55,400 square miles. The surface of the state is generally level. In the south part are extensive forests, but in the centre where we live and north of us are large prairies interspersed with woodland, and like the plain that Lot chose it is fertile and well watered. It is an agricultural state although there are some manufacturing establishments they are not as extensive as in some of the other States of the Union. The surface being so level makes it easy to construct rail roads and we have them running in all directions. There are more miles of rail roads in Illinois than any other state in the Union. And although it is comparatively a young state it is the fourth in population and at no distant day will be second only to New York.

Chicago, Slaughter and Progress

The city of Chicago, with a population of over 500,000 is situated in the northern part of the state on Lake Michigan, it is our market for all our surplus grain and stock. It is the greatest stock and grain market in the world. The facilities they have for handling stock and grain are immense. There are firms there that slaughter swine and cattle every day in the year. Through the winter season they slaughter larger numbers than they do in the summer. The stock are all shipped there alive and sold by live weight. Swine sell at about 6 cents per lb at present and cattle about the same. There are several firms in the city that can slaughter and pack from 6 to 7 thousand swine a day. In the winter season it is nothing unusual to have fifty thousand swine on the market in one day. Chicago rules our market, New York rules Chicago and Liverpool rules New York. There must not be much variation as all the business centers get the news from all parts of the world every day. It is wonderful the progress that has been made by scientific men within the last few years. The Telegraph is a wonderful invention. People wonder now how the different nations of the world ever got along without it. When O’Donnell was executed at London at 8 o'clock a.m. the Illinois newspapers published an account of it at 4 a.m. the same morning. Next came the Telephone. I think more wonderful still how men can talk to each other hundreds of miles apart. We live in a fast age.

Religion, Progress and the Presbyterian Church

I hardly know whether religion has been making progress equal to science during the last few years or not. A number of scientific men have been trying to prove the Bible false. That they will never be able to do. There can be no new discoveries in religion the Bible is the same in all ages. And the solid doctrines of the Presbyterian church can not be improved. The church has a great work before it. The conversion of the world to bring all men under her benign influence and teach them the truth. May the day speedily come when these things shall be accomplished.

When we came to this country there was no Presbyterian church nearer to us than Springfield a distance of nine miles. We were glad to find a church even at that distance that preached the same doctrine and their forms very much resembled the Kirk of Scotland. A few months after our arrival we united with the church in Springfield. My father had a letter from Rev. Mr. Brown of Lochmaben written by his own hand, all the family were included in it. It was a long letter. I remembered well the day he handed it to the session of the church. The minister read it before the session. When reading it he would stop occasionally and exclaim, It is a good letter. We remained members of that church until the year 1857 when Presbytery organized a church at a small town in our neighborhood consisting of 12 members. Father and his relations included most all of them. We then built a house at a cost of $1400, about the one half of that amount we raised by subscription in the neighborhood. The other half brother Thos. and I paid. There are so many different religious sects around us that makes it very difficult to build up a Presbyterian church. Our congregation has never numbered more than 40 members. Not able to support a minister we have generally had a minister one half of his time and then his salary would cost me from 60 to 70 dollars a year. I am sorry to say that our little church is not in very prosperous condition.


I will now try to explain to you how our schools are sustained. When the general government surveys a new territory they lay it out into what they call Townships 6 miles square, then they divide the Township into sections 1 mile square and number the sections from 1 to 36 and donate the 16th section to every Township for school purposes. Each Township elects 3 trustees to take care of the school property and to divide the Township into school districts, to suit the convenience of the inhabitants of the Township. Then the inhabitants of each district elect 3 directors to build school houses, engage teachers, and have full control of the schools in their respective districts, it is their duty to build school houses sufficient to accommodate all the children between the ages of 6 and 21 and locate them at some point where a majority of the inhabitants of the district shall designate. When the school section is sold the proceeds are loaned at not less than 6 nor more than 8 per cent per annum. The interest only can be used to defray expenses. It is divided to the different districts in proportion to the number of children under 21 years of age. If more money is needed the directors levies a direct tax on all the properties in the district. The trustees appoint a treasurer that has charge of all the school fund in the Township. I have held that position for the last twenty six years. It is not a very lucrative office although its a responsible one. I pay all the teachers and all the school expenses in the Township. I receive and pay out about 5 thousand dollars a year. Our free school system is an excellent one. It makes ample provision for the education of every child in the State.

Family History

I will now give you a short history of my family. For various reasons I did’nt marry as young as some do. In my young days poverty was an insurmountable obstacle in my way. I never could get the consent of my own mind to take a young lady from a good home while I had no prospect of providing for her comfort in any way equal to what her parents had done, therefore, I waited. I was married on the 30th of Jany 1851. If I had waited two years longer I would have been 30 years old. The lady I married was born and raised in Illinois, but she has no mixture of Indian or Negro blood in her veins. She is of the pure Caucasian race about 2 years younger than I. By keeping two bears in our house (i.e. Bear & Forbear) we have lived a very agreeable life. We have three children, one daughter and two sons. Our daughter the oldest is married and lives in the State of Nebraska 5 or 6 hundred miles west of us. Her husband is a farmer. Our oldest son did’nt incline to be a farmer so we gave him a classical education. He attended college in the State of New York and graduated there. He then attended medical college in Chicago and graduated there. He is now a Professor in a college in the state of Wisconsin about 400 miles North of us. He is unmarried. Our youngest son is married and lives on a farm one mile from us. Our family is not very numerous but it is pretty well scattered. Mrs. Wilson and I are all alone at present. We have a hired man, he has a family. We furnish him a house and he boards himself (pay him 20 dolls a month). We generally keep a girl to do the house work we pay her 2 dolls a week. It is not as easy to get help in this country as it used to be in Scotland when I lived there. The laboring class here are very independent especially the female part of it.

Memories and Questions of Scotland

I will now ask you a few questions that may bring some things to your mind that you have forgotten long ago. Do you remember when you and I went home with two young ladies from the Lamb fair remained all night and went to the races the next day? Do you remember when we went to a galile (?) woman near the Loch and did not meet with a very friendly reception? Do you remember when we met on the hill about midway between your home and mine? Probably you never knew that you had taken my choice before I got there. Do remember when we went to the foot of the wood where there were 3 young ladies as lively as crickets. What do you know about all those that were young ladies at that time? Do you know how many of them are living and where they live.

Invitation to Visit, War, and Agriculture

Before closing this letter I wish to extent to you a cordial invitation to make us a visit. If you have a few pounds to spare and could spend 2 or 3 months I think you would find it an enjoyable trip to come and see this country. I would consider it one of the greatest pleasures of my life to entertain you a few weeks. There are a number of Scotch folks living within 20 miles of us that you could enjoy yourself with. They are all doing well, some of them are getting rich. You would see a great country. Great in natural resources. Great in benevolence. Great in scientific and mechanical inventions. And great in agricultural production. We can raise bread and meat for the needy in all parts of the world. Some of the nations of Europe think that they can get along without any of our surplus. France and Germany have prohibited the importation of our swine products into their countries. Our Congress will probably retaliate by prohibiting their adulterated wines which they ship in large quantity to this country. If China should declare war against France it might cause the Frenchman to change his opinion about American pork. They might need it. Although a European war would advance the price of our produce I have no desire to have our income increased by that means. War is a barbarous custom. Since peace on earth and good will to men have been proclaimed from heaven Christian nations, at least, ought to avoid war. We use swine flesh very freely. A few weeks ago we butchered 10 swine for our own use. That is strong evidence that we are not afraid to eat American pork. I have sometimes heard my Father tell a story about wee Davie of the Hightae (Father to the one that you and I were acquainted with) killing a swine and he said he was going to eat it every inch and sell the hams. We can bet that we eat ours every inch hams and all


John Wilson Autobiography

Riverton, IL

I, John Wilson was born of industrious and respectable parents on the first day of Feb, A.D. 1821 on a farm named Bush in the Parish of Lochmaben, Dumfrieshire, Scotland.


Of my ancestors I have nothing farther back than my paternal grandfather. He was left an orphan and thrown on his own resources when quite young. He hired to a farmer to do chores on the farm and when he became of proper age he bound himself as an apprentice to a gardener to learn the business. That was a very important trade in Scotland, almost all the rich men that owned estates took great pride in a fine garden and lawn, containing all kinds of fruit, vegetable, flowers shrubbery etc. It required a man of ability and good judgment to take charge of such a place. At the end of grandfather’s apprenticeship when he had become master of the business he engaged to a gentleman at a place called Arbigland about 15 miles south of Dumfries to oversee his garden and pleasure grounds. There he became acquainted with my grandmother, one of the housemaids named Ann Caldwell. She was born and brought up in the east part of Scotland. None of her relations lived in our part of the country therefore I never was acquainted with any of them.

Maryholm Years

A few years after their marriage grandfather leased the Maryholm, a small farm of 18 acres close to Dumfries. He paid a yearly rent of 36 pounds sterling equal to 10 dolls an acre. Few persons in Scotland had more than one Christian name therefore it became almost necessary to have a name for each farm so that a letter could be addressed to the farm where the person addressed resided. In addressing a letter we put on the name of the farm as we do the street and number in addressing anyone in the city. Grandfather’s advantages for an education were limited but he was a careful and active business man, social in his nature, made friends wherever he went. He had two children, one daughter, Nellie, and one son James, my father, born June 24, 1785. The daughter after finishing her education helped her parents at such work as suited her such as going to market. James attended school in Dumfries as long as they lived at Maryholm. When attending school the great Scotch Poet Robert Burns died in Dumfries. My father joined the large procession at the funeral and went with it to the grave in St. Michael’s Church yard where the body of the great poet was laid to rest. The years that grandfather and family spent at Maryholm were the happiest years of their lives. It might be truly said that they enjoyed peace and plenty. After paying all their dues they were able to lay up something for a rainy day.

Bush Years and Farming in Scotland

When the lease expired Grandfather was unable to have it renewed although he would have doubled the rent. He then leased the Bush where I was born, a farm of 100 acres, at an yearly rent of 100 pounds 5 dolls per acre. The farm lay on the river Annan. The land near the river was good, but back from the river there were considerable poor land. There was a nice garden at the house that took grandfather’s attention, he being a gardener by trade. I have heard father say the garden was what induced him to rent the farm. It contained all kinds of fruit. I remember that grandfather had a little brick cottage built in the garden where he slept during the fruit season to watch it. The boys there were taught the moral law both by precept and example but sometimes they would forget their training and Grandfather thought it no harm to watch them. Before they left Maryholm Aunt Nellie was married to Adam Nicholson, they lived in Dumfries, he was a brewer by trade like many others he tasted the beer too often for his own good but he made a good living. They raised a family of four daughters and two sons well respected by their neighbors and acquaintances. In the month of May 1807 Grandfather, Grandmother and my father then 17 years old moved to the Bush. Father had attended school regularly up to that time. He had a good English education. He then commenced to work on the farm and worked hard the rest of his life. The buildings on the farm were comfortable but not fine, All built of stone and lime, The dwelling house was a story and half, three rooms below and three above. The roof was thatch, i,e, covered with straw, and all the other buildings were covered with the same material except the barn it was covered with slate. All the best houses in the country had slate roofs. A barn was used for grain only. We had stables for the horses and byers for cows, sheds for young cattle and houses for swine. All stock was housed in the winter. We wintered our cattle principly on straw, fed our horses oats and hay, fattened our swine on potatoes and ground oats, fattened sheep on turnips. We turned the sheep on the turnip field, had a movable fence and fenced off a few acres at one side of the field and when they ate all on that piece moved the fence back, gave them a bit more and kept on until they got over the field. Fed that way the turnips kept sound in the ground. We lived principly on oat meal and potato porridge and cake and milk for breakfast, soup and meat of some kind and potatoes and oat cake for dinner and porridge for supper. We never thought of having meat more than once a day. Had wheat bread on extra occasions when some of our friends came to tea. Wheat, oats, and barley were our principle grain the oats were fine, would weigh fifty pounds per bushel they had a longer season than they have in Illinois. We sowed them in March and harvested then in September. Harvest lasted about a month. Farmers generally engaged their harvest help for the time harvest lasted or for five weeks. Landlords bound their tenants in the lease to cultivate the land in a rotation of crops. Have the farm divided into five parts or fields. Have one in pasture, one in oats, one manured and planted in potatoes and turnips, one in wheat or barley, grass seed or clover sowed with the grain, one in grass to mow for hay. That ends the course. Then commence and put the pasture in oats and change each field so that each one is manured and put in potatoes with turnips every fifth year.

Family History

On the 16th of March 1810 Father and Jane Frood, born June 3rd 1785 (my mother) were married. She was brought up on a farm (the Bridgemoor) near Lochmaben. Her father died when she was young, left her mother with seven children, four girls and three boys. She carried on the farm until her death. Her oldest son and youngest daughter died unmarried. The others were married before her death. Aunt Janet Frood married Samuel McMinne and lived on a farm (Esbie). Had three sons and four daughters. Aunt Lellee Frood married George Rae and lived in the village of Hightae had five daughters and one son. Uncle John Frood married whom we called Aunt Aggie. I never knew her maiden name. He rented and lived on a farm (Cocketfield) in the parish of Tortherwald. He traded in horses to a considerable extent. He went with some horses to a fair at Carlisle in England, he had to cross the Solway a small branch of the sea. It could be forded when the tide was out. On his way home in the company with three men and one boy, all on horseback, they got caught in the tide were all drowned but the boy his horse took him to the shore. Uncle John left a widow and three sons. Uncle Thos Frood married Mary Murray. He was not very successful in business work by the year on a farm, he had one son and three daughters. When father married he took mother into the house with Grandfather and Grandmother, they lived as one family, Grandfather acting as head of the family until his death. During the French War it was a very exciting times in Scotland. Drafting for the army had become a common occurrence about the year 1814. Father was drafted. In the condition of his family it would have been a great sacrifice for him to have left home. The recruiting officer agreed to take 25 pounds sterling from any drafted man and he would provide a substitute. Father paid the money and received his discharge, it read as follows: Jas Wilson is hereby discharged having found a substitute signed by the officer. After father married he took charge of the farm, Grandfather tending to the garden and any little job about the place that suited him. With careful management they made a living and paid the rent but did not accumulate much property. At the close of the 15th year of the lease (the common length of lease was 15-19 or 21 years) they had it renewed and the rent reduced to 70 pounds a year. Father and Mother raised 8 children, six daughters and 2 sons all born at the Bush, Ann, Janet, Nellie and Thomas older than I, Mary, Lillie and Jane younger.

Church, the Family and Scotland

We were brought up under strict religious influences. Our forefathers all belonged to the Presbyterian Church. Father was an elder in the church before my remembrance and held the position until we left Scotland. Presbyterian is the Established Church of Scotland. The country is divided into Parishes, each one has a Church and Minister whose salary and all church expenses are paid by a fixed tax on the land of the Parish. There are several Presbyterian churches in Scotland that have seceded from the Established Church from time to time whose ministers are supported by the congregations as they are in Illinois. The largest secession from the Established Church at one time took place on the 18th day of May 1843 when a church became vacant some man had the power to appoint a minister to the church. The general assembly passed a resolution declaring that they would not ordain a Minister appointed to any church when a majority in the congregation was opposed to him as their minister. The minority would not submit to the resolution and applied to the Civil Court to compel them to ordain the appointee whether the congregation was willing or not. The judge decided that while the appellants were members of the Establishment they were appointed and paid by the State and they must perform the duties which the law of the land imposed upon them And Sir Robert Peel, then at the head of the Government, stated in a speech, I think it of the greatest importance that the spiritual authority of the Church should be restrained as it is restrained and made subordinate to Parliament. At the meeting of the general assembly a resolution was moved by Dr. Chalmers and passed pledging the Church to obey the civil courts in all matters of civil interest but firmly refusing their control in things spiritual. The result was that near 500 of the most talented Ministers in the Church gave up their Churches and livings, left the Establishment and formed the Free Church of Scotland. They soon formed congregations and Dr. Chalmers had a fund already raised by subscription so he could pay each one 120 pounds a year, therefore they did’nt feel very severely the loss of the Government support. Father and family went with the Free Church.

My Education

I and brother and sisters older than I got our education at the Parish school in Hightae, Mr Robert Hannah teacher (teachers were appointed for life). The schools were under the control of the Established Church. When a school became vacant the Parish minister advertised that on a certain day applicants for the school would be examined by a committee of ministers and the one that stood the best examination would get the school. They were well educated men qualified to fit their students for college. The schools were not entirely free. The teacher received a small salary and a fee from each scholar about 75 cents a quarter. Schools were in session the whole year except about 4 weeks in harvest and all week except Saturday afternoon. The last exercises before dismissing on Saturday, the whole school recited the shorter Catechism. The Bible and New Testament were used as text books in the school. Mr Hannah believed in using the rod. He had a strap of heavy leather that he called taws, it was about 1 1/2 inches wide and 2 feet long and split half way up the ends, hardened in the fire. He made the little fellows hold out their hand and he would come down on them pretty heavy. In the year 1825 Grandmother died and was buried in the church yard in the Parish of Kirkmahoe not far from Dumfries. I attended school from the time I was able to walk 1/4 of a mile until I was 11 years old. I studied reading, writing, and arithmetic with a little mensuration and book keeping thrown in.


When I was 11 years old father rented the farm of Carthat in the Parish of Lochmaben for the term of 19 years at a yearly rent of 12 pounds. It contained 200 acres about one half of it was almost worthless. It was what we called moorland covered with heather. We let our cattle and sheep range over it but it did’nt make much pasture. In May 1832 we left the Bush where father had spent 30 years of his best days and where all his children were born and moved to the Carthat. The farm belonged to the Marquis of Queensberry. He was a reckless gambling fellow spent his living in debauchery. He got so in debt that his creditors took everything that belonged to him that the law allowed them to take. He owned a large estate. It being entailed his creditors could’nt take the land but they drew the rents therefore he was not able to make any improvements on his farms compelling his tenants to keep up improvements. The buildings at the Carthat were very poor. It cost father considerable money to fix them up so they could be occupied. The farm was rather hilly and hard to cultivate and did’nt turn out a very profitable undertaking.

Family and Emigration to Illinois

In the autumn of 1832 Grandfather died at a good old age (85 years). His disease was something like asthma, he was buried by the side of Grandmother in the Parish of Kirkmahoe. Before we left the Bush sister Nellie was married to John Wright who owned some property in the Hightae and some land adjoining the village. A few years after we moved to the Carthat. Sister Janet was married to Thomas Richardson who was a landscape gardener, a few months after they were married he went to America. Janet remained at home for one year then went to her husband in New Haven Connecticut where he was engaged as a gardener to a Mr. Baldwin. After living there a few years he engaged with Col Mathers to go to Springfield, Illinois and take charge of his garden and grounds. Father corresponded regularly with them and their letters from Springfield contained such flattering accounts of Sangamon County and of Illinois generally that made John Wright feel that it would be better for his family for him to sell his little property and immigrate to Illinois. He and father consulted about the matter and they concluded that the Carthat was not paying more than expenses and Father would give up his lease and John Wright would sell his property and we would all start for Illinois. Before this time Sister Ann was married to Thomas Wright and had two children, John B. and James L. Brother Tom and Thos Wright went to New York. Ann and her children remained at home with the understanding that they would follow in one year. In the mean time Father and John Wright had made arrangements for us all to go to Illinois. Ann wrote to her husband that she would go with the family to Illinois if he would meet her there. He wrote that these arrangements were satisfactory and he would meet her in Illinois. But from some cause unknown to her he failed to meet her and she never heard from him afterwards. On the 16th of March 1844 Father and descendants 17 in number bade adieu to their native land and embarked for the far west. We took the steamboat at Annan for Liverpool. We were detained in Liverpool about one week. Then we got on board an old sail vessel and started to Illinois by way of New Orleans. After rather a pleasant voyage we landed all safe and sound at New Orleans on the 19th of May 1844 and by steamboat reached Beardstown on the 31st of may. The only Rail Road in Illinois at that time was from Springfield to Meredosia, it was run by mule power. It was a very rainy season and the roads from Beardstown to Springfield were almost impassable. We hired a man and wagon to bring the folks to Thos Richardson who was living on a farm 9 miles east from Springfield. Our baggage had to remain at Beardstown until the road dried after harvest.


When I left Scotland I had’nt formed a very high opinion of Illinois. I supposed it was outside civilization inhabited by an uncivilized people, but I was agreeably disappointed. I found the country inhabited by an intelligent and hospitable people and the general appearance of the country was much better than I had pictured in my own mind. The farmers generally lived in log cabins but appeared contented and were very sociable, not much wealth among them but enjoyed what they had free of them striving to get rich. We lived with T Richardson for 2 or 3 months, then John Wright bought a farm from Wm B. Ide a Morman preacher, 280 acres about 200 prairie and 80 timber. He paid about $4.50 an acre, about 150 acres were under fence and nearly all in cultivation. There were two cabins on the farm, not very fine buildings but tolerable comfortable and we felt well satisfied when we moved into them. We all lived together for about three years. John Wright and father were slow to adopt the customs of the country, everything was so different from what they had been used to. John Wright was not very old but Father was near 60 years old. I think it is hard for old people to leave the land of their birth and their old associates and go to a new country and form new acquaintances and become used to the customs of the country. John Wright gave me full control of the farm and all his business during the 3 years I lived with him. In the fall of 1847 he had learned the customs of the country so he could get along without my help. I then made arrangements with him for 80 acres of prairie land and moved on to it with Sister Ann to keep house for me. In the year 1850 I bought 80 acres of prairie land and 33 acres timber from Christopher C Mann at 10 dollars an acre. There was a log cabin on the land and 60 acres fenced and in cultivation.

Marriage and Family

On the 30th day of January 1851 Mary Cooper and I were married. She was born in St. Clair County on the 28th of July 1822 and moved with her parents to Sangamon County in the fall of 1823. Her father, Meredith Cooper, was born April 7 1792 in Botetourt County, Virginia. He moved with his parents when a young man to Smith County, Tenn. Her mother Polly Witcher, was born July 21st 1794 in Cocke County, Tenn. She moved with her parents to Smith County Tenn when she was 15 years of age. Meredith Cooper and Polly Witcher were married in Smith County, Tenn on June 16th 1812. In September of that year Father Cooper enlisted for 3 months in a Tenn regiment and served 4 months against the Indians of Alabama who were allies of the British government in the War of 1812. In the Spring of 1817 Father Cooper went to St. Clair County, Illinois, raised a crop and returned and brought his family in the fall of that year. They had then two children, Jas. W. and Martha. The move was done on 2 horses. Mother Cooper rode one horse, carried a child in her arms and with a feather bed lashed to the saddle behind. Father Cooper carried the other child with all the household goods and farm implements he could put on the other horse. Three of their children were born in St Clair County viz, Minerva, Margaret, and Mary. In the fall of 1823 they moved to Sangamon County and settled in what is now Fancy Creek Township near the present town of Sherman where they had 7 children, viz, Nancy A., Rebecca, Ambrose, David D., Robert, Meredith, and Louisa. Father Cooper died Nov. Ist, 1870. His disease was Kidney trouble. Mother Cooper died Aug 13th 1882, had no particular disease just old age 88 years. When I was married Sister Ann (who was familiarly called Aunt Ann) and her two boys were living with me. I had often heard the remark that there was no house large enough to hold two families. So we commenced house keeping in the log cabin, one room leaving Aunt Ann and her two boys in the frame house of two rooms. The houses were about 40 rods apart. After living that way for a few years Mary and Aunt Ann concluded they could live in the same house as we lived a good deal as one family anyway. It would be less expense to keep up one house than two so we moved to Aunt Ann’s cabin and we never regretted the move. They lived together about as pleasantly as any two sisters ever lived. About the year 1863 Aunt Ann and her two boys got a farm of their own and moved to it. We had three children one daughter Annie born May 27th 1852 and two sons Jas Meredith born March 16 1854 and Thos Witcher born Jan 7th 1856. Annie was married in the Spring of 1876 to Edwin H. Agee. A few years after they moved to Nebraska. She died there on the 5th of November 1887 leaving a husband and 5 children 4 girls and one boy. In 1846 Sister Mary died. In 1852 John Wright died under very distressing circumstances. He went out in the morning before breakfast. It was thought to hunt a young horse that was out on the range. All stock at that time was turned out on the commons. As he did not return during the day the family became alarmed and notified the neighbors and they commenced to search for him. In two days after he left the house he was found dead about one half mile from his house, He died a natural death. From appearances it was supposed death was caused by cramp colic. His widow, Sister Nellie, died in the year 1855 with typhoid fever. Mother died Feb 3, 1861 with a bowel disease. Father died Dec 1st 1872 with intermittent fever. Sister Jane died May 7 1864 with inflammation of the bowels. Sister Lillie died Sept 27th 1876 with intermittent fever. Sister Janet died April 12th 1886, Sister Ann died Oct 13th 1886 with paralysis of the heart, I never heard of any of my relations either on Father or Mother’s side having any lung trouble.

When we left Scotland Father and all the family were members of the Free Church of Lochmaben, Rev Hugh McBride Brown pastor.

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