Peter Glenday Letter 1817-12-25
To Mr James Glenday, care of Alexander Potter, Esquire, Green Cloth Mercht., Forfar, North Brittan.==
Saint Charles, 25 December 1817 Dear Father & Step Mother
We all landed here safe and well on the 12 of last month after a long and tedious passage both by land and water. I would have written just on our arrival but I wished to see a little about the place and how I would settle myself and family so as I might be able to give you some information about it. I wrote you from New York with a lad that was going to Coupar Angus which I hope you received safely. I mentioned in it that we had a long sea passage but not very dangerous and that my family had all keeped their health, except the sea fever but that I had not had a sick heart nor sore head all the time. We started from New York and went to Philadelphia a distance of 100 miles by land and water. We stoped 10 days in Philadelphia in a Scotch gentleman’s house who is a rum distiller. He was uncommonly kind to us. We then hired a six horse waggon to carry us to Pittsburg, a distance of 300 miles. The roads are very bad, we were three weeks on our journey. We then fell in with another Scotsman who gave us lodgings for a few days and was very kind to us. We then took passage in a large boat for Saint Louis by water a distance of 1400 miles. One of James Lindsay’s boys fell overboard as we were going up the river Mississippi and was no more seen. All the way we came my family and myself were in good health but after we landed my wife took badly for about three weeks but she has got weel again. This is a very new country but emigration to it is great from almost all the Eastern States & Southern States, land is rising greatly in value and in a short time all the land that is near the town of Saint Charles and the river will be taken up and will not be got by incommers but at an immense price. My brother-in-law has about 2000 acres of land and two large lots in this town and is looking out for more land to purchase but none of his land is nigher than three miles from the town. He received us kindly and gave us every accommodation and rode through all his lands with his brother and me all mounted upon his horses and had us choose each for himself a 100 acres and he told us further that he intended giving us help to begin our farms and to uphold us and our familys till we would get a crop off the ground. He told me that my farm was to be mine during the time of my life and then to fall to my son Thomas. This to be sure pleased me very well as it secured a situation for myself during life and also a settlement for the boy, for you know from the misfortune he got in his right hand he was a great part of the reason of me comming here. But after considering the matter a few days it did not suit my taste in case of what might happen in my family. I looked a little around the place and fell in with a little spot about a mile from the town with houses built upon it and about 20 acers of it cleared and fenced and 6 or 7 acers of wheat sown on it and a small orchard. There is 70 acers of it altogether. I get possession of it on the first day of March. I thought it would be an easy way of setting down by going and building my house and clearing and fencing my land especially as I had so much cash of my own with me as would pay it and put some stocking on it and let Mr. Lindsay give my Thomas what he pleases. So if God spares us we will go to our own place by the 1 day of March. I had a mind to try the brewing of ale here, a thing that is unknown in this neighborhood. I make no doubt but it would do well but there are no houses in this town fit for the business nor no barley to be got till it be raised and the most of our land is too rich for barley, any of it that is raised is by commission. I intend sowing some of it in my land to try it if I can procure seed, and if I can think of entering to the brewing. I am to get one of Mr. Lindsay’s lots in the town on which there is a fine spring well, and he promises that he will assist me in money to set it agoing. If I should think of that I will be at no loss that I have laid out my money upon the place I have bought, for I made a good bargon, having the money in hand. I believe I could make 100 pounds sterling of profit on it already. This will be a fine farmer’s country and tradesman’s. Every trade does well here and laborers get a dollar a day and can scarcely be got. A great part of the work is wrought by black people. Mr. Lindsay has eight of them. I do not like the black folks ill, they are very submissive and oblidging. There are no gentlemen here as in Scotland. Every white person is reckoned as good as another if he behaves himself, be he poor or rich, and a man that has white servants eats and works with them. Almost everyone who farms is laird of his farm himself. Those who rent land generally pay as much rent as the half of what he possesses would sell at. Land here generally produces from 60 to 90 bushels of Indian corn per acer, every six bushels is your cool [of oats or barley], wheat from 40 to 60, oats and rye about the same. Indian corn sells at half a dollar per bushel, wheat at a dollar, rye at 3 quarters of a dollar, oats about the same, butter at about the fifth part of a dollar, cheese the same, beef and pork sell at a dollar per stone, but all our weights are 16 ounces to the pound so I reckon a man can make as much of his land here as in Scotland and the buying of it would not be above what would pay a year’s rent of your land which is not half so good with dung as ours is without it and every man may keep as many beasts here as he likes, they go in the woods and cost him nothing. He will have 1 or 2 hundred swine that he gives not a mouthfull till and as many cattle and he can sell or kill when he pleases. Everybody lives like gentlemen here, upon everything that is fat and rare, the only difficulty is to a man when he comes in he has everything to buy dear and it is a long time before he can get a crop. Give my respects to Andrew and Isabel Glenday. Tell Andrew if he will come here he will find land that bears sugar, tobacco, indigo, apples, pears, appricots, peaches, and onions as large as his two hands, all without dung. Not forgetting my daughter and John Ogilvy’s family, Marget White and her daughters and Peter Adamson. Be so good as let all these friends of mine see this letter. I will not advise none of them to come here lest they might have a dangerous passage and anything happen them, but I am sure were they once here and saw this country, what fine land, good wages, little or no taxes to pay for anything, they would not wish to go back to Scotland again. You see paper begins to fail me, I must draw to a close. I wish you to write me as soon as possible and let me know how you all are and what way things are doing in your place. I expect John Ogilvy is in my place at New Rattray, send him word about this letter and tell him I shall write him in the spring when I will be better acquaint with the country. No more at present but
Remain your affectionate son – Peter Glenday
P.S. When you write direct thus – Mr. Peter Glenday, Care of Thomas Lindsay, Esquire, Saint Charles, Missouri, Teritory Upper Louisiana.
- The brother-in-law mentioned is Thomas Lindsay, brother of Anne Lindsay Glenday.