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LETTER FROM JAMES DICK
TO HIS UNCLE

Submitted and transcribed by Carol Billingham.

Lanark
14 June, 1825
Dear Uncle:

Ever anxious to hear of your welfare together with that of our other friends and relations, and wishing to let you know how we are all, I sit down to address you a few lines. We are all (thanks be to the Author of our being) in good health, and sincerely hope you all enjoy the same. We received yours of the 17th, February, including also a few lines from Thomas Duncan last summer, but did not receipt it, having written you and Uncle John, Parkhead, only a few days previous to its arrival. We also received a letter from my cousin, George Brown, and one from William Dick by Walter Scobbie from Langrigg. Wm. Dick mentioned that you were writing by the same conveyance, which letter, however, we have not received. I intended to write you last fall, but always put it off from time to time in expectation of receiving a letter from you.

We are something similarly situated to what we were when I last wrote you, Margaret excepted, who was married on the 25th ult. to Robert Stead, a very industrious young man and in very thriving circumstances; his land is about three miles from us. He came out with his parents and the rest of the family about two years before us. They come from Yorkshire, England.

This place is labouring under great inconveniences at this time for want of ready markets. Last season, crops were excellent, and had there been anything like fair price for grain, settlers would have done well, but so far from it, good wheat was selling as low as 2 s. per bushel in Lanark, 3 F in Perth and 3/6 in Brockville in the winter season: and there is no such thing as a sale for it now all except for whiskey, which is getting a rapid sale just for the "bees". A "bee" is a number of men collected together for the purpose of logging, raising houses, barns, etc., sometimes consisting of 40 men and upwards; and they are now become so very numerous that we are often three days in the week from home. We were at a logging-bee at my brother-in-law Robt. Stead's about eight days ago, where were 36 men and seven yoke of oxen, which logged up four acres of land and were done early in the afternoon.

We have had a very mild winter. The snow fell in the month of November and continued to cover the ground, generally about two feet deep, until the middle of April, when the heat of the sun obliged it to disappear. The spring has also been very favourable, only we were a little troubled by a vermin of worms which ate up the most part of the peas in the settlement as also most of the garden seeds. However, the wheat is not damaged but is in general looking tolerably well. I think I mentioned to you in my first letter after our arrival here that we had drawn a lot for the family, which was a mistake for we were afterwards made to understand that it was my brother's. We then drew out a petition in order to present it to the Earl of Dalhousie - Governor, stating the circumstances in which we were placed, and praying for a lot of land for the family. We then called on Col. Marshall to support it and get it conveyed to the Governor, which he refused, he said, on account of inexpediency and as it was putting the Governor to unnecessary trouble. As he was persuaded the prayer of the petition could not be answered, we were therefore obliged to withhold the petition; judging it needless to send it without the Colonel's support.

I then applied for a lot of land and have got the 13th lot in the front of the 9th concession, Lanark, adjoining my brother's. We have chopped six acres upon it this season and got part of it under crop. The weather this some time past has been very warm, but I cannot inform you particularly what degree of heat it was, our thermometer being broken. The frame in which it was got wet, swelled and broke the tube. The heat, however, must have been excessive. In my last, I mentioned that the Billy Gibbon Knights were raising a great disturbance here, but they are now very quiet indeed. I believe most of them are gone to the States. I am informed that out of 32 families which were settled in Huntly, only two remain. Those who were put in jail were tried and liberated after a short while's imprisonment. There is a report spread just now that there are two thousand more of them on their way out but are going further up the country.

We had a visit about 12 months ago from Mr. Anderson from Bathgate who gave us a particular account of every circumstances which had taken place from the time we left Bathgate to last spring when he left it, which was very gratifying to our feelings. He left this for the States last fall along with John Young. He promised to write David Young, and let him know where he was, but David has got no letter from him yet, nor any intelligence of him whatever. John Young sent a letter stating that he was working at the loom near Niagara on the States' side but did not know what had become of Mr. Anderson.

David's people are all well. Alex Kidd and family are also in good health, and James Bryce and family are enjoying the same. As for Henry Mungal, we don't know how he is, not having heard from him these two years.

Thomas Duncan would probably mention to you that we had neighbours in the same clearance with us of the name of Wallace, descended from the great Sir Wm. Wallace but greatly degenerated. They have now left this to the great satisfaction of the whole settlement and gone to Carolina in the States. A family of the name of Muir now occupy their place, who make fine agreeable neighbours.

Indeed the settlement in general is coming to a better understanding with one another. For some time after our settlement here, it wore truly contentious appearance. When two or three neighbours met together (news of the day being scarce), the conversation generally turned upon their absent neighbours, and the first questions put were -- "Where do they come from? "What occupation did they follow?, and "Are they decent people for we are quite ignorant of them?" (Though perhaps they were sometimes a great deal more ignorant of those whom they were speaking to.) who were perhaps all the while gathering fuel for a disturbance, and would probably answer that he did not know them in the old country but had heard it reported that they were so and so and did not behave altogether fair, which when coming to the ears of the accused raised a great commotion. Such storms, however, have greatly subsided. I intend to take this about 230 miles on its way as I mean to go off for the States tomorrow, where I intend to stop a few months if I can fall in with weaving.

Present our best respects to all inquiring friends. I must now concede with intimating that we shall expect to hear from you soon.

I remain, Dear Uncle,
Your Affectionate Nephew,
"James Dick"