Misc: Letter from J. SKELLERN - August 19th, 1864 *********************************************** Ireland Genealogy Projects Archives Dublin Index Copyright ************************************************ File Contributed By: Diane Tempest Diane.Tempest@btopenworld.Com Letter of J Skellern to his brother in London New York August 19th 1864. Dear Thomas. Very many years have rolled away, and almost a generation has passed since last I seen you, or even had the pleasure of hearing from you -a strange family indeed. I have sort in vain in this large city for a London Directory to find out about you , but not one in any of the large Commercial houses or shipping offices could I find until last week I was told I could find directories of all parts of the world at the Merchants Exchange, when to my great joy I seen your name in 1863 Directory along with George Skellern. ( He was a Tailor with many children but I do not know the connection) God has spared us both to this good old age, the last of our generation. and only surviving ones. I have been very anxious to hear about you, your wife and children. as like myself you must be a grandfather years ago. space will fail me to give you a history of myself it would take a book and a large one at that for me to tell you my history since last I seen you. All I ever knew of Dublin are dead years ago except a younger generation of the date of George Skellern in London, and they too are gone some of them . I will try to give you a very brief history of my family and hope to hear in return from you a more fortunate one of yours. At the time that I was in Dublin business was against me as usual. Uncle George's money all expended by continual idelness, and being persuaded by a young man of about 22 years old to dispose of all I had and go to America where he had very rich friends where we would all be happy for life, showing me a letter from his father to us for our kindness to his son by us, that he would be a friend to us as long as I lived all this turned out to be fictious the letter was a forgery and all turned out false on my arrival in this city, where I found myself, my wife and four children left deserted by the wretch who not only decieved me so far, after paying his passage with our own, but also supporting him on sea for about 8 1/2 weeks and about 2 months board and lodging in Dublin , but robbed us of all the money we had along with some clothes etc etc. and escaped leaving me and the family with the large sum of a half soveriegn I had in my pocket to begin the world in a strange country- my wife nearly got crazy but I put my confidence in God and kept as calm as I could under such trying circumstances. In about 3 or 4 days I procured employment, at about a dollar a day my daughter Maria who you seen in London soon got something to do also at 4 dollars a week, and my eldest son , then 13 years left me adding to my affliction, thinking he was drowned, but at the end of two weeks returned, bring home to me a few dollars which he earned from a farmer on an orchard, so by this way I seen the hand of Providence outstreched to me when I least deserved it. and by constant diligence to business and everything here being pretty reasonable(quite different now) I endeavoured to save up in the course of a few years about 300 dollars but again another and more trying misfortune came over me , one but nothing but death will end it. Fifteen years ago my daughter Maria who you seen got married to a young man named Fitzgerald, whose mother was a sister of Mrs Skellerns of Capel Street. Umberella makers, wife of Charles Skellern out first cousin . This young man was after her for years seeming to us a proper well conducted and SOBER young man another was after her at the same time, but used to drink sometimes- being bit by the young man that induced and robbed me I thought I would not be duped again and preffered Fitzgerald to the other, althou she did not like him as much . The latter young man Watson has turned out to be a most prosperous man, whilst Fitzgerald, ever since the first week of his marriage has turned out a notorios drunkard and loafer , can earn 3 dollars a day when he works, has four handsome chilren besides 2 dead. Poor Maria is sometimes left in the greatest poverty by his conduct, not seeming to care for his wife or children whether they starve or not. They would all be dead long ago only for me and my eldest son Geoge and Charley . His oown brother is out here and has all done what we could for him but worse he is idiling for 2-3-4 weeks together once 13 weeks during that time one of the children died and I had to inter it a fine boy of 6 years the cost of internments is frightful, it cost me 50 dollars for that alone. enumerating at the lowest this unfortunate matter is put away from me not under 3 and 4 hundred dollars exclusive of all the others that helped them -would to God that he was dead, and is too great a coward to enlist in the army- we trust that he may drefted in this in this next call for 500,000 men next month for this unfortunate war. Now I wish to tell you a little about my next child, George his destiny is quite different- he has been no trouble to me of expense to me whetever and his prospects were bright , thou it caused me much affliction I always thought him wild but he was doing good for himself all along as I told you befor he left me to do good. from that he went to sell and make up flowers , and then into a fruit store then a little at a printing press then to a hat stoe where he was taken great notice of but last of all he enlisted in the Untied States Service at the age of 16 as a musian where all the officers of his regiment (the 4th Artillery) held him up as a pattern to others for his cleanliness, good conduct etc. and had him educated in the army besides instructing him themselves during his 5 years after that time they wanted him to go to West Point College to be educated as an officer, but he preferred a civil life and came home procuring for himself a clerkship, where he remained for 6 or 7 months still gaining knowledge in bookeeping at the end of that time he prucured a more lucrative situation at double-entry bookkeeping in a merchants store then laft that and now hold a responsible situation as sole conductor of one of the largest Iron establishments in this city ( Cashier and Account in it where over 100 men are enployed - (Messrs Catewell's Iron Works) his salary there is 1500 dollars a year. besides many perquisites this is not all he makes up the books of another establishment down town in a large restaurant for which he receives 500 dollars a year for 2 nights in the week - he is married to an american woman by whom he has 3 children - we very seldom see him - he has almost forgotten his father and mother , and is quite american he is very fat. My youngest son Charles is far less fortunate, would never take any education and was on my hands until the outbreak of this war, when he enlisted in a regiment and was in 2 engagments when he got injured and was discharged; again he joined the 37th National Guards of New York for 6 months without examination as a substitute where he was in the battle of Gettysburgh came home unhurt; again went off with the 7th same way and at last was recieved into the Invalid corps where he now is in Baltimore and by his least letter is about being sent home , again as unfit for any duty- in this he received his 300 dollars - he is too goodnatured and extravagant can never keep money he is the finest of the 3 I have - both tall and handsome- would give money away to anyone he thought wanted it, as long as he had it/ The rest are all dead only 3 out od 8. Now I have told you all as short as I have little time to spare , we are on the Strike for higher wages , and eveything is almost at famine price, 3 or 4 times as dear since the war broke out- people are almost starved everything is so dear and enormous taxation on everthing, the vaslue of 1 dollar in gold is 280 dollars in paper currency - we never see gold or silver not even pennies (or cents as they are called here) only paper money such as dollar bills 50,25,10 and 5 cents postal or currency bills and for pennies the store keepers give their own little casts whereon is printed "Value for 3 cents" or 2 or 1 as the case may be and pass from one to the other , I never seen such times - people expect to die of starvation in the winter -coal 15 dollars a ton now-in the winter is expected to be 20 dollars. As to myself I am getting very weak , extreme heat in summer extrem cold in winter. My sight is failing me much , but I retain my teeth and hair yet, as you may percieve by my likeness in the Carte de Visit I send you show it to your children . I suppose your wife would not know me I am so old 65 on the 12th inst. now turned into 66 one of my lungs is hepatized these last 6 years so I have only one sound one , which makes my breathing short sometimes. Can I prevail on you to write me a letter about yourself, wife and children let me know all about them, I would dearly like you to send me a card of your likeness as we will never see each other again in this world Remember me to G Skellern give my love to your wife and children- I will send you some American (NEW YORK) papers if I hear from you . Direct your letters to John M Skellern 453 West 42 Street between 9th and 10th Avenue NEW YORK I have no more room left - Your affectionate brother John M Skellern. This likeness is perfect you see how grey my beard and whiskers are - my hair is not so very grey considering my age but I am getting very much stooped in the back- wife wears her age much better.