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RALSTON FAMILY LETTERS

A group of letters from relatives, written to Peter Ralston in Illinois, USA from-
Trodigal, Scotland, 1849, 1852, 1873.
Belfast, Ireland 1876, 1881, 1882.


(Letter to GGGrandfather Peter Ralston in Illinois from his brother Alex Ralston in Scotland. GGGrandfather Peter Ralston had left Scotland in 1840 and in 1843 moved from Ohio to Illinois. I have attempted to leave the spelling and punctuation just as in the hand written letter, however I could not make out some of the writing. Original letters are held by Wallace G. Ralston of Argyle, Illinois.)

Outside of letter, addressed to: "Mr Peter Ralston near Rosco, Winebago County, State of Illinois, America. from: Alex Ralston, Trodigle, Care of Mr. John Montgomery, Campbeltown, Argyle, Sct., N. Briton."
"Trodigle Aprile 11th 1849
Dear brother and family
When I wrote brother William I intended of writing to you very soon but hoping a change of circumstance in the family I delayed till the present you may say that I have forgotten you when pen and ink and paper has not reached you ere now but often has mind crossed that wide waste of water that lies between us as with lightening speed and imagination sees you all as dear beloved brethren and children. Martha has been complaining these two years past her complaint comenced like a inflamation in the hip joint, first in the left side but while there she was able to go about with the help of a stick or croch and do some sewin and knitten stockings the inflamation being over come and geting beter and having good hopes of her being restored till last May it shifted to the other hench with twice more violence and still increasing her constitution all the while being good till these few months past she was mostly in bed, the pain she suffered is indiscrible till she became very reduced, she read a great part of her time at books was resigned and submissive under the chastning hand of God for whom he loves he chastens every son or daughter when he receives for he designed her for his own glory in his heavenly kingom though dearly beloved in our hearts the all wise God in his incrutible providence saw fit to remove her by death on 4th March at 12 O'clock being our sacramental sabath she departed this life God commisian his Angel and bore away her spirit and rose far above suns mons and stars to the realms of bless and now tastes the joys of her Savior she longed for singing the praises of redeming grace Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blod Martha was other wise modest prudent well respected by all who knew her the rest of the family is all well thanks unto God for his great mercies to us who are so unworthy may his will be done
little Peter is now runing a bout a fine stout boy of a fair complexion as all the rest he is the only Peter Ralston now in Kintyre that I am aware of
Dear brother this is not all yet another mournful tale of woe I have to relate our much loved and esteemed brother Duncan McGeachy (born 1791) is no more he departed this life on 18 March on sabath morning being their Sacramental Sabath very suddenly he was complaining about a month scarcely his complaint was a bile on the stomach but he got of that beter it was thought but had inmflamation along with it and was geting considerably beter he took a weakening on sabath morning when our Sister was puting on her cloths but did not get them about half on till she had to go behind him in bed to keep him in a siting posture, he recovered of the weakness and was quit sensible this being about 7 o'clock in the mourning he wished the family all present he said his saviour would soon come and praying much for him self gave good counsels to his family and about 9 o'clock he expired leaning on Helen's, he left orders with Helen a few days before he died some money that they had in Bank secure it to her self over every thing else, Dear brother in all these mournful events may we have grace given to say the lord reighneth and may we hear a voice from our graves saying prepare to meet thy God fortunately their son Arch'd. is at home at present was agreed for marriage the Friday before his father died but it did not take place till eight days after to a young lady a friend of McTaggart the tailor in the Longrow a miss McLean she kept the books in the shop to Mr. McTaggart and it is talked that she has some little money. Arch'd. is doing well at sea he was the last voyage with London ship first mate had £6 S6? month away by China and East Indies for 20 months and saved a deal of cash my son Thos's. (born 1826, died Australia 1886) is now with Capt. McKechnies vessel sailed from Liverpool last Aprile went to East Indies and China and is now we expect on his way home
we had a very good crop all over this last year with the exception of the Potato crop which is still a failure which we feel a great loss but we should be thankful we have them doing better than many about the country being to the lighness of the soil we sold a good many tons this year the price was from £4 to 5£ per ton prices of all kinds is very low Bere (barley) 26 per 48 lb. in winter but less now Oats from 16s - 18s per quartes beans 14/ sweet milk cheese from 36/ to 40sh per ? the greatest part of farmers is now making sweet mild cheese, buter at present fresh 11s to 13s Horses are still high in price a great many changes has taken place this year among the farmers I refair to Proctor Galbreaths tenants a number of them not having leases he took the advantage seeing the land testing higher this year on the Duke of Argyles Estate which is very surprising with all our cheap markets and free trade low country farmers still coming here Andrew Smith Moy lost his with 40t advance to David Gregg Duncan Stewart Machrihanish lost his and is let to three different men to John Gregg Rob't. Cunningham Kilkivan an strangers Rob Greenlees Craigs (Farm) gave up his and is for America Arch'd Mitchell Machrihanish gave up his and was taken in few days by William Wallace with advance rent John Gregg lost his and it taken by a stranger of the name of Wallace at 300£. Lonnie (Sammy) Mitchell has Dalivaddy and most of Balygreggan most at 100£ so you see there is 400£ instead of 120£ Rob't Maxwell gave up Ballochgair and Kildonald and is taken by a stranger with advance of 20£ Rob't intends to abide by the grass farms and live a part of the year in town Arch'd Mitchel our neighbor died last week within days sickness David Donald died in winter with lockjaw very suddenly Arch'd McDonald son of James died last week Alex Ralston Aucharua is going to America I think he will go to the wifs friends I have seen your letter you sent last to William Fleming and was glad to hear of you all being well George Brown is still in measure of health and gets a little money from the church Cathrine McDonald is well lives in a small house at John Gordon's old habitation receives ?? rates works a little with John in ??? Our mother is much failed in bodily strength and the mind begining to give way also but wonderful health she is still in her own house John and family is very attentive to her she has plenty of money of her own yet and gets from John anything she requires I send down coals frequently to her Dear brother we simpathize with you of the loss you sustained in the bereavement of the choise of your early days and first love, may we all cherish the hope of our much loved and departed friends who sleep in Jesus God shall bring with him meting there in that place where no separation shall ever take place I must conclude not forgeting brother William and family I shall write him when harvest is past if I am spared Elisabeth joins me in sending our best respects to you all and enquiring friends and may the good will of him who dwells in the bush? dwell with you all.
I remain Your Brother
Alex'r Ralston"
1852
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(Typed copy of a letter to GGGrandfather Peter Ralston and William Ralston in Illinois from their brother Alex Ralston in Scotland.)
"Trodigal, January 7th 1852
Dear Brethren
It is now some time since I wrote you but how swiftly does our days pass away and the events of Providence of his purposes concerning each of us timeous can only reveal we are all in a measure of health at present thanks be to God for his mercies to us so unworthy our Winter as yet has been mild open with very little frost as yet our Summer was very cold and stormy all over we had in the month of September very fine weather but the rest of harvest very wet and crop long of being housed I had it all housed before the weather broke much a good many of our stacks did not get a shower our bear (barley) crop was the lightest we had since we came to Trodigal but the corn (wheat) crop was a very heavy one all over the country. The Potatoes this year was a worse failure than any since 1847 in the East of Scotland there was a fine crop of them these two year bringing to Campbeltown and as dry as meal and very large. We had planted widely these two years but did me very little good this is now very trying times for us farmers here now. I got no abatement of rent as yet by promised some this next rent some of our Lairds tenants got some these two years in some cases the interest of houses and a trifle more my neighbour W. Lethan has tried them to take it of his hand but is unwilling unless another tenant appears as good.
Dear brother it now revolves upon me a very painful duty to inform you of the latter end of a respected beloved brother John who departed this life on the night of the 17th December. It is necessary that I should make you acquainted with the way the all Sovereign God was pleased to lay his hand upon him and number him among the things that were on the 1st? of the month he was at the funeral of James Gardners sister in his usual health. We met in the town and had a refreshment in Mrs. Browns old house and had a friendly conversation for a short time, about two or three days after he begun to complain his head and swet in his body for some two days but rather kept it back but still on foot his head still more pained with a shivering of cold he had to take his bed on Sabbath. I did not know of his complaining to the Friday following when at Provost Colviles funeral some of my friends told me they thought it Bose? in the head at first it struck him in his left eyebrew when I saw him it was some little swelled Doctor Oliver had bled him a little at his first visit by his own request and blestered several times after but with no effect his eyebrews still swelling a little more I got down Dr. McNab to see him he said it was purely Inflamation in the brain from which cause rendered him unconsious of pain and unsettled in mind I may say from a few days at first his whole trouble was all in the head till his last hours which gave comfort to sorrowing friends he became more sinsible both eyebrews very much swelled latterly Every human medicine that was requisite for body and soul was not awanting in his case but the purposes of God shall stand and it becomes us fallen sinfull man to be dumb and open not our mouth but with resignation to say thy will O Lord be done the Sentance had gone forth and on the above mentioned night the Imortal part departed the clay tabernacle and this world of sin sorrow & suffering to a world we trust where sin has never entered sorrow never known and suffering never felt, And on the 20 Dec. a respectable company gave the favour of respect to the remains of our esteemed brother to his last resting place at Keel to mingle with the ashes of his first choice We deeply sympathise with bereaved Widow and family of the loss of a Husband and a father with ??many young children four boys and four daughters Our prayer to God for them is to verify his promise to be the husband of the Widow and the father of the fatherless their God and guide through life and at death their exceeding great reward. Dear brethren what solemn warning have we received from the case of our departed young brother that warning voice is prepare, prepare, for ye know not how soon or how suddenly the summons of death may be put into Our hands. God grant that this afflictive dispensation of his providence may be sanctified to us all and as journeying nearer the end of our days may we be more and more induced to seek the great salvation. Duncan McGeachy our friend at Ormsary I trust will have reached you in safety he sailed some now for the Illinois their Farm is to be let this year but they are none of them let as yet the Dukes tenants is getting some abatement this year from 5£ to 10£ 20£ & 30£ and as high as 70£ this is only one farmer at Lergyside we know have sales ? of farmers now every week two this week Huie at Clonegart Borland at Bulochgain only 3 years and next week White in Gartlosgan Donly at Balergy & Mrs. Stewat at High Kalengy so you may see that the low Country farmers is lifting their wings but can not soar very high they rather must creep away with very little cash notwithstanding All the indulgence they got from the Chamberlain
William Fleming & Elisabeth & family is well we have not heard from them this little time all the friends is well give our respects to all our friends you have more there than we have here now
write soon that we may know how your are geting on I must conclude hoping that you are all in good health wishing every temporal and spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus I remain your brother
Alex Ralston."
1873
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(Typed copy of a letter to GGGrandfather Peter Ralston in Illinois from his nephew Andrew Ralston in Scotland.)

"Trodigal March 7th 1873
Dear Uncle
It is now some time since I wrote and few lines I in taking the pen at this time I do so with a heavy heart As in letting you know of the illnes and death of our dear Brother Peter I feel you will be sorry as we all are. it may be you have heard already through some of the friends but I think it proper to let you know all the more so as he was named after you his Uncle
Dear Peter was in England in the town of Newcastle on Tyne in the service of Steward McDonald, Glasgow he had been two years in Newcastle and was getting on well. This last illness began with a cold which entered his lungs he also had over all of which ended in Pulmonary consumption. He lay but on the second of January and died on the 19th Feb. he sent us word and my wife & sister Martha & my self went out to see him as the journey was too long for Mother. When we saw him he was very weak I came home but left my wife & sister with Peter but as he was getting weaker I returned again to Newcastle. When it became evident that death was in the cup I had the hand and trying duty of informing him which he stood well his mind seemed to be thinking on the surety We had several very precious conversations he told us he was not afraid to die that the rock on which he rested was Ye that believeth shall be saved. Several passages & hymns I quoted he finished and was comforted by them Hard as it was to part with him we felt we could do so in the good will of a happy & glorious meeting in a better world where the weary are at rest, where the pilgrims that have laid aside their soiled garments and be clothed with the glorious apparel of the Saviours righteousness in that bright land of glory how precious that all care shall be all yon all trouble shall cease perfect blessedness shall be the fortune of the redeemed for ever and ever. Dear uncle why should we grieve for friends lost in Christ they are not lost only gone a little before. There shall be many happy meetings in Heaven when all the children shall be brought home. our sorrow at this painful dispensation is very much relieved by such thoughts. We took Dear Peter's remains home to Trodigal and buried him in his fathers grave in Keil, Southend. His body now rests down in yon quiet resting place we believe awaiting a glorious resurrection. Our hearts are sad our minds are stunned we shall never more see his face or grasp his hand. we shall miss fellowship and friendship but we hope yet to renew it in a much more blessed place.
Mother is very much saddned by this event but she is wonderfully upheld God's ways are remarkable his doing often mysterious May we have grace Still to trust through all events is a trial
I hope your health is keeping good as you are now much advanced in years. Peter was 26 years of age at his death life was short humanly speaking Peter has left a sa?vour of good impressions behind him few young men had got on so well in business his life was strictly correct his life now closed here is begun we trust in the land of light I glory to go no more? out.
Mother & wife join me in kind remembrance to all my cousins and yourself Hoping to hear from you soon. aduie for the present.
Believe me your affectionate nephew
Andrew Ralston"


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(Typed copy of a letter to GGGrandfather Peter Ralston in Illinois from his grandson John Fleming in Ireland. When GGGF Peter and his family left for America, their oldest child, Elizabeth married William Fleming and remained behind, this is a letter from her son.)
"Belfast 1st Dec 1876
Dear Grandfather
As it is now some time since I wrote you last. I think you will be glad to hear from us again- I got your last letter some time ago and was glad to hear that you were in good health as also the rest of our friends- I was in Campbeltown this last Summer during my holidays- We were a long time stoped this season 3 months- of course I got my pay for all that time but it is a loss keeping horses so long doing nothing I put them on grass which is the cheapest way of keeping them it also improves them- during my stay in Campbeltown I called on the Sunday to see Mrs. Ralston at her house in town I also saw her son Andrew at the same time She seems to be very content in her retirement it was during the harvest that I was their so they were very buisey-- they speek well of all the crops this year except turnips they are but mideling- I was in the Longrow Church when I was there They have got a very fine new Church buklt a few years ago, I did not hear Dr. Boyd I am told he hase got very frail and not able to preach now- he hase an assistant who pleases them very well My sisters are all in good health and getting on in the usual way- I supose just now you will have a very considerable comotion in Politics I see by the papers that the Democratic candidate is expected to come very close on the Republican if not beet him- I dersay the present government hase been guilty of some not very creditable proceedings which will tend to damage the Republican cause at present- But I supose it will not make very much diferance to the general public which party gains the day. Something like us hear although we have a conservitave Goverment at present I see no diferance from when we had a Liberal Goverment This country hase been considerably agitated this some time conserning the Eastern Question It is the general impresion if the Conferance that is about to meet does not satisfactorly settle the dispute this country will be obliged to take side with Turkey- The people hear have no liking for the Turk or Russian but as England's highway to India hase to be looked to she is bound to assist the Turk against Russian conquest which it is feared Russia is hunkering after- it would be a grate mercy if the matter could be settled withought going to war- Crops this year in the North of Ireland are generaly good so that farm produce is reasonable in price. There is a new branch of business comence latley between Canada and this country that of shiping live cattle from there to hear the cattle arive in good condition wan sell well the people are well satisfied as they consider that beef is reasonabler on that account I think that I have little more news of any importance we all hope this letter will find yourself and all our Uncles & Aunts in good health. Janet is often saying that she should write her cousans She will write them some time shortly- we will be glad to hear from you when you have leasure
I remain your grandson
John Fleming"

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(Typed copy of a letter to my Grandpa Peter W. Ralston in Illinois from his cousin John Fleming (1842-1885) in Ireland.)
"Belfast 19th May 1881
Dear Cousin
I received your kind letter a short time ago, and was glad to see by it that you are all in good health- I notice that you were not very well yourself some time since but that you and your sisters are now quite recovered is a grate blessing
I received your packet of photographs of yourself and sisters and brothers we are certainly very much obliged to you for your attention The photographs are all very nice and you are all very comfortable looking. we think there is a resemblance between Martha & our Grace. I am quite ashamed at myself in not being more puctual in getting our liknesses taken before this as I promised you- however I give my promises that we will have them taken soon and one of each forwarded to you at an early date- I also got your Iasher & Moihirs bituensor??
I have been considerably annoyed this some time back with Rheumatism it attacked me about last Christmas first in the back it then went to my henches knees and ankels although I am fairley better I have not got clear of it in my ankels yet I think it was a cold I got about last Nov. when we comence this seasons work that was the origin of it. The place I am in I am so much exposed to all kinds of weather I require to take care of myself especialy when the likes of Rheumatism sets in My sisters are all in good health and getting on in the usual way- an uncle of ours uncle John a brother of my fathers died last Nov. of congestion of the lungs he was a big strong man but he stood the trouble no time he was not maried. he was a kind of caretaker of the property uncle Alexander bought at Kilkenzie near Campbeltown some years ago. uncle Alexander is in business in Glasgow he is one of five men who compose the company of Baird & Garskey they are very extensive iron merchants and employ about 11,000 men in the mines and above ground he is not maried either a aunt of ours Aunt Florey? keeps the house he built at Kilkenzie for him he goes down there occationaly he resides mostly in Glasgow There is another brother of my Fathers in business in Glasgow he is a bonded warehouse keeper he is maried and hase two sons There is also Uncle Samuel who went to New Zeland about the time my father came to Belfast so that I can't remember having seen him he is maried there and has a family the other friends living is Aunt Mary she is maried to a schoolmaster called McDonald they live at Kilkenzie they have no family and Aunt Elizabeth she lives in the town of Ayr with her son he is in the iron business her man died about the time my father died his name was John Watson I stoped with her for a time when I was serving my apprenticeship in Glasgow she lived in Glasgow then thought I might mention the above as possibly you are not very well aquainted with the history of the Flemings- The only other partys we call on when in Scotland is Mrs. Ralston late of Trodigal and her son Andrew he has Trodigal now they are always very glad to see us and makes us very welcome we do not go across very often perhaps once in the two or three years
I will write uncle Charles some of these days. I ought to have answered his letter before this In his letter he states that he hase joined the Baptist Church I think by the tone of his letter that he is something of a revivalist it is a good thing to see people in satisfactory tone of mind in religious matters, it seems Uncle Peter is along with him and hase share of the land when you are writing us again I would like if you would let me know what she is uncle Charles wife as we do not know anything about her people likes to hear a little of their friends- I suspect the place they are settled in' (Kansas) 'is very warm in sumer as it is much further south than you are- We had like yourself a very severe winter the frost and snow lasted very long indeed up till two or three weeks ago we had very keen frosts at night- the weather however was favourable for getting in the crops. last years crops being so abundant prices ranged very much lower than for the few years previous- I hope this letter will find yourself your mother and sisters as also your brothers in good health give our best respects to any of our friends you may see
yours your Cousin
John Fleming"

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(Typed copy of a letter To Grandpa Peter W. Ralston in Illinois from cousin John Fleming in Belfast. Grandpa Ralston would have been just under 24 years of age and his father had died in May of 1879.)

"Belfast 2nd Jany 1882
Dear Cousin
I received your letter with check and forms to be signed by us which hase been done and in sent back. I am sure you are glad that you have got the business wound up- all I can do is to thank you for your trouble and attention
We are always glad to hear from the friends that they are keeping in good health and was pleased to notice that is was so in your last letter- We are all in good health ourselves and getting along in our usual way- We are now in the midst of a very severe winter hardly any snow or frost but plenty of wind and rain- There hase been a very grate loss of life amongst shipping- wrecks hase been very numerous- Grade hear is improving fast and people are now in much better health as prospects are much brighter- Since I wrote you last we have had grate comotion amongst the Farmers. Government last Sesion passed an act for the purpose of improving the condition of Farmers- Comisioners are now getting heavy complaints and are in at least the grate majority of applications reducing the rents 1/4 and in some cases to 1/2 of the former rent I do not know whether this procedure will pasify the farmers or not for there is a class in this country who do not wish to be satisfied I do not know what the people about your district think of the proceedings at the trial of President Lincoln's assasian in this country it is thought that the proceedings is a scandel If he had committed the same offence in England two days trial at most would have settled the case he seems to be very impudent scoundrel Give our respects to your mother & sisters wishing you all a very Happy new Year I will be very glad to hear from you soon again
I am your Cousin, John Fleming"


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