To indexGo to Ralston Ancestors' page.

E-BOOK 1849–1882 Letters to Roscoe, Illinois

A group of letters from relatives, written to Peter Ralston in Illinois, USA from-
Trodigal, 1849, 1852, 1873 and Campbeltown, 1850
Kilmaho, Scotland,1861 and 1865
Belfast, Ireland 1874, 1876, 1881, 1882. New York and San Francisco 1864 and Ohio 1853 1874

(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 Provost 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 40£ advance to David Gregg Duncan Stewart Machrihanishlost his and is let to three different men to John Gregg Rob't. Cunningham Kilkivan an strangers Rob Greenlees Craigs 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 Dalbaddy 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"

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Typed copy of a letter to GGGrandfather Peter Ralston in Illinois from his daughter, Elizabeth and her husband William Fleming in Campbeltown, Scotland
[Note- I have added some sentence ending periods and paragraphs where it would help. The hand written letter had no paragraphs and only a few periods at the end of sentences. Spelling has not been changed.]

Campbeltown 30 July 1850
Dear Father

We should have written you long before this but we hope you will excuse us for our indolance in writing, we have great reason to be thankful to God for the health we are enjoying in our family.

John and Jannet are at scoule. Elizabeth has not gone yet.( Son John born 1842, Daughter Jannet born 1844, Elizabeth born 1847)

Our youngest is named Jean (Jean born 1849) for ant Jean who has acked as a mother to Elizabeth at all times. Jean is a stout thriving child she is running about. She is 13 months old.

Arch Galbreath that was farmer at Skerlling and I tuck the leddels [ladles- a tax, originally on grain.] of the Burrugh last seson at a rent of 230£. Our time is out the first of September. It is not appearing to pay well on account of a defincancy in the crops & prices being very low. There was part of the barley as low in price as 15/ per boll. Meal about 16/ per boll. Beins 10/ per boll.
The 80 part is payed for Leaddels & farmers in jeneral allows that the were a third short of crops that they have had some years so on that account we are beat in our prospects. It will be sold for another year in a short time if it be gotten for a good sum chepper we will tray yett.

Elizabeth & I have always a strong noshon of seeing you sometime but in stead macking our means beatter for going. This year will make them worse and make us unable for going but is hard to tell what a year will bring forth as we are short sichted.

The friends are all in good health as far as we know. Uncle Alexd son Thomas was at home in the month of May last, he is a stout heavy lad & appears to lack the sea well, he is off to the East Indies.

The rest of the family are all well.

Hugh Mitchell is doing nothing but tacking a little drop now & again.

Ant Jean is blessed with a famley of well duing. Doghters Margaret keps a scoull which has a free hous attched to it where the famley all resides.

Uncle Johns famley are all well. He is lick maney more of the Kinteyer farmers complaining of hard times. I think if times do not gett better John will go to America.

Ant Nelly is quite brisk turned since her hisbands Death. She comes to Campbelton on a riddding poney that she has gotten at full gallop. She hardly ever calls at our house.

Mr Boyd [probably church pastor] is in good health & is still in a Loving frendly manner with his hearers.

We expect that those that emegranted for America this summer will be across the Atlantick by this time.

We hear that John Ralston & Duggale Kerral is for Canada.

Robert Granlees & famley that was farmer in Craigs & Granlees famley that was in the Rcem is Bound for Illinoys, if they land near your place they will give you all the partickelars about Kintayer.

There was a great many able young men left Kinteyer this summer which is the time for a man to emigrate.

Altho we have not done our duty in the time past in not writing oftnar we must be more attentive in the time to come. We are always happy to see a letter from any one of yours.

Elizabeth was varey varey happy to sea letter from Thomas & Charles and wishes them to write often. Elizabeth is at times trubbled with a cold that fixes on her breath which casses a shortness of breathing and if she gets hir falliged or weat it is ready to trubell hir. It appears to be an inflemshon in the wind pipe. It has troubled hir at times this some years past.
Elizabeth is happy to think that Ellen & Jannet will be able by this time to kep their mothers house in order so you will not miss Margaret so much.(Peter and Jannet's daughter, Margaret, married John Picken in July 1849.)

Write us & let us know how Grandmother is after Grandfathers Death. Which we hard tuck place after his arrivel at your place.

Let us know Mrs Pickan and famley is coming on.

If any of the Lasses has gotten married.

We are sending our respects to all our Brothers & sisters. Lickway to all ants & uncels & all inquering friends.

This leves our famley all in food health, hoping it will find yours all in the same is the sincere wish of your affeconate Son & Doghter.

The crops are lucking well.
Wm & Elizabeth Fleeming.

This is a virbatim copy of a letter written by his soninlaw and daughter to Peter Ralston and addressed to him as follows-
Mr Peter Ralston
Near Roscoe
Winobego County
State of Illinois
Said copy was made by P.W.Ralston grandson of said Peter Ralston
Made Dec. 22 1941
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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 Cordner's 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 rose 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 Bulachgair only 3 years and next week White in Gartlosgan Donly at Balergy & Mrs. Stewat at High Balergy 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."

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(Transcribed copy of letter to GGGrandfather Peter Ralston in Illinois from his brother-in-law in Ohio)

Springfield Township
July 13th 1853
Dear Brother
We received yours of the 9th Sept'r in due time and was very glad to get such a great stranger as a letter from you. We had just thought that you all that is all our Brothers, had with one concert agreed to correspond with us no more
I say this as some of you there with whom I had a regular correspondence by letter has failed in answering mine. I have always made it a rule not to have it stop on my side & I have also made it one, not to write two letters in succession to any person when I believe they had received the first. I do not say this in any way of complaint, for you or them may have good reasons for not writing But I have always thought that when friends were separated so that they cannot see each others countenance, the medium of communicating our thoughts to each other by writing in some measure make up for the loss. The wise man has said "As the iron sharpeneth iron so doth the countenance of a man his friend ". And if the countenance has such an effect why may not our exchange of good wishes for one another by letter answer the same purpose.
We must say it has done so to us, for your letter made us glad for we had no communication from Illinois for several months before yours came to hand.
In the first place we were glad to hear of you & your family welfare and of your prosperity in general and in the second place of the good crops, & price for produce and the health & prosperous condition of all Brothers & sisters with their still increasing families. And last but not least that Mother was in her usual state of good health. And however much we were sorry at the death of your Brother John it gave us great satisfaction to know to a certainty about it for there was a rumour here that he was dead but nothing we could rely on. His brother in law Edward Brown had no account of it more than hearsay. It is always less or more disturbing to see or hear of the head of a family being taken away from their beloved partners & their little ones. Yet it is a great comfort in such circumstances for the bereaved to be able to say with the good Shunammite when interrogated by the servant of Elisha about the welfare of her family. He said "it is well" when her only child was lying dead. How few is it that arrives at old age? And how many is cut down in their prime. That teaches us that this is not our lot. That here we have no continuing city. That we ought to look for a city that hath foundation whose builder and maker is God.
We had great crops this season with the exception of corn which was deficient & potatoes was only middling. The markets are good Wheat from 75 to 80 cents corn 45c oats 35c Barley is low 45c to 50c Hay 9 to 11$ per ton, Hay was a great crop, Potatoes about 50 cents per bush. Apples 50c to 1.00 per bush. We had scarcely half a crop of apples. The hog killing is about over for this season. They rated from $5.50 to $7.00 per hundred There was not a great many sold at the later price. I sold mine last week at $7.00. There are not many raised for sale hereabouts now. I have always kept about the usual number from ten to twelve as the milk always keep them until we begin to fatten, & in this way they pay as well as any other thing. We have generally about ten or twelve cows. We sold about 500 dollars worth of them last year. I keep a regular account of all we sell of the farm & also all the outlay. I find both amounts to quite a round amount. If I had it not on black & white before me I would not believe it myself. The greater part of the butter is engaged by the year at 25 cents per #. It is a very handy article to market it is light and ready sale, but it requires strict attention to carry it on right, and considerable slavery so much harder that we sometimes talk about quitting it. We have a good deal of out lay, we have to keep a man all the year. The dairy system however improves the land & that is my strongest reason for keeping it. Beef cattle is very high about $6.00 per hun & milk cows about 30 dollars. Rents is also getting up A good farm will rent from 6 to 8 dollars an acre.
We have been all favored with good health since I seen you The children often talk about their cousins who sent them the presents. We will be expecting to see some of you before a great while as travelling is done so fast & so easy now & will be always getting more so.
I think you happened well in getting the land you bought so convenient to you. We were very glad of it.
We were sorry to learn that the health of your worthy minister was in such precarious state. We hope the Lord will yet restore him to health & usefulness among you. I was much pleased to see the effort you made for foreign missions, especially as I thought when I was there that there was some among you who were not very favourable to such projects. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Your old friend Mr Reid & family is well & is always happy to hear of your welfare & Jamie McNair is the old sixpence so far as it regards his disposition, his health is not so good he is much afflicted with rheumatism. The church he belongs to now has got an organ into it & you may be sure Jamie is sadly galled with that.
In conclusion we wish you & your family a happy new year and our best wishes for your temporal & eternal wellbeing. For their mother's sake I would say to your children to remember the meek & miserable & quiet spirit of her & as they grow in years may they grow in favour both with God and man.
We had great rains since Christmas, along the creeks & rivers great damage has been done.
Give our respects to Margaret & husband & aunts Jean & Janet You will see them often
And now dear brother we must bid you farewell
Alex & Margaret Brown

(On the outside of second sheet is this)

Mr Peter Ralston
Roscoe P O
Winnebago County

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(Transcribed copy of Alex Brown letter to Peter Ralston, he would be age 83 in June and died in April 1879, age 87.)

College Hill Feby, 14th 1874

My Dear Brother

I have heard of your severe sickness, + have often wished you were within convenient distance that I might visit you and converse of the better land where there is no sickness, and where so many of our dear ones have gone and where they are enjoying the full fruition of their hopes. How delightful to think of these words of out Savior when about to leave his disciples "in my fathers house are many mansions - I go to prepare a place for you - that where I am there you may be also." Well that will be enough to be with Jesus. I think you can rest on his promise and if I go I will come again + take you to myself. We are told that when the poor good man did he was carried by angels into Abraham bosom, In the one case we are told that Jesus will come for us + in the other that He will send his angels. We will be safe either way + the landing place the same, "The Heavenly House.'

But I have not heard of the nature of your sickness, whether you are racked with pain, + the earthly tabernacle is racking + reeling, or whether it may be the gentle loosing of the " fears", of one, who his four score years to remind him that "this is not your rest."

Blessed are they who endure The Lord has given you a long lease of good health above many others, and now I hope you can say with a spirit of submission "It is the Lord let Him do what's made good in his sight."

I noticed with great satisfaction to me when I was there that conversation was heavenward, that there was a general feeling for spiritual things and I am sure now in your affliction your mind will cling fasten to the object of your faith "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today + forever." An unchanging forever able to save to the uttermost and who has said I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. A precious promise in our extra nineties. I trust you can rely on these precious promises of which the bible is full + which is so cheering to the believer because directed to all our wants.

I hope your sickness will not be unto death but that you will be spared + recover strength that you may ??? by your example, the gospel to others + be a comfort to your children.

Margaret + I have often regretted the short time we had at your home. It was not for want of a will, but was prevented by circumstances over which we could not overcome. But the short time we had, was by us much enjoyed. I have no doubt but you are well cared for by Thomas + family, as you are surrounded by the second generation. Margaret joins in love to you + Thomas and family + Janet. And nor Dear Bro. praying that the Lord may be with y + bless you, and cause the light of his countenance to shine upon you + give you peace. Peace that floweth like river.

I remain your Brother
Alex Brown

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(Typed copy of a letter to Peter Greenlees in Illinois from his brother-in-law Hugh Ferguson in Scotland.)

Kilmaho 6th Dec'r, 1861
Dear Brother
As we have wet and stormy weather for some time past, and not much out work, I thought I would write you a few lines to let you know that all your mends In this country is enjoying" pretty good health at present, I was in company with your freinds the Armours of Rosehill a few days since, they say they are getting along pretty well, they have been driving a good quantity of potatoes from the Largie Side for the last eight days, as there is three vessels at the Quay buying, they are getting £5 per ton, they expect they will get higher, as they will be very scarce this season the most part of the farmers will have none to sell the only farmer about here that will have any quantity for sale is Mr Snodgrass Clochkeel he will sell about 100 tons and he is getting above £5 per ton at present, the white crop has been very bad this last season in general, barley and corn will average 4 [lb] per bushel lighter than last year some of the barley is so light they are using it for feeding cattle, price of barley 251 per boll, oat meal is retailing at 1/l ld per St, butter 1/ per [lb] the fanners in general has large Stack yards but far deficient in quantity and quality You will be surprised to hear of Daniel Gilchrist Balevain losing his farm, as it was thought he had a good bargain, he was very foolish for some years past and did not attend his farm his barley when took to town only weighed 43 [?] per bushel and could not be used for distilling purposes he is to be rouped out next week, and his farm is up to let, Semple his Brother in law is offering to pay his arrears and keep the farm but it is said he will not get it, John Giichrist was getting on pretty well, but it is thought he will have a dear bargain with his new tack of the two Balevains, it is likely mid Craigs will be a letting in a short time as Mr Hunter the farmer died a few weeks since, he had only 4 or 5 milk cows and 2 horses on the farm and it was very high rented, there is a new Laird has bought the farms of Drumore and Craigs with the large house and garden, Mr Wilson Auchaleek is getting along pretty [?well] he has got very lame, James does not appear to be doing any good, he has done nothing on the farm for some years past, and I may say nothing else I mentioned in my last letter to William that Mary Harvey was going to get married to a Mr Bell a supervisor he is expected in Campbn tomorrow night, and it is likely the marriage will take place in a few days, I thought when I wrote to William he was a Widower he is a young man and has a sister keeping house and two boys of a Brother's lodging with him, I mentioned in my last letter to William of our eldest son John going to Glasgow to the engineer business, he did not like Glasgow, and he has come home, and wishes to keep by the Work as he thinks it much healthier I have not sent Archd' s boy to any trade he has got a stout boy and is able to work well for his age he is in the school still, and is a pretty good scholar I was thinking if he was inclined to go to America he might get on better than go to a trade in this country, and I will have no use of him as I will require always a good ploughman, the last day I was speaking to Alexr Wylie he was wondering very much you did not send him the Cash, as they are very badly of: they were not able to pay me any rent last year as they did not get as much as they expected from America, I heard a letter of Archd Smith's read a few days since, he speaks very highly of America, you can let him know that his Father is in his usual way, Robert got his shoulder blade broke a short time since, but he is getting on pretty well with best respects to William and family compliments to James and the rest of the family yours truly
Hugh Ferguson

1865 To top of Page

1873 To top of Page
(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 fever 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 hard 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"

Andrew Ralston information at Wikipedia


(Copy of letter written to Elder Peter Ralston of Roscoe by his nephew Andrew Ralston of Scotland)

Dec 24, 1873
Dear Uncle

Your welcome letter reached me on the 3rd of this month - and was glad to see by it that you were continuing in your usual health which at your age an indeed to us all old or young is a great blessing.

I am happy to say that we all are enjoying good health also and that my mother is keeping well in usual health her pains being not quite so bad these last few weeks. She is taking some medicine which is doing her good. I may mention that you would see by the paper that I sent you lately that my wife has had a little boy on the 19th Nov. and since then both are doing well. (Alexander died 15 months1) This is our first born and we are naming him after my father whose memory we all deeply respect and may this child be a son of God an heir of glory and a blessing to the world and if spared to us may he be a comfort.

As you mentioned in your letter one generation goeth and another cometh. Men die and man still lives reminding us of our mortality and yet what a bright and glorious future all true Christians have when the earthly tabernacle is dissolved. I may mention that Mrs Howie is in her usual her parents well be a great deal the better of he company as the youngest sister is in Glenmore hlack? with her brother Matther keeping house.

Dear Uncle the year is near or close how swiftly they roll by and carry onward to the great end of all. Even at three score and ten life looks short. The past year has had its joys an sorrows its trials and comforts its many changes and yet amid it all our God is unchangeable even in the storms of life he guides the vessel of human affairs to a happy issue.

I wish you a happy new year and may each year as it goes finds us all nearer to God and better prepared to live or die. All the friends are well trusting you are enjoying the same blessings. I remember the tomb at Keil Fathers grave is quite close to the wall of the Laird Ralston's tomb, and a good many relations are buried all around it. May there be many happy and blessed reserections from its silent ashes.

Now good bye with best wishes your affectionate nephew

Andrew Ralston

1 This note seems to have been added by the person making this copy, probably P Wm Ralston.

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1874 To top of Page

Typed copy of an 1874 letter to GGGrandfather Peter Ralston in Illinois, written by John Fleming in Belfast to his Grandfather Peter Ralston in Harlem Township, Illinois.

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 29th May 1874

Dear Grandfather,

It is now a considerable time since I wrote you last, but as there was little news of any importance I still delayed- we are all in good health and getting along in the usual way Jeanie has got to be head Mistress of a School in town which increases her salary??. We were glad to hear by your last letter that yourself and all the rest of the friends are in good health.

My sisters are wondering that they had no letter from their cousins but I suppose they are something like ourselves not having much to speak about.

I was in Campbeltown for a short time this last Sumer. W Mitchell that is now in Belivain took me a jaunt for a day down by Trodigal and his fathers in Dalivadey

We went by Kilkenzie by the shore to Trodigal and saw Andrews young wife. She seems to be rather a genteel person. The people say that she is not what a farmer's wife should be however she seemed to me to be a smart decent woman although she is not acquainted with Farming. They have a fine steading of houses in their farm. I went from that to W Samuel Mitchels that used to be in his straw but now of Dalivadey. I got my diner there and was treated very kindly by him, he tells me that he remembers you quite well. He is a very manly man about Campbeltown as he attends the farmers society meetings and such like gatherings and gives occasionally little humorous speeches. He also has got a very fine steading of houses almost new. They are still better than Trodigal houses I see by the papers that trade in the States just now is very dull is not brisk hear either. The mills in this town are working on short time. Linen manufacture being the principle trade of Belfast- and as a great deal of it goes to America you will see how the panic in the States effects this market. Farmers produce hear just now is considered dear. Wheat is selling at about £13 per ton Oats from £9 to £10 hay is away about £6- Indian corn is about £10

- I think I have but little more news of any consequence. Give our best wishes to all our friends we will be glad to hear from any of them any time they might have the leisure- I hope this will find yourself in good health.

I remain
Dear Grandfather
Your Grandson
John Fleming

(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 built 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 John & Marthas licknesses.
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-
Trade 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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