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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Letters To / From America

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1868, letter.

Letter from Patrick O'Neill, New York City,

To his brother, John O'Neill,

Fall River, Massachusetts, America.

Dear John

I write you this note hoping to find you in good health and plenty of work as I have neither at present... I landed here on the first Monday of March and ever since looking for work and can't get nothing to do not even labouring work. The shoemakers are on strike here and about 500 walking out.

The masters want to reduce the wages they had and the men won't stand for it at all so they are on strike this two months. There is not enough work here for the Blacks, let alone white people.

 I am very badly off at present and would like very much to be back in Dublin where I could get some work to do. I wish to God that I never left to come to this boasted land of plenty. I stopped here for 4 days looking for work everywhere and could get none.

I started on Friday evening for Philadelphia and landed at 12 o'clock at night and went to bed and slept well. Got up in the morning, went to look for work and could get nothing to do there. We stopped there till Monday evening when we had to sell all our things for to take us back again.

We had to walk back to New York, a distance of 100 miles and passed through several small towns and could get no work in any of them.

If you seen us tramping through the snow, you would pity us. We lived on bread & water for six days and slept in poorhouses every night. We got in here Saturday morning with one cent in our pockets and nothing to eat, we are sleeping there ever since.

We get bread and soup every morning at half past six and we are very glad to get it and that is all we eat for the day.

We have dreadful weather here, snowing since yesterday. Six feet of snow in the middle of the street. Traffic all stopped, can't walk through the street. You may be sure we are very badly off and in very bad spirits.

I never led such a life nor did I expect that ever I would. We are both cold and hungry this moment and do not know where to turn to. My mind is a hell to me. I was going to drown myself last night. God only knows what will become of me.

This is a dreadful life to be leading, but we must stare fate in the face. For when we were happy, we did not know how to mind it.

I wish to God that I was back in Dublin again for there is no place like it all over the world. There is about 100,000 people idle here and every ship brings out hundreds more.

If you know anybody that is thinking of coming out here tell them for God sake to stop where they are.

I found Maurice Murphy and he gave me one dollar on Tuesday Saint Patricks Day. He has no work either. I was trying to get away all week but I could not. I went to the consul here but he could not send me over.

Don't let anybody know the way we are off, for God sake.

I will go home as soon as I can or die here by myself.

Farewell, farewell, perhaps forever your affectionate brother, Patrick O'Neill.

 Source: Noel Walsh <>

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