James Dunlop Letters
Below are trancriptions (and links to the original pages) of letters that James Dunlop, an early Hayes Twp. settler, wrote to his brother and sister. The brother to whom the letter was written is not mentioned by name, but the sister is Mary Dunlop--this brother and sister both came from Scotland to Canada, and remained there.
James and Jane (Girvan) Dunlop, both born in Scotland, were married Dec. 4, 1867, in Galt, Waterloo Co., Ontario, Canada. He was the son of John and Elizabeth (Duncan) Dunlop, and his bride Jane was the daughter of William and Marion (Templeton) Girvan. After their marriage, James and Jane Duncan moved to Illinois, where several children were born, lived briefly in Tennessee, and then came to Dickinson County. Jane's brother, Bryce Girvan, lived with the James Dunlop family in Dickinson County and is buried at Bethel Cemetery, as are most of the Dunlop family (see Bethel Cemetery listings on this site).
James Dunlop was very enthusiastic about Kansas and the opportunites that agriculture afforded someone who was willing to work hard--in these letters he seemed to be trying to convince his relatives to join him in Dickinson County.
Detroit, Dickinson Co.
Kansas 14th June 1874
My dear Brother—
We duly received your much esteemed letter of May 12th and were glad to learn that you were getting along firstrate.
I have now got all my crops in and will be ready to harvest in about a week. My rye is ripening fast. My whole crop comprises about 54 acres, divided as follows-viz. 24 acres of spring wheat, 4 acres rye, 21 acres Indian corn, 1 ½ acres potatoes, balance in peas, beans, carrots, beets, parsnips, onions, tomatoes, cabbages, peanuts, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes, besides numerous other garden vegetables, and a small flower garden in front of the house, enclosed by a picket fence. Spring wheat is a light crop, won’t probably average more than ten bushels per acre. Rye rather light—will average from fifteen to twenty bushels per acre. Corn now looks very well, some of it is over two feet high, promises well for fifty bushels per acres. I have never seen a better promise for a potato crop than I have this year—rows three feet apart and eighteen inches in the row, and they almost cover the ground, and now in blossoms (we had new ones for dinner today). Sorghum promises well, will make probably a hundred gallons of molasses. Roots and garden stuff generally look firstrate. We are having splendid growing weather. Plenty of rain and hot weather. I cannot now cultivate my crops, the ground is so wet, but they are now pretty clean, and would make a good crop if nothing more was done to them.
There is going to be an immense crop of all kinds of fruit. Peaches in particular, they won’t be worth twenty cents a bushel.
Not many apple trees old enough to bear yet, around here, but what there is will have a full crop. Apple trees will bear the third years from planting out in orchard, or when the trees are five years old from root grafts. Peach trees will bear in three years, from seed or bud, if not transplanted. Trees grow quicker here than anywhere I have been.
Since the 6th of March last, besides planting and putting in all of my own crop (except the rye which went in last fall) and planting out my orchard, I have earned in cash over $35—so you see I have had not much time for pleasure.
I intend to help one of my neighbors to cut a field of 540 acres of winter wheat, at about $3 a day for myself and team, so that I will have all my own harvesting paid for before spring wheat is ready to cut. Winter wheat and rye is all cut before spring wheat is ready.
I am probably wearying you with my farming operations, if so pardon me, as I take a great interest in it. Write soon and give us all news. Your Glasgow paper arrived and many thanks, I take out only the N. Y. Tribune. Please send a Montreal Witness. I used to read it constantly in Canada. With kindest love to both you and Mary, I am your affectionate brother, J. Dunlop
Original letter: Page 1--Page 2--Page 3--Page 4
Detroit, Dickinson Co.
Kansas, 1st Nov. 1875
My dear Brother and Sister—
We duly received your very welcome letter and were glad to hear that you were all getting along fine. I hope you will excuse me for being so long in writing, but I have been awfully busy this fall, and will be for a good while yet.
We had a letter from home a few days ago. They all seem well at home, but Ellen has been very sick with heart disease and dropsy. Fred and Agnes [note: this is James Dunlop's sister Agnes and brother-in-law Fred Barker] had been home and came by Edinburgh to see Ellen. Cousin Robert Dunlop very suddenly, he went to bed at 9 and was dead at ½ past 1. Maggie did not say what was the matter. So that is the last of Uncle Robert’s sons.
I must now tell you that I have increased the area of my farm a little—have bought 40 acres of land adjoining ours, with a good stone basement house, well, cattle yard and stable, and I have pit in 19 acres of wheat on it. So if you come out to Kansas I can give you a good house to live in. My place is now in this shape [note: see drawing on Page 2 in original letter]. L. H. Long bought the other half of the place—the dotted line show the line between us. I was not able to buy the whole 80 acres alone, so we bought it between us. I got the buildings and nearly all the improvements, but had to pay more than half.
I have now in 30 acres of wheat and will have in 10 acres of rye this week.
Have just finished digging potatoes and had in all about 300 bushels. They are now worth 50 cents a bus. My sugar cane made 131 gallons of molasses, worth 75 cents a gallon. Thrashed 120 bush. wheat—worth 1.00 a bus. 120 bus. rye—40 cents a bus. Sold about 50 dollars worth of cabbages and vegetables and have 300 heads of the best cabbage yet. Have 50 bus. beets, 50 of carrots, and 100 bus. turnips. Sold 5 acres of corn in the field at 12 doll. And the party that bought it does the husking and besides Jane had sold of 70 dollars worth of butter, eggs and chickens. Will also have 1000 lbs. pork and I store hogs for next year, and corn enough to feed the stock till another crop comes—so you see we can raise a little in Kansas when we have anything like a fair season. There is now considerable difference between this fall and last. People have got over the grasshopper scare.
You must now tell me all about your farming—what crops you raise, how they yield per acre and their value. Had you a good crop of cranberries.
I hope you will not be so tardy in answering as I have been. Remember me to your brother John. I would just like to see you all out here. We all enjoy good health, and hope you are all well. Jane joins in love to you all and I remain your affect. brother James Dunlop.
Original letter: Page 1-- Page 2--Page 3--Page 4