Friday, January 31, 2014

Adams Family Bayham Township Elgin County Ontario 1856

                                        Adam Adams 

This is the first letter to be published in a series of two.

From: Debbie               
Sent: Fri 24/01/14  4:22 PM             
Subject: Elgin OGS - re:  Adams Family that lived  in Bayham Township.
I have just been sent by my cousins in England two letters written  in 1856 and 1857 from Adam Adams who was living on their farm in Bayham, near Vienna, Elgin County, Ontario to his uncle and aunt in England. My cousins have re-written the two letters which were found in an attic at Aldhurst Farm in Capel, Surrey, England.

I added additional information to identify who the letters were sent to and from on top. Adam Adams was the eldest son of Thomas Adams and his wife Mary (Sayers) Adams were my 3x great grandparents and they had a farmstead in Bayham Township, Elgin County, Ontario. They are both buried in: Straffordville Cemetery, Bayham Township, Elgin County, Ontario.
I thought the historic society would be interested in these letters because it so clearly gives a picture of what life was like in the Canadian north woods.
Please feel share to publish and share these letters with others.
Debby Duluth MN USA

Letter 1 - The Canadian Letter:

This letter was written to John and Mary (Sayers) Dale, Aldhurst Farm, Capel, Surrey, England  from their nephew Adam Adams, eldest son of Thomas and Sarah Adams.

The Adams family was living on the Adams Farm in Bayham, Elgin County, Ontario, Canada  near the village of Vienna, at the time this letter was written.

Vienna Dec 20th 1856

Dear Uncle and Aunt,

     You will no doubt wonder to see the letter commencing in this way, but please excuse me for taking the liberty I have. Father and Mother are both busy and as I have a little leisure time I thought I would employ it in this way. We received yours of 17th October and were pleased to learn that you were all doing well. We are thankful to state that we are enjoying health and

have much to be thankful for. We all have our hands full  and it is always rather a formidable job to write a letter especially one to Old England for we fancy that a letter going to many thousand miles ought to be a little better than common.

     You are aware that we have in our possession a small farm near the village of Vienna. In summer father and my brothers employ themselves, in clearing and tilling the land, I suppose you know nothing or scarcely anything about clearing land the way we clear land in Canada. I believe the axes we use are not like those that are used in the 'old country'. Beech, maple, birch, ash, pine and other kinds of timber flourish on our 'Estate'. The pines are worked up into saw logs and sawed into planks and boards at the mills by which we are surrounded and then the timber is sent off to different parts of the world, no doubt a great deal of it goes to Great Britain. 

     The part of Canada in which we now reside is noted for its towering pines. The maple trees are commonly left standing on account of the sweet sap that flows them at a certain season. 

The beeches, birches and ash are manufactured into cord wood and now as stern winter has set in, in good earnest there is quite a demand for wood at our little market town Vienna. We supply a good many of the citizens with fuel. The highest price now given for wood is 2 dollars or 8 shillings per cord. 

     Thomas my brother is our 'teamster' and now when the sleighing is excellent he has fine times with his ponies and bells. In this country it is unlawful to drive on the highways without a 'string of bells' as we call them. The sledges slip along so noiselessly over the surface of the snow that there would often be a collision were not something of the kind provided. 

     As I write, snowflakes are flitting through the air heralds of the storm that is approaching, not a storm to be dreaded as the mariners dread a storm at sea but a storm bringing joy and gladness not only to the schoolboys but to the labourer.  I dare say my cousins often talk and read of Canada's cold climate and I suppose English folks look upon Canada as another Lapland. It is very cold here in winter we admit, but when our winter is more severe, when he hides the green fields, covers the ponds and rivulets with a crystal covering and drives away the feathery warblers, there is plenty of  'life, liberty and enjoyment' in our beloved Canada. 

     Father and Sarah have just returned from a funeral. Sarah informs me that she counted twenty three sleighs in the procession. The Canadian people make it a practise to attend funerals or rather it is very customary among them to attend funerals that may take place in their neighbourhood. 

     Do not my cousins sometimes talk of visiting America?  I suppose Uncle and Aunt never expect to leave the shores of their native land. It was reported that the Queen was about to visit the province but we have since learned that it is not at all likely. My cousins would no doubt enjoy themselves much should they take it upon them to cross the blue waters and spend a few weeks on the shores of the New World. They might write a book on the manners and customs of Americans, on the natural curiosities that would meet them on every hand or of the sleighs and sleighbells if they came in winter and of the heat and rapid vegetation if they chanced to come during the summer months. For my part I often think and talk of crossing the Atlantic.I do not know what would please me more than to visit some of the European countries. 

     A young man living in Vienna has just returned from a visit to Scotland and England. He was gone but a very short time and travelled over a good part of England and Scotland too. 

     We could not but admire the proposition that Aunt made about the likenesses – mother is perfectly willing to make the exchange (exchanging photographs), and we have been thinking that while you were about it, if you please, Uncle John's might be taken in the same case. There are now no Daguerreotypists in Vienna, so that mother cannot now have hers taken. It is altogether likely that Daguerreotypes will be taken again in our village as soon as summer returns. 

     I have not told you that I am at present engaged in teaching at a small school in our neighbourhood – I shall be very anxious to hear from any dear cousins. I shall expect that they will write as soon as convenient and tell me whether they attend school or whether their school days are over, how they occupy their leisure hours, what magazines and papers they take and so on. If you could send us an English newspaper occasionally we should be thankful. The Canadian papers contain a good deal of European news but still we like to have an English periodical now and then. 

     I dare say that you have read the two works written by Mrs Harriet Beecher Stowe, namely 'Uncle Tom’s Cabin' and 'Dred'. They have caused quite an excitement in this country. We have read both of them – our winter evenings are spent reading. Sometimes the History of England which we find very entertaining. We have Taylor's Manual of Ancient History, an interesting work, and various other works together with an abundant supply of newspapers, magazines etc. 

     I fully expected that Father and Mother would say something this time but Father says that he has not time as we have an opportunity of sending this to the post office this afternoon.  He is growing aged but still he works on his little farm and takes a delight in tilling his land and keeping things 'to rights', as he says. Often as we are gathered around our fireside he tells us of English manners and customs, and now as Christmas draws near, old Cornish scenes return to his mind, and he entertains us frequently with a Cornish tale. It was but the other evening that we were reading a piece headed ‘Christmas, its ancient customs' and the writer of the article said a good deal about the superstitions of the Cornishmen. In Canada some of the people are rather superstitious but none of them ever believe that the cattle all kneel at twelve o'clock or that the cock crows all night to keep evil spirits away.  

      Father sometimes dreams that he is 'back in England' without money without employment and without friends. He always fancy's in his dreams that he has been in America once and had plenty to do – then he chides himself bitterly for having been so foolish as to return to the 'Old World' when he owned a farm and was so comfortable in the New, and it is only when he gives vent to his feelings that he awakes and finds it 'nothing but a dream'.

     Old age creeps upon mother but she bears the character of being more nimble than most of the young girls in our neighbourhood. She is just as kind as ever and we youngsters often think that no one ever had a better mother than we have.

    We often take much pleasure in looking over the Band of Hope Review that you sent Sarah and she deems it the favourite work in her small library. Sarah is now taking a small periodical called the 'Childrens paper' published at Edinburgh, no doubt you have seen it. John, the youngest subscribes for the 'Childs paper' and expects next year to take 'Forresters Boys and Girls magazine' – As for my humble self I am at present taking the National magazine published at New York. It is a very instructive and with me a highly valued publication. 

     I must now hasten to conclude for John who is our errand boy is waiting to take this to the Post Office.  Mother was much pleased to hear from her old friends but was much surprised to hear of the  death of William Marsh and others. She was sorry to learn that Robert Marsh was so afflicted but was gratified to know that he was resigned to his affliction.

     We all send our love to you and to all our friends. Do beg of my cousins to write as soon as possible for we shall be so 'dreadfully pleased', as the Yankees say to hear from them and soon we shall expect to see the likeness (photograph) of Uncle and Aunt in our humble Canadian cottage. Oh, won't that be a treat. Please do not disappoint us but send it as soon as possible. - Mother has her likeness taken and it is so wonderfully life-like that we would not part with for a great deal.  We would send this, for Mother might have another taken but we have concluded to wait till summer and then Father and Mother if spared will have theirs taken together and if nothing happens that shall be sent over the 'Briny Deep'. 

I am

Your affectionate nephew,

Adams Adams

Father wishes me to state that for the past year he has been taking the Christian Guardian a weekly published at Toronto. Next year he intends to subscribe for the Montreal Witness.

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