Letter from John Hopkirk(in Iowa Territory) to brother William(probably in Steubenville, Ohio) dated 27 September 1840.

To set the scene:

In March of 1834, William Hopkirk and his new bride Jane Redpath, along with brother John Hopkirk immigrated from their native Melrose, Scotland.  They first settled in Rochester, New York and worked in the linen mills as dyers.

They then moved on to Ohio around 1836.

On November 23, 1838, William and John became the first landowners in Lockridge Township. William purchased 160 acres, the northeast quarter of section 34.  John purchased 240 acres, the southeast quarter of section 35(160 acres) and the west 1/2 of the northeast quarter of section 35(80 acres).  

About one half year later, on May 30, 1839, brother David purchased the eastern 1/2 of the northeast quarter of section 35(80 acres). 

At the time of writing this letter, brother William was still in or near Stuebenville, Ohio , along with brother Walter and sister Elizabeth. Brother David had recently left the Iowa Territory.  Elizabeth is recorded as being in Stuebenville, Ohio in the 1840 census. William's family and brother Walter are not found in any 1840 census, but must be close by. They were probably across the river in Wheeling, West Virginia at the time of the census taking.

Following is the transcript of the letter:

Jefferson County, Iowa Territory
September 27, 1840.
Dear brother,
I received your letter two days ago and I now find time to answer your questions. 
First, you ask what it would take to put up a house and remark that your wife will not 
come unless there is a house put up for her. Now, with regard to that, may I say let her
come on, and if there is no house ready, let her camp out, as many have done and do, that
are ten times more able to pay for putting up a house than you are. I shall try by some
means or other to get a small set of logs together so that a house can be put up in a
day when you do come, and your wife can cook something to eat. This will be the principle
cost, except I have to hire the hauling of them, for you will find enough to do with your
money, and it is no use putting up a large house till you know where you can get good water. A good yoke of oxen will cost $60 and a good cow $25, a plough from $12\_$13, and a log chain 18 3/4 cents per pound. You say consider your family, well it is for you to do
that. They are none of my making. You are rolling them out at a great rate. Why man, it
will take a corn field to keep them in mush. Now laying all nonsense aside, and looking at the matter soberly, you seem to be in it bad for if you stay where you are, you must have money, and if you come here, you must have money to start with after you are. If your wife is industrious, you can do without much money. Shoes are your principle article which consumes money. Your children can run about barefoot in summer, and there are four
or five months that they will need no clothes, only a long shirt. You must sow flax, and
your wife must spin and weave and make and mend. You can wear linen trousers six months
in the year. Shirts and trousers are the only things you want much for half the year, and
if you, instead of paying 40 to 50 dollars for them, would lay out twenty of it for sheep. The house may cost between twelve and twenty. What I do will be done as cheap as possible. You are coming to a new country and you must fall into the habits of the country. If the
times are tight now, there is prospect of a comfortable old age. I would not advise to
come if I thought it would be for the worse. God forbid. I have stated things as they
present themselves to me. You will have enough to eat for yourself and family such as it is, and the free air of heaven to sharpen your appetites and brace you for labours. Concerning planting a garden, the women do that here. You must be here, if possible, about the last days in April as you must not content yourself with a garden, you must make a
crop of corn. I have put you in a little wheat. Be sure to start time enough to be here
as I say, for everything depends on starting right. I have made a fine crop this season,
for all the tremendous thunder storms. The ground has not been dry and dusty since David
was here. It has been light enough to work nearly all night with the lightening two or
three times. Try and bring my furniture along with you. You say Elisabeth will come with you. I wish
she had been here all summer because I have lived to be a pig more than a man. Either
outdoor business or indoor must be neglected and truly my mind is neglected for the time I ought to read is taken cooking or mending old clothes. I wish I could lay my hand on a
good, industrious woman, one that would be contented to share good or evil fortunes with
me without repining, but the good do not know me and the little worth I don't want. I have reason to be thankful to God that He only affected me a little. I was only four
days unable to work. Poor Chandler has to mourn the loss of his wife. She took the fever
that has wasted the family and went rapidly down to the cold, cold grave, there to rest
til the trumpet shall sound and call the long, long sleepers into life pure and immortal,
incapable of suffering or sorrow or death. And he and his child may both follow her
shortly for they look like for the grave. He has the same fever. The ways of heaven are
strange, for I went(?) to her and if Chandler ever did as they said, rejoice over me,
he has paid the debt. I had forgiven him long before the waves of sorrow broke over his
head. Since David left I have had strong vigorous health. If Elisabeth comes with you I will do a brother's part as far as God grant me means to do so. Give my love to Walter and tell him to get religion not by excitement for that will cool. Let him set his vigorous mind to work upon it and determine to gain heaven, the grace of
God helping him. I long to see him and you and father and mother and all of them. But I
fear. Adieu God bless and keep you all. J. Hopkirk Home or back to Letters