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John Moodie to Susanna Moodie
November 24 1839
Patrick Hamilton Ewing Collection of Moodie-Strickland-Vickers-Ewing Family Papers (National Library of Canada)

24th Novr 1839

My dearest Susie

Yesterday I recieved your very welcome letter and am rejoiced to hear that you are all well. I wrote you several days ago telling you that I had got Meyers & Hawley for my Sureties, and that I had made a fair start in my business. Parties, as usual, run high here, and find some difficulty in steering a middle course, which I am determined to do. I now see my way pretty clearly, and I shall have less trouble (I expect) than in my last year's employment.

    With regard to James Jory I have no objections to his having the farm, and I shall be glad to have him for a tennant. I think the terms so easy for him that I think he cannot object to paying the taxes as we did. You know the clearing is partly on all the lots. I wish the land along the lake to be cleared first, and have no objections to allow him any thing reasonable for the extra difficulty of clearing the swamp, – but the unlogged land is in fact land, already half cleared, and an advantage to him. The chimnies he can easily put up as there are plenty of stones on the spot for a common chimny, and you can make a present of the parlour stove if you have not disposed of it.

    The fences must be good and sufficient, that is to say of pine, oak, or cedar. There must also be a proviso that I shall not be prevented from selling the place, if I allow the amt of one years clearing, this, however, is not likely to occur. Strickland I know, will be kind enough to draw up an agreement on these terms, which I will sign, or he can sign it as my agent. [With the] exception of the conditions I require as [noted above], I have no objection to leave the mino[r details] to be arranged by him and you, and [I will] ratify any agreement you may make. [Bring] poor Jenny by all means. She is a goo[d hearted] soul, and I should be sorry to disapp[oint her] when she is so anxious to remain [with us]. Bring my dear child Aggy Caddy wit[h you] and [pack] the little Gazelle careful[ly] [ ] with plenty of cotton rou[nd her]. [I will n]ot, however, promise to return her as she comes, unless she is uncommonly hard hearted to our Belleville swains. I believe I shall be obliged to take a small house in town. There is very little choice. The brick house with the orchard might be had, – but there is the hereditary nuisance of an old man and an old woman who live in a vinegar bottle on the ground floor. [ ] it you. The Baron's house [ ] it is rather cold and we could only have it for 3 months. The only other place is a small house near where the Baron is going to live, and where the best society is to be had. There [are] three or four rooms besides upstairs bed rooms kitchen stable and tollerable garden &c. The rent about £15 or £17.10. Parker asked £30 per an. for the house the Baron inhabits. I should not object to the rent if I could have it for a longer period, and if he would give me a few acres of land with it on which there is an orchard. I shall buy the things you want in a day or two and send them by the stage to Traills care. I have a great mind to get some lady here to buy you the materials for a cloak also. [In the] mean time my love lose no time in getting all you w[ant, such a]s shoes for the children &c. And come down as soon as I let you know that I have got a house for you. I really long to kiss you all again, and I feel miserably out of my element in a tavern. The Baroness is looking round and plump, which is not to be wondered at, as the Baron has little else to do, – and you know a great deal is done in that way in a short time. But for this miserable petty party and national feeling we might be very comfortable here, – even as it is I hope we will be so. I am rather out of concert with some of my countrymen here, – who would fain draw me into their narrow notions. The two Doctors Ridley & Marshall both tollerably well disposed men on other points are the two opposite extremes in this way, and both are ready to give and take offence on every occasion. I am labouring to smooth the mutual prejudices of these differing Doctors –. I go to both Churches, and most of my countrymen go to the English Church when Mr Ketcham1 is absent. The Epsicopalians, however, are not liberal enough to follow this laudable example. Our worthy and truly Christian Minister (Ketcham) supports my views from the pulpit. I know you will love this man. Tho' somewhat of a Calvinist he never alludes to their severe doctrines either in the pulpit or in Conversation, considering them as doubtfull matters and not as essential to salvation.

    We shall have a difficult part to perform here, but by steadily pursuing a conciliatory course to all I trust by the blessing of God we may be the means of doing much good. The 'Kingston Whig' has thought proper to attack Sir G. Arthur for appointing me to the Shrievalty, calling me an out and out advocate of Responsible Govt. That paper is held in such contempt that I have not thought it worth while to answer it – but I see the 'Patriot'2 has taken up the Cudgel for me and called me a loyal trusty man and perfectly competent &c. and says that these qualities had recommended me to Sir George.

    Poor Parkers disappointment has made him half crazy – he has thrown up his commission as a Magistrate, and when his resignation was accepted by the Governor he is like to bite the ends of his fingers off. If you want money dearest write me and I will send you some. I am very sorry to hear of poor Kates illness. I hope you will be able to go to Peterboro and get the things you want. As soon as you tell me that you are ready to start I will write to Bletcher3 to send his teams. Tell me how many loads you will have. Kiss all the dear children for me and believe me ever your Affte husband

J.W. Dunbar Moodie

Bring all the bedsteads with you. I shall get some chairs tables &c.


1. Rev. James Ketcham (1797–1871), a Scot, was the Presbyterian minister in Belleville from 1831 to 1844.

2. These issues of the Kingston Whig and the Patriot are no longer available. However, on 28 November 1839 John Moodie wrote to S. B. Harrison, Arthur's civil secretary (DCB, 9:369–73), requesting a public announcement of his appointment, perhaps in an effort to quell the contention surrounding it in Belleville.

3. Barnabas Bletcher lived on the Rice Lake Road at Dale (three miles north of Port Hope) on lot 2, concession 3. He and his sons were important movers of freight in the Peterborough region. Poole says that at one time they moved 'eighty per cent of the freight that concerned Peterborough' and eventually they owned warehouses at Bewdley and Port Hope, and hotels at Dale and Bewdley. See Harold Reeve, The History of the Township of Hope (Cobourg 1967), 131–2, 228.


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