Here's something a little different. This is one of the oldest artifacts in the museum. It is a letter to David Blythe, Samuel Blythe's grandfather, from his sister, who he'd apparently connected with after a lapse of some 30 years. According to Samuel Blythe, his grandfather David Blythe left Scotland for North America shortly before the Revolution, and served with Washington at Valley Forge and Trenton.
I've transcribed the two page letter, making minor spelling corrections and adding some punctuation and paragraph breaks so you can follow it a bit more easily. It really says so much about life in that era.
Newburgh, January 5 1798
Dear Brother, I was very happy in receiving your letter the 4th of this month and I was very happy to hear that you and your family is all well as this comes to let you know that I am well at present and my husband and all our family that remains alive. I was married in the year 1770 with one a weaver to trade who was born and brought up in Newburgh. George Blyth as connected as much with the Lyells as with the Blyths. We have had 8 children 5 sons and 3 daughters. George is the oldest son and he is dwelling in Newburgh and is married. David is next and he is aboard of his Majesty's ship serving there at present. Janet is ? and that is all that is alive of them.
Dear Brother I am sorry to inform you that your father and mother is both dead. Your mother died 22 February 1781 and your father died on the 2 May 1781 and your brother William died on 10 August 1797. He left a widow and two children the eldest is Ann and the next is William. His widow's name is Alice Walker, a fine woman and that she remains in ? parish as yet and your cousin John Blyth is dead. He died the 25th February 1796. Your sister Janet is in a frail way. She dwelt with her father and mother till they died and then after they died she came to the town where I live to be near to me and she remains unmarried in a house by herself.
Your cousins is all remaining in this town. James and Margaret and Barara Blyth. James his 4 children living. Barbara has none. She was married lately. Margaret is married and she has no children. They are all very happy to hear from you of you being well. William Moris my son is well and he is a sailor to trade. He is married and his 3 children in Newburgh. Dear brother we have now all reason to bless God we who are all in the land of the living in lenthing? out the day of our visitation for it is appointed for all to die.
We are all but poor working people and our trade is very low as we are involved with a war with France and Spain and it stops our commerce but having food and reumiant? therewith let us be content. My son David is called after you. We cannot express our gladness all of us that we have heard from you sad? no more but remains your loving brother and sister till death. We write with D. David Dempster when he comes but we lack this opportunity as we have not found him out. George Blyth, Margaret Blyth
Cover: Mr. David Blyth/ Hamilton Township/ County of York/ Pennsylvania/ North America/ A Pacquich
These old letters are treasures to have. Gives a very good accounting of what went on with the family.
Charlott on 10th December 2014 @ 7:01am
Now that is a piece of old history!!
Beautiful handwriting. In a few years, our school children will not be able to read it.
Transportation has changed the landscape of this country and this world, but it also allows families to easily stay in touch with visits.
I often think of the early Oregon settlers. When they loaded their covered wagon and headed west, many of them knew they would never see again, the family left behind. Crossing an ocean as David Blythe did, would be even more final.
l.e. on 10th December 2014 @ 7:32am
I think declaring that you and your kids are still alive describes how hard life was back then. It was not uncommon to meet your end prematurely.
AndyB on 10th December 2014 @ 3:14pm
The writing has the look of having been done by a professional scribe. I am wondering is the statement "We write with D David Dempster when he comes but we lack this opportunity as we have not found him out." implies that they usually use said D David Dempster to write for them but he couldn't be found to do so this time?
Also wonder how old David Blythe was when he left home to sail to America? Did he leave with has families knowledge and blessing, or did he steal away in the night?
Longshot on 10th December 2014 @ 4:07pm
Why is it here in Hood River??????
Mauro on 19th April 2017 @ 4:32pm
Excellent question Mauro. Samuel Blythe wandered to Hood River after serving in the Civil War. He must have treasured this letter from his grandfather and kept it with his papers. He was the newspaper editor, and left an extensive collection of his photographs, letters, even a chunk of his hair which made its way to the museum at some point.
Arthur on 19th April 2017 @ 5:37pm