This letter was written by Daniel M. Fisher (1810-Aft1850), a native of Scotland, and his wife Margaret Allan (1820-Aft1850) of Salt River, Knox County, Missouri. Daniel’s parents, Andrew Fisher (1785-1863) and Jane McLaren (1788-Aft1850) also emigrated to the United States by way of Canada and lived with Daniel and Margaret at Salt River. Daniel’s farm was located in the northwest quarter of section 22 in Knox County.
Adding a note in this letter, and — like his brother Daniel, also asking to borrow money, was Andrew Fisher, Jr. (1807-1842). Andrew came to Missouri with his wife Isabella and numerous kids.
The letter was written to brother-in-law and fellow Scotsman, Andrew Cunningham who married Ellen (“Helen”) Allan (1812-1880) in 1836 and lived on a farm some three miles northeast of Virginia, seat of Cass County, Illinois. It is said that Andrew arrived in New York in 1834 and came westward on the Erie Canal, by stage, and by foot to Cass County. He started a tannery there which became quite profitable but apparently made him a target of needy relatives.
Addressed to Mr. Andrew Cunningham, Virginia, Cass County, Illinois
16 June 1839
I would have written you some time ago but I though to wait until I got a letter from David which I had about two weeks since. He is the poorest news breaker that ever I met with for with the exception of old Strange’s death, some additions to the distillery, and the cook’s health & ____ing of wee Magee, there is nothing worth the mentioning. My brother Andrew wrote you some time ago but it must have been something very secret and important as he never mentioned it. I only saw the letter in Bill’s hand going to the post office (maybe some of Tibby private correspondence). If it was, it is of no account as everyone knows it already I am certain.
I have had a great deal of both since I saw you. In fact, it almost amounts to a chapter of accidents. On my return from Illinois, I was so unwell (likely from fatigue) that I was unable to do anything for two weeks. When I did get out again, I found the fire had run through the woods and burnt up one half of my rails from 1000 to 1500. Well no sooner had I replaced part of them and commenced to haul them than my horses cleared out and I did not see them for 12 or 14 days and I never turn him out to grass but it takes me a day to find him. My time has been so much wasted one way or another that I have gotten very little done.
I have only gotten between four or five acres planted and that was very badly done. I find my horses are not able to break prairie themselves and as my father has but one pair of oxen and Andrew finds plenty for his to do so borrowing is quite impossible. I cannot get along without one yoke of oxen and the most of my money went for my land. I have not the means at present and to get them on a credit here would be to pay double price for them.
Now as I have about one thousand dollars to get from Mr. Hood yet, I would be much obliged to you if you could advance me a little more of the needful on the same terms as last time as it would be losing my time to be without cattle until I could get it from Canada — say sixty dollars for ____ and as I _____ debt to on draft about dirty dollars which he told me last March he did not want until we got our next installment. He wrote me a note the other day demanding the payment of it on account of a dispute we had about some work I did for him last winter which he was to return this spring when he told me I was well paid because my horses were in his stable last winter. He had nothing in it himself. If you have the money to spare, I would like one hundred dollars but be aware that as I am due my Father for some land he bot for me that unless he gets some money from the Old Country for some property that he is disposing of, I will have to pay him of Hood’s n___ remittance which will leave you very little this time so that you would have to wait a year for it.
If my father should get the money which is likely, I will be able to clear scores with you this winter as harvest promises to send it off without delay. The reason it was so long of coming last time was the Bank folks asked six percent on the bill but told him it would be had for some less soon which harvest ought to be ½ percent — about 1½ dollars on the whole. If the proposal should meet your approbation, you can send on the money and note with John if he has got your ____ and interest visiting our habitation. If not, you might get a bill of that amount and send the half of it in a letter with a note written on the _____ which I will put my name to and return which you send on the other half the next post. I think this as safe a way as I know unless you could get an order on the Missouri Bank — a branch of which there it at Palmyra which would be quite handy for me. Perhaps you know of some better plan. If so, let me hear from you soon as I am quite at a stand for want of the beasts. Mag intends adding a few lines so I remain yours truly, — Daniel M. Fisher
P. S. Should John come out our way with the money and call at the old man’s or Andrew’s first before he gets our length, caution him to keep a close mouth as Tibby talks over the family affairs [spoken] in confidence to every old woman she meets with.
I wish you would send the rifle with John and leave my shot gun as Bill is very anxious for it and I will settle with you when I see you next. — Dnl
Andrew heard that I was writing you and has come to add a few lines.
I take the opportunity of Donald [Daniel] writing you to ask a favor. I have found it necessary to buy a horse to tend my corn with. That of course has made me short of some money. There is also a piece of timber land joining my own which I intended to purchase the next money I got from Canada, but it will be necessary that I should enter it now if I want to get it as there has been some men looking after it. Could you spare me 100 or 150 dollars until Hood’s money comes. If so, let me know as soon as possible either by letter or by John Allan and Mrs. Cunningham should they intend coming our way soon. I would come after it whenever my corn is laid by. — Andrew Fisher, Jun.
I am such a bad hand at writing that I hate to begin but you must not think that it is for want of will. I received your kind letter and present with Donald [Daniel] for which I was much obliged to you as I was entirely out of a house gown and the one you sent was the best one I could have got. Your garden seeds I have not been able to make use of excepting the peas as we have been so much put about this spring but I have kept them and I hope we will get better on another year. Christina wrote a few lines at the end of David’s letter and told me she had a very entertaining letter from you but never mentioned either my father, ma Allan, or any of the boys.
As for your jaunt to Canada, I think it is too far for you. You had better come out here with John as it is a much shorter distance and would be equally as good for your health. We have very few nice things but for all that, we will be very happy to see you. Write me soon, dear Helen, and remember your affectionate sister, — Margaret Fisher