Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture 12th Edition – A Letter from Ireland

I found this letter on-line a few years ago and was quite surprised that it was from a family member. Walter Shuel was married to Jane O’Neil. James O’Neil, who married Eliza Shuel in Detroit in 1848, was my 3rd great-grandfather. It is an example of the state of affairs in post-famine Ireland and the communications difficulty at the time in the 19th century. My mom mentioned that her sister was best friends with a Huggard girl who lived in Essex, Ontario.

After Walter died, Jane immigrated to Canada. She first went to New Brunswick and stayed with or near a Huggard family there. The Huggard’s were landlords in Co. Kerry before and probably during the famine.
Jane and family eventually moved to Detroit for a short while, and then back to Canada, settling in Essex Co.
Following is a transcript of a letter Jane received from her sister Millie in Caherciveen.

My Dear Sister
Caherciveen, April 2, 1854

I take this opportunity of writing these few lines to you hoping they may find you and family and Brothers in as good state of health as this leaves us at present thanks be to God for all his mercy to us. I received your letter a few days since which gave us great pleasure that ye were all well and doing well. May the Lord be thanked for all his blessings to us. I received a letter from you in October last and wrote_____answer to it the day after I received it. Seems you did not get it wherein you mentioned that you received no answer since last August from me. I mentioned to James if he did not like that country the same way was for doing at home as when he left me it seems he has not notion of coming here wherein he would not write affirms to his uncle or William or me. William is getting a very good sturdy boy and growing very big and stout. he will make a very stout handsome man. I hope the Lord will direct him. James Shuel, John Suels (sic) son went to America last month. He was living with us here since last August. We gave him money to take him to America. It was better send him where he could do something that to stop here.
James Shuel was very well since he was in Tralee until this fortnight past. He was not very well. He is something better today thanks be to God. The seton that was in his neck wore out and I am afraid he must get one on his neck again. We are doing all the Business that is supporting us. Every thing _____ very high here. flour 3-6 per stone, beef__per lb., Mutton 6 per lb., pork 8 per lb, butter 10 per lb., Indian meal 1-9 to 1-10 per stone. It is very well for you to leave this country, there is so much taxes here especially on the poor that it is very hard for them to survive. My dear Jane you will not neglect writing to me once in three months for it is great comfort to us to hear from you and family. Brothers and sisters and Catherine and her family was well the last time I heard from them and was doing well. The land they have now is better for them than [?Killlunafinan]. Jane is doing well all friends are in good health thanks be to God. My Aunt Catherine is here with us yet I thought to write to sister Mary and brother Richard to know how they were. Would wish to know how they are getting on if I knew their address. If you mentioned to me in the next letter you would send to me I would feel obliged to you and if you have heard any account of Sandy Neal-Brother Johns son. I was speaking to Peggy Giles the time I was in Tralee and she had no account of him. She desired me to write to you to know had you any account of him. James Shuel, William, My Aunt joins with me to send their best love to you and family and Brother William, Jane and her husband. Brother Alexander and wife and family and all enquiring friends and I remain your sister
[signed] Milly Shuel

Dear Jane
I hope you will not neglect writing to me once in three months
I won’t post this pay this thinking it may go the sooner.
Let me know how __eddy is or does he _____yet.
Addressed to
Wm Alexander O’Neil
Canada West
British America
To be forwarded to Mrs Jane Shuel

March 16 – New Movie about Irish Famine on History TV
The movie, “Death or Canada”, will air on Monday, March 16, at 8 p.m. on History TV.
Nominated for an Irish Film and Television Academy Award for Best Documentary Series, this powerful docudrama reveals a forgotten chapter of the great Irish Famine, and how the fledging City of Toronto was brought to its knees by the greatest humanitarian crisis of the 19th. century. For more information, visit
View the website!

Filed under: Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, Carnivals, Family Files, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, , , ,

March 2009