History | 1834 Letter home from Chicago | Back
The following letter appeared on page 7 of the 19 Jun 1913 issue of The Simcoe Reformer.
[Transcriber's Comment: The addressee is the recently married Vittoria village Post Master, Simpson McCall (1807-1899), a son of James Simpson McCall (1781-1820), and a grandson of UEL pioneer Donald McCall (1735-1818) and Elsie Simpson (1745-1837). The author is Simpson's brother James Alexander McCall (1811-1887) born and raised in Norfolk County]

Oct. 2, 1834

Simpson McCall, P.M., 
London District, 
County of Norfolk, 
Vittoria Post Office.

Dear Brother --

I take this opportunity to inform you that I have written an answer to every letter that I have received of yours. This is the fourth letter since July from you. And I am happy to receive them. 

Last mail I received two letters: one from Daniel Smith, of 26th Aug., and the other from my cousin George McCall, of the same date. He says his folks are all well, and the rest of my friends on Talbot street, and that he has some notion of coming here to Chicago to work at his trade. It would be a good thing for he can get good wages here, from one dollar to three of a day. There is a good many carpenters here now, but there is work enough for as many more.

Mr. Smith tells me of a good deal of funny news of the marriages and courtships that have happened since I left. How Miss Phoebe Price is married to A. Hucheson, and Mr. D. W. Freeman to some young lady in that place. Also the postmaster of Vittoria to Miss Lamport. If that is the case, I wish you would write and let me know something about her, who she is and where she came from, or what her occupation is, or whether she is a sister to Thomas Lamport or not. And how the rest of the young men make out amongst the girls of Long Point, and how my dear brother, John H. McCall, is about, and all the rest of my brothers and sisters, and how Big Dan, as they call him, is. I send my best respects to him.

I am glad to hear that grandmother is getting better. I hope she will regain her health again. But I am sorry to hear that my old friend Thom Allen is no better, and that Mr. John Green is very ill. If I was in that neighborhood I would go and see them both and try to encourage them all I could, but I am too far away at present, and I would beg one favor of you if they are alive. When you get the news, I wish you would please go down some Sunday if you can any other time, or if you can't, you please write each of them a line and tell them of the love that I have for them. Dear beloved friends that I wish with all my heart that they will recover their health again, and that I may rejoice with them once in this life, but, if I can't, that I hope I will at the last day, when I hope we will all be happy. Give my best respects to Mr. Doan's family and the neighborhood round. Tell them I am as well as when I left there, and in much better humor, that I am well-pleased with my undertakings.

I am finisher of leather for John Miller in Chicago. I began to work for him the 8th of Sept., and I think it will take me till Nov. to finish out my last stock. The reason of his throwing up the trade is, this, it don't agree with him, and he thinks he can do better with a sawmill. He has now bought two lots of land about 12 miles from Chicago, and is building a mill on the north branch of the Chicago river.

Almost any kind of business is good in this vicinity, such as lumbering, tanning, farming, or merchandising; wages are high and workmen scarce. I am earning $1 and a half per day. I think this middling well considering. Mr. J. Miller and several more of the gentlemen of this place want me to start the business here. They will assist me to anything I want if I will make a move towards it. In the fine settled country around this vicinity there is no tanner short of eighty miles of here, though there is no end to the hides. They fetch them 100 and 30 miles and sell them for 3 cents and 4 cents for green hides and 6 to 8 dry, and take trade for them at that. There is no doubt but a tanner would do well here.

There is three Butcher yards in this town now and they kill from 3 to 8 head and as high as 12 and 18 cattle per day at the present time. When I came here last fall there was only fifty frame houses in Chicago, and I counted them last Friday and there was 600 and 28, and there is started from 3 to 5 a day. About two hundred of them stores and groceries. There is 7 taverns, but board is high for all, from $2 to $3 per week. I don't give them my custom. I could board myself for $1 per week here as well as any of them. Mr. Miller gives 12 shillings a day and boards me in the bargain.

I have nothing more at present. I think I shall come home this winter and see you all perhaps for the last time. Give my Best Respects to my Dear Mother, Grandmother, Brothers, Sisters, and all the rest of friends and relatives in Long Point and vicinity. I add no more, but remain,

Your affectionate Brother till Death,
James A. McCall
Chicago, Cook Co. Ill.