These letters survived untouched in a small wooden box for more than 100 years. They were rescued from that silence by one of Donald McGilp's great-great grandchildren.
Archibald McMillan was the son of Donald's sister, Mary/Marion McGilp, and John McMillan at Castle Sween farm in North Knapdale.
This is the second letter from Archibald McMillan in this collection. His comments about the "negro Boys" he purchased - and his pride in owning some forty "Negros" show that more than Time has passed since 1858.
Alphabetical listing of People mentioned in letters
Letter #10: from Archibald McMillan, North Carolina, 1858
My Dear Uncle Donald,
Your old sister Effie is still on the land of the living. She is very frail and hard of hearing; all her Family are well, her son John G McLean Esq is still single and lives with her and her son Alexander. Niell A McLean, her youngest son lives a few miles from her; he is married, has two children, and in good circumstance, he is an excellent House carpenter, and done a Great deal of work for myself. I Sold him Negro property for his labour that would readily sell for $1200. He is building a Barn for me that I expect to finish before Christmas: - I have only the frame up; it is two stories High, 18 by 30 feet. I expect to cover it and let it stand till fall.
We are very busy planting at this time. I am about half done. I am done planting my sweet potatoes today; I have three of my best hands hired out for $500 a year. I have Turpentine trees rented out for the year for $500 more; the best hand I got goes with my Timber Waggon; when he donít Waggon for myself I lets him Hawl for others at $4 per day.
I was in Wilmington a few weeks ago and sold an excellent raft of Timber very low, it only brought me $460. I only got $8 per thousand feet plant measurement.
I bought two negro Boys this Spring, one is a good plough boy for which I gave $1002; the other is small and I gave $600 for him; both likely. Property is very high in price.
I thought you had regular correspondence with Scotland, that you heard regularly from your poor nephew Alexander McGilp, Tayvallich; we sent him $100 for which he has very thankful; he received the money in Lochgilphead all safe. I have not written to him lately. I was urging on my cousins McLeans to write some times, but I believe they donít write at all. As for Peter Patterson, I donít expect him to write or to help any person whatever, he is very wealthy and all a Blue, no McGilp there.
I have two sons, well advanced in Education: they will start to college in June, one will enter the Soph. Class, the other, the freshman class; the eldest will be from Home three years; the youngest four years. They will cost me upwards of $2000 to complete their Education. I have two more Boys by my last Wife and a Daughter, all promising children.
My own health was bad last winter about the time John McNichol was at my House; my health was bad with a cold and cough, but has been gradually improving every since. At this time, I have no reason to complain, the Lord has wonderfully blessed me all my life with Good Health.
I need not be particular in stating all points to you, as you had a day of John McNicol, he would tell you all about me: he would either contract or expand according the whim or notion he would take; poor John used to call me Uncle, and would say he would have as many Negroes as Uncle; yet he has none yet, and I expect he never will, and Uncle has the use of Forty, Thanks be to the Lord for his Goodness to me, he has Blessed and prospered me in all my undertaking all my life, it is 21 years since I drank any ardent Spirit. I have it in the House and Wine of my own make, two years old.
I am as well off in the world as Fear* na Duine or Fear* Ulva or Fea*r a Knap, or any of the Fears in Argyle ever was. I donít say anything about the Laird, that is over my hook.
.... (torn page)
The children of big Donald and Neill and John, whose youngest Daughter is my present Wife, are all well and doing well. Alexander McLean, my cousin, is married to another daughter of John, and has 5 or 6 children. Your cousin John McLean Buie is still living; your nephew Niell McLachlan and his sister Sara are well and doing well; their Father, old Peter, is in a low state of health, not expecting to live long.
Give my warmest respects to all your Family and to all my cousins in Canada; some of them could write to me and did write before now, but ceased to write. Call them to go to see some of the new States before they settle in Canada, and to write me and if my health will permit, I will write to them again.
I remain your Nephew till death,
My dear Uncle, I never expect to see you in this life. Oh! May we be prepared through Grace, to meet in Heaven, where parting will be no more, is my Prayer. Write to me soon and let me know how you all are.