This is the first letter that we have seen from James Kaine aka Keane (John Kaine’s brother) since he wrote to tell his Aunt Bess about his marriage 8 years ago in 1858. Link to post: https://acompellinglifeblog.wordpress.com/2020/06/22/letter-6-november-16-1858-the-cake-is-in-the-mail/

Since then, James has been working as a store clerk in Clinton and three of the eight children that he will have with his wife have been born. James seemed to care a lot for his Aunt Bess so I assume that there were other letters sent to her in his elegant handwriting in the ensuing years, however they are not in the collection of Kaine letters that I have.

Like the rest of the Kaine family, James wanted Aunt Bess to join the family in Canada and came up with an idea that might have served to speed up the reunification. He wrote, “You were always saying that if you could get any person coming here you would come.

25 Kaine Letter December 17, 1866
Transcribed from the original by Kerrin Churchill Jan 10, 2020
James Keane to Aunt Bess from Clinton, Ontario Canada to Freshford, Kilkenny, Ireland

Dear Aunt,
You were always saying that if you could get any person coming here you would come. Now there is a man that left here about three months ago in England and he wrote to me saying that if you wanted to come out or send any message he would be very happy to do all that lies in his power for you. He said that he intended coming back here as soon as he gets ready. If you want to know the time that he will be ready I will give you his address.
Mr. John W Down
Park Tavern
Clifton
England
Dear Aunt you used to be afraid that the fenians would take Canada but I suppose ye are more afraid of them now than we were some time ago. We are not the least afraid that they will be able to take Ireland no more than they were able to take Canada. I believe that it is no more than a grand money making Speculation got up by some Leaders and of coarse they will get dupes to follow them if they only say that they are against England.
Dear Aunt I hope this will find you and Aunt Mary in good health as it leaves us all here at present thanks be to Almighty God for all his blessings to us unworthy sinners. Is there is any body else that enquires after us give them our best love as I forget nearly all the folks names as it is so long that I left home. I have nothing more in particular to say only I wish you all a happy Christmas and Merry New year and down with the fenians. Hoping to hear from you soon
I remain your affectionate
Nephew
James Keane
Clinton Ca
P. S.
I was writing to Mr. Down(s) and gave him your address so it is likely he will be writing to you J.K.

James knew Mr. John Down, who appeared willing to help Aunt Bess as James stated, “he would be very happy to do all that lies in his power for you.

An exciting development indeed! This offered Aunt Bess practical assistance to embark on the ocean journey that must have been terrifying for her to contemplate taking on her own. The comments in the letter provide some insight as to why Aunt Bess had not turned up on the numerous occasions when the family expected her.

The mounting threat of the Fenian attacks in Ireland may have given Aunt Bess a stronger incentive to face her fears, though James wondered if the whole rebellion is “no more than a grand money making Speculation got up by some Leaders and of coarse they will get dupes to follow them if they only say that they are against England.” Conspiracy theories were as alive and well in 1866 as they are today!

The address that James gave for his acquaintance, Mr. Down(s), was the Park Tavern in Clifton, Bristol, located in south west England. Bristol was not a major passenger port in the 19th century because the passenger liners were too large to use the city docks. I learned that many emigrants travelled from Bristol on smaller merchant ships, which often advertised for passengers in local newspapers. Because James worked as a shop clerk , he may have met Mr. Down(s) when he came to Canada as a merchant to sell goods. Maybe James thought Aunt Bess could come with Mr. Down (s) on a small ship with his goods. Pure speculation on my part but it makes some sense when I researched the history of Bristol.

Mr. Downs address was a tavern which probably would have served as a hotel for commercial travellers then. More research needed. Stay tuned!

4 thoughts on “Letter #25 December 17, 1866: James to the Rescue!

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