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James G. Birney II - Letter to son George in 1846.

George Birney, son of James G. Birney II and his first wife, Agatha McDowell, was born February 1, 1832 at Huntsville, Alabama. He died November 13, 1855, Lower Saginaw (now Bay City) and was buried in a new cemterery founded by his brother James (now Pine Ridge Cemetery).

Lower Saginaw, Aug. 24, 1846

My dear George,

Whilst I regret that you have not received more letters than you have, I am glad that you set such store by your correspondents. I suppose, by this time, you have received a good many, as I know of some on the way for you, which must have come to hand before now.

William, some time ago, joined the Free Masons, after I had publickly expressed my disapprobation of Free Masonry. What I thought made it worse, he came to see me, & never said any thing about it. In doing so, he treated me with a disrespect & want of confidence that I did not deserve, & about which I wrote to him, telling him that our correspondence as father & child must cease. It did cease & has never been renewed. He wrote to your sister, Florence, too, in a manner that I thought tended to weaken the lessons of moderation that I gave her --- to make her vain, &, insure, to do her, as I thought, no good. Their correspondence has, also, ceased. This may be the reason that he has ceased writing to you. I gave him no express injunction about it.

I am concerned at the illness of Mr. & Mrs. Kinsley --- but much rejoiced at their getting well again. I feel almost certain that you will continue to merit the measure of favor, which Mr. K. shows [sic] to you.

We too have had a warmer season than common. The mercury has only been to its highest point, 93* & this for only a short time in two days, but we have had from 86* to 90* a large part of the day, --- the heat of those last degrees not changing much till late in the afternoon. The consequence has been, more sickness than is usual amongst us.

The sickness however, is for the most part, ague & fever, & the Chill fever. We have had no death in the township, as yet. We have two sick in the house. They are new comers, among whom, as their exposure was great, so their attacks have been violent. They are mill wrights. Mr. Fraser is building a mill, a short distance above the warehouse. These are part of the hands from Ohio.

Your mother is very kind to all who are sick. I am in hopes, they will get over their attacks without dying. Though, my dear George, to take away from us the fear of death, we must always be prepared to meet it. This we cannot reasonably be, unless we have made God our friend, & wish to be with Christ, our mentor. God has implanted in the human race, generally, a fear of dying.

If it were not so, people would, oftener than they do, commit suicide. But the dying bed of the Christian, he makes smooth & easy: --- the Christian meets death, not as his enemy, but as his friend, who is to guide him to his eternal rest. I hope, dear George, that you are not at all afraid of dying,__ & that it is because your trust is in God, through Christ Jesus our Lord. I am yet, unable to see, that a true disciple of Christ wishes to be here always, engaged in the affairs of this world --- & never to see the great Being, who he has been serving.

You say, you “have had very little trouble with the boys, during the month about reports.” So you will always have comparatively little, Dear George, when they once see, & become convinced, that you are firm. There are some, however, that it is hard to melt down: Against such, you must calculate to set yourself. Beside, doing your duty, always gives you your own respect, which one that does it not, never can possess. This is the advantage which Christianity has over all religions --- it is based on self respect --- on constantly trying to do our duty, according to the rules of the Being who made us.

You have not said yet, where you wish to spend your vacation. Peterboro & New Haven present the only alternatives known to me. You can make your election of them. If you have any other place in view, & can consult me in time, I will give you my opinion. So I doubt not, would Mr. Kinsley.

Do not suppose, if I don’t write to you often, that I have forgotten you. My dear son, no: You are too Dear to me to be forgotten. But I have a great many letters to write__ I have to write them all myself, & writing is now a tedious & slow business with me, to what it used to be. Your mother sends you a great deal of love. So I doubt not would Florence, if she were present.

Your mother, Florence, Fitzhugh & I went up to Mr. Octavus Thompson’s last week. We left Florence there, to come down on Thursday next.

Your reports are generally so good that you must have had some reason for your report of Aug. 1, not being quite so good as common.

I have now about 40 head of cattle, little & big. I have rye stubble & clover in the old field above --- where I have six very superior calves, that I hope to sell in the course of next month. The almost white & the brown oxen, that you had in a yoke a while are growing very large. They are yet very tame, & will come up to me at any time.

I sold the steer that sucked Jessica, having lost its mother & its match, that you had not in yoke to Mr. Rogers --- a pair to Henry A. Campbell --- the black ox to James McCormic --- two young red ones to Mr. Blend. Mr. Blend worked him out with me at a Dollar a day. I have killed two --- render?? several lambs & a calf.

I have the ponies yet. They are very fat & well broken. I have also John, who is not very large, but a great beauty. My sheep are very fat & good. We have now but 5 hogs for killing. I attend to them. They are fat etc. Mr. Andrews suffered the pigs we had last winter to be lost in the barn. The mother of the pigs died this year with heat & fat. We had not fed her for six weeks before she died. Mr. Blend is going to my place over the river, & will take care of my cattle there this winter. Next winter, come a year, I expect to spend there myself in our new house. All my stock of every kind are doing well. There are great changes going on here. You will not know the place in a year or two more. The garden, I have kept very clean. It is rewarding us amply. We have used a nice water-melon & musk melon out of it. We shall have a great many. The small lot back of the garden, & the lot back of the barn, I have in root, potatoes principally. They look well. This is all the crop except the Rye, that I have got.

Remember me very kindly to Prof. K. & lady. Farewell my Dear Son,

James G. Birney.

Related Notes & Pages
J.G. Birney sketch (1844)

Related Pages:
James G. Birney (father)
Pine Ridge Cemetery
People Referenced
Blend, Birney, Florence (dau)
Birney, George (son)
Birney, James G. (subject)
Birney, Wm. (son)
Fraser. James
McCormick, James
Thompson, Octavus
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Free Masons
Lower Saginw, MI
New Haven

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