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Old Harney Letters by Thomas Harney

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1871 to 1882
Location: Ireland, Massachusetts, Australiamap
Surname/tag: Old Harney Letter by Thomas Harney
This page has been accessed 24 times.


Found by the late Edward F. 'Ted' Harney, Summer 1985, in boxes in the old Harney home in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

Numbers refer to the order in which they were found, and whether side 1 or side 2)

It is thought this group of letters belong together and are all written by Thomas Harney. Unfortunately they no longer exist, so handwriting cannot be compared. The numbers shown in parentheses () refer to the scraps of paper on which the letters were written. Each piece was numbered as found, to identify what was on the front and back of the paper. The numbers will not be in sequence. The letters have been arranged by date, from the earliest to the latest, where ever possible. In some instances the date was approximated by the events that are described.

Anything set of by brackets [], was added to help clarify the person or place referred to in the letter.

Sydney Harbour [Australia] (24.1) Jan. 8, 187l Dear Brothers & Sisters,

I have a chance to write of some of the things that happened since last I saw you. Most of my news is not good tidings but you must be made knowing of some of the story as I know it, instead of gossip from someone else.

When Will and I went home in '65 we thought that most of our troubles were behind of us but it was not to be so. I am all that remain. Mother, Father, Will, John and Owen have died and Patt(?)...

(24.2) He got the word from Cullity at home at Watti Ct. and took to grieving for her, but the need for letters written and others to be read kept him from dispair. He prayed that the Lord would keep her safe and when the war in the South was over we may go to her and bring her home. She always felt that America was the only home she had ever known in spite of all the places she had ever lived before then. She once said that she would be buried in grandfather's lot in the sands at Cambridge and be more content than in her family plot in France.

(13.0) As paper is hard to come . . . and ink and pen also, I use the carbon stick for mates records.

With great affection your brother Thomas Hearne the wanderer

Australia 1871

(7.0) . . . with pensils as there is no need of ink . . . and best suit of cloth ruined by the . . . I'm gladdened to know Mary is there and lads and my own. Being a stepson could be a . . . of Mother's family under the French law . . . solicitors are as theifs in the dark, I won. . . Uncle Owen is very old for his age and c... if is to buried elsewhere perhaps . . . as I've not the money at this time. I will . . . but y'll have to read it to him because . . .

(15.0 -Reverse side of #7.0) . . . at Father Paul's grave and I'm to be laid in . . . near the Sailor Monument. Ye may never . . . to this place. Australia is a . . . and ye've got much to do at . . . I send my best wishes for you . . . new bride. Annie is a common enuf . . . in the family's story.

Sydney, Aus 1873 Sept 6 Thomas H . . .

(6.1) . . . nor of Ireland and war is not the way to a peace, instead it causes a hate that burns for years. I have used HEARNE for my name because of it in these ports. There are some of the older ones here that have some memories of people "Transported for life" for politics in the past and one told me to do it years ago where ever I went to English ports. Dan is strongly affected to the Irish Parnell [Charles Stewart Parnell was elected leader of the Irish Party in 1880] and talks at times of "Remember Ireland will yet be free" and vengeance on the parliament. I urge ye not be moved to seek revenge for the tragedy of our ancestors. We are born of America and we have won all our wars while they have always lost them. Beware he not enlist some lads to become agents to free the old co(untry). He have a way about him and a tongue of gold.

(6.2) We met him in July when he came to Cork and were with him until he went to see Uncle Owen at [The family is from the parish of Drum, Athlone, Roscommon, Ireland]. He had the papers ready for him to go to Cork and then to other places until he got to Watti Ct. With the help of God you will have him now then these many months. Father was at sea in September to return to you when all were lost off of the Isles of Scilly, bodies came ashore and are buried there. In spite of all, the sea is still in my blood and bones and I have not done with it yet.

I have little liking for the politics on the land or of the lands and often see the hand of England on the water. It is not like in many ports. I have never seen a notice yet to say "No Irish To Apply" aboard an humble merchant or whaler.

(10.1) . . . you and the girls will do well. I'll not ever get home again I know as the black blood is now in the good leg at the hip and I can no longer take the potion that the chirugen (surgeon) give me when he took off my left one. I'm of an age now where I don't heel up quick and I've not the fare since our share was so small on the last voyage and I've had large expense for medicine. Perhaps y'll pray a . . .

(10.2) . . . and he would of bought it. Then if you look at the papers in Will's old chest you could find the deeds of the lands in Cambridge. He wanted to get a house to give us all a place to come to and make a home for Uncle Owen and the others that would flee the troubles of Europe. You said in your letter ye've found a lass whose from Cambridge and is willing. I'll wish ye's the best of good things to you Pat and. . .

(3.1) When the wedding comes off yell be thought of here and I'd wish I'd be among you but I'll not be able to stir from here for many months yet if ever. If any of the Cosgroves be there give them my well wishings for all. Perhaps the Lord willing I'll get to see America again before I die or too much more time.

(3.2) And if you have children call them by the old Catholic names not like a left handers that will change to English and Scotch for the sake of being known as gentry. We've nothing to be ashamed of that I know of of our people. Them that Cornwallis hung were not know to be traitors but was known to be priest hiders . . .

[Patrick Harney married Anne Curley Sept 28, 1873, in Cambridge, MA].

(11.1) Next year I'll have eighty year on me and (feel) everyone since thee legs have gone. Widder Florien gives me good care for her rent and I've not much to worry me. She was worrit up much for the need of a place when she come to me here and she'll be a pall bearer at my wake. We've not cumallya at this place like at home but they do the task all the same. I'll not make another winter through I'm sure. Pray for me that I'll rest peaceful when I go to God's judgement . . .

Edward Ted Harney, who found the letters refers to an instinctive closeness, rapport and empathy among the older generation that was not as evident among the native born. Perhaps "cumallya" expresses this feeling.

(11.2) . . .and I never meant hurt to any man if I could help him. I think of all the old times often and they were some good times. Best wishes to you all Thomas Harney the wanderer

Sydney, Australia May 6, 1882


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