Pioneering Days—The Authentic Voice of Despair

page two: Physical danger and loneliness, followed by success

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Serviture on an estancia, 1890
The owner of the following letter, Susan Leake, has given permission for it to be included on this web page. It was written by John Moody probably to his sister Helen Eliza Moody (1849-1906), wife of Chief Petty Officer George Rebbeck, R.N.

This is the despairing tale of a man and his wife who in 1889 sold what little they possessed in Southampton, England in order to try to make a new life in Argentina. He found he had exchanged urban poverty in a large English city for the life of near servitude working as a farm labourer in the Province of Buenos Aires. Nothing more is known about the author of this deeply unhappy letter, and what happened to him.

Southamerica May 8/1890

Dear sister and brother and all send you a few lines to you hoping it will find you all well and happy as thank god it leaves us well as we can expect for the bitter place as we are in dear sister and brother I was silley enough to emegrant out here in which I am very sorry for but dear sister I can tell you that it is something dreadful out here I sold my home and living last year we left Southampton the secont of March and I wish that we both had died the morning as we are come away dear sister and brother we are about six hundred miles from bueonos ayres and we are fell into very bad hands our master is a frenchman and have great property there is five of us english here to of them came from portsmouth and to with me from southampton dear sister we are nearly starved our food is nothing but maize and rice bread and cheese and butter and vegetables we cannot get none for bread is only ten pence a pound suger shilling and sixpence a pound no tea no potoatos at all our pay is soposed to be 30 dollars a month and it takes 3 of this paper money here for to make one of gold dollars so our money amounts to 2 pounds a month all the masters have got shops of there own and they charge wat they like and they only give us paper money to go to there own shops to by what we want we have abeen here 13 months and we have had no settlement since we have been here dear sister and brother what I shall do i do not no the rest of the english is going to leave me here by my self there friends and gentlefooks is getting there money to go back to england the to that come out with me from southampton goes back next month and the others are expecting there letters every day but dear sister and brother I must stop here to perish and die I have no friends to look to for help but the only true god and I look to him for help dear sister do send me back a few words of comfort and tell me if my poor father is alive or dead and how my only brother is and your self dear sister and brother I cannot write no more for I am blinded with tears good by and god bless you from your loving brother and sister if we never met on earth the lord grant that we may meet around his throne in glory good by X  X  X  X  X  X from a long unworthy brother
X  X  X  X  X  X  X (kisses) X  X  X  X  X  X  X

Mr John Moody
Colonia Ocampo
Argentine Republica
South America

© The form of presentation is the copyight of Jeremy Howat, May 2006

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