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Slide Show - - John Esplin and Margaret Webster’s Lives

Prepared by Ann Thompson

for Esplin Reunion in
St George, Utah,
September 17, 1977


Scottish Bagpipe Music

In my mind has been flashing the consciousness that says: “WANTED - - INFORMATION ABOUT HIS MAN!” So I have set out to find it – some of the results I share with you today. Many of you are better informed about him and his life than I, but perhaps we will find pleasure in reminiscing together.

How interesting it would be to have a baby picture of him, or one of him in his youth. We have a brief comment from his brother, David, who was twelve years older than John, written in 1855, in which he says: “We have only one boy, two and one half years old. I named him after our lost brother William. He is a fine little fellow just like what you were yourself at his age”

John is described as being a small and wiry man, with dark hair and deep set eyes, and a kindly disposition.

He was of Scottish descent, born in Wardend, County of Perth December 12, 1828. This is a copy of the map of Scotland, that was in his family Bible and preserved by Hattie Esplin Durfee.

John’s father, Alexander Esplin, was born in Lochee, Forfar (now Angus), and his mother, Margaret Campbell, was born in the village of Alyth, Perth, Scotland. John was christened at Alyth, and was the youngest of seven children born to this couple.

One hundred and twenty years later, a great, great grandson, Steven Larrabee, went to Scotland as a missionary, although he never labored in the area of their homeland, he is shown standing by the motto that so inspired David O McKay during a day of discouragement when he was a missionary there – “WHAT ‘ERE THOU ART, ACT WELL THY PART.” There are other family members who have filled missions and visited in Scotland.

John records in his biography that his father was a farm servant, and says of himself, “from 9 years old to 15, I tended or herded cattle in summer and went to school three or four months in the year. Then I was engaged to james Jack for 3 years to learn tailoring.” His daughter, Persis, remembered him telling of walking six miles to school each way. He was a good reader, wrote a clear hand and was excellent in mathematics. He read only the finest books

His mother died 22 April 1849, when John was 19 years of age. The following month the family moved to Lochee, near Dundee, where the family owned some houses and lots.

In the spring of 1849, John, through a school fellow, John Robertson, learned about the restoration of the gospel, and after a few months teaching by the missionaries was baptized in the River Tay at Dundee, and confirmed August 4, 1849, which in itself tells much of his stability and character. The missionaries were Richard Brown and Hugh Findlay.

This flyer is of interest to show conditions of missionary effort at this time. Dr. Lee at a meeting of the Edinburgh PRESBYTERY ASSERTED THAT THE MISSIONARIES taught principles so absurd that even a hottentot would not believe them. The missionaries were challenging him to a public discussion to determine whose claims were most consistent with reason.

                    Latter Day Saints

The Edinburgh Branch of this Society now meet, for public Worship
in Mr. M'Pherson's large Hall
No. 2 N. West Corner of Drummond Street
     Every Sabbath at 11 A.M., 2 P.M. and 6 Evening
     The public are respectfully invited to attend.

N.B. as Dr. Lee thought proper at the Meeting of the Edinburgh
Presbytery, to assert that we taught principles so absurd, that
even a Hottentot would not believe them -- we now give him an
opportunity of proving, in public Discussion, whether the Doctrine
held by the Church of Scotland or those held by the Latter Day
Saints are most consistent with Reason and the Word of God, as
contained in the Old and New Testaments.  If he will not do this,
they every candid mind will know what to think of such a man.
     Mr. Samuel E. Richards, from America, is expected to preach on
Sabbath the 6th curf. Edinbourgh May 1847.

John rejoiced under the spirit of the lord, and wondered why others would not embrace the glorious principles. When the family remained unimpressed by the wonderful truths he had accepted, he made plans to emigrate to America and join the Saints.

And so it was that on August 28, 1850, just a few weeks over a year from the time of his baptism, he did a sad farewell to his native land and family forever, boarded a train at Dundee for Glasgow, thence by boat to Liverpool, England, where he set sail with 357 other Saints on Wednesday, September 4, 1850, on the large, new and splendid ship North Atlantic. This was one of the ships chartered by the Church to assist the Saints desiring to emigrate with temporal and spiritual comforts assured.

In this letter, carrying the signature of Orson Pratt, the provisions provided are listed that would be adequate for ten weeks, if voyage shorter, any overplus would be given to the passengers to help them on their journey. Also, if they wanted more food, or more variety, they would have to provide it themselves. The passage for adults was 4 pounds, 12 shillings and 6 pence. Passengers were also to furnish their own beds, bedding, cook utensils, provision boxes, etc.

The ships passenger list states he was single, age 21, occupation, tailor. Luggage 2 boxes of apparel, 1 gun.

Grandpa’s Box was probably used for this purpose. 2nd Slide shows the box with Grandson, John C. Heaton beside it. It was put in Pioneer Village at Lagoon. Last I knew the families efforts to retrieve it had not been successful.

History of his school mate, John Robertson, who came to America in 1850 under similar circumstances states that “Once a day they made a large pot of oatmeal mush, and served several families from this. Other parts of the meal was cooked by each family”

The list of provisions follows:

 25   pounds of Biscuits
 10   pounds of wheat flour
 20   pounds rice
 50   pounds oatmeal
 10   pounds pork
  5   pounds sugar
  1.25pounds tea
  3   pounds butter
  2   pounds cheese
  1   pint vinegar
Children under 14 and over 1 year, one-half the above amount.

The group as divided into 15 companies or divisions, with a President over each, order and regularity prevailed. Meetings were held on the quarter deck each Sunday, where the gifts of the spirit were made manifest.

Two days at sea, and John records in his journal, there was a severe gale, and he suffered severely from sea sickness and fever.

In the meantime, in St. Helens, Lancashire, England, on December 2, 1836, not far from the place of John’s birth, and when he was eight years old, a little girl, Margaret, was born to Henry Webster and Margaret Rigby. She was the eighth child in a family of fifteen. They heard the gospel in 1847 and margaret was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in March 1848, at age 11.

The Webster family sailed from Liverpool, on the ship, Josiah Bradley, February 18, 1850, seven months before John was to sail from the same port, and docked 8 weeks and 4 days later at New Orleans.

Their routes were both up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, then on the Missouri to Kansas City, and on to Kanesville (Council bluffs) to join the Saints in the trek west.

At Council Bluffs, tragedy struck the Henry Webster family where the father died December 16, 1850 of chloreammarbus, and Rachel, age 18, died on the 30th of the same month. Henry, age 14, died 6 months later, from the effects of a sunstroke. What a discouraging and sad time this must have been for Margaret’s mother, Ann Rigby. She took her family one west and provided for them through her profession as a mid-wife. Four children had previously died in England, 3 as infants and Hannah age 8. The family stayed in Council Bluffs until 1852, but Margaret came to Utah with the David Dixon family, for whom she worked, arriving in the valley in 1852. She worked for various families until her mother and family arrived, where they settled in Big Cottonwood, where there were lumber mills. It is now Brighton, a recreation area.

John arrived in New Orleans and secured passage for $2.00 on the steamship Sultana to St. Louis, where he arrived November 9, 1850, just ten weeks from the time he sailed. The river was frozen over, so he spent the winter in St. Louis, taking passage April 22, 1851, on the steamer Robert Campbell, for Council Bluffs.

John worked his way across the plains by driving a team for Joshua Grant, a freighter, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, September 1851. He went to work for Charles A Harper, at Big Cottonwood, who was called on a mission to England and rented his farm to John for a year.

Here John and Margaret met, courted and married November 10, 1853. Their lives had seemed to parallel in so many ways, leading to this meeting. John was now 25 years old. He took his 17-year-old bride, with other called by Brigham Young to Salt Creek (now Nephi) where they endured the hardships of making a home in a wilderness among savage Indians during the time of the Walker War.

The Indians were very troublesome, so it was impossible to go to the mountains for lumber, so they gathered willows from the Salt Creek banks and wove them together, for their first home, making the roof of dirt. Their first bedstead was four cedar posts, set in the ground, with willows woven back and forth across the top. (more like a mattress)

The Ute Chief Walker (Walkare) shown here with his brother, Arrepeen, was the terror of the whole western area, carrying on an extensive slave trade as well as a horse trade. The fact that many trappers in the upper Snake River and Green River rode horse with California and Mexican brands was due in no small part to his well organized raids. At one time they drove away about 3,000 of the best horses and mules from ranches in Southern California and were never caught.

He ruled with fear, but it was generally agreed his “Wildcat Fierceness” became “velvet pawed” at will. He was subtle, vain and cruel in the manner of the Ute Indians. His appetite for liquor was general controlled with trading and when decisions required a clear head.

Because of the Indians, the colony at Salt Creek were forced to build a fort for protection. This view shows the remains, in the city park, with the inscription: “The allen closed an area of 3 blocks square”. This drawing shows the location of each family, and this one shows a close-up showing John’s lot.

This wall was 12 feet high, 6 feet wide at the bottom and 2 1/2 feet at the top, 420 rods in length. Gates were provided at the north and south walls – it was completed in 1854. It was made of gravel, mud and straw. Chief Walker objected to the wall, saying “He couldn’t shake hands over a wall.”

John and Margaret lived in Nephi for 15 years and 8 of the 13 children were born there, 2 died in infancy. On September 20, 1868, the day their son David was born, the dreaded call came from Brigham Young to go help settle the Muddy Mission. There were settlers already there, and St. Joseph had been organized as a Branch of the St. Thomas Ward on May 28, 1865, with 200 town lots. This was 3 years previous to their arrival. The first call had come at the fall conference in 1864. According to Kate Carter, 183 missionaries arrived early in 1865.

John, ever obedient to the calls that came to him, left his oldest son, Henry W. then 14 years old to care as best he could for the family, and taking John James with him, they made the long, hard journey of over 300 miles to prepare a home for the family, who went down the following years. It was hard to Margaret, who enjoyed nice things, and is said to be in every way a lady, to leave the nice adobe home they had built to replace the willow house in Nephi, but this couple was always obedient and true when it came to the work of the Lord.

They went to the settlement of St. Joseph in Moapa Valley, (now Logandale). They lived in an adobe house with willow and dirt roof, built in the form of a Fort on the bench of the Muddy River. Their 9th children, Clara Isabelle was born there.

They raised many crops, the climate was especially suitable for watermelons. Everything grew thriftily and rapidly, in spite of the sand, flies, heat, mosquitoes, ant and Indians. In March 1866, in an Indian Raid on ST. Joseph, the Indians carried off 60 head of cattle, which were never recovered. Can you imagine what a tragedy this would be for those struggling Saints? They were developing quite well, when new territory lines were drawn, and this section was found to be in Nevada, who tried to collect back taxes. Brigham Young made a visit to the Muddy Mission, and seeing the hard struggle of the Saints, released them from the Mission to go wherever they wished, but advised the, in agreeable to go to the settlements in Long Valley. The taxes assessed in Nevada were later forgiven, and some settlers returned or remained there.

The settlers of St. Joseph came as a ward intact, to Mt. caramel, arriving March 4, 1871, just over three years from the time the call came. About 200 Muddy Settlers went to Long Valley.

The journey to Long Valley was a difficult one, having to make roads through snow much of the way, pulling heavy wagons through 34 crossings of the Rio Virgin River, with its treacherous Quick Sand. They travelled 80 miles on from St. George over a desert with drifting sand, and where at one place the plateau rises abruptly to a height of several hundred feet. To scale these cliffs it was necessary to hitch several teams onto each wagon, taking them up one at a time, causing much delay in their journey.

Margaret would have liked to gone back to more comfortable surroundings at Npehi, and talked much about it. AT the crossroads John offered to give her one of the teams and outfits, but she chose to go on to Long Valley with him. She liked nice things, and would tell about in England putting on little silk dresses and making a courtesy for the queen.

They had seven children, the oldest 17, with three under 7 years of age, the youngest five months. We who have had a babe in arms, with a couple of little ones tugging at our skirts, reaching little arms up to be taken, can understand Margaret, when at one point she started throwing furniture out of the wagon. John protested, saying they would need every stick of it, but she said, “I can’t help it, I can’t walk another step.”

When the first crop of grain in Long Valley was taken by grasshoppers, John sent Margaret with henry and the younger children back to Nephi, where the boys could work and help get supplies, to stay until conditions got better. Margaret Ann, age 12, stayed with John. In the fall they returned to Mt. Caramel with grain, flour, preserves and other much needed supplies. Miranda and George were born in Mt. Caramel.

Three years after they settled in Mr. caramel, those desiring to enter into the United Order moved three miles up the valley to Orderville, a community familiar and dear to “all us Esplins.”

Their last children, Clarissa, was born in Orderville.

This slide shows the united Order blocks as sketched in Lucy Parr’s book, Not of the World. This one is a picture post card, painted by Elbert Porter. This original was by Isaac.

John was assigned to look after property belonging to the Order at Kanab. Persis was born there. He Also was to raise crops and make molasses at Moccasin. He was a member of the first Board of Directors of the Order.

John took out citizenship 12 May 1886 at Beaver, Utah.

Later he was assigned to raise crops on the farm one mile north of Orderville, which later became their home after the Order broke up. Here he lived the remainder of his life. During his later life he had inflammatory rheumatism and previously, in icy weather he had the misfortune to fall and beak his knee cap, which caused him lameness of this Margaret wrote.

When the Order broke up I thought it was the hardest thing of all to have to start anew, my husband a cripple, my boys with young families to support. but I roused up and was very cheerful indeed, and went at it in good earnest and soon got quite comfortable again.

This humble farm home became very dear to members of the family and especially to many grandchildren who loved to go there. Whenever children came, grabdpa would say “I think these children are hungry” and there was always bread, jam and milk.

John C Heaton remembers him doing his own tailoring, sewing and shoe making. Margaret did the sewing for the children, but he would do some of the finishing, making “perfect” buttonholes.

John C. Heaton also remembers that Grandpa always wore his hair cut pompadour. He would singe it off, either with a tallow candle, or rolled up, lighted newspaper, going around and around. he also “trimmed” his beard this way.

Aunt Mamie especially remembers how neat the place looked, and the beautiful flower garden. Another fond memory was of his putting potatoes in the coals as he would come in from work, and having roast potatoes in the evening.

Grandma Esplin is described by some as a small woman. She would eat her supper ahead of the others, then sit and rock and sing, but she couldn’t actually sing a note, but sang so happily that the children didn’t realize it was “tuneless”. I’ve always heard the rumor that the Esplin’s can’t sing, could it be a result of early lessons?????

She had a high pitched voice, probably because of her deafness and spoke with a considerable English accent. young grandson, Henry C. Esplin, tells about a crowd of young people going there one night, and as she spied him with a young lady on his arm she said, in her high pitched voice, “Why Henry Esplin, you are too young to be going with girls, ”much to the embarrassment of Lucy Chamberlain, the shy young lady whom he was escorting. Her deafness resulted from measles when she was a child, and caused her to become totally deaf in later years. She always attended church, even though she couldn’t hear what was said.

One of the most interesting events that most who wrote about him mentioned, was his riding a bull to town. he would take food to widows or those in need, (always giving a whole ham, not a slice) or ride it to Church, riding the bull to the edge of town, tying it up on a clump of cedars, and walking on in. The young boys of the town loved to snitch a ride while he wa gone, being careful to have it back before he returned. Young Henry Esplin, shortly before he died, told me with a chuckle of him being one of them.

It is described by some as having copper balls on it’s horns, a custom for shaping the horns to go down, and also keeping the bull from goring with its horns.

This picture of the old house on the farm was painted years ago by Elbert Porter, which brings back memories, and this one of Grandpa Henry W. Esplin, with a couple of assistants, butchering a hog in the doorway of the barn, a scene which many of us remember wall. On the picture of Henry W. Esplin, seated, Ardel Brooksby, hoisting the pig, and Lloyd Chamberlain, scraping the hair from the pig, which was just scalded in a kettle of hot water.

Perhaps it was from working with boys, his own and grandsons, that developed his philosophy that one boy is a boy, two boys are a half a boy, and three boys are not boy at all!!!!!

Emily remembers him reading letters from loved ones far away. Clarissa preserved and gave to Hattie Durfee, fifteen letters from his family. I have selected a few parts of special interest. These letters give insight into the relationship in the family and were the basis of making up a family group sheet. Dating from 1851 to 1893.


Pictures of David and Isabell Esplin (John's sister), and David
Annand, her husband.

Family Group Sheet of Alexander and Margaret Campbell and their
children, showing John, the youngest.

Family Group sheet of John Esplin and Margaret Webster, and their
children. (documented by Careen Williams)






MARGARET ANN (no picture available, she married Christopher Biebly
Heaton, died 5 years later at age 23.)













In the Autumn of 1895, John was out working and became very ill, being unable to walk, he crawled on his hands and knees to the house. He died from the effects of a stroke on October 19, 1895. The three younger children were still unmarried at home. He had honored his Priesthood and been a faithful servant of our Father in Heaven. He was ordained a Seventy in May 1857 and had served in that capacity until his death. he was 67, Margaret was 59.

Persis says: “After father died, things didn’t seem the same, with an empty chair by the fireplace. Nothing was the same on the farm. Both John and Margaret had strong testimonies of the gospel, and loved their family. All of them are on the other side now, hopefully as a ”forever family.“

Margaret died 13 years after her husband, February 18, 1908 of pneumonia and asthma. She lived to see her last three children married in the temple.

This tombstone, erected by some thoughtful family members in the Orderville cemetery marks the earthly remains of these dear pioneer ancestors of ours.

How grateful we are that they cared enough to record some of the highlights and spiritual experiences of their lives, to share precious moments to enrich our lives and strengthen our testimonies and the bonds of family love. Esplin’s are a great family… a good family, with family love and family loyalty. Isn’t that what life is all about? I am grateful to be one of them.

This was not a part of the slide show, just a bit of information, gleaned October 3, 1978 from the Archive Section of the Church Historical Department in Salt Lake City, Utah.

From Deseret News, page 1, October 8, 1868, Thursday C1

"The weather continued fine in Salt Lake City.  The General
Conference of the Church continued, following was published in the
Deseret News.
"Names of the following brethren from places specified; were then
presented to the conference to go on a mission to the southern
settlements, and were unanimously sustained:

      There were about 152 names.

      Under Nephi was the name of John Esplin, along with seven

OBITUARY Deseret News October 22, 1895, page 13

John Esplin Deseret Evening News, October 30, 1895

John Esplin, one of the first settlers at Orderville and one of the most zealous workers in honest toil and in being a saint, died at his residence, Saturday 19th of October 1895 at 3 o’clock a.m. His illness was that of a severe pain in the head, with vomiting. Some few weeks before he had a fall hurting him about the ear. He seemed to be somewhat paralyzed and crawled on his hands and knees for 10 to 15 rods to reach the house. He recovered so far at to be able to do some work, until within two or three days of his death.

He was the son of Alexander and Margaret Esplin. His mother’s maiden name was Campbell. He was born December 12, 1828* at Wardend, County of Perth, Scotland. While in his teens his labored as an apprentice for James Jack at tailoring. On August 4, 1849 he received Baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints, by Elder Richard Brown, in the River Tay at Dundee. He was confirmed by Elder Hugh Findlay.

In August 1950, he sailed for Great Salt Lake City in the ship North Atlantic under Captain Cook. he arrived at his destination September 28, 1851. He married Margaret, daughter of Henry and Ann Webster. On May 18, 1857 he was ordained a Seventy and was a member of the Eighty Fifth Quorum of Seventies. In 1851 he moved to Nephi, Juab County. In 1861 he crossed the plains to Florence to emigrate some saints.

On September 22, 1868 (above item gives date as 8 October 1968) he was called on a mission to the Muddy to raise cotton, and was called with the rest of the Muddy saints to settle in Long Valley in the year 1870.

He was a faithful worker in the United Order for over 10 years and did all he could to help along the cause until it was broken up. he was the father of 13 children, a good number of grandchildren, had a host of friends, who feel to sympathize with his family in their present affliction. he never was heard to murmur but was zealous in carrying out the counsel given by the priesthood.

October 22, 1895

Copy of Letter to John, From His Father, Alexander Esplin

Lochee, July 29, 1852

My dear John:

It was with much pleasure that I received your letter informing me about your pleasant voyage and safe arrival as I was very much concerned about you. I mentioned you to all the friends whom you mentioned in your letter and many more that have been making inquiry about you who are all glad to hear such good news from a far county.

I had a letter from David inquiring about you. He is well and requests me to send him your address as he wishes to write to you. Willie sailed eleven weeks ago for Australia. George and Thomas Wallace and families are all well. David and Isabella and family are all well.

The crops are looking beautiful here we expect harvest in about 3 weeks.

You mentioned the probability of your coming to Scotland again. He need not say that that would give us all much pleasure.

You mention your stability in the faith you profess. May God bless you in it, and may you ever bear in mind that Christ is the rock on which to build. If you build the house of your hopes on any other it may glitter in the sunshine of prosperity but will not stand in the day of God’s wrath.

In speaking of the flowers and vales of your new home, you will doubtless unite with the poet who says;

I love you for lulling me back into dreams,
The blue of highland mountains and echoing streams,
And of bischen glades breathing their balm,
While the dear was seen glancing in sunshine,
The deep mellow crush of the wood pigeons song,
Meads music that sweetened the calm."

Part of sentence is missing….

Uncle and Auntie in Kerrimuir are much about it.

Uncle and Aunt Webster are all well.

James Almot and John Webster are still alive.

Mrs. Linday and grandchild wish to be remembered to you.

I have little more that can interest you.

I am, dear John, your affectionate father,

(signed) Alexander Esplin

(Written in a different handwriting, probably John’s, in a space on the letter, this sentence three times: Jan. 28, 1866) Command your passions and control your thoughts.

Excerpts from letters to John Esplin from his family in Scotland

From brother-in-law, David Annand, dated Lochee, October 1, 1851

Dear brother John. We received your letter dated from Counseal Blufs and we were happy to hear that you were in good healgth and good spirits. Dear brother, this leaves us all in good healgth at present thanks be to the giver of all good, but I must inform you that sinse you went away from amongst us we have had the afflicting hand of providence amongust us in that we have had our little son David taken away from us by death which was a sever shoak for us boath and maid his mother and me to sorrow very much from our dear little boy. But we must submit to the all wise God who giveth and taketh away at pleasure. But I have the hope that our dear little David is now some better housd now with us in the world of sin and sorrow, for we have nothing looking before us but trails and troubles altho the son singes on us today in all his radiance and splendor yet tomorrow may be a day of darkness and sorrow but we must not dispair of God proveance towards us for we are at best but sinfoole and poluted mortals it will become us to be humble in our every transaction. Your father is in good healgth at present always ernest for a little more of this worlds treasure he thinks often of you and complains he is never to see you again, but it may be that you and him may have a opertunity of meeting together before he departs this world I bid him hope.

Your brother William is working to I Donald Lochee and staying all neight with your father he is speaking of leving and going away to America in a short time but he may alter his mind. William is very steady at his work and drinks no spirits if he goes away it will be sore upon your oald father.

Thomas Webster and Aunt are in good healgth at present I was north at Alyth the last week my foulks are all (word missing) and my sister bids give you there kindest wishes I got no news in Alyth.

I gave James fife and father your Best Respects they are boath well they are very stroonge of work and wishing Ernestly that they had you back as they have a very good karater (Character) to give you as a workman and other Respects also. William Nocol and daughter are Boath well and send their Best wishes to you.

trad in Dundee is fallen off a good deal this autom on account of good deal of fealure in the manufacturing line there of mills of work Being all Bankroup liabilities of failure is to the amount of 30000 pounds this last three months past the stopeges of many works through a heavy burden on the comunity of unemployed as they cannot all get work to keep them from starving. I am still working away at the Quarry but task is out at the first term of Whitensday and I do not think to engage it again there is not a great deal doing in our lines at present at buildings are mostly suspended on account of the doleness of trade.


But dear John, I cannot delay any longer writing you owing to what has befallen your aged father, when I tell you that he is not more. After suffering sorely for ten days with a cold, under heavy distress, died on the 16th of December, Burying grounds beside my little boy, David. your father and him is lying side by side in the cold, cold, grave. I hope that their spirits are with the Redeemer in glory, signing praises to Jesus who laid down his life for us. Your father showed great signs of repentance and submission before he died.

Says it was the dying wish of his father that all share alike in the inheritance. Would be about 50 pounds each

Tells of letter from William in Australia. Wrote that he had had a good passage and was working in Melbourne, working at his own trad,e and wages were good 15 shillings a day. Stated he was going to the gold diggins tomorrow to try his hand. He reportedly came back for his things, and was never heard from again, not could any trace be found.


He asked if there would be objection to persons of another creed amongst you… if he had had an answer to his previous letter, he would have come with McKensie, the shoemaker who had left two months previous.

“Ole man keeping pretty well, had been uneasy about you and your promise to come and see him has enlivened him a good deal.

“Little Jamie speaks often of Uncle Jack, and would allow no person to cut his hair, contending that his Uncle Jack was coming to do it.

“An insert at this point, written in a different hand: O’ Willie, where are you now? April 1859, J. Esplin.”

Speaks of a Great Exhibition in Dundee, but comments as follows: “The fact is I am every day getting more tired of this country, not that necessity is staring me in the face, but when I see and hear of millions of our countrymen, even in the best of times, in the direst poverty, while we support and expensive government, my blood boils within me. If you write on receipt of this letter of the course I may take, I may be there ere long.”


Told John that at the time of their father’s death he could not get away, but David Annand had written that they had drawn the money to save the income tax about L 100, also offered the houses to be sold, but could not sell them until they had definite knowledge about William and his whereabouts. Offered houses at upset price of L200. David went home, thinking the money had been put by to be divided, but said Isabel (his sister, wife of David Annand) told him that they had paid the funeral expenses and divided the remainder among them, that is George, Elizabeth and Isabel. “Up to that time I thought the money had been put past until the houses could be sold and then the whole divided according to our father’s will. So between you and me, I think we have not been very well used among them, for they could have written and had an answer back from me in 4 or 5 days at the longest. Bell further told me that her husband D. Annand had the papers in his possession since our father’s death but now they were to put them into Thomas Webster’s hand and let him take charge of the houses. Still the rent must be running on all this time and I suppose they are taking that also. At all events they seem to be taking what they can get and leaving us to look after the remainder.

Now my Dear Brother, I want you to send me word how we ought to proceed and whether I ought in our names, to put it in the hands of a man of business, or not.“

Note: The final settlement of the estate, by nephew, Thomas Webster, was made 18 November 1884…thirty-two years after Alexander’s death, amounting to 18 pounds 20 shillings per share.


“What I suppose to be the quiet, easy going and primeval-like way you have of living in your part of the world, we here live with such pressure, competition is so keen, things go at such break-neck speed, there is nothing in our heart but business, business, and when we retire we retire to the quiet of our bed chambers, we do business over again in our dreams. ”Since I last wrote you, four of our children have been taken by death.“