It was a letter that, once received in February of 1849, must have been kept close to the heart of a young Anne Mulloy. Folded once and then again in thirds, the letter managed to be preserved and passed, eventually, from Anne to her daughter Catherine, then to her youngest child Agnes, then to her only daughter Pat.
The letter, now with crumbled edges from the wear of handling, was all that baby Catherine had left of her father—that mysterious man who abruptly left home when she was barely one year old.
I knew about the letter because Uncle Ed told me about it. Ed, Pat’s just-younger brother, had obtained a photocopy of the letter from his sister and showed it to me during one of our regular visits to my husband’s family in Chicago. I’m so thankful that I asked for a copy of his copy, the only way I could preserve this treasure at the time; upon Pat’s passing years later, we could find no sign of the original.
That beleaguered letter—or at least my copy of it—must have been doomed to share that same fate of obscurity, for after arriving home with my “proof”—and setting it, surely, in a safe place—I couldn’t find it for years.
Until this week, that is.
Now, by way of introducing Stephen Mulloy—the man who needed to leave home with little warning—I’ll share my faded copy of the letter with you. Perhaps together we can decipher the faded script and make more sense of it. I’ve included a Photoshop-doctored scan of the copy, in hopes that someone else’s eyes can provide more scrutiny than mine.
For now, those words I can partially decipher, I’ve enclosed with brackets and added a question mark. For words or word segments for which only some letters are readable, the remainders are supplanted by dashes. For words totally beyond my grasp, I’ve substituted ellipses. For the rest of what can be read, I’ve left spelling quirks as they were presented in the original. And of course, there were some sections of the original letter that were totally missing, taking with them what may have been vital portions of the message home.
And with this, we’ll begin an exploration of yet another Irish family line to be researched in its homeland this fall.
Liverpool 20th febuary 1849Dearest wife, I now address you with a few lines of respect—and love. I am now going off to a [dis…] [tomorrow?] … … by the Anglo Americanio for Boston. I fell verry lonesome at parting you and beside not going to see you wich I hope you will excuse and pardon me for that. If God spares me the health I promise to you the next … that I will [erase?] you shall have [it?] [any?] … [Anuit?] [Bom--?] gave no warning on th- … month to go to America as God [section of letter torn off here] to me and me dear wife I did not like [letter torn off here] you about it as I [taught?] you would … …of [going?] and me dear wife I hope you will content your mind as please the Alamightly God you will be with me before it is long——I have no time say any more as we are going to sail in half-[am---?]I remain your ever dear and affectionate until deathStephen Mulloy