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18 June 2014
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Immigration and Emigration
sketch of a man writing a diary
Hillbillies in the White House

The diary of James Black

The migration studies centre at the Ulster American Folk Park, at Omagh, Co. Tyrone, has a huge database, logging ship records, personal letters and advertisements from the 18th and 19th Century.

From this fantastic resource UK Legacies has found a diary from James Black, a proprietor of the Randalstown cotton mills in Co.Antrim, Northern Ireland, and merchant of Charleston, South Carolina, USA.

In his diary, dating from 1837, James talks about his life as a businessman in Charlestown, and gives a rare glimpse into the social life of an Ulsterman made good in America, in the 19th Century.

The diary will be updated each week culminating in Mr Black`s journey back to Ulster, to find a retirement home.


4 November John McClure arrived today per "Victoria", by way of New York. For several days I have met nothing new to note, went to the Hibernian Society, paid my arrears. Drank two glasses of punch; sung a song and told a story, for which I think I was much laughed at. Mr. Hyde came today to invite me to spend the evening, but as I dislike card playing, I declined going.

On the 7th I took tea at Thomas Stephens, saw a great variety of nice work made by his daughter for a fair to be held shortly, the proceeds are intended for the support of the Manual Labour School in the interior, a worthy object.

Until today the weather has been uncomfortably warm, but a smart shower last night caused a change of wind and made the temperature more comfortable. Margaret and I went to the Depository to hear Mr. Occult Lecture on Phrynology and were much pleased.

He had the organ of Ideallity strongly developed and spoke for an hour and a half without hesitation and without notes. He said he had not studied what language he was to use on the occasion.

22 November Business matters going on pretty smoothly; Redmond modestly urging some settlement of Molyneux bill, I told him nothing could be paid until I make some money in business. Spent last evening at Mr. Hyde's, played cards, supped and drank punch to 12 o'clock. Capt.Larmour, Plain (a fat customhouse officer) Jones and son and R. Gillfillin were the party. Miss Hyde played well and sung tolerably, young Jones also played the piano and myself and others sang several songs.

27 November Dined at Mr. Adger's by special invitation on the 23rd ,in company with Mr. M. Bones, Mr. G. Y. Davis, Mr. Boven ( a partner of W.& J. Brown & Co, John Ellison, and four or five others. The Rev. Thomas. Smyth's eldest child Sarah died last night of croup.

I had a very extraordinary night last night, I thought I was on Lurgan farm at Randalstown, Ireland, the place where I was reared, a beast appeared that set to eat my flesh, and finally got off one of my legs, that appeared to me to be very nicely formed, with a boot and buckle on it , the buckle I plucked off and was in the act of digging a grave for it in the front field in company with Henry Devlin when I awoke.

29 November The ship "Harriet Scott" arrived yesterday from Belfast to my address with potatoes, coal, hay and whiskey. The "Napoleon" came in to be today with salt, potatoes etc, She is consigned to James Adger and Co. I have therefore been very busy entering the first, selling etc. and the day is so excessively warm that I am obliged to put off my coat when writing.

30 November I have sold all the coal at $11 per the "Harriet Scott" and that by the "Napoleon" is sold at $10. I was much suprised today to meet George Carroll on the wharf. He came by the ship "Naploeon" on his way to his uncle Robert Campbell. He stays a short time with me at Mr. Carberry's.

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