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

The diary of James Black

1838

28 April Saturday.When spending the evening last night at George Pringle's a fire broke out in Beresford Street, near King street at 8 o'clock that swept everything before it until daylight in the morning, carrying away all the houses both of brick and wood in its range.

Never was such devastation; upwards of 500 houses and as many kitchens and back buildings in the best part of the city, where 5 millions of dollars worth of goods were consumed in 10 hours, and several valuable lives lost, Col. CJ Studman and others blown up when acting as engineer in blowing up houses. The Legislature is to be convened to adopt laws for the granting of loans to rebuild it, which I have no doubt will be done very soon.

Homeward journey to Belfast via Liverpool

5 May Saturday.Went on board the ship "China", Capt.Larmour, for Liverpool with the following passengers whose characters I will describe hereafter. Mrs Saffrie, Mrs Gibbs and daughter and son, Mr. and Mrs Walker and son, Miss Walker, Mr. and Mrs Bones, Messrs James Brown and G W Gilliland, the Revd. Mr. Philips, Mrs Larmour and myself, in all 15, and two in the steerage.

May be towed out by steam boat at 3 o'clock am after a detention of three days, the ships "Casco" and "Windscales" crossed the bar immediately after the "China". The weather is fine and wind fair at 6 knots, all well.

Mrs Gibbes and family think of going to New South Wales where Mr. Gibbes has a large tract of land; the old lady says she will not accompany them although it is distressing to think of being separated.

Mrs Gibbes is a mild, gentle, well informed woman; her daughter, a plain looking girl with an intelligent countenance; her son Willey of ten years old is a remarkably smart boy, very smart and intelligent, with a fine head with the intellectual and animal points strongly developed and will make a very clever, or very bad man, according to his education; at present he is extremely indulged. They are however altogether a nice family.

Mrs Walker is a pleasant well looking woman, cheerful and seems fond of admiration; Walker is a clever off-hand Irishman from Armagh who has made a good deal of money; he is active in business but has bad health. His son of eleven years old by a former wife (sister to the present) is a fine, mild, intelligent boy.

Miss Catherine Walker is a pleasant chatty woman of about 30, smart but not very profound. Mrs Bones is a remarkably pleasant, good natured, lively woman; Mr. Bones is a right off-hand fellow. Jams Brown, Capt. and Mrs Larmour are long known. The Revd. Mr. Philips is a very mild, conversible and pleasant man and is going to travel for his health chiefly.

G W Gilliland is a smart lad of 16 years, playful but gentle; he goes principally to see the Hardware Manufacturers in company with his employer W H Conner who is to meet him in Liverpool from New York.

15 May Tuesday. The weather fine, light wind generally fair at 2 to 3 knots. Reading, backgammon, and cards fill up the time, I have read Bulwer's novels of "Maltravers" and "Alice" with which I am highly pleased. The characters are drawn to life in fine language and nothing beyond what is to be met every day in that circle.


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