Mathurine Michel Amoureux – Letter to Cousin

This letter is courtesy of Fran and Phil Amoureux, and the transcription courtesy of Betty O’Bryan and Carol Rogers – thank you all!  Please click on the thumbnails for larger versions.

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France 1826  – Mathurin
Michel Amoureux letter to cousin

Mathurin Michel Amoureux was
born in 1747in Bourgneuf, France.  In November 1782 he married Perrine
Janvier.  By 1785 he was a prominent
merchant in L’Orient and a member of the mercantile firm of Amoureux & Champigny.  In 1792 during the event of the
revolution he came to America,
with his 14 year old daughter.  Arriving
in Philadelphia, he began seeking a permanent
residence.  For a time he toyed with the
idea of establishing a vineyard near Washington,
and communicated with Ferdinand Fairfax regarding
a proper location.  Two years later, his
wife and two sons ages 9 and 10 joined them. 
From Philadelphia
the family moved to Kentucky, where another son, Benjamin was born in 1797.  Here they farmed 24 acres near Frankfort,
through 1802.  In May 1803 in route
toward New Orleans he stopped at New Madrid, Mo., due to illness; here
he farmed 240 acres until 1812.  In 1813
the family relocated in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.  This letter was written in early 1826 by Mathurin Michel Amoureux age 79, to his
cousin Jean Cormier IV, in Nantes, France.  It
was the last letter he wrote to his cousin. 
He died 6 years later in April of 1832 at the age of 84, leaving Perriene a widow at the age of 64.  The original letter, was copied and sent to Salt Lake
to Dennis & Marilyn Fleming, late summer of 1998 by Xavier Vilman, 5th Great Grandson of Jean Cormier.

Feb. 1826, Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

My dear friend,

            I received
your letter with great pleasure by way of Mr.
Rosier.  I learned from you’re
friendly letter for the 30th of last August, that you have become a
grandfather, and that you are in good health, a t least reasonably enough to
hope for in this life.  I believe that Mr. Rosier did say to his Uncle and to
others that we are living honorable and though we are poor, are living a life
of honest people.  Yes, poor, my friend…
that is what we truly are.  If we cease
from work for one day we will fall into distress and need.  People of comfort can easily talk about being
at ease and relaxing, but if we were comfortable my aging and unhealthy wife,,
subject to rheumatism would be a domestic wife. 
But due to our situation we’re not permitted to do this because of our
needs.  I am basically obligated to do
all of the housework.  To cook, to clean,
to wash our clothes, in fact to work from morning until night.  If we were people of comfort and ease my two
sons, Joseph and Benjamin wouldn’t be obligated to work
as constantly and as diligently, and could participate in other occupations and
things toward their liking.  If we were
people of ease, my daughter, Mary
Virginia would not have to teach school 150 miles away from us and would be
able to help and console her mother.  If
we were people of comfort at my age and with my infirmities I would not be
obligated to employ my positive time to working, doing things I didn’t enjoy to
support the family.  My two sons, Joseph and Benjamin are occupied at this moment in precarious employment,
which they’re dependent upon momentary needs of _____ ______, and these needs
could cease at any moment.

            I no longer
am afforded peace.  I miss it, and this
just doesn’t stop here, given the pain and disagreement of employment.  There you have it my friend, the true picture
of the situation of family, that which could suddenly become much worse.  It just so happens that our way of life
allows us pride and confidence in being honest people.  That which is something of great satisfaction
and somewhat of a consolation.  People
who live in fertile countries in production and different occupations, people
who are laborers can not imagine the distress that we suffer from in this
country, in relation to what is necessary, even to an animals existence.  Seven-eights of the people are more at ease,
and live sometimes on bread and corn. Sometimes they don’t even have that.  People more at ease consume a lot of the meat
and other things and in doing so take it in large portions, not only for
themselves but also for their slaves.

            In relation
to us, we rarely eat any meat, only when we have to make shoes of the pieces of
the goat or other wild animals.  Our food
is ordinary bread and milk, and other fruits and vegetables of the season that
come from our garden, that which we cultivate. 
Joseph and Benjamin are obligated to cultivate the
garden and work from morning till the sun goes down, and the night after
without sleeping.  It is necessary to
cover ones body and my childrens.

            I am
convinced that with half of what we are obligated to spend and half of the work
that we do, we could live in France
and have an average life, with more satisfaction and a lot more comfort, than
our lives here.  In relation to where we
are living here, the people are ignorant of the arts and things that are
agreeable to me.  Even their agriculture,
their recreation, their way of life and that which they drink.  How they spend the majority of the night,
playing cards, being their preference. 
It is a game of chance.  In
relation to when I came here 14 years ago, they could lose each night anywhere
from $100.00 to $400.00, and that among friends and parents.  I became leery of this manner of amusement
and now play with them only moderately.  I
do not amuse myself with them.  Never the
less they still spend the night playing this game of chance, even thought it’s
obvious to both their health and their business affairs.  Iron workers, carpenters, etc., mix together
and become like rats of the church.  From
time to time they’re at the balls, where the youngest people dance and they
joke and drink as much as they can.  They
put on a semblance of wealth at these balls, especially the women.  There are about 100 families in this
community and there’s about 12 who could say they are at ease, and even less
who could pay their debts.

            You see my
friend, this must be our situation.  In France we calculated more or less what was
going to happen.  Here one cannot count
on anything being probable or likely. 
I’ve encouraged your son to go and live in the country.  I hope that he’ll become a farmer.  Farming is a science, a long and demanding
study, but is the source of a constant occupation, agreeable and
dependable.  To succeed, it is necessary
to embrace an enjoyable occupation.  My
friend _______ ________, took the same path in life and he is already very
old.  But he is content and is lacking
nothing.  It is true that he has more
than he is able to use, and to his pleasure. 
He is a metal worker, neurologist, musician and painter.  Unfortunate, he doesn’t have any
children!  It is necessary also to say
he’s found himself in happy and unique circumstances which would never meet or
find a life living in the city of Nantes.

            In my opinion each father who
has the ability to give his son a sensible education, in the occupations that
are agreeable and which would lead to a life of comfort that would be useful in
relation to providing ones need. 
Vigorous calculations, that is to say mathematics, which are the
principle of all sciences, must first be taught.  That includes the theories and the correct
principles behind it, which would contribute to giving the strength and health
in body.  That’s how a farmer, or a real
man could use such methods to improve his situation from being a poor father.

also been here in this country a drought, an extraordinary drought.  The vegetables have suffered a lot.  The fields were attacked with insects which
return from time to time to this country. 
The grain is no longer suitable for wheat or feeding to animals.  So the animals have to forge for themselves,
which causes a lot of stress.

            It has been
40 years the people have lived on the sides of this river the Mississippi, on the coast
of the Missouri.   They
were hunters and voyagers, that is to say skin traders, on the great rivers of
the Missouri, Mississippi
and the Ohio.  Since the establishment of the steam boat on
these rivers the hunters and traders were obligated to start farming the earth
and raise animals or become iron workers or miners.  They started mining iron which can be a real
gamble.  You could come across and
abundant vein, and those who run the lease risk are the iron workers, who put
in their time and money, and the iron varies substantially in price.

            I wish you
my friend, to enjoy your family, health and happiness, as much happiness as possible.  I ask you to think about your poor friend and
his family from time to time.  Give me
your news.

M. Amoureux

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