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Letter from Gavin Scott of Elizabethtown to his brother in Alnwich, England, 1800 
Courtesy, New Jersey Historical Society, Newark, NJ, 1800.

 MG 1139, Scott Family Papers, Box 1, folder 5.5. 

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Mary (1734-1801)and Gavin Scott (1738-1815) immigrated in 1795 to the Elizabethtown (Elizabeth) area from Northumberland, England. Immigrating and starting over was hard work and usually undertaken by younger people. The Scotts, however, were both advanced in years: Mary was 61 and Gavin was 57. Nevertheless, Gavin purchased land and set to raising wheat, rye, peaches, and apples; soon he had a tenant farmer working his land as well. His adult son set up a tobacco shop in Elizabethtown. Mary, however, was not strong and became ill. By 1799 she was feeble and confined to the first floor of their home. By 1800 she was blind, and the help of a hired woman and her daughter was necessary.

In this letter written from Gavin to his brother in England in April 1800, we learn about a farm women’s domestic work. Gavin gives advice about some of the skills a wife needs to have on a New Jersey farm in order to avoid hiring help. Dairying was particularly important because he did not think much of the local way of making dairy products. A wife should be a good cook or bring with her a cook from England. He marvels at the excellent bread made by the hired woman and her way of making yeast. While Gavin seems to be thriving in his new life, the opposite was true for Mary. Her story is hidden in silence and we never learn what she felt about her new home; she died the next year.

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