Amesbury, Oct 8th 1839
Dear Sir –
As I have leasure (sic)1 time today I shall improve a few moments in writing to you. I little thought when I last saw you that I should not see you again before I *** left home and as I did not know of going so soon as I did until Sunday before I started, it was impossible for me to come and see you before I started. We started on the 25th, went to Jaffrey the first day and on the 2d arrived at Lowell about 7 in the evening. As we were coming into the village of Lowell, we could see the lights from the factories from 3 to 7 stories high extending in one almost unbroken column for I should think nearly a mile, it formed a scenery worthy of notice.
We stayed in Lowell until the next day at 2 o’clock P.M. and then started for Amesbury in a carryall,2 and arrived here at 11 in the evening –
I stayed with Joel Richmond until Sunday evening and then went to board3 with Mrs. Morrill. I went on Monday to see Capt. Horton, agent. He said that he would give me a job, either Spinning or ringing the bell and feeding 80 hogs &c4 and concluded on Tuesday to have me go to spinning.
The next day I commenced learning to spin of a boy about 16, and in two days while I was learning to spin we spun enough to come to two dollars, which was enough to pay him for learning (sic) me. He makes 9 shillings per day, when he works alone. There are but very few which make but more than a dollar a day. I commenced spinning alone the 3d day and spun about 14 lbs which come to 56 ct.s –
The two first days which I spun alone were as hard days’ work as I ever did, as I have had to stand stooping, ore (sic) mending threads a good straw(?) of the time. Those who are used to spinning say they are no more tired at night than they are in the morning. I have to spin yet as a spair (sic) hand, and use the Ginny5 & when others are gone out. Although I can work a greater part of the time.
The noise in these large factories is not so bad as in a small Factory in Vermont. I do not mind it any more now that I should at work(ing) out of doors, and I think I feel quite as well.
This is the most pleasant place that I have ever seen, and for society it is good as can be found in any place whatsoever.
As for Girls there is a great variety although I have not become acquainted with many of them – I found things to be equally as favorable as Mrs. Richmond recommended them to be .
1 Sic = “incorrect spelling”
2 Carryall = wagon
3 Board = live with
4 &c = etcetera
5 Ginny = “spinning jenny” = early machine to spin fiber into yarn
I am well – and well contented and am not in the least homesick – I find many people here from Vermont – Stowe, Westminster, Putney, Brattleboro, Rockingham and many other places.
I have about 40 rods6 to go to work, and 10 to go to meeting7 There are about 8 or 9 Meetinghouses within a short distance.
I want you should write to me as soon (as) you receive this, and collect all the interesting news you can from headquarters and all other places. I should like to know how you prosper.
As it is now growing dark I must draw to a close by giving you my best respects –
Jarvis W Miller
6 Rods = unit of measure equal to about 5 1⁄2 yds. – now no longer used
7 Meeting = attend church (probably Congregational or Unitarian)
Jarvis Miller, “Jarvis Miller Letter” (October 8, 1839). 2001.74. American Textile Museum, Lowell, MA.