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Thomas W. Poole fonds
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- Thomas W. Poole
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Thomas Wesley Poole (1831-1905), physician and journalist, was educated at Victoria University and received his M.D. in 1856. He practised medicine in Norwood, Canada West; but in 1864 he moved to Peterborough, and became the editor of the Peterborough "Weekly Review". Later he went back to the practice of medicine and practised in Lindsay, Ontario. He died in Lindsay on August 27, 1905. T.W. Poole was the author of "A sketch of the early settlement and subsequent progress of the town of Peterborough. 1867"
This fonds was in the custody of Ed Phelps of London, Ontario before it was donated to the Trent University Archives.
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This fonds consists of original letters from Thomas W. Poole to H.B.B. Alley, a London (Canada West) businessman, describing social life, medical practice, employment practice, employment opportunities and personal topics. The letters were all written while Poole lived in Norwood, Canada West.
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The fonds was donated by Ed Phelps of London, Ontario.
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Note: Transcriptions of the letters are at the end of this finding aid in the APPENDIX.
nd. 2 page excerpt from a letter, containing employment advice, problems with bill collecting.
nd. 2 page excerpt from letter, dated only Monday Morning, mentioning church services, new brick grammar school.
nd. 2 page excerpt from letter, written in the autumn of the year, regarding friends of Poole's moving from Yorkville to Peterborough.
nd. 2 page excerpt from a letter, perhaps written in early August 1854, mentions settling in, sending for trunks in Toronto.
21 Sept , 2 pages written from Norwood, impressions of the village, medical state of the community.
18 Oct , 4 pages, written from Norwood, advice to Alley on his furniture.
8 Aug 1854, 4 pages, local news, lack of feminine companionship, social situation, possibility of Alley apprenticing in Norwood.
24 Aug 1854, 4 pages, written from Norwood, local news, rental accommodations, religious nature of the population.
25 Nov 1854, 6 pages, written from Norwood, family matters, bill collecting at harvest, thoughts of moving to Peterborough.
22 Jan 1855, 2 pages written from Norwood, discussing new quarters, occurrences of smallpox, missionary meetings.
21 Feb 1855, 4 pages, written from Norwood, personal health, new housekeeper, completion of Methodist church, females, the letter is incomplete.
31 March 1855, 4 pages, written from Norwood, prospects of moving to Millbrook, weather, medical supplies (bones).
21-25 June 1855, 4 pages, written from Norwood, poor mail service, business flourishing, no cash in the economy.
3 Aug 1855, 4 pages, written from Norwood, touting Norwood as a place for Alley to study medicine, roads and transportation, medical information.
10 Nov 1855, 3 pages, written from Norwood, personal news, request for books.
Tuesday 2 July , 2 pages, written from Norwood, postal problems, family news, local quackery.
21 Aug 1856, 4 pages, written from Norwood, news of his housekeeper, the first circus, family matters.
4 Dec 1856, 6 pages, with envelope and cover, romance, Alley's future, social life, weather, medical information.
2 Feb 1857, 4 pages, written from Norwood, the schoolteacher's romantic potential, patients, weather.
13 March 1857, 2 pages, written from Norwood, dissertation on women, marital advice for Alley, church teas.
9 Dec 1857, 2 pages, written from Norwood, news of his marriage, and assessment of his wife, boarders in their home, general election mentioned in passing.
5 Sept 1864, 3 pages, written from Norwood, to Alley who is now in London, personal matters, reasons for remaining in the area.
Letter #1. nd. 2 page partial letter, containing employment advice, problems with bill collecting.
It might not be prudent for you to give up your present good prospects, in a business with which you are already well acquainted, for the risk of success in one which you could only acquire after years of study and considerable expense. Still if you resolve upon the study of Medicine and I can help you any in your studies I will be glad to do so. Do not expect to find it all sunshine in this any more than the other path in life. I may just mention that I had a long attendance on my dropiscal patients. I frequently was called out of bed to go see her a distance of 3 1/2 miles. My bill at the lowest ought not to have been less than £10 and of this I see but little probability of getting a shilling. Some persons will pay within half a dollar or so of their account and then they think this trifle is too small to come with and will get offended if I dunned for it. Perhaps you may be doing your utmost for a patient and doing it well, when some officious neighbor or friend will step in and endeavour to undermine you, or if the disease is not knocked down the first visit and killed the second, another practitioner is called in, and just comes in time to receive the credit of the cure you were about accomplishing - There are little annoyances everywhere and in every business, and as you have good knowledge of business and good prospects before you it might not be prudent for you to throw these up for what is comparatively uncertain. Still if you are resolved to do so I will afford you every facility in my power, and by patience and perseverance you can succeed. I am afraid you cannot read all this, but my time is limited and I cannot wait to write as plain as you do. - Kind regards to yourself and sister.
Thomas W. Poole.
Letter #2. nd. 2 page partial letter, dated only Monday Morning, mentioning church services, new brick grammar school.
Sunday is not the most cheerful here. We have 2 or 3 churches open in the morning and home at present in the evening. I was away yesterday 4 miles in the afternoon to see a patient. The roads are hard this morning and I expect we will soon have snow. The Methodists have a new church nearly finished, a neat one for this place. They are about the strongest denomination in the village. A new brick Grammar School is being erected but will not be finished this fall. I get the "Semi Weekly Globe" newspaper from Toronto, and in it I got most of the news of the day. I have also the privilege of reading 2 or 3 other papers.
I see that Mr. Mercer was again rejected at the board. Is it true that he is married to your friend Miss Coppan.
Do you know how they are getting along in the Book Room. I suppose John Flock had left there some time ago.
I think I must close at present. Hoping to hear from you as soon as convenient.
T. W. Poole
Letter #3. nd. 2 page partial letter, written in the autumn of the year, regarding friends of Poole's moving from Yorkville to Peterborough.
Mrs. Reeve and family are going to move down from Yorkville to Peterboro' in a week or two, to reside there for a year or two. They have engaged a nice new brick house built by the Mayor of the town for himself, rent £50 per year, and the Doctor and lady will of course live with them in the same establishment.
Mr. Reeve will be very much missed about Yorkville. Mrs. Lavell is now at home on a visit. How do you get along with the "Carriage Folks" and the brick church people. I hope you will not break any of those young boy's hearts, for although not particularly interested in them myself, I should be sorry to see them so unfortunate as to suffer from a broken heart.
The weather is becoming cool, and the nights have been quite cold.
I hope you will pardon me for not writing to you sooner.
Letter #4. nd. 2 page partial letter, perhaps written in early August 1854, mentions settling in, sending for trunks in Toronto.
If you see the "Carriage folks" please give them my kind regards and tell them I was sorry to leave without bidding them good bye, but that I expect to be back to visit Toronto before long. When I get settled - if I do - could you not take a trip down to this part of the country instead of wasting your time with the girls at Whitby. The fare to Cobourg when I came was 12/6 in the cabin, 6/3 on deck from Cobourg to Rice Lake in the cars the fare is 3/- and from Rice Lake to Peterboro' 3/9. If you left Toronto at noon, you would get here at noon next day. Dr. Lavell had a fine young son and heir on Saturday night, Lavell is doing pretty well. He had been telling me of some cases he lost, and I cannot at all agree with him in the way he says he managed them.
If I conclude not to return to Toronto for my things I will write to you the latter part of this week, telling you about them - everything, you know, is packed up. Mrs. Reeve will be returning to Yorkville in a few days, and if I do I will have her with me. I dislike journeying alone very much.
I send you a specimen of our of the Peterboro' Newspapers. I must now close, with kind wishes to you and your sister.
I will be glad to hear from you soon.
Thomas W. Poole.
H.B. Alley Esq.
Letter #5. 21 Sept , 2 pages written from Norwood, impressions of the village, medical state of the community.
My Dear Friend,
Your letter was duly received some time ago, and I should have answered it sooner, only that I have not had much of interest to write about, and being pretty busy I procrastinated. I have enjoyed very good health since I came here and I have also been kept tolerably busy, enough so to keep me from being lonesome or despondent. It always requires some time for one to get known; and considering that I have no grey hairs to recommend me and that I am commencing in a new field, I have been doing very well. I am pretty comfortable here where I stop, and altogether I like the place and the people quite as well as I could expect. The man who fell from a building and was nearly killed has recovered finely and is now able to walk about. My case of dropsy which was long ago given up as hopeless, I have had to tap twice, and removed a large quantity of fluid each time. She is rather improving this last week or so, but I scarcely dare to hope for her recovery. There is a good deal of ague in some places here, several cases of which I have been called to and have cured.
I took a ride to Peterboro' the Sunday before last in the afternoon, and got there in 3 hours after starting. Mrs. Poole is getting round rather slowly after her confinement, of which I suppose you heard. The newcomer is a daughter. Dr. Lavell attends her. I was there for Church on Sunday evening, and returned here on Monday morning. Some of the roads are pretty rough, but I enjoy riding very well, and even prefer it to a buggy. I will be glad to hear from you soon again. How are you getting along with the bones? If you are in company with Medical students with them, they will steal them away from you if they get a chance. The Winter Session of the School will soon be opening.
If you think of attending, you are perfectly welcome to the bones, and if you wish I may have a chance of sending you others before winter. I am going to spend some of my spare time in putting my skeleton together and may sometimes want the book.
The Rev. Mr. Hilton of the Church of England, here, is going to Toronto next week. Perhaps I may send a few lines to you with him, - unless you really do not care about the book you need not send it by him, as I may have another chance of a person going in a few weeks.
There seems to be a good opening for a milliner here, but I fear you would not find anything to suit you; and I am sure your sister would not like the place much. The Methodists are building a new frame church, a tolerably good one for the place, and about as large as the old one at Yorkville.
Give my kind regards to all the good folks.
Please write soon and tell me all the news.
Letter #6. 18 Oct , 4 pages, written from Norwood, advice re starting a dry goods business.
Norwood. Oct. 18, 1854.
I received your letter a few days ago, and would have written to you sooner but circumstances prevented my so doing. I think if I were in your circumstances I would hardly undergo the necessary labor and expense of studying medicine, when you will always be able to make as good and perhaps a better living at dry goods. You will find it difficult to attend the Anatomy lectures while engaged in the shop, and they will be of little real benefit to you unless you could spend an hour or two daily in the dissecting room to examine and see things for yourself. You have a good opportunity of getting a start in business, soon, and this is a great advantage. A good dry goods business is more profitable and more pleasant than the irregular kind of life of a physician. There are some young men here in Norwood doing well at dry goods, who after selling on commission are now able to carry on business for themselves. In studying medicine, you will have a great deal of mental labor and expense, with probably no better livelihood than you can easily make at dry goods.
Two Milliners, Sisters, have come to Norwood, and have commenced the business in the house of their brother who lives here. I could not advice you to think of a boarding house in this place, nor do I know of anything else you could engage in here. I can only content myself here while I am making money, since I have been here, not quite two months, I have booked upwards of £35, nearly all good debts. At present there does not seem to be a great deal of sickness in this neighborhood.
I have not heard from Peterboro' for more than a week. I suppose Mrs. Reeve's folks will be moving down by this time. I continue to enjoy good health. If you know anything about the number of students attending school, please inform me.
How does the New Yorkville church seem to do. Who plays the organ, now since Robinson sold it to the Trustees? Do you know anything about Benjamin [Nankeville].
As it is mail time I must close for the present. Hoping to hear from you again when convenient. Give my kind regards to your sister the "Carriage folks" etc.
I remain, Yours affectionately,
Thomas W. Poole.
H.B.B. Alley Esq. etc.
Letter #7. 8 Aug 1854, 4 pages, local news, lack of feminine companionship, social situation, possibility of friend becoming a doctor and practising in Norwood.
Peterboro', Tuesday Aug. 8th 1854.
I arrived here safely 24 hours after leaving Toronto, and found all the folks all well, and very comfortable. I had a pleasant trip - from Cobourg I came by railroad to Rice Lake, and then the remainder of the way on a small steamboat. Peterboro' is a pretty good place, for an inland, country town. Our church is a neat and commodious one, they have a choir and a melodeon to lead the singing. I was out with my brother's folks last night to a social party at Mr--- the Registrar for this county, who has several offices in the church, - I was also out to tea one evening last week. So you see I am putting in the time pretty well. There are not pretty girls here that I can see, at least none that suit my taste. There is a thriving village called Norwood, about 25 miles east of this place, where I am informed they are anxious to get a physician. The one they have is too rough, and is engaged in the lumber business, and seems inclined to give up his practice. There is a good Grammar School in the village. The teacher and his wife were in Peterboro, on Saturday, and hearing of me from some of the folks, they called here and seemed anxious I would go there among them, and seemed disposed to be very friendly. They said if I want to go housekeeping they would secure a nice house for me, and if not they would find me a suitable place to board.
I have also seen the Methodist Minister from there, and he thinks it a very good opening. I am going to see the place tomorrow, I expect, and from all I have heard I think I will go there for a year or two at least, until I see something better. I have been thinking it would be well for me to return to Toronto for my things and get some Medicines and other articles I will want, but travelling is not quite safe on those boats there is so much sickness, and it is expensive, and I can get mostly what I want here nearly as well as in Toronto, perhaps I had better not go for a month or two yet. If I go to Toronto for these things I will do so the beginning of next week, if I do not go perhaps I will trouble you to start my trunks on the boat for me addressed to this place, however I will write to you again on this subject. I have been thinking if I should settle in Norwood, perhaps you and your sister would find it to your advantage to live and carry on business of some kind in a thriving country village, for instance, you could live a great deal cheaper, and you could soon acquire a little property of your own which it is not easy to do in a place like Toronto, and then I would be glad to have an old friend near me, and if you thought of studying medicine, I would be happy to do all in my power to assist you, and if you studied well for a year and a half or so, as I know you would, you would be prepared for spending a session at a medical school to advantage and would then be able to obtain your license. I merely mention it, for your consideration, I have not yet seen Norwood, but I am told it is a thriving business place. The people here are chiefly from the old country - many of them from Ireland - there are very few Americans. I have met here with an old friend and schoolfellow, he has horses, and is lending me one to go to Norwood tomorrow.
I will be glad to hear from you as soon as convenient. We are all quite well. My brother and his wife send their kindest regards to you.
Letter #8. 24 Aug 1854, 4 pages, written from Norwood, local news, rental accommodations, religious nature of the population.
Norwood, Aug. 24th, 1854.
I arrived safely in Peterboro' on Friday at noon, and that afternoon and Saturday I devoted myself to seeing several horses that I heard were for sale within a few miles. I succeeded in finding one to suit me, a neat black mare, possessing all the sprightliness and vivacity of youth, with the training and discipline of maturer years. I came down here on Monday afternoon and have found a tolerably comfortable place to board at $2 1/2 per week. I have 2 rooms, a bed room, and another for my medicines etc., and the sole use of a good stable on the premises. I got part of my things by way of Crook's Rapids yesterday, and the remainder this morning, so that you see I am only commencing operations. I have 4 patients today, 3 in the village, and one out four miles in the country, a young women who has dropsy, and has been considered a hopeless case, and given up by 3 or 4 physicians. I was sent for to see if I could do anything for her, and I have some faint hopes of her recovery. I felt lonesome here the first day and night but since then, I have been busy getting my things arranged, and looking after those patients so that I have not been dull or lonesome. If they keep me pretty busy, and treat me tolerably well, I will be satisfied and contented.
Yesterday and today up to 4 o'clock this afternoon (at which time I write) I have earned 5 dollars. This is not so bad as a commencement, and although money will not come in just at once, while one is attending them, I meant to be pretty sharp in collecting my debts.
Business is rather dull in the stores here now, during harvest, and there does not appear to be room for any more shops than those at present establishment. I have been so busy with my own little fixings that I have not yet enquired respecting an opening for you, but I am afraid one will not be found in a small place like this to suit you. I think you could get a situation in one of the stores, but it would take too much of your time and give you too small a salary in proportion. However I will make enquiries. If you could turn Methodist Minister and get the conference to send you here next year you could then manage. A good boarding house is wanted here worse than anything, and if well conducted I have no doubt it would pay well. There are a number of clerks and young men as well as myself who board out, and the only good place is kept by an old couple, who have things in tolerable order, but the old womea will soon be getting too old and feeble to look after it. I do not know whether such a line of business would suit you or not, but I have heard several persons express their wish for a good boarding house and the necessity for one in the village.
There are two small churches here, but they are neat ones for the place; the Methodists have the majority in the village and they are building a church and expect to have it finished this fall. Theirs will be the third, and the Church of England people have part of the walls of a small brick one built, but are scarce of funds to complete it. I was invited to a small party in Peterboro' on Monday evening, but I came away after dinner and gave them the slip. Several hearts there seemed likely to be rather impressible, but I saw no chance of their impressing mine. I fear I am destined to be an old bachelor. Dear Alley if you can find a young lady willing to share the pleasures and sorrows of life's journey with me just send me a telegraph, and see if we don't soon make it up. The women here tell me that I must get married, firstly, because it will prevent me from being lonely, and I will be able to live more contently with them, and secondly, because then they will not feel so shy in employing me, and I will make more money, and thirdly because the expense of living will be very little increased. These are good reasons, but I am not at present prepared for complying with them.
The horse (or mare) I have is a very nice beast to ride, and I think I will do without a buggy this fall, I rode 11 miles yesterday without any inconvenience. I am to get half a ton of hay and some oats today for her.
The weather is fine, and somewhat warm, I will be glad to hear from you soon. Give my kind regards to all the special folks. We have a mail here from the West, and another from the East every second day.
I must close as other duties demand attention.
I remain, Yours Affectionately,
Thomas W. Poole.
H.B.B. Alley Esq.
Letter #9. 25 Nov 1854, 6 pages, written from Norwood, family matters, bill collecting at harvest, thoughts of moving to Peterborough.
Norwood. Nov 25th 1854.
My Dear Friend.
I received your letter of the 7th inst. and I am glad to hear that you are well, and that you have a good prospect of getting into business before long. Although you may prefer medicine at present, I think the other will suit you better, as you have considerable experience in it which will be greatly in your favour. Still, if at any time you wish to go on with the study of medicine, I will do everything in my power to help you along. I am enjoying good health, and have nearly as much business as I can conveniently attend to, and although not securing "great riches" I believe I am getting "a good name", which Salomon says is preferable. I am earning at the rate of about £200 per year, but as yet I have got in very little and not more than has supplied my immediate wants. In January next I will have a good deal to collect, and will then I trust have a fair start made. I confidently expected to have got in a considerable sum this month but as the farmers have not yet begun to dispose of their produce I found it difficult to do so. If you should need a little money I will be able to get some any time after this by means of a little dunning. If not I think I will let them alone til the 1st of January. The roads here are pretty bad now but we are hoping for frost and snow. I have bespoke a cutter, buffalo skins etc., and am feeling sorry I have no one to share the pleasure of them with me during some of my winter rides. I was in Peterboro about 2 weeks ago and found my brother's folks all well, and seemingly prosperous in church matters. It was rumoured that Dr. Lavell was not doing very well, and I think there will soon be a good opening for a physician there. The folks where I lodge talk of moving from here in the spring, so that I will have to look about for another place. It is uncomfortable and expensive to be living thus in another family, and I am beginning to wish for a home of my own or at least some improvement upon my present domestic conditions. I am not entirely reconciled to settling down here, although I am sure I can make a good living here, and perhaps with that I ought to be content. I have had a few difficult cases, but they have terminated well, and several of them feel grateful to me for "saving their lives" as they term it. I have not lost one yet, but a case of consumption and one of dropsy both far gone before I saw them, will soon be dropping off. I have not heard from or written to B. [Nankeville] for a long time. I hope he is getting along a little steadier then formerly. I will be glad to hear from you as often as convenient. Kind regards to your sister and yourself. I think I have nothing else worth adding and will close for the present.
Remaining Yours Affectionately,
Thomas W. Poole
Letter #10. 22 Jan 1855, 2 pages written from Norwood, discussing new quarters, occurrences of smallpox, missionary meetings.
Norwood. Jan. 22nd '55
My Dear Friend,
Among several unanswered letters I find your last, and must hasten to perform the pleasing task of replying to it. I suppose it is little use for me to apologize for not writing sooner, but the truth is I have been quite busy; and not very comfortably situated for keeping up correspondence. My little office room was too small, and I have engaged the front part of a small frame house to receive patients in and to hold my bottles, drugs, writing material etc. I have just got moved into my new quarters today, and with my increased accommodation I will be able to accomplish more both for myself and others.
I am quite well, and as I said, pretty busy. Norwood although a somewhat backward place is not a bad place for a good physician. People are now somewhat alarmed about the small pox which is said to be at Belleville and in some parts of Prince Edward County. A young man died of it within 6 miles of this place last week, so that nearly all are anxious to be vaccinated. This of course is making a little work for me.
I returned from Peterboro' yesterday, having gone there the previous evening. I found my brother’s folks all well, and spent a few minutes with Dr. Lavell, and found Mr. Reeve's family also well, and seemingly enjoying Peterboro' pretty well. We have had two small snow storms, each of about a day's duration, and have now plenty of snow, and will have fine roads as soon as the last fall gets beaten down. It is only now that the farmers here are beginning to dispose of their produce, so that cash has come in to me rather tardily. In all, I have collected £34, and I have about £50 still due to me. I have charged moderately, sometimes perhaps too much so, but this I think is doing very well for the first 5 months of practice. I have of course a good deal of unavoidable expense but not near as much so as if I were living in Toronto or even in a town. My mare pleases me well and is quite sprightly and smart and I have a nice comfortable cutter and buffalo skins, and turn out in pretty good style. The idea seems to have got abroad respecting me that I am an honest and pretty skilful physician, at least so some of your country men (who have probably been near the Blarney stone) tell me.
We had a nice missionary meeting here, good attendance, and good speeches. I am sorry the people of Yorkville do not agree better on church affairs. I suppose you go up there sometimes to meeting. It was reported here that Miss Robinson was married, but it turns out to be untrue. I strongly suspect that you are looking after Miss Jane. If so "Go it while you are young," - but of course, you will deny it. I hope you will not follow my example in delaying writing so long. I expect a person will soon be going from here to Toronto, and if so I will send you a few lines by him. I hope to hear of your success and prosperity in whatever situation you may feel it your duty to place yourself. Kind regards to your sister and yourself.
Thomas W. Poole
Letter #11. 21 Feb 1855, 4 pages, written from Norwood, personal health, new housekeeper, completion of Methodist church, females, the letter is incomplete.
Norwood. Feb. 21st '55
My Dear Friend,
I have just returned from the post office with your interesting letter, and as I am apt sometimes to put off a duty too long, I set at once about the pleasing task of replying to it. I am well and continue tolerably busy. I think, since I wrote to you I have changed my quarters, and I now have my "office" in a separate small frame building and I eat and sleep at the Rev. Mr. Carr's, our minister here. I am much more comfortable since this change has been effected, than formerly. There is a small brick house, now being finished situated on the side of the hill partly overlooking the village. This I think of renting in the spring, and of getting a housekeeper to look after my wants for I see no chance of getting a wife by that time.
Perhaps I may get my sister to come and superintend my domestic affairs for me. At all events I do not care much about boarding out in this way much longer. It is expensive, inconvenient and less comfortable than a little home of one's own.
The Methodists here have just got their new church completed. It is a good, neat one for this place, fitted up with pews, having two aisles as in the Adelaide St. church. It is to be opened for Divine Service next Sunday. Rev. Mr. Case from Alnwick is to preach in the morning, some stranger at 2 o'clock, and my brother from Peterboro' in the evening. Our quarterly meeting comes off the Sabbath after, and early in the week following we are to have a tea meeting in aid of the funds. So you see, we will have busy times and heavy demands upon the purse strings.
Money seems very scarce here and comes in very slowly, and although prices are high the times are dull. We have now good sleighing and plenty of snow. It is two weeks since I was up to Peterboro, the folks were then all well and enjoying themselves as well as usual. I made but a very short stay as my time is limited. I did not write any valentines this year, although I believe I received a couple. We have a few pretty girls about here but they are uneducated, simpleminded creatures. I have not showed any attentions to any of them. I can hardly tell you how Dr. Lavell is getting on in Peterboro'. I am so seldom there, but I suspect he is doing pretty well. If I can get in a considerable portion of what is owing to me, so as to enable me to pay my debts, it is probable I will visit Toronto in the spring. I would like if possible to be able in a couple of years to visit London or Philadelphia, and see a little practice in some of those places. On this account I am hesitating about the prosperity of settling down permanently or encumbering myself with a wife, although I would get more practice if I were settled thus.
If I can go housekeeping in the spring and you are then anxious to pursue the study of medicine, I would be glad to have you come and stay with me and I would assist you all I can. I am always happy when up to the ears, in bones and muscles etc. etc. If I go to Toronto I intend to bring down with me a small "subject" to dissect here, in order to preserve anatomical specimens for my own gratification. After you got the "bones" well you could pursue the study of muscles, etc. etc., from the subject and thus have much advantage as in the Dissecting Room in Toronto. Still I think you are "cut out" more for a merchant than a doctor.
Letter # 12. 31 March 1855, 4 pages, written from Norwood, prospects of moving to Millbrook, weather, medical supplies (bones).
Norwood. Saturday March 31st '55.
Enclosed I [remit] you five pounds, which I hope will safely reach you. I would have been glad to have been able to send it you long ago, and would have done so if I could sooner get in what is owing to me, however I hope it is "better late than never."
I am quite well and doing well. Some inducements were offered to me lately to go and reside in Millbrook in the township of Cavan, 18 miles back of Port Hope, and I had been thinking seriously of doing so, but my prospects for the future are encouraging enough to make one stay here some time longer.
We had plenty of snow this spring and it had tarried long with us, but the hot sun is now melting it away very fast. I was to Peterboro' the night before last and found all the folks well there and seemingly doing well. I think I wrote to you some time ago and have not yet heard from you. I hope you and your sister are well and doing well. I will be glad of a few lines from you when you receive this.
Mr. [Danut], our Grammar School teacher has gone to Toronto and will remain a few days. I did not tell him to call on you for the book and bones, but I think I will write him to that effect and if you are not using them you might send them by him. Please wrap up the bones well or they may make him nervous.
I had some thoughts of going to Toronto myself this spring for some things I want in the medical line, and will probably go either there or to Rochester.
Mr. John Reeve is home, and his folks are all well.
I am anxious to know how you are shaping your course for the future, and especially what progress you are making in securing the affection of the ladies. This you know is an important part of the duties of life and ought not to be overlooked amid the pressure of other matters. I think I must begin to devote more attention to it than formerly.
I have heard that Miss Robinson is married, and that Miss Carrie Wood is no more. I suppose the "carriage" still stops occasionally in front of your shop. Please give the folks my kind regards should you see them. I am writing this so badly that I am afraid you will not be able to read it, but if I do not scribble if off this way perhaps I would not get it written at all.
Please accept my thanks for your kindness in accommodating me with the enclosed.
Kind regards to yourself and sister.
How is B. [Nankeville] doing, do you know?
Thomas W. Poole.
Mr. H.B.B. Alley
Letter #13. 21-25 June 1855, 4 pages, written from Norwood, poor mail service, business flourishing, no cash in the economy.
Norwood, Thursday evening
June 12th, '55
My Dear Friend,
I received your letter today and hasten at once to reply. I am sure you must be mistaken about the date of my last letter being Aug 31st, as I certainly wrote to you about the 1st of Jan., and again about the 1st of April, and I think also between these times. It may be that some of our letters go astray, for the last time I wrote was the 2nd letter I sent, without having heard from you.
However, I am glad to know you are well, and comfortably situated, and I am happy to be able to inform you that I also enjoy these blessings. My coadjutor Dr. Willson, having left here a few weeks ago, for parts unknown; and there being a good deal of sickness around, I am kept quite busy.
It is an exceedingly pleasant thing to be summoned from a comfortable bed and a pleasant sleep to trudge away in the damp night air to minister to some one in distress, and then wait a twelvemonth for your pay, which is doled out to you after repeated dunnings, and in some instances not at all. I think you would find this kind of exercise quite as unpleasant as anything in the dry goods line. However, there are some things unpleasant in every calling, and on the whole I am fond of mine, and would not wish to change it. I sometimes find it lonesome here, as you might expect, for in a little country village one has not much to fall back upon for agreeable recreation. It is only during my leisure moments that I feel thus, and I generally manage to keep myself busy at something. I have bought a half acre lot, and rented the half acre beside it, on which stands a small brick house, now being finished.
In this little acre farm I have sowed oats and potatoes, and expect a tolerable crop of both. People here say I am to be married soon, and know a great deal more about it than I do myself, but I assure you I have not thoughts of doing anything so foolish.
Monday Afternoon, June 25th
I was called away, and being busy I did not get my letter finished on Thursday, and now I resume. I have just received the book and bones which my brother brought and forwarded to me here. The book I have hailed as an old familiar fiend, and would not exchange it for a new one of the same kind.
I would be glad to have someone near me or with me here who would be engaged in the study of medicine - as while affording him any information in my power I would be reviewing and confirming myself.
Could you not spare a few days in July or August, and take a trip down here. You could come on the boat to Cobourg, on the cars from there to Keene, and then the remainder of the way (18 miles) in the stage. It would do you good, and be a change from the dull monotony of city life. You could go back by way of Peterboro' and would thus have an opportunity of seeing more of the country.
I cannot get up to Peteboro' often now as I am so busy, it does not do for me to be away. A physician is more a slave than a man of any other profession. His time is never his own, and he knows not the minute he may be wanted. Perhaps when he is most anxious for rest or recreation, a call comes, and he feels it his duty to obey. Men in other callings in life have a certain number of hours to put in, after which they are their own masters and can go and do what they like but the doctor must "be always ready".
I expected to have gone to Toronto ere this, but I am left alone here and am so busy almost day and night that I do not see how or when I am to get away. The last few weeks I am booking 4 or 5 dollars a day generally. There is but little cash stirring here during the summer months, but it will have to begin to come in by and by. I hope to hear from you occasionally, as circumstances permit. I hope you will be able to read this.
Kind regards to yourself and your sister. Kind regards to Miss Robinson if you see her.
Thomas W. Poole.
Letter #14. 3 Aug 1855, 4 pages, written from Norwood, touting Norwood as a place for Alley to study medicine, roads and transportation, medical information.
Norwood, Aug. 3rd, '55
Your letter duly arrived. I am very busy, and cannot write much. Yesterday I travelled about 30 miles and 40 the day before.
We have nearly every variety of sickness here to deal with. Within a month I have had 3 broken bones to look after, two arms and a leg. I am anxious to have some person with me engaged in the study of medicine, and will be glad if you can make arrangements to come, if not I must try and get someone else. I am glad that you are coming to see the place, at any rate, and will be glad how soon you can come, as I would like to know your decision so that I could be looking out for some one else if necessary. You will probably find this a lonesome backward place, as I do, but then you could have here every facility for acquiring a knowledge of medicine.
There is no stage from Keene to this place as it was expected there would be. The cars will bring you within 4 miles of Keene, and then you will have to come on, the best way you can. There is a livery stable keeper there whose name is Drummond, who often drives in passengers, - If you would call on Dr. McCrea, in Keene, it is likely he could put you in a way of getting here. Do not tell him or anyone your object in coming. You can put it on the score of paying me a visit.
The weather is very hot and showery. I find myself much more comfortable now than formerly, although we have yet considerable fixing to do.
If you were sure of when you would get to Keene I could meet you there with the buggy as the road is tolerably good, and the distance 10 miles.
I have not been to Peterboro' for some time, as I cannot get time to go.
I cannot say a great deal in a flattering way about this place or the people, or the young ladies, but if you are determined to engage in the study of medicine I will endeavour to afford you every practical facility in my power and to communicate to you all the information possible.
You will require a good deal of information regarding drugs before you could engage in the business with safety. I am now going 8 miles to see a sick women and must close, hoping to see or hear from you soon.
Thomas W. Poole.
Letter #15. 10 Nov 1855, 3 pages, written from Norwood, personal news, request for books.
Norwood. Saturday Nov. 10th, '55.
Your letter was duly received a few days ago, and I hasten to reply. We are all well here and going on as usual. I was to Peterboro' once since you were here. My sister spent last Sabbath there, and returned on Monday. She informed me that Miss Robinson and her pa were there, and that the organ was in course of erection. Of course she must go up and hear it, by and by. I have very little news worth mentioning. This is our quarterly meeting Saturday and Sabbath here. I enclose to you a dollar bill, and you will greatly oblige me by purchasing at some of the book stores and sending to me by mail the "Westminster Review" for July last, and a Lecture by Dr. Lillie, entitled "Homeopathy versus Allopathy".
The Review you will most likely to get at Maclear's, and Lillie's lecture at Fletcher's on Yonge St., where it was published. You must mail them separately, and just as you would a newspaper, by wrapping a piece of paper round the middle and putting a couple of wafers to hold it, leaving the ends uncovered, as they law requires.
If you have anything left after buying them you can prepay them. If they cost more than this I will send you the balance. I would also like a copy of the "Jubilee Sermon" preached by the Rev. Mr. Case at the last conference, which will be found at the book room.
I fear I am giving you a good deal of trouble but I will be much obliged if you will send these at your earliest convenience. As it is near mail time I must close. My sister sends her kind regards to you. I hope you will soon have better news from the old country. Good bye.
Letter #16. Tuesday 2 July , 2 pages, written from Norwood, postal problems, family news, "quack" doctor.
Tuesday July 2, 1856.
This letter of mine has been very unfortunate in not yet reaching the post office. How it could so have happened I cannot well tell, but I hope you will pardon this oversight of mine. I have been quite busy, and when at times overworked feeling rather dull. I was to Peterboro' on Friday last, and bought a nice buggy and am now making active preparation for commencing housekeeping by means of my sister who is now in Peterboro'. We will have a little brick house pleasantly situated, and expect to get into it this week of next. Can you not take a trip down this way and spend a day or two here, and if you are desirous of studying medicine, and make arrangements to say here I will do everything in my power to assist you. I am expecting a visit from a quack Dr. from Madoc, who is coming over to me occasionally to be "ground," and who is going to attend the medical school next winter. I can furnish you with bones, and we will soon find a "subject" and I would assist you in dissecting it. In a short time you could learn to pull teeth, and if you had any capital to invest, I think a drug store on a small scale would pay here. In 2 or 3 months you could become acquainted with the drugs, and then make a little shop pay you while attending to your studies. Please write immediately, and try and come down and see us at any rate and we will talk the matter over.
Yours in haste.
Letter #17. 21 Aug 1856, 4 pages, written from Norwood, news of his housekeeper, the first circus, family matters.
Norwood. Aug. 21st, 1856.
It is long since I wrote to you, having so little worth writing about, or that you would likely to be interested in. I am pretty well. My sister is gone to Peteboro' for a few days, - a little girl we have keeping house for me. I was in town a couple of hours last week. My brothers' folks were well. The Jones's were there on a visit, and seemed to be enjoying it pretty well. A spruce widower in comfortable circumstances was paying them very marked attentions, with what results I am unable to say. I heard since from my brother, and he informed me they had gone to Belleville to visit a while. There is not much special going on in Peterboro'. Dr. Lavell talked of moving to London C.W. but I believe has concluded to remain. There is not a great deal of sickness here this summer and I am just comfortably busy.
How do you get along? I will be glad to hear from you as soon as circumstances permit. I suppose you see the "Carriage folks" frequently. I heard that Miss Robinson was going to be married soon, probably you may know something about it. Or it may be merely an idle rumour. How do you come on yourself in those tender matters? As for me I think I am a fair way to remain a bachelor, unless something unusual comes to pass. Where is Ben [Nankeville] now and do you know how he is doing?
I suppose you have given up all notion of studying the bones and are becoming reconciled to dry goods.
We have had a very dry summer, but a good deal of rain in the last 3 days.
I would like if you were here for a few days now, we would go fishing and shooting and driving round. There is to be a Circus in here in a couple of weeks for the first time.
Please give my kind regards to you sister, and accept the same yourself and believe me,
Thomas W. Poole.
Letter #18. 4 Dec 1856, 6 pages, with envelope and cover, romance, Alley's future, social life, weather, medical information.
Norwood. Wednesday Dec. 4th, '56.
Your letter was duly received a few days ago; and I now hasten to write a few lines in reply. I should have done so sooner, but I have been busy, and besides have very little worth communicating or that is likely to interest you. We are well here, my sister and myself, and living along as usual. The season has been a pretty healthy one, and I have not been over worked. At present I have two broken bones in charge. One of the femur near the middle of the shaft, the other of the tibia & fibula. Both are boys, and both are likely to do well. The latter being a compound fracture, has given me more trouble than usual, but I expect favorable results.
You will find these kind of cases difficult and trying. For although simple enough looking in theory and in the book it is very different in actual practice and then the responsibility one feels, a crooked bone being a serious deformity to the patient, and damaging to the reputation of the physician. In the country too one has not the facilities for conducting these cases that there is in hospital practice. You will find, (at least I have) that practical knowledge is much more advantageous than mere theoretical. However necessary and indispensable looks may be, there is no look like the "look of nature" and nothing that will aid you so much hereafter as seeing and observing the actual management and treatment of cases for yourself. I feel greatly indebted to the hospital for what I learned, and would strongly recommend you to attend it all you can.
In reference to your studies, I think I would not attempt to take out license for each branch separately, as you hint in your letter, but I would master one subject at a time and then take up another. And when you have got through all take out license for all together. The school may probably advise you to pursue the study of the different branches at the same time, because they want you to help to support all the professors, and you may be obliged to take out all the tickets. Still I am satisfied that the other course is best. I have no doubt but you will succeed, if you persevere.
In reference to the other matters mentioned in your letter, I cannot perhaps plead entirely "not guilty" to the tender passion, but I believe time will show you that you are not looking in the right direction in my case. It is true I stayed at Robinson's longer than I might have done, but Miss R. and I were never destined for each other.
I wish I could see you, and have a longer chat about such matters than the limits of a letter allows. I feel the need of some one with whom to counsel and to whom I could unbosom myself.
We have had a second fall of snow today, which will make tolerable sleighing.
I have not been to Peterboro' since my return, nor have I heard from them. I expect to go in a few days, now that I can slip along in the cutter.
I have had several sleigh-rides already, and one nice upset. My little poney stands it well, and jogs round with me bravely. I sometimes think I am beginning to prefer living in the country to the town. We have a debating school here now; and a good deal of general improvement going on.
It is getting dark and tea is getting ready, so that I must hasten to conclude. Please give my kind regards to your sister and accept yourself my warm wishes for your success and prosperity.
I remain, Yours faithfully,
Thomas W. Poole.
A fine bright day after the storm of yesterday. Sleighing is middling good, although a little rough in places.
I will always be glad to hear from you, and to know any changes that may occur among our acquaintances there.
Letter #19. 2 Feb 1857, 4 pages, written from Norwood, the schoolteacher's romantic potential, patients, weather.
Norwood. Monday Feb. 2nd, 1857
Your kind note has just been received, and I am glad to learn that you are well.
We are all well, and living on much as usual. There is not much sickness in this section of the country, and I find the midwifery the best of the business.
I was detained nearly all day today at a case in Belmont, about 6 miles from here. All came off well. I have been very fortunate in this branch of business, and I may say I am in favor among the old women, and to secure their favor and confidence you know is more than half the battle. I have occasionally met with difficult cases, such as [flooding] or those in which a recourse to instruments is necessary. I have twice performed craniotomy, and several times used the forceps. You will find these cases exceptionally trying and sufficient to require all your coolness and fortitude.
We have a very cold severe winter here, but I have been only a few times turned out at nights.
Our Grammar School teachers have left, and we have got a new supply - A Mr. Jones from Toronto is principal. He has but one arm, wears a moustache. The French teacher is a Miss Ford from Peterboro', and she boards with us. I have a prejudice against school mistresses, and consequently have not the slightest intention of falling in love, as you might suppose I would be likely to do. I am not sure that my affections are at my own disposal at any rate; but this is a subject I am not at liberty at present to enter upon. There is another young (American) lady now here on a winter visit to Mrs. Foley, of amicable disposition, but rather plain in features: but neither is she "the rose for me." These however form a considerable addition to the female society of the place. There are some little bits of romance, happening occasionally, as well as every where else, but as you do not know the parties it would be useless for me to mention about them.
I do not feel any particular interest in the Robinson's; but you might inform me (if you happen to know) who Miss R's favorite is. I fancied it might be young Rosebrough or your young preacher, but I might be mistaken.
Miss R once wrote me some very affectionate letter; but I found she was playing the same game with somebody else; and I informed her she might bestow her devotion entirely to him whoever he might be. This is of course between ourselves.
My brother has been ill for some weeks of a sort of Bronchitis, or as it is called "Clergyman's sore throat." He was getting better last time I saw him. I do not go to Peterboro' often, as it is a loss to be to be away much from home.
We will be glad to see you next summer. I expect to have some picnic parties here, and also sailing and fishing excursions. When you come, you must calculate to stay 4 or 5 days.
I send you the last Review. I get the Toronto Globe regularly. With kindest regards to yourself and sister.
I close remaining yours truly,
Thomas W. Poole.
Letter #20. 13 March 1857, 2 pages, written from Norwood, dissertation on women, marital advice for Alley, church teas.
Norwood. March 13th, 1857.
You letter was duly received, and I was glad to learn that you were well. I have nothing very special to mention except that we are both well, and living along as usual. I have now another broken leg (Tibia and Fibula) in hand which is doing first rate. We have had very little sleighing since the 1st of February and today the weather is almost too fine for the season of the year.
The "American Lady" has returned a week ago, to her own home, near Watertown, New York. You say you are "quite clear of the Ladies," then you are a fortunate fellow, and yet you are an unfortunate fellow too, and also an unhappy one.
The Ladies (God bless them) are a sort of necessary evil. They are like a sharp edged tool. Very apt to cut one in handling them, yet all the better for that same sharpness. I believe that true women are scarce and when found, of inestimable value: and he who possesses the love and confidence of such a one is indeed happy, whatever be his circumstances in life.
The truth that "it is not good for man to be alone" is founded in nature as well as revelation, and he never can be truly happy who has not some dear kindred heart to beat responsive to his own. So, if you are really "quite clear of ladies," which I very much doubt; I trust for your own sake you will not long remain so. Get involved with some nice girl just as soon as you can. It will be to you a star to guide you in dark moments of gloom or despondency. The great difficulty with me has been to find a person as intellectual and accomplished as I would wish who possessed a moderate share of health and physical vigor.
Most of our fashionable young ladies are utterly incapable (from debility and other causes) of making good wives and mothers. Who wants to marry a perpetual invalid however refined or accomplished? There is no fear of "that affair of mine" coming off "til summer" - nor probably then, so that you will have plenty of time to prepare for it. We are to have a Tea-meeting on Monday next in the church. My brother is expected down to it - I have not been to Peterboro' since I wrote. I suppose you are very busy - don't study too hard. Do you suppose I could get a small subject in any way if I went to Toronto for it? It is not easy getting them in the country and I want to dissect some. I am learning some French during my leisure time. I get a French newspaper.
Kind regards to your sister.
Yours truly (in haste),
Thomas W. Poole
Letter #21. 9 Dec 1857, 2 pages, written from Norwood, news of his marriage, and assessment of his wife, boarders in their home, general election mentioned in passing.
Norwood. Wednesday Dec. 9th 1857.
I would have written to you long ago, but I did not know where you were and did not know whether to address to you in Toronto or London. This may not be quite a sufficient apology. Well then I have been very busy. I have been building a house, and in the bustle of completing and coming into it have lost sight of many other little matters which would otherwise have met with attention. It is quite convenient to our former residence, and we find it much more comfortable. It seems you have not learned that I have been spliced. I thought you might have learned indirectly. Well then one fine day in July last myself and a young lady from these parts found our way to Cobourg and were married by my Brother, who you know lives there this year, and is traveling agent for Victoria College. My sister is there with Mrs. Poole at present, who is a good deal alone. I had a letter from her a couple of days ago. She and they were quite well and very comfortably settled. I get along here pretty well, being tolerably busy professionally and have not cause of complaint.
Mrs. Poole is all that I expected her to be and makes me a very good wife indeed and a true helpmate. We have had a young lady boarding with us all the year, who teaches the female department in the school. We have also a young man with us for a few weeks who is aspiring to the Ministry, and is going to school here at present.
Times you know are seldom very exiting in a country village, so we lead a quiet kind of life. The general election and other township elections and meetings are at present making considerable stir, and will for a month or two to come. I thought you would probably be attending the Toronto School of Medicine this winter. What are you doing? You would not like teaching a school in the country or you could get a good salary and have a great deal of time for study.
I could easily get you such a situation near here and would be delighted to assist you in your studies if you thought of such a plan. The salary would range from £50 - £80, and you would have every other Saturday besides the usual holidays, amounting to nearly 2 months in the year and only 6 hours duty each day. Think of this and let me now your prospects in your next. As I have often said I would be glad to be helping somebody, as it would keep things fresher in my own mind.
I must now close for the present. Wishing you all prosperity.
And believe me, Yours Truly,
Thomas W. Poole.
Letter #22. 5 Sept 1864, 3 pages, written from Norwood, to Alley who is now in London, personal matters, reasons for remaining in the area.
Norwood. Sept. 5th 1864.
I had quite lost track of you and for a portion of the time since, in some curious way, I could not recall your name. It seemed to have passed out of my memory although I remembered yourself very well. I received the newspaper you sent, which also informed me of the great affliction you have sustained. How better we can do to mitigate the grief of our dearest friends under such bereavements. But you have my sympathy and condolences. Since you were here I have been doing tolerably well. For 6 years or so I have been living in a good sized house I built, have had good practice and done tolerably fairly. Of course I am married several years; but have no family. I fear you were not very favorably impressed by the appearance of this section of the country when you were here and indeed it is not one of the best. I have had 3 or 4 municipal offices, clerk, treasurer etc. which have assisted me materially or I should not have stayed here so long.
I am now about to remove into Peteboro’. Have leased a house and will be there in 3 weeks at farthest. Should you ever come that way I will be greatly pleased to see you. So it seems you did not study medicine after all. I often looked out for your name as among the published Licentiates and could not tell what had become of you. I think you were wise in sticking to the dry goods under the advantages you had.
Please write to me as soon as you can and give some account of yourself.
Do you know D. Bull of London and is the system of Homeopathy [of] much repute there. I have become a Licentiates of that board as well as of the old school. It is a great step in advance. My sister is not yet married. She is keeping house for my brother James who lost his wife 2 years ago. Where is your sister? Give her my kind remembrance.
I enclose you my "[ ] " - not a first rate likeness. Please accept the assurance of my kind sympathy and best wishes.
Thomas W. Poole.