Something to Change My Plans

John Bones lost his wife, Maria, to tuberculosis. In a letter to his mother dated 4 June 1833, he writes, “I thought when in health that I appreciated her…but I now find that much as I love her I was never fully aware…of the treasure I possess in her, until the prospect of her removal, shews how much I shall lose.”

Maria died one month later.

Not much is known about what John did after her death until the following summer. John travelled to England and his native Ireland for business and family visits. It was perhaps only the second time he had returned since his immigration 23 years earlier and it seems to be the first time he was able to visit his maternal relatives. The trip seems to have brought solace to his soul, as he tells his father about finding beauty where others find none.

In almost identical letters to his father and brother, John writes from his aunts’ home in County Antrim on 6 August, “It is my intention to leave Liverpool for New York about the 1st October and do not expect to write to any of my friends again unless something should occur to change my plans, which I do not think is likely.”

What date he sailed isn’t known, but he may not have been in Liverpool by 1 October and he did not return home alone.

During his time in County Antrim he visited with many aunts, uncles, and cousins. In letters home he describes several relatives including his cousin Mary Brown, whom he describes as “a fine looking girl.” In the same letters, he indicates that he will go to Uncle Brown’s in a few days. John may not have met Mary before this trip as she was born the same year John, with his parents and siblings, immigrated to America.

What happened during those weeks isn’t recorded, but he married Mary Brown on 25 September 1834 in her hometown, Garvagh, County Antrim, and she returned to America with him, arriving in New York on 10 November 1834. They spent the next 20 years living in Augusta, Georgia, until her death in 1865, returning to Ireland often to visit their family.

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