This letter was written by Paul Morrow (1774-1845) to his son-in-law, Dr. James Ramsey Speer (1796-1891) of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Dr. Speer married Hettie Morrow (1802-1887) in 1821. He was the son of William Speer (1764-1829) and Sarah Ramsey (1777-1804). He studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and came to Pittsburgh in 1825. He was the first ophthalmologist in Pittsburgh and was chief surgeon at what is now West Perm Hospital.
Addressed to Doctor James R. Speer, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Coatesville [Chester County, Pennsylvania]
29 December 1841
Yours of the 24th ult. came safe to hand. I was glad to hear you were all well. I suppose you are anxious to hear from us, but I have nothing to write about, excepting ourselves and the Dr.’s family. As to myself, I feel bo bitterness in my health. My weakness in the limbs continues much as it was when I left you. About four weeks ago another disease attacked me but what it is, Dr. G. cannot form any conjecture. I am literally covered with red blotches from my ankles to my neck and no part left unaffected except my hands and face. I am as spotted as a leopard and the blotches very much resemble those of the skin of a man just recovering from the small pox in the natural way. On Sunday past, the Dr. drew blood from the arm but without as yet rendering any service. I have been rubbing my skin with sharp vinegar and am ____ salaratus diluted with water, solely for the purpose of getting clear of the miserable itching feeling. Last week I had a slight hemorrhage but it went off and I suffered no uneasiness since. I have had also several premonitory symptoms of Gout, but they disappeared. I wish you would take my case into your immediate consideration and let me know certainly by the first mail which will leave Pittsburgh about Tuesday as I shall keep a sharp look out for it. Dr. G. says he has never seen or read of any person having a disease like mine.
When I last wrote to you, I stated that Lydia was using a prescription recommended by Dr. McClellan. This effected a complete relief for about four weeks and we all findlt hoped that the complaint was removed, but it has again returned and she is now as bad as ever. I gave Dr. G. your recipe and she is now using it, but as yet without any permanent effect. Dr. McClellan recommended the bowels to be bathed with a solution of nitro muriatic or as it is called aqua regia. Lydia most earnestly requests Hetty or Mary M. to write to her or, if the they will not comply, to employ William as __ ______, as we were all delighted with the letter he wrote me, and which ___ Dr. Holmes’ letters to her Mother entirely in the shade. Let him try again and try soon. We are always glad to hear from Pittsburgh by letter as we have no opportunity of seeing any person from thence. Tell us all about your own and D. MacLean’s family and don’t content yourself by saying ye are all well. Tell us also about Cropan’s family: what are John & William doing? How is young James? Has he recovered from his dropsy? Is John married or likely to be so, and will he succeed in getting the Little money he expected.
How is Zugge’s doing? Is he still keeoing boarders? How many has he, and are Mrs. Corton & Dunlop still with him? Have Peebles and R. Riddle made up their family quarrel? Is property likely to rise or fall? How are money matters and many other things that would be interesting to us.
Lydia and I have concluded to change our residence as soon as Spring opens, that is provided our health will permit. The Dr.’s family is so large that there is not room enough for us all. He has at present 15 all together big and little. I believe we can get boarding at Parkersburg or Coalerville nearly as cheap as we can here.
The boy is waiting to take this to the P.O. We all join in much love to you all.
Very sincerely, — P. Morrow