The author of this letter signed his name John W. McCarty but gives few clues, otherwise, as to his identity. We learn from the letter that he traveled to Venezuela in company with John Dougherty (1826-1858), the son of Edward and Annis Dougherty of Aurora, Cayuga County, New York. Dougherty is known to have died in 1858 “while actively engaged in the construction of a railroad under the auspices of that government.” It is presumed that McCarty was from Cayuga County also and was working on the same railroad..
McCarty wrote the letter to Frederick DeLano (1815-1880), an attorney in Rochester, New York — formerly of Aurora. DeLano was a judge from 1844 – 1852. His name is listed in Rochester directories until 1864, which could have coincided with the death of or move of his widow, Mary. Frederick is also listed as general counsel for the New York Central Railroad in other accounts.
It seems that McCarty and DeLano were partners in some side business of smuggling elixir and pills past the customs agents into Venezuela for retail sales.
Addressed to Fred. DeLano, Esq., Rochester, New York
Puerto Cabello [Venezuela]
May 8th 1857
My Dear Sir:
It is with feelings of thankfulness that I set down to let you know that we have arrived safely at the end of our journey without having met with anything worse than calms and headwinds.
We weighed anchor in New York Bay on the 2d of last month and that evening we found ourselves well out to sea, entirely ought of sight of land, and Mr. Boylan and myself somewhat sea-sick. Mr. Dougherty escaped entirely the sickness so you can only imagine how we felt — it blowing almost a sale at the time, which continued during the night and afterwards died down to a calm. So we had it, either a calm, or if we had any wind, it came from the wrong quarter.
We managed somehow to get down to the West Indies and after that we had favorable winds till we arrived at La Guaira on the 29th in the morning making the trip in 27 long days — a very long time to be penned in such a small thing as a vessel.
When we arrived in La Guaira we had the good fortune to meet the steamer that runs between that port and this, which was to leave that evening so we got on board of her, after passing our luggage through the Custom House, and reached home the next morning, Wednesday, at seven o’clock, and I am happy to say found all the family in the best of health with but one little exception and that was that little Franklin was somewhat unwell.
My folks were very glad to see me and their “compadre” Mr. Dougherty — and I can tell you I was glad to see them. Everything looked natural, the same as I left them.
And now, a few words concerning the Great “Balm” — You may consider your fortune made. The two boxes were marked in New York at ” de Agreda’s house as belonging to the R. Roud and as a matter of course no duty was to be paid on them. The same can be done hereafter. I have spoken to father all about it. He says that it can be sold here for one dollar per bottle, as I told you before I left — that is to say, Macacino dollar. Mr. Dougherty, I suppose, will write you about the printing of labels &c. and I promise to help in the sale, and rapidly circulate its wonderful properties all over this part of this country.
As for the Pills — the market is overflowed, but what we shall sell will only bring two shillings and six pense her box.
Take both together, the Balm and Pills, I don’t see but what we shall make an independent fortune in a little while.
We have commenced work on the [rail]road in good earnest. We went out yesterday and today and by Monday we expect to be half way to Valencia.
As the vessel sails early in the morning and we leave to go on the road, I shall have to close. I will write often to let you know how all goes on and keep you informed as to the sales of the balm.
Hoping to hear often from you, I remain with my best respects to all your kind family and a well wishes of your prosperity in all your undertakings.
Yours truly, — John W. McCarty