Politics, the Livestock Market, and General Andy Jackson in 1828 As Related by Irwin O’Rear

Many of the early O’Rears of Kentucky were livestock traders and dealers. It was the custom in those day, before the railroads came, to drive heards of cattle and hogs to the East Coast to market. It is difficult to imagine this, but it has been told in some instances flocks of turkeys were also driven from Kentucky to markets on the East Coast.

This letter from Irwin O’Rear of Clark County, Kentucky, to his brother, Senator William O’Rear (See sketch no. 25) in Illinois, tells of some political difficulties. Kentuckians generally did not support General Jackson because he was alleged to have made slighting remarks about some of the kentucky troops on the East bank of the river at the Battle of New Orleans in 1814 (unjustly, if true.)

Lexington   October 22nd 1828

Dear Brother

I received you letter of the 23 of September in answer to mine on the 18th of this month it gave me a great deal of satisfaction to hear from you, and the recovery of your family. The family are all well at this time. We have just heard of the death of Levi Frazere a very unexpected and distressing circumstance, we heard it from a letter from William Keas to his mother who has moved up again. I understand he died with the fever. There was no division taken place between the heirs, sister mary has I understand remove to Uncle Irwin’s with the babe, her daughter. Mr. Frazer was the most endearing stranger I ever was acquainted with little did I think it would be the last time I was to see and converse with him when he left my father’s last June twelve months ago we have received nothing from sister Mary respecting his death as yet but look for one every mail mother expected to visit them this fall in company with Cousin James Keas but he has not gone yet. She has not entirely give it over yet but winter is acoming and traveling will be disagreable. We should be very happy to see you in Mariah. I do assume you and little Delia, the conneccions are all well at this time as far as I kno. George will start to Virginia on the 29 of this month with hogs. Hogs are worth or have been worth one dollar and seventyfive cents but the knews from the south has knocked the price of pork down or rather stoped any person from buying, George would have sold his hogs. If he could but know person would buy I understand the South Carolinians will not buy any thing from the Kentuckyans relying upon Tennessee and other states that support General Jack. it is likely you will Do well to Drive your hogs in that Direction, as yours is a Jackson state or I have heard it was but you from what you note about the Governor of this state you could Do nothing with them. I heard they drove one beef drove back what I wrote I know from hearsay therefore if it is not so you must lay over it. You must write to father as you promised to do in your letter something to influence him to sell out his land or settle the disputed title for the family are all very dissatisfied with the situation in which they are placed. Indeed I think we could do better than anyone else where there would be range for sale where we could bet a larger farm. I should like to know what you have done with your land in the Missouri brother Franklin has been to school nine months and learns very fast. The school is broke up at this time. I think that he would if he had a chance make a good scholar. I have myself been to school verry little since you left this state as you may see by my hand write and the formation of words sentences. Do not fail to write immediate on the recipt of this and let us know all the knows in your country politics. I suppose the presidential election will be over before you receive this I must conclude the clock has struck two and I must return home the reason why I write from this place is this I have wrote several letters from Winchester that you gave me no account of nor as even I shall write to sister Mary to say I think you ought to send her a letter of consolation also.

      Irwin O’Rear