Letter from Ambrose Elliott Gonzales to his sister Harriett Rutledge Elliott Gonzales, April 9, 1882, describing Castle Garden. Elliott-Gonzales Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

New York Apl 9 / 82

My dear Hattie:
     Your letter has remained unanswered for quite a while, but you will forgive the delay as you know how hard I have been working recently. I've had a couple of days rest from the extra but hope to get at it again on Monday. I amused myself yesterday by sitting in the sun down at Castle Garden, a place corresponding to the Battery in Charleston, only not near so neat or pretty. There is no sign of bud or bloom on the trees & shrubs yet, save a few forlorn buds on a pirus Japonica that looks quite lonely & foolish in that big open place. The grass is green however, & the English sparrows congregate there in thousands. They are a very pretty & lively bird resembling a bullfinch, more than our house sparrow & are very combative, allowing you almost to step on them when engaged in bruising [torn] little heads. They Bay loo[ks] very pretty from the "Garden," all the incoming & out going vessels passing quite near, & as I have no horses to criticise, now tis a great pleasure to watch & take in the points good & bad of these Ocean flyers. There are dozens of lines, each with different rigs & flags. The New Steamers of the Inman, & Guion lines are the largest & best appointed the "Arizona" being a four master with engines of 10000 horse power. She is as long as from the shanty to the echo Oak almost being over two hundred yards long. This craft made the trip to Liverpool within seven days making the average of nearly 20 miles an hour for the whole voyage. The owners claim that she is the fastest ship afloat, but the Captain of the German Steamer "Elbe" a two master of half the usual size claims the same for his ship & I suppose it will never be settled. I wish Bory could see the swarms of Emigrants at Castle Garden, at times a thousand will come in on one or two vessels in a morning of half a dozen nationalities, Russian Jews with fur Caps and noses that would make Sydney Legare's look infinitesimal in comparison, & Germans with rosy cheeks & waists about the size of a walnut tree. The roughest looking set are the Italians these fellows are as dark as old Boatswain almost & a very hard looking set. You would be surprised to see what quantities of things they bring over with them. Bags of field & garden seeds, queer earthenware cooking utensils, old saws & hatchets, tin pans & children & so many odds & ends that seeing a cart load of them & their belongings one might take it for a "nigger mare." Speaking of niggers I have no doubt they enquire about me & when I'll return. The Captain may tell them that when I've learned to [torn] I see with my own eyes, [torn] say "No" -- why then I'll run the risk of being victimized again, but that is probably a long time off. I have not forgotten Stephens Coat, but as I did not owe him anything I was in no hurry, but some time soon when I've paid one more debt. I'll go forth upon the "Bowery way"  some Saturday night, when the path is resplendid with electric light, & there will I look about me with much circumspection, and will finally purchase from the persuasive hebrew, a garment those like has not been seen in the land of the pines, and the cost thereof will be a few shekels, and much pleasure will it give the wearer thereof & much envy will he be the subject of when he walketh upon the highway or appeareth clad therein, in the Councils of the church of his race. I suppose that Old Boatswain is devoted to Milly is he not? How are the cows? Has the grass spru[torn] well yet? I'm glad that [torn] but, sorry that he should bite the Captain. No one at "home" seems to care to tell me anything about the planting or farm details so I hope you will make an effort to enlighten me, will you not? What fields are the Captain planting & in what? & has he much trouble with getting labor? Tell him he ought to plant as much rice as possible in that quicksand section of the orchard below the pear trees, 'tis too swampy for corn tho' doubtless the crows & coons will denounce me for the suggestion. I saw a few crows flying over the park the other day & they looked like old friends & had the same sly way of peeping down sideways, as your friends of the orchard have. I'm very glad that Jimmie King has had a little [torn] & am rejoi[torn] can take my place so nicely in the family ear, but I know the Owls along the Broad road will miss me if the ladies dont. Tell Aunt E that I've received her letter & am delighted that the matrimonial bat has become so opportunely entangled in the mosquito net of Mrs Legare's daughters hopes. They are good girls & I'm very glad. As this is the season for fish& freckles down South, It has occurred to me to mail you three little outfits which I flatter myself will just suit the mouths of the Cypress fish. Aunt Emmie says you are studying a little better nowadays. Thats very pleasant news & I hope you'll keep it up. T'would never do to let Muggs beat you, & he is fast getting ahead of me in writing, & the knave says he can beat me running. I don't know what this generation is coming to-- The snow is coming down like a blanket & as soon as I'm off duty I'll run home, get a ho[torn] into bed & try to sleep off this [torn] dear. Much love to you [torn] fond old