The identity of the Connery brothers remains a mystery. Several Connery’s (or variations of the spelling of that name) can be found in the New York City Directories from the 1850s. From the contents of the letter we know only that they had a sister named Anne Connery who was about to marry someone that Robert disapproved of. We also know that Thomas Connery was employed as a grocery clerk in the store of “Mr. Young” — possibly William H. Young (see footnotes) — in Apalachicola, Florida, and we can assume from the address line on the stampless letter than Robert was employed — possibly as a partner — with Thomas Cassin who kept a grocery on Prince Street in New York City.
In the letter, Thomas shares business advice with his brother and emphasizes the duty of brothers to investigate the character and dispositions of the intended spouses of their sisters prior to their marriage.
Addressed to Mr. Robert Connery, Care of Mr. Thomas Cassin,¹ 25 Prince Street, New York [City]
April 29th 1855
My Dear Brother,
I received your kind letter of the 11th Inst. in due course and I was very glad to hear from you and that you were well. I regret to hear of your loss by business &c. &c. But you know that this was and has been a very poor and bad year with everyone. So you must keep up your courage. You may yet be able to make up for losses &c. &c. I will be on the look out for something for you to do out here but I must confess that the prospects look rather blue as the business of this place is falling off very much and one half of the people here are looking out for a chance to get away from here. I mean that they are looking for another place to go to, and I fear that many of them will never find another place as good as this has been.
Robert, a short time ago I thought of going into business for myself and I advised with Mr. Young ² (my employer) on the subject and his advise to me was if I went into partnership with anyone, to be very careful and not to entrust myself with any but those whom I knew to be the right sort or not to go into partnership atall. When in business, to do it only for cash, to give credit to no one, or if I did, give a little credit to be sure and give them their bill and collect it in a few days. That no man ought to be ashamed to ask for and get his own. I agree with Mr. Young in opinion. I think everyone ought to get his own and if men will not pay their lawful debts, to make them pay. I have no sympathy for a man that will not pay up.
Robert, if I were you in closing up my business, I would do all in my power to collect and make those who are not willing to pay — favor nobody in business transactions. I know well the profits on liquor or any other kind of merchandise would not support a man unless he collects up well. I know that anyone can’t do much business without given some credit and incurring some bad debts. But yet, it’s very necessary to be careful & not to trust everybody. And I must say, Robert, I fear that you were a most too indulgent — that the rascals got into you so much. I am in hopes that if you keep after them close, that you will come out better than you anticipate.
I feel thankful for your remarks about business. I am not in any hurry to make a change. Nor will I change until I think I can better myself as I set much value on my present situation. I presume you will admit that my salary is a good one.
I notice your remarks about the prospects of Anne getting married. You say you don’t know much about it and that you don’t like the man she is going to marry. Robert, as a brother, it is our duty when a sister is about to be married, to seek and find out everything about the man she intends or may intend to marry, and to tell her all his ways and to let her know everything about him. Let her know what kind of fellow he is — if industrious & sober or lazy, or disposed to drink. I beg of you, Robert, as a brother to do all you can to prevent her marrying him. But you need not fall out with her about it if you find she loves him and won’t listen to you. Let her go her own way. The bed she makes, she will have to lay on it. But I hold it as the duty of every brother to see to the interest and welfare of a sister at such times. It’s generally believed that men know most about the disposition of men and woman knows most of their own sex. Please to say to Anne from me not to look or mind the looks of a man [but] to lok most to his dispositions and I hope and pray that she may make a happy and good match. When you write again, please to let me know all about the affair [and] how it’s getting along.
The Grocery Business has been very good out here and the profits also good. But last season was bad with everyone and there is a great deal of credit business done here which make it require a very large capital to do anything atall. It would require ten thousand dollars in money to carry on anything of a decent business here. Those who are in business here are all getting afraid that they can’t ever collect what is due them as a great many talk of leaving and going away forever.
Please to give my very best respects to Mrs. C. and all friends & oblige your sincere brother, — Thomas
I will write to Ellen soon.
¹ Thomas Cassin (1805-1891) kept a grocery (liquor & other sundries) store on Prince Street in New York City. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, and came to the United States while a young man.
² “Mr. Young” — Thomas’s employer — may have been William H. Young, an enterprising Apalachicola merchant who started the Eagle cotton and textile mills in Columbus, Georgia, in 1850. Young was originally from New York City. Perhaps Connery ran the Apalachicola store for Mr. Young while he started up his mill business in Georgia.