A collection of 10 original letters from the late 1800s has found its way from Scotland to the Brownwood Public Library Genealogical Branch.
The letters were “returned” by Bob Mitchell, a relative of the Low family who lives in Scotland.
The letters came to Clay Riley at the genealogical library after he did some research for Mitchell.
“I was wondering what to do with the other letters, and I got a strong feeling that they should stay together and that they should all go back to Robert’s adopted homeland,” Mitchell wrote to Riley.
The “adopted homeland” of which Mitchell speaks describes how Robert Low, who was born in Forfar, Scotland, in 1845, moved to Brownwood in approximately 1874 with his wife, Mary, and son, Charles, who was only about 8 years old at the time.
Two of the 10 letters, both mailed to Scotland from Brownwood, were written by Robert Low in 1876 and 1884. The first of the two was written to his mother. In the letter, he describes his farm life and how his family is doing in Texas.
“You want to know how we are [getting] along with our farming. I think we are doing very well,” Robert Low wrote in the 1876 letter.
The farmer who really ached to be a rancher was eventually able to acquire about 30 acres of property, according to the letter he wrote to his mother.
“We have got about 30 acres of land in cultivation about as much as I care to have now,” Robert Low wrote.
Although he seemed to not be as fond of farming as he was of ranching, Robert Low eventually was able to realize his dream of raising livestock, including cattle and sheep.
“I think I can make a better living raising livestock, and that is what I am going into. We have got 21 head of cattle and will soon have some more,” Robert wrote.
In the letter to his mother, he also mentions his crops he was able to grow on all the acres he had.
“Our crops look well, we will start to cut our wheat on Wednesday first. We have been having new potatoes all along this month,” Robert Low wrote.
After reading all 10 letters and researching census records and death records, Riley said that the letters are very useful for the kind of work he does.
“The letters give an insight you don’t usually get and an insight into Brownwood at that time,” Riley said.
Although Robert Low seemed to be successful in his farming and ranching in Brownwood, his brothers, William, who was living in New Jersey, and James, who was living in the Chicago area, were not as successful. Robert writes about James in his letter to his mother.
“Poor Jim, like a great many more in this country, has been a good deal out of work for the last two years, and I am afraid he has not been too well off,” Robert wrote.
Riley also spoke of how the letters from Robert’s brothers reflect the hardships of immigrants and people in general at that time.
“It mirrors today’s world, the economy was bad and people took what work they could find,” Riley said.
Robert and Mary Low’s only child, Charles, according to Riley, eventually went on to create a creamery – Alamo Manufacturing alongside his dairy farm. The company began manufacturing ice cream in 1907 and in 1909 a creamery was established.
“He bought equipment and put in a creamery, the first ice cream manufacturing, approximately where the Brownwood Bulletin is now,” Riley said.
Alamo Manufacturing, of which Charles Low was president, active manager and largest stockholder, was a modest bottling establishment that became one of the chief local industries in Brownwood.
“I have seen those little milk bottles with ‘Alamo Creamery’ on them. Those are from his creamery,” Riley said.
As a result of the successes the Low family had in Brownwood, they were able to stay in the area and prosper. Several people in the Brown County area may be related to them, Riley said.
Robert Low, his wife, Mary, and their son Charles are all buried in Greenleaf Cemetery in Brownwood. The 10 original letters written by all three Low brothers are being archived in the Genealogical Branch of the Brownwood Public Library.