Letter from William Geddes to John Geddes, January 16, 1826

Author: John Geddes

Date: January 16, 1826

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Londonderry January the 16th 1826

Dear Brother [John Geddes] I received yours of the 16th of October on the 29th of November and as considerable time has already elapsed since the receipt of your letter, and at least a month more must pafs away, before this can arrive to you, and because I am going to the City this week, I thought it necefsary, to write at the present time least you might think that I had not received your last letter – perhaps you may think it late enough, if so. I think it will be better for us to enter into some kind of an arrangement to write at a particular time, or length of time after the receipt of a letter, say once in two or three months. But if you think the time is too short or too long, that I have mentioned, you may alter it to suit yourself, as I shall endeavour to perform all that you shall require. The account you give of your country is not quite so flattering, as formerly, or as I expected, as to the soil or the healthinefs of the climate. If there is such a great differance in the quality of the soil in so short a distance (a good spot here and a bad spot there) in such a comparitively level country I think it does not argue much in favour of the durability, of the soil of Michigan. In Pennsylvania the land of the first quality, generally lies in stripes with but little differance in the strength of the soil, witnefs the great valley of Chester county, and several others. The diffeance in our soil (as you well know) is marked by the different kinds of stone found on it, the limestone being prefered to either, slate or freestone and them to gravel and clay lands. But there seems to be no such differance in the soil of Michigan, that I can learn of, by your own account there are few stones of any kind, and them not peculiar to any spot of ground, and that your land is almost literally covered with water ponds, a circumstance that I am not capable of judging of, with certainty. It is something peculiar to new countries, to profefs more moisture than old ones, and it may happen that when the country becomes settled and cleared, that a great number of them ponds will be dried up by evapouration, as was the case with some ponds in this country, within my own observation, and if that should be the case it will certainly render [or] make the county healthy enough, but not turn out much to the advantage of your dry and consequently elevated land. I was not much surprised at the unhealthinefs of Michigan this season, nor shall I be if it were to be so for a few years to come, on account of the quantity of water on the surface of the ground, and that of none of the purest kind. The sicklinefs of the country at present would not intimidate me in the least, because I think it has been the case with all new countries, especially wet ones. There has been several traveling excursions performed by people of this neighbourhood in the past fall to Buffalo and Erie. Benjamin Hamilton and one of the Hoovers of spring creek made a tour to Buffalo

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and from Buffalo along the New york canal homewards, but I know nothing of their travels. T. McCormick and a Mr Poor of hanover was also in the state new-york and I heard were well pleased with some part country the[y] traveled through, but I dont think they will have bravery enough to leave their native country. James Todd the tanner and R. Morton went to Erie this fall and fell into businefs, they are th[e]re still from the last account that I heard You two are the only persons that have dared to enter the wildernefs of Michigan, except Mr. Horner who has gave a very unfavourable account of it in one of one his letters to his Brother, making it worse than Hanover !!! this have I heard, it may be so and it many not. The weather has been remarkably dry and moderate in this country as much so as in yours if not more so. The frosts were light and late, for the time of the year, which was very favourable for our potatoes as well as yours and for our pumpkins, of the former we have a middling crop and of the latter an extraordinary one, having 18 loads off ten acres. – we had but 3 ••• loads of corn off the same ground. The corn through the country was very poor this year, more so than ever I knew it to be, and that entirely owing to the drought. The price of corn is at present 50 cents per Bushel Rye 45 cents, and Flour from the last news is but $4.56 per B[lb]. Whiskey 23 cents, Beef and Pork from 3.50 to 4.00. bad markets for making money There has nothing extraordinary occured since my last letter, amongst your acquaintances, unlefs it is the marriage of Mr. Bell, who was married sometime in October or Nov. to a Mifs Moore formerly of Myerstown, but at present of Palmyra. Her father is a storekeeper and keeps store in I. Barnett’s house, in Co. with some others. Hugh Sheller is his clerk. He removed from his former place of residence on account of the canal which is a money making businefs for the store and tavern keepers, as the Irish spends their money as fast as they earn it, either in grog or clothing. Owing to the favourablenefs of the summer and fall the canal contractors have made great progrefs in the work, greater than I ever expected, for I really think if next summer is favourable, it will nearly be completed if not altogether. From the summit level to Reading it will be ready it is expected for boats to pafs next spring at least there has been meetings held in Harrisburg and Middletown to devise plans for sending produce to Lebanon in waggons

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and from thence down the canal via. Reading to Philadelphia James Wilson Samuel and John McClure are all talking of traveling some, in the spring and or fall and if I can leave home and make the necefsary arraingments, you may perhaps see some of us in Michigan John McClure has gave up farming owing something to the running away of his black girl. Isabel McClure lives with us again. Samuel Wilson returned to college last fall and is studying Physick or preparing to do it. William the printer stoped with us in the latter end of November on his way to visit his subscribers and returned in about five weeks, a considerable time for a man that had a hired horse. His new arraingement has not turn-out so well as he expected - by his own account he is making but little. Cousin James is teaching is teaching [sic] school and has become a great Methodist. Andrew Huston and Robert McCallen was in to see us, and father paid them off. The rest of our relations William informed well me were well as far as he could learn. Of cousin John I have heard nothing worth relating. There has been some sick in our neighbourhood and few died. John Keenports’ wife and Jacob Kope of Londonderry Moses Wilson of Hanover died of a kind of bilious pleurisy on the ninth of instant and Mr. Robeson of Middletown some time before him. I have had my health very well sinc[e] I wrote, [tear] have the rest of the family except Samuel McClure and father, sam[ue]l in particular was dangerously ill with the billous cholick. We are all well at present. Uncle James has lost his Laura and now has no child but George, an only son and an only child Uncle has been really unfortunate and I think must have taken his last loss very hard. William’s sister is with him as present – this unwelcome news you have heard perhaps before this. I made a trip to the cold spring in august on horse back and two since to Philadelphia with the with the [sic] waggon and got $5 per [B ?] and 75 cent on the load for the first and 6 cents lefs than $5 for the last load. Plaster was 6.50 fish 5.75 salt 2.37 ••• per [?]. The electioneering campaign pafsed over very peaceably. I. Bell and C. Gluin wer[e] elected without opposition There was 7 candidates for sheriff in our county and Thomas Harper of hanover was elected by about 90 of a majority over Henry Doebler. There was no ticket set up in opposition to the democrats in Dauphin but Moses Maclean set himself up and was elected by 7 of a majority. The convention bill was lost by 15000 in the state and in our [ballot] box there was nearly two to one against it, father and I were the only Federalists that voted for it I think, Jacob Wolfersberger was with us 7 months If I hav[e] omited any thing you want to know please to inform me of it

To John Geddes Farewell. Wm. Geddes