Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, February 17, 1829

Author: John Geddes

Date: February 17, 1829

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Washtenaw, February 17th 1829

Dear Brother, (William Geddes) The Saw mill is not agoing yet: it will likely start this month, but expect you do not care about waiting upon it. And as the three months has pafsed by I shall endeavor to make out the quartily return from Michigan. We have had an excellent fall for businefs. the Winter has been favorable in December, and January; February has been cold so far, especially the second week Since my last letter our works progrefsed steadily towards completion: though somewhat tardily and we discharged our hands accordingly. They Mill rights commenced on the 11th of December and as winter had set in (though not severely) their part of the concern progrefsed slowly. their was more or lefs of them at work on to the 30th of January. when the[y] quit until the blacksmith would have the irons ready. They mill right is to have one hundred dollars for fixing the running geers he has put on 130 1/2 days work now; and it will require as much as will make 150 to finish the job he will make nothing by the undertaking. This is owing to his hands some of which were of a goslin and some of a Terrapin nature: that is the first recoiled at every puff of wintry air, and they last were almost as immovable as high Olympas. I have been told that 70 days work in temperate weather ought to complete the running geer of a saw mill. Let that be as it will: this much can easily be seen that it is best never to hire by the day in cold weather. Smith who is the undertaker of running geers, had six hands here some part of the time, he is a businefs driver himself but has some worthlefs hands, or more properly dilatory hands The blacksmith has had the iron this six months and had done but little a week ago, he has of late been promising from one week to another for a month or more. He has his pay which has likely considerable effect; we pay him principally in lumber the summer and fall of 1827. He has had his shop burnt and has been sick; but notwithstanding he is to blame, and we shall be carefull how we trust him again; It is apparantly no damage to us the mill not being in operation; as the persons that would have brought logs to saw if the mill was going bring them as it is; and if no serious accident happens we will saw all the logs that comes in five months after the mill starts. There is about four hundred logs in the mill yard now: the four fifths of which are oak. They last of our hired hands left us the 20th of December and we have done with out since. Though our businefs rather drives us, the days being short and cold little is done. Last week we have been clearing they [the] island that is in the pond to silence the murmers of some of the neighbors There is a days work to do on it yet. It was almost too cold to do any thing else. The Thermometer on the 12th of this month was as low as 11 degrees below zero at five in the morning; it arose to 8 below, by sunrise; the 9th was zero in the morning; at eight above the warmest part of the day; the 10th 2• and 12•; 11th 1• and 6•; 12th -8• and 15•; 13th 5• and 13• 14th 10• and 21• The third of January -2• in the morning at 12• at noon. The 10th 00• A.M. and 16• noon. The 3rd of February -2• A.M. and 15• noon. From this statement you will see that there has been 5 days at or below zero here, this winter. The coldest day in Washtenaw, in January was the 3rd in Detroit it was the tenth 4• above zero in the morning. The average of January in the morning in Detroit was 23• ..20 m. The average of the same time of day in Washtenaw for the same month was 20• ..50 ••• m . This account leaves Washtenaw the coldest though it is 3 miles south of Detroit; we are probably 100 feet higher than they are. I see by the Philadelphian that the 3rd of January it was 5• above in Philadelphia A.M. The Thermometer was the same height in Detroit that day A.M. I could send the Register of Washtenaw, but it would be of little advantage for you do not know the state of your own country. They warmest day at Onondaga last summer was 94• We have had a letter from Uncle James dated the 16th of November; He was about home last summer; has received no letter from Pa. since last March; has wrote to William in Philadel- but has received no answer. Has had a chance to go to Alabama, Tennefsee etc in Engineering line in July he had the offer; wages 300 dollars pr Month : the weather he was afraid would be too warm or he would probably have went. he recommended his wifes brother William who received the appointment. George is in a law office in the Skaneatelas village about 15 miles from home. This is all you would care about knowing in they [sic] letter we received. As for Pa. news I have but little to send him: he enquired about James down the Ohio. But as we are here seated on the one side of civilization I could tell him nothing about him. I have closed the bargain with Parsons agreeably to your demand. He is to pay on the first day of June 1831. $200 with interest from the date of the agreement which was fifteenth of January; The obligation is similar to what I before stated to you; The title is to be made out and ready for deliverance on the first day of June 1831 or else I have to pay him for his improvements if he should think fit to demand it. This is contrary to your opinion, but how is businefs to be done if their is not time limited. Amongst friends and acquaintances your plan would have answered very well. But amongst strangers it cannot be expected, as bare mention of it; might suggest the idea of something unfair and improper and as we are all shy he might have considered it as a refusal on my part to convey the premises any fair and honorable condition. Taking these things into consideration I said nothing to him about your caution. In conveying lands a deed has to be given sooner or later. and two years is certainly time enough. If you are not likely to be here in time. I will send you the form of a power of an attorney that will answer here. which you can copy and return executed. I think their will be no difficulty with they man but I wish to have no failure on our part

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Parsons offer was considered a good one here. it is because the U.S. still holds some land amongst us and considerable but a short distance off and speculators not living in the country feel disposed to sell their land without asking much in advance; on account of the road tax prefsing so heavily upon them Notwithstanding this land must rise in price shortly, and if the prices keep up that is of produce we may expect more settlers than otherwise would come. The much boasted of Western part of New York failed in its crops of Wheat and other grain last summer, will likewise be of some advantage to us And if I mistake not there is too much clay and too much water in that country to rival Michigan in raising grain. The lime in our soil is a latent principal that will support our country when that fails for want of a similar advantage. Wheat is $1 pr Bu; Corn 62 •••; Whiskey .50 pr gallon in Washtenaw We have had but little snow yet. They sleding has been good last week owing to its being so cold as there was not, nor is not, nor has been, at any one time six inches of snow this winter : in this respect this country is similar to Londonderry. As for lumbering on the Susquehanna there is so many at the businefs that it is almost imposible to thrive without the most strict calculation as well as a natural turn that way: the most profitable in my opinion would be to buy the lumber at the mill and raft it down for if I mistake not it can be bought cheaper at some of the mills than it can be brought there for: and if I mistake not the man ought to be on the spot himself. it is called no easy businefs and I would for choice rather be in Michigan. I shall give some Anti-Masonry for want of any think [thing] else. The storm still rolls on and Anti-Masonry will rule Washtenaw. There was a meeting in Ann Arbour on the last Thursday of January agreeably to a request of a meeting held in Farmington on the first day of January. The Farmington meeting requested all the townships in Michigan to call meetings and appoint Delegates to attend a general Convention to be held on the first Thursday of February It was agreeable to this request that a meeting was held in Ann Arbour. They Masons and Jacksons assembled with us and endeavored to defeat the object of the meeting but their numbers were too few. At the meeting held in Detroit (where the convention was to meet) about 50 delegates attended. Ann Arbour Township sent seven. They four Townships of Washtenaw sent Delegates. Wayne and Oakland sent from some of their townships; the remaining Counties sent none. The real object of the meeting was to bring out and encourage the Anti Masons in declaring against the institution of Free Masonry. There being three lodges in Detroit which has as yet fettered the unlimited freedom of Anti Masonry. by unlimited I mean that right which every freeman has of declaring candidly and openly his opinion upon any institution where so much filth has been exhibited as there has been in the Masonic institution. Allen opened the meeting with a written speech. then Dexter. Hingley followed him: this had so workd upon the feelings of the Masons as to make some of them come forward and enquire what the object of the meeting was. Dexter replied its object was to destroy the institution of Free Masonry. Two or three of the Free Masons then spoke, one of them would have done honor to a better cause. They wished to be let alone. they pretended it was not very polite for people from the country to come there for the purpose of sowing difsention. and something more of this kind. This was very well, it was all they could say. You very well know that Republican principles are open and candid. Masonic are secret and mysterious. After the Masonic leaders spoke They persons in the lobby clapped their hands and stampt their feet occasionally. The meeting or convention adjourned about half an hour before sunset after having appointed a committee to draft the resolves with the intention of meeting again at early candle light, but before the convention assembled the under sheriff put out the candles and ordered every person that was in out and locked the door and said there should be no admittance granted that night; this arbitrary character is a Mafon. Not withstanding this the convention assembled at the door; and then inquired at the door of the person who keeps the key but he was not to be found The convention march down to a public house and pafsed the resolves. The Capitol was where the[y] first met. The Citizens of Detroit assembled the same evening at another public house (agreeably to wish of the Mafons) to take into consideration they this bold intrusion of the Anti-Masons on the peaceable citizens of Detroit a committee was appointed to report next evening this Committee were not Mafons but such as Masons approved off. This Committee reported that the secrets of Free-Masonry were divulged and that it was uselefs to support the institution of Free Masonry any longer, and finally envited all or recommended all honest Masons to leave the society. This is what they did not expect, nor wish to hear They Free Masons cling to the institution with all the tenacity and zeal of the Ottoman against the Rufsian and breath vengeance against the leaders of Anti-Masonry. At the meeting held in Ann Arbour the house was divided for the purpose of being able to ascertain which had the majority. The Free Mason and Jacks on the left and the Anti-Masons on the right. On the left was a member of the Council, The Prothonatary. The Supervisor (a Supervisor here is similar to a Commifsioner in Pa. have the same authority every Township has one) Three Justices of the Peace. A Constable, Prosecuting Attorney; and Two Lawyers. On the right The Judge of Probate. (who is a Lawyer) and the Township Clerk. and two students at Law. This corps of pretended great men will not have so much power this time next year. We are in hopes that Wayne, Washtenaw and Oakland will be Anti Masonic. The Legislative Council will then be Anti Masonic, (a majority of them) which will be of some importance as the term of time which the County officers are appointed for will expire

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on the first day of January next; The Governor recommends and the Legislative Council sanctions or confirms the appointment of the County officers for the term of three years, Your land was valued at $720 and your tax is $2.30. Our water works will cost about 700 dollars so far as the mill is not going I cant give you all the items of expense this time. you can expect them in my next. We will do but little to the grist mill this summer, We shall endeavor to saw the lumber for it and have it seasoning. We have had our usual health since I wrote to you last The Saw mill will be started next week if the weather is suitable; as the black smith has some of the irons ready and is to work at the rest. I think I will have to send the next letter home to Londonderry. I wanted Robert to keep up [torn by seal] respondence with father, but if it is left for him to do there will be nothing done about [torn] shall attend to it myself as all this kind of businefs left to me. In the estimated ex [torn] of the Saw mill, head race, dam etc our own work is not included, nor the contract with Botsford [torn] his water right &c My next letter will be written about Three months after this one. Nothing more to write at present.

To William Geddes Farewell John Geddes

[The 4th side of this sheet, on which above address is written, is blank. On the portion folded in, there is what appears to be practice writing]