Letter From William Geddes to John Geddes, April 11, 1829

Author: William Geddes

Date: April 11, 1829

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Londonderry April the 11th 1829

Dear Brother. [John Geddes] I received your letter of the 17th of February on the 14th of March and have through unavoidable circumstances and the thought that I would have time enough in three months to make an answer arrive in time. (and another thing I have had a notion to leave my place of residence which I have at last done the 6th of April) neglected or rather delayed writing. I have left the mill that I was in and if I dont get employment in the milling buifinefs [business] pretty conveniently I will not do any thing at it untill after harvest; the reason that I left it was the too great quantities of Rye and corn that was grinding for the distilleries or I would have staid untill the first of June; I considered it worse than doing nothing the work being hard and the pay trifling and nothing to be learned at it: for any person can chop. The only chance that [I] had of learning was the country work was midling good and the grinding of between six and seven hund[red] barrels of superfine work which was all for Shenk but about one hundred and twenty. I have made pretty good progrefs in learning notwithstanding the chance that I had my master being very unwilling to let me go: but I told him it was all owing to my own application not to his care or the chance that I had and another thing he was making 65 dollars per month and was not willing to give me more than 5 dollars after making me do the three fifths of the work which was sufficient for two common men. The other mills on the creek having each of them three hands and ours but two; and we doing as much work as any of them: he at last gave me six dollars. Agreable to my promise I will give you an account of the profits that arise from mill driving. He ground from the 1st of January to the first of April 16193 bushels all kinds of grain taken together; and the amount of the tolls in cash for the same time is $643.12 and took but the 15th of the Rye that was chopped for the distilleries and the 12th of that that was ground for the farmers and the tenth of all other kinds of grinding: Wheat, corn, oats and Rye for flour and I would not be affraid but that with the same water power that I could make a mill situated in a wheat growing country earn 2000 dollars counting on doing but half work in the summer four months, June July, August, and September. And then to set down the driving of her at the one third which my master gets and the drivers of Shenks two other mills also; would leave the owner in the pofsefsion of 1333.34 clear profit: repairs not considered – they might pofsibly reduce it to 1200. I made some enquiry about the cost of building saw-mills; and one mill-wright told me he got 200 dollars for making one making the frame work and runner of gears; with an undershot wheel. He said that saw mills with flutter wheels were much the cheapest and best adapted for the purpose: as well as some others that have had experience in the businefs. you have not told me upon what plan Robert and you have built yours upon: Shenk has an undershot wheel so as to be able to drive a pair of stone to grind plaster, which if your capital is too small to venture on to build a grist mill, at present: would have been your best plan so as to enable you to start a distillery which cannot help but be profitable for at least five or six years at least, and could be altered when the first running gears weare worn out. Shenk’s grist has between 8 and 9 feet fall and has an undershot and a breast wheel which is considered to be the best qualified for a weak and fluctuating stream which the Chiques is being almost dried up in the summer and fall. The breast wheel is calculated to take just as much water as will drive her with a slow and steady motion and keep the head at a certain point and the undershot is when the water is sufficiently strong to take a great quantity of water so as to do a great deal of businefs in a short time so as to lose as little of the water when the stream rises as pofsible When the full gate is drawn for both wheels the undershot will nearly grind twice the quantity of grain the other will. The mill that I was in ground about 4 bushels of Wheat per hour that is one pair of four feet stones, and about 15 bushel of Rye into chop [?] and 10 of corn – the undershot. The prices for produce are at present for Flour 7.25 for Wheat $1.50 Rye .50 and Corn .40 oats .25 cents. All that I know of our relations is that William the printer was in hanover and Harrisburg and neither called on Alexander or us, and that Mr Weakly is going to die with the consumption.

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Samuel McClure has been doing little or nothing this winter but had visiting from place to place he was with me on the Chiquas bank in the beginning of December and shortly afterwards went to Buffalo Valley to spent some time with his mothers relations and then returned to Londonderry and staid untill the first of March when he started with the intention of purchasing fat cattle to sell to the canal contractors; as he said : but we were informed that he is at present with the canal commissioners: ingineers I mean acting as target man; a post that Jacob Hill had on the Union canal and gets 1.50 per day. This information we got from Jacob Early who was in penn Valley for his his [sic] daughter and son-in-law who are with the widow Dininger in Palmyra where he keeps a stud horse He is a complete criple with the rheumatism – they have no children. Betsy [and] Peggy are still single. The Marriages that have taken place are more numerous this winter than for several past ones and are as follows. Mr Philip Wolfersberger Jr. to Mifs Elizabeth Stouffer daughter of Sawyer Stouffer. Peter Hocker to Mifs Nancy Wittmer William Christy to Mifs Betsy Micheal or Wolfersberger rather and one of the Mr Snody’s to Mifs Mary Clark sister of Walter Clark. Mr Brown a lame schoolmaster that used frequently to ride past this carr[y]ing a crutch; to Mifs Corbett of Hanover Mr Hugh Sheller to Jane Moore members of the same house. Mr Robert Sturgeon to Mifs Jane Rutherford. Mifs Eliza Murry and Elen Ellen Shearer have each got an Elder and Catherine Ann Macamman has married a Doctor Stough of Tulpehocen. Mordeci McKinney esqr. Afsociate judge of Dauphine County to Miss [smudged] Rachel Graydon. The deaths are Jacob Schwar. John Snodgrafs sen. Ann Todd widow. Hugh Wilson has sold his place for twenty dollars per Acre to a Mr Garman who has moved on it this spring and was married some time ago to the widow Orth formerly Catherine Behm. Rudolph Behm I nearly forgot was married to a lady of Hummelstown – not rich. Hugh and his sisters are still living on the place and intend so to do until fall. James Wilson has rented his place and I believe intends to act the gentleman for some time. I have some notion to call on him some day and ask him to accompany me in a trip to Virginia – He is not in good health. The Doctor is practicing Medicine on the Juniata Canal or in the vicinity; and is acting in accordance with the character that I gave of him with the addition of hard drinking he was to see James but none other of his relations; it is said he looks quite bloated such is the fate of the lovers of women and wine Who was he and what is he. The Union Canal is in operation but to what extent I cannot say: Shenk bought 15 ton of plaster in March that was brought up the Union Canal to Middletown and then loaded on an ark and taken to Marietta; and paid but 10 dollars per ton. The Penn Canals various branches are progressing rapidly but particulars I can give none which is not to [be] wondered if you but consider the way I was situated these seven months past among the ignorantist of the Dutch where there was seldom a newspaper read and not only that I had scarcely time to look at one if it did come in my way; having but five hours of the 24 to rest and that was to[o] little for to sleep; We drove the mill night and day; except sunday. The Rail road is going to be commenced shortly from Columbia to Phila. Of the proceedings of our legislature I know nothing. There is little or nothing said about the Freemasons no man daring to uphold their cause and they themselves sensible of their weaknefs say nothing; which at any rate is the best plan for the weak, or strong: if their cause is a bad one – just let the storm roar along like an idle wind. Persecution may make hypocrites but it will never make prosylites: Jack Falstaff would do nothing on compulsion – what a reason on compulsion – no. That dissertation on Matrimony will be gladly received for not only you but myself am fast approaching the chalked line which makes a boy a bachelor and besides that the marriages that are from time to time takeing place especially of those younger than – ourselves raises some serious thoughts in spite of us: to be left the last in the ditch is dangerous

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The weather has this winter been very cold without intermifsion from the first of January to the last day of March and still continues cold for the time of year; we had more snow this winter than for the we had the three former ones, – the oldest inhabitants say they never had a colder winter: or felt such a degree of cold for such a length of time in their lives: but I think their memories fails them. If I had had an opportunity I would have purchased a thermometer so as to have ascertained the exact degree of cold; which I am certain went beyond what you mention. Our folks are very curious to know how you live whether you have your house finished or not which you may give them if you think fit; for it is no concern to me how you live provided your healths are not impaired. I wish you would give me an exact [hole – reverse side readable] account of your sawing: how much do you do on an average saw p[er day] and at what price the particular kinds of stuff. The leng[th a]nd width of your head and tail races. A short head [race] is considered of great importance and so is a wide tail race so as to spread the water behind the wheels is as to keep them from wading in it. Mr John Darwin has been teaching school this winter but is at present acting as a clerk for Mr Ringle at a dam that is erecting on the swatara for to supply part of the Union Canal with water, – his health has been good the past winter. Matthias Blucher has went to his long home. I have had good health since I commenced milling and the rest of fathers house have enjoyed the same blefsing. If there is any thing that I have forgotten you will please to remember me of it. Nothing more at Present but remain your affectionate brother till death

To John Geddes William Geddes

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