Letter From John Geddes to Robert Geddes, May 11, 1829

Author: John Geddes

Date: May 11, 1829

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Washtenaw May 11th 1829

Dear father The time has at length arrived when I have raised the pen to write to you for the first time since my arrival in Michigan. It may be supposed I have been long about it. The fact is we would all of us rather read than write and when we have claims of this kind we are always dipposed to insist on them. I have aimed to let you know what we were doing as frequently as I conceived was necefsary; by keeping up a correspondence with William, who being of the same age the matter would probably be more congenial. But as he has left or is about leaving home. I consider it the duty of some one of us here to keep up a correspondence still. Which of us; I am willing you should decide: as well as to the number of letters that ought to be written in a year. But if a letter which I intend writing to William dated probably three weeks after this should be answered by him from home; you need not expect a letter from me untill he leaves home. and then a letter every three months may be expected from Robert or me, or oftener if you desire it. Robert has not written to any of his relations since he has been in Michigan. I do all the writing and pay all the postage. Our Saw mill was at length put in operation on the 19th of March: but we have sawed but little yet; having had so many other matters to attend to. The mill does tolerably can saw about 1000 feet pr day, we calculate to have it altered in some, a little fixing and it will go much better it is supposed. 1000 feet pr day is not bad, but it is poor considering the power that is there. We have six feet head and fall, that is the water in flume box is six feet higher than the lower side of the wheel. The wheel is 18 feet long, and is 26 inches in diameter. It is a Flutter wheel. Our head race is between [stain] rods long is four feet deep, and 36 feet wide. The tail race is about 12 rods [stain] and twelve feet wide; Our Water works have cost us 781 dollars, besides Botsford [stain] privilege, and besides our own work. The Blacksmiths bill was $87.44 1/2. The Contracts for digging head race $126.95. Hire by the day and month $171.45. Framing and the running gears of the saw-mill $175. Lumber at 5. pr thousand $50. Boarding of the hands at 1. pr week $97.34. Cast-irons at 6 cents pr lb $21.94. A Barrel of Whiskey at 25 cents pr gallon $9.25. Robert put on 8.68 3/4 of work more than I did, which is included in this charge. Saw $8. Use of Roberts waggon 10. The remaining articles are scarce worth mentioning. Two yoke of Cattle was considered equal to a man. We gave twelve dollars pr month, and .50 cents pr day. Carpenter had one dollar and 1.25 pr day. Our dam done well so far. This spring has been more fatal to dams on the Huron than all the preceding ones. Four dams have been considerably injured. The Ypsalanti dam is one of them. The rise of the Huron was three and an half feet above low water mark This is not much of a rise to what the rise in Pa. Our dam will need some repairing or rather wings of the dam. had the Huron been six inches higher our damage might have been something. One month work with two hands will, (I think) make it stand a foot more of water which will be all that is necefsary. We have .31 1/4 pr hundred feet for sawing. The 1/2 of the Logs are to be sawed on shares. That is we have half of the logs for sawing the other half. Lumber is worth 5. pr thousand at the mill (Oak, I mean) as three fourths of the logs are Oak. Sawing would be a profitable employment if we could receive the pay in hand and have businefs plenty to do. There is between five and six hundred logs in the mill yard. I shall let you know at the end of the year how we have made out with our lumber. I attend the saw-mill myself and am to have 14 dollars pr month. There will be nothing done to the grist mill this summer. In highest tide the water was six inches over the wheel. The wheel will clear itself when it is half under water and run as well as in low water We had no difficulty with Mr Clark yet; and expect we will not have.

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The pond does not flow on his premises as much as he expected and I am just so uncharitable as to suppose as much as he wishd. His angry pafsions are giving way some of late; and him and me are tolerable sociable again. Robert and Jane has each been married of late. Jane was married on the 28th of April to Mr Alvah Ewers, who was formerly from Cayuga County N.Y. They now reside or are to one and half miles up the river from here; on No 35 about two hundred yds from the Huron; farming is his businefs. He is supposed or said to be worth $2000 Robert was married on the seventh of May to a Mifs Maria Louisa Lane, formerly of Broome County N.Y. She came in to Ann arbour in September 1827 and has made that place her residence since. where she has kept house for her brother Her father is still living in Broome Co. I presume he is a man of some display whether he is of property or not; there is different stories as to that. She was twenty five years of age on the 29th of March last according to her own account. She is said to be a lady of more than common intellect, and corresponding energy. Robert brings her home tomorrow (that is the day this letter is dated) Jane leaves this establishment the same day, not until Mrs Geddes arrives. Mr Ewers was Thirty years old in April. There has been quite a number of marriages within the last six months in Washtenaw but as you are unacquainted I will mention no names. The Curious wish to know something how we live (William writes;) I believe I shall let them know something about it. I will condecend that much for I do consider that I am under no obligations to the curious; When Jane came on, there was a floor of loofe boards laid jointed with the axe; above, and below; The shanty was made use of as a kitchen. The chimney was built about the first of November in the house; of brick; the brick was 4 dollars pr thousand (which is the price of brick here). The windows and door for the rooms next the chimney (the lower rooms) were put in about the middle of December. (The house had been chinked when Jane came;) after the windows were in, it was plastered inside in the seams between the logs: The house was tolerable comfortable then; In cold and stormy weather it was very disagreeable before; too much so for Jane, who still hopd for the better and never said she wished she had never left Pa. so much to her credit; No other part of the house was plastered but the sitting room; the remaining part merely chinked the beds were all in the other parts of the house upstairs; we made use of feathers to sleep under in the winter. Jane slept in the room over the sitting room. Robert and me and the hands slept in the other room. The house remained stationary from Dec. 1827 until the first of March last owing to not sawing lumber suitable when we had Flemings saw mill. we had no other kind of timber than oak which was thought would barely answer. In the spring of 1828 we hauled some White ash logs and had them sawed for flooring; calculating to lay the floors in the fall when the fall came we had so much other businefs to do; that must be done that it could not be attended to. When the millrights left then the joiner came on to lay the floors and make doors etc he having owed Robert about one year and an half for lumber which was to be paid in joiners work when calld on. To the amount of sixty dollars. The house now has the two outside doors and an inside door made and cased they are panel doors. The floor in the entry and two rooms laid; the windows in and cased belonging to these too [two] rooms. The mantle piece made, a drefser in the room and a cupboard in the side of the chimney this is about all that is done. The stair case and stairs are made. Robert intends to fix out the other part of the house this summer in some style, or other; he likewise intents to plaster the room we live in, or, the sitting room which, it may be calld. Robert has abandoned the idea of building a barn this summer so much other businefs crowding upon him: he has a hired hand whom he is to give twelve dollars and an half pr month for six months. The weather here last winter was thought to be extremely cold so much so that that [sic] many pretended that this county was colder than the western part of N.Y. February was a very cold month. There was some Cold weather in March too: the 18 & 19 of March 6 & 4 degrees above Zero in the morning. The average of February is

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11o.21º in the morning and 22º..17º the warmest part of the day. The coldest morning in February was the 23rd, 11 degrees below Zero in the morning; the coldest days in January and February, in January the 3 & 10; 2 below and Zero. In February the 3rd, 9th, 12, 19, & 23rd which were in rotation 02, 00, 08, 06, 011 so many degrees below Zero as there is number to the right of the cipher. I expect not to have deal with another such here for some time. The ice in the mill pond was 2 feet thick; and not withstanding this; the ice melted or wore away and very little went over the dam. We did not lose an half day by the cold none of the cold days and our work was in the open air. We had a snow on the 20th of February which increased the depth of the snow to ten inches which was the greatest depth of snow we had this winter: Wheat is 1. Corn .50 Oats .31 1/4 pr Bushel. whiskey is .50 pr gallon. Jane [several words blotted out] sends her best respects to Mifs Isabel McClure as well as an invitation to [torn-fold] and see her in Michigan, if she can make it convenient The Anti-Masonic convention has had an excellent effort in Detroit, Anti-masonry is triumphant. In a meeting of delegates held in Detroit for the purpose of nominating a candidate for the office of Delegate to Congrefs. John Biddle was unanimously nominated; he having declared himseff by a written note to be an Anti-mason. The meeting recommended to the Antis the policy of supporting an Anti-masonic, Newspaper to be established in Detroit a measure that will likely be supported. This Moderate Anti-masonry which William advocates: may possibly do there it would not do here. A moderate Christian, (Our Preacher says) is an infidel, and a women of moderate purity is a prostitute. a Moderate anti-mason here is calld a Jack; It is true the scarcity of Freemasons in Londonderry, or Lebanon Co, make them unworthy notice It is not the case here they have boasted of there standing, and their power, and calld us the rabble and have abused our leaders by every species of defamation which their malegnaty [malignity] could invent. At the spring election there was a regular ticket on both sides. The Anti-masonic had 111 votes and the Masonic and Jack 74 votes, in Ann arbour. To be forced from a position is disagreeable, as well as insulting. But to free themselves from the institution of Free-masonry without effort is unreasonable to suppose; the oaths and obligations bind the members of that institution with chains of an adamantine texture That it requires an Herculean effort to rend. If you attempt to reason with them they tell you that what has been published is untrue; reason is then of no avail An organized corps is formidable when ever you will find it; to counteract which it is necefsary to have something of a similar nature. We all know that the Federal party has been forced down; a party more powerful, more wealthy and more respectable; than the Masonic party has ever been. The parties were of a different nature I am willing to grant. I shall quit the subject. I have always been considered more of a violent than moderate turn. Whatsoever one findeth to do let him do with his might. I dont recollect of any thing more at present. William can expect a letter from me in three weeks after this.

Farewell John Geddes

To Robert Geddis