Letter From William Geddes to John Geddes, August 4, 1831

Author: William Geddes

Date: August 4, 1831

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Campbellstown August 4th 1831

Dear Brother. [John Geddes] We finished our harvest on the 14th of July. The crops of Wheat & Rye were but indifferent over the whole country – [two words blotted out]. we had off 36 acres 680 dozen of wheat and off 12 of Rye we had 210. The weather was very unfavourable during the whole of Hay Making and Harvest. It rained every other day & some times whole days together; in fact during the latter part of hay-time & the commencement of harvest it rained every day for two weeks; destroying some hay for every farmer some some lost partly all some the half &c. &c. We expected nothing lefs than the total lofs of the Wheat & Rye crops. Those that began cutting early suffered most; they shocks growing to such a degree that it was difficult to pull them asunder. There was finally a full stop made by almost every body – none knowing what to do – whether to cut or not for grew it would at last whether cut or standing our. [?] White smooth wheat & white beardy grew on the stalk a little the smooth most; but the red beardy did not. We had cut none of our wheat but all of the Rye before it ceased to rain; thinking it might as well rot on the stalk if it would rot. When the weather cleared up we finished cutting and hauling in four days. We hauled it in to the barn as fast as it was bound up, least the weather might not hold determinding to make of sure of all we cut. 280 dozen of the red beardy is all that can be called merchatetable Wheat but the other will do well enough for home consumption, so that I think good Wheat will fetch a high price shortly; at least if other parts have suffered as much as us – with as light crops. The grain such as it is was put into the barns in good order the weather holding so long; and perhaps the two thirds of the Oats is safely secured : but the remainder is going through the same course that the wheat & Rye did : rain after rain drenching it. We lost but two loads of hay & have about 50 dozen of Oats at the mercy of the Elements. It would all have floated away on Saturday last if I had not taken what did float against the fence away in places so as to let the water pafs off and not dam back too high over the upper meadow. It rained as much in two hours from three to five o Clock as to make they highest flood we have had since the famous August flood of 1817 but not so high as that. There will be from all appearances an extraordinary crop of Corn. Father got but 4.75 for the flour that he sent down in May. Rye is .50 Oats .30 cents Mr Parsons has finally thought fit to pay part of that money. I want to know why Mr. Ewers wants to dispose of all his land – does he expect to lay it out to a better advantage in the City of Detroit or is it more profitable to loan money in Michigan than to wait the rise of land: [two words blotted out]. What per centage [do] people generally exact. how much property does he own in Detroit

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Uncle James arrived here on the 10th of July and left this for Newville on the 28th but during that time he was to see the water works and great dam on the Union Canal. He has a midling good opinion of the works on the canal [words blotted out] they have water plenty if they could make it sufficiently tight. He gives the company credit for their attemping & persevering in a work which presented so many obstacles appearing by to the most of mankind insurmountable. He was not a little astonished to see the whole summit level planked on the sides and bottom. In the whole he allows it to be a forced piece of work. He intended going up the Pennsylvania canal as far as Muncy, but the breaking of the Shamokin and Muncy dams has prevented him from going on the canal and to go in the stage dont please him. He intends staying with his friend until the meting [meeting] of the Antimasonick Convention at Baltimore to which he is a delegate: which takes place the 25th of Sept. Uncle received a letter from Cousin James in Indiana asking him the loan of 500 dollars to purchase a piece of land adjoining him which he would like to have: giveing many droll reasons as Uncle imagines for it. Uncle mentioned it in my hearing at dinner time and said that he had wrote him back a curious answer; and was going to give us the outlines of it but somehow or other whether being conscience check or fearing to be condemned for it he stopped short. What James’ circumstances are I know not, but I think Uncle has acted the most culpable part in the matter. I perfectly agree with Sterne that it is hard enough to refuse to grant a favor when asked: whithout spurning the applicant. If Sterne repented for what he could in Justice [?] have told the Monk that ask’d alms of him. I think Uncle ought to blush ought to be and will be condemned by every generous spirit for not only refusing but useing scornful language to a poor & needy relative. I think he ought to consider how he became rich. It was certainly more from the freaks of fortune than from his great abilities; or as a Christian would say from the bounty of the almighty. I am afraid that I could not live amongst you firey Anti-Masons; although I call myself an Antimason yet am I not going to go all lenghts with them or any other party. If I had not been acquainted with the warmth of your disposition in political contests I would have been astonished and ashamed; but ashamed I was and am still. Even Uncle could not approve of it: who is a strong Anti. You say it is nonsense to vote for the fittest man – a monstrous !!! Such doctrine and such men as will support every man who has the impudence to push himself into office are they very persons who are destroying our libertys. Consider but for a moment if the giving of your vote to the least is not an [smudge] act of injustice toward the best qualified. And might not those Masons who you accuse of Infidelity blasphemy

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ect., ect., justly call you a villian and your conduct villainy. For it is as much an act of injustice to withold suffrages from the most meritorious candidate as it is for the debtor to defraud the creditor. Such at least is the doctrine of Paley. How is party to be supported you ask without Unions. What is it at present that divides your party but an unpopular person ought not that party which is dominated over by the least worthy of its partisans be forever in the minority. What is it but that spirit of party which makes men support unworthy characters; because they have got themselves shoved on the ticket: that still encourages men void of sound principles to push themselves into notice, and prevents men of worth & integrity from aspiring to what is their due; What is it that is discourageing modest men from qualifying themselves to serve the people in posts of honor & profit; from stimulating honest virtue from aspiring to do good & teach others to do so. It is not because thereby virtue is robbed of its reward & that by an ungrateful dishonest and I think I might say Anti republican community: and that reward given to its detestable opponent Vice. There has no marriages taken place among the Geddes’ since my last. The young doctor has left Newville and removed to Pittsburg to practice; since father was there: for what reason I have not heard yet Uncle Paul’s second wife has three sons and two daughters Cousin John wrote to Robert his brother to come to New Orleans which he did and remained there last winter with him; but has left that according to a letter received by William or was to do so before the warm weather would commence. Whether John left that was not certain from the letter. He and a partner of his are keeping a kind of retail; provision and grocery store; but to what amount of capital I cannot say. He boasts much of the profit he is realizing by it. But it is the disposition of the whole family to vaunt much. He has been dealing largely in Pork but I forget how many hundred thousand of pounds he has bought & sold. If that was the chief article of sale which it would appear to be from his speaking of its thousands I think the profits cannot be least. Eliza McCallen was at home & appears to stand it well – still single. Uncle John has by his present wife two sons and one daughter. Uncle James’ family were well when he left home. George is farming: but has no heirs nor no appearances of any yet. James Todd the farmer was drowned in the canal in June. He and another person went to wash themselves on a Saturday evening and something coming over him he was drowned & left a wife and two children. The rest of your acquaintences are as they were. Robert G. Graydon has been with us these three weeks & is in good health. Alexander has by Jane I believe I have told you before.

[the remainder of this page has been cut off – obvious that there was writing there – two or three lines]

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Our Uncles stand the times well and father too who lives within the bounds temperance. Isabel (sifter I mean) has had her health better since spring: but during the winter I thought her constitution was sinking fast. She has at present not a very healthy appearance but does not complain. She is rather thin in flesh. I think that if you could provide a place in Michigan where she could live without being a burthen to any one, I would bring her to Michigan this fall or next spring. If I leave home she will be left alone and friendlefs. Which will be too much for one who never had a vigorous constitution. I can attribute to nothing else; her lofs of health and strenght but to her situation here at home which is in fact no home; for can you call that a home where you have neither friend nor afsociate: where you can be neither friendly nor sociable. How can a person who herself is not certain of the affections & civilities of the household wherein she lives expect for those that she might afsociate with that affection & civility : Those kind attentions which are necessary to secure the good will and wishes of strangers or neighbours. If debared by such heart rending circumstances from the sweets of society without a friend to ease her heart with by complaining. What has She left to make life supportable. Nothing more at Present but that [smudge] we are all well.

Direct to Campbellstown [smudged]

To John Geddes William Geddes