Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, September 13, 1831

Author: John Geddes

Date: September 13, 1831

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Washtenaw, September 13th 1831

Dear Brother [William Geddes]

Two days after I wrote to you Parsons calld on me and said that there was a mistake in the time he was to received some money: that it was the nineteenth instead of the ninth, of June and that he would certainly take the land; He gave me notice to call on the 29th of June and he would pay me. I called and found him very unwilling to pay more than Twenty five dollars interest but after talking about it and other matters for about an hour he agreed to allow 29 but not untill after I had wrote a note for the forfeit money agreeably to his directions. He pretended I was very hard on him, and that if you were here yourself you would willingly take the twenty five &c. He paid one hundred dollars in Cash, and two promissory notes Joint and several of Fifty each; in the one his Uncle is his bail, in the other his father and an other [?] twenty nine dollars (I did not ask any bail for that they are all good enough.) to be paid eighteen months after date. The reason I took three notes, instead of one was to bring them within the jurisdiction of a Justice of the Peace: if they should have to be collected in Law, which is not probable will have to be the case. I make it a rule of late to take notes of lefs than one hundred, dollars where the amount is one hundred, or over. I have never had but two notes over one hundred. one I think I should have collected before this time if it had been in two. But its fate has been such that I believe I shall get it with out that trouble. I have lost nothing yet in lending money but I have sometimes thought some of it was in danger. I dont consider much, or any so at present Robert and me have bought Mr Ewers farm. Which will afford a very good pretext to collect in what is owing me. There are many here if they think you you [sic] are not under the necesfity of having some money : there can be none got from them : without suing them; which is a course of proceeding no one wishes to adopt I have sued two persons since I have been in Michigan. I made use of your hundred dollars when we bought Ewers farm not having but eighty of my own at that time gave a note payable in six months with interest from date for the rest. There is that confounded difficulty in money here that it cannot be commanded when it is wanted We are to give Mr Ewers Six hundred and fifty dollars, for his farm. there is 295 acres according to the original surveys. it adjoins Roberts land on the west and the Huron on the North; We think it well worth the money or we should not have bought it. The reason why Mr Ewers wished to sell is that he thinks he can do better about with it. This money about Detroit. And he had a poor tenant on his farm. (his Brother Tillotson Ewers:) whom he envited to Michigan: he having once failed in New York and was harrassed by his creditors. Alvah thought if he came here he would be clear of that trouble and might make a tolerable living. But he is so devoted to Bacchus as to unfit him for the more important businefs of providing for himself and family. Alvah found him two yoke of Cattle and two or three Cows to keep on the farm; and received little or nothing for rent: he became heartily tired of that; which increased his wish to sell. Tillotson made but little improvement broke up little land. Alvah thought he must build a barn if he kept his farm; but the way things were going; he thought on the whole it was better to sell. I will give you a specimen of Tillotson. Alvah left one yoke of Oxen for us to sell. I sold them to a man for sixty dollars and went to give pofsefsion, when Tillotson would not let them go, pretending that he had a written permit (which he did not shew) to hold them untill he had his grain and hay in: his grain was nearly all stacked then. and he had ten tons of hay to stack. He pretended that it was too much for one yoke to haul the hay on a sled if he had a waggon he might do with one yoke &c

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Alvah having agreed to leave him one yoke through the winter to go to mill and haul up his fire-wood. Alvah offered to give him five dollars if he would willingly agree that both yoke to be sold this fall. But no he could not do any way in the world with out a yoke of Oxen. He acts af [as] if he had a right, as if Alvah was bound to accommodate him. I am provoked at him and think him the most imprudent beggar I ever had to deal with. He must leave where he now lives next spring. We have had to allow him to cut hay for his and Alvahs Cattle though there was no proviso for him in the bargain with Alvah. We could have got the hay cut and stacked and had the two fifths to ourselves but he must be accommodated. I agreed to pay the tax on that Parsons lot which amounted to 2.30 road and county tax it was more than I expected when I agreed to pay it. They say that land is going to be sold this year for road tax, or I would not have paid the road tax. Mr Ewers bought a lot in the City of Detroit with 200 dollars of the money he received for Janes land on which he intends to build a house and rent it this is all the real estate he owned in the City of Detroit when I saw him last which was about the 20th of July when we purchased from him. He owns 320 acres of land 4 miles from Detroit which he values at five dollars pr acre. There is a small house and some other improvement on it. The house he lives in and Cooper shop him and his partner have rented. I heard Mr Ewers say his partner talked of selling out to him, he said he would give him five hundred dollars for his undivided half. I suppose that Mr Ewers must be worth 3000 dollars at least he is certainly making money now. They had eleven hands at work in their shop in July, when the businefs becomes poor he intends to quit it and move on his farm four miles from Detroit. Mr Alvah Ewers is a sober steady man and calculates to keep out of debt; pay his way as he goes. The land that Ewers own near Detroit lies half a mile on the Chicago road. What people generally exact for loaning money is difficult to tell. Mr Ewers told me that Dwight (his partner) received twelve pr Cent for 1000 dollar of a Merchant in Detroit, and that he had a note with endorsers on the Bank and that note accepted at the Bank: so that he could command his money at any time. There is but little money lent in Washtenaw, what is, is generally at seven pr Cent. its all I get. some offer me more, generally double; from them I am generally content if I get my own with simple interest. I do consider it more profitable to buy land and pay taxes than to loan money if we had not bought this land of Ewers. I did intend to buy some wild land Moe, and me has entered into a written contract for 118 acres I owned in sec. 5 Township 2 South of Range six East. he is to pay me 300 dollars on the 11th of July rent with interest. we are each under fifty dollars penalty for non performance. We had, or rather Robert had some difficulty with about one third of his wheat on account of the rain. he on [un]bound it and spread it out to dry. it did not grow much as the weather was cool for the time of year, it was only about the middle of the sheaf it did grow, the rest he got in without any damage. The Oats was sanded and hard to cut was all the damage it sustained. We have had bad hay weather this summer: though but little hay lost. Robert had good weather for the season when he made hay, though it rained. Has made twenty three tons of Marsh hay and five or six of Timothy. I did not mow a clip this season; not having time worked three or four half days in harvest: Being hurryd on the saw-mill I attended to but little else. I sawed 89 logs in May, 94 in June 103 in July, 105 in August, number of feet in May 22,070, in June 27.305, in July 28,880, in August 25,830. I shall likely saw 150,000 feet this year half belongs to us throw off 10,000 for the Bridge, our own use &c will leave 65,000 feet at 5. pr thousand is 325 dollars. 125 dollars will pay the hire and repairs which will leave 200 as the profit of the saw-mill: it is more profitable this year than the two preceding years. the hay is better: we get, and are to get considerable money; and store pay at cash price

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This is Called a healthy season in Washtenaw. we have been in good health since my last to you, except that Luna has had the ague; and Jane (the babe) the whooping cough, my health has been good this summer, very good. Jane (Mrs Ewers) has not been very well this summer, has had a pain in her side and a cough, she was better when Mr Ewers was out here. She does her house work notwithstanding. If you should come to Michigan this fall, or, next spring I expect it would be as well to bring Isabel along with you. she can pafs her time here or in Detroit or both places as she may like beft. I expect Isabel may as well come now as another time Michigan must eventually be her home. Our boys are more unwilling to leave home than the girls, or you would not be there now. I know it requires an effort to leave home from my own experience. I could have contented myself very well at home rivalling the Dutch raising wheat my ambition would if not satisfied not repined at my lot. I am now in Michigan and pleased with the country I do not desire to return nor consider it a mighty privilege to reside in the land that gave me birth. Still I would be very well pleased to go home and see my acquaintances if I could, or when I can make it convenient. If I would have had the ague this season I would likely have come home this fall; but I have not time now: having too much businefs to attend to when my health is good, We will have a Yankee barn to build on the Ewers farm next spring and in winter is the time to haul the timber for it it wont cost me much if I am here to attend to it: my time would be money in this case. You have not told me how you mean to come: the stage is an expensive way, it cost Jane and me 54 dollars to come from home to Washtenaw and I walkd from Meadville to Erie, and from Detroit here. If you should come this fall you will find Mrs Ewers about two squares below the Yankee Boarding house near the bank of the river. I believe a street coming down the river ends or turns at the building the[y] reside in. If it is as suitable for you to come this fall, as next spring, I would come in the fall, if not in the spring. it is certainly high time for you to leave home and look out for yourself. Wheat was but tolerable this Harvest, considerable shrunk in the berry. The Oats was good: Corn is stout but green; no frost yet; Potatoes good, A great many Cranberries red Plumbs, Chicken grapes, and Hazle-nuts this fall. Wheat is .75. Oats .37 1/2 . Wages cradling, 1.25 pr day. raking and binding .75. Mowing and making hay .75. The Masonic Candidate Austin E. Wing is elected the Delegate to Congrefs. He had between 2000 & 2100 votes. Dexter 1388, and Williams, between 1000 & 1100 [mark unknown]

Washtenaw Dex Wing Will In Oakland Dexter had more votes than

Ann Arbour 111 87 2 any of the rest. The Emigrant did not

Ypsilanti 104 81 2 publish the whole returns it pretended that

Panama 65 06 0 the Detroit Journal did not make a fair

Dexter 73 24 0 statement. I believe Dexter did not have a

Saline 36 29 1 single vote west of Lake Michigan. They

389 227 5 Antimasons claim seven out of the thirteen

Jackson Co. 21 06 0 members of the Legislative Council. About

Wayne Co. 247 280 391 one week after the appoint of Gov. Cafs as

Monroe Co. 6 360 142 Secretary of War was announced in Detroit:

Macomb Co. 209 134 152 the appointment of Stevens Thomson

Lenawe Co. 103 125 39 Mason was likewise announced as

975 1131 729 Secretary of Michigan (he will be twenty

years of age in Oct. next. The Secretary is the Gov. when the Gov is not in the Territory) There was a general burst of indignation of all parties against the appointment of a boy: to be our Gov. as we had not other then. A remonstrance was got up directly and sent onto the President. The boy said the President was a ware of his being under 21 years of age when he appointed him. That appointment has injured Jacksons popularity here: but we have no vote or he would not be so indifferent on our hands. George B. Porter of Lancaster is appointed our Gov. I presume he is opposed to Political Antimasonry. If he takes that position he will have a majority in the Councill to oppose him. Governor has a right to make nominations to the Council. They have the power to reject the Gov. can fill vacancies when the Council is not in sefsion. I believe that Paley does not consider a moralist bound in duty to vote for a freemason however amiable he may be; if he (the moralist) believes that he (the freemason) supports with his influence an institution at variance with the principles of Morality. Put the worst construction you can on my voting, can only say I support a bad man for a good object. You support a good man in a bad object. The question then is ought the person or the object govern over votes. It is certainly desirable that both the person and the object should be virtuous. We had a light frost this morning Thermometer 46º. I have attended to the sale of land for tax, to day and have bought 500 acres for 27.29. whether I shall make anything or not I shall try it for the first time. If you wish to have any share you can have an undivided half of the lofs and profit. No more farewell.

William Geddes John Geddes

[Someone at a later date has written “1831” in the space between “Ann Arbor MI” and the printed “25,” and again on another side of the fold for the corr (?) – probably in sorting the collection by date.]