Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, December 6, 1831

Author: John Geddes

Date: December 6, 1831

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Washtenaw, December 6th 1831

Dear Brother, [William Geddes]

As I am not very well to day, and the first of Dec. is past. I have set down to make out my regular letter to you, as well as to all those who feel any interest in our welfare, or curiosity in our fate. Our health with the exception of Luna has been good, who has been trouble with the ague, she has not had a fit for a week or, ten days and as she has been wearing it out, as she terms it. that is dont take any medicine to throw it off. She will (it is probable) have no more of it this season. I am a decided advocate for using means to both break, and keep away, the Ague. The other opinion has numbers on its side. they are generally the ones that try every thing, according to their own story; But in fact only trifly with every means they use. and then blame the means: when themselves are to blame. If I am not mistaken the inclination and nature of the person does more toward confirming their belief than any evidence whatever: an indolent person will take an indolent method. It requires but little to convince them that little work is the worst thing in the world for the Ague, their inclination supports the sentiment so strongly. That reason, and evidence, lofs their effect, and the person becomes the mere creature of an indolent will, or lazy apathy. The Fever and Ague is a prevailing, and troublesome disease of this Country and there is very few who come here (who have not come from a more sickly region such as Rochester &c) who dont have a trial of it in the course of five years. some have it light, and some otherwise. And among so many cases and so many different constitutions it is not strange that there so many ways of treating it. The past season has been called a healthy one, Though many sick: and I believe more deaths than formerly. The hardest cases are generally new comers, and strangers, who may be said to have no home, and I fear dont have that care they ought to have. admidst the conflicting differences of opinion are let run down, and rise no more It is supposed this country (owing to the fires not running over it as they did when we first came here) is not as healthy as formerly; I dont wish to scare you; neither do I think you are easy frightened; especially at the Ague, or Intermittent fever: I am sure I am not afraid of it and am more exposed to the causes of it than any other person in the neighborhood, as I have been on the Saw-mill every morning (with a very few exceptions) half an hour before sunrise and

as late as I could see to set: in the evening through the whole summer, and fall; Our summer and fall has been rainy and wet. the Huron has been higher this summer and fall, than it has been since we have been here. The fall has been tolerable favorable for businefs. But winter has set in about a week ago, (its snowing now.) It is earlier than we wished it as there is considerable of corn to husk yet. Though the corn is generally cut up, so it can be hauled in the barn and husked, where there is barns. We intend to run the mill night and day this winter, during the sleding thinking (as we are intending) to saw Popler for the third) to have some more Poplar logs hauled in than formerly; and wishing to encourage it by sawing their share of the logs as they haul them, so, that they can haul their lumber home as they go back. The logs will have to be hauled seven & eight miles, and Pafsed Dixs saw-mill, which is three miles from us; Dix is a very unpopular man. there is no accommendation about him, and after he Dix is a gentleman does have their logs sawed and divided. if the owner does not take it home right away, he must calculate to lofe more or lefs: especially when there is a great demand for lumber as there was this past season: Taking all these things into consideration we think if we can but saw their logs so that they can have them home in Boards we will remove the distance in a great measure and [torn] opposition to Dix. will likewise aid them to pafs him as it will gratify their feelings. Dix [torn] half for sawing. Oak lumber we sell at five dollars pr thousand. Poplar is worth seven and an half, and is easier to saw. by a quarter so we cant lofe anything by it. After all a great deal depends on the sleding. if it is good the sawmill will be profitable next summer: if not it may not be very profitable but it will [be] worth something. I wont be too sure; though: not withstanding we intend to make greater efforts in that line of businefs than we have done yet: if the sleding will permit. Winter has began rather early to continue cold, but it may. They sleding is midling good now; snow probably six inches deep, and weather cold. The thermoneter has been as low as ten degrees two days ago. it is this 2nd of Dec. at noon 22º. Robert has two hired hands the[y] commenced for the winter yesterday. He is to give one of them ten and an half dollars pr month to pay him the money when his time is up the first of May; wages is high. Do the[y] give any more a month in the summer in Pa. Robert intends to keep his team (his oxen rather) hauling logs this winter: calculates to haul considerably many Poplars thinks he can make it profitable. That dam that I believe I told you of more than a year ago that was to be erected acrofs the Huron 1 1/2 miles below

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us, they were so long working at it winter set in; and stopt them, and the spring freshet swept away what they had done. After long consideration they began it this fall again, but it is nothing like done yet; and I dont think they can finish it this winter. And consequently we think they will not stock the country, we dont think many will risque hauling in logs. So on the whole we conclude saw-milling will be profitable an other year. I really wish I had half the time you have: I would certainly come to Pa. this winter; my will is in favour of it but circumstances forbid it. I wish to see you all once more face to face on our native shore. But as Ulysses said “The laws of fate compell and I obey” at this time at least. I hope I shall one day burst the bands that binds me so close to businfss and breathe a freer air. We attempt to drive businefs with two few hands. which hurries us more or lefs all the time. cold weather come on a week too soon for me, and the snow three weeks too soon as they are beginning to crowd in the logs now: before we are prepared to run the mill night and day: and the days are short so that I cant saw much. We have never weather boarded the mill yet nor have any fire on it. Both of them must be; before it can be run night and day with any degree of comfort. If you were here now I would give half a dollar for attending the mill twelve hours. I would attend the other twelve myself: and learn you so that in one month you could if necefsary attend alone. Businefs is brisk here, grain is a good price which is the life of Businefs. Wheat is 1. Corn .90 to .62 1/2 and Oats .40 to 50. Buckwheat .50 and Potatoes .25 these are Cash prices. Pork is 5. pr hundred. It is the Emigration that keeps up the prices. But still the Detroit market has some effect. Farming is profitable which raises the price of wages. as every farmer will hire if he can afford it. and the farmers have all their farms to improve; and finally the people of Michigan are industrious. And why should it be otherwise; as one years work will buy eighty acres of land; with such a prospect who would not exert themselves: These times may not always hold thats true, But when they are is the time to improve. that is the time to be up and doing. Anti-masonry does better here than with you, though it does nobly in Londonderry, how could I be otherwise than an Anti when born and raised in a Township so unanimous in opinion which breathes forth such a spirit of Antimasonry, to grow up encircled by that though latent principal and not be imprefsed by it: would bespeak a singular mind if nothing else. If the subject of Antimasonry could have come up in Pa. fairly; even as fair as it came up here. the result would have been the prostration of Freemasonry at the first effort. Because there is strong a very strong Antimasonic spirit in Pa. if it could only be properly directed that it cannot be I am truly sorry. But I am strong in the faith that it will rise over all obstacles and shine forth with that effulgence, that true noble and patriotic principles ever do shine and rise amongst a free people; What an insult to our country to our liberty and to the people of free soil is it to suffer such an enemy of equal rights, and not only suffer but protect. Because the way to eradicate may be offensive to sensitive persons. Who if I am not wrong are more govern by men than principles. The principle of Anti-masonry not one will object to. It is its political nature that is so exceptional. But was it not political Antimasonry that checked freemasonry in the State of N.Y. in the first place and it was that principal that checked it every where, that it has been checkd. A Meeting of Freemasons a short time since was held in Ann Arbour and Twenty, signed a paper saying that the[y] considered the institution at present uselefs &c some of them were coming out more plainly; others had consciences scruples. For my part I am willing to be easy on them; as easy as the nature of the case will admit of. If the[y] help us to make out a ticket and support that, by their votes, we will consider them with us. if they will not vote with us I shall consider them against us. For my part I consider the struggle to be over with in this Country. I am well pleased with the nomination of William Wirt and if Clay does not come up I think he will be elected. I like wise think if Wirt, and Jackson, are the only candidates that Wirt will have a majority in Pa. As I think Jacksons popularity is fast declining. The bubble has burst. You may think that I am not very “easy” nor moderate in my Antimasonry I certainly am decided. I support the principle when I do not like the men. I am not so unreasonable as [to] make my own likes and dislikes to men to over rule the principle I wish to support. I presume that many men in the revolution were opposed to the arbitrary cours of the King but would [not] go to the lengths of the Whigs and so settled down Tories. It was not moderation that hurled [Charles] the tenth from his Throne. It is moderation though that sacrifices Polish blood to Rufsian bayonets. Just make a republican a king once, and his moderation will be known to all men especially where the rights of men are agitated. Louis Phillip of France is a specimen of this kind of moderation. Indignation of a free people does rise up against him. I am done with the subject this time I dont want any offence to be taken at it as I do not intend any. I wish you would tell me how much tax is raised in Pa. (The state tax) I am sorry that my country men are so unreasonable in paying taxes. I think the Legislature are perfectly right in laying on a tax. and that they were very moderate. and think it strange that there [is] any opposition to it. I am in favour of internal improvement. and in favour of raising money by tax to defray the expenses. Your taxes are nothing like as much in proportion to the property as ours are. Roberts Road Tax is 30 days work every year. In raising a bridge over the Huron below our Saw-mill this year he worked more than 30 more. So there is 60 days work this year on roads & Bridges. County tax besides County tax is low this year being 28 cents on an hundred dollars. If a railroad could be made in Michigan (and want of money is the only obstacle) I would willingly pay one cent on the dollar. I was in Detroit the beginning of October. Mr Ewers, and, Jane were in good health Mr Moses Clark and us have finally settled our difficulty we have agreed to pay him twenty dollars and he has to release any claims that him and his heirs or afsigns may have now or hereafter have any Damages from the flowing any land or lands own by him

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I shall now commence a serious subject; to cut the beginning short; by telling that I have become a member of the Presbeterian Church of Ypsilanti. You must not think that I have done so from any popular notion, or any mere moral determination. But because I have been brought to believe and feel. “That whatsoever is not of Faith is sin” and that no man can be saved on mere morality. That God is under no obligation to save any man as the moralist would seem to believe by his actions. And that all men must repent and look to God as their only hope, their only refuge. and humble themselves before God. as the only true hope of Salvation. I came to Michigan as you all might suppose though a moralist by action and profefsion, a Deist in Religious Sentiment. What was the cause will we enquire. Was it not the circumstances under which I was placed. Must I say that I saw Religion on its worst and darkest side. Or did I turn from instruction of the kind. I leave you to form you own conclusions. The fact is there is but little of the spirit of Religion in my native church; and I really believe I should have lived and died amongst them an infidel; fully persuaded in my own mind that if there really was a place of future rewards and punishments that the moralist would fare according to his degree of morals that conscientious sincerty in good works was all that was required. Without any dependence or rather giving the praise to God. I have often heard it remarked that man cannot gloryfy God. This is an infidel sentiment. No man has a more humble opinion of himself in the sight of God than a Christian. But Praise, or, Glory to God is the spontaneous glow or involuntary flow of the heart of every humble follower of Christ; it is part of the new birth; it is not learnt of man; it is the gift of God. Regeneration does not make so great an alteration in man as many suppose; his habits and appetites, and pafsions are still as the[y] were before. But it causes him to see that he was an enemy and is a sinner in the sight of God, and that God is under no obligation to save him, and that morality cannot is not acceptable with out Faith. That Faith, and Morality, are as opposite in their nature. As Fire and Water. Faith places it hopes its only hopes on Gods mercy. Morality is independent and boasting, and haughty, which are qualities not acceptable from a dependant creature. Regeneration causes a man to know and see his duty to God & man, which will so act, or ought to act, on the mind as to influence his conduct by shewing him his own unworthinefs and how far he falls short of his duty. And every truly humble follower wish all men may come to the knowledge of God and put their trust in him. Every reg[?]ate mind forgives all men, Beleives the bible to be the word of God. and does not say who shall be saved or who shall not it leaves that to God. I am greatly hurryd and must wind off. I want to know whether they have had a four days meeting in your church and if the[y] had how it operated, whether there was any opposition to it among the church members. I think they themselves have great need of something of the kind to arouse them fro[m] their stupor. I want to know whether the ancient practice of admitting person to the church is still continued. A person here must give some evidence of a change of heart when admitted, and it ought to be so every where. they ought [to] give some other evidence than that they are old enough and a simple beleif that the Bible is true. and that their fathers, and mothers have joind before them, and that they think it their duty its their duty there is no doubt, but its there duty in the first place to repent and make a full surrender of themselves to God, when he will give them a new heart and a new spirit. that they can worship in spirit and in truth. There has been a premium offered for a tract written in the following text. “The manner in which Christians should shew the spirit of their Master, in efforts to promote the convertion of the world” I wish you to tell Alexander to send me one, as soon as he may chance to see any of that kind. The essays [torn] subject were to be sent in by the first of Dec I hope they will find one of [torn] merit to pafs inspection. The premium is 250 dollars. They subject is imper [torn] I hope the tract will be written with ability I want you to pay William [torn] the Philadelphian pay him one year in advance and pay him all arrearages, and I will settle with you. Have it directed to Ypsilanti and direct every thing by post to the same place, that is sent by mail to me. I will tell you the rest when you see me I have confidence in the Postmaster. I have gave Robert particular orders to put this in the office him self. Excuse. all interlining no more fare well

To William Geddes John Geddes

The Thermometer was as low as 1º degree on the 4th of Dec. and no higher than four degrees in the middle of the day. the weather is still cold.

[this letter was addressed as follows, crossed out as shown below]

[note added] Please to send me another half
quire of ruled paper – if your father
has the half of the last one in hands
yet you may send that if not and
he gets a quire ruled he many send
the whole of it and I will send the
money with father when he goes to the
Jackson Convention

William Geddes