Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, March 10, 1832

Author: John Geddes

Date: March 10, 1832

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Washtenaw, March 10th 1832

Dear Brother, [William Geddes]

I made you out a letter and seald, it a week ago. and not having time to take it to the Post office nor finding a convenient person to send it with I concluded to open that one; and copy it off and send you this. Your letter arrived in Ypsilanti the 17th of February which was later than I expected. I really thought it had miscarried, for I did not expect you were crowded with businefs: but was glad to hear differently, thinking you were making it profitable, as is generally the case. Though it seems William the Printer not with standing all his businefs makes nothing. The man is to blame. You and me do yet agree in one thing. that William was not born to be rich. He is certainly an extravagant fellow; what more does any person want than plenty to do in his line of businefs to make it profitable. It is quite a task to fill three sides of a sheet of paper: I very well know. I think you not need not be so cautious in speaking or writing your opinion on prominent political subjects, especially since you receive considerable news of that kind; And again especially as you are such a moderate politician, and consequently not carried away by the heat of party which so wholly absorbes the spirit of Charity, and encline us to beleive and approve of measures at variance with the sober dictates of reason, for instance “supporting a bad man for a good purpose”. It appears to me you have strained the point relative to that exprefsion I wished to convey the idea that the worst construction that could be put on my voting was, that I voted for bad man for a good purpose at the same time beleiving we had good men, (though there was a deficiency of prominent men) as the freemasons and jacks were the aristocracy of Washtenaw.) and hoped the[y]would be brought forward. You must know that there is a great deal of intrigue in politics, and men are often forced forward by their friends that are not the most worthy, especially in the stronger party : that that has been the case in Pennsylvania for the last twenty years, for the highest post in the State is a well known fact. If it cannot be remedied there why do you think it such a dreadful inconsistency here. The same delegate system of nomination is practiced here that you have there. as Thy party make a nomination, the same party support it. That the Masons have worthy men I do not dispute and at a time when they are struggling for the existence of the institution, and their own political standing, that they should bring forward their noblest is natural. it is what is done at all times in similar cases; it is as it were the reserve of battle, their only hope, their last, mightest and expiring effort to pursue any other course would we the height of folly and madnefs: that many Antis on such an occasion should recoil at the charge, is certainly to be expected though deplored. But you must not expect John to waver not withstanding I may hear of “a bad man and good cause” on every wind that blows. No sir my vote my efforts are against the existence of such a Society as that of Freemasonry. Antimasonry is the polar Star of my political sentiments. Meafures not men is my motto. You must have heard of the rejection of Van Burens nomination. that sly reynard with his thousand shifts is over reached at last. You might have handed out your opinion of it. I think he received the due reward of his deeds, in that he was treated as he deserves It appears to me you are a strong Jacksonian however you may display your moderation on Antimasonary you can overlook his errors. if you do stumble at those of Antimasonry you know that Jackson has taken part with the most rotten hearted part of the first Cabinet and drove off the most worthy. He has carried on a system of proscription, but little excused by the Antimasons, not withstanding the difference of the object. It is pretended here he will not send the nomination of our boy Secretary to the Senate. But keep him in office at his own risque. Is that the fair candid course that you admire so much in Jackson. You will probably say he is not perfect but every thing considered you consider him the most suitable. I consider the object and tendency of Political Antimasonry to be the destruction of the Society of Freemasons. Which is a curse to the country. It is the influence of Political Antimasonry that has checked that monopolising Society. It is that alone that can crush it. Where it is not felt Masonry is still making its giant strides. It cannot be denied that William Wirt is man whose character public and private, exceeds that of your mighty cheiftain. He commands the respect of men of all parties. What is the reason he is not the choice of Moderate politicians. Is it not because they are opposed to the principle that brought him forward. The man is above reproach. As for Jacksons administration. I can tell you some of its faults. How different has been his conduct to the Indians: from that of our great proprietor William Penn A man of whom every Pennsylvanian feels proud of. And proud too of his liberal and noble conduct to the native sons of the forest. Will not the curses of gerations yet unborn be hurld at Jackson and his supporters, for the treatment that has been dealt out to the helplefs Indians of the South. And in this land of liberty and freedom, have not men been thrust into prison, tried and condemned, for what. dont you know, must I tell you. well sir, because they would not aid in driving from their homes, and the homes of their fathers. Those who are without power to help themselves

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And when they called upon their Great father (Jackson) he thrust them from him for what; because they will not retire from their much loved country. So eagerly coveted by Georgia. This you will call preaching. It is the truth. When Antimasons pursue such a course of opprefsion upon those who are unable to resist. I will listen to preaching then too. The nomination of Porter our Governor has been confirmed by the Senate. It is yet to be seen what course he will pursue in Michigan. Our boy governor met Mr Corselins the Junior editor of the Emigrant in Detroit a short time since and on enquiring of him if he was the person that wrote a certain article that appeared in the Emigrant some time since, on his acknowledging he did. He (the boy) struck him with his hands in face. Who not being a man of war did not return the rude compliment. Mr Corselins is quite a harmlefs man considerably excentric, and quite inoffensive. In the hottest fury of of [sic] party strife in Washtenaw he gave no offence, no one thought of taking offence at him. Dexter who is the senior editor was highly provoked, and raised his pen, and not satisfied with that. Has went to Detroit to see about it. The Secretary is a Kentuckian: I hear that Schultz is set up for Governor again. how is it! And that the Jackson party is divided. I would be pleased to see some of your Washington papers. You have not told us what paper it is. But if one can tell any thing by your political principles. I would judge it is the Globe. We received a letter from Uncle James dated January 15th. They were all well. Georges wife had a son about a month before. I dont think that Uncle was offended at any of you about Politicks. We Antis have too great an opinion of the patriotism of our cause to take offense: on such a subject a person is not easily offended. As it is all in the family I will extract what he said on the subject in his letter “As I was on my way to nominate a President to be supported by the Antimasons and as your Father is such an enemy to the enemies of the “old handmaid” these circumstances produced some considerable alloy to my “happinefs while at his house. Indeed (although he was to see my face no more) I was almost tempted to believe suspect my departure was as pleasing as my arrival” We had a wedding here the 23rd of Feb. Marias sister Luna to a Mr Lyon. They are both Methodist; and the ceremony was performed by a Methodist minister. The young folks of the neighborhood were invited in which made considerable of a party: But they were not very sociable: being ignorant of the way to enjoy themselves. I endeavored to encourage them at first, but young people meet in numbers so seldom in the country that they wanted a leader in those things in which I never excelled: and in which I have not improved since I left home. If I wish to come acquainted after introduction (if that is necefsary) I attend conversation (as the yankee girls are famed for words) and endeavor to draw conclusions from what is said It is a bachelors duty and privelege to keep his ears and eyes wide open and and meditate on what he sees and hears. These romping ploys I take little or no pleasure in them. And the kissing ploys are unfashionable and I am not sorry for the lofs of them. The fact is we all feel such a disgusting sensation at kifsing every one that comes up as to abandon the practice. Many of the ladies here play Whist a game of cards; when I first noticed it I thought it an idle businefs: but it was not long until I took hold and learnt to play a good hand. But as I am a Presbeterian now I have quit playing. Uncle James in the letter I received from him informs me that he thinks it high time for me to lay aside being Bachelor any longer. Pretends my case has become a serious one. In my reply to him I told I would think of it. The fact is I am not ready if was ever so much inclined, and I am lefs enclined now than ten years ago. Nothing lefs than age and my friends warning that I am swiftly passing the mostly suitable time of life for an engagement of the kind can arouse me to give that attention to the subject that it must require. I still console myself that I can live a bachelor if I cant suit myself in a partner. It is not the sack (the mitten it is termed here I am afraid of; I have lost that fear It is in difference that keeps me a Bachelor. I am supported in that in difference by the unsettled state of my affairs. I have not brought my property to bear in one body. I dont own a foot of land in any other way than in partnership. I have of four parcels the undivided half. My property is worth 2000 dollars. And I think shall turn 1000 of it into cash this summer but it may not be so. I will attempt it at any rate. We make it a point here to meet all demands punctually and keep above board its effect on the mind is well worth the trouble. I would be pleased to see my native country while a Bachelor; whether I should find a mate there or not I am not particular on that point. The Pennsylvania girls feel disposed to sneer at Michigan. I am so much their friend that I am willing they should do better: without casting reflection on any one. A persons being a Pennsylvanian is a recommendation to me. I am a warm friend to my native country. My object in going home is to see you all, all my friends, pay them my last visit and then bid them a final adieu. But if you and Isabel come and stay here my inducement to go home will be lefs: and time itself wears off a persons inclination for a distant home by degrees the conclusion is I must have lefs businefs on hand than I now have, or else fare well Londonderry We have altered our plan of the Ewers farm, and intend to sell it as soon as we can get 1000 dollars for it. And I think we can sell it for that much this summer. If we do not we can make ten pr Cent out of our money from the hay and grain to be raised on it. I did think of keeping it for myself but as Robert has half: and it is not pleasing me altogether I laid aside the idea. If I ownd three eighty like them of yours I would not sell them with out an extraordinary price. As I begin to think I shall one day quit milling: as it is a restlefs kind of businefs: but not for sometime yet. We still think of building a gristmill in two or three years, but we may alter our plans. The Saw mill will be profitable this year. Counting what logs we have sawed since the first of Jan and what is now in the yard makes 1080 logs. We think they will make 300,000 feet of lumber. It costs one dollar pr thousand to saw them and pay the board of the Sawyers files etc leaving 1.50 pr thousand as the profit.


The sleding has been very good this winter and an abundance of it: though some parts of the time very slippery. We had two thaws that stopt the sleding, and back watered the mill. The Saw mills on the Huron have all be back watered this winter half the time It frustrated by calculations some for I could not saw nothing like as fast as the Soft timber was brought in and so did not run Dix much. But I am satisfied: we have a good share of the logs that were hauld into the sawmills, this winter. We have as many as any of them; last year we did not have half as many as the Ypsilanti Saw-mill. Robert and me have brought the East half of the South west quarter of Section 6 in Township 3 South Range 8 East containing 87 acres; for the timber that is on it: and Robert has hauld 39 logs from to the saw-mill. I think of buying me two yoke of Cattle. and getting a sled made, and have cast shoes put on it. And hire a hand pay his Board etc. And sett him to haul logs for me. I think I can make it profitable. The distance is 7 1/2 miles. A pair of Cast sled shoes cost six dollars in Detroit. It is said that two yoke will draw as much, on Cast shoes: as three yoke will on wooden shoes. I would haul, Popler and White Ash. This plan will bear calculation: I think if I had done so Last fall I should cleard my team and sled. The profit depends on the time of sleding, five or six weeks will make it profitable. Poplar inch Boards 8 dollars pr thousand. White Ash the same March 3rd was the last day of the sleding, the next day it rained. The Huron raised right up and was some four or five inches higher than last year. The ice went out of the pond the night of the 8th and swept out about forty feet of the bank of our head race where it joined the dam. We think that fifty dollars will repair the breach. The dam has not been injured. We think of mustering four or five hands in ten days, from now and fill up the hole with stones. It has not frightened us any. As we do not consider it very bad. And when it is stopt it will be stronger than it was before; but it is a dear way of strengthening water works. But the Ypsilanti dams have both fared worse and let one of them was built in the new last summer. Our Bridge has stood through the whole The ice between the pond and bridge shook the bridge worse than what come over the dam though the distance between the bridge and dam is only 45 rods. The rise of the Huron above low water mark is set at five feet. The month of December a very cold month. The 26th of Jan. the coldest day this winter 11º degrees below Zero in the morning and 1º below two o’clock. It was the coldest day in the middle of the day of any day since we had the thermometer. The 24th of Feb. 10º below in the morning and 10º above at two o’clock. Uncle James intends to build a large barn next summer and hauls his logs to a saw-mill where the[y] saw for 1.50 pr thousand. Flour is 6.50 in Ann Arbour. wheat has fell it is .87 1/2 Corn .75 Oats .50 Marsh hay in Ypsilanti is 6.50 pr ton. I am in hopes that Congrefs will appropriate some money to wards repairing the Chicago road between Ypsilanti and Detroit. If they do not it will be difficult getting into Washtenaw next spring or as soon as the frost leaves it. It will be very very bad, almost impafsible. Ypsilanti is improving faster than Ann Arbour at present But the inhabitants of Ann Arbour are the most respectable. and is much the driest site for a village. All the land that I purchased when sold for tax has been redeemed except a quarter Section belonging to a lazy Tailor who has two or three homes. I have not seen him since I purchased. I mean to tell him the next time I see him that if he does not pay me I will take pofsefsion, and I think it doubtful, whether he will, for he is said to be love cracked and has scarcely common sense. I dont think I will try the speculation again as it rather a poor businfs. The tax is light in this Township this year 44 cents on eighty acres. What your tax is dont know, as I have not attended to it yet. There is no interest on it untill the first of May. You need not be afraid of my troubling you very much on Religious subjects in Michigan as I think it not my duty to crowd the subject on you or any other person. it is my duty to mention the subject when I consider it profitable. “We ought to be a[s] wise as serpents and harmlefs as doves” We ought not cause people to loath us and the cause so as to fly at our approach. It is but little I say to Robert on the subject. I believe he is more in opposition now than before I pretended to repent, has more to say about the faults of proffefsors & the principles of Christianity no one can find fault with. But what are we to think of those profefsors who are silent as the tomb when the subject is mentioned are they not a disgrace to the cause. They have neglected their duties and still neglect them. I certainly wish you would repent. I would rejoice at it. You probably think and thousands do the same that you have no need of repentence. All I ask of you at present is too go to the four day meeting and give the subject a serious consideration. I am not surprised that the four day is postponed it is jut as might be expected. I think very well of Mr Sharon. have I not myself saw him weep over his people but the[y] would not. It is natural for man to go on thoughtlefs and in different. especially when Christians are asleep at their posts To repent requires a mighty effort, a concentration, of soul and mind. That no unregenerate man can conceive of, and then after all it is “not him that willeth nor him that runneth but God that sheweth mercy” Robert bought a health Almanac in Ann Arbour for 12 1/2. Jane wishes you [torn] buy her a dozen of silver tea spoons in Harrisburg and have her name markd on them in full “Jane Geddes” The price 12 dollars and Mr Ewers will pay you for them when you deliver them to her (Jane) Is this to be my last letter to you untill you come to Michigan and must I then leave to you the correspondence with home: with who you please or the one most likely to return the compliment. I will be still willing to do something like my share if it is required. Uncle James says he has something like a presentiment that he will visit Michigan yet I dont see why father may not have a similar presentiment. He has boys plenty to leave to attend to businefs. All that is necefsary is to start. He is not so wrapt in the vortex of businefs as I am so as to prevent a visit to his Antimasonic sons and their Yankee wives. Marias father says he is coming this summer. He was born 29th of Sept. 1781. Robert has hired two hands for this coming summer. The one he is to give 12 dollars pr month for six months and 10 dollars for the other six months of the year. The other he is to give 80 dollars for seven months beginning 1st of April. I shall want a hand as soon as the mill starts if you feel disposed to try Sawmilling I wish you would let me know and when you will be here, and if not let me know by one of your Journal of Healths and I will hire a hand for four or five months I will have to give 13 dollars a month, it may be more. Linn makes good barn floor plank better than Oak and pretty good floring for houses better than Popler. Here is more than 200 lines in this letter we Sawed 644 logs in 1891 [sic, meaning 1831] making 178.635 feet

Farewell John Geddes

To William Geddes

Cover “Straight line” postal mark

[hand written]


MAR. 10 [the 10 is by hand]

Mr William Geddes


Lebanon County