Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, December 28, 1833

Author: John Geddes

Date: December 28, 1833

Get PDF: geddes_letters/geddes_letters_18331228.pdf

View Text

Washtenaw December 28th 1833

Dear Brother [William Geddes]

Want of time is the only opology I have to make in not writing to you long since. Yours came to hand in the beginning of October I intended to write in two or three weeks after the receipt of it but have delayed to the present time. When the ice having stopt the mill by strangely collecting in and about the the [sic]throat so as to prevent the gate from shutting and in fact preventing the usual leakage (anchor or slush ice) Consequently I have set apart this day to making out a letter to you and all others who take an interest in our welfare, residing near the old homestead I have an other hand helping me on the Saw-mill I commence at one A.M. and leave off at one P.M. and sleep on the saw-mill this regulation commenced two weeks ago. least you might think this would leave me time plenty on hand. I shall just inform you that the first week I could sleep but little which rendered me in a manner incapable of writing, at least very indefferent about it. And then as it was a very muddy time and little or no lumber hauled from the mill. I had the lumber to stack up and carry out of the way. I have had but little experience in having two hands on the mill and what little I have had inclines to me to think that it is harder work for me when I have a hand to help me than when I am alone. The difference in saving in a week is about (from one hand to two (8000 to 12,000) that is I can saw 8000 feet a week: when myself and another hand can saw 12,000 feet. We have repaired the mill some this fall and made the throat an inch wider (it is now three inches wide) the mill goes quicker and stronger than it ever did before. We intend to run the mill night and day until we are back watered in the spring, say 1st of March Our Sawing this year will amount to a little over 330,000 feet from nearly 1100 logs. We furnish the oak lumber for the Court House in Ann Arbour 26,000 feet at $5 pr thousand. The Court House is to be built of brick October was a rainy and disagreeable month. December has been unusually mild and the beginning of it pleasant. Christmas was a warm and pleasant day, some snow and a great plenty of mud on the Roads. The roads have been very muddy and very bad this fall. The Chicago Road in particular. The Roads froze up the 26th, and we hope that mud is over with for some time; no slaying yet: We have three hundred logs in the mill yard to begin the new year with. Lumber still continues in good demand and we think the demand will increase I am calculating to saw 400,000 feet next year if there will be logs enough for that amount. 1000 logs more I will want

Page 2

The people of Washtenaw have considerable to say about Rail Roads having meeting upon meeting both in Ann Arbour, and Ypsilanti. The Ann Arbour plan is to petition Congrefs for a grant of Land for a Rail Road from Detroit to the mouth of the St Josephs River. The Ypsilanti plan is to have an act pafsed by the Legislative Council of Michigan to incorporate a Company to make a Rail Road from Detroit to Ypsilanti. They say that there is a probability that the stock for that distance might be taken and a Road built in they course of a year, or two. By moneyed men in the City of New York. It is pretended that it would be something of an object and that men might be induced to invest money in it. They hope so. The Ypsilanti planers say there can be no hopes of raising money enough to build a Rail Road from Detroit to the mouth of the St Josephs for several years yet and that it must not be urged at the present time I agree with them and would be glad indeed if a Rail Road could be constructed from Detroit to Ypsilanti. I am very doubtfull whether so much as that can be accomplished for a few years yet. Michigan itself can do but little and Washtenaw still lefs. Our only hope is from abroad. Wheat is now selling at .59 Cash and .62 1/2 Store pay. Corn .37 1/2 & Oats .25 Cash pr Bushel. Wheat would be worth .75 in Flour. The want of Flouring mills prevents the people from receiving its full value. Money is more plenty this fall and winter than this time last year. The New York market regulates the price of Grain now. Considerable of Wheat and Flour were carried off before navigation closed bad as the roads were. I am told it cost 1.25 pr Barrel from Detroit to the City of New York .50 pr Barrel from Ypsilanti to Detroit. Jacob Early could tell you probably that it once cost 1.50 pr Barrel from Campbellstown and vicinity to Philadelphia. In five years I dont think it will cost that from Ypsilanti to the City of New York probably not more than 1.25. I have been this particular on this subject as have some thoughts of trying the Gristmill businefs as soon as I can make it convenient I dont think that I am able myself to go on with it single handed. I want to know what you would think of going into the businefs: say a year from next spring. Robert would do something. I am willing to do half: that is find half the means to build a Grist mill. It is said it would cost $4000 to build a Grist mill with two reacting wheels and four pair of stones. One Waterwheel and two pair of stones might answer for the first year, or two years We would not wish to build any but a first rate flouring mill. Brown & Co. of Ann Arbour boast that their brand is the best in the Territory. I would be pleased to equal if not surpafs them. They do pretty much as the[y] please in this County They will not make Superfine Flour for market: for any but themselves

Page 3

Welch & Co in the old part of Ann Arbour village buys Wheat and pays the Cash (he buys on Commifsion) Brown & Co acts as if he thought he was crowding on his right: and I am told wont Grind nor flour, for him which occasions some inconvenience as their no other Mill so well calculated for Flouring in Washtenaw. The Mills in Ypsilanti are trifling and so are the rest in the County. There is nothing like a mill, having a great name amongst Yankees. Brown & Co.s mill must have cost considerable as the[y] talked considerable about it before hand and then commenced in the wrong time of the year and without having anything ready. They fairly sowed money. Here is my plan I want you to sell Fathers farm next summer pay ably 1st of April 1835 (that is first payment) I would have $700 coming from that quarter. Moe owes me $385 (He was along to day and tells me he can pay 300 next Wednesday and the rest in a year) And Washtenaw now owes me $400 which can be collected. (besides Isabels money.) Which makes $1500 by the first day of April 1835. If I have no bad luck next year I think I shall clear $400 more out of the Saw-mill. Consequently I consider myself amply able to build half of that Grist mill. If you think of trying it I would want you to manage it. (not make a slave of yourself like I do) but see to things I dont think you can go into a more profitable businefs in this Country if you if you [sic] wish to come here to abide Mr Hawks was talking of entering into Co in the Grist mill businefs but we could not agree in the preliminaries I am a little afraid of him as he is a hard case though a great businefs driver. It was him that put me in the notion of attempting the Grist mill businefs again another thing I shall have some money at command which I want to have earning some thing. I think I am doing well at sawmilling and dont care about leaving myself for a short time yet as I think I can clear $400 pr year at it and pay all my pocket and other expenses (I work too steady for a bachelor) I am sorry you have so many difficulties to combat in father estate I dont know that I can help you. I wish you would send me a copy of your settlement of Fathers personal estate. I would take $55 pr acre rather than not sell during next summer. I would endeavor to sell private sale. I could not understand whether you had settled that Harper Law suit or not. reading your account of that makes me wish I was a lawyer and I would leave Michigan and straiten them rascals. I wish when you send me any newspapers you would draw two strokes with the pen acrofs what you have wrote on them. As the Postmaster in Ypsilanti charged me .25 for the last journal of Health and talked of charging .25 more for the wrapper because on the inside of wrapper you had wrote the conditions of the sale of Fathers farm. I did not get the Journal of Health at the office myself. when I next saw the Postmaster I told him what I thought. He said it would have cost you $5 I told [him] I [would] rather pay .25 than blush for the meanefs of Michigan or by exposing it so shamefully in Pa. He did not say much. He dont know me since. It was the only wrapper I have seen in some time It is the last time he will think of speculating out of me on wrappers The[y] t[e]are the wrappers of[f] the papers in this country: we dont see one in ten of them. You did not tell me what you would ask for your land here: another man has called to know whether it was to be had and at what price. The times are called good now in Washtenaw money midling plenty much plentier than it was this time last year. We are all in good health, Jane, Isabel etc were well last account. Samuel Geddes bought a small farm in Niagara Co N.Y. near Lockport his son Paul with his wife and four children came on late in the fall and settled in Lenawee County about 30 miles from here. I have attended to your taxes. their was but little charged in the office, I payed it. I had almost forgot to tell you the fate of my Dutch bill. On the last Sunday of Sept. when I got up I noticed as soon as I came into the room that my desk was not in its place after some search it was found about 150 yards from the house along side of the road towards the Saw-mill all the money that was in it taken off or mifsing my Pocket book was left and all my papers. I had but 11 dollars in the Pocket Book ten of them was that Dutch bill. There was three or four dollars in specie in the Desk besides: making my lofs about $15 Robert lost nothing. Marias uncle Nathan Lane lost about $30 which was in the drawer of the desk. We suspected a man that worked for Robert during the summer: but could not find him nor any of the money I did not mourn much: for I thought I was: in the midst of villainy fortunate I happened to have lefs money at that time than any time previous during the summer I lent eight dollars the morning before more for accommodation than any thing else I saved that

Page 4

I wish you not to delay writing so long as I have done I dont recollect of any thing.

Farewell John Geddes

To Mr William Geddes