Letter From William Geddes to John Geddes, July 26, 1834

Author: William Geddes

Date: July 26, 1834

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Campbellstown July 26th 1834

Dear Brother [John Geddes] I received your letter dated 12th on the 23rd the third time I enquired after it. We finished cutting our Oats the next morning and a more abundant crop we have not cut since 1817 when we had such tall Oats if you recollect in the field before the barn which we had just cut before the famous August flood which happened on the 9th so that harvest was still later then than now and this is later than common. The greatest part of the Oats in the country is still to cut and troublesome cutting it will be for yesterday’s rain and storm has leveled it with the ground which was the case in 1817 when most of our neighbours had their Oats to reap which will be their lot at present in many fields. The Oats is taller than the Wheat here: the straw of which was very short more so than I ever knew it; but otherwise very fine especially about our City. Round about Palmyra it is not near as good even Jacob Early has but poor Wheat and Rye. The Grass and Rye Crops were much injured by by [sic] the Cold in May. It will take 18 sheaves of ours to make a bushel and in many places it will take 24. Mr. Early will not have a half Crop his field was early sowed and lay facing the North – ours was in the field behind the barn and suffered less than common. We had a very wet June and a week in July and of course a very bad haymaking but the weather since has been favorable and harvest was ended in a very short time we commenced on the 8th and finished cutting on the 15th and hauling on 19th and would have sooner had we not been stoped twice by showers of rain. Our tenant has 818 doz. of wheat. 400 of Rye and the Oats will yield at least 50 bushels to the acre, 10 acres out. Wheat is worth $1.00 Rye .50 cents Corn .50, Oats 28. The fruit of all kinds is totally destroyed so that we have no Cherries nor will we have any apples peaches or plums to eat or Cider to drink this year. You have said nothing about the Locusts in your letter which has disappointed me not a little for so extraordinary an insect is certainly worthy of notice and will be contemplated by every thinking mind. They have run their very short liv’d. race and have perished at least that Generation of them. They sung their deafning song while fluttering through the fields and woods during their honey moon; they have started a fresh generation to penetrate into and live in the earth another 17 years and they themselves are gone to destruction having lived to the view of man but about 5 weeks. They were and are not

before one had time to fully consider of them. Uncle of Newville has seen 5 generations of them and father but three. You and I may live to see 2 more which will make 4 but 5 I have no idea of living to see. “His meat was locusts and wild honey” Is it not unaccountable that almost all kinds of animals; birds and beasts and fish devour them as a dainty and few of either live to see two Generations of them; so that it cannot be said that they have been habituated to them but it must be from some intrinsic good quality inhirent in them which makes all grab at them as a dainty morsel. James and Agrippa had two grey Squirrels and they quite young that prefered them to any thing you could give them and would eat such a number of them without seeming to be satisfied which struck me as strange because they would seem to me to be out of the nature of food for such animals few at least of them have a chance of such a feast. I went to see Samuel Carper in the beginning of June who I found well rejoiceing that he had left Londonderry and was now living among the mountains of Bedford and I rejoiced with him seeing he was so well satisfied that he had escaped from under the thumb of those from whose breasts every feeling of humanity had long since been banished – of money lenders – that he had escaped from and no longer needed to ask the tender mercies of the purse proud Muma and others. I felt happier in beholding the satisfaction that dwelt in the countenance of our old friend and neighbour than you will ever feel in contemplating or thinking of your 10 or 20 pr. cent gain of your unfeeling exactions from the needy. I rejoiced to see him so well satisfied with his new home a home which was not that of his fathers. I rode 20 miles with him through his valley to see and receive as favorable an impression of the country as it could give and he charged me not to report too unfavorably

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of his choice. There is a good deal of fine land but generally speaking it is hard to cultivate being very rocky and stony and middling poorly timbered and they are so subject to late spring and early autumn frosts which all mountainous countries must be subject to: the Climate is much more variable and of course their crops must be less certain than ours so that it would not be my choice. Such countries are very productive if the seasons are favorable but give me a small certainty rather than great uncertainty. The Path Valley had a very unfavorable appearance and grain was higher in both vallies than

with us owing entirely to the uncertainty of their crops the corn crop with Mr. Carper was destroyed last year by frost in August and there was a very poor appearance of Corn this spring but this spring they are not alone for the corn every where I was; had a bad appearance but with us where it is at least middling and may be good if we had a favorable August. I left home on Friday afternoon and went to Harrisburg & was with Alexander all night who and family are well: I left Harrisburg at 9 OClock and arrived at Newville early in the evening and found uncle and aunt and Cousins all well. Uncle appears to be getting old fast; aunt stands it better Cousin John and Sarah & Margaret’s husbands stand the times much better than their ladies who in every sense of the word look rather old and so does Jane and Martha the two single cousins I found Eliza McAllen there who stands the inroads of time and decay extraordinarily well she scarce seems to get older which one could hardly expect from so slender a plant. Eliza had been at uncles a month and intended to stay another. I of course stayed over Sunday at Uncles and went to church like a sinner as I always do and heard a man of very indifferent abilities preach a more indifferent sermon to what we seldom have a full house of English people. When I came to uncles I steped into the entry door and was met by Martha who I asked for the doctor and she after looking round for the young doctor and not finding him asked me if it made any differance which I told her it did not when she steped out of the entry into the garden and called uncle who was working in the barn and I without further ceremony stept out to him thinking at least he might know me but he did not so that I was an entire stranger to the whole house. Jane and Eliza passed me while I was in the entry but did not know but that I wanted medical aid. I knew Jane & Martha but did not know Eliza not expecting to see her there was probably the reason On Monday I went to Fannetsburg and called and took supper with Aunt uncle Thomas’ widow and about sunset I went to Uncle McAllen’s stayed there all night and after breakfast next morning I started to Carper’s a distance of 45 miles where I arrived early in the evening travelling over a very hilly mountainous road. With Carper I remained one day and returned back the next day to Fannetsburg. Uncle and family were all well he has three sons midling active looking lads. Uncle is building a mile 200 yards below town and looks well for a man of his age. I was the second night with him and reached Newville the next day

where I was detained by Sunday and rainy weather to Wednesday morning when I started and arrived at Harrisburg that day at 4 OClock. I did not take time to call & see uncle Paul’s family but was informed they were all well. I felt myself compleatly at home at Newville I got a good deal of talk out of uncle more than what I expected from a man who was reported to be so taciturn Aunt is as much over kind and as Aunt Lucy was unkind. Cousin John & I were less together than might be expected he was called away too frequently I went however out one day with him and six others to play bullets about a mile out of town on the state road but I did not play their balls were too large 2 pounds. The next morning they were all informed on but one who the Constable took for witness and had to pay between 3 & 4 dollars fine. Uncle & aunt rejoicing as well as Cousins at the same time. No man dare inform on a set of long bullet players about Campbellstown for if he did he would have to ride a rail with a coat of tar and feathers on him. Cousin John took down the name of your post town and County and said he would write to your some time. Cousin Eliza said she was very fond of corresponding with her relations and requested me to ask you to write to her She thinks she would have more satisfaction in so doing with a religious relative of which there are but few in the family of Geddes’ out of Newville. I intend to go to the Bedford spring after some time I think about the later end of August when I will call and see

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uncle Paul’s family. Cousins wanted me to send Ann up to see them and I got her persuaded to go and furnished her with money – she was to start on Wednesday last since I have been too busy to call there and none of them come my way. I want her to take a good stay in order to mak[e] her forget a young doctor that lives in Palmyra of the name of Cosmus S. Miller a dutch man from Lancaster County a tall good looking man who speaks good english and is I think a tolerable scholar but poor and inclined to trading in horses running horse races jockeying and trading every way even on Sunday – otherwise he is sober and decent. [“]Home staying youth[”,] Shakespeare says[, “]have ever homely wits” her being out will have a good effect for she is rather more intelegent than any of her brothers by nature and natural parts are more susceptable of improvement and less liable of being led astray by the follies of the world. It was reported that William the

Printer has suspended specie payments owing to the pressure on the money market occassioned by the removal of the deposites and I do not doubt it nor was it doubted at Newville for he was very anxious to raise money last spring. I will pay him for your paper shortly. Doctor Wilson started for Detroit the beginning of June and said he would call and see Jane he has an idea of establishing himself somewhere for west but had not determined just where. James Wilson lives in Harrisburg & follows your Christian employment [hole] without mercy. Your moral man James Clark still lives as usual at home working occasionally for the Squire his sister and him keep house together since the death of their mother – they are determined to sell if they can and leave the parts but where they intend to go I have not learnt Nancy Malony has been living with the Squire since spring I was in the squires and saw her the 29th with Richard McBay’s son Robert She looks tolerable well still and I think has quit painting but still the effects of time are rather too visable for her to pass for young any longer. John Darwin sailed for Ireland last fall & has not been heard from since. Walter Clark still lives in Millerstown and drives his trade but would like to move west if his wife would be willing to go with him. He has got to be a Captain of a Company of Volunteers and you may expect to hear of his being sent to legislate for us shortly. Carpers Heirs appealed to the Supreme Court 3 weeks before the time for trial and the time being rather short to prepare for trial I could not get our lawyer to act at all so there was nothing done; except that they took the depositions of Philip Wolfersberger and John Witmer. It may lie over for years for it is the 71 trial on the list for Dauphin County. I am determined to concern myself very little more about it and let it rest as long as the lawyers are pleased to let it. Two of S. Carper’s sons are married John & Jacob the first and third. The old man thought Jacob was rather much in a hurry. There has been a few of none your acquaintance so happy as yourself in a religious point of view. But there has been a little stiring among the [?] bosses too in our happy land in that matter. They religion are becoming outrageously temperate; and have invented a new kind of Fair called ladies Fare at one of which last winter Jane Graydon’s sister had nearly the happiness of presenting a young son of her own handy work of which the article of their godly shows at fairs are all made by ladies and to be disposed of for Charitable uses. It is a very good way to get the different sexes

to meet and see each other home and perhaps full as goods as the old fashion for the results are nearly the same; but be that as it may our heroine’s arm was taken as a ladies arms ought to be taken in a christian land by a young gentleman as no doubt all the others were when all of a sudden her gallant had to see her ladyship into the first door which happened to be old Tom Elder Esqr’s. who said he was very happy in such a faring but not so the unlucky wight [?] who was not a little cut and blushed & blushed again not having dreamt that her ladyship had any such homespun articles about her. One of our legislators from Washington county is reported to be the father. I might give you a few more instances of increasing multiplying and replenishing the earth in the right way but I think this one will suffice. This letter I began on the 26th but am finishing on the 30th. I was to see the old woman on Sunday Ann had left that for Newville on the day I mentioned. James has not returned home yet It appears he was not to see you. Thomas intends to go to Philadelphia soon I have not mentioned it since I received your letter to Agrippa about going to Michigan on account of having lately heard that James was sick at Dayton Ohio but was getting better because [I thought] if James fareed so bad the old woman would not like to let Agrippa go lest he might fare no better. I will let you know by a newspaper if he will come or not. Him and I have been busy harvesting since it commenced but Thomas was complaining and did not

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work a day. He never did work nor never will unless stern necessity compels him. You have not informed m[e] of the amount of tax paid by you on my land – do in your next. I was asked by John Gingrich yesterday what I ask for our land. I told him 60 dollars I had been asking all along and did not feel inclined to fall but would rather keep it a few years as sell for less for I considered it under priced, at that You may think I am rather firm at that price but I think it best to be independent of the times and let people know that we need not sell nor that we will not unless we get what our land is worth. I feel confident that what we have been offered we can have at any time and the income of the land will not be much less than the interest. Gingrich said a friend of his wanted to buy land and I told him to send him on that I would show him the land at any time he would call: he allowed by cutting off about the half of the wood and farming with a strong hand 1000

dollars a year could be made I told [him] I believed I could make it off it & that the wood of 30 acres would bring 2000 dollars it would be worth that to a distiller that distilled as strong as Gingrich and fattened cattle on the slop as he does. Our land is good and will sell at least before Agrippa & Ann are of age Whose money I would hardly know what to do with and they look to me for its safe keeping. 60 will take it but hardly [?] Farewell

To John Geddes William Geddes