Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, September 27, 1834

Author: John Geddes

Date: September 27, 1834

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Ann arbor, September 27th 1834

Dear Brother, [William Geddes] We received your paper just a week ago. Your July letter some time ago. We received a letter from Uncle James dated in August He was called upon in May to give an opinion on different plans proposed for improving the navigation of the River St Lawrence particularly that part of it past the Long sault which they pronounce soo. He was gone twenty five days. The Province of Upper Canada (hoping to be seconded by the Lower Province) have engaged in the stupendous undertaking of making a navigation for the largest sized Steam Boats – Canals past the rapids of 100 feet bottom, 140 feet water surface and depth of water 10 feet. Locks 55 feet wide & 200 long calculating to have Steam Boats pafs from Quebec into lake Ontario.

Wages 1. pr day, for Cradlers, reapers, and Binders all of a price. Wheat .87 •••. He has a grand daughter 7 or 8 weeks old when he wrote. Here is what he says about real estate “The price of real estate rises slowly, 18 or 20 dollars pr acre would purchase our best woodland (that is back from villages, or salt works where wood is bought) and where improved farms are sold, the buildings never bring what they have cost. I know of no place where land is better worth what it will bring than in this County particularly in the vicinity of the Canal.” They were all well “I have no late accounts from Campbellstown, Newville or Fannetsburgh” I sent him a letter yesterday and gave what news you sent in your last. I think you had better write him a letter this fall news or no news. Uncle James certainly feels an intent in the prospects and welfare of the Geddess. Not with standing Aunt Lucys starched up cold indifference I wrote to him that you were much pleased with your visit to Newville and Fannetsburgh and that Aunt Betsy was very kind. Uncle does not write that he is coming to Michigan next summer but I think it probable he will. He cannot content himself a whole summer doing nothing. after being so active all his life. That scourge of mankind the Cholera made its appearance in Detroit about the middle of July and has carried off in Detroit and vicinity about 400 persons it ceased about the first of September. Mr Ewers and family stood their ground and escaped. We felt some anxiety about them, and thought that Isabel at least ought [to] retreat to Washtenaw. But Jane has not fairly recovered her health since the last severe spell of sicknefs a year ago

last July. and as it would be imposible to get a girl those terrible times. Isabel had to stay and afsist about the house work. This is conjecture as we have had no particular intelligence from them since the Cholera commenced. Mr Ewers has occasionally sent us word by some of our neighbors who saw him that they were still well. I have not been in Detroit since I left you there. I still think I dont have time to go. In Ann Arbor Anson Brown of the firm of Brown & Co died of the Cholera, some admit but two deaths by Cholera in Ann arbor. and some count as many as ten. Our country this season has some claims to the epithet sickly. Robert, Maria, and John, have been in good health. The two children and Maria sister, hired man, and Hired girl have had the Ague


By an order from the War department an Engineer was sent to Michigan to examine a rout for a comtemplated Rail road from Detroit to the mouth of the St Josephs. He commenced his examination about the first of September at Detroit He was instructed by the Chairman of a Committee in Detroit to accommodate Ypsilanti and Ann arbor if Possible and then take the range of the County seats of Jackson, Calhoun and Kalamazoo to the mouth of the St Josephs. The Ypsilanti folks were very unwilling he should go to Ann arbor. Had another rout[e] provided leaving Ann arbor five or six miles to the North. But he paid no attention to them. When they found he would go to Ann arbor. They ardently strove to find some other way to go than up the Huron but could not. and I feel pretty confident there is no other practicable way. No thanks to them. Admitting a rail road was made up the Huron our Mill privilege would be as much worth here as if it was at Ypsilanti or nearly. It will advance our property much more than it will theirs. It will be more benefit to County to go along the Huron than through dry land. The Huron is the back bone of Washtenaw.

We feel pretty confident that the rout will be quite practicable and are in hopes that in a few years (say three or five) we will see steam cars flying past us.

When they get through and report I will send you the particulars. I wish you would send some information as to the cost pr mile of Rail ways. You must have some knowledge on the subject. I know little, or nothing: and cant depend on what I hear. The Territory has to pay the expence of the hands employed. Except the Engineers and instruments who

and which are furnished by the United States. Washtenaw has to raise $500 to be raised by subscription. Robert and me pay $15 a piece. I dislike that way of raising money as some will not pay any thing. But the Supervisors would not raise it by a tax and so there was no other way to find the means. A census is to be taken by the first of November to ascertain whether we have 60,000 inhabitants or not if that should prove to be the case a convention is to be called forthwith, and a Constitution to be formed, and right of admifsion into the Union demanded of Congrefs. I was pleased you had so agreeable a visit and found our relations so friendly. I like wise rejoiced with you in the happy feelings of our old friend and neighbor Samuel Karper: with as sincere a joy as you could experience. I could also smile at “your 10 or 20 pr cent gain” I never have exacted more than lawful interest (though I have been promised more) and I beleive I will not. There is certainly an apparent unfriendlinefs in it probably not becoming social beings. I some times think that if I was going to borrow money. I would not wish to call on my friend and neighbor Botsford. Because I would not be willing [to] give him more than lawful interest: nor I would not wish to be under so great an obligation to take money from him for lefs than he generally received from others. Your tax up to this time is $13.00 This includes you Road tax this year; which is 7 days work at .62 ••• pr day. 3.00 of the above is School house tax (that is building a house). Your County and Township tax is not made out yet for this year

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We had a goodly number of Locusts this year, here. But I dont think they were as numerous as the[y] were in Londonderry 17 years ago. They were something new to the Yankies as their is none in the New England States. Some were afraid they would injure the country. And some who pretended to know all about it would have it that their returns was once in 14 years and backed up their idea with circumstances that they thought could not be shaken. I was so confident that 17 years was there period. Robert had forgot and I could not fix any particular circumstance to fix the year. Maria who knew nothing about it (having never seen any before) began to think that John was wrong and that the majority inclined to 14 years. But presently the newspapers began to speak out and overthrew all their nonsense. Those who pretended to know generally came from

Ohio You can send on Agrippa and I will try him at Sawmilling. I will give him ten dollars pr month until the first of January then 12 dollars pr month for a year. and I pay his board. This I think a fair offer. I have still about 125 logs to saw. The dam wants some fixing before winter. These logs and work on the dam; graveling and wheeling on clay on the embankments will be our businefs until snow falls then the mill must go night and day through the winter. If he should get sick he will have [to] pay his own board while he is sick. And he will stand a great chance to have the Ague next August or September But he may escape. I feel under no more apprehensions of the Ague than you do, but all newcomers are liable to take it. Saw milling is I think a healthy businefs. But the situation of a mill on the bank of a stream is more unhealthy than off from the stream You can direct him where to find us. I have put off building my house until next year; and intend to make some preparations this winter I had little or nothing ready this summer. And I dont mean to crowd myself about such things. Live Bachelor another year. I was in Ypsilanti yesterday no Philadelphian has came this week it may be they have been directed to Ann arbor. I intend to mail this in Ypsilanti this day. The Cash price for wheat is .56 ••• pr Bushel wages in Harvest 1. pr day. Hay making .75. In the month of August there was a caravan of animals in Ann arbor to show .25 admittance. Consisting of a Lion, A Bengal Tiger, Two Leopards male and female A great large White Bear. A Black Bear. A Panther. A South American Puma Two Hyenas. Two Ostriches. an Elephant. a Camel. an Ichneumon Several monkeys. The Great White Bear was allowed to be the most interesting animal of the whole he certainly appeared well. The Tiger and Leopards appeared well. I tell this for the purpose of letting you know what is to be seen here. Robert thinks I offer Agrippa too much I will pay him according to the way he works

Farewell John Geddes

William Geddes