Letter From William Geddes to John Geddes, January 3, 1835

Author: William Geddes

Date: January 3, 1835

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Campbellstown, Jan. 3rd 1835

Dear Brother. [John Geddes] I would have been to see you this winter if that estate of Carper had not demanded my presence here for I am long since dissatisfied with my idle life. I would have like’d to have seen Isabel before she left this world and had I known she was so fast sinking under the hand of melancholy or of a disease so near allied to the Colera as that Bilious Diarrhoea I would most certainly have come and endeavored to have aroused her spirits which is the only remady against such slow working diseases. On Wednesday the 26th of Nov. that Case of Carpers was tried before the Supreme Court and gained so far as I am concerned but lost to old Samuel Carper who lost his pay for services rendered before and since fathers death in toto and will consequently have to pay the costs of the appeal to the Supreme Court and fifty dollars out of his own pocket in all making little less than 300 dollars for he has yet to pay over the money now in hand and make a final settlement with the heirs which will cause him to expend fifty or sixty more It will cost me 100 before all is done and possibly more. I gave our attorney 25 out of my pocket as a fee before we first tried it but nothing since and he got from Old Sam $25 and out of the estate $20 in all 70 a good fee for passing an administration account. The attorney on the other side rec’d but $10 on the first trial and perhaps as much more on the second but a little more than a fourth part of ours. I was determined that our attorney should be better paid than theirs if they had went to $100 for I feel persuaded that the heaviest fee has considerable weight in every cause and I firmly believe that if father had promised his attorney when he commenced that suit five instead of one hundred dollars he would not have had to give the nine but would had got the money without much dificulty out of old Haaks estate. The court was held for two weeks exclusively for Dauphin and Lebanon Counties. I was up on Tuesday of the first week but ours being the last trial on the list I saw there was no chance of a trial that week I returned home and went up on Tuesday of the second and on the next heard it tried. Which was done in about an hour and with great satisfaction to myself. The judges ridiculed and laughed at their plea which was that the administrators: had neglected their duty: otherwise they could have got that money from Adam Haak without trouble let alone an expensive Lawsuit: consequently they were entitled to pay all those expenses out of their own pockets and not out of the estate. They depended much on the testimony of Philip Wolfersberger who swore clearer and more positively against us in the / evidence he gave for the trial before the Supreme Court than in that before the Orphans Court so much so much [sic] so that I myself was a little staggered at it and our attorney doubly so and had I not been on the ground to insist on the goodness of our cause and encourage him to make a stout defense we would have been defeated altogether. Wolfersbergers evidence was this. That Robert Geddis, Samuel Carper & John Wolfersberger be administrators all lived in sight of Adam Haak’s and were aware at the time that Haak sold the land to Witmer that he had sold it and that

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he had got about $17000 dollars for it – that they had not demanded the money of Haak when he got that money although required to do so by himself and others: but on the contrary were told by Geddes to mind their own business and he would his: - that Haak was loaning out money at that time and would have paid this if it had been properly managed and when Gruber sold bought his land Haak got $3500 several years after and still there was no demand made on Haak for this money and no action brought till adam Haak had spent all this money and then they sued Michael Haaks executors. All we had to defend us against this stuborn testimony was that the money to be collected was coming to the two youngest heirs and they were minors and one of the Guardians had squandered all the money he had got and was bankrupt. The judges asked their attorney how Wolfersberger could know whether Haak would have paid that money if it had been demanded Haak might say he would and have not the least notion to do so. And supposing they had demanded and got the money would they not have had to lend it out again on account of it belonging to minors whose guardians were no longer safe and it might have been put in worse hands and all lost and what then why blame them for not leaving it where it was The Judges asked them if Michael Haak’s estate was not good for the money and finally did pay and if the land held by Witmer and Gruber also and according to their own account Adam Haak was getting rich at that time instead of poor he had got so much money and instead of throwing away was loaning it out so that the administrators must have thought they had the best security possible and were fully justified in leaving the money where it was and if an expensive lawsuit was the consequence it was no fault of the administrators who could not foresee that and which might have been the consequence if they had got the money and put in the other hands. Mr. Norris fathers attorney got his $817 without having to say a word the Judges said it was not too much for a 15 years lawsuit. So that I have beat them the second time and I have better reason now to hope that I will finally do so and if Mr Carper has been beaten it is his own fault for if he had taken my counsel he would not. When John Wolfersberger left home he said as much as that he would visit Michigan but it appears to me that he was disappointed in what he expected to see in the Western World that he had formed to[o] high an idea of the glories of West America from what he had read in lying newspapers and heard from such enthusiastic characters as himself who had traveled through that country. I called the next evening after he returned but was unable to get little out of him he was unwilling to converse with me on the subject and I have frequently called since but all to no purpose so that I am not able to give you his views of the West. The reason undoubtedly is because I have triumphed and singly & that over an host of them in that matter of Carper’s which has made the whole connexion my bitter enemies and well it might for what touches both purse and intellect as that does is too, too bitter to be digested but must forever remain in and corrode every manly feeling towards me. What I have learnt from others is that he has but an indifferent oppion of the West. He was but about a month away,

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and went no further than Cincinnati and both back and forward by stage or steamboat which is no way seeing a country and I think he himself feels rather more ashamed than proud of his Journey. There is not many places in the United States that surpasses Londonderry in any view you take them. Aunt in Newville has been unwell but is recovered the rest are all well as far as I have learnt. William’s paper I have still neglected it escaping my memory still when an oppertunity offered. When Thomas took Isabel McClure to the Philadelphia Hospital I cant think why I forgot unless it was my Court businefs put it out of my mind and now I cant say when I will have an opportunity. Isabel’s Hanover relations and his reverance Mr Sharon were continually insisting on their sending her there and James Thomas and Agrippa wishing to leave home shortly it became necesary to send her in accordance to the wishes of the one and the necessities of the others. Her relations on the McClure side have left the old woman to understand that they expect Isabel’s money at her death as it came by the fathers side of the house and that she must take good care of it. That is a match for your Michigan twenty per cent men. You know what I said in one of my former letters about going into partnership with a stranger and that a Yankee. Better not build a mill at all than do so. I believe I would sell if I was offered what you say but that I have not been by any body but Wolfersberger and him I refused because I feared his circumstances and my fears were fully realized last spring when he could scarcely with young Samuel Carper to back him meet the demands that were made upon him without ours which would have overwhelmed him, and I been obliged to take back the land. John Behm if you recollect had offered $13000 but finally flew the course. And If I do sell you will certainly see me in Michigan health and strength permitting. And then we will see about that mill building but till then you ought to defer it. I could do considerable towards so but I think it best not and James wishing to make a start in the world as he ought next spring and as I cant sell I have engaged to loan him four or five hundred dollars in order to do so and perhaps in another year I can give him the ballance coming to him out of the two thirds of fathers estate. You may expect to see him in Michigan next spring where he will likely purchase a half mile square of land and I hope you will be able to spare time to assist in looking out a good situation. I think he ought to go somewhere between Lake Michigan and the head waters of the Mississippi where it is contemplated to make a Canal capacious enough to carry steam boats. I sent you a paper or two Containing a report on that subject with an account of the expense of Rail Roads and Canals. At fathers death he owed to Jacob Behm on a bond $331.50 and when I was prepared to pay it Alexander requested me to ask Behm for the loan of that money which I did and had to go his security a thing I did not like to do but could not avoid it without offending him and have lent him in addition $300 more which is rather too much to risk in a storekeeper. And in consequence have drawn upon him $150 on Newyears day and have agreed with him to draw Roberts share of Isabel’s he being Guardian so that I will settle with you for both shares when I come to Michigan. I would like to know the amount of each Share in order that I can settle with him as soon as spring arrives. He is doing a good businefs and is in good credit but you know better men have failed in such businefs especially in these times.

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Robert G. Graydon is in good health and is a lively inteligent boy and appears to enjoy himself well under a step dame: he begins to stretch himself considerable and will from present appearances be a taller man than this father. Wheat is .87 1/2 Rye .55 Corn .50 Oats .25 Potatoes .50 Cloverseed $4. Flaxseed $1.25 Timothy $2.50 per bu. We had twenty inches of snow on 29th Dec. Poor Squire Philips was sold out the 26th Dec. and I hardly know what will become of him shortly if he lives he has become a real brute by drink and can no longer maintain his family. The poor house will be his fate at last but I believe I will go security to the purchasing of his house for the rent for a year and save him so long from so humiliating a fate David Dasher is pretty much ditto only not so poor but will ere long. Isabel Cathcart or now Snodgrass was not expected to live for some time past. Walter Clark has got to be Captain of a volunteer company in Millerstown and cuts quite [a] figure. I paid James & Thomas $35 on their shares of income for 1833 intending to reserve the rest for my trouble in looking after [the] farm. The Clear income was I think I told you $456.96 of which the widow got a third and I cant see why you could not find out what your share would be. No room for any thing further Farewell. Alls well here.

To John Geddes William Geddes