Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, May 27, 1835

Author: John Geddes

Date: May 27, 1835

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Ann Arbor, May 27th 1835

Dear Brother, [William Geddes]

Your furious epistle came to hand a month ago. I was too late in writing before is true, but there is no use in your working your self up into such a pitch of indignation and venting it forth on me in that kind of style. my principles, and practices, are entitled to more respect than that. To err is human. I endeavored to treat Agrippa as well as my circumstances would permit. Your sending him here for me to make a sawmiller of him. was at best of doubtful expediency. It was an experiment: on your part a despairing effort. It would seem that your wish to do something for him: got the better of your judgment. At any rate that was the construction I put upon your sending him here: after I saw him. And I was exceedingly puzzled to know what to do with him. Him make a sawmiller! It would cost more to learn him than he would be worth. I certainty would not have paid his board and been pestered with him. for all he would have done on the mill during the winter: this was not my opinion alone. but of us all. where was your judgment. He does not understand first principles. What kind of a substitute would he have made for me. what would he have known about peoples lumber. He could not been other than in the way: how could I have gave him ten dollars (pr month and paid his board for doing worse than nothing. All he could have done to help me: would have been to carry off the lumber. which would have made it easier for me and I could have sawed a little more. And when I was away I might have left him to do what he could; which would have been something. I would have to have looked over the work and measured it had anything got out of order on the mill he would not have noticed it, without it should be something could not but be noticed. It is uselefs to multiply words and trifle away time anymore on this subject. It was not two weeks, nor two days. that was necefsary to tell that he could not succeed at sawmilling. It was as plain and clear as that the Sun shines at noon-day on a slight acquaintance. And I had mercy upon you, or I would scolded you roundly for sending him here at all: for requiring me to make a silk purse out of a sows ear and not only requiring: but crowding it upon me. me one of your best friends. All I could do was have Robert find employment for him on the farm: where he could do something. And make the best of him. He is here yet but intends to start for home in a week. He had hired to Robert untill after harvest for ten dollars pr month. But has lately altered his mind. So you may expect to see him [this] may before this arrives. If he had wished to stay we should have kept him untill next spring. James not coming here. I think has hastened his return. I dont think we have misused him Sir and I dont think he will say so. If any hard feeling has grown out of his coming here you can take a large share of it yourself. Could I have thought he was so singular I never would have consented to his coming here. I was the only one of us in favor of it

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and reproaches is all I get for it. It has cured me from interesting myself about any of my half relations much more. If any of them can make it convenient to call on us the[y] are welcome. And if I can accommodate I will endeavor to do it. But I love reason in these things. I wish they may do well. And I really wish they were much smarter than they are. Agrippa is going from here to Detroit then take the Steam Boat to Erie, then on foot home. That is the reasonable and common sense way for him, to transport himself about. What you will do with him, I dont know. If James should buy land and think of going on to it; he might go and afsist him but James cannot afford [to] give him much. As new beginners can not afford to hire much: or they will lose their farms and themselves be bankrupt. The most money making businefs in new countries (for the working part of the community) is to hire out by the month. I wish you to tell me where James has bought. how much: and what he intends to do. I think that John Sawyer after getting married had better left his wife at home for the summer and went and made some preparation built a house etc. I dont think that Samuel Etter will ever have any difficulty about his title their is none of the heirs able to contend but us: and we have no claim. But Sawyer done wisely in not contending with you about the Deeds. That would have been worse than fighting the wind. For he could not but have lost the confidence of his ignorant neighbors as to his right which in his case would have been the same as a defeat: on account his being so much in debt. We feel no apprehension of danger from the winding up of the United States Bank here: and think it will go off without much embarrafsment. There has been so many other Banks chartered lately that it is thought they will make up for the lofs: and the same, or more, amount of money will be kept afloat. There has been an act pafsed chartering a Bank in Washtenaw either at Ann Arbor, or Ypsilanti. Capital $100,000 with the privilege of increasing it to $500,000. 2000 shares $50 pr share $5 pr share to be paid on subscribing and ninety days notice to be given for every $5 instalment. I have some intention of taking ten shares. I dont think they will call in more than half the share the first year and probably not that. And I have got heartily tired of loaning money in the usual way. By taking Bank-stock: if the Bank does not break we will get our dividend regular; and if we should want any money we can loan or borrow to the amount of our stock without any danger. and when we want it. And I think a Bank will be a benefit to the County. It will make money plentier. At present there is persons in this County that borrow money at the Detroit Banks and lend it here; at 20 and 25 pr cent. Having a Bank here will effect this savage shaving.[to discount a note at an exorbitant rate] [shaver – “archaic - a swindler”] Money is scarce here you may know or it could not be let for such a rate pr cent. Money is plentiest here in the fall and beginning of winter: when the farmers have time to thrash their grain I cannot get you what I owe you until next March. We have an order on the County Treasury due 20th of February of $236 which I wish to pay you as far as it goes. And the rest I will make out by that time. I dont pretend to collect money at present and money that I have collected the officer is very loth to pay over. I shall make your

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call on me an excuse; to prefs those that owe me to pay and if they do not after waiting more than a reasonable time I will sue them. for it is very perplexing to have money due that you can make no calculation on. Another reason why I cannot collect money at this time is I have been regulating by our Grist mill project and as that does not near much of any. I have agreed to wait another year. Though there is not a man has promise from me to wait on him longer than January: except for about ninety dollars and that to be paid first day of April [next] [hole] What most provokes me is when I want to oblige one of my friends with a li[ttle – hole] money. I cant do it: This one cant pay and that one cant etc. And I dislike to call on persons who I know do not want pay: it is very disagreeable indeed. I have sometimes thought it would be better for me to lend my money to these shavers: for you can get it from them when you want it: as they are moneyed men. And then again I think I might just as well shave myself. where is the difference. And again where is the use of trying to accommodate an ungratefull world by lending them money at 7 pr cent. And then have them hold on to it as long as they can and weary out your patience calling on them for it. It is this state of things that makes me think of taking shares in the Bank. For theirs little use in having money if it cannot be commanded. And wicked as you may think it is I would hardly be pestered in this way for 7 pr cent. They shavers take judgments, and if the money is not paid forthwith, the[y] put on and collect. I was counting up to day, and I have notes for $900 due me: and other demands enough to pay you. and Mr Ewers as that Treasury demand is not included I owe Mr Ewers about $30. Robert is about paid up. These demands against my Washtenaw can be collected as they are well worth it. That is one thing I have against the Yankees their great inclination to run in debt. But still I love their enterprise. Robert will pay Agrippa for his work which will be as much as he will want to take him home that is all he will need. Your opinion of Eliza McAllen is not sustained by your reasons: your idea of “embraces” is singular indeed. However favorable my opinion of her is. I dont think that she pofsefses “more intelligence than any of your Yankee Ladies” If her health is good: or if she would have an inclination to attend to business: not to work with the perseverance I do: but to see that matters and things were kept in order she might answer. Calculation and Economy are two things I would like to see in a Lady. My opinion of Ladies has altered some since I came here. Industry is the Pennsylvania, and Calculation is the Yankee virtue. I have become considerably Yankeefied: and so would you: had you lived as long amongst them as I have. For Campbellstown ideas are behind the age and people living their are apt to embibe them. that was one reason I wishd you to leave Campbellstown. The Yankee Ladies as a body have more intelligence than your ladies, and intelligence or knowledge is power. and commands respect it matter not in whom and I am decidedly in favor of educating ladies it makes them and better qualifies them to do their duties what ever they be : and as well : as know what they are. I think some of giving Eliza a call and see for myself and find out whether she has any disposition to do any think, [thing] or not, But I cant call this year I have got that house to build; you to pay off: my money to collect and some logs to saw yet which is as much as I can attend to this year. James not [hole] coming has not injured me any but has saved me, both time, and money. I have no doubt but that money might be made in buying and selling land in this country. I have been waiting until you would sell and then I did think of going into the Mill businefs but dealing in land at present is a surer and more profitable speculation at least I think so. But that war upon the United States Bank has been unfavorable to us. It does not appear to effect New York at present: money is said to be plenty in that State this spring: and the emigration into Michigan is said to be wonderful. The Lake did not open until the 8th of May. The great body of the emmigration goes west pafsted us. None has called on me to see your land this spring yet and it is needlefs if they should: for I have no orders to sell it. The price of eatables is high here Flour 7.00 pr Barrel. Oats .62 1/2 pr Bushel Potatoes .50. The farmers sold off last fall and winter too bare is the reason for this. This High price of Flour here will raise produce in Calhoun and Kalamazoo etc and will set out that countrys market better than it will be able to sustain when this flush in Flour is over. and consequently will deceive new comers. Maria is sick now something like the Consumption (a bad cough) She was taken the beginning of April and been able to [do] nothing since. She now rides out in a light wagon once a day is able to sit up some. I fear she will not see another New years day I am sorry too : she is a person I not only respect but Highly esteem. Jane has been sick is better the last account. They [sic] rest of us in usual health. I did not show Agrippa your last letter to me I was sorry too there is something in this you had as well keep to yourself Farewell

John Geddes

Mr William Geddes

The Jackson party carried the day in Washtenaw by an average majority of 160 votes. nine tenths of the members of the Convention are Jackson men this letter comes a little earlier than usual I shall endeavor to keep ahead of time this year, in this particular hereafter I have not been at Detroit this spring yet. I have not forgot the memoirs Hannah More, yet. Have had no news from Uncle James this spring. There has been something of a bustle on our frontier with Ohio this spring, but it has all pafsed away with out killing any one