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

Author: John Geddes

Date: August 3, 1835

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Ann Arbor, August 3rd 1835

Dear Brother, [William Geddes] I would have wrote sometime ago but I have been waiting on that man that bargained for your land; to know when or whether he could make arrangements to pay all down. When your letter came and nothing said about it I did not know what to do. As he had been waiting to hear. I saw him in Ypsilanti a few days after and I did not know what to do. But told him I would tell in a week as he appeared urgent. I intended to ask they opinion of our folks and others who I might think was some acquainted with these things and act for the best. Not like Uncle Tobys corporal, like a soldier; but like a man

But one man was against selling for $5 pr acre and that was Marcus Lane But your Newspapers came and settled that difficulty. James Martin (which is the name of the person) called before the week was up: and I read him your conditions. He had $600 in Cash: and a promifsary note, which note he was pretty confident he could turn into money in a short time. But as their frequently is failures in these kind of notes. He asked till the first of August to make the trial. But though he had two strings to his bow, the[y] both failed. His calculation now is to go to Detroit and see if he cannot deal with the Michigan Bank. I think that the Bank will arrange with him. as in money matters it is more profitable to buy notes than to lend money. The note will not be due untill the spring of 1837. When the two weeks is up I will send you a newspaper with the result: and you need not reply to this letter untill the paper comes, if it should be three weeks. He offered me the $600 when he asked time to arrange the note: but I did not take it: What time would be most convenient for you to come to Michigan. I dont know but suppose that you would wish to be at home election day. And as September and October are the principal months months [sic] to sell land in. I dont see that you can come now until after the election Without you are really decided to take the farm yourself. Have you ever made enquiry that you can borrow the money by giving a mortgage: an ascertained the fact, or do you only think so. There is often a mighty difference betwixt the two, I am willing to take $50 pr acre for my share and so are all the Michigan heirs. I would have been pleased to have seen you in Michigan this summer and talked over these things: and I was really grieved that the Michigan [hole]

[On pp. 2 & 3 of this letter a number of words have been heavily blotted out and in this instance on p. 3, the ink used has destroyed some of the paper on both sides. The word “Michigan” has been inserted above. I wonder whether John may have done this blotting later.] [Russell Bidlack]

hung off so. Land has been higher in the State of New York the past spring than ever before. I hope that Pennsylvania has felt the impulse. But Pennsy is more tardy in its rises and falls. Michigan has felt it. and was over run with speculators. There has been some changes in this County. and I hope and think for the better. Those that sell out are generally in debt and those that buy have some money left after buying: which must be an advantage to the Country: Improved farms have not sold to much advantage. They greatest profits is is on wild land. The Mill establishment next below us has been sold

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To a company who it is pretended are going to drive businefs. This place has the greatest water power on the Huron; from 12 to fifteen feet head. We have bought that part of Section 30 lying South of Huron river containing 25 acres more or lefs for $200 a few days ago.

[See p 1065 of Chapman’s 1881 History – on first purchases of land in Superior twp. “Sam W. Dexter bought that part of Sec. 30: s of the river, Sept. 7, (1824) 24.95 acres] [Russell Bidlack]

Beleiving the water power on it well worth the money and for the purpose of holding this Company at bay. As they raise better than three feet against the shore with their dam, which they have no right to do. They were unaware that this fraction was for sale or even that they flowed against it. They persons they bought from having told them that they owned all the land that was flowed and that it was included in their sale to them. It was not pretended this fraction was included. but simply that all the damage done by the pond was on their own land. Just as if a person because he owns a mile on one side and three fourths on another he has a right to flow back to what height he has a mind too: such is not the law of Michigan They must pay us or draw down their pond. There is as much as seven feet fall on the side of this fraction which is becoming valuable. We bought the fraction from Dexter. The Rail way has been revived again and we think there is a prospect of its being made as far as Ypsilanti next summer. $50,000 dollars has been subscribed in Detroit to wards it and five per cent paid down. And this day a man is to take the books to the State of New York and try whether stock can be got their Washtenaw has done nothing yet but I think if the rout was permanently laid would do all its able. For my part I would take some stock if it come up the river from Ypsilanti to Ann arbor. If it does not I wont take any. It is so with others When that Rail way is made. Flour can be sent from here to the City of New York for $1.25 pr barrel. Robert began to cut wheat the 27th of July. Harvest is a week later than usual. Wheat is tolerable. Wages 1.00 pr day in harvest and .75 in hay making Hands plenty. I have been afsisting and still intend too, untill through. I am nearly through with the logs. And as soon Harvest, and Haymaking is over intend to commence on that long talkd of house. Raise it; roof it; weatherboard it: build a Chimney and then let it stand, until next spring. I dont have lumber to do the inside work. And will not buy. But intend to saw what I want as soon as logs of the right kind come in next winter, and stick up the Boards. In all things we study economy here: and build as much within our selves as we can.

[Here begins a series of heavy blotting of words – not just lines drawn through as previously. I wonder whether these may have been made after John’s letters were returned to him years later.] [REB]

[a blot probably covering a full name] and me have come to no conclusions yet. I have written three letters to [blot] and [blot] two to me. My last to [blot] was dated May 9th to which I have been expecting an answer but have received none yet. As you intend to give us a call its probably uselefs to say much on this subject. If you could make it convenient to call that way I would have no objection. And ascertain the state of [blot] health, and [blot] calculation. If these two things pafs I would be willing to risque the rest. If [blot] calculation is “hourly to waste, to spend, and wear and think no nonsense bought too dear” it will not answer. But if [blot] manner should be that of a person who regards economy and pays strict attention [blot] businefs and the run of things (as we here term it) I should not require [blot] to work the way I do

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That cannot be expected. Calculation is of much more consequence than work. Its the grand director of work. I should be pleased to see [long blot] myself. As my mind has undergone considerable of a change on Ladies since I came to Michigan The last ten years has raised women in my estimation: though I am still a Bachelor There is a great deal of imperfection in this world and I sometimes think those that have the least to do with it are wisest, and the best off, I am healthy, prosperous, and contented to a much greater degree than the great majority of mankind and work is one of my means of comfort and happinefs. Matrimony is a lottery so called, so acknowledged by all. Then why cast ones bread and oneself upon the waters when they are [already safe] in harbour. That is my opinion of Matrimony in reference to myself. It is not so in [reference to] others. And Ladies in particular I think ought to marry whenever a good chance offers. They [are] lefs able to stand temptations and as soon as the[y] fade are neglected; in the way; a trouble to themselves; and others. Religion is then their only hope their only consolation their only joy. And what a blefsing it is that this reality has been provided to mitigate the sorrows and increase the joys of “man who was born to mourn.” And what more evidence do we want of the wickednefs of the heart of man, than to know there are thousands and tens of thousands who would wrest destroy this anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast. In your letter of April 9th was these words “was withall hypocrite enough to to appear religious” I was pleased to hear by that, this person interested themselves so much: there was that much disposition, to do: and indeed I could not think of a more appropriate subject: But say nothing about the benefits of Religion but take it in a worldly point of view you would not have a person listlefs, and lifelefs, but up and doing. But think of their age and worldly prospects. And if you reflect you cannot but rejoice that they have something to engage their attentions and keep their mind in exercise: something that can afford them satisfaction: something to prevent their mind from being fixed upon the gloomy prospects before them in time. Let me tell you Frederick Karper was called a [blot] long ago before he made any pretensions to Religion it seems he is that yet, what does that prove. It proves that a [blot] may make a proffession of Religion and still be the same. and that he is not sincere in his Religious proffession. But probably as sincere in that as any thing else; that is honest and upright. Because their is counterfeits on a Bank, that does not prove their is not; but that there is a Bank. Is it not the same with Religion There are many counterfeits, some apparant at first acquaintance: and some well executed. And how willing would the heart of man persuade the understanding. That Christianity is itself an empty name rather than gives itself to God, and live to him and not to themselves. Maria has experienced Religion sometime ago and gives good evidence of a change of heart. I wished you gave as good. Robert is the same. In our little settlement we have 27 Methodists and two Presbeterians. Maria has joined no denomination yet. Agrippa had two letters arrive shortly after he left this one from Phila. And the other from Palmya but exprefsed himself unwilling that we should take them out of the office we before he left this so we have not. I am glad you have settled the Carpers estate on two accounts one that you have been so fortunate: and the other that it will take but little more room in your letters to me. It was a thing I interested myself but little about it. I get along slowly collecting money. The Washtenaw Bank has not gone into operation yet: but will shortly. The fall is the best time to collect money in this country. Grain is thrashed and sold, and money is had. I shall endeavor to get a share of what is going. And some who make it a point not pay untill they cannot help it, I will sue. I will have time to call on all that owes us this fall and endeavor to get their notes allow them to fix their own pay day. and then if it is not paid collect. I am going to try this plan. I am done lending money. And when I get what is due me. I will put it into Land where ever I see opportunity as fast as [I] get it. This Dexter fraction. We would scarcely sell for $1000. These nonsensical scruples about taking more than 7 pr cent for money. I will not trouble myself about: now when I am going to quit lending. I have been imposed upon long enough by it. To lend is easy, but to collect is where the mighty labour lies. If when you lend you could get it again: when you by just calling upon it: when then 7 pr Cent might do. But when you find that that is not the case: and the opportunity you had of turning your money to advantage is lost: because others held on to your means: you will have different thoughts I think interest on money like other things ought to be left to regulate itself. In New York and Philadelphia Money is worth 5 pr cent In Ann arbor, 15 to 20 pr cent. Why take 5 pr cent simply because they can get no more, Why take 20 pr cent because they can get it. where is the difference every thing is worth what you can get for it. Whether it is money, or Ladies, or Bachelors, we are all held at a price, bid enough and we go, These things must regulate them selves, is it not so? Mr and Mrs Ewers were here the middle of June. Jane was in better health than I ever expected to see her, but still feeble. Mr Ewers was well. He is getting rich in Detroit: their is no doubt in my [mind] [hole] Roberts health is as usual, and so is mine. Maria has been getting better and talks [torn] of visiting Broome County N.Y. shortly Our country is healthy at present. Our summer has not been very warm yet 86° the warmest Maria requests me to inform you that she wishes you get McIlvaines Evidences of Christianity and read them. I have had no letter from Uncle James for nearly a year. I expect you will have considerable of news in your next letter. As James, Thomas, and Ann, have been and are away from home. As to our circumstances I think they are improving steadily here in Michigan And I think I am increasing in property at the rate of $[blot] a year but may be not. They rise of property in the state of New York & influx of emigration here, may only make us think so when there nothing real in it. But be that as it may our income is greater than our out go, for a certainty

August 5th. I am going to Ann arbor to day if I should hear any news or receive any in the Post office, I will notice it. Farewell

Mr William Geddes John Geddes

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August 5th I received a letter to day from [blot] who would rather I would call this fall I would If I could make the arrangements but dont think I can. Ann and Mr Johnson its thought would [the heavy ink blot on p. 3 has gone through at this point on p. 4 ----] [?] yet: Uncle James talks of visiting Pennsylvania this summer