Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, February 1, 1836

Author: John Geddes

Date: February 1, 1836

Get PDF: geddes_letters/geddes_letters_18360201.pdf

View Text

Ann-arbor, February 1st 1836

Dear Brother [William Geddes] We received your letter on the 28th of January. And now I will reply. We have been thinking of this new attack of Sawyers. When I settled with Sawyer, I sold my whole right, title, and interest. Real, and personal, in Grandfathers estate. At least that was and is the way I understood and understand it now. But I presume it is on record. Where you can probably find it as it is. Be what my opinion what it may: those writings will determine what it really is. If it is not on record I could sell my right again in the real estate and the first on record would hold it. And all Sawyer could do with me would be to collect the interest and principal of what he has paid me. Such at any rate is the Law of Michigan and I presume of Pa. I dont recollect that you “was opposed to the whole proceeding” at the time. I recollect you were: the last time you were in Michigan. The fact is Father would do nothing towards collecting our share. And I wanted what I was to have. and was not able to contend and so settled as I did. Father I know was opposed to it. But I told him I would settle on these terms myself. And I would think and consider him under obligation to do as well for the rest of you, in that or some other way. If Father had [torn] me the same I would willingly have let him have had my share: but he could not [torn] sorry, and am still sorry. We would have done better had some one else car[ried] on that suit and lost it. Than we did. Fathers done well in standing up for our rights it was his duty. But unfortunately he injured. instead of benefiting of us over and above the lofs of the suit. We must pay our share of that suit and Fathers for his trouble. And that must come out of our share of the personal. And only our share of fathers trouble and expense. As the four fifths ought to be paid by the others I really think on thinking of this thing; that Sawyer can collect something off you But it is because he fathers has not done his duty to us. Father ought to have collected of Sarah McDonald, Joseph Clokey, John Allen, & John Boal, each the one fifth of the expense of that Suit: and his estate would never have lost a cent. And divide [d] round as the Supreme Court got it. When I settled. I could not see nor understand how these things stood. And if Father had done his duty to us: he had nothing to fear from our settling and if he had not he was liable and ought be liable. Because [?] Either, you or him undertakes to stand up for my rights and others rights. You must not at your peril charge me with more than my proportion of the cost. Because I am your son, or, Brother, That is a strange way of protecting rights and displaying love to children. If that contract of Sarah McDonald etc is joint and several you can collect of Boals those costs: if fathers estate has paid any thing of its funds towards that suit. Which would be an offset against that five hundred dollars. Or if father signed that writing and it is joint and several. as our natural guardian in law: whether all our share of the personal was not liable is a question. I leave for your Lawyer to decide. If that should be the case I would plead that contract. But I know nothing about that contract how it is worded. You can tell me in your next

Page 2

Sawyer in settling with the rest of them did not pretend to claim any of the personal estate only pretending to claim the real. and they only sold their right to the land: except myself, Mr Graydon, & Father for the rest of you. Robert did not sell his right to the personal (If I recollect right) He got $17 lefs than I did it is I suppose for this $17 on each share that Sawyer has cited you to answer for and what he wants to make a fufs about. I dont think it is from any good motive he has commenced: and from the state of feeling betwixt you I dont expect anything but a contest with him: though it is but a trifle. And might be settled You think that Sawyer we never got our share: and your are right. And Sawyer is no better off than if he had never contended about the will. Probably worse. at any rate the tables are turned and he finds he cant dispose of the Land that he worryed the rest out of. And he knows he has no claims on us for any favors and can expect none. especially since you and him have fell out. Those deeds and papers of Grandfathers he must show right before he can make you give them up. And as long as he cannot: it is plain to a Dutchman that there must be a difficency in his title consequently they will not buy. Could he have sold, you would never have been molested by him. And despair, and anger, has forced him upon you. Retreat he cannot without great lofs. And as is [sic] only hope he has bore down upon the Campbellstown bachelor who would rather fight, than treat for peace from a conscious strength and indignant feelings. From this view of the case how could Sawyer do otherwise than he has done: would not you do the same under similar circumstances. Now the question is could not all these things be settled without giving of money to Lawyers. A thing we are better able to do: than he is. I suppose if you would do what you could to make him out a title: he would relinquish his claim: pay his own cost and pay you for trouble of making out that title. This plan would do good: It would benefit all parties: and bury the hatchet in that case forever. From his attacking you your pride might be wounded in making him an offer of this kind. as it would seem as if he had forced you up to this measure. To put as good an appearance on that as I good [could]. I would myself come from Michigan and act as mediator betwixt you Give this plan a serious consideration and ask yourself whether it would not be the better way of proceeding. It would be doing what he may not deserve but what it would be your duty to do as a moral and an accountable agent to God You have been preaching up morality and Christianity to me on disputed points here is a clear case: lay aside prejudice and hatred and appear to your reason and act accordingly by Sawyers circumstances are more to be pitied than envied. Look upwards, and feel above trying to crush him. Dont try to add to the miseries of any, him or any other nor spend your ammunition upon him. Dont think I have not time to come to Pa And do not wish to be troubled. If I could settle as I have mentioned. I would willingly come and think I was amply paid. I want you to ask Alexanders opinion of this plan If he should agree with me there is no doubt but the half Brothers would and so: do not stand out against us all. But if your angry pafsions will not bend nor let resentment die. I will bear my share of the expense in the contest without murmering. If that contract has been signed by father and it is joint and several. And you plead that Sawyer can do nothing with you

Page 3

The year that father collected the tax. The tax on Grandfathers farm was not paid and Sawyer bought some things at the vendue I would brings these things if necefsary as an offset. Sawyer in buying out the heirs payd $800 and interest from one year after his fathers decease. On what principle he paid Robert $283 I dont recollect: Without it was because he could not get it cheaper. Robert and me have been talking on this subject, and cannot understand it. It was a blundering piece of businefs in Father. I never understood it nor him either. From what you say McFadden must have brought suit against father as Executor; which I suppose is the reason he could not claim any share of what Boals paid. As he received that as administrator. And he McFadden would have to commence suit against father as administrator before he could get any of it. And I dont see (from this view of the case) but that McFadden could sustain a suit for a part of that money paid by Boals. Without you could sieze upon it for the cost of the suit about the will. And that may depend on that contract. Which contract has done more harm (I really beleive) than good. For if there had been no such contract I beleive father might have made use of the personal in sustaining (as Executor) the will: without being accountable to McFadden or any one else for what might have been spent. But Father got a contract and then it was made appear he was their agent. that is the agent of the contract. And then strange as it may appear never attempted to collect those costs of those who agreed to sustain him. But made use of the money belonging to the estate, or rather to us: just the same as if their was no contract This contract was to be his security when it has been his bane, his injury. If father acted in this way how can you blame me for not understanding it and doing as I did. I want you to send me a copy of that contract and I will form my own opinion. I presume that father is out of pocket. But ought he note when, Sarah McDonald &c sold their right to Sawyer to have commenced suit against them for their share of the cost: would not that have been the lawful way of proceeding. He has used our share to sustain the rights of all: to our injury and now as we not knowing what it was sold it: to his injury again. I think as Administrator father had a right to collect of Boals, and others, Notes, and Book, accounts. And as I understand it. The Supreme Court did not decide that father had no right to collect as Administrator: but decided that as McFadden had commenced suit against father as Executor: he could not collect of him what he (father) had received as Administrator, on that suit. Now if you could collect what that suit cost, of those who agreed to sustain it: Father estate would not suffer. Or could you not as administrator attach Joseph Sawyers share in Grandfathers estate and sell it and apply the money towards equalizing the rest and keep all that might belong to the signers of that contract, or rather attach all that belongs to them. Or is that what Sawyer wants: Or would it be cheaper to pay what Sawyer can collect than be at that trouble. Finally I will not insist on my peaceable plan. And tell you not like father to act in the dark: but act understandingly: and when your Attorney tells you of a plan make him shew you the propriety of it. And certainly I want you to inform us what you have [hole] and what you think of doing; as soon as you can. I hope this attack of Sawyers will not frighten Witner. It certainly cannot effect the title of Fathers farm. But some people are frightened at they know not what. If your purchaser should come up to his engagements, I want you to come to Michigan as soon as you can after you get the money as the earlier you are on the Ground if you are going to buy land the better. If I can I will go with you to Illinois. And I will try to go. You will not be able to sell those bonds as well: on account of this fufs of Sawyers and maybe; not at all. Agrippas best way of managing his money is to put it into land. To go into partnership with Thomas in the Store keeping businefs would certainly be a losing game a very foolish thing. You have not told us how Ann has done in matching: what kind of a man she has got whether he is smart, intelligent, or rich. Here is what Robert has wrote on this subject “Sawyers call on you and his claim and the McFadden affair has shed a new light on the posture of affairs of Grandfathers estate. It appears to make two parts of the estate one personal the other real. Father must have been in the dark, or under wrong imprefsions or he never would have permitted. John & Alexander to have sold their shares in the personal for a paltry sum; and worse to have subscribed to the same himself as natural Guardian to his minor children. It is pafsing strange that Sawyer having the claim he appears to have did not push it long ago. Father always said that Grandfathers estate, or the available parts of it must pay the costs which inevitably grew out of the position in which it was left by himself (Grandfather). With regard to Sawyers title I see no way of getting a title through your hands unlefs it might be by levying on the real estate of Grandfather in behalf of Joseph, for the money to pay the bonds of Joseph now due the estate Joseph owes the estate and John holds the property which should pay the claims of Grandfathers estate against Joseph. You have as good a right to buy the claim of Joseph as John Sawyer has. And against that claim John Sawyer can offsett nothing as things now stand. John Sawyer bought the claims of the several heirs as cheap as he could get them. Giving McFadden more than Grandfather ever intended giving him. Having now every thing but the claim of Joseph. John Sawyers title lacks but that one link to be safe and good. And without which you can give him no better than he now has. You must meet Sawyer the best way you can in the present crisis. If the compact into which the heirs entered to defend the will is joint and several and signed by Father for us it will effectually bar Sawyers present claim” I am in hopes that contract is joint and several. And that hope is strengthen by Sawyers delaying his suit till this time. In that suit we have been mifused all round. Now in this country Sawyers evidence being nothing but oral testimony it would not have been heard against the will at all. And it is contrary to precedent and I believe Law there And our Lawyers might have been prevented it but they betrayed us for the sake of filthy lucre not that they took a fee from Sawyer but because he was to give his Lawyers more than we gave And then they kept father in the dark as to the real state of the case. Father told me the day we sold to Sawyer that he saw Fisher: And that Fisher told him that we had done well in selling. This strengthens my hope that Sawyer cannot collect of you. But Fisher is a rascal. And I dont know that any dependence can be placed in his opinion. I advised you to study law when you were here: and three years would have brought you out a Lawyer. And you might have defended your own case write soon John Geddes

Page 4

Feb. 1st [blot] 5 degrees below zero in the morning and 10 above at 2 O’Clock Feb. 2nd 4o above in the morning but little snow yet. Our health is as usual. You will probably hear from me before you come to this country, in reply to your next. The Sawyer attack is the all absorbing topic in this letter. We have both gave our opinions but have not the means of forming an opinion as well as you have. But we have more lawing, in this country and these things are better understood. Law regulates these things and this is the standard and not what may be thought is just. I will quit.