Letter From William Geddes to John Geddes, July 17, 1837

Author: William Geddes

Date: July 17, 1837

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Palmyra July 17th 1837

Dear Brother [John Geddes] Yours of the 4th inst. was rec’d. on Saturday last. I also rec’d. that power of Attorney from Robert but as yet have not acted on it; nor indeed can to August Court. Grandmother died in Dauphin County at Allen’s which I thought you all knew and John Sawyer took out letters of administration in that county and that power of attorney says Jane Sawyer of Lebanon county: which defect may destroy it; and may not. I will have that point decided on next Court and if it will not answer it will be time enough to have a new one at the November Court as I cannot force his executors to the point until a year after his death. I had entered up my appeal to the Supreme Court of May and June last and was ready and gave my attorney strict orders to force it to a trial; which he writes me he has endeavored to do and would have succeeded but for Sawyer’s death which gives his executors one years time; which they have taken the benefit of and put it off to another year. My attorney says he tried his best to persuade the attorney’s of Sawyer to wa[i]ve the years privilege and try the cause by mutual consent but they refused and I must submit to the delay. He says the[y] calculate to force me to a compromise by delays as he allows they have a poor opinion of their cause. Mr Sawyer took [to] his bed in February as soon as he arrived home from trying our cause and continued confined to the 5th of May when he died after a long and painful illnefs with the asthma. He suffered severely with his dry cough and could not lie in bed but had to sit up in it to prevent suffocation until the skin was worn from the flesh of his skeleton frame. He was deranged very much with his sufferings and I am told

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gave the lawyers a blessing occasionally. He ordered it is said his remains to be buried in Lebanon or Campbellstown not wishing to lie in Derry Graveyard with his enemies; but his friends hooted his children out of complying with his orders in that respect and buried him in Hanover one of the Youngst’s told me at the burial that he often heard him say that he would not be buried in Derry amongst his enemies but never thought he was in earnest and was quite astonished as was the whole neighborhood at his late orders and his children’s carrying them out. On account of our recent contest I did not visit him during his sicknefs but would have had he requested it. I attended at his funeral at the house but did not go to Hanover with them not considering myself bound to be led out of my way by their or his folly in carrying out this spite to his relations after his death. He was very much opposed to dying and still flattered himself and friends that he would recover till within a few weeks of his death when he was prevailed on to make a will, which from the state of his mind he was not capable of doing as it ought to be done. He appointed his son Samuel and daughter Ann his executors. with orders to sell his farm here as soon as pofsible as well as his personal property that is left after his widow has taken four beds well furnished as well as two Cows and all the provisions which is in his house at the time of his death with some other household stuff. She is to move on his mountain land next spring and have the income of it all her life and keep some of the younger children but not pay for their education that having to come out of his other estate. Provided that the farm here reaches to pay his debts and his sons each $1100 and daughters each $1000 when they severally arrive at the age of twenty two years; which if it does not; part or so much of his mountain lands is to be sold to make up the deficiency; and says nothing how the widow is to live if it should require the whole. The widow is quite displeased and says she will not move among the mountains. The death of Thomas came as unexpected to me as to you. He was married in the first week of March and was in better health and spirits than I ever knew him to be. He frequently complained of ill health while he was at home in fathers lifetime and would not work and when father died he went to Harrisburg to Graydon’s where his health did not improve but was rather worse. In Philadelphia he recruited a little and in his trip to the west in 1836 he appearingly came out quite healthy and bid fair when he left this to live and when the news arrived of his death I could scarce believe it although the information came from an undoubted source. He and Agrippa purchased two Horses and a wagon in which with Thomas’ wife and some necefsary moveables they intend moving in to the state of Illinois and left this on the last week of March with their mother for Newville intending to stay there with Ann untill the middle of April which it appears they did. Thomas’ fatherinlaw and family save Thomas’ wife who staid at Newville with him and Agrippa moved to within one mile of Pittsburg the first of April where Thomas also expected to make a short stay on their way west and recruit if necefsary which it appears he greatly needed but could not effect the unrelenting tyrant death coming too hard on him. Agrippa wrote or perhaps some of his friends back to Newville of Thomas’ fate and Mr Johnson wrote to me: stating that he died on the 6th May at his fatherlaws of a typhus fever after an illnefs of two weeks. I received a letter a few days ago from Agrippa from Decatur Illinois dated June 13th where he reached the 30th May himself Thomas having died at pittsburg on the 29th of April He says that while they were at Newville Thomas hired a Hack in which he hitched his horses intending with his wife to visit some of her relations and while he was driving to the house the lines broke and the Horses rear off and upset the vehicle and put one bone of Thomas elbow out and but slightly injured him otherwise. His arm became very sore but was better when he went out in raw cold wet

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weather and took cold in it when he was attacked with a chill and fever and was unwell sometime but not seriously and left Newville for his fatherinlaw’s before he was quite well and the weather proving wet and cold during the whole time he again becam indisposed and when he arrived at her father’s he was scarcely able to walk into the house and had to take [to] his bed from which he never rose. His wife’s Brother and a man of the name of Heron administered on his estate and the wife took the moveables and Thomas’ share of Horses and wagon at the appraisment and Agrippa took them from her and paid for them and departed alone for Illinois leaving the widow with her father where it appears he has arrived without further lofs or accident. James is there and well but he does not say what he is doing or what he intends to do. Agrippa says he likes the appearance of the country; but says nothing about the appearance of the crops. The crops in this country have improved very much and there will without some further mishap should occur be a two thirds crop of Wheat & Rye the summer crops never looked better. Prices are Wheat $2.00 pr. bu. Rye $1.00 Corn .75 Oats .50 Potatoes .311/4 Buckwheat $1.00 Beef seven cents pr. lb. Times very hard so much so that small notes of from five cents to $3.00 are now in circulation issued by the incorporated Cities and Boroughs to supply the place of specie now withheld by all the Banks in the Union. The poor Jacksonmen have hide their heads with shame. You forgot to mention what that man was willing to give for my land but it is very little differance as I mean to wait awhile before I sell it and see if that railroad will not do something towards doubling my present offer as I would as soon have 260 acres within 35 miles of Detroit as within five if there was a good railroad. Dont tell the folks [hole] not for sale for money enough ought and will buy almost any [hole] my opinion that land will be worth $20 pr. acre shortly in your neighborhood if the grain keep up to half the present prices. If I was on the ground today and he would give me United States Bank paper it is likely we might agree but as it is it will have to rest a little longer; unlefs he should make such an offer as would bring me to the spot – say $3000. I can command $700 and if I can procure United States paper I will appear about the middle of September and see what can be done. My wife had a son on the 20th May who continues to thrive and I intend calling him Robert Ann Johnson had another stillborn child the 1st of May – it was also a son. She is again well. Of Cousin Johns health I know nothing nor of any of the rest in Newville as Mr Johnson in his letters said nothing them. Mr Graydon and family are well and I have heard no more of Robert going to College. Young Samuel Carpers wife a few weeks ago had a son and a daughter at a birth. The reason of my not writing of Thomas’ death was that bad news always arrived soon enough. I sent William the printer today $2.50 for his paper for you by the hands of John Early Wm.s John who started for the City to buy goods. He keeps store where [?] is kept in this town. We have had a very wet cool spring and very bad hay weather to this day week but since the finest imaginable. There was some Rye cut Friday last and Saturday. The Wheat will hardly be ripe next week owing to its promising to give nothing until it was forced on by the copious rains and cool weather of June which was quite unexpected and now makes it so late. Wages .75 pr day. I earned between 6 and 7 dollars in haymaking and stood it quite well. Would there be any chance of getting a house to live in if I was to appear in Michigan without notice. I was fortunate in getting Thomas’ release in full before he left this. His widow will get one half of his personal estate absolutely and the half of the real during life and his mother the other half of both in the same way according to the law of this state which you will find in one of my old letters of 1834 or 1835. His personal amounted to $270. He having squandered a great deal away these five years past since fathers death.

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I have received no letters from Uncle James since I was in Michigan nor from any of our relations otherwheres. The railroad to Harrisburg from Philadelphia is completed all but two miles in which there is a tunnel and it is pushing through to Chambersburg. The income of our Canal is near to $600,000 so far this year in spite of the hard times. It is said the receipts on New York Canals have fallen back very much from last year. The moving west through this place has been double last year. Twelve families moved out of this neighborhood. Abraham Cope Blacksmith among the number. His father is still living with his son John who owns Richard Moores mill Johnathan lives near Hersheys. Philip in Bedford County. Jacob Wolfersberger farm his fathers farm on the shares and old Philip is speculating in lottery tickets and Sheep. Jack and his brother George are also dealing in Sheep. Sheep fetcth from $3 to $5 per head I will try to get Sawyer’s to drop the suit now pending by showing them that it will only result in lofs and expense to both parties and benefit to the lawyers only but will pay them nothing and if they will not I will thus make a dash at them about Grandmothers estate which will put them to their trumps. Mifs Nancy Maloney died of the Billious Cholic on the first June at Squire Clarks in Hummelstown. Joseph Moody’ wife went to be [make] a will at 9 OClock and before 10 was a corpse. She was a very fat woman and it is supposed died with the Apoplexy. The Rev. Mr Sharon has his health as usual. James Clark is still living in single blessednefs. All is well, Farewell

To Mr John Geddes William Geddes