Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, January 25, 1838

Author: William Geddes

Date: January 25, 1838

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Palmyra January 25th 1838

Dear Brother, [John Geddes] Yours of the 5th inst. was rec’d. on the 23rd which was something later than I had reason to expect; but the time it was on the road explains the cause. I had rec’d. a letter from Newville and put off answering it until I should receive yours and that arriving ten days later than usual the folks there no doubt think I dont intend writing; but will now be shortly undeceived and know the reason why it was so slow in coming. I have also another reason for not writing unnecefsarily; that is in order to save postage: for silver is very scarce and if it were plenty I would not willingly pay the post office department any of it; which is so meanly extorting it from the people to carry out their Golden humbug. The only news from Newville was the melancholy fate of the young doctor who has been lingering these two years and finally died leaving his father soulefs [soulless] and a wife and family of small children. I think he had four children. He died on the 7th December about 3 OClock in the afternoon. He was confined to his bed about a month and during his last day suffered severe pain; from. The rest of the folks there were well: but they had no news from Illinois. Of the rest of our relations I have heard nothing [hole] Wm. F. Geddes name in a newspaper paragraph which stated that [hole] Started to print a temperance paper but did not say where. I have no correspondence with any of the name of Geddes but yourself notwithstanding I have solicited it from James and Agrippa and who I have reason to think are perfectly satisfied with me: but neglect to write purely from negligence and perhaps a want of ability and ignorance. Their letters are always very short and badly put together. I have been ashamed at James’ letters; frequently the name of this place is very widely mispelled !!. I paid for the last wheat I bought $2. pr. bu. and now it is $1.50 and Rye .70. Corn .45 Oats .30 Buckwheat .62 1/2 Potatoes .25. Beef $7. Cwt. Pork $6. Butter .14 pr. lb. Eggs .12 pr. doz. It is thought that Wheat will be $1.00 and every thing in proportion very shortly. the Principal cause of which is the want of money; which notwithstanding the flood of Shinplasters which have flooded the land from every petty corporation is very scarce. We have bills from 5 cents to three dollars and great numbers of them counterfeit. I do not wholly approve of Gov. Ritner’s plan of Banking but differ in one point only Viz in restricting the Banks to 7 per cen[t] per annum discounts which I consider to[o] little a compensation for the benefit they are to the public. I would be willing to allow them eight pr. cent. The law restricting the ifsue of notes under $5 has operated very well and made silver plenty and I think it will be well enough to knock under all under

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ten as soon as the present deranged state of the currency is over but not sooner for I am persuaded that to attempt it sooner would be uselefs if not deranged matters still worse. I would like to see Banks so restricted as to prevent rascally over ifsues which have been the cause of our present difficulties. Our legislature has reported a bill regulating Banks which has one good feature in it, Viz. to make the stockholders liable in their estates in case of a break or suspension of specie payments to double the amount of stock held by each and the president and directors in a still further sum. This in my opinion would be ample security and is strictly just. Which is not the case with the law which holds bankers liable in the whole amount of their estates; let the amount of stock held by each be what it may. For example if one man was worth $10,000 and had 5 shares and another was worth but $1,000 and had 10 shares; it would be very wrong that the one who had but one half the interest of the other should suffer to ten times the amount. But the main part of the bill I do not approve of; especially that part which forbids Banks to increase their liabilities to over double the amount of stock actually paid in; which is restricting them too close and would reduce the amount of money in circulation one half; if not more. I think Bankers can safely ifsue three times the amount. The best plan now is, is to let Banks contract their businefs until they can pay specie and legislate nothing on the subject until that has taken place; and let the matter regulate itself which it will surely do. And when that has taken place let the wise ones of the land endeavor to prevent a similar event by legislative enactments. Your Banks are in the worst credit of all; the Detroit Banks are 90 pr. cent below par and all others no sale. The taxes are getting very high and particularly the road tax. Do you Michigan folks work constantly on the roads. Those 3 lots of mine are but the 96th part of the township and as there are no improvements on it; it would be not worth more than the 180 part in value which would be 1260 days for the whole township; equal to as many dollars which is a shocking tax. Do you even look over these Yankee roadmasters and see if the[y] do not impose on people. I have but little faith in the manufacturers of wooden Hams; & Nutmeg and sausages made out of brown paper. Our country is becoming a proverb for it trickery. Our road tax here was $400 last year which was high our township is not 6 miles square is true but it is 3 times as valuable. My son continues to thrive and I was expecting to hear of your having raised something of the kind; but am disappointed. Nancy Sheller who was married to Barran is again married to a storekeeper of the name of Bingham of Millerstown Lebanon County. Her father lives in Huntingdon county on a rented farm.

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You have acknowledged the receipt of but one newspaper or pamphlet where as I sent at least 6 of which several were from Washington during the extra sefsion. You had room enough in your letter to have mentioned them if they were rec’d. I sent yesterday a paper containing O’Connel opinion of the Americans which you ought to show his countrymen. It also contained a short acct. of the Cumberland valley rail road. Your letters are becoming quite short. Our reform Convention are still sitting. They have decided against the right of Blacks to vote by a vote of 77 to 45 which I have no doubt is the opinion of the people of the state. The winter is very mild with no snow at present: it is in fact more like summer than winter. The grain in the ground looks extremely well. There is a good many people sick in the neighborhood; but still few deaths. One can go from Chambersburg to Philadelphia on the rail road with but two obstructions in the way The bridge at Harrisburg & the tunnel at Elizabethtown which are not completed. R.G. Graydon is not going to College nor is it likely he will for I think Graydon is kept busy to live. He had nobody in his store but Robert the other day that I was there. Graydon is getting a large family. Robert will be lefs than his father and not as good looking by a long chalk.

[in very tiny words along a crease] [?] are great abolitionists ]

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William Clark has purchased a farm of 170 acres for $60 per acre the half in hand and the rest in payments near Chambersburg Franklin County. James I believe intends living another year in Hummelstown. James Kelly has never attended derry Church since he was married. He has four sons now; the wife being brought the fourth a few weeks ago; so that the old buck is getting a family in his old days. Jacob Wolfersberger now works his fathers farm and John owns what used to be old Abraham Henrys place. Philip and Levi keeps store at Wallaces mill on the Swatara Creek. Of the Wilson’s I heard nothing lately. Jacob Early died in November leaving none but daughters to inherit his estate. The old Squire is still alive. Adam Kettering has sold his tavern stand in this place and I believe will leave this country in the spring. He is to get $3000 twelve hundred in hand and the rest in three equal yearly payments. I have done nothing in Sawyers case his death preventing it as the law gives a year time and the case now in the Supreme Court cannot be argued to [till] The Executors are made parties to it and after that they may have a year to answer if they choose it which I have no doubt the[y] will in order to baffle as I believe their attornies have poor prospects of recovering much if anything off me. Samuel has been all winter in the west for the purpose [hole] with Joseph Sawyers heirs it is thought; how he will succeed [hole] to tell: but if he does not he will have trouble to satisfy Graber with the title and as for giving $4000 bail I think it is out of the question. Berryhill Bell had an offer for his place $28 pr. acre but declined it in hopes of getting more but failed; when he said he would take it; but the other then refused to give it. Berryhill has been sinking money and is now I think $1500 in debt: which is nearly the half of what his 130 acres are worth and will be more if the times dont mend of which there is little prospect. I have heard nothing of Thomas’ widow since his death I would like to know if their is an heir as the time is now up; but I know of no way of finding it out. The interests of the widow without an heir and the Geddes’ are different which will make the correspondence little between them. Without an heir the widow and mother of Thomas would get equal shares of real estate during their lives when it would fall back to the full brothers and sister and also equal shares of the personal absolutely. Which you will find by examining the law I sent you at one time. The Canada war makes some noise here but the rebels are generally condemned and if you had a few hundred Permites they would not rob your Arsenals and defy the civil authorities as they do. I think there will be some fighting in Canada next summer. Farewell

To John Geddes William Geddes