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

Author: William Geddes

Date: October 25, 1838

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Palmyra Oct. 25th A.D. 1838

Dear Brother. [John Geddes] yours of the 22nd Sept. was received a few days previous to our Election and up to this time I have not been able to answer you satisfactorily. The power of attorney which Robert sent me I forwarded in a letter to Fisher who mislaid it and it cannot be found. And if I had it, it would be of little use to me, for I do not know what the name of the township is, in which my land lies nor have you given me the name of the Rail Road Company all of which ought to be particularly described in the letter of Attorney to make it lawful. For the present I have concluded to answer your letter and relieve you from any suspense about the matter. The proper plan would have been for you to have had one drawn and sent on as was done with that deed which you could have had done correctly having all the facts before you, and I could have acknowledged it and sent it on without delay. As I am situated I cannot come in person or I certainly would. I am tax collector and have done little or nothing at it as yet, but must shortly and am summoned as a Jury man for the second week of Nov. and worse than all that the Sawyers exasperated with the partial defeat I have given them before the Supreme Court, have made a fresh attack on me & I am cited to answer them in both Dauphin & Lebanon counties in the latter on the first week of Nov. and in the former on the 3rd so that for three weeks of that month I cannot leave here. At the last Court of Dauphin county I took my counsel’s advice and the one you now sent me and staid at home, doing nothing. The Sawyer’s however attended and when they found I had done nothing and did not even attend at Court, they asked the Court for an Attachment for me and the Court had actually granted one when Fisher who had been attending to something else happened to here [hear] what the Judge was saying interrupted him by asking by what authority he acted. Why said the Judge Mr Fisher you ask a strange question, Well Sir I do ask by what authority you wish to drag Geddes here by force. His Honor then asked him if the Supreme Court had not decided that I shall account. Fisher said he would like to see it. When the decree of the Court was called for, when lo it was no where to be found, it not

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having been brought down from the Supreme to the Orphans Court of course then could be nothing done. One of the parties having to bring the record down before I could file an account or the Court below had any authority to act and compel me to do so if I neglected or refused it. I had been counselled not to do it and their Lawyer’s had overlook’d or perhaps not thought it necefsary and were caught in this blunder to the shame of themselves and the Court. Fisher and the other attornies then present laughed hearty at the mistake and Sawyers Attornies were very mad at being bothered in that way. The record with the decree of the Supreme Court was then brought down & read and they were not a little mortified to find that it was not what they wished or thought. The decision below was reversed and it was doubtfull from the words of it whether they would not have to pay costs and begin in the new. The only holt [hold] they had on me was that the Court above said I would have to file an account, but did not say when how or where. Both Courts have decided that no administrator Can escape from accounting at some time and Sawyers are determined I shall so that I have no alternative and intend to do so next Court, when the tug of war will again be waged with a vengeance on both sides. Fisher says that by what fell from the Judges when speaking of the trial, that I will be allowed to take Credit for those Costs incurred by Father in defence of the will, which is all I ask or Father ever asked; for that will sweep it once all the money that ever came to his hands and put the whole matter to rest forever. It appears when Father settled with Sawyer for Isabel, Jane and myself he took a mortgage from him and has never entered satisfaction on the docket in the Recorder’s office and until that is done Sawyers cant make a title to their purchaser and an executor cannot enter satisfaction so that they petitioned the Court to do it and they Court has notified me by the Sheriff to show cause why they shall not. It is of no consequence to me about the mortgage but still I must attend and answer when I am called that I was present. Call on the Rail Road agent and tell him you

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have no authority to settle with the Company for the damage it was likely to do me; but that I requested you to Call and see what they were willing to allow me and if it was any wise near what I thought I ought to have you would write to me to send on the requisite authority to close the matter but if not it was uselefs to go to any trouble or expense about it, and that as a citizen of another state I would not leave it to men at all but bring a suit against them in the district Court of the United States in time enough to have satisfaction. If I recollect right my best timber is in the south end of the tract when the road is to be made and that my south line is a half mile long or 160 perches and they claim six perches in width and of course it would occupy six whole acres of land and would the way it runs cut a triangle off of Four more, which makes a lofs of Ten acres of land with all the timber on it and that the very best I have. I dont know exactly what timber is worth in Michigan but I should think what was on six acres and especially if there was not a great deal of wood on the tract worth more than Three Hundred dollars itself. The land may not be worth twenty dollars per acre at present but I am confident in ten years more that 10 acres of wood land might be worth 30 or 40 an acre and if it is taken now it will be lost forever. And there is a yet greater lofs to be considered which I have seen along our Rail Road, Viz. Where there is deep cutting without embankments close at hand to use the excavated earth and it has to be thrown on both sides of the road on the adjoining land; covering as much more land as the road itself, burying up the soil and destroying the timber. To remove which from off the land again would cost three times as much as you seem to think the whole damage may be. If the Company would confine themselves to the 100 feet and do my other lands no injury. Then the damage would not be so great and would not exceed at present $500, but as the damage or lofs of my land will increase as my other land becomes valuable that ought to be considered also. But if they are determined to cut 100 feet in width and 3 1/2 feet deep I wish the devil had the road and I am confident that it will some day be a lofs of $1000 to my tract. I really do not know what to say or do about it the more I [think] on it the worse I hate it and would much rather have [more] than twice the amount they will be willing to give. [hole] plantations through which the Rail Roads run do not sell near as well as those a mile or two off. The Cars frighten the Cattle and the Steam Engines burn down buildings and set the woods and even Ripe grain fields on fire. I seen a calculation on the probable profits of the Cumberland valley Road by what they now receive. I think it was 15 if not 20 per cent, and if that is the case why should they rob the landholders and pocket such great profits. Their profits will increase with the businefs and population of the country and my lofs will be forever also increasing. But as I have had and still have law suit upon law suit since fathers death and notwithstanding I have beaten all my enemies so far, I am quite tired of it and sooner than go to law I will take $500 which I really think is only the half of the damage that will be done me. The money must be paid right off before the commence operations on the premises. But this condition must be agreed to. That is after the road is done I shall have a right to have men to view the damages actually done and which were unavoidable and if they report a greater amount than I received the company shall pay me two thirds of the exefs with costs and for any unnecefsary wanton or mallicious or even accidental damage done me or may hereafter be done; the Company shall pay me double the amount. If the men report the damage done to the lefs than what I receive I shall not be required to refund but only pay the costs. Without such a condition being in the agreement there is no knowing what damage might be done me for there would nothing to restrain them from injuring me and if I was to complain they would laugh at me and tell me I was paid for it and that they would do as they please. Robert G. Graydon is at Dartmouth College in the state of Connecticut. It appears Alexander has found cash enough to send him, without calling the second time on me, which I am glad of for I would have hated to refuse or not refuse, for I know if all his children would bring liens as much as Robert he could well afford to College educate them. Wheat sells at $1.65. Rye at $1.00. Corn 95 cents, Oats 45, Potatoes $1.00 Apples .25. Cider $2.50 per bll, Beef & Pork $8. per Cwt. From brothers in Illinois I have heard nothing nor have I from any of our other relations. Our old school fellow Joshua Hollingsworth was to see his native place. He is a portly good looking Fellow but too fond of a glafs and a joke to ever be rich or respectable. He has a wife and 3 children in Philadelphia where he has been living these 8 or 10 years as a clerk in an extensive Drug establishment.

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Write directly after you know what the company is willing to give and if it is worth receiving It may suit me to come after my attendance at Court and if so I will come and

make an agreement with them. But I will never consent to take any sum of money much lefs what you mentioned and then let them cut and slash away and do as the[y] please it would be much better to say nothing until they were done and then the company would be careful to do as little injury as pofsible knowing that it would have to pay for it.

All are well Farewell

Mr John Geddes William Geddes

[written on the opposite side of the mailer]

The last news was that our amended constitution had carried but we have lost the Governor by 7 or 8 thousand