Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, April 27, 1840

Author: John Geddes

Date: April 27, 1840

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Ann arbor, April 27th 1840

Dear Brother, (William) Later than ever but lo it comes at last. My Saw miller was sick or this would have been with you now. And hard as the times are I have plenty to do, get some money for lumber: but pay out more for logs Sell lumber for Store pay. land, and a mortgage due in two years but on interest. I have agreed for one eighty acre lot wild land in Livingston County Said to be a good lot. I am to give $250 for it: Poplar Lumber at $8.00 pr thous. and Oak at $7.00. Bought the Poplar logs for $4.00 pr thousand and the Oak for $3.00 pr thousand. I think I am doing well in the bargain. Only it is investing our means in what we cannot turn quick. And we will want all our means to build and finish the gristmill we have begun, but which progrefses slowly Sawmilling this year is better than farming. Grain looks well and promises fair Wheat is .70 pr bu. Washtenaw held its own this spring in the spring elections In Ann arbor the Tories blustered round considerable talkd large and made out as good a ticket as they could but it would not do. The Whigs had 67 majority I think there is but little doubt but Michigan will go Whig next fall by increased majorities but it will have to be done by an effort, and great efforts are making building log cabins and printing cheap newspapers. A new paper printed weekly called the “Old Hero” is issuing from the prefs at Ann arbor on a small scale at .50 the term or untill the first monday of November next: I take two numbers The paper was issued the 25th instant for the first time. And it so happened I gave both mine away the same day I received them. We intend to circulate the “Old Hero” as much as possible. the first paper appeared well. I received the “Lebanon Courier” the 22nd instant. And read Mr Corwins speech with pleasure. and thought it a noble reply to our “Michigan general” who is a fair specimen of the Loco foco party in Michigan. A meaner set of Scoundrels never was elevated to posts of trust and Honor (I hope) in any other State in the Union than we have had. But few of them are in office now, and the “Militia general of Michigan” and Nowells too will be permitted to retire after the 4th of March next to the shades of private life. If we carry next fall: a Senator for Congrefs is to be elected And then we will be all Whig. The Whig candidate for Supervisor had 301 votes and the Tory 234 in Ann arbor. Myself and Orin White, were the candidates: we both live in this school district. In Pittsfield last fall the Whigs had 95 votes and the Tories 12 votes But there are more voters than 107; some went to other townships to vote. Next fall every person must vote in the Township they reside. I will then inform you how many votes are polled in Pittsfield. The Legislature of Michigan did not lower their pay from $3.00 pr day, but left it as it was. They lowered other salaries and dispensed with some and pretend that $30,000 will be saved in the expenses of the State officers this year. Some [good] appointments have been made and some but middling. Central Rail-Road is [torn] [finished] as far as Dexter this summer. The Legislature in crowding in too [torn] the last day or days adjourned without making any appropriations for Internal improvements.

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Michigan Legislature adjourned the 2nd of April. The[y] granted the Banks [large stain] until the first day of February next. And the Loco focos of Pa. have done given [large stain] some time after all their pretended hostility to Banks. Pennsylvania is expected [large stain] Whigs to go for Harrison. But it may not. But notwithstanding. It is my opinion [large stain] that Harrison will be elected. A Mighty effort will be made by the Tories, and it is the duty of every Whig to consider himself as belonging to the vigilance committee and do what he honestly can to over throw. A desperate set of Villians who have got hold of the reins of government and are determined to carry out their destructive experiments let what will become of the people: and the country. One or two of your neighbors here talk of breaking up and improving some of your plain if you would be in favor of it. One hundred dollars would build a decent Story and an half house. This things of sending on a Pennsylvania tenant is rather a strange idea. And probably you will never attempt it. Something ought to be done to pay the tax off the land. And I think that an agreement might be entered into with some one to that effect without any lofs to you. For that plain of yours might be raising grain just as well as not and free you from all expense. except seeing to them once and a while. and that I would do for nothing, or make the tenant pay and that he would not do. because I would not charge a decent man any thing; and a difficult one fellow would not pay anything. We put a man on a lot we own a year ago for five years but he I am told does not do as he agreed; And Robert or me must go and see him for we are told he is selling timber off the land. which he was not allowed to do. Indeed he was restricted from cutting a stick on all but twenty acres which he was to clear and have the use of. I fear he is a rogue. It is Wayne County about eight miles from here Your land is nearer by. And I could see to them and the temptation would not be so great on account of their proximity to me. If you do not sell I would recommend breaking up that plain or part of it as much as would pay the tax An elderly man (an Englishman) has been speaking to me about buying your land He wants long payments and thinks he could not allow $3000 for it. He did not say what he would give but what it was worth and pay interest yearly. He has some boys and he thinks he could set them to work and clear up the land just as well as not and pay for it in time. He owns I think 127 acres in Ypsilanti township probable three miles from your land. he has all cleared on it he wants. And now does not have work enough for his boys. He is a man that prides himself in doing what [he] agrees to do. Is out of debt, or never was in debt: keeps his affairs snug and his credit good by not promising to do what he cannot perform. He first thinks before he acts. He is called an honest man. And I do not think would try to take advantage of you. I think if he would give $2500 and pay interest yearly I doubt whether you can do better than sell Land is not rising any in Michigan: it is falling. Two lots were sold for $500 a lot (on eighty acres.) four an half miles from here Cash down. They are called good land. one mile North and a mile West of your land. The man that offered the $3000 for your land told me last fall he was glad you did not accept his offer. I thought at the time he [torn] he was foolish. He is a Jackson man and would not beleive that hard times [torn] along shortly: he is a decent man not withstanding his tory principles and I doubt he intended cheating you when he made the foolish offer: you would not accept but he [tear] have no [torn]

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[stain] still carries on the coopering. his family has not increased. one son and two daughters is all: Jane does her own house work: her health is on the gain it gains by the [stain]. Is Isabel Cathcart, Robert Snodgrafss wife alive yet and if she is: how is she? and how does her and Robert get along. What has become of the great belle of Hanover Elvira McCormick. Dr Simonton is a member of Congrefs I dont know but that you were patriotick, but I think recklefs in your support of the school law in Londonderry. It is well enough to support the school law but is it duty to throw yourself in the breach, certainly not: without a fair prospect of succefs. no more than our duty to build a gristmill without the means. Look at the 28, 29, 30 & 31st verses of the fourteenth Chap. of Luke. There certainly is a strong feeling against any law of the kind in Lebanon County. In a political point o[f] view it is not your duty in a moral [point] of view it is: if you can be succefsful: if you cannot it is not your duty. the proof of these things is in being succefsful. Take the temperance subject supposing I think that there ought [to] be a fifteen gallon law pafsed in Michigan, but at the same time know, or think that if such a law was pafsed it would not be supported by a majority of my constituents or fellow citizens is it my duty to vote for it, I know not. I think you done right in returning the poor children; Am I wrong in thinking you would have been indulged in returning the poor children if you had not prefsed the school law upon Londonderry. It may be I am wrong in not understanding the course you have taken. If you have any news from Illinois or Cumberland send it on: Robert and family are well. And so are we. Marcus Lane died of the Consumption April 7th left a widow and two sons. We have no such a party as Anti-Masonic here but [a large piece missing affecting seven lines, about 2 inches in length] two thirds of the Whigs in this County are Anti-masons I saw in the Lebanon Courier that John Harmon was wounded [torn] longer than I thought he would. After sustaining himself so long [tear] not sail through. What has become of Davy Dasher & [torn] Dasher. I suppose I would be a stranger in Palmyra now [torn] many times. Well I think that the time will come when [torn] the last time: and visit the home of my boyhood. but not [torn] years; it may be not for ten, [or] may never be. Fifteen years [torn] Michigan has been my home. A country I once felt proud of: the country is well enough: but I boast of its inhabitants no more. But still I am not sorry that I came to Michigan nor that I am here on the Banks of the Huron now We have had a dry spring and not backward: 25th of April 87 degrees which is very warm. 26th 40 degrees. Night of the 25th it rained and till after daylight next day a great and soaking rain and nearly backwatered the mill. The weather is not settled now. I ought not forget to enquire how Walter Clark is. Robert has got his pump in operation again. The State is to pay him $108 for fixing it. If you have not made the arrangement you need not about the North American you need not. as I am not very anxious [torn] it. I have received none of the papers yet. A College is to be built in Ann arbor [this] summer. – Farewell John Geddes

[To] William Geddes

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[This letter is in poor condition-one chunk from 3rd page, 2-1/2 by 2 inches missing from right edge, as noted.

Other small parts missing.]