Letter From William Geddes to John Geddes, May 15, 1840

Author: William Geddes

Date: May 15, 1840

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Palmyra May 15th 1840

Dear Brother [John Geddes]

Yours of the 27th April was received about a week ago, and I could not make it suit to answer it sooner. I dont know on what terms my land ought to be given on, and you have not said any thing about it either. I am willing that all that can be cultivated may be. But what will be the best plan to do it I cannot say without I were to see it. Whether it will be better to clear a piece for to get rails or to cut down the large trees only; to make them. I think it will be perhaps as well to clear a piece of the least thriving timber and to make every thing into rails upon it that will make one, no matter whether it is of a lastly nature or not. The wood that would be left, those that make the rails might have if it would be worth any thing to them. But all these things I will leave to you as you must know best how to arrange matters so that there will be no damage done me and that I may have so much profit at least as will pay my taxes. I would like the persons farming to be well paid for their trouble by what it may produce. But I will not agree that they shall have any privileges on the premises other than to secure their grain and when that is off that they can claim nothing more, unto [until] another bargin is made for another year. About selling I dont know what would be best. I am still of the opinion that lands are not near at their value in your neighborhood and that as soon as we have better times they will rise. For there is now a rail road convenient enough to convey the products of the country to market and lands 30 miles off will be as valuable as those 3 miles or lefs. But still perhaps I could do better with the money by other lands in Illinois or Iowa. There is a few from this place going on Monday to start for Iowa and if I thought that man & me could make a bargain I would go with them for I could raise Cash enough. Lefs than $3000 wont buy those lands and If I were to take that I ought to have $1000 in Cash on the first of April next and the ballance in Eight payments with seven per cent interest, with Bonds and mortgage for security. If he will conclude to give that I will come forthwith and make title and give pofsefsion and when he gets that he must pay $500 of the $1000 that is to be paid Cash and I will give him interest for it in case he pays the other 500 at the time appointed. This would be giving 9 years counting this for to pay which is long payments. Perhaps when I consider more I might rue as I am not anxious about it but on the receipt of this you may call on him and see what he thinks and if he concludes to take me up or offers any thing near it in the way of payments for the whole sum cannot be lefs, you can let me know and I will be on the ground in 20 days after the date of your letter, God willing, or let you know by another that I have changed my mind. John Early, David Earnest and David Witmor are the persons who are bound for Iowa I am not afraid

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of any man in the way of selling, for I will take the land for security and if the purchaser should fail the land would not and any how the most advantage a man could take would be the destruction of the timber and if on reconsidering every thing there was any danger of that there could be a remedy provided before the bargain was closed. Harrison will be president & on the 4th of March next and that itself will raise lands 10 pr. cent. because it will restore confidence between man & man which wholly destroyed by the policy of the Loco, Foco’s. Our Lower house expelled a Van Buren member from it for misconduct and ordered a new Election and I have just learnt that the Whig candidate is elected by upwards of 600 majority where the other party used to have 3 or 400, if the rest of the state should change in proportion Harrison will carry Pennsylvania by a large majority. In Lebanon there is pretty much such a change, we calculate on 1000 majority. I differ with you entirely as to the moral duty of supporting the schools. Every man is bound in strict morality to support the best cause let his prospect of succefs be what it may. The bad are the majority in the world and yet we are required to strive against them, yea more to endeavor to reform them. You misapply those verses of Luke for they only are applicable to pecuniary concerns of mankind. They only are intended to make men stay within their means and manage temporal things to the most advantage. When our School law was first pafsed I supported it & I got only seven others to go with me and since that at every Election rallied all the force I could and we at every conflict gain’d ground & I expect next spring to carry the schools. At the March Election there was polled 268 votes a thing unprecedented and yet the schools were lost but by 30. We held meetings on both sides & nominated candidates for the different township offices and we carried the whole school ticket ecept the school itself. John Logan and I were the candidates on the school ticket for Justices of the Peace and notwithstanding I was the leader of the school faction I received 159 votes and my opponent 90. 19 not voting. My majority was 69 whereas those on the same ticket with me had from 13 to 38 only over their opponents. The schools gaining from year to year make the Antischoolmen bitter indeed and their leaders come to the charge like mad men. They rode the township for two weeks with printed hand bills and abused me unmercifully but all would not do for though the people would not take the schools they still had more confidence in our men which was a dreadful mortification to their vindictive party leaders. We take matters cooly and abuse no body unlefs attacked and then we tell them their own and laugh at them. The vote throughout the County was heavy and close in every district so that we are not at present far in the minority. Schafferstown the schools carried by 16 votes in the Lebanon Borough by 17 and were lost in Myerstown by only 7 votes. East Hanover has had them in operation 3 years and every 3 there is an Election to vote them off if there is a majority opposed to continuing them. In the last place they were voted off by 14 majority, upwards 400 votes polled. There is not the least doubt

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but that they will be retaken next spring for when the[y] try the old system for a year again they will find it is not as good as the new & when retaken will never again be voted down. Robert Snodgrafs and wife are moved west. The wife’s health is good at present. I think they have but two children. James Todd, Andrew Harrison and James Porter went with them and the Remnant of Rogers family is going shortly. Robert Snodgrafs is well off – worth at least $6000. Walter Clark and family are well. He talks of running for Sheriff in our County this fall. David Dasper after him & Ferdinand Ringle dissolved led a very intemperate life but is doing better these 3 years. He is Clerk at a New Furnace built by the Grubbs at Manady Gap in Hanover. His brother Sam moved west a few years ago and was a disolute chap. Alexander teaches school in Palmyra, Their mother is still living. Ferdinand Ringle is about Lebanon & dare not own any thing in his own name. John Kinports was finally outlawed of his place & now lives near Middletown. James & Charles Clark are well and still Bachelors. Dr. Henderson is still a widower and will ever remain one I think. Mr Sharon’s health is poor this spring. I received a letter from Agrippa about a month back and he and James were well. They are both keeping Bachelor’s and farming a little. Step Mother sent each $100 this spring. William Johnson and Ann were in middling health when he was here for Mother’s money but the old woman had been rather poorly last winter. The old Doctor is still bed fast but not to say heart sick. More from weaknefs than any thing also. John McAllen was also in the same way. Our crops of grain look very well and the weather is cool and wet enough so that they can scarce fail. We planted our Corn on Tuesday and Potatoes on the day following but there has been planted two weeks ago. Wheat is 95 cents. Rye 45. Corn 37••• . Oats 25. Butter 10 cts Tallow 9 cts. Eggs 6 pr. doz. Beef 6••• pr. lb. Philip Wolfersberger a brother of John’s in Campbellstown broke down and left John & Sam Carper a little in the lurch. Robert G. Graydon is at Dartmouth College. He was at home in the winter but did not call to see me, Alex. Graydon has quit storekeeping in Harrisburg, but I believe carries on a foundry still. Linus sells here at the kiln by the quantity at 8 cts to 10 cts pr Bu. Stone coal is much used in this neighborhood for fuel and costs $4 per ton at the Canal Two miles from here. The small Pox is very bad in Millerstown and Harrisburg and several other towns around us and several have been attacked in the country. Nearby all are getting themselves vaccinated over again but I have not nor shall I at this time. I had my son & daughter done and it made them very sick, & the wife got herself done and it took effect. 2 members of Afsembly died at Harrisburg with it & 5 or 6 others that I heard of but in general it not dangerous.

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I paid in March for the North American. I gave the money to the agent of Bicknells Reporter and he promised to arrange matters but has likely forgot it. I will write to him & order him to return my money. Eliza McCormick got married to one Sturgeon and I believe is still living but where I cannot say. He was quite a plain kind of man. We have all enjoyed good health since my last. Farewell

Mr John Geddes William Geddes