Letter From William Geddes to John Geddes, July 31, 1840

Author: William Geddes

Date: July 31, 1840

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Palmyra July 31st 1840

Dear Brother, [John Geddes] Yours of the 18th inst. was received on the 25th which was the quickest arrival that I can reccollect of. Harvest that is Rye and Wheat harvest was over with us the 13th. And Oats time is nearly past. The rye is very poor but wheat very fine and the oats tolerable. The Corn looks well so far. Wages .50. cents for haymakers and Rakers and binders and 62 1/2 for Cradlers. Wheat 90 cts pr. bu. Rye has been sold as low as 35 cents as well as Corn. Oats sells at 25. We get fresh beef from the butchers at 6 1/4 cts pr. lb. I took 15 Acres of Wheat to cut & shock at 1 dollar pr. acre and found my own boarding. It was at my door or I would not have done it for that. I hired a hand to follow me and paid him $1.25 pr. day, he finding his board. I cut it in 4 3/4 days and he raked and bound it and we shocked it together and I made $1.80 pr. day and he doubled the daily pay of the neighborhood. The curse that is spoken of in St. James as lying on those who dont pay the laborers for cutting down their harvests is surely upon the farmers of this land. I earned $16.40 in Hay & Harvest. I had sent the pay for the North American with the agent of Bicknell’s Reporter when he called on me for the price of that paper and when you wrote that it did not arrive and that you would now do without it. I wrote to the proprietor of that paper that he should return me my money, but got no answer but I thought that he would perhaps send on the paper & we would have to abide by it. The Farmers generally have liquor in the harvest fields but there is very little drank. We have no temperance societies with us but drinking is getting out of fashion. The present generation is much more temperate than the one our fathers belonged too. Gambling too is nearly annihilated. The love of money has triumphed over every other sin almost. Really corruption & dishonesty is the order of the day. Our fathers were lefs temperate but ten fold more upright. The majority of our two last legislatures were a real set of knaves. Our member in the lower house voted for pay when absent and I hope they will all be served as we will serve ourselves. We lost our little daughter on the 16th June She died of an inflammation of the brain from teething. Death has also been busy here. Adam Haak’s wife and his son in law’s daughter died within half an hour of each other in the same house. Abraham Philips’ widow also died about the same time and a number of others that you were not acquainted with. The deaths are nearly all females. I am opposed to the great fufs that is making about hard Cider and building Logs Cabin’s. I will attend on the 3rd August at our County meeting and I think that will be all. This extraordinary course of electioneering

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has no good effect with us. Lebanon County will do much better than she did for Harrison. We will have 8 or 900 whereas we had but 318 before. Our Township will do about the same as before. I believe I am at present the most moderate party man of us all. I want no coaxing to attend elections but still say very little about the matter. Party rules the hour and it is uselefs to talk to party men. I have heard nothing of our Newville relations nor of any others. I sent you Fisher letter to me on the Sawyer Case. The grain on our old place was first rate. On the little meadow behind the house there was 189 large shock of wheat, that will yield 160 Bu. or 40 Bushels to the Acre. You need not rent out any of my land for if I get shut of the lawsuits here, it may be I will leave this country shortly, unlefs my Commifsion as a Justice turns out worth attending to. There is plenty of men here that would farm it if they were only out, but the expense of moving is too great for their means. The laboring clafs would nearly all leave this country if they could, but their very poverty binds them to it. Just now I received a letter from Agrippa from which it appears he is farming a little, but very little having only 36 Acres in fence. His wheat was poor and the only stock he has is a few hogs and 1 Cow. He will have 10 hogs for sale. He says there is little or no market for Wheat. Land has been selling for $5 pr. Acre. He says he will write to you shortly. I had received a letter from him in the spring and I requested him to write every 3 months and also to write to you in order to improve himself and keep up a brotherly correspondence with us. He says his mother has bought out Thomas’s wife and sent him on a deed for a fractional Forty 31 acres and some perches of Thomas’s land thinking she owned it as heir to her son, but Agrippa says the laws of Illinois divide the property of an intestate equally amongst the whole and the half blood. The mother having only a life estate in it and the widow one third whether in toto or only for life he does not say, but I should think only for life so that his mother’s deed is worth very little. He says he will wait to [till] the heirs conclude to sell the land if he has to do that he may wait awhile; for my part I will write to him that if he gets a deed drawn and sends it on I will sign it for those 31 acres free gratis and will endeavor to get R. G. Graydon to do the same and let the rest of the land lie. If you Robert and Mr Ewers do so I suppose him & James can agree and Ann too and then he will have what he wants without having all the land sold. His letter is dated 13th July and he says the Wheat is

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nearly all cut and in general is middling good. The Corn looks tolerable well with him. I was at Harrisburg on the 28th for Fisher would give me no rest until I would pay him. During the time the suit was pending I had paid him seventy and he now charged me $125 in all $200. We have fought about this matter four years and have had 5 or 6 trials but still I thought it was too much & I thought must get off with $100 but he would not agree. This is spending money with a vengeance. And as it is for settling an administration account which father it appears was bound to do as well as all other administrators let there be little or much to settle for. I am bound to pay all the Fees and Costs and then my other expenses and lofs of time besides the vexation makes it a very bad businefs. He said Sawyers lawyers were to get the half if they should recover off me which would have been at least 3 times as much as what he was getting. I contended that our lofs in that Estate heretofore was enormous and notwithstanding we now gained the action we were still losing. If father had done as I have done, viz made them go on with his cause as he wanted them and not let them take their own course, and then stood by & seen that they had done their duty, he never would have been beaten. When the will was set aside father appealed to the Supreme Court but never pushed it through and for $100 that could have been [hole] which would have established the will and thrown the whole of the Costs on Sawyer. The Judges on this trial said the will ought to have and would have stood if father had carried out his appeal. It was monstrous that father suffered himself to be beaten as he did it appears that he was fated to it. He lost a credit for his own bill of Costs on his Executor account and now I am allowed credit on his administration account for Sawyers bill and the both stood on the same principle which must have been owing to some blunders of his. In my account I had charged myself with nothing and asked credit for $685.79 Costs paid to Sawyer. Which credit the Orphans Court disallowed and they charged me with $637.24 and interest from March 1822 Which after deducting $100 allowed for settling the account and the fees left me charged with a ballance of near $1200. And the Supreme Court as I understand Fisher has ballanced the account in my favor over $800. And about $5000 lefs than what Sawyers wanted me to be charged with. Sawyers Attornies fought desperately nearly a whole day before the Supreme Court and thought they must win and were very much mortified when they saw that they would be beaten & I saw Samuel shortly who appeared quite chop fallen for I am told he was nearly sure of getting 12 or $1500 off me. But they find that they have a different kind of man to fight than father.

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I understand that they are not quite satisfied yet but mean to give me another heat but in what way I cannot learn. I have never done any thing with them about Grandmothers Estate but shall if they again attack me. Father was defeated in every thing & I have beaten his enemies before me in every case without the half of the footing to stand on

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Little Robert is ailing a little but the rest of us are well and have been. The weather is very dry and warm and the Corn begins to suffer for rain. The thermometer stood at 95 twice this month, and that in a cool place. Farewell

Mr. John Geddes William Geddes