Letter From John Geddes to William Geddes, March 11, 1843

Author: John Geddes

Date: March 11, 1843

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Ann Arbor, March 11th 1843

Dear Brother, [William Geddes] I must make you out a letter this week and send it on nothing special to tell. This is Monday evening (March 6th) This morning was cold, very cold, for the time of year, and considering that February has been so steadily cold. Almost every one are wishing that the cold weather would disappear but as yet their wishes are not gratified. This was a pleasant day after the nine of the Clock. January was a pleasant month. February was a cold month. Good sleighing the whole of the month and the nine tenths of the month first rate. The sleighing so far in March is very good and the weather cold. A first rate winter to haul logs. And the Sawmills have an extra supply. Logs still continue to some in Six were hauled in to day. Four Oaks, and Two Poplar. We have probably 1200 logs in the mill-yard. Eldreds Plaster-mill is grinding Plaster now. It is run night and day. They are now grinding Grand river Plaster it is white. Sell it for nine dollars pr ton ground. Seneca-falls Plaster of which they have a supply on hand. They sell at eight dollars pr ton. I would prefer the white if their [sic] was two dollars difference in the price. This Grand River Plaster is from Kent County Michigan. Eldreds’ say it can be furnished, for lefs than Seneca-falls Plaster which is a black Plaster and is not much esteemed. Some say who have tried it; that it is good for nothing: others say that it is good and they have used some of it &c If it was not for the hard times much Plaster would be sold this season. For hay is at the present time is more scarce than money. Scarce as that is. A great many persons have fed nearly all the provender they have for their cattle. And are about enquiring for straw, as Hay is not expected. And what is very discouraging the cold weather still hangs on and seems determined not to let up. The cause of this distrefs is. The crop of hay last year was light : and the winter has been steadily cold with much snow. The 21st of February the snow was the deepest. Two feet was the depth. And another cause many thresh their wheat early in the fall with a threshing machine and much of the straw get wasted. Robert is going [to] thresh with a machine this week one day and pay the hands that afsist him in straw. A Mr Snow sold straw in Ypsilanti last week at two cents a bundle: two sheaves in a bundle. I am not sure it was Rye straw but I think it was. I have hay enough. I fenced a marsh betwixt Mallets creek and Whitmore brook last year and hired a man to make the hay on it and stack it The hay cost me five dollars. (The marsh has not been mowed for a number of years and was hard to mow.) It cost me one dollar and an half to haul it home this winter I got half a ton of Bran which cost me four dollars. That makes $10.50 that my two cows cost me this winter. Last winter I bought my hay, and the same cows cost $29 to winter them, when tame hay was $7 pr ton. Hay is quick sale at ten dollars pr ton now. My cows run on the common in the summer, and cost me nothing. I keep my cows well March 8th. Yesterday evening I read the New York Weekly Tribune. Rather a dearth of news at present. The yeas & nays shews our Michigan member among the nays: in favor of high wages and high salaries. That vote will be in the way of his nomination

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I dont want you to pay for the Weekly North American any more for I intend not to take it any longer than the time that has been paid for. It is a good Newspaper, but I prefer the Tribune at the same price. The Tribune costs $1.50 pr year. In the summer the Tribune arrives here first: in the Winter the North American comes first. This morning was warmer than any this week and we have had a fine day. The cost of building a house here is owing to the kind of house When we first came here, houses were built and roofed for $40. 100 dollars built what was called a decent house. These were log houses. The first kind round logs The second kind were round logs hewed inside, and story and quarter high. My house is two stories, 24 by 32 feet. Cellar under half of it. It is a frame house. I kept a particular account of the cost. And it amounted to $754.77. Probably a house of the same size might be built now near mine for $500. Your land is further from a Sawmill, and stones are not to be had very near. These things would probably add 20 pr cent more to the cost of a house on your land. There is an old log house adjoining your land. (Built by a Mr Stillwell, who died some years ago.) might be had. At least Mr Talmon Brown who has the agency of it said he would give you the first chance to rent. But I doubt whether he can get the man out of it that is now in it I think it is three acres of land that is attached to the house. This house and lot belongs to Stillwells children, and cannot be sold until the youngest comes of age, or else you ought to buy it, so as to control it. Mr King lives in it now and he is called the worst man in the neighborhood. so called. Philadelphia par Bank notes I presume would answer us. The Country Bank bills are uncertain and we want none of them. Your County, Township, & State tax in Pittsfield for 1842 was $9.20. That is high. Robert has 232 acres in Superior which was taxed $5.85 Roberts land is as good as yours and some of it improved. Such is the difference of tax in different Townships. Your land was probably afsefsed at 5 dollars pr acre and Roberts at $4 pr acre. Roberts farm in Ann arbor was averaged at $6 pr acre. Some remedy ought to be applyed to these different afsefsments. I put that part of Ann arbor I afsefsed at half its value in 1842. Pittsfield was a little higher. Superior was full as much lower. If I am elected afsefsor next April. I will think it my duty to put Ann arbor still lower. But where is this thing to end! March 9th. Still cool. The news of this day is that the United States Court has decided that Mortgages given before the Law appraising land and setting it off at two thirds its value was pafsed: can be foreclosed and the land sold just as if the appraisal law had never been pafsed. I am glad of that decision. I am tired of appraisal laws. Like Bank suspensions I can tolerate them a short time but persevering in such thinks [things] makes them a standing nuisance and a curse to the country. If persons cannot pay their debts after giving them a reasonable time they ought [to] wind up and begin again. I think but little of the present Bankrupt law. It seems to me that it does not work well. At any rate there is quite a prejudice; or rather a hard feeling against those that serve a notice on those they owe instead [of] paying them, what is probably honestly their due. It is certainly a mean way of paying debts. I have had one notice served on me for about $85

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I would have been more satisfied and better pleased if he had came and told me he could not pay and offered me something say $5 and if he had nothing I would have taken nothing and forgave him the debt. But to be served with a notice as pay in full: shews a cold hearted impudence. that poor human nature must detest: and as you see no humblenefs how can you forgive. Forgivenefs does not seem to be thought of. Still I would be in favor of Bankrupt law. If it could be divested of this saucy independence. I will copy a letter from Mr Ewers which he sent me a year ago “Jane thinks you want some information in relation to the money she is to receive from Wm he writes that he can send Treasury drafts, or notes, which will be acceptable, as they are about the same as specie, sometimes a little better But the best manner to remit unlefs he has businefs which will require him to come to Michigan on his own account: will be to purchase a Draft on New York which he is sure will be paid on presentation. drawn to the order of you or myself which could be sold for one or two pr cent over specie this will be a safe way as the draft will not be good without being indorsed by the person to whose order it is drawn in favor. And we can by power of Attorney sign off our claim and remit the same. N.B. I presume a draft on New York can be bought in Harrisburgh at one pr cent. but this is merely a sugestion which if not satisfactory on enquiry need not be adopted.” March 10th. We had a drizzling rain last night and until one of the Clock to day. The wind changed then and blew from the West. The wind is high now and it is blowing up cold again. Wheat is .53 Corn .37 1/2 Oats .25. Butter .12 1/2. Eggs .12 1/2. Dryed Apples $1.25 pr Bu (that is 22 lbs) Corn, & Oats, are scarce. The want of hay may raise the price of wheat before harvest. It is said that North & West of this; hay and straw are more scarce than here. In new settlements there is no want [of] grafs for hay in Michigan. For marshes are without number. Consequently it is nothing but carelefsnefs runs them out of Fodder. The Yankees are so given to talking big and displaying the worthlefsnefs of Marsh hay in comparison to tame hay. That sometimes they almost if not altogether persuade themselves that Mash hay is not worth cutting and lay in a scanty allowance. I am sorry that so many have been improvident not only on account of the suffering it occafsions, but because it impoverishes the country by diverting its income to home consumption. I received a Lebanon Courier it arrived a day before your letter. I see your State tax is not quite two mills on the dollar. But Other things are taxed Watches &c amounting to 1/3 of a mill more. The State tax is more than the County tax. Here the State, County & Township tax is laid on and collected at the same time. The State tax 2 mills. In Ann arbor the whole tax was 7 3/4 mills. (but the Property is afsefsed at half its worth) this is beside the Road tax which is done in work. At .62 1/2 pr day it amounts to about half the other taxes. I intend to go to Ann arbor tomorrow afternoon and then mail this. We are all well Robert the[y] say thrashed 300 Bu of Wheat March 8th Eight houses and fifteen men were employed. He has 300 more to thrash which he intends to thrash next Monday. Robert set his crop of Wheat last year at 900 Bu. I presume it will come up to that. I think that Robert must clear something this past year

William Geddes Esqr Farewell John Geddes

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