Letter From William Geddes to John Geddes, October 30, 1843

Author: William Geddes

Date: October 30, 1843

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Campbellstown Oct. 30th 1843

Dear Brother [John Geddes]

Yours of the 23rd inst. was re.’d at noon on the 28th. The shortest trip yet. I had been expecting it about two weeks before. I have come to the conclusion to leave this country, and was anxious to hear from you before I would write. I want you to rent a house for us in Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor if one can be had at a fair price in a dry and open place, or in Country if you can get one you think would suit us better. I want to have the whole house to ourselves if pofsible. It ought to be a comfortable one so as to give us a fair chance at the first in your climate. I would prefer Ypsilanti, as being more convenient to my land. I have no notion of selling my land for any such price as that man offers, and any how now if everything goes right I will be on the ground and see to it personally. You have done well in leasing your mill. And now you ought to have that Plaster mill. So as to turn your water power to whatever would offer the most profit. Prices are .90. for Wheat, .40. Rye, Corn .37, Oats .25, Potatoes .50. The Corn was middling good but the Potatoes are poor, owing we think to too much wet weather. We have a fine fall. Frosts came late. Ramsey is elected by near 100 majority and the Whigs have 13 out of the 24 members. A result quite unexpected to all parties. Ramsey run 500 ahead of the Whig ticket in dauphin and had 273 majority in Lebanon. Dauphin & Lebanon gave him 1000 majority. The vote in Londonderry was Ramsey 198. Umberger 80. The whole Whig ticket except Reinhard the Treasurer was elected in Lebanon Co. We never had a hotter election except when a Governor or President runs than this was, old lawyer Weidman’s son wanted to run for Congrefs and Ramsey won the nomination from him in his own County which so vexed him that he & his father went over to the loco’s, and rode the County declaring that they would ride over the party rough shod and break it down. We had also a split on the Sheriff and the whole loco force except in Londonderry supported a renegade Whig one Shutz for it against our man Bowman. And they were confident of succefs untill the votes were Counted. Bowman is a schoolman and that was

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made to bear on him throughout the county and especially in Londonderry where we were about putting them in operation for the first time. Old Wm Early and all the Killingers left our party and made a mighty exertion to turn old Londonderry Betting is a final offence for voters, but so confident were some of them that they sent their daughters with $50 bills to bet. Horses were posted through the whole county for to bring the result to Lebanon the night of the Election. The result was there at 12 o’Clock from all the townships, but Londonderry and Bowman had but 15 majority, which made them so sure that they had all things ready waiting for Londonderry to parade the streets with Drums & all kinds of music. But the renegades were sent sneaking back to their lodgings when good old Londonderry reported 206 for Bowman & 69 for Shutz, a result that neither friend or foe expected. They would not believe me when I said we would make 150 [hole]. I was 13 mistaken, but the whole party said we done nobly. They boasted that they had our township stack’d like a deck of old Cards. Orth was not satisfied with the sale of his farm and succeeded in having the sale set aside by the Court and a new one ordered and it then only brought $65 and some cents per acre. Wages per month are from $6. to $10 and when a man hires for a whole year $7. or $8 are considered good wages. Girls wages are but .62 1/2 & .75 per week. And harvest wages are from .50 to .75. pr. day. .37 1/2 per day for common work is thought enough by the farmers now. A Bushel of Corn is all that is offered for husking this fall, but some refused to take it and then got 45 in a way of a compromise I am in favor of the Poor man, and have always throwd it in the farmers teeth that they did not pay the poor laborer as they ought. And they will sooner compromise than trust being sued before me. I but a short time ago hauled up one of those rich Bachman’s and made him fork over $20. more than he was willing to pay a poor laborer. He had ballanced his account so as to throw the poor fellow 2 or $3 in debt to him. He was so mortified that he wanted to sue the man’s father an old man of 70 and very poor for fifty cents he owed him. I asked him if he was really in earnest & when he said he was, I told him he ought to be ashamed and that he could not sue him before me.

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He then went and done so in Millerstown. My landlord asked me to husk Corn for a Bushel of Corn pr. day but I declined, and at the same time asked 50 cts for Potatoes and $1.00 for a sucking pig that I wanted to buy. Corn is worth but 33 pr. Bu. out of the field. I asked him if he did not think it too hard for me to work 3 days for such a Pig. We have to pay always for any thing we buy Philadelphia price and often more. Farmers will sooner sell their Wheat by the quantity for 90 or .95 than sell it by the bag full for $1.00. All our laborers are in debt. Poor men are little better than slaves to the farmers here and live very poor. They stick together and wont sell wood under $3. pr. Cord for Hickory & $2. and $1.50 for Oak, and then there is always at least a half quarter lefs than a Cord I rank mine all when it is brought and dock them if it dont hold out, but very few do so. And they are nearly all men who lead and drive both and that late and early. In this way they are able to pay such prices for land. Hard work [hole] grinding down the laborer by low wages & high [hole] & high rents; is the whole reason in a few words. Ramsey was a mechanick of some kind, but is now a lawyer in Harrisburg. He is still poor and these rich nabobs like the Weidman’s hate to see a poor man prefered to them. After the untimely death of his father it fell to him to support his mother and the rest of the family and he done so by dint of hard work, & by some means got an education and went to the Bar lately. He is a Singleman, and speaks German. He rode the 3 Counties and talked dutch to the old farmers and made stump speeches in both languages which helpt him probably to his whole majority. I spoke with him since his election and he appears to be a fine man. Robert does well in paying well. I believe that robbing the laborer of his hire is one of the greatest sins in the world. He will escape the curse pronounced in the last chapter of James. And will be paid back manifold by God. It is always better to pay a little more rather than too little to any man for any kind of labor. because they work cheerfully then and do more and better and actually over pay the man that does in good will & extra exertion. & vice versa.

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When I took down my thermometer at 8 o’Clock it stood at 38 & as I crofsed the run I put it in and it rose to 46. I stopped at the mill and was weighted. weight 151 lbs. I bought 3 bu. wheat & had to pay $1.00 per Bu. & .25 for 1/2 Bu. mush meal It appears that there is little difference in our 3 weights, [?] well at Wolfersbergers 52 degrees Derry spring this morning at 9 o’Clock 50 degrees. The music of the Catydidit was still to be heard on the 21st inst. Since I have not taken notice. Yesterday I saw one that Jack frost had recently laid low. The leaves have changed color but few are fallen. Corn husking pretty well through My wife brought me a daughter on the 29th Sept. and both are doing well. We have all been in good health since I wrote. I think I wrote that old Mr Longinecker of Palmyra died when I was west. James Kelly died of Consumption in August. He left 4 small children that he had by his wife. It will take all his personal property to pay his debts. Walter Clark’s wife died lately. I received no news from Illinois since I wrote, nor from any other of our relations. I write in a hurry & bad but you can read it. Farewell

Mr. John Geddes William Geddes.