W-MCP4-6.171 TO DR. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his cousin John Fisher
Feb 20 1838
To: Dr. Calvin McQuesten, Brockport, New York, [U.S.A.]
From: Hamilton, [Ontario]
I know you have been expecting a letter from me for some time past--I have daily been expecting mail. I could write you something definite in relation to what assistance I could give you the first of March--To day I have the promise from Davis & Ford that they will by that time pay me something as yet I have recd [sic] nothing on the mill job, and I will say that you may depend on $200 by the 5th March if they disappoint me I will [?] [?] if not others are to be had.--We shall in two or three weeks have better terms if you will keep the [?] still--But though I hope the terms will improve, I do not see much to encourage us here. You will have to come over and travel through the country to know the amount of all the evils this disturbance has brought when thousands are selling what they have and leaving the Province. One Farm was sold a few days since for $1000 for which $18000 was refused last fall.1
I offered two weeks ago to sell our furnace and all connected with it for its cost--and though I had not consulted you yet I was confident you would approve such an arrangement--He took an account of stock and the buildings with what we have paid on the Lot amounted to $4744.52--The payments due during this year--But when we come to say definitely what security we should have it all fall through notwithstanding they had told me repeatedly that any security that I asked I should have--Of course I wanted more than I should have thought of in other times.
James Wilson [?] merchant, R. Beasley, attorney, and Janes were the purchasers. They wanted me to take mortgages which though [?] they would not bring the money at the day month or year--I asked them about notes with two Endorsers whom I named--Wilson, though a first rate man and worth a good Property is not such a man as I want for a partner and he is determined to have a Furnace--he will build in the spring if things look as though it will be safe in so doing.
You mentioned that Janes had offered to sell all he has here for its value He may have said so but I do not think he meant any thing like it [?].2 He is determined to remain here and make machines He had sold all his machines--clean--and has borrowed 4 mills till next season of Rumsley who has just returned from Brockport but did not see you. He has sold all the machines for $165. and will be over to Brockport after he goes to Port Hope where he says he will go on his return from Waterloo, where he has gone to day--I have some of his notes in my hands at present, but have not accepted them as payment, for I do not want the trouble of collecting, he is to make me a payment before he goes to Brock[Port] and to give me a note at the Bank Endorsed which I can use to purchase Iron--although there is no discounting such note at present--I have taken one note of $100 endorsed by a man perfectly responsible for which I have given him credit and he has paid me about 280 in Scrap Iron & cash and what was due him on note you gave him for Castings. I will endeavour to have all safe before he goes to Brockport. He intends to pay B & S in notes--so far as I know all his notes are good.
February 21st Yours of the 15th is this morning rec'd--I have requested Tiffany is to write to B & Seymour about Halls debt--it is hard to know now when a debt can be collected when it is in the hands of a Lawyer. Tiffany now tells me that the best way to obtain the money is to take out what he calls a Casa, may not spell it right but Burroughs will understand it--It will put him on the limits and keep him there till he pays the debt or it seems he is not worth anything--I say the debt is safe, but that does bode me no good as long as they are not able to obtain the money. I have made no new debts of late nor shall I sell any Castings or Ploughs on account till I hear from you. I think our best course is to sell what we can get pay down for for [sic] one year if we do not sell more than $3000.--But you must come over and see which you think is best to be done--There will be nothing to speak of done till spring at best.--Will now hand this to Continue Dear Catherine
I acknowledge with pleasure the receipt of yours in connexion [sic] with the Doctors--yet I must say I am sadly disappointed to hear that Mary has so hastily thrown herself away how shall I make use of milder language. Who is [?] they and himself being judges--a Reformed Rake. It would be an ounce of gratification to me if I could believe that 'reformed' has not been dragged in in violation of truth and justice.
But why do I write--The deed is done--May the veil of darkness forever brood over the past--and my antisipations [sic] of the future be like a tale written on the sand which the first passing surfs will obliterate--Eight days since I wrote you at Le Roy and Dean in Warsaw and requested him to bring you home the first of this week [written above line] and Old Tig, and apples and beans--but I will now write him to the contrary--I am in want of Old Tig but will continue to send for him--When you have made your visit at Brockport and Le Roy I will contrive some way to send for you--The weather is so very cold and the sleighing good--Remember to Cam, M. and Brother and Sis Walker--I should be happy to see them but I have not time that I can leave.
Believe me sincerely yours
John Fisher3 [and Catherine Fisher]
1 In the fall of 1837 Upper Canada was in the throes of the Canadian Rebellion. In 1837....The province entered a financial depression which lasted until 1844-1845. Circulating capital was in short supply, often any available currency was used, as well as notes, and bartering. Even banks were forced to close for a time (Minnes 1,3). In 1837 and 1838 there was a high anti-American sentiment in Upper Canada (refusing to pay bills and threats of burning down the foundry were expressed to Fisher). Many of the problems that Fisher describes in his letters for this period can be attributed to the political situation, the Rebellion. By 1839 the financial conditions for the firm had improved and Dr. Calvin and his wife Margarette (Lerned) moved to Hamilton with their son Calvin Brooks.
Nov 18, 1837 Toronto Ontario--William Lyon Mackenzie 1795-1861 decides on a coup d'etat for December 7; to create a republican government in Upper Canada that would petition for union with the United States.
Dec 05 1837 Toronto Ontario--William Lyon Mackenzie 1795-1861 leads 800 rebels 8 km down Yonge Street from Montgomery's Tavern to Toronto, where they are met by Dr. John Rolph and Robert Baldwin at Gallow's Hill below present day St. Clair Ave.; they discuss a truce, telling Mackenzie that Bond Head has promised to pardon all who laid down their weapons; Mackenzie refuses. At 6 pm, a group of 700 rebels led by Samuel Lount gather at the Bloor St. tollgate and march south; at present day College St. they are ambushed by Sheriff Jarvis and 27 men hiding in Mrs. Sharpe's vegetable garden; the rebels flee in disorder, leaving one dead; two days later they are routed by the militia.
1837... December 7, Colonel Allan Napier MacNab was ordered to exit Toronto, assemble a force and confront the Duncombe Rebellion in Western Upper Canada.
1837....December 29, Loyalist forces burned the ship CAROLINE. The ship had been a supply ship for American patriots.
1838....May 30, 1838 at 2AM, the Upper Canadian steam boat SIR ROBERT PEEL was burned by Americans in The Thousand Islands. In 1839 some of the rebels were executed and others fled.
"Upper Canada Rebellion." December 2, 2003. http://www.ottres.ca/hconline/chapters/5/5timeline.html.
2 Mr. [Joseph] Janes, a partner in the foundry, ran off in the fall of 1838, abandoning his wife and leaving behind thousands of dollars in debts. For more information and links, see W-MCP4-6.237
3 For John Knox Fisher, see W-MCP5-6.240.