W0144 TO MARGARETTE B. [LERNED] MCQUESTEN from her husband Dr. Calvin McQuesten
Aug 7 1839
To: Margarette B. Lerned McQuesten, Concord, New Hampshire
From: Hamilton, [Ontario]
My Dear Wife,
I received yours on Saturday and was very happy to learn that you and our little one are in good health.
I feel much anxiety for you both but I know you are in the hands of Him who always doeth right. Tell Calvin he must be a good boy and mind his mother. You must not let him rule the older children nor call you naughty. you mentioned that Mr. Dustin would not accept the assignment I sent you that he wanted a statement how our business would close up that if there was a net profit in the business it was all he would ask. I cannot send any statement what the profit will be for I have not investigated the business through since Ed left. Edward ought to know himself. I will make another proposal and they may take their choice of the two. I will pay a debt of $10. to McQuesten and Budlong for things that Ed took out of the Shop that have never been charged in my account. Then I will pay over to Mr. Dustin $140. out of the profits of your business as soon as it can be collected and bind myself by a note that it shall be paid as soon as a year from next Oct. Also I will give in what my account for Ed. expenses exceeds the amount of money received. (I have paid some little debts he contracted since I sent my bill by Mr. Noyes to Mr. Dustin) and settle the whole concern between them and me.1
I will also give my word that the money shall be sent to them and they shall have no trouble in collecting it. Now if they do not accept of either of these proposals I shall feel that they are unreasonable and I wish they would say to you what they want me to do.
I feel very anxious to retain the good feeling of your friends but I do not want to buy gold too dear. Edward knows that I always studied his interest and not my own in every thing I did for him and I still wish him well. You wrote me that E. says the last $100 I received for his expenses saved me from failing. That is too childish a remark to call for a reply but I would remind him that I had some capital in the business that I offer him the whole profits of.
You wrote that Cath. said that Seldon wrote that my friends have been to him to try to settle for me. That is false for it would have been an easy matter to settle with him for he said after the case was decided he always expected to get beat----keep this from your half friends.
Now my dear wife you must let no person on earth see this letter for if you do not bring about a settlement it may be against me to have any one even the Mag. see it but you can read it to them and they cannot prove by you that I ever wrote the letter. It is not probable that I shall ever make another offer to settle and if they want to go law they must come to me where I can attend to them. But let them know nothing about my determination. Be pleasant and kind and if they will settle you must get the Mag. to assist you and if you do it at all you must do it strong. Write me your success and then I will tell you when I shall come for you. The money due to your mother I will bring or send to you. Below I shall write the note in case you effect a settlement and you must cut it off put it into your pocket book and not loose it or give it away for it may cause me trouble.
You must not think of returning without visiting Samuel but you may wait a little. You inquired if I had had the sick head ache. I have not since you left. You will direct your letters here. My time can be spent to a better advantage here for a while than at Brockport. We are doing considerable business.
My love to my friends and yourself. Make your boy mind.
1 In 1835, Dr. Calvin McQuesten took in Edward Lerned, the half-brother of his wife, Margarette (Lerned) McQuesten, in order to supervise his education in medicine. Mr. Dustin, Edward's guardian, wished to have Calvin take over legal guardianship of Edward rather than pay $1 000 for the boy's care. Calvin declined this proposal, and in March of 1835, accepted an alternate agreement in which Dustin would pay the $1 000 on condition that Calvin bind himself to support Edward until he turned 21 (W0755). However, Dustin may have wanted to turn over guardianship simply to avoid paying anything for the boy's care and education since we have evidence that he avoided sending the money for over a year after Dr. McQuesten agreed to care for Edward into adulthood. In March of 1836, Major Hugh McAllaster (the husband of Margarette's sister Louisa) remarked
"Mr. Dustin says he is perfectly willing to resign his guardianship, but I suspect he does not intend to forward the $1 000 mentioned it might be a long time before the funds could be taked out of his hands should he feel disposed, to retain them" (W0841).
There is no conclusive evidence that Dr. McQuesten ever received the full amount promised.
In January of 1838, Mr. Perkins sends a letter to Dr. McQuesten on behalf of Edward's mother with an enclosed bank note for $475.00 for Edward's care. However, as of June 8 the same year, Edward and Mr. Dustin were threatening legal action against Dr. McQuesten for money that he supposedly owed to Edward for his work at the pharmacy of Budlong & McQuesten. Dr. McQuesten tried to settle this affair, but as of March 1840, Mr. Dustin was still pushing for specific terms of remuneration which Calvin was not inclined to accept. In addition, Edward was acting as a witness in a defamation suit launched by a Mrs. Jones (possibly "Janes"), although the lawsuit was dismissed and Dr. McQuesten received judgement for the cost of the suit (W0137).
According to this letter, part of Dr. McQuesten's defense was to demonstrate that Edward was a liar (W-MCP4-6.233), and there may be some scattered evidence to support an attack on Edward's character.
In a letter to his mother in 1835, Edward apologizes for his behaviour towards her and for the "months of pain & trouble I have caused you" (W0743). In 1837, Margarette wrote to her stepmother about Edward's character, stating that he "is so much taken up with trifling things...[h]owever [he] has some very good qualities and has greatly improved within two years" but she still expresses some minor concerns for his personal development (W0906). However, Louisa writes to Margarette, saying "make no promise to Mother nor Cath[erine] for they will not wish you to tell the truth about Edward" (W0486) and that she and her husband Hugh "were perfectly ignorant of the steps Edward had taken & so was Mary," (W1009), most likely referring to their sister, Mary (Lerned) Flanders. On May 31, 1839, Margarette writes her husband that "they talk plainly about E.[Edward] and many things are not as they should with him...I cannot think there is any change in him for the better by what they say" (W0978) and two months later, Calvin writes to her, stating that "[y]ou wrote me that E. says the last $100 I received for his expenses saved me from failing. That is too childish a remark to call for a reply" (W0144).
For additional information on Edward, see W-MCP4-6.233, W0144, W0771, W0809, W0810, W0812, W0824, W0833 and W-MCP5-6.310.