W0280 TO DR. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his cousin John Fisher
May 6 1837
To: Dr. Calvin McQuesten, Hamilton, [Ontario]
From: Brockport, Monroe County, New York
I received on Sunday at Church your letter which was handed to me by Mr. Kendrick. He tarried with me till Thursday and then started for Michigan. He stated that he liked the Place and the prospect for business much better than he expected--and that unless inducements were held out to him in Michigan which he should think superior he would return in some 3 or 4 weeks. He stated that the great probability was that he would come and take an interest with us if we could agree on terms. I am well pleased with him on our short acquaintance--Should he return I am of opinion that we shall want a Steam Engine before we can make Stove Plate and Hollow Ware to advantage. I fear our Blast is not equal to heating Iron for making Ware as thin as Mr. Kendrick wishes. This will be attended with more expenses which will not be very desirable at this time. I stated to Mr. K. that provided we could make Slate and Hollow ware of equal quality with Stanteys I had no doubt we might find sale for a large sum and sell it to advantage. It would no doubt be the best work we can do--He is to write you as soon as he makes up his mind, and provided he does not return he will at the same time write me. If he returns we shall expect you here shortly after his return.
I rec'd yours dated the 28th and 30th and post marked May 2nd--this morning. Since I last wrote you I have been offered by another individual for our shop $2500-$500 cash down, $1000 in one year, $1000 in two years--I offered to take $3000. $1000. $1000 6 months $1000 year--Whether I can now sell it for $3000 or $2500 I know not--it will be no object to sell for less that $3000 with the intention of purchasing again in Town--Nor for that price save to build on a very dry spot.
I bought a year last February at Father Blanchard's instance a lot on the street next of the Foundry for which I promised to pay $300. Last Feb'y the lot was worth $250, I promised to pay $50 more than it was worth as two or three were wanting it at the time and it was the only lot I could obtain that I wanted. I purchased it thinking to build me a small house if ever I should be able. I offered to sell it this spring for $300--what I promised to pay--no one would buy, at length the offer was taken--I then asked $305, one day after that offer was taken I asked $310, and the same individual would ask my price but in all cases take more time than I gave till I was asking $500, at that price I was taken--so I received a good note for $200 for my bargain--I have since purchased two Lots of Jones at $1200--$550., due the same man you bought the Lot of we now occupy and $650. I have promised to pay Jones in castings.
The day after I purchased I was offered $100 for my bargain and one hundred more down--and the remaining $550 as soon as we should obtain it from Jones for Castings--that is to say--provided he paid us our half in 90 days and 1/2 in 180 days after ordering. The Lots are richly worth $1400 and I have no doubts we had better keep them 3 months than sell them for less.
You mention my obtaining the amount of our debt to B & Co. from the bank and paying the same--Last week there was returned from the Upper Canada Bank $52,000 of the Gore Bills to the bank in this place since which time not a dollar has been discounted. All the other Banks in the Province had stopped before--so there is no money from that quarter--On the receipt of your first in which you asked for $200. I thought I would go to the bank and borrow some $500 and send you but the door was shut--I called on McNab who is one of the directors and enquired of him when there would be a prospect of obtaining money, he thought it might not be long but could not say with any certainty--it depends on the treatment of any Bank from yours and if yours are in "hot waters to your shoulders our Banks cannot offer many favours."1 I presume I can sell our two lots for $1300 in two weeks if you think best--but it is worse than paying 25 per ct for 3 or 4 months--I do not know of any place where I can raise at present $20 but I shall start on Monday and hope I can raise $100. If so I will send it you. I shall be gone some 4 days and should the bank make a different arrangement I will borrow and send to you.
I have bought of Van Norman 10 tons Iron Sheet at $30 per ton at his Furnace. Transportation $10. I had to pay him in advance at the Bank--He promised me 20 tons more this season but would not make weightings for but 10. We have on hand 1 ton coal--3 or 4 tons Iron. Old Iron has come in much faster this spring that it has before. I shall probably send to Ogdensburg for 4 tons--in 4 or 6 weeks which will be all of that kind I shall want till Iron comes cheaper. Our sales for the two past weeks have been very light--not over $100. Johnson is here from Rochester and is locating the Rail Road. It looks as though something might be done--but where is the money coming from. If you think I will sell the 2 Lots bought of James at $1300 if I can again obtain the offer of which I think there is no doubt.
Write me on the receipt of this. I shall discharge one or two of our hands next week. Wires steam engine nearly done--Charges about $300--Oats $6, Flour $425 per Ct., Pork 1/3, Hams 1/4, Potatoes $6, Cheese 25 cts., Butter 23 cts., Hay $9.00.
Yours in haste
[Written alongside of first page:] Last night we had the heaviest shower for 15 minutes I ever saw it poured down and nearly swept us away--.
1 McQuesten and Fisher took this reference to "yours" and to "our Banks" to mean that MacNab and the Canadian Banks did not wish to loan money to Americans. Tensions were growing just before the Fall of 1837 when the Rebellion broke out; an economic depression was making business difficult; currency was in short supply; and interest rates were very high. Fisher felt threatened because of the general hostility towards Americans. In the Spring of 1838 the Sir Robert Peel was sunk by the Americans (Minnes 3). See also W-MCP4-6.171, W-MCP5-6.239, W-MCP4-6.193.
2 John Knox Fisher, Dr. Calvin McQuesten's first cousin and business partner, had difficulty working with another of the foundry's co-founders, Mr. [Joseph] Janes, and was often concerned about the man's methods of conducting business. In 1838, Janes ran off, leaving behind his wife and thousands of dollars of debt. See W-MCP4-6.237. For more on Fisher, see W-MCP5-6.240.