W0869 TO DR. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Hugh and Louisa McAllaster
Nov 23 1836
To: Dr. Calvin McQuesten, Brockport, New York, [U.S.A.]
From: Hopkinton, New Hampshire, [U.S.A.]
Yours in answer to my better half was recd about two weeks since. If I had known when she wrote you I might have dictated a little, or at least have interrogated you more about business and given you a short history of our Eastern speculation. I will now attempt it briefly & leave the sheet for L. [Louisa] to fill. I believe I told you that my purchase was about $20,000 Mr. Holm the same and Mr. Clement $20,000. One fourth of this we have advanced and given our joint note for the balance payable annually. The 2 paymts became due last July but we have not been called upon nor do we intend to pay anything more. Col. Carroll holds our notes and has the management of the land, he has promised verbally not to trouble us & I think he will not. We contracted with a company in Worcester Co. Mass at 25 per ct advance some 3 or 4 months after we bought but then scarcity of money prevented it being closed at the time, and it has lain growing worse & worse ever since. Several times since we have come nigh selling at about the cost, but something would prevent before it could be closed up. Carroll has had a plan in contemplation for some months past & he thinks he will yet be able to accomplish it when money becomes easier. If he succeeds as he expects, it will realize as much but we see yet no mony [sic]1. We are to take land in another township at $61 per acre for the mony [sic] we have advanced & our paper returned. I have now been waiting for more than one year in constant suspence & my patience is almost exhausted. I do not know what to do. I have paid out in this speculation about what I consider my own & have left my wife's portion which I intend she shall have the benefit of, if possible. I have paid all my other debts & am living [?]. I have thought it would be better to do so than to [?] what we have left in case they should call. I have given up all hope of seeing the rest at present & have [hired?] a house to winter in. I shall close the estate of our late Lerned father this winter if possible--collect what debts I can and above all get up our eastern paper if I can.
Wednesday eve before I finished writing this P.M. the calls were frequent 13 were here. Mrs. Kimball & Joynes called, Mrs. Ariel Currier to tea & so on &c. Mrs. [?] likes to peep into your closet & taste of the dainties I would pay you in bannocks & pumpkin pie. Do Sis write soon 18 cts I never grudge for a letter what is sweeter than a long letter with the Brocpt. [Brockport] stamp on it.
[Hugh McAllaster continues on next page:] I have advanced about $1000 more than my share & Mr. Holmes promised to refund it some time since, but owing to the scarcity of money in this section he has not been able to as yet. I am going immediately to Sandbornton & am in hope to obtain it. I think he has no disposition to keep me out of it. We have ever had a good understanding. If I had not been disappointed of this sum I think I should have tryed [sic] to have arranged my other affairs so as to have gone west this fall but it is now too late & I must spend another [ill?] winter.
You propose giving me a share in your furnace at Hamilton provided I advance $2000 & remain there. I might advance this sum pretty handily if Mr. Holmes pays me as I expect he [will?] soon but the place I think would not suit for a permanant [sic] home the business may be profitable though it would be too much like east speculation for me to invest without a thorough investigation or at least a representation favourable from you which it would seem you are not prepared to make at this time. If I thought it prudent for me to leave under present circumstances I should think more of it but as every thing with me is so unsettled and uncertain that I think it will be best for me to let what money I possess for this winter it is now worth more than common interest. I have some out at 2 1/2 per ct per month. Have the goodness to write me whether money is worth as much at B. as it was last year & can it be safely let & prompt pay in 3-6 or 9 mo. Will checks or [?] or [?] banks sell at par. Is there a premium on [?] & if so how much.
[Louisa McAllaster continues on the same page:] Dear Brother & Sister,
Last eve about 10 husband instead of going to bed took his seat by the table & scrawl'd the above, by the looks I think he had a few naps, but as I was asleep cannot say, he wrote till 12 then left to finish this morning but started for Sandbornton soon after breakfast saying he was fearful you could not pick out his words if not guess at it. We are now very pleasantly situated as Edward can tell you for we live in William Chandlers Store where the Tailor John D. died last winter. A store one side of us,
[Written up right side of page:] I informed Mrs. Towne respecting Mrs. Berry. The remains of E. Little have been brought here & intend the grave enclosed with a very expensive iron railing.
[letter continues on next page] above our heads Dr. Savory keeps his shop, students &c we have company enough, we have a parlour looks much like the old Sandbornton one. We have borrowed, hired, & bought a few necessary articles to stand us till spring & then if our lives are spared we expect to go [sketch of hand pointing West]. I sit facing the north my right hand East--the rest you know--I thank you dear brother for replying to my inquiries so promptly, but I was so late in the season writing that husband said we must defer going for the present, he says if we could stand the journey he should be willing to go by sleighing but thinks it would would [sic] be too great an undertaking with children--but if we live next May will see us Yorkers. But we have seen so many disappointments that I dare not think much of it. Providence may have some other place assigned for us, I desire to be submissive wherever my lot is cast. We are better contented than ever we have been since at Hop.--moved last Wednesday the day before Thanksgiving which was 17th inst. Thanksgiving day Mother with her 4 daughters Hus & self with our 4 children spent the day at Mary's [17?] to dinner & then a supper at 9--we talked of absent Margarette Edward & you brother Calvin. We even thought we should like your medicamentum to help off with chicken pies, Plum pudding & so on. It was a very pleasant meeting such as we never expect to see on another Thanksgiving day.
Do allow me a mother and the mother of a pet son to tell you about him, he is a great boy, climbing up in chairs pushing down the girls, getting their work, playthings, plagueing them every way he can contrive--mimicks every body & every thing he hears & sees--he has now his pen & paper writing (I suppose to Aunt M.) he looks as father did, very white, red cheeks, fat & very active--quite different from his sisters, they all love him as I never saw children love so mischievous a boy. I thank you kindly for your Moral Reform do send one once a week or as often as you have them. I read them then Mrs. Kimball (minister's wife, who by the the [sic] by looks like Margarette) has them to read, she is a dear dear woman & my only intimate in H.
Mary calls often to see me, she is lonely now we have left, we troubled her long enough staying expecting every week to leave. As soon as we decided upon staying for the present we moved. I gave Hannah & Lucy & [sic] invite to pass the winter with me but Hann. is going to Bedford & C. has company from Concord to spend some time with her & L. is going to school so my invite I consider slighted, dear as everything is I thought Mother would be glad of the chance.
I have old Jack Francis wife living with me very good help, but intend to do without [?] & let her go live at Minister Chases. Sam Chase has turns of being in love for a Fisherville girl is said to be the cause who would ever have thought of it. Mary Currier is able to go out her arm is useless I believe her memory is very much impaired. I have nothing more to write only that Stephen Blanchard is not married to Martha [?].
Do tell Edward mother feels very bad that he does not write to her do tell him he must as she has very long expected a letter. I think if Mrs. [?] has a family of frettish children or very pleasant ones she must get out of patience & be a little fretful at times if not she is [sic] better disposition than I have. I get discouraged with care, anxiety, work, disappointment & think often I can do no good here but Oh! that I had more of a humble, submissive spirit more patience & wisdom--more of all that is good. I am reading Hannah More's works. Love to all who inquire for your unworthy Sister,
Louisa [Lerned] McAllaster
[Written upside down at top of page:] The Dr. is so good to do a message I now will give you one please kiss him for me 15 times. I expect Bpt is going down, down fast enough I hope the Dr. will not lose by the smashing there. How does [?] succeed. Dr. Gregg is head over ears in bad scrapes, the society have been drilling him all summer now I believe is going to Court. Mr. Jerry Story enters his complaint against Dr. G. for unlawful criminal intercourse with his daughter Martha. I could tell you much but dare not write. It is very vulgar & has been in the mouth of every one ever since last winter.
[To] Dr. Calvin McQuesten,
Brockport, New York
soul- Of late there has been more attention than usual in the subject of religion particularly in the Baptist Church- I was surprised to learn that Mr. Kelley is boarding out & that his health was so feeble, surely he must like all others who have lived in sin, have bitter cause of reproach-The death of Mrs. Wichmen was very sudden. I think you have many sudden deaths at [?] Never was such a time from as the present as many fail and all confidence lost, every thing very high, and dull dull times. How I should delight to be settled near you within a days ride or more & think Hugh would like to open a tavern if he could obtain a good one, & come to some settlement with land his agent- I wish sis, I could feel to send [?] to spend a few months with you, she is a good girl & would be a great deal of company for you. I should be willing to have her go if she had a motherly friend to go with her- Mary has joined the Episcopal Church & had her children all baptized-Daniel spends every Sabbath at home, Stern Woods is living but is no better M. at lunch must off [sic] good spirits but I guefs [sic] she [?] think often of her good home left behind- May day when you was writing me, I was seated by a blowing fire with Mother & [?] both at work for me thinking of good old times, & looking with wonder at my great girls, who were hoping to attend a May day party at Mr. Lavis's. They live in Dr. Colby's house- Catharine is very pale & Mother says her health is not good- I expect she confined herself to painting and ornamental needle work instead of house work & plain sewing though I know not but precious little about her, she calls occasionally at the door but does not stop- Hannah & Lucy have spent a week with me- H. is a fine girl very steady, industrious & has the love of all Lucy is good hearted & talkative as ever Elizabeth as tall as you could overlook you, she is pretty but not so open hearted Mary appears very happy never has anything to trouble her. I do not think Mother is so happy as Mary though I have not lately heard her mention any trouble, a family of children my dear is a constant source of anxiety- A cup of Coffee I could not join you in, but the Johnny Cake I would have tonight if we had meal or could ever get by having Mrs. Estabrook is at concern quite a belle villain & family leave soon for Alabama he has failed for a great [?] I do not see Mrs. Hutchins as I go no where not even to return calls. Mary P. is a rogueish [sic] girl smart to work- Sarah is an oddity cannot sew or read no inclination to learn Yes, Alfred is "start" enough just such a form & head as father had & a very bright boy he knows and does every thing that the rest do- can talk quite well and is the pet of the house-Bonnets woven here are white & straw coloured satin very large & [?] Braid- The murder caused much excitement at the Bridge but not much in this village- the murderer is in Jail. Now my dear have I not answered every question you asked me? I believe I have. By the bye writing about Indian Cake made me so anxious to taste one for you & oneself too, that I have just sent into Mrs. French & barrowed enough for supper to eat with broiled ham. Oh M. if you could but have a bite of it-
June 5th Monday P.M.
When I commenced this letter two months ago I expected it to go immediately and I heard Philip Brown was going West, & now I have heard a Ms. Colby started tomorrow and you must take it as though it was the very best for I have not much forse [sic] about me-I have seen Mrs. Estabrook since writing the above she sends much love to you. L Stannon is now on a visit to Exeter, Mrs. Burleigh in one of her letters mentioned "My dear little Margarette inquiring about you & Mayor Bailey failed last week at the bridge & Mr. Solomon Philips died, Mrs. P has two sons- Mr. Sergeant & wife have seen their niece soon at Boston dash & out in style for a few months, rich furniture, headstone & [?] are now once more in their old house living up stairs with the old lady or Mr. Knowlton lives in the lower part- part of their furniture on the way back again. Alfred has been rather unfortunate, last winter he fell into the fire with both hands & burned him badly & a [?] ago fell with his left arm into a pail kettle of boiling apple sauce. The skin came off from his arm pit to his finger ends he is now [?] attended meeting yesterday & a third service a Church, Mrs Harvey left her seat before services commenced "to see this sweet boy". Mother has been sewing for me 4 days expect her again tomorrow she often says "What would Margarette say to see such and such an one" By the bye Caroll after a three months rumbles has got back to Concord & Mr. Mac goes down tomorrow to see if he cannot get up his papers, I will write you the results if favourable as soon as we ascertain- I do feel now as though we may start for, I know not where before many weeks, I do hope not to be disappointed- I have thought much of [?] go but what a task to journey with such a family & my health not good- If any thing new or a good place seen in your Canada excursion let us know-We have a great deal of rain and some very heavy thunder showers, it rained 9 days in May-If you have [?] paper please to plait in 6 plaits green or some dark colour & put on your glafs [sic] 5 sheets trimmed mine & at top one at bottom & and no cut proper now- Enough M [?] another son-I believe my little ones love you much for they think as much of a letter as I do from & did not see Charles last Friday when he prep'd [sic] mother & I as we last at the window serving her call'd [sic] at Mothers & left letter-Thank you kindly for the Moral reform it gives Tom have Marriage then is wrong and 2 months after her [the rest of the letter is overwritten and illegible].
[Address on Cover]
Mrs Margarette B. McQuesten
1 Hugh had been speculating on some land in Maine but within a year had given up all hope of seeing a title to any of the land or of retrieving his money (W0897). In general, he was unsuccessful in his financial endeavours and his family spent much of their lives in poverty. For more details and links, see W0889.