1825: Jeremiah Rowland to Samuel Rowland

This letter was written by Jeremiah Rowland (1788-1849), a fine classical scholar and a well-read lawyer who practiced law in Salem, Washington County, Indiana for many years. He died of cholera in June 1849. He was married in 1828 to Abigail Storrs Chapman (1798-Aft1870) in Salem, Indiana. His parents were Jeremiah Rowland (1758-1848) and Ellen Downs (1764-1803) of Weston, Fairfield, Connecticut.

Jeremiah wrote the letter to his cousin, Samuel Rowland (1782-1866), the son of Samuel Rowland (1755-1791) and Mabel Andrews (1756-1824) of Weston, Fairfield, Connecticut. Samuel Rowland was a well-to-do farmer in Weston.

In the letter, Jeremiah has written to his cousin to request a loan for a farmer named Burr Banks (1781-1863) who came to Washington County, Indiana, around 1820. Burr’s parents were Nehemiah Banks and Sarah Sherwood of Fairfield County, Connecticut. His first wife was Abigail Sherwood. We learn from this letter that she had recently died — probably in late 1824 or early 1825. His second wife was Eleanor McKinney. His third wife was Elizabeth Moore.

Stampless Letter

Addressed to Mr. Samuel Rowland, Saugatuck Post Office, Connecticut

Salem, Indiana
June 3d 1825

Cousin Samuel,

Mr. B. Banks arrived here about a week since and presented me with a letter from you in which you proposed to assist him with a little cash to enable him to pay for his lands. I thought I discovered from the tenor of the letter and from the provisos and conditions contained in it that you was not altogether and absolutely determined on the subject. Altho perhaps I might have raised the money, yet I could not conveniently accommodate him on my own account and as there was some uncertainty as to what you would do, I concluded to let the matter rest till I heard from you again. The next mail brought your second letter in which all contained in the former is annulled. Mr. Banks appears to be low spirited & melancholy occasioned probably from the loss of his wife.

As to the situation of his lands, I think you may rely upon the following as a correct statement. His farm in the first place consisted of one quarter section 160 acres on which he resides and has made considerable improvements. The land is of an excellent quality. This quarter he has paid for and has the best of titles for it, to wit a patent signed by the President of the United States issued according to a law of Congress. Before he set out on his visit to the Eastward, he purchased another quarter 160 acres adjoining his farm above-named on which there were some improvements and the land is also of an excellent quality. The consideration of this last quarter was Six hundred & thirty dollars. The man of whom he purchased is a plain old honest farmer but very particular and careful in making bargains. In order to secure the payment of his money beyond all reasonable doubt, he required security & Mr. Banks gave him his note for the money signed also by one of his neighbors as security which satisfied him, and he then executed to Mr. Banks a good and absolute Deed to the land — the title, I believe, is as good as that of any land in the State. The security of Mr. Banks in order to guard against all accidents that might happen took a mortgage of Mr. Banks of the land, I believe, of both quarters to secure him against the payment of the above sum and to be void when that was paid.

Since Mr. Bank’s return, having ascertained that he could not give up the last named quarter, and have the whole matter cancelled, he concluded it was best to hold on and pay as fast as he could. He has therefore made a payment of three hundred dollars & he has discharged most, if not all, the little dribbling debts against him. The money I suppose he received from his father. There will therefore remain to clear his land three hundred & thirty dollars. The money is now due but I believe there is an understanding  that indulgence will be given for a few months. He will not be able to make the money from the produce of his farm and unless he has help from some source, he may suffer a serious injury. Some persons in his situation with a good faculty at trading would probably work out of the difficulty but Mr. Banks is at this time cast down & dejected and he is not in the habit of making money in any way but by hard work and in selling his produce in the old way. I think you will do him a great kindness by giving him a little assistance at this time. Three hundred dollars will clear his land of all encumbrance. The balance of thirty he will be able to raise himself. By lending him that much I think it would in some measure raise his spirits & it might be of a lasting benefit to his family,

He expects your aid and will be greatly disappointed if you do not give it. He will secure you by giving you a mortgage on both quarters which I should conclude ample security for a sum twice as large or in any other way you may name. I will attend to the business & have it done correct. Provided you conclude to help him, I can contrive to pay him the money here on your paying in New York. You please to write immediately so that I can let him know absolutely one way or the other. You may depend upon the statement I have made. I believe it to be substantially correct.

Respectfully yours, &c. — Jeremiah Rowland


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