1833: Francis Cleveland to Micajah Terrell Williams

This letter was written by Francis Cleveland (1796-1877), the son of Deacon William Cleveland (1770-1837) and Margaret Falley (1877-1850). Francis was President Grover Cleveland’s uncle. He married Harriet Stuart (1798-1822) in 1820 at Zanesville, Ohio. He married second Margaret Waller in 1844 at Portsmouth, Ohio. Francis Cleveland was a civil engineer who was employed in the construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal. He lived for a time in Waverly, then later Portsmouth, Ohio,

Cleveland addressed the letter to Micajah Terrell Williams, a Commissioner of the Ohio-Erie Canal. “Williams was Cincinnati’s representative to the Ohio House of Representatives in the mid-1820s and was even Speaker of the Ohio House in 1824-25. He was one of the principal promoters of building a canal system in Ohio and when the project was finally undertaken, he was very involved with it and was appointed one of the seven Canal Commissioners in 1825.” —  Source: Lisa P. Rickey

Stampless Letter


Addressed to M. T. Williams, Esq., Canal Commissioner, Columbus, Ohio

Portsmouth [Ohio]
January 10, 1833

M.T. Williams, Esq.,


Page 1

I think of leaving here in a day or two for Columbus with a view — if possible — to obtain a charter for a company with the title of the “Portsmouth Harbour Company.” Mr. Lord writes me that if a good charter can be obtained, capital to a considerable amount can be brought here for investment in improvements. The more I think of the project of occupying the old bed of the river as a basin, the more I am convinced of its importance — particularly when considering that it can be completed so as to be useful by the middle of next summer, and it may perhaps be physically impossible to complete the last lock for two years. At best, it must be a very expensive & difficult job.

Bottom Page 1

The citizens here without any exception as far as I have conversed with them on the subject concur in the opinion of its beneficial tendency to the public but many doubt its profitable result to the company. Mr. Lord very anxious to obtain the charter this winter, but I perceive that several applications have been refused for want of proper notice. If that construction of the law would extend to all cases, we must of course fail as we have given no notice. But as far as the interests of others are affected, I believe we have no opposition, and as it is a work of rather a peculiar kind, perhaps an exception may be made. Our views would extend to building dry docks for steam & canal boats & to the erection of mills, warehouses, &c., &c.

Page 2

The tumble of Mr. [Lemuel] Moss’ upper lock fell night before last leaving the abut & wing of the lock standing but somewhat shattered. The cause I am unable to state as the water is too high to ascertain the state of the foundation. It was a very solid & well arranged piece of masonry, and was to all appearances safe & secure the evening before, having been examined by Bradford just before dark. The foundation has probably undermined by some means. The rest of the line is sound.

Yours very respectfully, — Francis Cleveland


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