1837: Joseph Roby to Samuel Breese

This interesting —  though difficult to read — letter was written by Joseph Roby, Jr. (1795-1847) of Brockport, New York. He directed the letter to his brother-in-law, Samuel Breese, of Bloomingtown Township, Muscatine County, in what was then part of Michigan Territory [later Iowa] making Breese a pretty early settler.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. Samuel Breese, Bloomington, Muscatine County,  M. T. [Michigan Territory]

Brockport [New York]
December 20, 1837

Dear Brother,

As I have written you two letters from which I ought to have heard ere this, I write hoping you’ll be induced to drop me a line. First I wrote you from Chicago giving my reasons for coming East, viz: that as Congress would do nothing at the extra session & I had no funds and could not then know how I was situated, I found it necessary to return to home. And secondly, I sent you a draft for 320 dollars for ___ of the Co.

On reaching Buffalo, I converted your certificate of deposit in Detroit to Certificates of Deposit at Buffalo & enclosed to you, as the best possible course for me to pursue with them. Indeed, I think it was a saving to you of 10 percent. I had another reason for wishing to return here. You know I was engaged in a Steam Mule here & was anxious to see it in operation as if I made a settlement at the West, it would be necessary to have one. And if so, necessary to know some what of it. I returned & having laid up a good stock of bile have been like our ____ (which by the bye was to have been in operation in Oct.) One day in operation, the next stop for repairs. So I for every well day, I or had I had another of sickness. This is now a week since I was out of the house and at times have supposed I was done up for the winter. Vut today I;m better & this is my first effort. I learn from Stanards that they are all well. I believe also they are so at Buffalo. Sidney continues well & doing well.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of the Glorious Whig victory or victorious not only of this but almost every other state. I pray to God to continue the good work.

You perhaps have heard of the revolutionary movement in Canada. But that’s all.  As Mustapha said, all bosh. It’s a foolish affair & I hope nearly over. In Lower Canada all the leaders have left & are in the states except those _______.

Of further news, I have none. Michigan I hear little of. The lands there grow in value every day.

Touching our mill, we bought the building & ground for $2000 & when our plans were matured, estimated the whole cost at $10,000. This for two two burr stones for custom work & one for flouring with all the apparatus for that business. Also a saw mill calculated to run alone or with one run for custom work. We agreed for an engineer to be perfect & completed & let in operation for $3200. But alas, the persons with whom we agreed not being of the right kind nor have the fear of the aforesaid agreement before these engineers, for wished us the boilers — of the s___ agreed upon, but the other operation wholly infompetent to the great task it has to perform. So it goes a while, then stops a while to be repaired. But while it does go, it is really a pretty & profitable affair. I suppose will pay as from 20 to 30 dollars a day — in clean money — shin plasters. It would be a mine — mine — of wealth.

When leave here depends on my health & the route depends on circumstances. I hoped to be back by this time with funds to purchase lead — but gave it up.

Remember me to W. Higgenbottom. Yours truly & affectionately, — Jos. Roby

You must guess this out.

As you will have funds collected in the course of the winter which you will with to transfer in the spring to New York, I wish you to purchase for me a claim when you can do so at a reasonable price. The time to do so, it seems to me must be this winter when cash as well as everything else is scarce. You remember that my favorite spots are from Richies up the River, and I do not doubt you can make me a good purchase & I will pay you inst. _____ & place the funds in New York so that you can have the use as early as you wish. Maj. Guidons or the one next his own of which he has the charge he offered for 1000. If the back country is to taken & is of the right character, this is a valuable & perhaps 800 cash would do it. A spring or stream are necessary. Don’t delay it too long — a preemption may pass.


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