1844: Albert Washburn to Jonathan Cushing

An early Cotton Gin; a cranked cylinder with wires pulled the cotton through grates, separating the seeds from the fibers.

This letter was written by Albert Washburn (1812-1851), the son of Solomon and Sally (Carver) Washburn of Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Albert was married to Clarissa Sumner Pratt in May 1842 in New York City, but she died in March 1843 after their son, Albert, Jr., was born. This infant died within 6 months. Albert then married Maria Otis Pratt (1821-18xx) not long after this letter was written. They had one son, Eli Washburn, born about 1848, before Albert died in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1851.

This letter was written to Jonathan Cushing (1786-1877), the son of Benjamin and Mary (Colesworthy) Cushing. Cushing was an agent for the Braintree Manufacturing Company — a supplier of cotton gins and gin parts.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. Jonathan Cushing, Agt. Braintree Manufacturing. Co., Bridgewater, Massachusetts

New Orleans [Louisiana]
January 3d 1844

Mr. Jonathan Cushing
Dear Sir,

Page 1

I have put on board the ship Vespasian, Capt. Nathaniel Barston, for Boston to sail in a few days a Grate. I think you had best make about 50 like it and 50 of the same form except being thinner from the part where the tooth passes. I have marked the grate where I want the thickness less, and send to me at Natchez as soon as possible, and I will put them on to a Stand, and ascertain which is best. If you are allowed to use the grates that you have on hand, I think you had best order all of the 12 in. 3/4 & 7/8 in. home, and put them into Stands of 60, — 55, — 50, — 45, — 40 saws. There ought to be as many as 10 sent to Memphis as soon as I write you from there. Say 2, — 60, — 2 — 55 — 2 –50 — 2 — 45 & 2 — 40 saws. Brush to be drove by a separate Band, and 6 or 8 to Vicksburg of 60 & 65 saws. Brush to be drove in the same way. And if you have not grates enough on hand to keep doing until I have tried the new one, and can get a few more of Carver (or his permit to make a few more) it is my opinion you had better do so than to stop. If you calculate to sell gins, you must have an assortment. It will be very late before you can know what this grad will do. If you think of taking the business from Mr. Stilwell, you will please direct me how to proceed and write him at the same time, informing him of my instructions. I wish you to be careful and not say anything to him about the notice in the paper that I sent you a few days since. I think the more mild you are in writing him, the better it will be for you. If you are satisfied that you shall get no more money from him , it will make but little difference what you say to him. The last letter that he received from you, under date of Dec. 5th, did not go down good no how. When I first arrived here he thought he should send you some money as soon as the first of January. You will see what he has to say. He wrote you yesterday.

Page 2

If you make a change in the Agency here, it should be done before I leave for home. I left here last Sunday morning for Bayou Sara, and before I had gone twenty miles, I was told by one of the passengers that the man that I was going to see, was in the City. I went on until I met a Boat, and returned on her. I went up 90 miles & was here again before sun rise next morning. I have settled with them. On my return, I found two men that I have been five hundred miles to see twice (to no purpose) and came within an hour of missing them. But was in time. I got the money of them. I shall go to Memphis on Friday and if I am not detained much there, shall stop at Natchez on my return & fix that Ferriday business, and likewise settle with Banard, if possible. Enclosed please find A. Woolfolk’s note, which Mr. Stilwell thinks should be endorsed as Mr. W. is a very strong-_____ business with, and may plague me about paying it, if it is not endorsed. Have not heard from you since December 5th.

Truly yours, — Albert Washburn


2 responses to “1844: Albert Washburn to Jonathan Cushing

  • Shawn Saunders

    Thanks so much for posting this.

    I am researching our home’s history in Bridgewater. John Cushing lived here for most of his life … do you have any other info?

  • Griff

    I’m glad the letter was useful to you and that it may add to the history of Bridgewater. Unfortunately, I do not have any more information regarding Cushing or Bridgewater that I can add to what is posted here. — Griff

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