This letter was written by Capt. Ingraham Duncan (1796-1878), the son of John F. Duncan (1756-1830) and Lydia Donnell (1760-1827). Capt. Duncan was married to Rebecca Norwood Perry (1809-1892).
Capt. Duncan wrote the letter to his relatives, Charles Crooker (1797-1877) and William Donnell Crooker (1805-1868), who were the sons of Jonathan Harding Crooker (1769-1805) and Hannah Duncan (1775-1858).
The various small islands mentioned in this letter, the ownership of which seems to be the subject of the lawsuit described within, were islands in Penobscot Bay off the coast of Maine.
Addressed to Messrs. Charles &. W. D. Crooker, Bath, Maine
March 20, 1844
I have just received your kind letter & thank you for the contents for I must say it was a balm to my wounded feelings although you have repeatedly told me you should not reflect on me let the case go as it would. Still I felt uneasy although I have never doubted but that you would recover. But when I learnt that it was lost & that the judges had predicated their judgement on old Peleg Pendleton’s oath, I could have cried if it would have done any good. And when I thought how the case has been conducted, I can hardly contain myself.
I have often told you that I had no confidence in your lawyers & if they should swear that they had not be ____, I would not be__ them when the case was demured up it. It cut you off from all chance to rebut their testimony and I told them so at the time. If it had come to trial at that time & gone against you, you could have appealed & then you would have seen what you would have wanted. But no, up it must go. And how did they conduct at that court? I told them what grounds that I expected they would take & wished them to be prepared for them, told them what I could prove, but they turned a deaf ear to all I could say. When the case came on, I took my seat alongside of Crosby to instruct him in putting questions but he ordered me away & I believe put but one simple question to someone the lying witnesses. And now, while I am writing, I can hardly contain myself — not that I wished for a favorable decision for my benefit, for I had surrendered my right when I found you had got Cont___ in law. I never intended to take a cent. If you had have recovered, I do not wonder that you think strange that they made no objections. It is evident to my mind they did not want you to recover & their conduct proves the fact. I am in hopes that my brother Samuel will take care of old Peleg next December as he is one of the purger’d villains that swore against him. His case has not yet been decided on but I should not be surprised if he lost it as it is left to the three learned judges that decided on yours.
I cannot write you half half what I want to respecting this shameful affair. You asked in a former letter if I had taken any wood from the Islands. I answer no. Our little vessel [laid] by all the season, not befit to go until October. I then commenced repairing her which took me six weeks & before I got done, I had to go to the East after the remains of the Schooner Neptune & did not get back till December, so that I had no chance myself & I could get no one to fetch it off. Someone set a fire on Saddle Island last fall & I expect burnt the wood cut there. I have not had a chance to go on to see what damage it done. I intended to have taken the wood from Insign’s Islands this winter but the weather has been so bad it was impossible.
You ask what those islands are worth. That is a difficult question to answer. Are not all the islands involved in this great decision? I do not know myself for I did not hear of the decision but two or three days before I got your letter & consequently do not know exactly what it is but Crosby told Samuel that all islands that had been in possession fifty years would be held by the persons so claiming. If this is the case, you have lost all as there is no one but has a master or claim & some of them a half a dozen. But to come to the real value of the islands, I will give it to you as near as I can. We will begin with Mark Island that contains about forty acres & is worth $200.00 for it can with a little expense be made to cut forty tons of hay. Horse Head [island contains] twelve acres [and is] worth $40.00 if the wood is not sparse. Insign’s Island ____ [is] worth $50.00. This last has about fifty cords wood on it which comes off easy, principally soft fit for l____ is all the wood on the other islands. You can tell whether those islands come within the Royal decree. I should like to see the decision & if it is not too bulky, please send it to me. I told you in my last that [obliterated text] a prospect of selling the place that I lived on & turning it so as to pay a part of the accursed debts imposed on by those gent[lemen] that are now bankrupt at large a doing business on my hard earnings. I sold for five hundred dollars about half the ___ value but I found that I should loose all if I did not sell a part and I am not yet sorry. I think now if I have my health, I shall be able in time to clear off & do you justice. You may think I have forgot you boys, but I have not indeed, & I hope it will come in good time to you.
My boys are growing up & I am in hopes they will be a help to me. I have moved back on the hill but we are well filled up — three families in one house is two too many but I hope we shall do a little better by & by.
My health is not very good this spring. Electa is quite unwell & has been for the last three weeks so as to keep her bed the most of the time, but is some better. The rest are in tolerable health. Please write soon. My wife joins with me in her love to all friends so good evening.
— Ingraham Duncan
P. S. I have wrote Alden & Crosby on the subject of P. bill of East but have no confidence in them, — I. D.
April 9. This by a mistake of the bag has lain since the date. He took the wrong letter & I have just discovered this on the desk. I. D.