This letter was written by Robert Bryarly Gordon, Sr. (1815-1896). When he was fourteen years of age, Robert came with the family to Piqua, where his father entered upon a mercantile concern, which was continued until 1861. He obtained his early education in an old log school house in his native place. After the family settled in Piqua he attended a public school in that place, and later finished his education in an academy. At the age of twenty-one he became clerk in his father’s store at Piqua. In 1839 he came to St. Mary’s and established himself in business as a general merchant at this point in company with David Bates, who was chief engineer of the canal that was then in course of construction. At the end of three years he withdrew from the partnership, and was elected treasurer of Mercer county, which office he held four years. Upon his retirement from office he purchased a half interest in a flouring mill on the canal, which he retained three years. Later he engaged in farming and stock raising having eleven hundred acres of land at that time. In 1855 he purchased a large and well-equipped flouring mill in St. Mary’s, which he operated until his death, which occurred Dec. 25, 1896.
Mr. Gordon was elected Representative to the State Legislature in 1864, and was re-elected in 1866. He was prominent in local politics, and was a stanch Democrat. His first vote was cast for Martin Van Buren.
Mr. Gordon was married (1838) to Catharine Barington, the daughter of William R. and Jane Barington.
Robert B. Gordon wrote the letter to his contemporary, Alfred Peleg Edgerton (1813-1897) during the year that Edgerton was elected to the Ohio State legislature as a democrat from Hicksville, Ohio.
Mention is made of James Watson Riley in the letter. Riley was the founding father of Celina, Ohio. Originally, St. Mary’s was the Mercer County seat of government, but with the Ohio government’s creation of Auglaize County in 1848, St. Mary’s became part of the new county, and Celina became the county seat of Mercer County.
Addressed to Hon. A. P. Edgerton, Columbus, Ohio
St. Mary’s, Ohio
January 16, 1846
Hon. A. P. Edgerton
I am induced under present circumstances to write to you with regard to the matters not adjutating this court, in relation to the removal of a County Seat from Celina to St. Mary’s & the proposed formation of the new county Auglays [Auglaize]. I have been opposed to the removal of the County Seat as it seems tight to have it as near the center of the county as possible and it appears unjust to compel one person to go further to the County Seat than another if it could be avoided. But as the cause is, it would be of no inconvenience to any part of the county to have the county business done in St. Mary’s as it is the point where all the other business is done. Almost every person in the western part of the county who has to go to Mill, or to do any trading has to go to St. Mary’s four or five times a year, at any rate, and they had just as well attend to their county business as not at the same time, and of course would labour under no inconvenience.
Another matter is amount of between eight and eleven thousand dollars and its revenue for several years back has not been sufficient to pay the current expenses and if the county of Auglayse [Auglaize] should be made, it would leave the balance of Mercer City in a most hopeless state of indebtedness and which she would never be able to pay. And the only alternative would be repudiation, which we are very much opposed to. And now, my opinion is to go right to work and move the County Seat to St. Marys as soon as possible which will put a stop to all jangling about a new County and hope you will concur with me in my opinion and use all possible means to carry the matter through in the shortest possible time.
Again, James Watson Riley has written to some of his friends here that a new county would be made, or the county seat would be moved to St. Mary’s, and advised them to get up petitions for the new county, which some of them have done, as they do everything that their god James tells them. [But] they will get but very few signers and almost every person in the county is in favour of moving the county seat in preference to the new county. It is certain that the removal will burst up J. W. Riley, but I do not believe in bursting a whole county to save one man. I will be in the city in the course of ten days or two weeks and if the matter is not settled by that time, will give you some more information about it.
Very respectfully your friend, – Robt. B. Gordon