Item #18080 Autograph letter from an early Ann Arbor citizen, signed, to Hudson Bates of Chesterfield, Mass., on buying a wagon “got up on purpose for a complete cheat.”. Ann Arbor, Luther James, Cheats.

Autograph letter from an early Ann Arbor citizen, signed, to Hudson Bates of Chesterfield, Mass., on buying a wagon “got up on purpose for a complete cheat.”

Ann Arbor, June 8, 1846. 2-1/2 pages on a stampless cover bifolium with integral address, approx. 725 words. Fairly clear Adrian, Mich. cancel. A little soiling and wear; small tear to one edge from old seal, not touching text; in very good condition. Item #18080

The early settler in Washtenaw County (he arrived in 1835) who became a wealthy wool merchant, James (ca. 1803-1888) here writes back to New England that a wagon he had purchased from Hudson Bates “was got up on purpose for a complete cheat – there is no part of it that is made as it should be.” James had towed the new wagon behind another wagon to Albany; at the first opportunity of hitching his horse to the new wagon, “I got into the waggon & started the horse on a slow walk. The first thing I know I came down smash. 2 or 3 men that was close by, and saw the smash, caught the horse before he fairly got started to run. On examining it we found that the fore axletree had broken off where the Phil [felloe?] goes in – It broke off about as square as a pipe stem would break. It was made of the first growth of red oak & the timber was evidently dosy. [Dozy was a New-England term for rotten or rotting wood.] . . . When it arrived at Toledo it had one of the bands broken, and the *silver plate* as you called it had mostly peal’d [peeled] off. It is evident that the band was broken where it was put on. Again, there was a large quantity of the paint come off – I have had it examined by those that paint & they say that the paint was not mixed with Oil, others say it is made of lamp black & mixed with skim milk, but let that be as it may. . . .” James offers his correspondent a polite means of allaying any awkwardness, “I am not accusing you of cheating me knowingly – No I am far from it – I have to [too] good an opinion of you to think that you would do any such thing. But the man that sold it to you is a scoundrel – If he did not make the waggon himself he was no judge of Waggons.” (He suggests Bates sue the original seller.) James shows the firmness necessary to success in business; he eventually had enough wealth amassed to donate a thousand-dollar clock to the new Washtenaw County courthouse. See Samuel W. Beakes, Past and Present of Washtenaw County Michigan. Chicago, 1906.

Price: $150.00

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