July 21, 1857 letter to Luke Keith from Charles Cridland

July 21, 1857

To: Luke Keith

From:  Charles R. Cridland, Delaware, KS

Thanks him for sending the money but before he got it the goods came and he had to pawn his watch to pay the bill. Most of his trees were dead and the ones that lived died soon after due to dry weather. The roses and other garden items did much better. A rat chewed up all the hay in the box and worried him “well to death,” but he found a trap and caught it. He has never had better looking broom corn nor so much of it. The “kind of half southerners” who live there know nothing about cows and milk them using only one hand and a tin cup. The women churn all their milk and sell the buttermilk to campers to mix with their bread. He wants the handles before fall and hopes Luke can make some arrangement to help him get them because he is very hard up.

Delaware[1] R. J.[2] July 21. 1857

Dear Friend

I got a letter yesterday from my wife in which she tells me she had written to you about the 10 doll[ar]s! Do women always run before they are sent.  I guess they do, if the fit takes them – well never mind. The money came all right and I am much indebted to you for the trouble you took, though it was all trouble for nothing. I found when I got here the bill I left with you was just as good as any here, and when my goods came I had not the money to get them and finally pawned my watch for 10 dollars and had to take gold and then had to pay the bill at a discount to pay gold back, where if I had had the paper at first it would have paid the transport as well as the gold. My trees were pretty much dead as I expected, and we have had such dry weather here that a good many which lived out near the bottom have died since. Whether any of them will live through the summer is uncertain. The roses and other things of the garden have done much better and I shall save some of most kinds of them. A pesky rat had made a nest in the box and chewed all the hay up fine, and knaw’d the harness, and since he got here has worried me well to death until I found out a few days ago where there was a trap and I have cotch’d the scamp. We have had quite cool weather here for the season until last tuesday when it got up to 93. Since then it has been very warm and on saturday it was 104 in the shade all the afternoon. I like it here very much so far. The soil could not please me better. I have no fear of having to haul dung while I live. I think the summers here are very dry. We have but two showers since I came here but the land seems to hold moisture much better than in Michigan and corn is doing first rate. I never had better looking broom corn[3] than I have now nor so much of it but it has been too dry in garden and I have had no peas until about a week ago. I have now peas and beans in abundance. The bottom of near the creeks are full of first rate smooth gooseberries. You can get any quantity of them. One of my neighbors has carried half a bushel at a time to town to sell, and there are plenty of wild plums and crab apples, and a good place to swim. I go in 3 or 4 times a week. If you take a notion to come out here you had better get off the boat at Delaware and you can walk straight to my cabin. Ask the way to the fording place[?] on the military road on the nine[?] mile creek and if you miss me on the way there the folks who live in the cabin at the ford will put you on the track back. I am only about 1½ miles from Delaware but there is no inhabited house between me and them and you will not be apt to find me till you get to the main road. Mechanics get good wages here and you could do first rate at your trade at a place in the country, but rents are very high in town and board too. But it does not cost much more to live in the country than in Mich. These kind of half southerners who live here know nothing about cows. They never have a stool and they milk with one hand into a tin cup until they get tired of stooping or they allow they’ve got milk enough. They eat milk a great deal but make very little butter or else butter would not be so high here, for there are plenty of cows and feed as high as your knee, and cows 5 to 10 dolls cheaper than with you. They bring stock from Texas and Arkansas and evry where else here. There were 300 beef oxen herding round my cabin a few days ago. The man told me they cost him 17 dols a head in Texas. They sold ’em to the govt at 70 dols a yoke. Butter was 50 cents a lb when I came, it is now 25. The women round here churn all their milk and then sell the butter milk to campers at 25 cents a gallon to mix their bread with. I had to write to Taylor and told him to let you know I had got the money. I suppose you have seen my letter. I wish you would tend to that business a little. I expect he is very busy and will be slow about writing and I am very anxious to have what can be done, done before fall as I shall want the handles. If he has not sold any of the things and cannot make the arrangement I wrote about I wish you would try to do something to help me about getting them for me for I am very hard up. Please write to me as soon as you can.

I want you to inquire of John Lay or of Lockhart what Dr Stetson’s post office address is now.

C R Cridland

——-

[1] According to History of the State of Kansas: Containing a Full Account of its Growth From an Uninhabited Territory to a Wealthy and Important State (A. T. Andreas, 1883, p. 458), Delaware City was formed in the summer of 1854 and was soon a prosperous and growing town. By 1883, however, there were only a few houses and about sixty people living there

[2] What these initials, which appear to be R. J., mean is unknown at this time

[3] The stalks of broom corn, the tops of which grow in fan-shaped blooms, were used to make brooms. These grass-like plants are not true corn plants and do not produce ears of corn for consumption. It generally took one ton of broom corn to produce 80 to 100 brooms

 

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