June 1, 1858 letter to Luke Keith from Charles Cridland

June 1, 1858

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: Charles R. Cridland, Delaware, KS

Writes with instructions for sending his stove but tells him to wait until he hears from him to send it as money is tight at the moment. The weather has been cold and wet and it took six weeks for some of the early corn to come up. There has been so much rain that “I calculate to have about a dozen chickens drowned every Sunday night.” Uncle Sam’s oxen and mules have kept the prairie grass down, but they are a nuisance. Thousands of them have come through on their way to Utah and the men are more of a nuisance than the cattle. The rest of the letter deals with land warrants in Kansas.

Scan of 1858-06-01 Charles Cridland to Luke Keith

Delaware June 1, 1858

Friend Luke,

I am in receipt of yours of May 17. I thought from your long silence, that my last could not have reach’d you until Wallace Earl came here and brought word from Taylor that my things were moved to Galesburg. I wrote you that I thought the Stove would come best without being packed, as I see all the Stoves do come unpacked, and there is perhaps less danger of being broken, than when tumbled over and over in a box. But you can use your own judgement about it, if you do box it, do be sure to fill the box tight so that it cannot fall and break when the box is rolled over, if you box it, send a good box if you have to buy a new one. If I pay freight on a box I should like one that will be of value, when it gets here. Good pine boxes are very useful for many things. I think myself if you pack the kettles & things and pipe in a box the stove could come safe unpacked. You had better take the brooms of Mills. You can trade them for some thing you want and credit me with it and when you have got through with me I will pay you whatever I may owe you. I do not want you to send the things just yet. I am rather in a tight place just now. I ran out of handles and have been expecting to receive a lot from Cinncinite for the past two weeks, and until they come, I shall be short of money, as the freight on them will be considerable. I will send you a line, as soon as the way is clear, but I don’t want to borrow money again. I would wait a little longer first. Wallace Earl left his trunk at my house and I got a line from him a few days since he has hired out to work for some man near Lawrence. Times are as tight in Kansas now as anywhere. The immigration this spring has been principaly of men who wanted work and consequence has been that wages have got very low here as the great scarcity of money has prevented many from building this summer but for all that Leavenworth is as busy a place as you will find in a ride of a thousand miles. Brooms are down to two dollars a dozen, but they command cash a good deal easier than in Mich. I have been some how very shiftless and miserable this spring. We have had a cold wet disagreeable windy time. I believe it took some of the early corn six weeks to come up and when it did come, it looked just as though it had the yellow fever, and has’nt quite made up its mind to live through it, but things look better now, and we have had so much rain, that I calculate to have about a dozen chickens drowned every Sunday night. On an average the grass on the prairie will soon be fit to mow, where Uncle Sams oxen and mules have not kept it down but we have such thousands of them that come here to start for Utah that they are a complete nuisance and the men are worse than the cattle. I am not working any land this summer. I have got much as I can do at broom making and a neighbour has planted five acres for me to make on shares. I though as I was situated I could do better so than to rent land. I should like as many as a peck of June potatoes if you could get them for me. I do not hear of any earlier kind than the Mishaunocks[?].

I heard from a man who owns a claim near to mine a few days since, that there was still some good quarter sections unclaimed in that neighbourhood, but I could not tell if there are now. Land warrants cannot be located in Kansas until after the public sales which were to have come off on the 5 July, but I am told they have been postponed till some time in the fall, but actual settlers can enter their lands and pay in warrants at any time before the sale. If Rogers’s idea is that he would give a settler 40 acres of land for his chance, he would be laughd at here. I suppose I could find a thousand men in Kansas who would furnish me a warrant for a hundred & sixty acres, and give me 80 acres – of it. At the land offices at Lecompton[1] they have any amount of warrants to furnish setters with to locate for the halves or they offer to lend them and take for a year on big interest, about 50 per cent – and take security on the land. There is a very poor chance here for a man to locate a warrant without actual settlement, as the good land is pretty much all settled on, except now and then a lot on the prairie which is missed or overlooked. After the prairies are burnt over, the section lines can be found without much trouble, but when the grass is growing, the corner stones are so many of them covered up by weeds and grass that lots are missed. Settlers are careful not to build their cabins too near together lest they should get two on the same lot, and sometimes they get so far apart that they find when they get to know where the lines are, that there is a vacant lot between them in this way [a drawing was inserted]. I am now writing in sight of a lot worth 20 dollars an acre which was missed in this way or it would have been settled on, but it was not discovered till a few days before the sale, and then one of the settlers had a brother living with him who put up a cabin before any body else knew it and secured the claim to himself. There has been a good deal of _____ and some blood shed, followed from folks getting two on one lot and both trying to hold it, and so they are careful now not to get too near each other without they are certain where the line is. There is of course no trouble then, and there is no little rascality carried on in moving or hiding the corner stones on purpose by men who wish to reserve lots for their friends who have not come on yet, as a good many land hunters would pass on rather than settle where they cannot be sure of not getting on to some other man’s claim.

I am going up to my claim as soon as the handles arrive and I can make a lot of Brooms, as I intend to take a lot of Brooms to Lawrence on my way, and if Rogers wants me look out for a claim for him and will give 40 acres to have it located after the sales, I will see what can be done, but there is no speculation to be made on such terms as you seem to think. If the good land in the neighbourhood is all taken up, I might travel for a week before I could one find one. Besides my own time (and I should not want to tramp from morning till night every day for nothing) there would be not less than a dollar to a dollar and a half a day cash out in expenses. When I found a claim that I thought would answer I must tramp to the land office 60 miles or more. I might be detained a day or two there _____ and then have to tramp home. It would cost at least five dollars for fees at the office, so you see there is nothing to be made at that rate. All there would be in it, I should turn my labor into land by spending perhaps twenty dollars in Cash and the land would be worth double what it cost in a short time I do not doubt. I suppose it is (any good land) worth three or four dollars an acre as soon as it is entered, but there is another side to the story which ought to be told for the especial benefit of Speculaters, like Rogers. I will locate his warrants on the next quarter section to mine and not ask him 40 acres. I will do it for Five dollars in Cash besides the fees at the Office. If he dont want it I calculate if I live long enough to get it for 25 cents an acre, there is plenty of such land in Kansas to be got, and I expect there will be many a warrant sent to here to be located by land agents who will go to the Office and lay them on the best locations they can find without going to see the land. After the owner has paid 25 or 30 dollars for locating he will fancy he has made a good operation until he goes to see or offers it for sale. He will then find out that his particular quarter sections sits astraddle on a bare lime bluff stone bluff and if he should attempt to climb to the top of it he will have a beautiful and enchanting view of the prairie lying around, but he will be apt to come to the conclusion that he will never get another warrant located without seeing the land. I expect there will be some speculators terribly bitter if they buy land without going at the Sales without going to see it. The good land is mostly settled now, but the country is very much broken up by lime stone bluffs which are of very little value now. When the country gets old and men have time to pick up the stone and fence them in with stone wall they will make excellent sheep pasture, and be valuable as additions to the farms on the prairie adjoining them, but they are not fit to make farms of stone, consequently nobody settles on them. If Rogers wants me to do anything for him he must let me know immediately as to I may be ready to go on to my claim by the time I can get answer and I do not know how long I may stay there. I have got a warrant to locate for another man, and I expect to look round the neighbourhood a good deal before I return. My claim is one mile north of the southern line of Franklin County so you can see by map where it is. The quarter section east of mine is unsettled, yet according to the last I heard, it is better land than mine and the stage road which runs from Lawrence to Hyatt runs across it. I took the one I did because I chose to be on the bluff side on account of an orchard and being sheltered more from the wind. I am expecting to settle my claim for the halves. I have not made any engagement yet. I will locate Rodgers warrant for the quarter after the sales, if I can find land that I think he would be satisfied with. If I cannot, I am willing to give him the same chance as others if he wants to that is I will give him half of my claim that I have settled on. I will do the same for you if you want. I want you to understand distinctly that if he wants me to locate his warrant he must send it on. I don’t want to spend my strength in looking into land for a man and then have him come to the conclusion that he don’t want it or any thing of that kind. Land agents don’t work for nothing in this country.

The bluff I am on is better than common. It is sand stone and good for building and not so steep as some. It rises about as steep as the field south of Jesse Earls, and there is good deep soil almost to the top, and then blocks of Stone big enough for a sled load.

Your friend

Chas R Cridland


[1] At the time, Lecompton was the capital of the Kansas Territory

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