March 24, 1859 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

March 24, 1859

To: Luke Keith

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Noah backed out of the trade because he wasn’t satisfied with the survey. He wanted it chained out; he wasn’t willing to take the U.S. survey. Would like Luke to put up a Farm For Sale board. They don’t expect Dan Sprague to live much longer. Old Squire Brooks was buried and his daughter, Mrs. Mathews, died March 27th.

Pavilion March 24/59

C. L. Keith Esq

Uncle Noah[1] has backed out of the trade – a thing I did not expect – he is not satisfied with the survey of the land. He wanted it chained out – so he would know just the number of rods the deed calls for. He is not willing to take the United States survey. So I have that land on hand. Does Lasher[2] keep up the fences as he agreed? I suspect not. If you should see any one either in Kalamazoo or your place that wants to trade any goods in whole or in part for that land, hit into him – or any one wanting it on time – sell it. Perhaps you had better put up a board “Farm for sale.” Dont you want enough of the land to come to what I am owing you? We are well as usual. Mother[3] is rather down this winter she is troubled with her hand. Dan Sprague[4] is hard up – it is thought he will live but a few weeks at longest. He had an attack of rheumatism in the chest – which has run him into the consumption – he looks hard. Old Squire Brooks was buried one day this week. He bled from the lungs – dropt away suddenly. His daughter Mrs Mathews died a few weeks ago.

March 27. All well. Fine spring weather.


Geo. Tomlinson

[1] Noah Starr. George’s wife, Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson, and Noah’s daughter-in-law, Emma (Sprague) Starr, were first cousins

[2] See footnote #2 of the February 6, 1859 letter

[3] His mother-in-law, Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague, who was Luke’s sister

[4] His wife Marion’s uncle. He died just a week later on March 31, 1859

February 6, 1859 letter to Luke Keith from George Tomlinson

February 6, 1859

To: Luke Keith, Galesburg, MI

From: George Tomlinson, Pavilion, NY

Has negotiated a trade with Uncle Noah Starr for the land. Wants Luke to get a chain and measure it out in metes and bounds. Aunt Patty thinks it strange that none of her friends have written her since she left. She thinks Luke was glad to get rid of her and won’t write for fear she will come again. Uncle Myron Douglass was buried February 3rd.

Pavilion Feb. 6, 1859

C. L. Keith Esq

I have partly negotiated a trade with Uncle Noah Starr[1] for that land – can trade if I am a mind to – the land I git is not worth over 2000$. Now what I want to know is can that land be sold for more than that amt.? I want to do the best I can with it. I am not able to keep it in its present shape. It pays nothing as you know. Is there any sale for land?

2nd Have you ever chained it out so you know there is what the deed calls for? Uncle Noah wants metes and bounds & a deed for 116 acres omitting the words “more or less.” Can you give me a plan of it with the distances in rods marked on each line? Like this: [there is then a simple drawing]. Also the directions. If you dont know can you get a chain & measure it? I should like to have this done without delay – so I can consummate the trade at once – if there is no prospect of doing better. I suppose the farm is running down pretty fast and I am afraid it will run down faster than land will raise in value.

I have had several nibbles for trade but nothing that comes to a focus till now. I want to get the farm off my hands to the best advantage as soon as possible.

3d How much is there due on that note you hold against me? I must try and pay you up some day.

4th I wish you would call upon Lasher[2] & find out how he thinks the acct. stands between us – get his bills if he has any – I suppose I may as well say we are square as any other way.

You must not say any thing of any trades for I have learned that a trade is not a trade till the writings are made – there may be forty slips besides I may think it not best to trade when I hear from you.

5th Write as soon as possible.

So much for business.

We are all well – get along first rate for lazy folks. Aunt Patty[3] thinks it strange that some of her friends dont write. She has heard nothing from them since she left. She thinks you were so glad to get rid of her that you wont write for fear you she will go again or else you have all gone to salt lake.

Uncle Myron Douglass[4] was buried Feb 3.


Geo. Tomlinson


[1] George’s wife, Marion (Sprague) Tomlinson, and Noah Starr’s daughter-in-law, Emma (Sprague) Starr, were first cousins

[2] While “Lasher” is referenced repeatedly in Luke’s diaries and also in letters to Luke from Charles Cridland, the only evidence found regarding his first name, Joseph, was a receipt in the back of Luke’s 1858 diary dated December 6, 1858 for the payment of Comstock real estate taxes

[3] Martha “Patty” (Keith) Sprague was Luke’s sister and George’s mother-in-law

[4] A search of indicates that Myron Douglass died February 12, 1859 and is buried in Jug City Cemetery in Genessee County, New York; however, since George writes that Myron was buried on February 3, and since the headstone is broken and worn, it would appear that Myron died February 2. Myron Douglass’ relationship to either George or Luke is unknown at this time