Ranney Letter #33

1855-11-18HarrisonJRtoHSR
Harrison writes to Henry in late 1855, acknowledging receipt of a draft for payment on a shipment of peppermint oil. The oil went to Henry’s brother-in-law, George C. Goodwin who is a merchant in Boston. When Henry lived in Boston, he and Goodwin had been partners. Harrison says he went to some effort to find the best and purest oil for Goodwin, and he’s pleased that his efforts were appreciated.

Since Harrison and Lemuel have both recently returned to Michigan, they are considering going in together on a farm or business. Harrison has been a merchant in Tahlequah, so he thinks a clothing store might be profitable. There is a shop in Quincy, where Lewis lives, where a tailor cuts custom clothing and then pays local women to sew it. But he can’t keep up with demand, so Harrison thinks ready-made clothing from Boston or New York might be a profitable venture. He asks Henry to refer him to a manufacturer who might offer them credit or send them goods to sell on commission for the first year, because he and Lemuel would like to reserve their capital to speculate in land.

Anson has returned from his father-in-law’s and is preparing to teach school. Priscilla is visiting and says she would like to see Achsah, who apparently did not return to Michigan with Anson and Lemuel earlier in the fall. Harrison closes his letter with an apology for his poor handwriting. He has been husking corn at Lewis’s place so long, he says, his fingers are “like sticks.”

My Transcription:


Quincy Mich
Nov 18
th /55

Dear Brother

I recd your letter containing the draft two or three days since and am glad Goodwin is satisfied with the oil, for I took some extra care to get that which was good and pure. Lem & I are at Lewis now for a few days assisting him about husking out his corn. He has very good crop this year. Priscilla came out here some ten days since on a visit. Will remain here some ten days longer. Her health is good, she is quite fleshy. She, Lucius & Wife came up here to Lewis on a visit yesterday & have just started for home. Anson commences teaching school tomorrow at the Red School House situated across the road from his farm.

Leml and I have not bought a place yet. We do not know what business to go into. Sometimes we think of going into the Clothing Business as there is a good opening for that type of business at Quincy. If we could get ready made clothing and cloths from New York or Boston to sell on commission for the first year we would do so as we would like to use our money for the purposes of buying unimproved land or lands with small improvements on them near here. Such purchases are a good investment as land is rising fast.

If you think we could get cloths and clothing in some of those places to sell on commission or we would advance some money on them if we could not get them without doing so, I say if you think we could get a stock of say about fifteen hundred dollars worth or two thousand, we would like to have you write to us what you thought about our getting them.

Quincy is growing rapidly, quite a good place for trade. There is one clothing store in the place. Lewis Wife and Sister are sewing for them. The establishment employs one man to cut out clothing constantly for custom work, and he cannot cut fast enough. There is a good opening I think for Lem and myself to go into business. We have talked with men of our acquaintance who are doing the same business in Hillsdale and they advise us to go into the Ready Made Clothing Business at Quincy. I have I think quite a good knowledge of the business and from what experience I have had in it, it is a very pretty and profitable employment.

The reason why I write to you about it is this. We thought perhaps you might probably be acquainted with some Firm where we could get a stock on such terms as we propose.

Priscilla says she would like to see Mother very much. That is the case with all of us. I suppose she will come out here in the spring. Please excuse bad writing for I have been husking corn so long that my fingers are like sticks. Write soon.

Truly Yours
Harrison J. Ranney