Thursday, February 09, 2012

1836 Letter from Freeman Whitman to Orrin Bryant

On January 13, 1836, Freeman Whitman wrote a letter to his friend Orrin Bryant in Licking County, Ohio. Below is a transcription of the first page of the letter.

Sandusky City Jan. 13th 1836

Dear brother,

Your letter came to hand on the 11th inst. We were very glad to hear from you. We are all in health have another daughter about six weeks old. Sister Sarah is with us. Mary is teaching school in the place I am engaged in singing six evenings in the week two nights at this place at $2.00 per night the rest of the time at $1.50 per night. Much RailRoad business going on two roads in progress from this place one to Tiffin the other to Monroeville. These roads are causing a good deal of speculation in real estate in this place. Lots sell at from $1000.00 to $4000.00. Brother Bryant since your wrote to me I have been thinking that this place would afford you a better business for a few years than any I know of. I am told that at present there are upwards of 100 buildings under contract for the ensuing season and that there are wanted some for 300 more and as the building is mostly stone and brick it calls for a great amount of masonry and as there is more work than help to accomplish labour is necessarily high. Carpenters get during the winter from a dollar to 10/ a day and found some $34. Per month and find masons work is higher. Now why will it not be best for you to come immediately to the place…

The second page of the letter continues:

The transcription of the second page of the letter reads:

And spend some time with me and some time in the city and see what the prospect is for yourself. I can introduce you to the principal men in the place who would place some confidence in me respecting you and I would have no doubt you would before spring engage in business as extensively as you which. I have just now conversed with F.D. Parish, Esq. who has probably as much knowledge of the place and influence in the place as any other man he tells me there is but one contractor in the place in whom the public places much confidence and thinks the encouragement would be good for a master workman. Please write me as soon as you receive this and let me know your feelings about coming. If you think of coming probably you would be well to come and spend some time as soon as you can. Hannah sends her love. Hortensia is very well grown finally and talks very plain. If you write to Mayo soon tell them we are all well etc.

Yours in haste

F. Whitman

According to U.S. Census records, Freeman Whitman and his family lived in Lyme Township of Huron County, Ohio in 1840, and the family had moved to Cuyahoga County by 1850. Peter Orth wrote in the book A History of Cleveland, Ohio, that Freeman Whitman was known in Cuyahoga County as a builder of vaults and monuments. Freeman Whitman died when his son Bryant Freeman Whitman was age eleven, about 1857. Orrin Bryant (sometimes listed as Orren Bryant) worked as a builder in Licking County, Ohio. It does not appear that he took Mr. Whitman’s suggestion to move to Sandusky, Ohio. Sandusky did indeed become involved with the railroad, as ground had been broken for the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad on September 17, 1835. Hortensia, the youngster spoken of by her father in the letter, later was known as Ortentia Whitman. Records at Family Search indicate that Ortentia Whitman became of the wife of Justus L. Cozad in Cuyahoga County, Ohio on March 1, 1858.

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