This letter was written by Silas Ward (1767-1862) to his son, John Dod Ward (1795-1873) who were preeminent in the construction and repair of marine steam engines in the 1820’s and 1830’s, supplied mostly to markets in Canada. By the time this letter was written in 1836, John Ward had resided in Vergennes for two decades where he met and married Laura Maria Roburds, the daughter of an early settler. He sold his business to his brothers in 1832, served as mayor of the town in 1833, and then engaged in various activities — such as the selling of lumber — until purchasing the Novelty Iron Works in New York City in 1837.
[Addressed to John D. Ward, Esq., Vergennes, Vermont]
Union [Township, Elizabeth Town, New Jersey]
September 24, 1836
Yours of the 3d and the 5 was duly rec’d informing me of a cargoe of lumber you had put on board your boat and wished me to sell on its arrival and you stated the prices that it ought to bring. And as the boat did not arrive as soon as you expected by 10 days gave me time to ascertain the prices that could be got for such artikels and the conditions it could be sold on which is four months credit. And on its arrival Capt. Peck and myself went to the lumber dealers to find whare we could sell to the best advantage and we sold to Van Wagener & Co. at the following prices –
Spruce plank, 931 at 16 cts. — $148.96
Pine do, 997 at 26 cts. — $259.22
Joists, 513 at 14 cts. – 71.82
C’d by money received and paid
To Capten Peck to his recept $150.00
Discount 3.00 on the $150.00
C’d by their note at 4 months $327.00
By this statement you see the transactions of the business and I believe the best that could be done with such lumber. As it respects the coale, there is no Leahigh coale to be had in Newark except by retale and at $10 to 12 per tun and the cheapist that Covy has on hand is what he calls pinenot is $9.00 and as you were not in immediate want of it, I thought it best to wait untill the boat comes down agane. The reason given for the coale being scarce is the canal being out of order, but they soon expect to have the bots going again. And it is said that Lehigh coal is selling in New Brunswick for $7.00 and that I can _____ for cartain in time to let you know before the boat comes down again. The $327.00 note, I expect, can be discounted at the Elizabeth Town bank if you wish it done and that you will inform me as it respects the next cargoe of lumber you can judge from the statement that I send you in this letter and by what Capt. Peck can tell you as well as anything that I can write.
We are all in good health, and remain respectfully &c – Silas Ward
N.B. I was talking with Capt. Peck about some rye and by his calcolation he thought it could be had so as to deliver it hear for 7/- and I told him that I should be glad to have 100 bushels if it could be had at one doller and I could doe well with 50 bushels of good new rye filing for seed at 9/ if it can come before it is too late to sow. Pleas to write on receiving this – S. W.