1836: Stephen Emery to Moses Emery

This letter was written by Stephen Emery (1790-1863), son of Moses Emery (b. 1744) and Ruth Bodwell (1751-1834). Stephen married Sarah Stollwell (1792-1822) in 1815. After her death, he married Jennette Loring (1800-1858). Stephen Emery was the Attorney General for Maine in 1839-40. He was also the grandfather of Hannibal Hamlin, Vice President to Abraham Lincoln.

Stephen wrote the letter to a distant cousin, Moses Emery (1795-1881), son of Moses Emery (1772-1861) and Susannah Woodward (1779-1859).  Moses was a graduate of Bowdoin College (1818) and became an attorney in Wiscasset, Maine in 1821 taking Jeremiah Bailey as his law partner. In 1823 he married Sarah Cutts Thornton (1801-1892) and relocated to Saco in 1825.

From this letter we learn that Stephen Emery and Moses Emery were investors in the Madaceunck Mill Company, incorporated by an act passed by the Maine legislature in March 1836. The men responsible for setting up the corporation and selling share were Jacob Fish and Asa Freeman, the latter gentleman being mentioned throughout this letter.

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Moses Emery, Esq., Saco, Maine

Paris [Maine]
June 12th 1836

My dear Friend,

Page 1

Your favor of the 8th inst. was duly received inclosing Mr. Asa Freeman’s statement & estimate relative to the Madeceunk lands &c. You found it difficult to give a different & entire explanation of the whole concern, & I have been troubled to make up my mind on the subject. My anxiety is to do what is for the best, both for myself & for you. I will say in the outset that I should prefer to sell & close the business at once, as a relief from all future anxiety of responsibility. But if this is not in our power, then I am inclined to take two shares in the Corporation as you propose. I believe our next payment being due in August next, and so far as I am concerned, I cannot tell where my money is to come from. If by joining the corporation, funds will be realized from the other opportunity to meet our next payment, this would relieve my anxiety on this point. And as you seem to have thoroughly examined & considered the subject, I am willing to do what you recommend.

Page 2

The project looks well on paper and the idea of turning ‘lumber man’ is not so disagreeable to me as it would be to one who had never seen a saw mill. Mr. Pratt, you say, has actually explored the premises & thinks well of the project. I place confidence in his judgment & hope he is not deceived. Will there be water enough? Will the Corporation land embrace the territory above sufficient to protect us against damage for flowage?  I suppose the falls are such that “water sufficient for one double saw mill constantly” will be sufficient for as many mills in succession, one after the other downstream, as may be desired. And I suppose too, that the whole pond is within the County limits, so that both my questions may be answered in the affirmative.

I notice that Freeman speaks of ash & other hardwood in addition to the pine, spruce & hemlock — the last, as you know, is excellent for shingles even down to 6 inches in diameter. And the hardwood is valuable for a great variety of manufactures — ash particularly so. Ash plank will always command a good price so long as wheels are used in this revolving world, & other kinds of hard wood, you know, are useful for cabinet work &c.

I should indeed delight to see a village built up in the wilderness peopled with smart, active, enterprising men, with mills of all sorts & manufacturing, farming a little neat busy world of industry & thrift. And since receiving your letter, have imagined such a creation at the Madaceunk just where the land is beautifully “situated for a village.” I should be almost tempted to take to the woods myself in such a case, and say goodbye to law as you say you have.

In conclusion, I will only say that I will do as you think best for me. You have deliberated, examined, calculated, & come to a conclusion. I have not done so, nor have I quite adequate means here without seeing you & talking over the matter thoroughly to do it. I know you would not advise contrary to what you believed to be for my benefit, and therefore I authorize you to do for me what you shall think for my interest.

Page 3

By a letter just received, I learn that my daughter, Sarah, at Hampden, is out of health. Her complaints are of a pulmonary description. I am anxious about her & now think of going to Bangor the last week in June. What say you about meeting me there & going up to Madeceunk? I should be pleased with the town, more especially, if the Corporation plan is adopted on. It will not be in our power to visit Saco this summer, I fear. The feeble state of Mrs. Emery’s health, with the care of a young child, will not allow us to anticipate that pleasure. But you and your wife must visit us at all events. I shall take no denial or excuse. We jointly & severally insist upon it & in the meantime, send you a large stack of love & good wishes.

You say money is hard at Saco. There is none here. It is too bad.

Mrs. Fairfield has been very polite to me the present session of ___. I have received some letters & a number of papers from ___ which I am obliged to him. Mr. Sheply also has sent me some matters &c.  Instead of quitting law, I have [paper torn] the past winter than I have for years before & should like the profession if I had business enough. But everything valuable requiring labor and mental, rather than physical, is congenial to my nature. Tho’ I like physical, so far as my strength allows, I am a mechanic, you know, and likely as not, when our mills & machinery are all in operation, I can get the office of superintendent of a turning lathe, if there should not be too much competition.

Write again soon. Accept our best regards. Truly yours, — Stephen Emery

P. S. Would it do if I took but one share? I should prefer it.


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