This letter was written by George Harrison Chrisman (1799-1870) of Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Virginia – a distant relative of Abraham Lincoln. He was married to Martha Davis Herring (1799-1866).
I believe the letter was addressed to John R. Shaw, Jr. (1810-1896), the son of John R. Shaw (1779-1847) and Nancy Morin (1785-1867). The other debtor mentioned in this letter may have been Christian Ebersole who also lived in Clermont County, Ohio. How George H. Chrisman came to be their creditor is not stated in the letter.
Addressed to Mr. John Shaw, Jr., New Richmond, Clermont Co., Ohio
April 24, 1843
I received some time since a letter from you informing me that you could not pay any money this spring, and requesting me to inform you what I would do with you in consequence of your failing to pay. I have not answered you as promptly as I might, not knowing what to say to you. As to what I will do with you, I say at once that we will not harass you if we can help it. As for myself, I should scarcely expect to sleep on my pillow, indeed I should hardly expect to rest quietly in my grave, were I in these times to harass a man for money beyond what my own necessities imperiously require. But unfortunately, I am in debt myself, and my own creditors are demanding their money, & therefore it is that I am compelled to send to you & Mr. Ebersole for aid. If you can between you raise the $1000, it will relieve me very much and I am in hopes it will not seriously harass you. Mr. Ebersole says he can perhaps pay $500 by the first of May, but I am in hopes he can do more than that. If Mr. Ebersole can raise $1000, then there will be no necessity for you to raise any. But if he cannot, I hope you can by hook or crook raise a part of the sum necessary. I do not know whether your laws would allow us at present to compel payment, but this we do not wish to think about. And I hope it will matter not, either to you or us, what the laws permit. I know you will do what you can, and as we are disposed to be as indulgent as possible. I hope we will have no difficulty, but I must say to you frankly that I don’t know how to do without $1000 and I will therefore send to you between the 10th & 15th of May.
Your obedient servant, — G. H. Chrisman
You will communicate the contents of this letter to Mr. Ebersole & request him to be ready by the 10th May.