This letter was written by Gideon Beckwith Waters (1818-1885). He was born in Warren, Trumbull County, Ohio. The family name was changed from Watrous to Waters in the early 1800’s.
Gideon wrote the letter to Watson Hawley (1810-1862) who served as co-executor of the estate of Watson’s brother, Allen Hawley (1808-1840). They were the sons of Thomas Hawley (1774-1854) and Mary Bacon (1772-1854). Allen Hawley died in Peoria County, Illinois on 2 October 1840, leaving a wife, Mary (Ellsworth) Hawley (1812-1877) and four children (2 others died young). Seventeen months after Allen’s death, Mary Hawley married Holder Almer Tripp (1810-1878) in Trumbull County, Ohio. Mary Tripp was co-executor of her first husband’s estate.
Addressed to Mr. Watson Hawley & Miss Mary Tripp, Administrator of the Estate of Allen Hawley, Deceased, Fowler, Trumbull County, Ohio
Rome [Peoria County, Illinois]
February 7, 1843
Mr. Watson Hawley & Mary Hawley, Administrators.
I improve this opportunity to address a few lines to you after a wating some time expecting to get the money for you that is yet due, but I have been out to Knox County and just returned and the money was no nearer being collected than it was when I first left it, and it would be no nearer collected five years hens than it is now if left in the hans of Esq Terry as he and Hugh Rhodes and Vice are great cronys, but I did not know it until after I left the note with him for collection & Terry was owing Vice and Vice you, so Vice told Terry if he shared the note, he would shew him. And Rhodes told him not to pay the money to me. Consequently it lay in that cituation until now. They was well apprised of the cituation that I could not sustain a action against them in the name of the administrator as the law will not admit of administrators to appoint attorneys to act for them in another state. The law requires administrators to be appointed in different states where they may have dues so says the lawyers. But I have got in a cituation now so that I can sustain a suit and collect it. I managed it in this manner. I took the note against Vice signed over by Latamour and gave it up to Latamour and got him to take it to Vic and took a note of 33 dollars, the remainder of the 44 dollar note. He took some stalk and gave his note of 14 dollars in the name of the administrators, then Latamour signed over Vices note to me not in the name of the administrators so I can commens suit in my own name and make him pay it. Latamour has acted the part of a man so far but I mean to keep it strat as they are strangers to me so it will be safe. Now I want to know what to do. I suppose you are apprised of the late two-thirds law if suit is commenst. The plaintiff is obliged to bid of the property if no one else bids it of at two thirds of its value or pay the cost and then after the cost is paid, execution cannot then be ishued until the expiration of one year. This in the situation of affairs now. What shall I do? Commens suit and take property, or let it rest? He has some property that will sell at two-thirds of its value, I should think, but give me direction as you think proper respecting it. I wish Mrs. Hawley would send on her man to tend to it, I have had a grate deal of slander and bother and I am wore out with it. I want it off my hans but if you cannot do any better, I will blow it out state after a while. It would have been collected and you would have had the money before now if it had not been for the sainted Hugh Rhodes, your husbands name. I do not know, therefore you must excuse me, for calling you Mrs. Hawley and writing in this style. Hugh is quite wealthy. I have reported all around him in the country where he lives that he is a publick lier and I could prove it and for him to take it up if he dare. I stand ready to do it by his own hand writing and signatures. Times is hard and no money in sirculation. We have had a very hard winter hear. There has been a considerable snow hear. The old setalers says that it is the hardest winter they ever saw in the state of Illinois though we have a plenty to eat, drink, and ware, and abundance to feed our stock. So we can live if we have not got any money. I have not much news to write at the present but it is likely you have some & I shall expect a answer immediately without delay. Direct your letters at Macomb, McDonough County, Illinois.
I am at your service with respect, — Gideon B. Waters
May 15th 1843
I am under the necessity of writing again to know more definitely what course I shall persue. I supposed that I had wrote the situation of our laws in the State so that you understood them if you ritely understand there can not no money be made on any obligation whatsoever in this State. Suppose I had lent a man one hundred dollars in silver one year ago. I should turn around and sue him for the demand I would be obliged to take property at two –thirds of its value in ordinary times and that would be a considerable higher than it could be sold for at the present time. Now if I should commens suit, I should half to take property at two-thirds of its value and according to the last instructions I would be obliged to keep the property and advance my own money. If I commensed suit, the last instructions is go on and collect the money as you would for your own self. It is impossible to collect money but property can be collected. Property is money’s equivalent in this state by law. Now if you want any kind of property that can be executed, state it in your next letter to me. I do not want to lay myself liable in consequence of the law interfering with individual contracts. If suit is commenced, I shall have to take property at two-thirds of its value or else pay the cost, and then Execution can not be issued under one year from the first and then it will be in the same situation that it is now and then take property. If you had any opportunity to see the laws of this state, then you would know the difficulties we have to collect debts. I want you to write all the particulars how you want me to proceed and not lay myself liable. I received your letter on the 27th of April dated March 8th 1843 which I was verry happy to learn that you was all well. My health is good. The letter that Squires Terry wrote about me being broke up and owing more than I am worth is a lye for I would not swap my situation for his or Hugh Rhodes. I am yet at Rome and shall be here till fall. I have just returned from Knox a seeing about your business and before I done anything about it, I was advised to write to you again to know how to proceed by Mr. Graham and now I want to know definitely. Direct your letters to Helleny Post Office, Peoria County, Illinois. You must excuse this style of writing for it was wrote at knight in the dark. I shall do the best I can for you. Your most obedient, — Gideon B. Waters