George Richardson and the Glasgow Ohio Company
In his capacity as the manager for the American side of the Glasgow Ohio Company George Richardson sent several letters to his partners in Scotland.
I found these letters in a tract entitled Excerpts from the "Descriptive Sketch of the State of Ohio with the contract of Co-Partner of The Glasgow Ohio Company, and Letters of Correspondence between the Company and Their Managers now in Ohio , originally published in Glasgow, Scotland in 1824.
A copy of the full 19 page tract is in the Ohio Historical Society Archives.
Below are the letters that George Wrote
George Richardson is reporting back to Scotland about the business arrangements with the Ohio Company in Marietta
"We have found Mr. WARD, in every respect, to be a gentleman deserving all the confidence we have placed in him; a man of high respectability, and considerable influence in the Town and Neighborhood of MARIETTA, where he has resided for the last 12 years. I think it must be superfluous to add any thing farther on this head, as the foregoing Report, signed by all the partners here, must confirm your minds that we have had to do with a person of the strictest faith and integrity. So far from deceiving us either in his pamphlet, or written description of the lands, he might have described them in a more exalted and flattering strain than he has done, with strict adherence to truth---all that he has written or said on the subject of his lands, their value and local advantages, is fully confirmed, and established in our minds, and may be depended upon by all who may hereafter turn their attention to settling in this part of the world. After this you will not wonder that we have entered into negotiations, for the purchase of his lands, in conformity with your instructions. You will observe in our Resolution, that we mean to advertise to get from 1500 to 2000 cords of wood, cut by contract; on this we expect to clear 1/2 dollar per cord, in addition to our getting so much ground cleared. This, and other matters of apparent emolument, which appear in the foregoing Report, we never calculated upon; but we think they are likely to be productive of much good to the Company, but in a few months we will be able to write with more certainty."
Written by George Richardson
December 24th, 1823
to the Company.
"We had occasion to draw upon you, by the last packet, for [pounds]100 sterling, for the necessary disbursements attendant upon getting the front land upon the river cleared out; and probably I will have to repeat the sum in a short time. We have let about 35 acres for clearing, in lots of three to five acres each, having failed in our endeavours to get contractors for any larger quantity in this way. We calculate, at present, to have from fifty to sixty acres ready for a crop, for the ensuing year: more that this, I think, cannot be accomplished this season. The Surveyor-General was employed three days in new-modelling the town, and laying out a few of the ten acre lots. The front street is now distinctly laid off; and it only remains for a few houses to be put up, to give the place something of the appearance of a town. We have already contracted for the putting up of two hewn log-houses, 18 feet by 20 in the clear, with a passage of 9 feet in the centre, to be covered under one roof, and to be two stories high. These will make one large and commodious house, and, I think, will nearly be completed for the small sum of 150 dollars. We have also purchased a raft of boards, containing 53,000 feet; some of this we may perhaps sell at a good advance, the rest will be seasoning for any use they may be required for. The proposals for making and laying up of bricks, and finding mortar for the work, was opened on the 15th inst. --The lowest offer was six dollars per 1000, which is considered as very low, by competent judges. Should we have a quantity made, the materials for building will all be on the spot, and houses of any dimensions may soon be put up should any of our friends think of settling amongst us. I should have informed you, that our having to lay out the town anew, was owing to the course of the river not having been correctly laid down upon the plans, of which we got so many struck off in GLASGOW. When the Surveyor has finished the new plan, I will send you a draft of it in my letter, and give you, at the same time, a full detail of all the changes it has given rise to. We have, however, endeavoured, as near as possible, to place very one in as good, I think I may say better, situations than they held in the original allotment of the townlands.
I have no fear of selling town lots: already application has been made for a lot to put up a building to accommodate boarders. Mr. DUNCAN is thinking of building a house for his family, and I dare say Mr. WARD will not be long before he does the same on speculation; and probably Mr. M'KAY and myself may follow their example. Should any of the Company at home authorize us to do the same for them, a small town will soon start up, and then we may expect to sell the lots in town at a good price. A tavern and store are most essential requisites, and would bring in a great deal of cash. We have it in contemplation of carrying on both for the benefit of the Company, and will shortly be prepared to say what the probable expense of erection will be. We are also about establishing a ferry to the Virginia side, having already two good roads to the river. This will also help the place very much, and pay well for the trouble. A wharf of logs will shortly be built, so that vessels of all descriptions, which are daily passing and repassing, may have a commodious place to land at, and purchase such articles as they may stand in need of. It will be of incalculable advantage if we can get the Steam Boats to stop. This we are very sanquine of accomplishing when the wharf is build, as the situation is most excellent with a sufficience of water, and completely out of the current of the river, having an eddy water. For near two-thirds of the whole breadth of our lands, bordering on the Ohio, the supplying the Steam Boats with wood, is a thing that was never calculated upon. I think, upon the moderate calculation, we shall be able to sell them for five to six hundred cords of wood annually, at a profit of half a dollar a cord; but as they take none but seasoned wood, the sale of this article cannot commence to any extent before the beginning of summer, by which time I expect we shall have at least five hundred cords ready, and they always pay cash.
The Ohio is nearly half a mile broad at Marietta; we have had several rainy days which have caused the Ohio to rise within a few feet from my chamber window. I have a commanding prospect of this noble river; the whole face of an extensive body of water directly in my view is now covered with floating ice, and, until it is dispersed, its navigation much, in a great measure, cease. Though we are here near 400 miles in the centre of America, we are not in that wilderness state as some may imagine. Steam Boats are almost daily passing and repassing, besides various other craft of various dimensions. it is a fact, that there are more than 100 Steam Boats, comprising more than fourteen thousand tons, navigating the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, and these must continue to increase yearly; so it seems very probable, that, in the course of a few years, these streams will be more loaded than any that are known at this day in the most populous countries on the globe.
As to the climate it must be satisfactory to you for me to dwell a little upon, having had upwards of four months' experience, I can write with some degree of accuracy. The summer is warmer and the winter somewhat colder, I believe, though I have not yet experienced the latter. For the last two month's we have had a good deal of frosty weather; now and then some snow, which seldom lies more than a day or two, as there are frequent thaws; upon the whole there is no comparison between the winter hitherto with that in Scotland: we are almost strangers to that nasty suffocating weather which so predominates there. November and December more resembles the months of March and April with you, and the sun has as much power. In frosty weather the sun rises in a clear atmosphere; and, by 9 o'clock, affords a most agreeable warmth, equal almost to a day in spring in Scotland. To sum up the whole, I must candidly say, I greatly prefer the climate of America to that of Great Britain, so far as my experience goes. The sickness that has prevailed for the two last summers is certainly to be deplored; but it is the general belief it will not continue. It has been a general visitation through the States, with only here and there an exception. In Marietta, where the fever and ague were severely known, and where epidemics were seldom or ever heard of, great numbers have died; but no one expects it will return, or that, in after years, the inhabitants of this state should not enjoy their wonted health and strength, with which they have so long been blessed. There was a plague in London which carried off 60,000 souls in one year: there have been such plagues in Scotland--the typhus fever you remember sent thousands to their long home. Ireland too, that distracted country, how has she groaned under the afflicting scourge of Heaven, and why should America be exempted more than Britain. Is it not necessary that they too should be chastised for their iniquities, and be humbled? and for this end, not doubt, it has pleased the Almighty to send a pestilence through the land, that the inhabitants thereof may learn wisdom. Be not therefor anxiously alarmed: I feel no fear on this account: this country will yet enjoy a state of health, which a salubrious climate warrants it to expect."