1799: F. Kahler to Moses Brown

pl_002012013_2238_14217_990This letter may have been written by Jeremiah Kahler, a prominent merchant and ship owner in Boston. The initial of his first name is hard to decipher. It looks more like a T. or an F. to me but I can find no such merchants that match those initials by the name of Kahler.

Kahler wrote the letter to Moses Brown (1742-1827),  a prominent landowner, shipbuilder, and merchant from Newburyport, Massachusetts, who invested in the sugar, molasses, and rum trade during the late 18th and early 19th century. Brown was born in Newbury, Mass., the youngest of thirteen children to Joseph, Jr. and Abigail Pearson Brown. As a boy, he was apprenticed to a chaise maker and, upon reaching adulthood moved to Newburyport to start his own chaise making and repair business. Using some of the earnings he made before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Brown invested in the importation of sugar and molasses from the West Indies. He profited considerably from this investment and, following the war, he devoted his full effort to this business by exporting lumber, meat, fish, and dry goods and importing sugar and molasses to distill rum. He expanded his holdings by purchasing ships and widespread real estate, especially wharves, warehouses, and distilleries along the Newburyport waterfront. By 1790 Brown was the second wealthiest man in Newburyport and would soon become its largest real estate holder. His fleet of ships sailed to the Carolinas, West Indies, and parts of northern Europe. He was a very active investor with several other prominent Newburyport merchants, especially William Bartlet, in such undertakings as the Newburyport Marine Insurance Company, the Merrimack Bank, Plum Island Company Turnpike, the Newburyport Woolen Manufactory, and the Andover Theological Institution. In 1791 he bought Tristram Dalton’s home at 94 State Street in Newburyport and lived there until his death on February 9, 1827. [Source: Harvard University Library]

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. Moses Brown, Merch., Newburyport [Massachusetts]

Boston [Massachusetts]
4 August 1799

Dear Sir!

Image 54Having had the pleasure of bargain with you for two ships and now stand in need for a third which I am about to purchase, I should be in my own light if I did not first enquire of you if you had any for disposal. I do not care if the ship is new from the ____. A ship of one or two years old would answer, knowing when I get it from you I am not deceived. Be pleased to inform me by the return post if you have any to sell, her measures & tonnage, &c.

In expectation of your answer, I remain with sincerity & friendship, dear Sir, your very friend & obedient servant, — F. Kahler

P.S. If you have none, yourself, are there any for disposal of about 200 ton’s burden?


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