1843: William G. Kendall to Nathaniel Hanson

Ad in Illinois Weekly State Journal (Springfield) on 7 Sep 1843

Advertisement in Illinois Weekly State Journal (Springfield); 7 September 1843

The author of this letter appears to be William G. Kendall but I cannot find any William Kendall residing in Putnam County, Illinois from that period.

Kendall wrote the letter to Nathaniel Hanson (1815-18xx) of Alton, Illinois, who partnered with Emerson in the manufacture of horse-powered threshing machines.

According to legend in Alton, Hanson —  a wealthy farm implement manufacturer — “was closely involved with the abolitionist movement in Alton. When work began on his 1857 home, which is located on a bluff overlooking the Alton riverfront and the Mississippi, he asked that tunnels be added to the basement of the house so that runaways could be hidden there in safety. The tunnels, although bricked off at the end, still extend from the lower basement of the house and outward under Third Street. The foundation of the structure is fifteen feet below the level of street and there are numerous rooms and narrow passageways carved into the limestone.”  [Source: Ghost Stories from Haunted Alton website]

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. Hanson, the threshing machine manufacturer, Alton, Madison County, Illinois

Granville [Putnam County, Illinois]
December the 25, 1843

Mr. Hanson, Sir:

I was in Alton about a month ago and I saw Mr. Emerson and conversed with him concerning machines and thrashings and about various subjects, but nothing about buying of you. I went from there to St. Louis and bought or got castings casted for one of your horse-powers and I thought that I would get one of the Elgin threshers from what I heard of them and I thought that it must be the best being that it took the premium at the state fair. But since I came home, I went to see them work and I don’t think that they are as good as yours. Some people likes them better than yours, but I don’t think it myself and I call myself a part of a judge in that matter.

I returned home with the intention of buying one from you. If I can get one from you as reasonable as I can get one of the others in proportion, I would rather have one of yours than the others. For that reason, if we can make a trade, I am on hand. The sooner the better for I have some considerable threshing on hand to do.

We will now talk of the terms. I will in the first place tel you of my circumstances. I have got out between one hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars, and I can’t get it in soon enough to pay down for a machine on a credit. I am offered two hundred dollars for it. If my castings come soon, I will like to only buy a thresher of you. If they don’t come soon, I will want to buy the hold concern of you, I want your prices to be low, if you please. I want you to tell me what you will let me have a thresher alone for. I suppose you will take less than Mr. Libbey sold one to Mr. Fields. I suppose you won’t ask as much by 15 or 20 dollars, and if I want the hold [whole?] concern, still let me have them as low as possible. If the one you upset of the bridge is not injured much, I will take that at what you think a reasonable price. Tell me what you will take for the thresher alone ____  ___  ____. If you will sell to me, I will make you a payment in the spring and the balance after harvest. I don’t want to promise you more than I can come up to. You will always find me straight.

You can inquire of the best citizens of this place such as Mr. L. W. Weston, Mr. Ralph Ware, or any others of the place concerning me, if you wish. I would of bought one of you last harvest but Francis Libbey held back to sell me a Wright and let on as if he wanted all the pay down and worked it so to sell me a Wright but he could not come it. I paid more on the one that I did buy than Hays paid. So it is not too late for us to trade yet, and I suppose them that you have on hand at present  you can’t sell them before next harvest no how. And if you sell to me, you will be getting interest for your money.

Please answer this as soon as you get it, if you please, for I must have a machine to keep in business for I have business all the time so fair and considerable engaged ahead, probability of work till harvest. Childs worked last year all the season, and if their is threshing, I can get it to do where I am known in preference. If we trade, please to write at the same time if it can be shipped to Peoria. If not, I must come down in my wagons by land (or wagon). There is threshing waiting for me to get as soon as possible. You will be sure of your money at the time appointed.

I saw Frank on Friday and I did not make my business known to him knowing that he had nothing to do with selling the machines. He is well and doing a good business. He was glad to hear from Alton by me. Old Dougherty, he told me, had left him and he says he is done with him now.

I wish you would see Brother before you write to me if it is convenient for you know of him if he is going to school and if he is well and so forth. Tell him I am well and send my respects to him.

Nothing more at present but remain your, — William G. Kendall

Direct to W. G. Kendall, Hennepin, Putnam County, Illinois


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