This letter was written by Reuben L. Yarwood (1807-1864), son of Henry and Katie (Wiggins) Yarwood of Oriskany, Oneida County, New York. Yarwood came to Elgin in 1844 and was the representative of the woolen manufacturing and merchandizing interests of the Dexter family, eastern capitalists who operated largely in the West.
Yarwood wrote the letter to Simon Newton Dexter (1785-1862), the son of Andrew Dexter — the first American manufacturer of cotton goods. Dexter matriculated at Brown University, but soon left that institution to engage in business in Boston. In 1815, he removed to Whitesboro, and in 1817 took part in the construction of a section of the Erie Canal. From 1824 to 1829, he was engaged in the construction of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. On returning to Whitesboro he became agent of the Oriskany Manufacturing Company, and in 1832 assumed charge of the Dexter Company. He was also largely interested in manufactures elsewhere in the State of New York and in Elgin, Illinois.
In 1840, he was elected by the New York State Legislature one of the canal commissioners, and remained in office until 1842 when the new Democratic majority removed the Whig commissioners. He was a trustee of Hamilton College, and for several years supported a professorship, giving the College in all about $32,000. He was President of the Whitestown Bank from 1833 to 1853, and Manager of the State Lunatic Asylum at Utica from 1849 to 1862.
Addressed to Mr. Simon Newton Dexter, Whitesboro, Oneida County, New York
April 6th 1847
It is six weeks since I have received a letter from you. Am very anxious [to] hear from you. I yesterday gave B. W. Raymond & Co. an order on you for two hundred & thirty-seven dollars which over pays our present contracts for wool. Bought for you $37. You have probably received a draft before now that I gave V. S. Lovell March the 9th on you of $263. I shall not draw any more orders on you until I hear from [you] about it.
We have sacked 31 sack wool gross weight 4.290 ½ lbs. We have not paid higher than 26 cents cash for wool that have bought this spring. I think you will like the wool better than the wool you had from here last summer. Those 2 lots of wool in this neighborhood 1500 lbs. in both we have offered 23 cents cash for the smaller lot 500 lbs. but can have it for 25 cents on 40 days. It is such wool that brought 28 to 30 cents two years ago. The other lot is coarse, unwashed wool. We offered him 20 cents ½ cloth by deducting ¼ in weight. I think we shall have a run exchange business this season if there is not many cash buyers in market. The wheat crop being slim last year, more of the farmers will be obliged to sell their wool for cash.
Mr. Madison at Joliet has 16,000 lbs. more wool on hand than he can work up before shearing and did not pay out a dollar in cash for it. He makes Satinets & narrow plain cloth and buys his broad cloth at New York and he also keeps a large assortment of store goods. Carr, the man that has done our weaving, has hired out to Madison for 14/- day.
I think we have made a good exchange. Jonathan manages the looms very well so far. He has $18 per month but will have to pay him one dollar per day after this month if continuing to do well. Mrs. Murray’s son has learned to skin this winter and is a thorough, good hand. I have hored him for $17 per month, 1/3 cash. He has taken the place [of] Grant who has 9/- per day, 2/3 cash. Grant leaves the first of next month. We are getting better situated as to help than we have been heretofore. Last season we had more help by times than we needed. In the sickly season I had to hire in additional help to keep the works agoing. We are now owing the hands altogether two hundred and ninety-seven dollars in cash, including Mr. Fish, Mann, and Coney — the man that put in our new wheel — and we have paid out in cash for the last six months over $800 in cash for labor except what was paid towards the new wheel and the last House I bought of Avery ($100).
We shall have to pay by the first of next month $150 to hand that is a going to leave.
Fish is going down the river next week to collect some money that is due and to sell some cloth for cash. We have on hand 76 whole pieces sheep’s grey 3/4 wide which averages 20 yards each and we have 50 more pieces of the same kind nearly finished and we have 36 cuts Black broadcloth E&D all fulled but 2 pieces mostly finished and gigged which will average from 18 to 19 yards each. Have on hand 17 whole pieces Broad white flannel that averages about 25 yards each and 175 yards yellow 3/4 flannel & 250 yards 3/4 white flannel, 5 yards red flannel 3/4 wide, 6 whole pieces cadet broadcloth. Only one piece of tweed like Mr. Raymond’s coat on hand out of 18 we have finished. They have sold from 60 to 65 cents by the piece, 3/4 wide. Have 6 pieces of tweed out of the looms unfinished and have 18 pieces in the looms. We have commenced a batch of B&A cadet of about $2500 intend after the cadet is out to make a batch of Steel wired of about 2000 lbs. We have got in the 3 webbs of Brown’s for broad cloth work part D filling shall color about $3000 for this brown batch.