This letter was written by Andrew Lawrence Osborn (1815-1891) of La Porte, Indiana. His father was Thomas Letsom Osborn of Hartford, Connecticut. Andrew came to La Porte County, Indiana, and started practicing law there about 1837. He served in the Indiana Senate from 1845-1849. In 1872, he served as one of the circuit judges for La Porte County.
Andrew wrote the letter to John W. Brooks — an investor from Massachusetts who partnered with James F. Joy, a Detroit attorney, and other eastern investors, to purchase the Michigan Central Railroad from the State of Michigan in 1846 for $2 Million Dollars. Brooks later became a director of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad and president and director of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad.
Addressed to J. W. Brooks, Esq., Detroit, Michigan
June 8, 1850
J. W. Brooks, Esq.
Dear Sir — I have received a letter from judge Chamberlain of Goshen in which he says that he thinks that our Legislature would pass a law similar to them amendment to the Buffalo & Mississippi (B&M) R.R. ¹ Charter 1848 at its next session. He says, “To the accomplishment of this end, if what the Southern road has now done, is there fixed and irrevocable act — which I believe is the case, I feel entirely certain that the whole eastern corner of the State will give its united energy.” “Here then is the proposition, if this State will give the central road the right of way around the lake upon terms similar to those of the amendment of 1848, which of course contemplate the ultimate completion of the B&M R.R., will the central road through the Legislature of Michigan, at their next session, prohibit the S. R. from coming into the State at all.? He hopes that the central road will not help the southern if applied to, and insists that the interests of the eastern division of the B&M R.R. are identical with yours.
Yours, — A. L. Osborn
Your letter with the deed was received and petitions have been filed for an August term of our Probate Court.
¹ “The Buffalo and Mississippi Railroad was chartered in Indiana on February 6, 1835, to run from Buffalo, NY to the Mississippi River. The name was changed February 6, 1837, to the Northern Indiana Railroad, which would run from the eastern border of Indiana west to Michigan City on Lake Michigan. Some grading between Michigan City and La Porte was done in 1838, but money ran out.
Around 1838, the state of Michigan started to build the Southern Railroad, running from Monroe on Lake Erie west to New Buffalo on Lake Michigan. The first section, from Monroe west to Petersburg, opened in 1839. Extensions opened in 1840 to Adrian and 1843 to Hillsdale. On May 9, 1846, the partially completed line was sold to the Michigan Southern Rail Road, which changed the planned western terminal to Chicago using the charter of the Northern Indiana Railroad. The grading that had been done was not used, as the grade was too steep, and instead the original Buffalo and Mississippi Railroad charter was used west of La Porte, IN. The Michigan Southern leased the Erie and Kalamazoo on August 1, 1849, giving it a branch to Toledo, OH and a connection to planned railroads east from Toledo.” [Source: Wikipedia]