The Start of Cobb’s Agency
JUST when Bingham first became acquainted with David Cobb is not clear. The presumption is that Cobb, as one of Knox’s closest friends, first came into contact with Bingham when the latter decided to engage in a speculation in Maine lands. Certainly Cobb had been closely associated with the Maine speculation since its inception in the summer of 1791. When Henry Jackson first petitioned the Massachusetts legislature to allow the Land Committee to sell over two million acres to a single company, Cobb was Speaker of the House, and there is good reason to believe that he was instrumental in getting the General Court to approve the sale. A year later Henry Jackson wrote Knox, “The township for Cobb and another for Colonel Ben, they expect them, or must receive a compensation.” This statement can only be interpreted as evidence that the support of Cobb and Colonel Benjamin Hichborn had been purchased, and that they were to be paid in land. Since neither General Cobb nor Hichborn had ever received his reward, Knox had an added reason for trying to help Cobb find employment, should he be in need of a job.865
In the spring of 1792 General Cobb had purchased from the Massachusetts Land Committee a gore of land on the Androscoggin River, where he apparently considered the erection of some iron works; and two years later he accompanied his friend Knox on a kind of good-will tour to the Waldo Patent.866 Though there is no documentary proof to substantiate the fact, it again seems likely that Cobb, along with Henry Jackson, was asked by Knox to assist Bingham in his negotiations with the Land Committee in January, 1793. At any event the two must have become acquainted at that time, for Cobb’s name appears as one of the witnesses to the agreements which Bingham made with the Commonwealth.867 At the end of that year, when Cobb went to Philadelphia to serve in the Third Congress, he was sufficiently well acquainted with Bingham to visit his home regularly as an accepted member of the “Republican Court.” As we have seen, Cobb failed of re-election in 1794; he had a large family and no means of supporting it; his friends Jackson and Knox wrote frequently of his critical situation and of their concern for his welfare;868 and finally, in Knox he had an advocate whose opinion would carry great weight with Bingham. Cobb was New England born and bred, he had been closely connected with Massachusetts politics for some years, his reputation as an officer of the Revolution and as a courageous judge during the Shays unpleasantness gave him standing in his native state. In short, here was a man who needed a job and who seemed to possess many of the qualifications necessary to manage a campaign of land development in New England.
However the preliminary negotiations may have been conducted,869 early in March Cobb and Bingham signed an agreement which was to send the former down east to reside for the greater part of his remaining years:
Articles of Agreement Between Bingham and Cobb, 7 March 1795 [CP]870
Articles of Agreement entered into in the City of Philadelphia this seventh day of March one thousand seven hundred and ninety five
Whereas the said William Bingham is possessed of several large and valuable tracts of land in sundry parts of the District of Main which are intended to be put in a train of settlement and benificial management, as well for the purposes of encreasing the population of that part of the country as enhancing the interests of the proprietor,
It is therefore agreed between the said parties
First, That the said David Cobb shall be and is hereby constituted the agent and superintendant of said lands and to reside on such part thereof as shall be agreed upon for the purpose of managing its various concerns according to his best skill and judgment and according to general and particular instructions which he shall receive from time to time from the said William Bingham his heirs or assigns.
Second, The said David Cobb hereby engages to devote his whole time to enhance the value of the said lands and also to preclude himself from being concerned directly or indirectly in any object of speculation which may either divert his attention or in any manner interfere or clash with the interests of the proprietor.
Third, And the said William Bingham hereby stipulates and agrees to make the following allowances to the said David Cobb for his services aforesaid, to wit, a lot in the town of Goldsborough and one thousand dollars towards the building of an house, both the house and lot to be and remain the property of the said David Cobb; a deed in fee simple of two thousand acres of land of the average quality of the other lands, to be located in such places as shall be agreed upon by the parties; the residuary profits which shall arise upon twenty thousand acres averaged of said lands generally in the District of Main; and an annual allowance of fifteen hundred dollars to commence from the first day of May ensuing.
It is hereby declared to be the intention of the said parties that this agreement shall continue as it respects the annual consideration for the term of ten years, but if from any circumstances the said William Bingham or his heirs or assigns think it proper to make a different arrangement he or they shall be at liberty so to do, he giving two years notice thereof to the said David Cobb or in lieu of the said two years notice an anticipation of two years salary, at the option of the first party as a compensation for the disappointment to which the second party shall be subjected in consequence of the said different arrangement; but in this case the other before recited compensation shall remain with and enure to him, the said David Cobb his heirs and assigns, to wit, the house and lot, the two thousand acres of land and the residuary profits of twenty thousand acres of land as specified in the third article of this agreement.
- Wm. Bingham
- David Cobb
- Signed, sealed, and delivered in the presence of
- James Swan871
- Lambert Ledent
Once the agreement had been signed, Bingham wasted no time in instructing Cobb in his duties, while the newly appointed agent soon proved himself eager to carry out his part of the bargain. The letters of Cobb, Bingham, and Knox which follow throw a good deal of light on some of the problems incident to the sale of land at retail at the close of the eighteenth century:
Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 25 March 1795 [CP]
Philadelphia March 25th 1705
In reply to your various questions on the subject of the settlement and improvement of the lands in the District of Maine, of which you have taken the general superintendance, I can only communicate transient rather than decisive opinions at present, as, however correct they may now appear, future experience in the course of the opportunities you will have to investigate the subject may render a departure from them expedient. Indeed, I should be desirous of visiting that country, previous to determining any fixed systematic plan to become the basis of our future operations, for the local situation and various susceptibilities of the country, combined with the prejudices or partialities of the people, for or against certain modes of arrangement, as connected with the scheme, should be taken into consideration and have proper attention paid to them.
The object in view is of immense magnitude, both as it regards the effort of mind necessary to conduct the enterprize, as well as the interests of the proprietors to be eventually affected by its failure or success.
It appears evident to me that the most essential point, as a preliminary arrangement, is extensively to make known, by every possible means, the character of this country in order that the tide of emigration, which has hitherto been directed westwardly may be checked and diverted, if possible, into an opposite channel.
After experience, in the instances of Kentucky, Genesee, and Lake Erie settlements, has evinced with what ease a few individuals can establish the reputation of a country and promote its population, I do not despair, considering the superior advantages of the lands in the Province of Maine, of seeing the current of emigration turn that way. It is only necessary, thro the medium of the public prints and conversation with intelligent and influential men, to make known the essential traits that distinguish these lands with respect to soil, situation, climate, etc., which by being dissemenated in those states where from superabundance of population there is a constant flow of emigration from them would induce a preference to be given.
At the same time, it would be proper and highly conducive to the attainment of the object in view, to invite men of discernment in thick settled parts of the country, from whence emigration may be expected to take place, to visit these lands, that they may be enabled to make a favorable report of them to their friends and neighbours.
The price at which they should be sold must depend on a variety of contingencies, which renders it impossible to establish a fixed value, from which no deviation ought to be made. The quality of soil and nature of the situation must have their influence. The engagements that the purchasers will enter into, relative to the number of settlers that they will place on the premises and the period within which they will compleat it, are likewise considerations of great importance, especially when it is recollected that independent of the advantages to be derived from the increase of settlers, as connected with the higher value of the lands, there is a premium of thirty dollars allowed by the State for every settler thereon placed within an allotted time.
Besides, the settlement of the new comers, either in a confined or scattered situation, will essentially weigh in the calculation of advantages, and of course, have a corresponding effect on the price of the lands. A township altogether purchased by a company and settled closely, will not be attended with the same advantages as if the improvements were made at certain limited distances, and the intermediate unimproved grounds belonged to the proprietors. In the latter case the rising value of the intervening farms would amply compensate for the lower rates at which the lands were, in the first instances, disposed of.
These observations will of course determine the answer to the question concerning the price of the lands and the disposal of them, either in whole townships or in lots at certain equal distances.
With respect to the payments, it would certainly be desirable to receive the full amount of the purchase money, but as such engagements cannot in all instances be complied with, it becomes necessary that the terms should be accommodated to the convenience of the parties who solicit the indulgence.
But in the case of giving credit, and accepting payments by installments, the amount must be subject to interest, as the original purchase from the State is exposed to these conditions.
A surveyor will, as you suggest, be essentially necessary. It is a question whether his services will be required, untill an examination is made of the various townships and a consequent determination relative to those, on which it will be most expedient to commence the operation of settlement, in the consideration of which, fertility of soil and advantageous local position will be very leading motives, for it will be good policy, to make every effort, and in some cases, even sacrifices, to satisfy the first settlers with their establishment, that they may be thereby more readily induced to recommend the country to their friends and neighbours.
Perhaps a surveyor may be usefull in determining the identical places, which should engage a preference, and when this point is decided, he may immediately proceed to the division of such townships into lots of 200 acres each. The labourers in such a case might be usefully employed as chain carriers, and when not wanted for this specific purpose, in a variety of other usefull occupations. In a conversation, which I recently had with Mr. Park Holland, who has finished the survey of the District in the rear of my purchase, I am informed that it is his intention to carry with him a number of labourers, when he proceeds to make his settlement in the Province of Maine, which it is his object to effect early in the spring.
The price he is to pay to them is 12 dollars per month, and he flatters himself with the expectation of their finally settling in the country.
I do not think it will be necessary to engage at present any mechanicks to reside at Goldsborough. A considerable expence would be incurred thereby and no certainty exists of finding them employment. Measures might be taken to secure their services when they might be wanted and their wages might be previously fixed, but it will be necessary to study œconomy in every arrangement connected with the progress of this settlement, as its success will essentially depend thereon.
Your question relative to the collection of all kinds of lumber at Goldsborough cannot be answered untill I have a better personal knowledge of the country.
It would be certainly desirable to have every production of the country encouraged which is calculated for exportation, by its obtaining when brought to market, a very generous price. It appears that the purchasers would derive a profit on such negotiations. But the best mode to answer the purpose and thereby render important services to the adjacent country would be by establishing grocery and dry good stores, which would facilitate the interchange of all the imported necessaries and conveniencies of life, for the produce of the soil, which would stimulate the reciprocal pursuits of the farmer and merchant. This vicinity to a market must appear an advantage of a superior nature, when contrasted with an interior situation, remote from navigable water and deprived of an easy conveyance to a shipping port, where the expence of land carriage often constitutes a vast deduction from the value of the proceeds.
It appears to me evident that the establishment of a town at Goldsborough will most amply repay the trouble and expense that will attend it—an excellent harbor equally accessible in all seasons of the year, a central situation with a large quantity of fertile lands in the rear to furnish all the articles necessary for the commerce of the West Indies, as well as many parts of Europe, and a great stretch of sea coast well calculated for carrying on the fisheries, are included in the list of its advantages. I think it may reasonably be supposed, that extensive commercial capitals equal to what such a scene of business may require, will be powerfully attracted to this quarter, whenever experience has evinced the benefits that may be derived from the employment thereof. Should the intended town possess many striking allurements, it would be greatly instrumental to its progress to have a number of usefull mechanicks to settle there. They might probably be prevailed on to remove there, from the cheapness of living and the advantage of an early settlement in a young thriving country. The plot of the town should be accurately surveyed and the streets marked with precision, according to a plan that will be provided for the purpose.
Amongst a variety of objects that will claim the attention of the super-intendant, the enumeration of the inhabitants in the Townships No. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 of the second purchase is peculiarly necessary, as one of the stipulations of the State provides for one hundred settlers being placed thereon previous to the 23 March of the present year.
Many depredations have been made on this property, particularly by the pillage of lumber.
It will be of essential consequence to arrest the progress of this evil, by adopting the most decisive measures which the laws will justify, in order to prevent a continuance of such outrageous proceedings.
I think it will be expedient to employ some active and intelligent characters in the different counties of Massachusetts to assist in procuring settlers and to divert the attention of emigrants to the District of Maine. What will be the extent and nature of the compensation to be allowed to them must be a matter of future consideration.
A Colonel Judson of Connecticut872 has made proposals to purchase a considerable quantity of these lands, with a view of removing there, with a great number of settlers from that state. Such valuable characters would be an important acquisition and every facility that in reason can be required should be granted to them, to induce them to give this district a preference. I have desired him to apply to you for particulars, after your arrival on the spot, as he means to visit that country early in the spring.
After selecting the townships the most proper for the various promiscuous settlers that will arrive from time to time, it will be proper to allot certain townships for enterprizing and influential characters of this description.
One of the most efficient modes of promoting settlements would be by inserting in the various public papers of the State, some well timed paragraphs, displaying characteristic traits of the country, its situation, advantages, etc. It might be done without giving the least cause of suspicion, from what quarter the intelligence came. This country has hitherto been struggling under a cloud of disadvantage. It will take some time to counteract the unfavorable impressions that have been made on the public mind, with regard to it. Every effort must be immediately tried, otherwise a great sacrifice will be made, whenever necessity may induce a sale of a portion thereof, to reemburse the heavy advances already made and to supply the means of paying the future installments.
I shall forward to you as soon as possible, exact drafts of the upper and lower millions, as well as of the sea coast, and will write you more fully on this subject in a short time. I think a short period will greatly brighten the prospects of the country.
I will make the advance you desire relative to a portion of your salary, about the time you are taking your departure.
I am with sincere regard
Your obedient humble servant
Cobb to Bingham, Boston, 8 April 1795 [CP]
Boston April 8th. 1795
My dear Sir:
Immediately after my arrival at Taunton, which was in seven days after I left Philadelphia, I communicated, in every direction, my intention of residing in the District of Maine, and of accommodating any numbers of settlers in that country, of good character, who had enterprize sufficient to pertake with me in my fortune. Numbers have applied and some of them are of our best class of farmers, but as I had not receiv’d your instructions, I could make no final arrangements with them. I however promised the more influential characters among them, that they should not loose their reward, if they could procure settlers for me and in any numbers. They are now employ’d on this business. For this service, I have thought of giving to those who shall procure twenty five settlers, two hundred acres of land. Of this you will give me your opinion. To those who have applied for lands to settle upon, I have answer’d generally that the price would be about 66 cents per acre, and that upon such credit as they would not be displeas’d with, and in addition to it, I have intimated that in removing, they should not be at any expence for themselves and families after they embarked from Boston or other ports ’till their arrival at Gouldsboro’. From present appearances and if a liberal policy is persued, I have no doubt of procuring any number of settlers, especially if the reports of the first emigrants are favorable to the country, and of this I will almost pledge myself, for it is my intention, and I have no doubt of your support in it, that if any untoward circumstances should take place, to meliorate, with parental kindness, every distress, and to soften every care. Under such circumstances even ingratitude itself must change its character. The surveyor, whom I have frequently mentioned, has the subject of removal now under consideration; if he goes, as I expect he will, two of our best young farmers will attend him as chainmen, and if they like the country they will remove their families and all their dependent workmen. They shall like it, and therefore they will remove. These and other characters with whom I have convers’d are of the first breed of the Old Colony, the discendents of ancestry from the west of England and untainted with disorganiz’d blood either savage or civil; and whose industry will make a wilderness to blossom like the rose and the flinty surface of the rocks to rejoice with fertility. Our mutual friend here873 is decidedly of my opinion, that it is of the first importance that every exertion should be made, either by placing this property in company, or by other resources, to establish every usefull mechanical profession at Gouldsboro’ in the course of this year, and for making it the depot of the lumber of that country. The advantage would be incalculable, even if the capital on the first instance, if that was possible, was sunk; without some such exertions, your ideas of giving to this situation any value like city lots, can never be realiz’d. You will not omit to transmit to me, your powers of agency and for the sale of lands, together with all the maps and papers relating to the territory and its boundaries. Copies of the contracts are perhaps likewise necessary. By Harry and Mr. Shaw874 I am inform’d that you have two or three farms and as many houses in bad repair at Gouldsboro’. I have directed the fences to be put up, and shall take down with me in May two or more labourers to take care of these farms for the season, which I intend from time to time to stock largely with cows and oxen that the settlers may be accomodated on their arrival.
Your letter of the 25 ultimo has come to hand. I could have wish’d, if you had made up your mind on the subject, to have had your instructions more explicit. I have however a confidence that my operations will ultimately meet your views and wishes. You may observe in this day’s Centinel that I have commenc’d the puffing of Maine.875 The printer has inserted best instead of last. This business I shall continue, at times, as I obtain facts and leasure. By the first week in May, I shall be under the necessity of drawing upon you for one thousand dollars for my use. It will be necessary that our friend here should be empower’d to supply me occasionally with fay and subsistence for those who are employ’d as surveyors and labourers, tho’ most of this expense will probably be paid for in land, yet you will readily conceive that provisions and a little money must always be at my command for this purpose. I intended returning to Taunton on Fryday next, but a letter I just now receiv’d, containing the melancholy account of my son, a young lawyer in the District of Maine, being deprived of his reason (perhaps forever) by too close attention to study, will probably make it necessary for me previously to visit St. George’s. This unhappy affair will be such an additional affliction to a mother already borne down by weakness and distress, that I very much fear the consequences.876 Tell our friend General Knox of this. The Jacobines of this city, in a late meeting, were defeated by an immense majority.877
I am dear sir, with esteem and with very respectfull compliments to Mrs. Bingham, your most obedient servant
Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 19 April 1795 [CP]
Philadelphia April 19th 1795
I have received your letter of the 8th instant and observe with much satisfaction that you have such favorable prospects with regard to obtaining settlers for the District of Maine, and that many applications and overtures have been made to you, by a description of inhabitants who will be essentially usefull in the first establishment of this country.
I approve the recompence you propose to give to those who obtain twenty to twenty five settlers. I believe it will be adviseable in the first instance, to estimate the lands as low as possible, in order to induce settlers to give a decided preference to them, for every settled farm may be made to impart a double value to the uncultivated lands adjoining by such a distribution of the lots, as will expose them alternately for sale or settlement.
I observe that you propose that they shall be at no expence, after they have embarked untill the arrival of the settlers at Gouldsborough. This is a great advantage not usually enjoyed by emigrants, who incur considerable charges before they arrive at their intended destination. But as the return vessels accommodate passengers on easy terms, it may be proper to hold out this encouragement. I think there will be a difficulty in the settlers transporting their horses and cattle, which are essential objects towards their comfortable subsistence. Perhaps there may be settlements in the neighbourhood, on the seacoast, where they may be procured on easy terms.
I concur with you in opinion, concerning the necessity of making the greatest efforts to satisfy the first settlers, so that their easy and agreable situation may induce them to recommend the removal of their friends and relations. To answer this purpose effectually, it becomes highly necessary to have the township allotted for the first settlements to consist of excellent lands, altho it might be removed at some distance from the seaside, yet roads might be easily made to communicate therewith.
To open and clear the roads, I suppose, will be undertaken in the same manner as in Pennsylvania, by contracting for a certain quantity of land to be given for the labor of clearing every ten perch. Those who undertake the business, when once possessed of lands, become settlers.
I hope you will be able, immediately after your arrival, to determine the most favorable spot to commence the settlements and plant the settlers, which is an important object to arrange, in order to make any considerable progress in the course of the present year.
I think it will be very advantageous to have established at Goldsborough some of the most usefull tradesmen and mechanics, but I flatter myself, that with the encouragement of a lot of ground to build on, they may be induced to fix themselves, without engaging a payment to them, for the entire employment of their time. If this place enjoys the advantages it appears to possess, I have no doubt that in a short period, small commercial establishments will be formed there which will give life and energy as well to the town as to the surrounding country and seashore, by purchasing fish, lumber and other productions, in exchange for groceries and imported articles.
There were several lots, not belonging to Mr. Shaw, which he promised to procure on easy terms from the owners and which appear proper to purchase in order to complete the intended plan. I wish you to enquire whether they have been bargained for.
I shall accept your draft in the beginning of the succeeding month, for the sum you mention you shall draw for, and I will establish as soon as possible a small fund for the various purposes, that occasions may call for, in the progress of the settlement, but I prefer the commutation of land for labor, in every case where it can conveniently be effected, especially where the proprietors mean to reside on the spot and improve it.
I will forward to you as soon as possible, the powers of agency, etc., with the charts of the two tracts, as well as all other documents you may have occasion for, as copies of the contracts, etc.
With respect to the farms at Gouldsborough, I wish you to pay attention to them. They must be valuable, from the prices that have been obtained for them.
It will be proper to make every endeavor to procure every mill seat on navigable water, as well to derive an advantage from the preparation of lumber for export, as to lessen the depredations committed in the District, by the owners of these mill seats.
I have received with pleasure the paragraph in the Boston Centinel on the subject of the Provence of Maine, which has been inserted in all our papers. Such communications have a tendency to bring an object to the public attention, which otherwise would not have been within the reach of its recollection, and thereby impresses the mind favorably towards it. If you have a copy of the prospectus of these lands, you will find sufficient facts on this subject to give birth to a great variety of paragraphs.
I shall be happy to hear from you whenever any circumstances occur that are worthy of communication. I feel exceedingly for the destressing accounts you have received on the subject of your son.
I hope this domestic misfortune will be but temporary.
With sincere regards I am
your obedient humble servant
Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 15 May 1795 [CP]
Philadelphia May 15th 1795
I wrote to you under date of April 19 which I am afraid has miscarried, as you have not acknowledged the receipt thereof.
I have had a draft of yours for 1,000 dollars878 presented to me, which shall be duly honoured and charged to your account.
I suppose you have by this time arrived on the lands and are commencing the execution of our projected improvements. It gives me pleasure to find that you have a prospect of obtaining as many settlers as you can accommodate. There is no arrangement that can so essentially tend to raise the value of these lands as the increase of settlers.
Amongst the various objects that you will have in view, there is one I must recommend in a particular manner to your attention. It is to prevent the depredations on the wood and getting possession of the mill seats, so as to command the means of converting the wood into lumber.
I wish you to keep a regular account of the progress that is made and the prospects that present with respect to the settlement, and transmit the same to me by every convenient opportunity, as such communications may be rendered very usefull to these lands, as relative to carrying into effect the plans I may pursue with respect to the disposal thereof. There is no part of the United States that stands so much in need of a helping hand, as the character of this country has been much depreciated by ignorance or design.
I would recommend your writing letters after your arrival, to General Jackson, conveying the traits that appear most favorable in the country, extracts of which to be published in the Boston newspapers, as well as the adoption of other means that you may think adviseable, to place this country on the footing it merits.
I hope Colonel Judson from Connecticut has applied to you for lands for settlement. I mentioned in a former letter his intention to emigrate with a considerable number of families.
Our friend General Knox is very busy in preparing for his departure and I expect will join you in a very short time.
I am with great regard
Your obedient humble servant
Cobb to Bingham, Taunton, 12 May 1795 [CP]879
Taunton May 12th. 1795
I have just returned from Boston where I have been for the last week pushing off Shaw to compleat the remaining purchases at Gouldsboro’. He sails on the morrow, and I am obliged to omit my departure untill a fortnight after, that he may have time to make his purchases there before my arrival. This delay of Shaws will impede me in my operations, as I intended to have embark’d this week. I am ready with my surveyor, six laborers, a house carpenter and eight others who are going to view the country; some of these are wealthy farmers of my neighbourhood and whom I have invited to pertake of our fine cod and haddock of Gouldsboro’ and to choose themselves a paradisaical situation in your wilderness. I tho’t it necessary to take a carpenter with me, as your houses there are in a state of ruin
[Unfinished, no signature]
Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 24 May 1795 [CP]
Philadelphia May 24th 1795
I profit of the departure of General Knox to forward to you a copy of the plans of the different Lottery Townships, which specify the particular position of each land prize, and denote those who have commuted their claims by transferring them to other districts, in which they were sanctioned by an Act of the General Court.
You will receive at the same time two maps of the respective purchases. The lower tract has all the rivers which have been recently surveyed by Peters, exactly designated, which exhibits this country in the most favorable point of view, as relative to the distribution of water, as well for the purpose of establishing mill seats, as for watering meadows and forming the means of communication for conveying the produce to a market.
I am impatient to hear from you after your arrival at Gouldsborough, as I have no doubt I shall receive some important communications as relative to the adjacent grounds being calculated for the commencement of a settlement, as with respect to the appearance of engaging a sufficient number of valuable settlers. I have no doubt that the operations of the present year will have a most excellent tendency in raising the value of the territory and bringing it into more repute, which is essentially wanted as well to turn the current of emigration into that quarter, as to raise the value of the soil.
You will make whatever bargains you may think proper for the sale of farms, which I will confirm and carry into effect. As there is at present a post road near the settlement, I hope you will write me regularly, and convey every information connected with the progress and prospects of the settlement.
I mentioned in a former letter that it would be expedient to secure every mill seat that was within the bounds of the tract, which could be procured on reasonable terms. At the same time, it will be necessary to exact from those who possess mill seats and obtain their supply of wood from the lands within my limits, the portion of lumber which I am entitled to, which is one half, by the custom of the country.
In cases of delicacy or difficulty, it will be fortunate to have the aid of General Knox’s opinion, which he will be happy to impart to you, on all occasions.
Please to acknowledge the receipt of letters that you may receive from time to time, that in case of a failure of any of them, I may supply their place by copies.
I am with great regard
Your obedient humble servant
Cobb to Bingham, Boston, 24 May 1795 [BP]880
Boston May 24th. 1795
My dear Sir:
Your letters of the 19th ultimo and of the 15th instant have been duly receiv’d, the first of which found me at Taunton, where I was making the last arrangements for my departure; soon afterwards I came to this town with an intention to proceed to the eastward, but in consultation with General Jackson and Mr. Shaw, it was consider’d as important that he (Mr. Shaw) should preceed my departure at least ten days, that he might have an oppertunity of compleating his purchases at Gouldsboro’ on better terms, and he promis’d to be at that place in the course of the then insuing week; accordingly I return’d to Taunton where in painfull indolence I have worn away the last twelve days, and have again return’d here with a determination to go forward in all events. Shaw is still here endeavouring to arrange his merchantile concerns, so as to admit of his absence, and after daily promises of departure he has finally fix’d it for tomorrow. Whether he goes or not, I have made my determination to depart in all this week, and to take post somewhere on the shore, sufficiently distant to prevent the inhabitants of Gouldsboro’ being appriz’d of the intended operations and yet equally advantageous for the work of the surveyor. The people of Gouldsboro’ are totally ignorant of Shaws having sold his lands to you at that place, and it is of importance that they should continue so untill the purchases are compleated. This has been the reason why advertizements have not yet been publish’d inviting settlers to that country, and why I have kept myself aloof in declaring the place of my intended residence there. This mode of conduct will ultimately be to your advantage, altho’ at present, it has greatly embarras’d and impeded me in my intended operations in that country. In a few weeks this difficulty, I hope, will be remov’d.
I have engaged a surveyor, six labourers or chainmen and a house wright to go with me. The surveyor is not the one I formerly mentioned to you; he has refus’d. But he is one of equal professional abilities and of greater wealth and influence, a brigadier of militia and a selectman of the town881 I have but one objection to him, and that is, he is a namesake of mine and a distant relation. He receives at the rate of 500 dollars per annum and finds himself. The six labourers receive from ten to twelve dollars per month and the house wright 75 cents per day and to be boarded. The house wright, I have been induced to engage from Mr. Shaw’s recommendation, who informs me that your houses are much out of repair and that your interest would be greatly served by a little expense at this time. Three or four of the labourers are to serve as chainmen to the surveyor. The rest are to be on the farms at Gouldsboro’, which I conceive will at least repay this expence. As this will probably be the chief burthen I shall impose upon you the present season, I hope you will not omit making such provision in the hands of our friend here as may meet it in season.
I have had an application for the sale of a township of land either to take it altogether or in halfs or quarters of townships, as I shall see fit. The applicants are wealthy farmers and intend residing on the spot and to fill it with settlers. I am to give them an answer in all next month. In such contracts as these I feel a difidence of my opinions whether I shall meet your views and wishes, and should therefore request your directions. I have tho’t that as the first settlers will have their lands at 66 cents, that those who purchase such large tracts might be allow’d to have theirs at 50 cents per acre, and the condition of placing on the land double the number of settlers that your contract obliges on the same quantum, part of the purchase to be paid, the remainder secur’d on interest payable at instalments.
The terms of encouragement that I have held out for settlers have met with general approbation, and if you will support me in executing them, I will pledge myself to excite as great a rage for the settlement of your lands, as you have seen operate in favor of those of Genesee or Kentucky. The extra expence is such a trifle as deserves no mention. It is more in words and the manner of doing it, than expensive. My intention is to stock your farms at Gouldsboro’ with cows and oxen which are to be bo’t in that neighbourhood in any quantity, for the purpose of supplying the settlers with them as they may want; those who are prudent and industrious but poor, shall have their cows on credit. Others will pay for them in the first instance. This little accomodation with other trifling assistances that cost nothing, together with transporting gratis, the carcases of the settlers with a few bags by way of furniture, from this to Gouldsboro’, will give such a charm to the settlement that few can resist and all will admire, and if a packett could be had to run between this town and that, the system would be compleat.
Eastern lands are rapidly on the rise both in value and estimation. Townships that were sold last year for 25 cents now sell for 50. Settlers give generally a dollar per acre for their lots; and the great operations that you and others are making in that country must still more rapidly increase its value. If you can meet the two next annual instalments, I have not a doubt but that the remainder will be amply provided for from the lands, as well as a capital equal to all our views for the improvement of that country.
Your directions in your different letters shall be carefully attended to. If it is your wish to reserve all the mill seats, you will greatly impede the settlement of the country, as this is one of the main objects that some wealthy farmers have the view of obtaining that induces their removal. You may perhaps reserve a few of those that are best situated and allow of the purchase of the rest. If you reserve all, you must be at an immediate expence in erecting mills for the accomodation of the settlers. Depridations on the wood and timber shall be prevented, and something if possible shall be obtain’d for past trespasses.
I am exceedingly disappointed in not receiving your power of agency and the maps etc. of the lands. I shall go down there with my finger in my mouth. I have no power to act efficiently, neither have I any deeds or paper, by which your lands are to be known from others. I hope you will remedy this evil by the first conveyance.
I inform’d you of my first piece of puffing which you saw in the Centinel. My answer, in paper or two after, signed Cereptune,882 was smoak’d here by some dogs, since which I have omitted publishing any. Indeed my time has been so intirely ingros’d, I could not attend to such subjects. Perhaps future leasure may give me an oppertunity. I hope to see you and Mrs. Bingham in Maine in the course of the season. My next will be from thence.
I did not attend my bill with advice, as I had given you previous notice of the draft at that time. I am much obliged by your acceptance of it.
Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 1 June 1795 [CP]
Philadelphia June 1. 1795
My dear Sir:
On my return from New York, whither I accompanied our mutual friend General Knox, I found your letter of the 24th ultimo and observe that you had been prevented from taking your departure, from an expectation that Mr. Shaw would have preceded you, and have effected the purchases of the remaining lots at Gouldsborough, in which I observe that you have been disappointed. Perhaps some other person might be found who would be as well calculated to perform that service. I only wish a conditional agreement to be made with them, expressive of the correct terms on which they will sell their property, to be accepted by me, if I should approve thereof. Perhaps they may demand extortionate prices, far beyond what prudence would justify me in giving. I commend your resolution of proceeding at all events, as I do not believe that your entering into negotiation with them would make any essential difference, as they will be unacquainted with the extent of the lots wanted, altho Shaws agency would probably be useful, as he has a knowledge of the different characters who are to be trated [sic] with. I think that this disappointment should not by any means, impede the progress of your operations, and that your intended destination should be advertised and proposals of invitation made to settlers. The arrangements respecting the town need not be mentioned, as there will be a necessity for many previous operations before this is carried into effect.
Except the encouragement is immediately held out on the most alluring terms, with every incentive to give this country a preference, the season will pass over without making any impression of consequence. It is very important that a proper direction should be given to settlers and the reputation of the country should be fixed, during the course of the present year.
I shall not omit to make provision for the engagements you made with the persons who will accompany you, whose services I have no doubt will amply recompence their appointments. I think the settlers should be placed on lots, disposed alternately for the purpose, so that the intermediate plantations should rise in value by their establishments, for the benefit of the proprietors. You will be at first very much engaged in exploring the ground and determining the most eligible spot to commence the settlements. No time should then be lost in surveying them, as it would be improper to disappoint any settlers who might arrive with a view of fixing themselves. Roads should be immediately opened in order to facilitate their transportation, as well as that of their effects, from the place of arrival. I suppose contracts for this service could be made, taking lands in payment. However, on this and other points, connected with your plan of operations, I shall be more fully informed, when you have taken a view of the premises.
I must confess myself pleased with the idea of disposing of a township of land to wealthy farmers on condition of obtaining a number of settlers. The principal difficulty relates to the price. The lands taken together in both tracts now stand the proprietors in nearly a quarter of dollar per acre. Those situated on the sea side are worth double those of the uppertract, and even amongst them, there may be an immense difference in their value, as relative to fertility of soil and preference of situation. Therefore, on calculating just cost, a selection might be made of a township, which at 50 cents would be a losing price. I am well aware of the advantage of encouraging such characters and think it would be most expedient to divide them as much as possible in different establishments, and I should be more careless about the price the first settlers paid, was it not for the impression it will make on the sales of other lands, as it will be called in question on future occasions. However, you will please to advise with General Knox, previous to making the conditions, and inform me what quantity of settlers they will agree to fix on the number of acres contained in a township, and how the conditions are to be sanctioned, so as to enforce their observance. No stipulated number is to be fixed on a township. Every year is to produce a certain number on the whole tract, and it is immaterial whether they are placed on one spot, or dispersed over the surface. By referring to the copies of the deeds or by procuring a copy of the contract from General Jackson, you will be acquainted with the particulars.
I am happy to find you are so sanguine in your expectations of the successful! issue of this business. You may be well assured of my most effectual cooperation. I have provided for the installment due the 1 of June, but the payments to Duer in December, and to the State in February and June of the following year, I must depend on a sale of a portion of this property to make provision for. No individual can, from his own resources, with other objects to attract his capital, supply the heavy demands which so many payments require. I therefore wish to establish the reputation of these lands as much as I can, that in case of a sale, as little sacrifice as possible should be made. This country is certainly getting much into repute, and the efforts that are now making will greatly contribute to stamp on it an additional value. General Knox’s establishment in that country will have a surprizing effect on the public mind, as relative to its resources.
In making arrangements for purchasing the mill seats, it was not my intention to monopolize them, but rather to prevent the depredations on the lumber by depriving the spoilers of the means of turning it to account. However, when it will not be possible to arrest these lawless proceedings, it will be necessary to secure the portion of the lumber, which by custom is due to the owner of the soil, from which the lumber is obtained.
I have sent you by General Knox a copy of the folio book of the Lottery Townships, in which is designated every reserved lot, drawn by the successful adventurers and of those, who with consent of the legislature, connected the amount of their prizes, and had other townships allotted to them to satisfy the same.
I have likewise sent you a chart of the country, with the rivers as surveyed by Peters, inserted therein. As for the deeds, they are recorded in the office and copies of those that will be most immediately wanted can be easily obtained. I herewith send you a power of attorney for the purposes for which you require it.
I am with sincere regard
Your obedient humble servant
[Addressed care of Colonel Nathan Jones]
Knox to Cobb, Thomaston, St. Georges, 15 June 1795 [CP]
Thomaston St. Georges 25 June 1795
My dear Cobb:
Here we are bag and baggage. We left Boston the 20th at ½ past 3 o’clock, and landed on the 21 at our wharf in 21 hours. We brought your daughter Mrs. Wild883 with us. We came in a Portland packet. Mrs. Flucker884 is with us and our son Henry.885 Mrs. Knox and the ladies are delighted, although it has rained almost incessantly ever since we arrived. The people here also seem greatly gratified at our arrival. Monday, the day after, was a day of festivity among them, guns firing incessantly and an address of the most affectionate nature.
I shall expect Mr. B. here by the 10th or 12 July. I have written to General Jackson to engage the Portland packet for one month. I shall accompany Mr. B. to Gouldsborough. I should wish you to be here the 4th of July when I shall see our neighbours, but I suppose that is impossible.
Write me every post. I have just heard of the post going through this day. I shall write you further next post.
I have nothing to add but that I still love you—I am just setting off to the head of the tide on this river. The post departed the last time before its fixed time. We are all well, and all happy. Mr. Wild was with us yesterday.
Yours as ever
1 July 1795
Gouldsborough, the town which General Cobb was to make the headquarters for his agency, had little to distinguish it from the other Maine towns east of the Penobscot. The leading spirit in the settlement of Gouldsborough had been Colonel Nathan Jones of Weston,886 who had become acquainted with the Frenchman’s Bay region when a relative of his had gone to Mount Desert to do some surveying for Governor Bernard.887 Impressed with the possibilities of the land to the eastward of Mount Desert, Jones had prevailed upon two Boston merchants, Robert Gould and Francis Shaw, to join with him in an attempt to settle and develop a township of land east of Union River. After preliminary surveys, the partners applied to the General Court and in 1764 were granted some 30,000 acres as Township No. 3, east of Union River, the grant being subject to the usual reservations for public lots and to the usual settling duties.888
Though Gould soon dropped out of the concern, after having mortgaged his share of the property to the London merchants Lane and Frazer, the other two associates entered on an active program of promotion. Jones moved his family down in the late 1760’s, and remained one of the township’s leading citizens until his death in 1806. Shaw sent his son Francis as agent, and during the years immediately before the Revolution, rapid progress was made. Settlers were brought on the land, mills and wharves erected, lumbering operations begun, and vessels put on the stocks.
The Revolution put an end to this promising beginning. Jones, suspected of Toryism, was hounded by his neighbors and on one occasion placed under arrest for a short time by Captain Agreen Crabtree, one of the first settlers of the future town of Hancock. Gould lost control of his share of the property, the title passing to Lane and Frazer. When Francis Shaw, senior, died in 1784, and his son Francis the following year, there was further delay. It was not until 1792, when the Shaws’ legal affairs were straightened out and when the General Court finally sustained the claims of the original grantees to the township,889 that further progress could be expected. Then it was that William Shaw, younger son of Francis, acquired title to his father’s holdings and managed to pick up as well the original Gould share from Lane and Frazer. In the meantime, the township had been incorporated as “Goldsborough” in 1789, though the census of 1789 listed only 267 souls as residing there.890
Early in 1792, after the original Knox-Duer purchase, General Henry Jackson was busy attempting to acquire additional acreage which would connect the Penobscot Million, the former Lottery Lands, with the ocean. He had already bought De Gregoire’s property in Mount Desert and Trenton, and Gouldsborough appeared to be another promising place from which to “open a door,” to use Jackson’s phrase, on the original purchase. Once the General Court had sustained the claims of the original grantees, Jackson and William Shaw drew up a contract whereby Shaw sold the General about half of his property in Gouldsborough, something over 11,000 acres, at 1/6 per acre. This purchase included half of Oak Point, which had been the center of the pre-Revolutionary operations of the original grantees, and on Oak Point, Fish Point Farm, a large lot with wharves constructed on its harbor frontage.891 When Bingham took over the speculation, he negotiated a new contract for this property with Shaw, and in 1796 he went on to acquire almost all the rest of Shaw’s holdings for £4415 lawful money.892 When this Gouldsborough property was connected with Township No. 7 to the north, which Bingham also owned, an unobstructed entry onto the Lottery Lands was achieved.
The choice of Gouldsborough as headquarters for General Cobb’s operations was doubtless made from reference to its position on the map. Henry Jackson had been in the Frenchman’s Bay region, as had Knox, but it is unlikely that either of them had even seen Gouldsborough.893 Both Shaw and Nathan Jones, naturally enough, were enthusiastic about the town, but the fact remains that the decision must have been made with no firsthand knowledge on the part of any of the principals. On the map, the town looked ideal: it provided entry onto the Penobscot Million; with the Trenton entry obstructed by the proposed Leval settlement, this might have to be the main avenue into the interior; Gouldsborough is possessed of an excellent harbor, which could easily accommodate any commercial enterprises that might develop; the start made by the original grantees may have impressed Bingham, for certainly the maps of the town, with streets and small lots drawn in, gave a picture of advanced development. In any event, Gouldsborough was determined upon, and General Cobb was off to take up his residence at Fish Point Farm.
Map of Gouldsborough, Maine, by Osgood Carleton. This map was used to locate part of Bingham’s property in the town at the time of the sale to Alexander Baring.
Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 1 July 1795 [BP]894
Gouldsborough July 1st. 1795
My dear Sir:
Your letter of the 1st ultimo I receiv’d by the mail from Boston, and am much pleas’d in hearing that the maps and papers for my use are so far on their way. I have not yet hear’d of General Knox’s arrival at St. George’s, but the papers from Boston announce his feasting and frolicing there.
I arrived here the 8th. of June after a passage of six days, occasioned by calm weather—the sea very smooth. On my arrival, the surveyor, labourers, and four persons who came with me to view the country (the housewright did not come) began to repair the little house that belongs to you on the point, and which was in a state of ruin, for our accommodation. They soon plac’d it in a state to secure us from the rain, and in which we have since nested, ‘tho’ in some fear of the chimney’s falling upon us. The surveyor and those who came to view the country have frequently reconoitred some of the adjoining townships, and have as frequently returned almost blind by the bites of flies and musketoes. You have no conception of the hosts of these devils that infest the thick forrest at this season—so much so, that the surveyor cannot proceed on his business ’till the last of this month. The inhabitants here rarely attempt the woods at this season. It is unfortunate I was not acquainted with this circumstance before my arrival, as the surveyor might have remain’d for two months, and those who came with me to view, would have avoided so warm a reception on their first visit to this country. The labourers are putting up fences, planting potatoes and other roots, repairing the barn, etc. Indeed I have business enough of this kind for the same number of labourers for two years, if it was only to put your cultivated lands, in this place, into a tolerable state for occupancy. All was waiste and ruin, not an enclosure amongst all your possessions, the finest marsh in this country a common pasture for the flocks of the inhabitants, and your little houses, occupied as sheep folds, scarce worth a repair. Things however look better now, for when the surveyor and viewers are at home from a tour, they generously join with the labourers. Their united exertions have put a new face upon things.
Township No. 7, that lies directly back of this town, has been thoro’ly reconoitred. It is not consider’d a good township of land, but it was cover’d with the best of timber, and is still in part so. The river that empties into the western bay of Gouldsboro’ comes from the centre of this township, on which now stands two mills, both of which are supplied intirely from No. 7 and have been for years, and both, I believe, are yours. One is in No. 7 and built without permission, the other was in Shaw’s purchase. The Tunck River that empties into the eastern bay of Gouldsboro’, altho’ in No. 4, yet passes sufficiently near to No. 7 to admit of plundering logs from that township. In its course it passes through a corner of No. 11 from its fountain which is in No. 10. Narraguagus River passes thro’ No. 11 and parts of Nos. 4 and 5, and has its fountain in the Lottery Townships back of No. 11. On this river in No. 4 there is a mill of two saws, and another of the same size in No. 11. Higher still in the same township is a seat at which a mill has lately been burnt. These mills, especially the upper one, are supplied with logs from No. 11.895 Up these rivers in No. 11, and in the Lottery Township back of it,896 the viewers, now with me, propose to make their settlement. They are pleased with the land and situation. They will embark for their homes tomorrow and intend returning with their friends in August to begin their settlement. The surveyor with the viewing party attempted seeing the township at the forks on Union River, but after four days absence they returned without effecting it. I am not displeased at this rebuff, for if a settlement is made on this township on Union River, it will add a value to Van Burkells township in front and to Jarvis’s on the S.W., as to any of your adjoining lands;897 whereas if commenc’d where at present propos’d, you will consequently receive all the benefits of your exertions, as all the adjoining lands are yours. Further, this position up the Narraguagus and Tunck Rivers, is central to all your interior lands, into which you may with ease push settlements, when this is commenc’d; and what is of very great importance the outlet will be Gouldsboro’.
The depridators have done very little if any injury to the lumber in the Union River townships. I have visited the places before described, and as far as Pleasant River. This river passes thro’ the northeastern part of No. 12, no mill yet upon it in that township, ‘tho’ two rascals are now quarreling about a mill seat there, which I shall adjust, I imagine, much as the lawyer did the dispute of his clients. But below in No. 13 there is four saws which are in part supplied with logs from No. 12, the southern part of which, likewise, supplies most of the timber cut by the mills on the west branch of the Pleasant River and Great Marsh River. In the course of this month I shall visit Machias, and if necessary, Passamaquoddy. The number of the inhabitants on the six townships, shall likewise not be omitted.
The fame of my arrival is gone forth into all the saw mills, and I am frequently applied to, how they are to have logs the insuing winter. My answer is that no more are to be cut without permission. If they want the logs, they must either purchase and settle the land upon which they grow, or pay for them as is the custom of Kennebeck River, that is, the mills pay so much on every thousand of boards they cut for the logs. This business shall be properly arranged before winter, but it will be necessary for me to have one or two trusty fellows in whom I can confide to attend to the execution of it, and who must receive pay for their services. This passion for plundering lumber is so strongly fix’d by long habit that great art and constant attention is necessary to break it up. It shall be distroy’d.
The township which I mentioned in my last, as propos’d to be purchas’d, is intended to be an interior one, and 50 cents is as much, if not more, than such lands can sell for. I shall consult General Knox on this subject, as on all others of any moment, previous to givin[g] any deeds and making any contracts. I daily expect a person to view this township. I hope he will not come ‘till these devils of the woods are dispers’d; I likewise expect a young gentleman from Portland, who promis’d to procure one hundred settlers, if the land was such as he could recommend; for this purpose he wishes to have the oppertunity of running out such townships as he shall choose for the settlers.
When I came from Taunton it was Mrs. Cobb’s intention to come to this place with her family the next month. This was an arrangement I made under an expectation of finding some house here that with little repairs, would have accommodated my family, but to my great disappointment and mortification no such building is to be found. I am therefore reduced to this alternative, either to quit this in the fall, or build a house immediately. The latter I have chosen, and wait only for General Jackson’s approbation to begin. This will be a small additional expence to you at present, and which I wish’d much to have avoided, but it is absolutely necessary in securing success to the enterprize that I should be placed in such situation as to be unimbarras’d by any other considerations. The object you have in view is of too great magnitude to admit of any interference. I hope this measure will meet your approbation.
Mr. Bruce,898 a lawyer from Machias has just call’d upon me. He informs me that a number of wealthy men and lumberers of that place are waiting my arrival there, as they wish to purchase settlements for themselves and families on one of the branches of the river, and on which they intend to commence their improvements this fall. He cannot tell the number of them, but he concludes they must be as many as fifteen, as they have engaged a schoolmaster to go with them.
You may rest assured that this country will be fill’d with settlers equal to your most sanguine expectations, but it must require some little time to put such measures into operation as will insure success. I shall from time to time inform you of my progress.
I am sir your friend and obedient servant
Knox to Cobb, Thomaston, 11 July 1795 [CP]
Thomaston 22 July 1795
My dear Cobb:
What the duece is the matter that you will not write me. I have been here one month, and have written you twice. The only line I have received was one by William Shaw, and that six miles west of this, as he found it inconvenient calling being obliged to be at Wiscasset Court by a certain day. The last letter I received from Mr. Bingham was dated the 27 ultimo—then not fixed the day of his departure. Major Jackson had returned, without success.
If B. comes I shall go with him. I expect to hear something decisive from him hourly. He will if he comes at all, come here first.
We are all satisfied and even delighted with our situation. Nothing like the ennui among even the children. The[y] roam like children of liberty. The only thing I apprehend is they will run off in woods entirely wild, as did a cat some time ago belonging to the house.
I am just setting off for the canals, at the head of the tide, which are going on well. So far you have judged wisely, by advising me to that measure. I have purchased Banele900 [?] out. At any rate I shall have several fine mill seats.
Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 18 August 1795 [BP]901
Gouldsboro’ August 18th. 1795
My dear Sir:
Within a few days after writing my last letter of the first ultimo, the gentleman, Mr. Leonard,902 whom I mentioned, arrived here to view the township that he and others propos’d purchasing. The season of the year and the impenetrability of the forrests, deter’d him from reconoitering the lands for a choice; but as I was soon going for Machias, he propos’d to attend me there, that by seeing the townships thro’ which we pass’d, he should be able to form an opinion of the general state of the country, and then from the map he would select the township he wanted. On the journey he was pleas’d with the country, but the vile state of the roads would be sufficient, with many others, to damn the credit of it. On my return from Machias, after making arrangements with the surveyor and workmen, I sett off with him for General Knox’s, where he would have the opportunity of seeing the map of the lands, which you sent for my use, and from which he wish’d to select his township, and I should have the satisfaction of conversing with General Knox on the subject. I have just now returned from this tour, and the inclos’d memorandum will show the terms I have given to Mr. Leonard for the sale of a township of land. It is still uncertain whether he takes the Penobscott township or one on the west branch of the Machias (No. 24, E. Division). General Knox concurs with me in these terms.
Those terms were not altogether so agreeable to Mr. Leonard as he could have wish’d, particularly in the payment of the annual interest upon the whole sum. His object was to pay no more annually than the instalment that should become due and its interest. He says, his being under personal bonds to place settlers on the lands will increase the value of the township faster than the interest of money increases and therefore the portion of land annexed to each instalment will be ample security for the interest as well as principle. These are the same terms, to be sure, that we give to settlers who are unable to pay for their lands in the first instance, i.e., we retain the soil as security for the payment of principle and interest. But in so large sale as a township I felt a diffidence in complying with such terms without consent. Your opinion on this subject will relieve me very much. Leonard will probably be here again, or I shall hear from him in the course of a month. If his associates agree to the terms, some of them will be on the lands this fall. Receding from this part of the contract will insure the sale of the township, and I intimated to Leonard, before his departure, that I might probably have permission to do it, if he could place on the land a large number of settlers (say 25) between this and July next.
These people at Machias who are disposed to make a settlement on an interior township, applied to me when I was there. They have frequently view’d where they wish to settle, but they cannot tell what township it is in. They say it is at least 20 miles north of Machias and none of the branches of the Eastern River communicates with it to their knowledge. They could point out the place if they could see a map of the country. I told them I expected a map; when it arrived I would give them a letter and one of their company might come to this place and view it. Since my return from Knox’s I have wrote them the letter. These people want to purchase 500 acres each, and to reside together as they are so far from any inhabitants. I told them I was not at liberty to make such large sales without settlers in proportion, but I would think on the subject and would endeavour [to accommodate]903 them in every respect as far as was in my power, and by the person who should come to view the map I would send them the best terms I could comply with. I have concluded on this business that the best mode of accommodating these people (for they ought not to be lost) is to permit the purchase of a quarter of a township under large conditions of settlement.
The subject of cutting logs on the branches of the Machias was likewise attended to, and by consulting with the gentlemen of that place, it appears to me very evident that this business cannot be stop’d without injury to your property. The only mode is to participate in the labor of these fellows by receiving so much on every thousand of boards, as is the custom on Kennebeck River. Judge Jones of that place, a man of first property and influence and a large owner of mills, has promis’d to effect this business to my satisfaction, but I foresee a difficulty since I have viewed the map, that as the townships on each branch immediately adjoining Machias are not within your purchase, and as logs are cut from those as well as yours, it will be difficult to fix the proportion of tax on the mills for the logs the[y] use. This business, however, shall be adjusted.
Your two letters of the 24th of May and 1st of June have been receiv’d. The first, however, which came by General Knox, I receiv’d at his house with the folio book and map, on my late visit. The power of attorney which you mention as inclos’d in your letter of the 1st of June, must have been forgot as it did not come with it. I hope to receive it by your next. It is likewise of importance to your interest and of the first consequence in distroying that banefull jealousy that exists between settlers and proprietors, that a power should be given to enable your agent to give deeds to those settlers, on their first application, who are by law intitled to one hundred acres of land. They are very anxious for them and have frequently applied to me on the subject. Most of them have their lots run out and are ready to pay the money that is required. You can run no risk in delegating a trust of this kind, but if you prefer it, I will have the deeds made out here and forwarded to you for signature and acknowledgement. It would likewise be a pleasing thing to permit these settlers to purchase 50 or 100 acres adjoining their present lots. They in general wish it. The natural increase of their families will soon, if they are encouraged, settle those townships.
I have not yet obtain’d the whole number of settlers that are on the six townships, but from [what]904 I have obtain’d and from information of the others, the number will be but little if any short of what were required to be on in March last. Nos. 11 and 12 have more than 50 settlers upon them, and those on No. 12 are some of the best people, as to manners and morals of any in the country and the only farmers in it. Their virtues deserve patronage.
I shall meet with some difficulty in adjusting the claims of settlers in some of the townships. Under the rediculous law of the government for quieting settlers,905 individuals have purchas’d rights from settlers who have moved off, and these purchasers who live in other townships now claim the lot thus purchas’d. Some of these purchasers are our first men here, and they think themselves highly injured in not being indulged in their claim. A great variety of other claims under that law, are sett up, but I think I have digested the subject very thoro’ly, and have a confidence that I can act with great justice in setting as judge and juror in all cases under this law—but prudence and moderation are required. As I have other communications to make to you, I will endeavour to give you another letter as soon as I can attend to it.
I am sir with esteem your obedient servant
Copy of a memorandum given to Mr. O. Leonard
Enclosure of Contract with O. Leonard in letter from Cobb to Bingham, 18 August 1795 [CP]
A township of land up the Penobscott River, No. 32 or Nos. 26 or 38 in the Middle Division,906 will be disposed of to Mr. O. Leonard and his associates on the following terms, viz., half a dollar per acre, one thousand dollars of the purchase to be paid down, the remainder in annual instalments within six or seven years with interest. The township or such parts of it as are unpaid for, are only to be held as security for such payments. Likewise, within certain periods hereafter to be agreed upon, seventy settlers are to be placed on the township, the fulfillment of this part of the contract to be secured by personal bonds with forfeiture. On these terms the subscriber is now ready to contract with Mr. Leonard and his friends.
St. Georges August 6th. 1795
[Added in Leonard’s hand and crossed out]
and, whereas it will become necessary that Mr. O. Leonard and his associates should give bonds or notes for the payment of the several instalments above mentioned, yet those bonds or notes to be so framed and executed, that no property whatsoever either real or personal, belonging to him and his associates shall be liable to attachment, or any otherwise answerable for the payment of those bonds or notes, except the land for which they are given.
[Added in Cobb’s hand]
October 1795 I gave near the same terms as above to Captain Mandeville907 and others who came here this month from Hampshire County to purchase two townships, only with the difference of 3/6 per acre.
Cobb to Knox, Gouldsborough, 30 August 1795 [KP]908
Gouldsborough August 30th. 1795
My dear Sir:
This is the first post which gives me an oppertunity of communicating with you since my return from your house. Presuming that you have return’d from Boston, I shall direct for you at Montpelier,909 but as you are a bird of passage it is very uncertain whether I shall hit you.
Not a word from Bingham since the first of June. His tour to this country is probably given up for this season. I wrote him twelve days since, inclosing the terms for the sale of a township to Leonard. I have an application from Northampton in Hampshire County, for three or four townships of land. It is from Dr. Hunt910 and others of that town. They say that numbers of their people are anxious to form a settlement in this country, if the terms of purchase and settlement are agreeable. The person who bro’t the letter to Penobscott is somewhere in the District and will probably call on me before his return to the westward. Let me have your opinion on this subject.
I wrote to Holland from Penobscott, but have not yet received an answer. I am very anxious he should be here, as I have dismiss’d my surveyor and chainmen; if I do not hear from him within ten days, I shall engage Peters to reconoitre and run out the road which I intend to have cutt out, from this, north.
If those people from Machias who wish to purchase some back land should come here in season to view the map, it is my present intention to be at Penobscott Court, where I should be happy in seeing you. You ought to go there: courts of justice are the great sources of order in society, and their influence is greatly enhanc’d by the attendance of characters of known respectability.
I have lately coasted Frenchman’s Bay, the shores of Mount Desert and Union River Bay, and up that river as far as the first falls. A part of these places compose Harry’s French purchase, and they are in point of soil and situation superior to any lands I have yet seen. Some of them are now worth near two dollars per acre, but they are subject to constant depridation, and such is the villany of character here that the very men, as I strongly suspect, whom Harry engag’d to take care of this property, are the authors of it. As this part of the country is rather more civilized than we are further east, I am determin’d to prosecute every trespasser on these lands, that I can git my hold on. I have communicated this determination, and have offered rewards to any rogue that will bring out his brother.
I shall begin to repair the buildings here as soon as my rye and wheat are in the ground, which will be compleated this week. I have undertaken this business, solely, for the purpose of distroying the prejudices of our poor ignorants, and to convince them, and the world that this shall be an exporting country of bread.
The more I view and the more I am acquainted with the situation of Gouldsboro’, with all its unfavorable circumstances, the more I am persuaded, that it will, ultimately, be the most valuable speculation of all the purchases. Certainly, there is no such ship harbour in the United States, and if the lands in No. 4, part of which adjoin the harbour of Gouldsboro’, could be purchas’d on decent terms of that Dr. What-do-you-call-him in Philadelphia,911 it would be an object worth attending to.
After your farming business is over, what prevents your ordering the barge round to Clam Cove, and with the ladies from thence sett off for Gouldsboro’. With oars only in thirty six hours, you may be at Colonel Jones’s, and all within land. I need not assure the ladies that my best parlour and indeed my best every thing, will be entirely at their devotion. With the utmost pleasure I shall surrender my room to Mrs. Knox and you and I (for we live here as they do in Heaven) with a blankett will sleep in the barn. The other ladies shall have the maid’s room, and she shall sleep with the hogs. Every flea shall be muffled, and all other vermin shall depart the point. A thousand other pritty things should be said if I had room. Remember me to them and adieu.
Penobscott September 17th. 1795
To General Knox
My dear Friend:
I am here. I arrived last Tuesday morning pleas’d with the idea of seeing you, but I am told by the lawyers who call’d upon you I shall be denied this pleasure. I am likewise told, that you are going up the Penobscott with the Duke912 and others. If my immediate engagements of farming, houserepairing, road cutting and every thing else did not prevent, I should have been very happy in attending you on this tour as I have long contemplated a visit to the head of navigation on this river and from thence to penetrate some of our lands to the east, being persuaded, that among the many operations to be persued in my present engagements none would ultimately turn to better account than an establishment at that place. The lands on both sides of the river should be secured where the shores are suitable for the purpose, and as much land on the eastern side as will be sufficient for a communication to our lands in the rear. The settlements up this river are very rapidly advancing, and will be immensely increas’d in a short period; whatever, therefore, is intended to be done on the subject of a town on this river, ought to be immediately attended to and the land secur’d.
I have seen Holland this morning. He is bound up to Boston and returns here again in a month, when he promises to attach himself to me. The man who bro’t letters to me from Dr. Hunt on the subject of purchasing some townships, has returned without calling upon me. He was here a few days since and finding I was fifty miles distant, he was too lazy to undertake the tour. When I receive your answer to my last, I will inform Dr. Hunt he may have his townships at 3/ or 4/ per acre, as you shall say and where, and what number of settlers will be requir’d, and within what periods.
I shall begin my road, north from Gouldsboro’, next week. As Holland cannot immediately attend this business, I have engaged Peters for the present.
Is Bingham dead, or has the rebuffs of public life made him fly his country? I have not hear’d from him since you came.
The storm only prevents my return to Gouldsboro’ this day. I want much to see you or to hear from you. Indeed I must see you before you leave this country for the winter. Let me know when you can call upon me, or I shall call upon you.
Adieu and tell the ladies God bless them.
Cobb to Ebenezer Hunt, Gouldsborough, 26 September 1795 [CP]
Gouldsborough September 26th 1795
My dear Friend:
Some time since I receiv’d your letter on the subject of some townships of land in this country. I have been waiting to give you an answer by the person who bro’t it, as you intimated his calling upon me before he returned westward, but he has departed without calling.
I am engaged here in the improvement and settlement of this country, in which I shall probably continue during life: my residence will be at this place, where I hope to bring Mrs. Cobb and the family next year. I have a house to build first for their accommodation, for which I am now preparing. The country in general is good and blest with fine harhours and rivers superior to any other in America. The soil is highly productive, and the natural meadows on the intervales of the rivers afford immence advantages to the farmers, united with the greatest plenty of the best lumber in the world, and so situated that, with little expence, it may be convey’d to markett. I am persuaded, without partiality, that no country combines so many advantages for agriculture and commerce, and to perfect them, it wants only the common industry of the people of New England and it will rise very rapidly. The value of the country has doubled within the last year, and it must necessarily increase in much the same proportion for years to come. Under such circumstances you can judge for yourself how far you can speculate to advantage. I have not a doubt but you will greatly benefit by it, united with settling the townships with your good farmers: and I should be very happy to accommodate as many thousands as Connecticut River can spare, either by townships or single lots. If you can direct the current of emigration this way, I will make it for your interest whether you purchase or not; but I should be fond of your doing both. Townships may now be bought at 3/ or 3/6 per acre with conditions of settlement (say 70 or 80 settlers in five years). The terms of payment will be: a part of the purchase paid at the time of contracting, the remainder in five annual instalments secured by the land. Personal bonds with forfeiture will be required for the performance of the settling duty.
Let me hear from you on this subject either by the way of General Jackson at Boston or by post. I am happy to hear Mrs. Hunt enjoys better health. Present my love to her, and my compliments to friend Henshaw913 and others.
I am with esteem your friend
Knox to Cobb, Duck-trap on Penobscot Bay, 29 September 1795 [CP]
Duck-trap914 on Penobscot Bay 29th September 1795
My dear Friend:
I should have answered your letter which was received during my absence at Boston had I not expected to have seen you either at Gouldsborough, your head quarters or at Penobscot. But this expectation failing, I now acknowledge the above and also yours from Penobscot.
Your observations about the propriety of attending the courts are just; and in future I will endever to conform thereto.
You ask me about the application of Doctor Hunt. I think hopes may be given him, and desire him to write to Mr. Bingham upon the subject. But Mr. B. is greatly apprehensive that selling by townships may interfere with his plan (which he considers as indispensible to the state of his affairs) of interesting a monied company in the lands and thereby of receiving at once a large sum in cash. He is decided upon this plan even at a considerable sacrifice, and I supose this winter great efforts will be made to that end. Indeed he presses me hard to go to Europe to make the effort, but I would greatly injure my private pursuits were I to comply. Swan915 also pushes my going to Spain [?] or a certain way. But to both I am sincerely averse. I shall find abundant objects here on which I may profitably exercise my industry, and more abilities than I am possessed.
I have written to Mr. B. most explicitly and forcibly, that whether he sells by wholesale or retail, the basis of his expectation must be settlements and roads. On these may be built commerce and speculation. I would his lands were as matured for these objects as mine, and that my means were as abundant to take advantage of them, as are his. One year, and my residence has already given an encrease of at least 50, if not 100 per cent to my lands. In short, settlement, agriculture, commerce, and even speculation invite my attention strongly, and I hope to profit by their company.
My family will pass the winter in Boston, instead of Philadelphia, with a sufficient degree of cordiality. I must go to Philadelphia in November or December and as Mr. B. has not been able to come here, it will in my judgment be important for you to see him there. But perhaps you had better write him previously. Let it be fully for he dearly loves long letters.
I think we ought to have two or four townships settled on the Kennebec tract this next year and six townships on the lower million. I know of no other way than to sell them to undertakers such as Squire Barrett,916 Doctor Hunt [torn]. They will be a sort of [torn]. I suppose you could sell ten [torn] at 67 cents as easily as at 50, or a less sum. At any rate I would not sell under 67.
We shall leave St. Georges about the first of November probably, I think, by water. Write me by the return of Mr. Wild, and also to Mr. Bingham. Why will you not return with Wild?
Mr. de Liancourt who is with me gives his compliments to you.
Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 5 October 1795 [BP]917
Gouldsborough October 5th. 1795
My dear Sir:
Captain Jones918 will deliver to you this letter. He is the son of Colonel Jones who owns one quarter part of Goldsboro’, and who resides on the Frenchman’s Bay side of the township, six miles from me. He is in a schooner built this summer of the materials of this country. The top timbers and the plank of the waist with the knees are of larch, of which this country abounds, and which is perhaps, as durable timber as any in America. The rest of the vessel is yallow burch, a very valuable timber, and unknown with you. He will give you any information you may want respecting the country.
My last letter was of August 18th from this place. The last I have receiv’d of yours was under date of the first of June. My avocations have been so various and so constant that I have been obliged to omit my monthly letter, a term I had assigned for my correspondence with you. This has been occasioned in part by my attention to an object of the first importance to your interest, I mean the log cutting business. So strong is the habit of the people here, acquired by long usage, that they think it is depriving them of one of their dearest rights, to be prevented from cutting timber wherever they please, and to demand of them pay for it, is an insult added to the injury. This opinion I have been combating ever since I came here, and by repeated visits and conversations to and with those who have had the greatest share in this kind of plunder, I have bro’t over the most of them to acquiesce in the terms that I shall demand, excepting the town of Machias. These people are cunningly endeavouring to evade me, but they mistake their man. Yesterday I sent them my last message, which, if they refuse and persist in log cutting, not a stick shall go down the rivers to that town, out of your lands, the ensuing spring. If they intend force, I think I have men engaged sufficient to meet them in that way, one of whom I now keep as a spy upon their conduct. I am determined this business shall be settled, and if it is amicably so, and no evasions of consequence take place, you will receive from five to ten thousand dollars per annum from this source. A few confidential persons must be employ’d occasionally to watch these people in their compliance with any terms they may agree to.
I am now engaged in cutting a road, north from this to the end of the purchase, and have already proceeded over three miles on the rout. It commences in No. 7 from the back line of this town and one mile west of the township of Steuben, formerly No. 4. I have been induced to begin this business from a persuasion that no improvements can be made on the lands of this country, either by settlers or otherwise, ‘till such communications are open’d, and mentioning this opinion to General Knox, when I was there, he coincided with me in the opinion, and advis’d me to begin the business, ‘tho’ late, as soon as possible. I accordingly sent to the westward for labourers, who arrived here about a fortnight since. There is eight of them in number and they are hired at 10 and 12 dollars per month. Mr. Peters, the surveyor, with another person, reconoitre and mark out the direction of the road. They will continue on this business ’till the winter prevents. A variety of considerations have determin’d me to prefer this rout for the road to any other, as combining more present and future advantages. It is central to the lands from the Atlantic northward. It opens the interior country direct to the port of Gouldsboro’, and as we are obliged from the nature of the ground, to incline a little east ward, to avoid lakes and mountains, it passes thro a rich tract of land as it crosses the western branch of the Narraguagus, and proceeding northward from thence, between the two branches of that river, it comes near to the great falls on the eastern branch, which are in the northern and western part of No. 17, and on which and in the neighborhood of them, a settlement will be commenced in the ensuing spring, if not this winter. I am likewise told by Mr. Peters that after we pass the first lake in the eastern branch of the Narraguagus, our course north is the only one that can admit of a road without being intercepted by lakes, rivers, mountains and morasses.919 In the further persuit of the business of road making, General Knox and myself have contemplated two others, one to begin at the narrows of Penobscot River, at Buckston, or near there, and from thence to Machias in as direct a course as the land will admit; the other from the head of the tide on the same river, direct to Passamaquoddy.920 Thus laying open the country you remove one of the greatest obstacles to the present settlement of it. Now, only the seashores and some of the rivers will be attempted, as few if any, are hardy enough to attack the thick forrests, but on these roads, settlers will sett down on every part where goodness of soil may invite. I have been so convinced of the advantages that will accrue to your property by having roads, that, at my request, the Court of Sessions for this county have appointed a committee to lay out a road from or near to, the Narrows, as before mentioned, towards Machias as far as the county goes; and whatever lands it passes thro’ that do not belong to your purchase, I will take care that the owners of them shall pay the full amount of what that part of the road shall cost. The cutting of this road is to be done at your expence, but the laying of it out, is gratuitously perform’d by the gentlemen who are appointed on the Committee, or the county must pay for it. This business, however, I shall not begin upon ’till the spring, or untill I receive your directions.
I am now repairing the little house in which I have nested since I came here, so as to make it comfortable for the winter. Two masons, two carpenters and two labourers are at work upon it. These with my road cutters, cook maids, etc., make up a family of twenty; but I desire to thank God that the road cutters encamp in the woods, for if they were to lodge in the house, we should be stow’d as thick as herrings in a barrel. I shall endeavour to put the houses and stores in such a state of repair as will prevent their going further to waiste. The building of my house I shall defer ’till the next year. Some of the materials for it have been procured. I have frequently drawn on General Jackson for supplies, for the pay of the men wages, and for cattle which I have purchas’d and placed on the farm. I hope you have not omitted to supply him with the means of meeting these drafts.
The surveyor and chainmen I bro’t with me, I dismissed soon after my return from General Knox in August last. Three of them were taking [sic] on a little surveying tour, and the whole of them were chicken hearted fellows. This is the first of my bad bargains. I hope it will be the last.
I have just receiv’d a letter from General Knox,921 in which he informs me that he intends to spend part of the winter at Philadelphia, and that he thinks it would be of importance that I should go on and see you, as you have fail’d in coming here for this season. My intentions were not to leave this place untill the last of January, and then to visit Mrs. Cobb at Taunton, but if you wish to see me at Philadelphia, I can make my arrangements so as to leave this place by the beginning of December, or before. My chief design in staying here was to fix this cursed business of log stealing upon such principles as would give you satisfaction as well as money. I think the foundation is laid to produce both.
The situation of your property here absolutely requires some fixed system of operation to be regularly persued, and then you cannot fail of realizing an immense fortune from your purchase. The settlers ought to have all their lots run out and their bounds properly mark’d, and a possitive injunction to them that they never pass their own line for cutting a stick of timber. If they do, they should be prosecuted. Indeed I would make it the condition of receiving their deeds, that they should not cut a log over their bounds, and if they did not choose to be confined to such terms, they might leave their possessions. All disputes about settlers lots should be adjusted. The boundary lines of the six townships, or a part of them, should be run and ascertain’d. They are uncertain at present, and very few, if any, of the original bound marks are now to be found. The property in every part of the purchase should be watched and guarded, and every trespasser bro’t to justice. These modes of proceeding are absolutely necessary to enhance the price of the lands, for if a people who live by lumbering, are indulged in cutting the forrests wherever they please, they will have but little more estimation of the value of the soil, than the savage who hunts them for his living. This fact is compleatly evinced in a thousand instances in this country, and it is the great reason why lands are so cheap here. Prevent depridation and you may raise the prices of land to what you please.
Some of the lands in the purchase from De Gregoire are very valuable, for soil as well as situation. They are now worth near two dollars per acre. The islands in particular are valuable, some parts of which are cloath’d with valuable wood that may be sold standing at ten dollars per acre or more. Perhaps it would be prudent to dispose of some of the wood as it stands, if it was only to save so much from being pilfer’d. A number of other observations have occurr’d to me, but which I must take another oppertunity to communicate. Do let me hear from you as often as you have leasure or oppertunity.
I am dear sir with esteem
Your most obedient servant
W. Bingham, Esquire
Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 9 October 1795 [CP]
Philadelphia October 9. 1795
I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 28 August, which I should not have so long delayed, but from an expectation of answering it by a personal interview. But I have been prevented from various obstacles opposing my intentions, and I have now, from the lateness of the season, renounced altogether such an excursion.
It gives me pleasure to find that Mr. Leonard was pleased with the appearance of the country, and that he is disposed to effect a purchase of a township. With respect to the terms, on which you have made him an offer, I cannot but view them as extremely reasonable, even including the payment of interest. By engaging to place seventy settlers on the lands, he deducts from the demands of the State 1,750 dollars, being 25 dollars for each person, which constitutes a small addition to the price of the lands.
The townships which he has selected, from which to make his choice, are in very favorable positions, and certainly are entitled to a high price.
But if half a dollar is the highest terms that can be obtained, it places the other lands, less advantageously situated, in a point of view, that very much undervalues them. But if interest should not be obtained on the distant payments, there will be a considerable deduction from even this very low price.
I am convinced that good roads in various parts of the District will give a very great additional value to the lands. These and many other improvements I would make, if I was possessed of sufficient funds to undertake them with convenience, for I am convinced that money expended thereon, would be returned with tenfold profit, eventually.
But the means are wanting and in order to procure them, a sale must be made in Europe, for none can be effected here to advantage.
The price at which lands have been sold by you will greatly influence that which can be obtained in Europe.
It must be taken into consideration that the settlements that are made in the townships which are purchased have a very advantageous effect, by bringing them into notice, and turning the course of population towards the country.
I think it highly necessary to encourage the settlers at Machias and to make the best terms you can, as well as to secure a portion of the lumber that the settlers in that township are in the practice of cutting on my lands. That article is excessively high here, and I think would well support the expence of transportation from the Maine.
Mr. Lewis promised me the power of attorney for enabling you to give titles to the settlers, but he has not prepared it. I will transmit it by the next post. You will prepare some blank forms of deeds, which had better be printed.
It is probable that your communications may be of essential service to the disposal of a portion of the Maine Lands, concerning which I shall take some decisive measures shortly. I do not suppose it will be inconvenient to you to make an excursion to Philadelphia. In case your personal services may be required in London, would it be agreable to you to make a voyage there, to return early in the spring? I wish to combine the influence and interests of some monied men, in pushing forward this business of improvement and settlement. It languishes at present for want of means. Please to transmit to me the result of your reflections on the subject, and the eventual success that you think will follow an active and energetic exertion, in favor of settling this country. It may be very usefull to me, in giving favorable impressions of this property. I shall have occasion for it, in a very short time.
I shall write you again by next post and am (in a great hurry)
Your obedient humble servant
Cobb to Knox, Gouldsborough, 10 October 1795 [KP]922
Gouldsboro’ October 10th. 1795
My dear Friend:
I receiv’d your letter of the 29th ultimo by Mr. Wilde. Sometime before the receipt of it I had written to Doctor Hunt, by a vessel from this place for Boston, informing him that the back townships were to be sold for 50 or 58 cents per acre. I waited a post for your letter in answer to mine from Penobscot, before I wrote him. I will give him another letter, if you think it necessary, in which I will mention, that since my last letter to him I have receiv’d one from Mr. Bingham confining the price of those townships to 66 cents. I have ever been of the opinion that the lands of this country ought never to be sold under two thirds of a dollar per acre, excepting some indifferent spots, and I have only deviated from that price in compliance with your opinion, which I suppose was form’d upon the principle of inducing settlers to come into this country.
I knew you would have repeated solicitations to go abroad in some character or other, but if your personal interest is to be attended to in opposition to that fantom honour, you will remain where you are. I hope you will seriously view this subject in the same light.
I am exceedingly pleas’d with the idea of Mrs. Knox and the family’s residing at Boston the ensuing winter. It will contribute so much more to their and your happiness that I cannot but be delighted with the choice.
I was writing to Mr. Bingham when I receiv’d your letter, and if he is fond of long letters, he has to give you credit for two of the six pages folio of my small writing which I have sent him by a vessel bound to Philadelphia from Frenchman’s Bay. I mentioned to him that you thought it of consequence that I should go on to Philadelphia this winter to see him, as he fail’d of coming here this season, and that if he wish’d it, I would come on. I likewise mentioned the measures I am at present persuing as to roads, repairs, etc., with a few of the many observations I have made since my arrival here, that will, I conceive, point out some of the necessary measures to be persued to make this country what he wishes it, such as, in the first place, a fix’d system of operation relatively to these lands (which, by the by he has not yet digested in his own mind), a compleat settlement with all the settlers, and their bounds mark’d out, an adjustment of all the claims of settlers with their heirs or grantees, the lines of the six townships, or a part of them, to be run, as the bound marks are obscure, if not unknown. These measures are what may be call’d the rubbish which is necessary to be remov’d whether the lands ultimately are sold in lots, in townships or the whole together. Further, I informed him, that these lands ought to be watch’d and guarded in every part of them, and every trespasser bro’t to justice (in doing of which there is no difficulty), as the first means of enhancing the value of the soil, for it is a principle of nature, that when a people, who live by lumbering, are indulged in cutting the forrests wherever they please, they will not have but little more estimated value of the soil than the savage who hunts the same for his living. This is the sole cause why lands are so cheap in this country. Every inhabitant here is now a depridator—a trespasser—plunderer. They live by it, and therefore they will not cultivate the finest soil in the world. Their not doing this, is the chief cause why the reputation of the country has been damn’d in the opinion of those cursory observers who have seen it. I have a number of other observations to make, when I have the pleasure of seeing you.
I concur intirely with you that the best mode, at present, for the settlement of the country, is the sale of townships.
I am now compleatly full with business. The men Leonard was to engage, are arrived—eight of them. They are on the roads, with Peters the surveyor at their head, penetrating the forrest. They have already advanced near four miles, with causways and bridges as they go, and they will continue on this business ’till winter prevents. At home I am turn’d out of doors. My chimney is down and the inside of my house torn to pieces, but I have two masons, two carpenters and two labourers at work upon it, by whose exertions I hope soon to have it in a comfortable situation for the winter. Thus situated, I am painfully compelled to deny myself the pleasure of seeing you and the family at Montpelier this fall. The ladies well know, that if tears could remove the difficulty I should cry with as much sincerity as they ever did, and perhaps more.
My intentions were not to leave this place ’till sometime in January, and then to visit Mrs. Cobb at Taunton. My reasons for staying were to regulate the log stealing business, which the people have been so long in the habit of, and thence save a little for Bingham out of this kind of plunder. My arrangements, however, are so made, that I can leave here by the beginning of December, or perhaps sooner, if you or Bingham should think it necessary for me to go on to Philadelphia.
I have two carpenters here sent to me by Leonard. Is it worth while to keep them here for the winter at work for the house I intend to build the next year, or is it better to suspend this business ’till final arrangements are made at Philadelphia?
My son Thomas is with me. He arrived here about a fortnight since in as perfect health as he ever enjoy’d. He is greatly assisting to me in my present business, and will continue here for the winter.
Not a line from Bingham since the first of June. What can be the reason?
Cobb to Knox, Gouldsborough, 11 October 1795 [KP]923
Gouldsboro’ October nth. 1795
My old Friend:
Since sealing my letter of yesterday Parker924 and Wilde arrived here. They are now present, and I would not omit giving you this, from the information giving me by Peters the surveyor, who is likewise present and just returned from reconoitring for the road: that two very valuable mill seats adjoining the eastern bounds of No. 7 are in No. 4, now Steuben, and the lands along the rivers upon the line and within that town are very valuable. He mentioned that we ought to own these seats and lands to accomodate our lands adjoining, but I answer’d it was of no consequence, we own’d enough without, of the same kind. But it is of consequence to Gouldsboro’ and to all the lands in its neighbourhood that this township, or a part of it, should be purchas’d of that Doctor Rasten, or whatever his name is, at Philadelphia.925 Write Bingham on the subject in your next, and tell him I shall do the same in mine. This township makes the eastern side of the harbour of Gouldsboro’. The inhabitants in it are settled on the Tunk River that empties into the eastern bay of the Harbour. On this river the mill seats are situated and just without the bounds of No. 7, and likewise as good soil as any in this country, cloth’d with the finest pines and hard wood. As it is of the first consequence that depridation on the lands here should be entirely stop’d, these lands in No. 4 should have an agent here, or my exertions will be frustrated. Let Bingham know this, and if he does not purchase, let him persuade the Doctor to make me his agent for the purpose of preventing plunder, and then all avenues for plunder are stop’d, and my general measures must succeed. As this is a business of importance, don’t fail in communicating it.
Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 17 October 1795 [CP]
Philadelphia October 17. 1795
Such is the situation of affairs relative to the Maine Lands, that I think it necessary that some vigorous energetic measures should be taken immediately, in order to dispose of at least one half of them, not only to produce the requisite resources for the various expenditures, which their improvement calls for, but to insure the owners a profit on their speculation.
I am persuaded from the present appearances and a combination of all circumstances that are likely to happen, that if the present moment is neglected, no other will offer for a very long period, and that the owners will be cruelly embarassed with this property, as the sum of money to be expended for the payment and improvement of these lands must be immensely great. And should the situation of this country be such as to forbid all expectations of making profitable sales, or sales at any rate, a property which promised to be highly advantageous to the parties, must become so oppressive on their finances, as to reduce them to the greatest distress.
These reasons prompt me to wish your agency in this business. I hope you may make it convenient to take your departure for Philadelphia immediately on the receipt of this letter. I have strong reasons to suppose that a gentleman will arrive here in a short time, whose object will be a purchase of a great portion of these lands.926 I am convinced that by a communication with you and the information you will be able to give, relative to these lands, from having resided there, he will be very favorably impressed.
You can make known the prospects of advantage that will be derived from a concern in lands that will settle with so much rapidity, if proper encouragement is given to the improvements, and will in every other respect impart the most usefull intelligence. In case the gentleman I expect here should not have this object in view, we must endeavor to persuade you to extend your services further and to embark for England, where I am convinced that a number of capitalists may be combined in order to purchase on reasonable terms, one half of this property, especially under the impressions that must be derived from your communications and perfect knowledge of all circumstances, connected with the subject.
The voyage I have no doubt will be agreeable, and will be made profitable. I wish that Monsieur Liancourt may accompany you to Philadelphia, especially if he has conceived a favorable opinion of the lands. I would not hesitate a moment in embarking for Europe on this business, if I was not prevented by the necessity of my attending the next session of Congress. I shall be very impatient to receive your answer to these proposals, being fully convinced from the present state of Europe and of this country, that a postponement in the execution of this business will be fatal to its success.
With sincere regards I am
Your obedient humble servant
O. Leonard to Cobb, Colonel Eddy’s House, No. 10, 18 October 1795 [CP]
Colonel Eddy’s House No. 10927 October 18th 1795
If I was as black as you, should be a better savage than any in Old-town. Last night we returned from a tour, on which we were gone three days from this place, with a guide. My father made one of our number. We found the waters on the meddows and in all the streams very high. One half day waded over tops of boots. Camped in the woods without cover, and had a d—d fatiguing time of it. Thought often of the cocanut shell. We all say tis a good country, I think better than at Gouldsborough or eastward of it. My father is too well pleased. He finds good Indian corn, rye, wheat, fatt beef, butter, and grass in aboundance, and thinks that if a bushel of corn will buy an acre, he’ll have his share of the land.
We are fully satisfied with the land. Had not so compleat a view as wished, but conclude to take No. 26,928 unless there is some mistake in numbering or laying out. The township No. 26 has Great Works Stream running through it, by my map, and if right prefer it to No. 32 for my first operation. You must give us a road to it and lay it out, both of which by your agreement belongs to you. As soon as that is compleat we are ready to comply with our part: indeed our settlers are now anxious to get on to their land, but tis impossible for a female to get there, or a man with more than the contents of a pack. The road contemplated, and which Holland told me he expected to survey, will I suppose run through the same township. If it should, I shall bring the settlers agreed on immediately.
I shall be glad to contract to cut the road when laid out, and will take land for the whole business but the surveying. Shall be glad to hear from you on this subject, for it will require some arrangement on your part.
I intended to have done myself the pleasure of seeing you at your wigwam, before return westward, but my companions are driving home, the season advancing and my business requiring my attention at home must excuse me.
Your family were the 7th instant well; all friends at Taunton get up, chew tobacco, smut a little, drink toddy, etc. as usual.
If you want beef at Taunton, send me a line. Tomorrow morning are bound down river and home, and by the by this same river is one of the most delightfull waters I ever saw. Canduskeeg929 will be the Philadelphia of this country. A ship of the line can navigate the river to that place, and the country above is charming and productive beyond discription. If my house and wife were there, I would bid adieu to old Taunton forever. Come and view this river, make that your residence, and I will be your neighbour. Place an agent at Gouldsborough, another at Machias, and drink of these waters, eat the fat of this [land], and you’l be satisfied to leave your bones here. Tillinghast930 had better settle here. One hundred acres at Canduskeeg last week sold for 3,000 dollars. Private operations will soon florish here to some purpose.
Give my respects to Thomas, and Mr. Tillinghast.
Am my dear sir, with respectfull esteem, your most humble servant
Honourable Cobb, Esquire
Thomaston 28 October 1795
My dear Friend:
Some alteration in the time of arrival and departure of the last post prevented my acknowledging the receipt of your last letter by Mr. Wilde. Indeed it is not necessary for me to do it now, in every particular as the business of roads, and expences, are generally treated of in Mr. Binghams letters, which I have opened, the first by mistake, which led to the second from design. Will you pardon me? He holds up the desire of your going to Philadelphia instantly. This you must do. I presumed it would be necessary. I sincerely wish you may find it practicable to go to Europe, as I flatter myself it would be greatly for your interest as well as ours. You ought not to go but with high inducements, that is to see the world, and make five times as much as you could make by staying at home. No time is to be lost in your winding up your arrangements at Gouldsborough. You must leave some little but honest agent there who will cost nothing, but cod fish, which he will take himself. Decide instantly. Reduce your expences to 000, or as near to nothing as possible.
We are leaving this charming place, for the winter, but with great regret. Mrs Flucker is off 24 hours passage to Boston, under the protection of Mr. Beaumez.931 We have taken Malcom’s sloop, put cordwood as ballast in the hold, take our furniture from here such as we shall want at Boston, not bringing any from Philadelphia. We shall expect to sail about the 2d of November as our vessel has arrived.
Mr. Liancourt could not stay long enough to visit you. He wished it. He is highly impressed in favor of our country, and wishes to establish himself here. Mr. Bingham will therefore receive all the support he could wish from him.932
We shall have an ordination tomorrow of a Mr. Use933 at Warren. I hope to be there but [?] as busy as a bee. Mr. Wild has been here today. All well. I have conceived it so important that you should receive Mr. Binghams letters early that I have requested Mr. Parker if no instant opportunity offers to send an express to you, and that if by possibility you do not pay the expence, that I will.
The devil is to pay among the demo’s—bribery and corruption, at a great rate. Randolph under the vocative. I send you the Boston paper. A great triumph in Philadelphia of the organized over the disorganized, out voting them fairly by a majority of 600 out of 2,600.
Terrible times in New York about the yellow fever. It is said however to have left Norfolk. But they lie so cursedly there no body will believe them, so the mayor made all the physicians take their oaths that the yellow fever had flown away. Peace, depend upon it, peace in the winter or spring between France and England.
Love to Thomas.
Dr. Ebenezer Hunt to Cobb, Northampton, Massachusetts, 3 November 1795 [CP]
Northampton November 3d 1795
I received yours of the 26 September. The gentleman by whom I sent my letter would have called on you, but something in his affairs prevented.
I am happy to hear you are so well situated, and making accommodations for your family. Shall insist on it that you fulfill an old promise of visiting Northampton with Mrs. Cobb before your removal.
I am pleased with the account you give of the eastern country, and should be disposed to interest myself in those lands, were it not for the incumbrance of settlement. The inhabitants of Connecticut River cannot be inspired with the spirit of emigration. They have so long lived on this pleasant land that they contemplate a removal to a new country with the same apprehensions they do their last and final one. Settlers therefore must be collected from the new plantations, and they have their faces to the westward. The rage of speculation and emigrating into York State is beyond conception. A new field has lately opened in the Connecticut Lands in which I have purchased two shares, 15,000 acres. We have 5 years credit and two without interest, and no conditions of settlement. Those lands have already risen 50 per cent from the purchase. I have at present vested all my loose property in the western lands. Should I be able in the course of this winter to sell my Genosee lands, believe I should be disposed to purchase at the eastward, could I adjust the matter of settlement to my mind. I observe you require a bond with forfeiture for the performance of the settling duty. The government do not require such a bond. Perhaps if you return this winter, we may be able to accommodate matters. At present I shall not purchase on your conditions.
I have been looking round among some of our substantial farmers in the neighboring new towns and have offered one or two good men 500 acres (gratis) if they would remove and head off a number, but have not as yet been able to succeed.
I dislocated my left knee last March, and have since been crippled in some measure, and above five weeks since I slipped up in my house and dislocated the outer ancle of the same leg, which confined me to my house and mostly to my bed for 4 weeks. I am now out on my crutches and never expect fully to recover it. These things, with other events, have a little lowered my enterprise, at least has incapacitated me from doing much business. Have not been on a horse since last March; but was able to ride a little in my sulkey before the last accident. Mrs. Hunt, Eben, and Betsy have been pretty severely handled with the dysentery this fall, but have recovered good health. Shall be happy to hear from you and in the mean time
am your affectionate friend
D. Cobb, Esquire
Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 7 November 1795 [CP]
Philadelphia November 7 1795
I this day received by Captain Jones your favor of the 5 October, which has been exposed to a long detention. I have had a very particular conversation with him on the subject of local circumstances relative to the District of Maine, the progress of its settlement, and its future prospects, the result of which has been extremely satisfactory.
It gives me pleasure to find that you have been able to combat with success the dangerous prepossessions of the inhabitants relative to the right of plundering timber. It is necessary to crush this practice in its bud, as the object is one of the most valuable resources of the country. But there are additional reasons, of a still stronger cast in favor of extinguishing these habits. The country will never turn its attention to agriculture, untill lumbering is discouraged, which must be effected by throwing every difficulty in the way. This may be done by subjecting it to heavy impositions in favor of the rights of the proprietor of the soil, and by convincing the people, by the evidence of well improved farms, that the pursuits of agriculture are much more productive, as well as more respectable.
Another mode, which I formerly pointed out to you, is the purchase of the various mill seats, on the streams that enter into my lands, which might be put into the hands of honest industrious persons, to improve and manage. These are points more particularly to be attended to, as I expect a very great demand for lumber as soon as peace takes place, in order to supply the wants of the West Indies. It is the interest of every owner of land to cooperate with you in resisting the claims of these persons, for no property can be secure, whilst they are supported, as there is no difference in fact, betwixt the right to the timber and the right to the soil. I am happy to understand, that your courts of justice are pure and uncorrupt, which will considerably aid your views of subverting the pretensions of these plunderers. I suppose before you leave the country, you will take previous measures to prevent the depredations of the winter, as that is the season of the year, when they are most practised.
I am well persuaded of the necessity of establishing roads and opening the country to view, in order to insure the emigration of settlers, by inviting them to inspect the lands. It is an excellent employment of funds, and has been attended with advantages in Pennsylvania, that have most amply requited the expence incurred. But our method differs essentially from yours. We never employ labourers by monthly or daily wages on such business.
Our uniform practice, the result of dearbought experience, is to have recourse to contract, and more or less is given, according to the size of the road, and as the country is thickly or sparsely wooded. The common price for such roads, as are sufficient to admit a waggon to pass, is ten dollars per mile. A wide road, in the infancy of the settlement is unnecessary.
Indeed, I would recommend on all occasions that will admit of it, the work that is undertaken, to be done by contract. I have been a manager for several years of the canal and turnpike companies,934 and was always urging their work to be done by contract.
Since they have adopted this mode, the work is effected for at least one half of the former prices.
If Peters had surveyed the rivers by contract, they would not probably have cost upwards of two thousand dollars. It is not uncommon for our labourers to contract to receive the recompense for opening roads in lands, which is advantageous in a double point of view. Your labor is dearer by 50 per cent than in any part of Pennsylvania, where the highest price given is eight dollars per month, and a considerable portion of these wages is returned to the owner of the lands, by the profit he procures on the various necessaries, which he furnishes the labourers, out of the magazines he establishes. We have no persons appointed by the county to lay out the road in our new settlements, which individuals wish to improve on their own account, but a surveyor is employed by the day, in marking the road, when the labourers immediately follow. The progress that is made is very great, and the persons employed are chiefly New England-men. I think the direction you have given to the roads is very favorable. I wish you had calculated the expences and had sent me an estimate of them, for until I can dispose of a part of this property, I shall be so harrassed for funds that I shall be much distressed. A sale of a portion would animate our efforts, by producing the means of improvement very abundantly.
I am fully persuaded of the vast advantages arising from the expenditure of money with prudence and œconomy in a young country. They are exemplified daily in the interior of your state.
I am not as yet acquainted with the enumeration of the inhabitants, which is an important business, and which I very early recommended to your pointed attention. I cannot determine untill it is effected how far the engagements made with the State are complied with, which stipulated that there should be a certain number of inhabitants on the six townships, and a certain number on the two millions of acres. It will be necessary to exhibit this statement, in order that by paying the ballance on the conditions stipulated with the State, for the defective number of inhabitants, I can procure the deed that is retained, untill this business is adjusted. I have no doubt that you will procure every friendly aid in arranging this business, from the justices of the peace, that are situated on this District, who I suppose will be the proper persons to certify the list when it is taken.
General Knox will have informed you, that in consequence of some propositions that I have made in Europe, there is some prospect of being able to negociate a sale of some of the Maine Lands, and that a person will be sent for the purpose of making enquiries relative to them. It will therefore be necessary that your opinion on the prospects of these lands should be referred to, and every information you can give on the subject obtained. But when or where, I cannot tell, as the person in question has not (to my knowledge) arrived.
At any rate it is an important point to raise, in every direction, the character of these lands, by making generally known, in correspondence and by publications, their resources and bright prospects for settlement, etc. This impression, once made on the public mind, will continue to operate and will daily strengthen. I find a great change has already taken place from General Knox’s and your residence in that country.
I had expected that there would have been the necessity of another visit to Europe, with a view of disposing of a part of these lands, to some capitalists of that country. In that case, I should wish, that a person, conversant with this country, and who had a perfect knowledge of it, should make the voyage, in order to make the proper impression and operate forcibly on the minds of the Europeans who would incline to purchase. I shall decide in a short time, how far this voyage will enter into my calculations.
In much hurry I am with great regard my dear sir
Your friend, etc.
Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 8 November 1795 [CP]
Gouldsboro’ November 8th. 1705
My dear Sir:
Your two letters of the 9th and 17th ultimo came to this place, by express from Penobscott on the 3d instant, but my absence in the woods with the surveyor reconoitring the rout from my road, prevented my seeing them ’till the 5th. I am now making every arrangement, in compliance with your wishes, for leaving this place as soon as possible and to proceed to Philadelphia. My road cutters will be discharged and sent to the westward next day after to morrow. The log stealing business is in part already placed in good order, the remainder of it will be left in good hands to be effected. In six days from this, at farthest, I shall depart for Boston, and after staying one week with Mrs. Cobb at Taunton, I shall proceed to Philadelphia, where I shall probably arrive in a month from this date. Such observations as have occur’d, during my residence, and which are of importance for you to know, I shall then with pleasure communicate. My son, who came here on a visit, has kindly offer’d to remain here in charge of such little concerns as may arise in my absence.
I am dear sir with respect and esteem
Your most obedient servant
Honorable Mr. Bingham
Philadelphia November 12th 1705
I wrote you by the last post in reply to yours of the 6th October.
I am sorry that your occupations have not admitted of a weekly and regular correspondence, announcing therein the various improvements that are making, have been made, or that it will be proper to undertake. When I urged this measure, I was fully impressed with its importance, of which I do not suppose you were aware.
Your letters are of essential utility, by serving as authentic and unsuspicious documents of the rapid progress of this country and of its great susceptibilities, and I make great use of them, whenever they contain important matter that can be turned to advantageous account.
The principal object with the owners of these Maine Lands is to establish in the public estimation that due degree of consideration, to which they are eminently entitled. This will attract settlers from all quarters and engage capital to be expended in a variety of establishments, by active and enterprizing individuals.
You have never mentioned to me, how far it is practicable to fix and improve a town at Gouldsborough, or whether a better position offers.
Having been prevented from making my eastern excursion this year, I am very desirous of having the most precise and accurate account of the state of the country, and the future prospects relative to it, for such communications have a tendency to desseminate proper opinions, which at the present moment is the one thing needful.
If you are able to contract for the roads, I suppose they may be carried on for a great part of the winter. This measure, which I so warmly recommended in my last letter, will be found far the most economical and eligible.
I am with regard
Your obedient humble servant
Cobb to Nathan Jones, Gouldsborough, 15 November 1795 [CP]
To Colonel Nathan Jones:
As you have kindly undertaken in my absence, to superintend the cutting of lumber from the lands of the proprietor whom I represent, it will be necessary for me first to mention such general principles as may be required for the regulation of your conduct in the execution of this business.
It has ever been the particular wish of the proprietor that the lumber upon all his lands should be entirely preserved, but such are the customs and habits of the people here, that if they are denied the priviledge of log cutting upon these lands, they would be reduced to the utmost distress, and out of charity to this necessity, the proprietor consents to their having this priviledge on the following conditions: that in cutting logs they do not distroy a single tree that is fit for masts, and that at the mill they deliver an eighth part of the boards that are cutt from the logs thus taken from these lands; and if any other timber is taken, they must pay the customary proportion of the country, or such as your judgement shall direct.
As Mr. Townsley935 of Steuben has undertaken to superintend this business on all the lands east of the line of No. 7, you will confine your particular attention to all those west of that line, but it is expected that when either discovers trespasses committing upon the others jurisdiction, that you confer together on the subject; so likewise, if you should discover any trespasses on or about Union River where Major Jordan936 has some direction of this business, or Mount Desert, where Captain Hall937 superintends, or any of the islands, you will confer with the gentlemen in whose particular department the evil may be, for it may so happen that those whom you suppose are aggressors have permission from some of these gentlemen for the purpose.
In commencing your operations your attention will be naturally turn’d to Gouldsboro’ and No. 7, beginning with Parrot’s and Whitten’s Mill, thence to the Chicken Mill, the Mills on the western river, the Long Mill, if it should be used, Prospect and Musqueto harbour Mills, the Maransee938 Mills and the Flanders Mill; and wherever mills are situated that do or can communicate with Townships Nos. 8, 9 or Trenton you will pay such attention as that the whole may be placed on the same general regulation. Altho’ Major Jordan has the direction of this business on Union River, yet it is my particular request that you would attend to all such lumber as may come down that river from the township above.
If in the execution of the trust hereby committed to you, you have occasion to resort to legal measures, you will apply to Mr. Parker of Penobscott for assistance, and in the prosecution of any such actions, which you will have bro’t in my name, I will take care that proper powers shall be produced to support them.
Having a confidence that you will execute with prudence and fidelity the business here assigned you, I can assure you that you shall meet with an ample and honorable reward for your services.
Gouldsboro’ November 15th 1795939
General Cobb’s achievements during his first season down east must have encouraged both him and Bingham. The General had run into many difficulties, but this was to be expected in the opening of a new country for settlement. Though the roads were abominable and the task of cutting new ones arduous, a brave attack had been made on this evil. Though the problem of the lumber thieves promised a tedious battle for some years to come, the framework of a system to control these rascals had been established. Though the town of Gouldsborough and Bingham’s property there fell far short of expectations, much had been done to make the agent, at least, snug and comfortable. And finally, though Cobb had hardly been swamped with applications from prospective settlers, he had had enough nibbles to make him sanguine about future sales. Despite the many obstacles, there was nothing to indicate that the speculation could not eventually prove an outstanding success. Now, late in the fall, with the news that there was an excellent possibility of acquiring the support of European capital, the future of the venture must have looked rosy indeed. As Cobb set off for the westward, he must have had little occasion to regret the bargain which he had made with Bingham.