Chapter XIV


THE record of the activities of William Bingham’s agents in Maine for the year 1800 is an unusually full one. There are more items in the Cobb Papers for this year than for any other. This may simply mean that the General was more careful about preserving his correspondence for this year than for the others; on the other hand, there are numerous items which indicate that eastern Maine was becoming more civilized and that the institutions of a more settled society were being established. Unfortunately for William Bingham this gradual change in the character of the country improved the financial condition of his Maine speculation not one whit. The country seemed to be filling up without regard to the efforts of his agents. The heavy drains on his resources continued, but the improvements for which the money was spent failed to produce anything remotely resembling a boom. By the end of the year it was becoming clear that the attempt to force settlement on the Penobscot tract had failed.

Faced with this disagreeable fact, Bingham turned to his Kennebec lands, in hopes that he might have more success in that region. Though he still was anxious to sell the Kennebec Million en masse, if he could, he realized also that the tide of settlement would soon be reaching that property and that it behooved him to make at least minimum preparations to sell these lands at retail. As always, Bingham was anxious to keep expenses down and thus to take only the most essential steps, but it would not do to let this chance for eventual profit go by default. So it was that the year 1800 saw William Bingham shift his attention from the Penobscot to the Kennebec; and as a result, a large proportion of the documents for this year are concerned with the establishment of a program for the Kennebec Million.

That David Cobb was making a name for himself down east is borne out by the fact that this year marks his return to public life. In March he was asked by the Boston Federalists to get out the vote for their candidate, Caleb Strong;348 that summer he was appointed a Justice of the Peace for Gouldsborough;349 and had he wished for the office, he could have had the position of Probate Judge for Hancock County as well.350 Finally, with Bingham’s approval, he determined to run for the State Senate in the fall, a position to which he was duly elected.351 With the question of the settling duties soon to come before the legislature, with state, county, and town taxes soon to become a problem for the concern, and above all, with the steady rise of Jeffersonian Democracy in New England and the fear that the Democrats, once in office, might make things hot for large landholders, it was important to have a spokesman for the proprietors in the General Court. It was in this field that General Cobb was to perform some of his most valuable services for the Bingham interests.

The year 1800 must have been a busy one for the General; certainly he was called upon to handle a wide variety of problems. Two towns, Machias and Passamaquoddy, eager to get revenue from the Bingham lands, jumped the gun and levied taxes on the property a year before the exemption had expired.352 One Samuel Freeman, agent for the original proprietors of Trenton, asked to be relieved of the costs of the suit which he and his associates had lost when trying to recover that township from Bingham.353 The inevitable confidence man, one John Schaeffer, passed through Gouldsborough and apparently touched the General for a loan.354 A gentleman from Northampton, Massachusetts, had a lottery prize to sell.355 Benjamin Vaughan wanted botanical information on the Mount Desert pea and sent Cobb excerpts from early British travel books commenting on the plant.356 Cobb’s own lands on the Androscoggin were causing trouble,357 and provision for his large family was ever a matter of concern to him.

Yet despite this activity and the hard work done to improve the land for settlements, few buyers appeared. A couple of locals bought an island off Mount Desert’s Southwest Harbor,358 and for a time it looked as if some settlers from the Merrimack Valley might be interested in the Kennebec property; but in the end virtually no one came.359 Nor was the General more successful when he attempted a travelling-salesman tour of western Massachusetts in an effort to attract settlers.360 Though David Cobb remained sanguine—at least in his letters to Bingham—it became clearer each year that artificial settlements could not succeed in priming the pump for a land boom down east.

Cony to Cobb, Augusta, 16 January 1800 [CP]

Augusta. 16. January 1800

My dear Sir:

In compliance with your personal request, as also your written favour addressed to me from Hallowell 5th October 1799,361 as well as my own engagement to you, we have made a special journey up to the Million Acres, to visit the settlers, ascertain such information from them and of the premises as was attainable at the time and within the period allotted to one tour. The following minutes taken on the spot, and from various other sources, are believed to be nearly correct, to wit,

    Taken up Settled Taken up Settled  


Abel Ware



Asa Fletcher




Ephraim Wood



John Ball




William Fletcher



Amos Heald, Jr




Ephraim Heald



Barnabas Eaton




Jonas Heald



Levi Goodrich




John Dinsmor



Ephraim Heald, Jr.




Amos Fletcher



Daniel Churchill




Daniel Foster



Amos Heald




Joseph Russell



William Renolds




Joseph Churchill



Thomas Fletcher




Roger Chase



Solomon Night




Joseph Baker



Joseph Cook




Joshua Goodrich





Silas Parlin




Ezekiel Chase




Note those with this x mark have framed [?] houses and barns, and all the above settled on the front lots near the river (and hardy good men).362

Joseph Bean, Isaac Robbins, Luke Robbins, Joshua Goodrich, Joshua Goodrich, Jr., and John Goodrich settled on back lots in the year 1798. Note there is one grist mill, and one saw mill in this settlement owned and improved by Joshua Goodrich being the only mills above Carriotunk Falls, seated near the mouth of Austin’s Stream.363 Respecting the quallity of the soil and its susceptibility of agricultural improvements, I will confine my present remarks to that part of the tract which will fall within the three southerly ranges of townships, comprehending about twenty townships, the prognised settlement with the experiments already made. The result furnishes data beyond any reasonable doubt that this tract of territory is capable of an easy and advantageous settlement. A flourishing and luxurient product from a proper agriculture, and the soil from analogy to other lands in its vicinage, as well as from actual improvements made, will abundantly reward the labor of the husbandman. Its fertility and goodness has been growing in estimation with every years experience, and a permanent and flourishing settlement is now making in most or all the marginal townships on the southerly part of the tract, which will no doubt open new avenues, and very much facilitate the means of effecting a settlement on this valuable territory belonging to the Honorable William Bingham.

Important discovery

Extensive funds [?] of iron ore near Austin’s Stream contiguous to one of the best and first places in the world to build the works. The mine can be bro’t in scows across the pond with great convenience and ’tis unnecessary to ad the coal may be made (for many years) almost in the forge or furnass yard, and if my information on this subject should prove correct, as there is reason to expect, an establishment of iron works at the place in question would be an object of the first utility and highly promotive of the substantial welfare of the District of Maine.

Useful information

Dinsmor and Foster,364 famous hunters, have traversed the Million Acres in all directions, say ’tis well very well accomodated with streams and mill seats, that there is considerable tracts of intervale on the margin of the Dead River, subject to be overflowed, and that there is valuable pinetimber in two parts of the tract only, but very considerable in each, to wit on and near the Dead River and near Austin’s Stream.

The expence of lotting each township into lots half mile square, in a proper manner, and returning duplicate plans, dissignating the lots into 1st, 2d, and 3d classes, will cost about 250 dollars and a settlement of numerous hardy families can be affected within a short period and at a moderate expence.

On this head I could write a volumn but my other avocations arrest my pen, and conclude these cursory observations with one further remark—that if Mr. Bingham would turn his attention to this tract of teritory, commence operations with spirit and prudence, he might realize advantages hardly to be calculated in anticipation.

Believe, dear sir

with great consideration

your friend and humble servant

Daniel Cony

Your future commands shall have place and presidence.

P.S. George Warren,365 attorney at law residing in this place, is sorely afflicted and declining under complicated dropsy, asitis and anasonia and probably enlarged and diseased liver. He bears his affliction with great fortitude and resignation, expects and appears resigned to meet a destiny, which probably will soon terminate his existence.

D. C.

[On the back of the cover]

The settlers engaged in idea in opening a road to Chaudiere which they think very practicable and would not exceed 70 or 80 miles. More on this and other points hereafter.

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 1 February 1800 [CP]366

Philadelphia, February 2. 1800

Dear General:

I am very impatient to have the pleasure of hearing from you, having been deprived of any of your letters for a considerable time past.

I do not suppose that any thing of consequence has occurred in the course of your operations, or you would naturally have communicated it.

Neither Baring or myself have received any account of the marriage of our friend Richards, which by the last intelligence we have had reason to believe was on the point of consummation.

It is essentially necessary that some immediate measures should be taken with the Kennebec tract. In one of the letters that I recently wrote to you, I requested your opinion of Mr. Merrick, whom you probably became acquainted with on your excursion to Kennebec. He is a brother in law of Mr. Vaughan, and he has been very actively engaged for some time past in promoting settlements in that neighbourhood. From his knowledge of the country, and its inhabitants he would be better enabled to perform such a service. I think he would be well calculated to entrust the superintendance of these lands to, until I had digested a proper system for a regular course of settlement. In the event of employing him in such a capacity, I wish you to mention to me, what you suppose would be a proper equivalent for his superintendance.

I have heard nothing further from Mr. Cony. I am very anxious to procure a sale for the greatest portion of this property, before I commence any operations for its settlement, which must involve considerable expence. But hitherto my efforts have been unavailing. In the meanwhile my advances, which are exorbitant, increase daily.

As you have no further occasion for the original deeds which I transmitted to you, please to return them by some safe and convenient opportunity.

I am with regard

Dear General

Your obedient servant

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb

Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 3 February 1800 [CP]

Gouldsboro February 3d. 1800

Dear Sir:

Your letter of December 10th was duly receiv’d. I have delay’d giving you an answer that I might receive Dr. Cony’s communication, which I have been anxiously waiting for, and which happily came to hand by the last mail. A copy of it you have inclos’d.

The doctor has not made such a report as I could have wish’d. I know he had not time sufficient to examine the tract and obtain an account of all the inhabitants, but he might have enlarg’d upon what was “the best, cheapest and most expeditious mode for bringing forward the settlement of the country.” However, the truth is, that this tract is in a state of settlement of itself, and that little else is required to be done, than having the townships run into lots under the direction of some prudent person who can inform the purchasers when they apply for land, where their lots are and upon what terms they can have them. The iron mine is a valuable discovery, and if it is in quantity as Cony intimates, it will be really a mine of wealth to you, as so little of that mineral has as yet been discover’d in the District of Maine.

I was frequently in company with Mr. Merrick when at Hallowell, and I am much prejudiced in his favour as an active and intelligent person, but I think Dr. Cony, if he will accept, will be more servicable to you as an agent. Not that he possesses the enterprize or intelligence that Merrick does, but he has other qualities that are more important for your service. He was born a Yankee and acquainted with all their cunning. From long residence he is intimately acquainted with the manners and habits of the District of Maine, and possesses extensive influence there. His influence in the government is by no means to be dispised (which at no very distant period you will require). He is appointed by the Treasurer to number the inhabitants on the Million Acres. He is personally acquainted with all the surveyors on the Kennebeck, all of whom he has repeatedly employ’d either for the State, or for individuals for whom he has been agent, and has had this business done 30 per cent cheaper than it can be done for with us. He is a Judge of the Court in the county where your lands are. He is a great clamourer against you for not attending to the Lands. He has been educated in the habits of great œconomy, and I believe will not expend your or any other persons money unnecessarily. However worthy and intelligent Mr. Merrick may be, he is a European against whom New England people have too many prejudices. He has lately mov’d into the country, where, at present, he cannot possess any influence, and he is likewise probably engaged with the Vaughan family in the settlement of a number of new townships which will more or less interfere with your views and intentions. Whenever you have determin’d whom to select for your agent at Kennebeck, I wish you to permit me to make the appointment, or at least to agree with him for his stipend or his pay for his services, as I think you will be thereby subjected to less expence. You may perhaps suppose that from my so warmly advocating Cony, I have an interest in his appointment. I have none seperate from yours. I have known him for many years and have always dispis’d him, and in some points he is not the man I could wish for this business, but take him all in all he is the best person for you in that country. The proverb is too true “that if a man is in Hell his best interest is to pay court to the Devil.”

On the establishment of a lumber yard at Gouldsboro’ I would observe we have one here already on a small scale and it agrees perfectly with my opinion to have it inlarged which I conceive can be done without any additional capital to the store, even to the amount of all the lumber that can be made at this port, but then the quantity would be very inadequate to constitute such a lumber yard as you have an idea of; and I conceive such a yard cannot be established at any port in this country from the lumber made near such a port, as the number of inhabitants near any one place are too few to create such a quantity of lumber as such a yard would require. But if a yard was to be made up of the lumber bro’t coast wise from the neighbouring rivers and ports and here ship’d for Europe or the West Indies, it would elivate Gouldsboro’ to the rank of a respectable city in the course of a few years; and there cannot be a doubt that a capitol thus managed, by an active commercial character, would produce as much or more profit as from any other branch of commerce in New England. At the same time it would add fifty prices to the value of the land here. I mention these few observations to shew how the materials for an extensive lumber establishment are to be collected, and if the intention is serious for making such an establishment for foreign commerce, I will in some further letter detail what I conceive to be the proper mode of carrying it into execution. This is a favorite subject with me as it has ever been my opinion that commercial and agricultural operations should have gone hand in hand in the improvement of this country, and I am now more convinced that commerce ought to go foremost. In the improvement of interior countries (from whence we have generally drawn our theories of operation), agriculture, from necessity, must be the sole pursuit. Thence the rapid rise of lands in such countries. But in a country of extensive sea coast, where every tree that grows in the forest is at market, commerce must convey off these forests before agriculture can participate in the improvement of the country. Thence in such countries, the richest soils have no other value than the estimated amount of the value of the trees growing upon them. On a review of the progress of improvement along the extensive sea coast from Boston eastward, many of the now flourishing commercial and agricultural towns, were, since my memory, the meerest hords of disipated lumber men, stealing the forest trees and subsisting intirely by the markets at Boston, not even raising their potatoes on a soil that is now as productive as any in the Union.

The lands that were deeded by Jackson to De la Roche in Trenton and No. 8 still stand on record as the property of La Roche. As you hold the bonds of Walker for the payment of what was due from Madam La Val, is it not probable that some of these may be assigned to you for the payment of these bonds? If they should, it would be prudent for you to take such measures as will put it in your power to prevent the waiste which is now committed upon them by the inhabitants.

We have been operating this season on the Union River. A road is laid open from Taunton Bay to the Great Falls on Western Branch of that river in No. 20,367 where will be erected by contract a double saw mill the insuing season. The township is run out into lots of half a mile square. It is a good township of land, rather too much burnt. We intend to make a settlement at the falls the next season. I will endeavour to detail to you our whole proceedings when our accounts are transmitted. I expected these accounts would have been compleated at the close of the year, but the captain of our packet thro’ neglect went off on a little voyage to Portsmouth immediately after his return from Boston in December without leaving his accounts, and has not yet returned. They shall be compleated immediately after Mr. Richard’s return from Machias, which I expect will be in the course of this month with his wife. Matrimonial frolic and fun are, for a little while, incompatible with business.

I will take particular care that your deeds are returned by some safe hand in the course of the spring.

Richards sometime since intimated his wish to devote a small capital that he could command, in carrying on the West India trade from this port, but he was fearfull he should not be permitted to do it, as his contract did not allow him, while superintending the concerns here, to transact any business for his private emolument. For my part I see no objection to his having this permission, for whatever capital he puts in operation here will so far benefit the property of this country. But if he is denied, I am jealous his capital will be used else where, since his new connection, which will deprive us of the benefit resulting from the use of it here. This however is only my conjecture. But I think he never will be content to reside here on his present stipend, with no other prospect of property than what is [will] arise from the future progress of this country, however certain that is, more especially since his new connection which will naturally subject him to greater expence.

[No signature]

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 24 February 1800 [CP]

Philadelphia February 24th 1800

Dear General:

I have within some days past received your letter of the 3d instant enclosing the report of Dr. Cony on the lands situate on each side of the Kennebec River.

I wish he had been enabled to make a more satisfactory examination and have reported a more explicit state of the present state and future prospects of this tract, as well as of the number of its inhabitants and the quality of its soil and susceptibility of settlement.

I observe that many settlers have already taken possession of some of the lands on the margin of the tract. It will be necessary to have all their names recorded and authentic proof obtained of the period when they commenced their improvements, with a view to a deduction to be obtained from the State of the settlement duty, except that the State will relinquish (as has been the case on various other occasions) the amount of this claim.

Should an iron mine exist on Austins’s Stream, within the boundaries of the tract, and the ore prove of good quality, I am well persuaded of its eventual value. But this discovery does not seem to be well ascertained.

I observe the decided preference you give to the employment of Dr. Cony as an agent. I feel the force of your observations, as connected with the advantages I may derive from his weight of character and influence in the District. But you seem to confess that his intelligence is not so great, nor would his exertions be so active as those of Mr. Merrick. I have been induced to entertain a high opinion of Mr. Merrick from the report that has been made to me, and his ideas of that country and the most œconomical and effectual mode of improving it, have been very satisfactory. I herewith send you a copy of his reflections on the subject, which you will peruse at your leisure. However I am well aware of the force of your remarks with respect to Dr. Cony and I wish you to inform me very particularly of his competency to undertake such a charge, as relative to his other engagements, and the sum you suppose would be a proper equivalent for his services. Perhaps some other mode might be adopted to gain his good will, in supporting my views and opposing malicious and discontented people, whose clamors it may be necessary to appease.

I wish you had detailed your observations with respect to the establishment of a lumber yard at Gouldsborough, which would have been very instrumental in enabling us to form a correct opinion on the subject, but for want of such materials and information, it is impossible to decide, and be sure of a rational result.

I have no connection with De la Roches lands in No. 8, nor do I know to whom he sold them. I expect very shortly to have all impediments removed with respect to the purchase made by Walker for Madame Leval. As there is a body of most excellent lands in these townships, in the vicinity of navigable water, I think some settlements may be readily formed on them, and at high prices for the soil. It will be recollected that there is a great deal of bottom lands on Union River.

As soon as your accounts are received, with the observations that you promise to annex to them, relative to your proceedings during the last year, I will write you very minutely on the subject thereof.

Having so strong a personal regard for Richards, I have been highly gratified at hearing of his marriage, which I ardently wish may render him completely happy. I shall have the pleasure of writing to him, by this conveyance. I am glad to find that you mean to avail yourself shortly of some good opportunity to forward my deeds.

I wish you to inform me whether they have been recorded in such manner that if the originals were destroyed or lost, authenticated copies could be had from the records, which would supply the place of the originals. I think the copies and not the originals were recorded.

In anxious expectation of your next communication, I am with sincere regard

Dear General

Your obedient humble servant

Wm. Bingham

General David Cobb


Mrs. John Richards

The former Sarah Coffin Jones of Machias

Portrait by Gilbert Stuart

John Richards

Representative of the Baring and Hope Interests in the Management of the Maine Lands

Portrait by Gilbert Stuart

Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 5 March 1800 [BP]368

Gouldsborough March 5th. 1800

Dear Sir:

By the last mail I receiv’d your short letter of 2d. ultimo. Mr. Richards with his wife and friends have returned here from Machias, and for the fortnight past we have had the usual dissipation and riot attending such cases, at least as much of it as our city can afford, consisting of his family and mine.

In my letter of the 3d. ultimo I made some observations on yours of the 10th. December last. I will now notice the remaining part of that letter.

I am very sorry that the remarks I made in my letter of November last, on the neglect of making operations on the Kennebeck Tract, and which you notice, should have interfer’d in any instance with your views and intentions respecting that country, as it never occur’d to me that my private correspondence with you would ever be used as substantial documents in the sale of that property, and as they were dictated by the purest motives to your interest, a duty I have ever conceiv’d incumbent on me in the station I am in. But it would be well to remember that any future favours you may wish to receive from this government, either on account of the settling duty, or a prolonging the period of taxing the lands, will be in proportion to your exertions and expenditures for bringing forward the settlement of them. Under these impressions I made use of those observations to excite your attention to a subject in which, I conceive, your highest interest is concerned.

I am very sensible that the rise of this country is not so rapid as you and perhaps the gentlemen concern’d with you could wish. But when I look back and see that I have not been here five years, that at the time of my arrival the land in this country was worth nothing, the few inhabitants that were here had very little more ideas of property than the savages, and the only use they made of the soil was to procure the winter forrage for their cattle that they might plunder the forrest at that season, and on this plunder they subsisted; now the number of inhabitants are much increas’d, partly from emigrations but chiefly from the natural increase of the country, many of them raise their bread and other provisions, they have generally an idea that there is such a crime as trespass, and the price of land is from one to three dollars per acre—considering the local situation of this country, as to its remoteness from the natural emigration, the means by which such countries must rise, both agricultural and commercial, and the little that have been used of either to effect this rise, I think, even under all these embarasments, that few countries in the Union, within that period have risen faster.

We have had a delightfull winter, no ice in our harbour and no more snow than was necessary for the conveniency of passing and for the business of the country. If we could always have such winters, this would be the most agreeable climate in America, as we have no diseases but old age.

I mentioned some time since, the public’s occupying this harbour for their marine. My information then was wrong respecting the tides. I have since observ’d them—they are from 17 to 23 feet. Whether the United States will at present conceive it to be an object to possess themselves of this harbor is not for me to determine, but sooner or later they must have it, as there is none equal to it, under all circumstances, in the District.

I hope in the course of another week we shall have our accounts ready to be transmitted.

I am dear sir, with esteem and respect, your obedient servant

David Cobb

Edward H. Robbins to Cobb, Boston, 8 March 1800 [CP]

Boston March 8th 1800

My dear Sir:

Doubtless you have been informed of the intention of electing the Honorable Caleb Strong as Governor at the approaching choice. I ought to apologize to you for my impertinence perhaps, because I well know your uniform support of the common cause. But information may be usefull to you. The opposition, having selected Mr. Gerry for their candidate, who is really a man of more weight of character than they have ever before supported, and Mr. Gill,369 being determined to take his chance for the chair, we think we shall want all our strength in every part of the State. Rely upon it that no other man but those three will receive any support from any quarter—any suggestions to the contrary will be merely for division. I have made this communication that you may make every arrangement in your vicinity that prudence dictates. We shall make no opposition to Mr. Gills reelection as Lt. Governor but intend to leave people to act for themselves upon that particular and all others as it respects their government. But its duration seems to grow more hazardous every day, and I see not what is to prevent a great revolution, at the approaching election of President, but that Providence whose benignity has saved us from many tribulations.

I am with sentiments of sincere regard

Your very humble servant

Edward H. Robbins370

Honorable David Cobb, Esquire

Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 19 March 1800 [BP]371

Gouldsborough March 19th. 1800

Dear Sir:

Inclosed you will receive our accounts for the last year.372 In our operations we have been directed by the general principle of forming interior agricultural settlements with communications to them, and so arranged that in future when a road is opened from or near to the narrows of Penobscot River to the Schoodic it will naturally pass thro’ these settlements. This measure happily unites another of great importance, that of preventing the plunder of the timber from above, by the inhabitants who live below, and as at these settlements we have mills, we contemplate profiting by them in the making of lumber, so as to have some immediate returns for the expence of the establishment. At the same time the agricultural improvements will be in progress. As a measure prior to all others in the improvement of this country it was necessary that houses should be erected at this place as well as the repair of those that were in the purchase, not only for our own accommodation but as an accommodation for all those that should arrive here, either as setlers for the interior country or as residents at the port. The expence of this measure has much exceeded the estimates, as indeed almost all operations do in new countries. A small additional expence in the course of the insuing year will compleat all we contemplate in this department.

That you may have a better view of our proceedings I will divide my observations under the different heads of our several departments, viz.,

Road Making. This includes two roads, one from the head of Taunton Bay on the line between the Townships Nos. 8 and 9, thence proceeds north and northwesterly into No. 14 across the outlet of Webb’s Pond, call’d Webb’s Brook, and over a very fine tract of land in the same township to the falls on the Eastern Branch of Union River in No. 20, from thence to the Great Falls on the Western Branch of the same river and near the northern line of the same township. This is the place we call Mariaville, at which will be erected by contract this year, and for which advances have already been made, a large dam, a double saw mill and a small house for the mill man to reside in, and we intend, if possible, to have two or three farming settlements in the neighbourhood in the course of the year. This road is about 18 miles in length, but there is neither bridges or causeways on it at present. The other road is from near Annsburgh Settlement in No. 17 into No. 23 north of it about five miles in length.373 At this place we likewise propose to form a farming settlement of three families in the course of this year.

Surveying Department. In this we have had run out Townships Nos. 20 and 23 into half mile square lots, all that part of Trenton that belongs to us into one hundred acre lots, and the settlers lots in Nos. 8 and 9, together with ascertaining some lines in the other townships.

House Building. This department has absorbed more than one half of all our expences in the country. We have three good new houses, one of which is all finish’d in which Mr. Richards resides. The other two are not intirely finish’d tho’ a family resides in one of them. And three old houses, two of which are good. I reside in one and the other two have families in them. However expensive this department has been, it was absolutely necessary for any of the contemplated improvements of this country, and I have not a doubt that future experience will amply justify the measure. An additional expence, of from 1,000 to 1,300 dollars will be necessary for finishing the houses and wharf and making such repairs and alterations in the store as are proposed.

Annsburgh Settlement. I presume you are already inform’d that this settlement is at the Great Falls on Naraguagus River in the north west part of Township No. 17, Middle Division, at which we have a saw mill, a farm house and about ten acres of land clear’d up. Two settlers are at this place, but unhappily not such farmers as we want. We have loan’d to them two cows, a horse, and two yoke of oxen to assist them this winter in getting logs to the mill, on such conditions as will afford them the means of paying for their winter subsistence by their labour, and thence a part of what is now charged to this settlement will be repaid. It is extreemly unfortunate that the people of this country have so little knowledge of farming. Partly from this cause, but probably more from the rainy and late season of last spring, we were depriv’d of a crop at this settlement which would have repaid in some measure the expence of making it.

Lumber Rents. This is a painfull subject to me and the chief source of all my ill nature towards the people of this country. We have not receiv’d any thing as yet on this account, but the prosecutions that were commenc’d the last year, has bro’t some of the great rogues to terms, and in future the Union River people, I presume, will be regular in their payments, and from them we expect to receive timber rents for two years past. I wish I could say we had the same expectations from the people of Machias; we shall, however, receive something from them in the spring. A circumstance which I will here mention is one cause of our obtaining so little from the people of Machias who git their logs on the Western Branch of that river, which is, that No. 23, Eastern Division, tho’ a Lottery Township, was not deeded to you, thence the logs that are brought down that branch come, chiefly, from this township, when I presume nine-tenths of them are from our townships. I wish you to recollect, if possible, why this Township No. 23 was left out of your deeds from the Commonwealth, when as a Lottery Township it was included in the contract. If no reason can be assign’d for it, it must have been an omission and ought to be rectified by an application to the Committee or perhaps to the legislature.374

Saw Mills. Nos. 1 and 2 in this town and No. 7 were under rent to two persons who have impos’d upon our kindness in delaying the payment of the last years rent. We have settled with one of them since our accounts were made up and shall probably obtain the rent in the course of this and the next year. The other we have not yet settled with. He is a poor devil, but we may perhaps obtain the amount of the rents in time. These rents will appear in our next accounts. The little credit these mills have in our present accounts is occasioned by the short time they were in our possession after the last lease, and before they were put into the hands of the present occupiers with whom we hope to succeed better than with the last. The debit to these mills are advances to the present occupiers and will be repaid in the spring.

Sundry Expences. This contains all the expences of our prosecutions the last year, and for which notes were taken on interest to be paid in the spring, thence more than 200 dollars of the expences of this department will be receiv’d again.

Packet. In this we have not succeeded so well as we had the best reason to expect. Our captain we conceive has not persued the business with the accustom’d activity, and we much suspect that he thinks it not his interest that we should be successfull in it. Whatever the cause may be, we propose to exchange our present vessel for a smaller one which will require less expence to navigate her, less time to load her, and thence will perform more trips in a season, will take less lumber to a market of uncertain profit, and leave more here to a certain one, for the supply of those vessels that annually visit this port for lumber. It may be observed that a suit of new sails with which this vessel was supplied the last fall, cost as much as she stands indebted. But we conceive she ought to have kept herself whole, besides a profit.

Store. This measure has succeeded pretty well considering the object of benefiting the country by exciting industry and lessening the premium of retail from one hundred to 50 per cent and receiving lumber in return at the usual price with the necessary losses attending bad survey’s, and the accustom’d impositions on novices in the business.

Townships. Under this head we include all taxes paid for or money receiv’d from any township, designating the name or number. You will observe that we have receiv’d money for some settlers lots and a past payment for 2 lots of land in No. 12.375 We have engaged to settlers lots of land on Mount Desert, Trenton, Nos. 8 and 11,376 in the course of this year, and the spirit of purchasing land is much increas’d among the people, and will continue to increase in proportion as we can exclude them from trespasing on our lands.

This detail’d view of our operations in the several departments will, I hope, afford you such information as will enable you to form an opinion of what we have done and of the situation we are in, and from thence, to determine whether the measures we have persued are agreeable to your wishes, and whether a persuit of the same would meet your approbation. My opinion is to continue, and to occupy interior situations on all the rivers that communicate with the sea, building mills and forming agricultural settlements at the same, opening communications from one to the other, and finally opening the great road from Penobscot River to the Schoodic thro’ all these different settlements. Our house building department will be at an end after another year. Our store and packet are absolutely necessary for our operations and are provided for. As an inducement for [you] to continue the expenditures in this country, you have only to recollect that it is the governments money that you are using for your own emolument, as I think you may rest assured that in proportion to these expences will be the sum that you will have to pay the government ultimately for any deficient settlers.

I am dear sir with great esteem

Your obedient servant

David Cobb

Cobb to Wilde, Gouldsborough, 25 March 1800 [CP]

Gouldsboro’ March 25th. 1800

Dear Wilde:

I receiv’d your letter of the 2d. of January with its inclosures. Your departure soon after for Boston prevented an answer, and I should not now have given you this, presuming you had not yet returned, had I not receiv’d a letter by the last mail from Parker, who inform’d me that he was with you at Wiscasset where you and your wife were well and proceeding on a friendly visit to Warren.

Mr. Fellows had anticipated your draft, by sending to me an order on his brother at Boston for the money, which I forwarded for payment, soon after the receipt of your letter and it is passed to your credit.377 Mr. Vaughan’s notes and abstract I shall notice hereafter. Inclos’d you will receive a plan of the gore, a copy from one I formerly receiv’d from you. If you think it best, perhaps you had better not distress Swift, if the money now due is properly secured.378

I have requested Dr. Cony by a letter of this date to present you his account for his services in going to the Million Acres in the fall past, and I have now to request you to pay it, if you have it in your power, and forward to me the account or the amount of it. If I have no money in your hands, I will repay it to you when I have the pleasure of seeing you at Castine. I promis’d the Doctor an honorable return for this business, and I hope he will not be too bashful in estimating his services.

We have pass’d a delightful winter—no ice in our harbour and not more snow than was required for passing the roads and the business of the country. If we could always have such winters, this would be the best climate in the Union, as we have no diseases but old age.

I hope, when you was in Boston, you did not omit making such arrangements as to secure to yourself Dutton’s house and land, with the land where your office is. Be assured you cannot have so good an establishment in the town for so little money.379

We have all been well thro’ the winter excepting Mrs. Cobb who has been afflicted with sore eyes almost to blindness, occasioned, I imagine, from the glare of a bright sun and the snow. She is now much better. I have had the usual pains of advancing years and a broken back which have [torn] me in winters. Mrs. Cobb, Mary, Debby Barnum, and all the boys, Thomas, Ebenezer, Henry, and George, desire their particular love to Mrs. Wilde and children not forgetting your honour.380

My friend Richards, you already know, has found, since he came to Maine that it is best for man not to lodge alone in cold weather, and has accordingly taken to wife the young Miss Jones of Machias. They have been at house keeping for six weeks past. This event has made our city alive during the winter, by regular excanges [sic] of visits between us and Machias. Even Bruce381 has broke thro’ his mountain of indolence and has made a visit to Gouldsboro’.

I am dear sir with my best love to Mrs. Wilde

Your affectionate friend and servant


My compliments to Mr. Vaughan and family, Mr. Merrick and family, Mr. Robbins and family, and indeed to all who know me, not forgetting your honest neighbour Cutter and family.382

S. S. Wilde, Esquire

Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 26 March 1800 [CP]383

Gouldsboro, March 26th. 1800

William Bingham, Esquire

Dear Sir:

By the last mail I was favor’d with your letters of the 24th and 28th ultimo.384

So far as I ever contemplated a system for your agency at Kennebeck, you have in my letter of November last. If that had meet with your approbation, my intention was to have visited that country and conferr’d with the person that you should have selected for the agent, as to the amount of his stipend and on the business he would have to persue, presuming that, as either of the persons who were in contemplation for this agency would reside at their houses, and but a part of their time would be taken up in superintending your concerns, that a sum from 2 or 3 to 500 dollars per annum would be consider’d as an adequate return for their services, but as I never convers’d with any person there on the subject, I am not able to say what they would consider as satisfactory.

I believe that Doctor Cony is under no engagements that can interfere with his taking charge of your lands at the Kennebeck. He has heretofore been in public life as a Senator and Representitive, but at present he is neither—he is a Judge of the County Court and an acting Justice of the Peace, and is generally employ’d in adjusting little disputes among the people by reference or otherwise, and he is likewise employ’d by gentlemen who own townships of land in that country, to have them survey’d and run into lots, for which he charges some trifling sum for his time and attention. How far you can command his influence and good will in support of your views in opposing the malice and discontent or rather the envy of others, without giving him this agency, I am unable to say. Perhaps he may be hereafter employ’d in some business of your concerns that may benefit him, but if you have not committed yourself, you cannot do better than give him the appointment. In any event, let the appointment of your agent be a temporary measure, as I am persuaded that in the course of a short period, you will find it much to your advantage to have a person, who resides on the lands, for your agent, and by that time it is more than probable that a character who may answer all your purposes may be found there, and who would think himself happy to transact all your business for a much less sum than you will now have to give. I have indeed, my doubts, if it was not for securing the influence and interest of Cony and his party, whether it would not now be the best measure, to procure a respectable, intelligent and trustworthy farmer or surveyor or both characters united, to go and reside upon the lands as a settler and to be employ’d as your agent there. He would answer all the purposes you want at present, and I presume he can be obtain’d for the sum, or less, I have already mentioned as a stipend for the agent at Hallowell.

The lands you observ’d advertis’d for sale as Madam La Val’s, in Trenton have I suppose been sold, as have a quantity of La Roche’s land, for taxes; but as the proceedings of the town relatively to the taxes on these lands, have been illegal, all these sales will finally be sett aside. This is the reason why we did not purchase them—they sold for 15 cents per acre. Madam La Val has only 200 acres of land on record as belonging to her in Trenton. All the land deeded by General Jackson to La Roche still stands in his name on record. This circumstance has been a matter of surprise to me, as I always supposed La Roche and La Val made some division of this property after Jackson had deeded it, and that Walker was secured upon it for the loan he made to Madam La Val. But none of this appears, and La Roche can at any time give a good title in the sale of the whole property.385

It is the copies of your deeds from the Commonwealth, excepting the first, that was put on record, as you was not at the time of recording, in possession of any other of the originals. I should think it best, when you git possession of all the original deeds to have them recorded, and then a copy of that record is as valid as the original; but a copy from record of a copy must be attended with plane evidence that the original has been lifted, or it cannot support your title.

I have now to request your attention for a moment to a subject that I have paid but little attention too for some time past, and that is my private concerns. In the beginning of May I shall transmit my private and loan accounts and there will then be a ballance due on loan account of about 700 dollars. This sum I wish to have your permission to postpone the payment of ’till after another year, and to anticipate, in the months of May or June, 1,000 dollars of my next annual stipend, and the remainder of it at the beginning of the next winter. I make this as a particular request, as I have found, by endeavouring to lessen the loan account, altho’ I am annually in the receipt of 500 dollars more than I receive from you, that I am too much shortened for the maintanance of my family and the education of my children. If this meets your approbation you may perhaps find it convenient to have the business negociated thro’ Mr. Codman.

I am, dear sir

with esteem and respect

Your most obedient servant

D. Cobb

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 3 April 1800 [CP]

Philadelphia April 3d 1800

Dear Sir:

I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 5 March. I observe that our friend Richards with his cara sposa, had returned to Gouldsborough, and that you were deeply engaged in scenes of unusual dissipation, on this festive occasion.

I am well persuaded that my interests would be promoted by a devoted attention to the Kennebec tract, with respect to improvement and settlement.

But the expence that would attend the same, and the time that must be given to the operation, are powerfull motives to oppose as energetic an effort, as has taken place with respect to the Penobscot tract. However, I am well aware that something should be done, on a more ceconomical scale, in order to insure the favors of the government, and to prevent the effects of that indisposition towards my interests, which will arise out of a knowledge of my inattention to this object. I therefore in a former letter requested you to inform me on what terms Dr. Cony’s services could be engaged, as you seem (and with very plausible reasons) to give a decided preference to him over Mr. Merrick. I wish a number of the townships to be immediately surveyed, and prepared for settlers. If the intelligence I have received from that quarter, and concerning those lands, is to be relied on (and it comes from very respectable authority), there will be but little difficulty in procuring settlers.

If I fail in making a sale of the whole, or a great portion of this property to some monied men or to a company, I would then be disposed to sell some of the best townships, on improving leases.

But I am entirely ignorant of the price I ought to ask for them, having heard such contradictory reports concerning the value of lands in that quarter, from different persons. I did expect I should have had some aid, in point of information from General Knox, but a long period has elapsed since I have heard from him, which inclines me to suppose that he has become very indifferent on the subject. My advances have been extremely heavy, and I can see but little prospect of a reimbursement. I think there is some prospect of these lands rising in value on the return of peace, as the trade of the country will become more contracted, and the merchants will have a surplusage of funds, which will be seeking employment, and which cannot be more profitably invested than in lands.

Having a desire of exhibiting very serious intentions of operating upon the Kennebec tract, I wish you to take the most effectual measures in order to commence our operations and inform me the result of your intercourse with Mr. Cony on the subject.

I am with sincerity and esteem

Dear General

Your obedient humble servant

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb

Wilde to Cobb, Hallowell, 4 April 1800 [CP]

Hallowell April 4th 1800

Dear General:

The inclosed letter was handed me by our friend Mr. Wingate,386 who requested me to forward it by the first mail. He tells me, and perhaps has written you the same, that the uncommon liberality of your proposals has excited the astonishment of all to whom they have been made known, and the suspicions of some who are looking out for establishments that in accepting them they will be subjected to some uncommon hardships and deprived of all the priviledges and pleasures which result from the social relations. They cannot be pursuaded to believe, that any one would invite them by terms so flattering to any place but some savage desert or uninhabited and uninhabitable wilderness, and altho’ they have the priviledge of returning enriched by the removal, yet their fears and their weakness lead them to prefer their present poverty, rags, and misery to the independence and wealth which would follow the exertions of a few years of enterprise and industry.

In your favour of the 26th ultimo which I received by yesterdays mail, I notice your directions in regard to Dr. Coney whose bill I shall discharge whenever presented, and the ballance which may be due you shall be paid when I have the pleasure to meet you at Castine. The money due from Swift is secured by mortgage on the land originally sold him, and shall remain as it now does unless you may think it best to take possession of the land, as he has abandoned it to a man to whom he sold his equity of redemption and who was to have paid the mortgage some months since. You will probably recollect that I mentioned to you the case of John Jennings, who has hitherto wholly neglected any measures to insure the priviledge allowed him as a settler. The old gentleman died a few weeks since, and his sons are now desirous to pay the forty dollars and interest and to receive a deed. You will be good enough to give me instructions, as I consider they have no legal claim whatever, the old gentleman having uniformly refused to do any thing about the business.387

I am gratified in hearing that the winter has passed away so pleasantly tho’ I regret the indisposition of Mrs. Cobb, and the complaint in your back which in some measure must have checked your enjoyment of it. Mrs. W. has likewise suffered very much, tho’ she is now nearly recovered. During my absence in Boston she was afflicted with the rheumatism in her right shoulder. She had nearly recovered when we made the excursion mentioned to you by Mr. Parker. On her return she was again violently seized with the same complaint and in the same limb, attended with occasional spasmodick affections in the stomach, which gave us considerable alarm and which has rendered her very feeble and incapable of digesting even the most simple diet until within a few days in which she has recovered with much rapidity. This I believe is to be imputed in some measure to composure of mind, which had been disturbed by the sickness of a servant girl in the family, who for some days was thought dangerously ill of the putrid soar throat, a distemper which we esteem contagious, and from the infection [torn] which we could not wholly remove the children. The girl however has been recovered for some time, and the children are all well. We are not wholly free from apprehension however, and until some weeks are elapsed we shall look forward with fear and trembling.

Mrs. Wilde joins me in presenting to you our respectful regards, as likewise to Mrs. Cobb and family, to Mrs. Tillinghast388 and Miss Barnum. I have enclosed a few lines for Thomas, and I beg you to have the goodness to offer my best respects to Mr. Richards and his lady, with whom I am not without hopes we shall have the pleasure to meet at Castine.

With sentiments of esteem and respect

I am, my dear sir,

Your friend and servant

Sam S. Wilde

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 10 April 1800 [CP]

Philadelphia April 10th 1800

Dear General:

I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of March 19th, inclosing the accounts of last year relative to expenditures for settlement of our Maine Lands.

I have paid attention to your remarks on the subject of the various operations, in which you are most pointedly engaged, and shall make a few observations thereon, previous to which, there is one consideration, which naturally occurs, which ought to be attended to: that is, what are the prospects, after the experience we have had of nearly five years, to induce us to incur such an amount of annual expence? If the country is not sufficiently inviting, or is placed too remote from the current track of emigration, it would certainly be more expedient to wait patiently for our share of advantages, than to make such large expenditures in order to force them. Since May 1796, my share of these disbursements, calculating interest thereon, has been upwards of $20,000, and the other party an equal sum—(not including the advance previous to May 1796) which makes an amount beyond $40,000. This is an immense sum, considering the advantages which appear hitherto to have resulted, for I do not observe that we have much increased our population, and that new settlers are not to be obtained without very extraordinary encouragement, far beyond what is usually given in new countries. I did suppose that at this period, we should have commenced our receipts of money, and have had a surplus, after paying all the expences incident to our improvements.

You must not suppose that I am inclined to arrest the progress of any expence absolutely essential.

I only wish to direct an attention towards the amount of expenditures, as contrasted with the advantages that are likely to result, which every prudent man will naturally compare, before he determines on any heavy advance of money.

Including interest, I have already paid $158,000 for these lands more than I have received, which, with my advances (and responsibility as connected with these lands, being upwards of $50,000), makes the immense sum of $208,000 specie already disbursed. You will naturally be induced to believe that I am very anxious to reimburse myself, for these very heavy payments, some of which at particular periods, when money was very scarce, have cost me great sacrifices to make. But as yet, I see no prospect of accomplishing my object, even if I was inclined to sell these lands at first cost, including charges and interest.

If the State is disposed to relax in its demand for the settling duties, from a generous consideration of the exertions and expenditures we have made, I shall be very happy to avail myself of the advantage, and I believe precedent exist, where success has attended the application, where circumstances of far less pretensions have supported the measure.

Your first remarks are on road cutting. You and Mr. Richards are the best judges of the direction these roads ought to take. But would it not be expedient to confine yourselves to such roads as lead to such part of the country favorable from local situation and quality of soil, for immediate settlements, and increase your roads in proportion as you possess the means of forming and extending your settlements, from an increase of inhabitants? For, if the roads you make are not frequented, they will soon be choaked by the growth of wood, and the labor and expence will have to be renewed. However, roads are essential to the improvement of a new country, and I am surprized to find so small a sum, compared with the aggregate expences, appropriated to this object. It appears a bad sign of the state of our country, in various points of view, when bargains cannot be made for labor and improvements, the greatest portion of which shall be payable in land. In other parts of the District, I well know that in very extensive settlements, very little money has been disbursed on these accounts, for the persons who owned the property, did not possess it.

Many advantages are derived from making a contract of this nature. It interests a number of persons in the soil, and induces them, when they have become proprietors, to the improvement thereof, which must always be the most essential object of our attention. Besides, these lands receive additional value in their estimation, from the very circumstance of ownership.

Surveyors Department

This appears a very high charge indeed, amounting to upwards of $932! I have no doubt that every attention to œconomy has been paid on your part, but it convinces me, that labor is not to be procured on the same terms, as in other parts of the District, where roads, as well as surveying can be contracted for, at very different rates, and a part of the amount payable in lands, as will be evident by referring to Mr. Merrick’s letter. I always supposed that townships could be run out into settler’s lots, at a fixed rate by contract, especially when cash was paid for the same, but it appears that Nos. 20 and 23 have cost $556, which is far beyond the price usually paid by contract. In addition to the above mentioned sum, there is $169 for freight and supplies from store. As you were of opinion that it would be necessary to have surveyors engaged for the season, to run out the lines of the settler’s lands, I suppose that operation is performed, and that there will be no necessity of engaging them in any other way hence forward than by contract, for each township that is wanted for settlement.

House Building

I agree with you that this account has amounted to a very considerable sum, and is an additional proof of the difficulty of procuring settlers, when such heavy expences must be incurred in order to encourage them to emigrate and establish themselves. The same reflection arises on contemplating the charges against

Annsburgh Settlement

which has during this year involved an expence of $876, which has but two settlers, who have been encouraged by having a house built for them and stock loaned to them. It appears nevertheless that they are but indifferent farmers, unacquainted with the objects which are to engage their attention. If on offering good land, in eligible situations and on low terms to settlers, a sufficient inducement does not arise to commence their improvements at their own expence, there can be but little expectation of an equivalent return for the heavy advances in cash that are made on such occasions. It is very seldom that an operation which is unnatural and forced succeeds to any considerable extent. We must follow, not lead in objects of this kind. However, I am glad to find that you are likely to receive some reimbursement for this advance.

Lumber Rents

I observe that you have not suceeded to the extent of your expectations, with respect to the recovery of the rents due from those you have permitted to cut timber on the lands, altho a considerable sum has been expended in law suits to compel them to do what is right. I am well persuaded of the advantages we shall derive from impressing these people with an idea of the interference of the law to protect our rights, and that in case of their attempts to violate them, they will be subjected to a considerable expence in their vindication, besides damages, to be recovered from them. With respect to the Machias depridators, they appear to be more hardened than any others, having for so long a period practised their frauds with impunity. I cannot determine at present the reasons which prevented the sale of No. 23, Eastern Division, as a part of the contract. I will examine the matter more minutely, and inform you of the result of my enquiries. From the local position of this township, I can plainly discover the pretext which is assumed to cover the depridations of the woods, which are situated higher up the stream.

Saw Mills

There seems to be no well founded expectation from your report, of procuring a rent from this property, of any considerable value, altho the mills, and the lumber to supply them, are all furnished from our capital. However, you seem to entertain better hopes from the next year’s experiment, which I flatter myself will succeed to a much greater extent.

Sundry Expences

This appears to be an account of various expenditures, which could not be placed under any specific head, a great part of which will be received back and credited, I suppose, under the next years accounts.


If your concern in this species of property has proved unproductive, or rather attended with considerable loss, it evidently results that it should no longer be continued. A very great difference will arise betwixt her present value, after the employment of several years, and her original cost, which is likewise to be charged to her account. The first motive which prompted an undertaking of this kind, was founded on the facility which would arise to the settlement of the country by furnishing a conveyance to those who were desirous of emigrating to our lands and bringing their families etc. with them. This inducement does not seem to be an affair of much consequence under existing circumstances, and as for benefiting by the freights, so as to render her navigation an object of profit, equivalent to the capital expended, and the risk the vessel is exposed to, I can see no chance of succeeding to such an extent. I therefore think it very prudent to dispose of the vessel whenever you can procure a good price—the sooner the better—and you will be the most competent judges whether it will be necessary to retain any vessel in your service and whether it will not be far more œconomical, to pay freight for the articles you want from Boston, especially as on the return of vessels which are usually empty, these freights must amount to a very small sum. You are very right in supposing that she “ought to have a profit carried ‘to her credit,’ beyond her expences.” Indeed, if she could have been called a profitable vessel, she ought to have cleared herself by this time, for what is called the wear and tear of a vessel diminishes her value very essentially. I do not find that any debit is made for insurance, so that the owners have sustained that risk, which in vessels accounts of disbursements is always charged to them.


This is a most important account, as relative to the interests and prospects of the proprietors, for to its credit is carried the amount of monies received, in order to counterballance the various expenditures which they have disbursed, but there appears but little more credit than has been sufficient in amount to pay the taxes on the property.


I do not, from the statement exhibited, concur in opinion with you that this establishment has “succeeded pretty well,” for I do not find that it has produced any profit worth mentioning, certainly not sufficient for the risk and interest of money. Perhaps so many objects of attention divert the mind from the most essential pursuit, which is to induce settlers from the various districts of the New England States to come and fix themselves on our lands.

You are the most competent judges to decide whether this is the case. At any rate, you will concur with me in opinion that all other objects are trifling, when compared with that above alluded to.

With respect to the great outline of your plan, to open extensive roads, build mills, and form agricultural settlements at the same, there can be no doubt of the propriety of the system, whenever coincident circumstances have ripened our affairs sufficiently, to receive and pursue the same. But it appears to me that one settlement should be in a thriving and progressive state, before another is commenced, for if they are established at remote distances, and with a very confined population, discouragement will ensue, for it is not good for man to be alone, and the settlers would prefer less eligible soil and situation with a good neighbourhood around them, as a resource and protection.

I do not think with you that our expences will be the criterion to determine the extent of the government’s demands for the settlement duties, but rather the evident marks of such expence as exhibited in the increased population, and rapid improvement of the country. I wish to know whether you think an application would be favorably received at present, as I am very desirous of obtaining the remaining deeds which are lodged in escrow.

I have taken the objects seperately, as they appeared in your letter, and have attached some comments to them, in succession.

I may perhaps not be well grounded in some of my remarks, as it is difficult to form a true estimate of a system of operations without visiting the scene for which they are intended.

The only data we possess, to guide our opinions at a distance, are derived from the result, producing immediate profit, or advantages, which must inevitably eventuate in it.

However, I shall always be disposed to give due weight to the motives which have actuated you, and which I am confident have been founded on what you deemed the most pointed attention to our interests.

The accounts you have furnished shall be duly examined, and any remarks which may arise shall be communicated to you at the same time that I reply to your letter of a subsequent date, which I have just received.

I hope you have received Dr. Cony’s answer relative to the superintendance of the Kennebec tract, which certainly requires the attention of some respectable and responsible person, on the spot, untill I can finally determine its fate, which I am most anxiously inclined to do as soon as possible.

Please to remember me affectionately to Mr. Richards and his cara sposa and with my best respects to your family, I am

Dear General

Yours etc.

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb


H. Jackson to Cobb, Boston, 18 April 1800 [CP]

Boston April 18. 1800

Dear Friend:

I received your favor of the 3d of March by Mr. Lincoln.389 It was with great pleasure your friends were informed that you was yet alive, and so well employ’d in the distruction of beef, poultry, salt fish, etc. Go on my good friend in this feasting and dancing. You are certainly but just in your prime of life and you ought to enjoy yourself while young. Now is the time or never, for when you grow old and infirm you will have no relish for frolicking and. . . . But remember you must pay for all this, for “thy soul and body I will divide, thy body in the grave I’ll hide, and thy dear soul in H— must ly, with d— to eternity.” So much for you.

As it respects our friends affairs they stand pretty much as they did when you were here, except his having put a considerable amount of the demands against him to a distance of three or four years payment, and if any fortunate event should take place to increase the value of his lands, it is possible before the day of payment arrives he may be able to reduce his debts considerably. But I believe in no instance has that been effected at present. By appointment, Colonel B. Hichborn390 and myself met him at Portland on the first of January last, where we pass’d a day or two together. He also came to Boston the last of February for two weeks. He came alone, but took his daughter Lucy391 home with him. She had been here on a visit for eight or ten week’s. As to myself, you know my connection in his affairs, in which I must sink, or swim with him. I am closing all my own business and bringing every transaction to an adjustment, which I hope to accomplish very shortly. I ought then to have enough to make the remainder of my days comfortable and happy, and I assure you I really wish to be so situated to pass much or all of my time as we have frequently contemplated. The longer I live, the more I experience all is vanity of vanities.

As to politicks home and abroad I refer you to the publick papers, which I suppose you regularly receive. Shall only say I believe Mr. Strong will be chosen Governor by the people by a small majority and that his honor Mr. Gill will be no more before his election as Lt. Governor will be announced. I think I never enjoy’d more health than in the year past, and it will add much to my pleasure and gratification to see you here this spring or summer. I think a visit for a few weeks would do you much good both soul and body, and then I will learn you to live soberly and walk righteously. My best regards to Mr. Richards, and I wish him all the blessings and happiness of his new situation. My respects to your family and beleive me very sincerely your old friend

H. Jackson

General D. Cobb


Knox to Cobb, Thomaston, 24 April 1800 [CP]

Thomaston 24. April 1800.

My dear Cobb:

The opportunity afforded by Mr. Lincoln is too good for me to suffer it to pass, without asking you whether you are happy or not? The last time you wrote me a line, you said that you were not in good spirits. I hope Richards and his beautiful wife by their animation may have dissipated all your glooms. A practical as well as a scientific philosopher like you, with so fine a constitution, to be in bad spirits argues the indulgence of some bad habit. I do not mean that you indulge the general practice

of getting tippe [?], but I am apprehensive you do not exercise sufficiently for the preservation of your health. At all events let me entreat that you cultivate your spirits as the first blessing and without which all others are insipid and naught. But why preach to you on this head who knows so well how to avoid this evil?

What think you of the democracy now? Bonaparte ought to receive the admiration of every body, for bringing this lawless monster to the guilliotine. You must understand that I mean not to praise his patriotism, his republicanism, or any qualities which might enable him to shine in a town meeting. No. No. But he, a foreigner, a young man, holding his greatness only from himself to give law to 25 millions of people, to oblige them, by repeated sublimations of 10ths, to reduce their national list to 5,000,392 and those only to subserve to his will and power, argues greatness of mind and coincidence of circumstances. If assassination cuts him not off, he will make an effulgent campaign. You will observe how he praises our Washington, and yet all or almost all our papers abuse him. Where is the good? His government would not suit our soil or climate, but it may flourish in France. Will it not prove that every nation has as good a government as they deserve? Bonaparte is the soul of France, and France is the body which actuates and puts into motion 500 millions of souls, and those constituting the most enlightened half of all the people on the surface of our little globe. Write me, and if possible see me. No body loves you more than your

Affectionate friend

H. Knox

General Cobb

Elisha Coffin to Cobb, Columbia, 25 April 1800 [CP]393

Columbia April 25th 1800

General Cobb


I would inform you that I cannot setel with Mr. Pattin394 about the meddow as he will not setel with me in portion to what hay I cut as he doth with the rest that cut hay on the meddow. What is the reson I canot tell therefore I will come and setel with you, sir. As he told me that he should returne my name to you I thought you would think that I did not intend to pay for the hay that I cut. But I am willing to pay what is right.

So i your servent

Elisha Coffin

H. Jackson to Cobb, Boston, 28 April 1800 [CP]

Boston April 28. 1800

My dear David:

I received your favor of the 12th instant by Captain Godfrey. I am delighted that you are in such good spirits, and that your chucky [?] piggs, ducks, turkeys, and sallads afford you such an agreeable prospect. But you say nothing of your fruit etc. These you have in such abundance its unnecessary to mention them.

You are too late for the cuttings of the green willows and the twiggs of Lombardy poplar. I have apply’d for them and Brattle had given away all he can spare this season. Mr. R. Hallowell was only able to procure a very few cuttings to send to Kennebeck.395

I had anticipated a visit from you in the packet, and I assure you I am much disappointed, and I cannot think what could hinder you unless it is that cursed disease that has been hanging about you from your birth—laziness.

The affairs of our friend remain in nearly the same situation as when you was here. I see but very little alteration, and but few or no reasons to be pleased with the prospect. Time may do much in the rise of the property and this is the only and our best hope. The winter past has been pleasant and agreeable, our amusements, plays, balls, assemblys, etc. And as to myself, I think I never enjoyed more health than the last year.

I hope and pray you will make it convenient to visit us, on or about the 4th of July or commencement. I think such an excursion would do your heart and soul much good, and add much happiness to your declining days. Mr. Strong will be chosen Governor and Lt. Governor Gill will in a few days take his departure to the world of spirits. Remember me to Mr. Richards. My respects to Mrs. Cobb and your family. I suppose Captain Godfrey will take some late papers or I would enclose you some.

Your friend

H. Jackson

Benjamin Vaughan to Cobb, Hallowell, 30 April 1800 [CP]

Hallowell, April 30, 1800.

General Cobb.

Dear Sir:

I was favored in the course of the post with your letter, and should have answered it immediately, had I not waited for the departure of Mr. Wilde, who is the bearer of the present.

I am no less obliged than flattered by your intended design of contemplating our native productions here, with a view to their application to farming. Our ancestors of the old world had no other source for the plants they have amassed than that here described. It was in their power to improve these plants in countries analogous to those where they were found, but as the United States are on the East of a great continent placed in middle latitudes, their climate differs much from the regions of the West under similar latitudes and consequently, in the United States, many of these productions will naturally decline.

Since you did us the favor of a visit, some of the gentlemen in this vicinity have agreed to form a society, under the name of the Kennebec Agricultural Society.396 The name is descriptive from necessity, though we are far from wishing it to be exclusive. But if we made it more than coextensive with the waters of the Kennebec, we should merit reproof for our presumption, since our neighbors may have (as we sincerely wish them to have) their societies. The localities of the case do not preclude our having honorary members, and among the first of these I hope to have your permission to name yourself.

Is the time not ripe for having an agricultural society upon your eastern coast? I do not speak of your Million of Acres, for you must first have to preside over agriculturalists, before you can preside at a board of agriculture. I think you can easily prevail upon your proprietaries to give a lot of land in favor of such an institution, as being calculated no less for their interest, than yours. It is our design, with regard to the Plymouth Company, to solicit a gift of 200 good acres, with liberty to sell the half of it perhaps; and we are so circumstanced, as not to be likely to plead in vain, being part of us proprietors.

Lumber is not high with us, though we have little yet sent down. We have sensibly felt the evils of the floods of June, as having swept away both mills and the materials for their work. The snows of the last winter however fell in a manner to favor an abundant collection of new materials, and most of our mills are repaired.

But I am not very favorable to the lumber trade, unless as a necessary evil. My passion is for agriculture, and I find the spirit rising among us. When the seas open, if that is an event soon to be hoped for, we shall find occupation enough with it. In the mean time, I am sorry that your little colony of farmers was not to be collected by Mr. Wingate or Mr. E. Prescott.397 The truth is, that the terms appeared too favorable to be solid. However we shall still not despair for you, and it will not be a great effort of liberality on our side to hand a few over to you, for we should scarcely miss half a dozen, if the tide keeps up its flow this way as heretofore.

I have the commands of the ladies to present to you their compliments. Mr. Merrick joins me in respects.

I have the honor to be, dear sir,

Yours sincerely,

Benjamin Vaughan

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 1 May 1800 [CP]

Philadelphia May 1st 1800

Dear General:

I have been waiting for the letter which you mentioned you should write to me the beginning of May, inclosing your private and loan account, in order that I might reply to your proposals on this subject at the same time that I answered your favor of the 26 March, but I must delay an answer to the other object, as I think it necessary immediately to attend to the contents of this letter.

I mentioned to you some time past, that I was desirous of your engageing some prudent, intelligent person, in whom confidence could be placed, to superintend the Kennebec tract, so far as to prevent any depredations being committed on it, and at the same time convey to me such information relative thereto as might enable me to turn this property to the best account. Under the present state of things the lands appear to be neglected. The more influence this person possessed, from personal weight of character, the better he would suit my purposes. At a future period, when a systematic arrangement should be formed for extending settlements and making improvements, a still more active and suitable character could be procured. It would be too burthensome a business for me to undertake, both with respect to financial and personal considerations, at the present moment. Have you any idea that these lands have grown into such repute, as to engage any large capitalists of Boston, Salem, or other places to the eastward, to make purchases of any large portion of them? However, at any rate, this agency must be procured.

I have considered the various opinions you express relative to the establishment of a lumber yard, and observe that the business would be so complicated, as essentially to interfere with more essential objects, as well as involve an immensity of time and attention, which might be more profitably employed. When I first suggested the idea, I expected that a considerable establishment of this nature could be formed at Gouldsborough, and that from the resources of the neighbourhood, an extensive quantity of lumber could be procured, and that vessels from the different ports would be invited to come there, with an expectation of procuring full cargoes, on cheap terms.

But I find myself under a great mistake, and that the quantity you can supply is but trifling from Gouldsborough District.

In the point of view which this business presents itself in, at present, from the data you have furnished, I think the less you meddle with the article, the better you will succeed.

It appears that you experience a great deal of fraud and chicanery in the management of the object, and the expences of navigating a vessel, which seems to have scarcely any other employment, are too great, at the present high rate of seamen’s wages etc., to promise any advantage from dealing in such trifling objects.

If you were to establish what you call the great lumber yard, you must have an extensive agency, and place confidence in a great variety of characters, some of which might play the rogue and essentially injure the concern, and in a young country, the moral ties are not so strong as in older settlements where the prevalence of example and the force of the laws operate with more effect. The transmitting such articles from place to place, and the frequent removal of them, would be attended with very great loss as well as expence, and I do not think that any profit equivalent to the risk, labor, and employment of capital, could be expected to result from the operation.

But the most serious objection is the interference with our views of settlement and improvement, with which nothing should be permitted to enter into competition, in the smallest degree. This is the point, to which all our attention should be directed, and I am sorry to observe such little progress made, notwithstanding all our expenditures and exertions.

When I take a view of the progress of other settlements, and the rapid increase of their population, with scarcely any advance of money to forward them, I begin to think that our attempts are premature, and that our country, however deserving a preference from its sea side situation and fertility of soil, cannot enjoy its advantages, from being so far removed from the hives from which the emigrants swarm.

This would be a very unwelcome intelligence to be impressed with at so late an hour, but I am fearfull there is some foundation for the remark, when we view the settlements in Maine more westwardly and contrast them with ours in point of increase of population and facility of fixing settlers, for from your returns it appears that you are in some instances compelled to offer the most alluring inducements to engage persons to establish themselves in districts of the land, which are very inviting from local situation and other advantages.

As the Kennebec tract is very ripe for settlement, I should be exceedingly pleased at commencing my operations there, and if I could dispose of the same proportion of the tract to the present concern, which I would be happy to do on easy terms, then one of our agents might reside on the Kennebec lands, and by a cooperation and good understanding might essentially benefit each other. I wish you to impart to me your opinion on this subject.

I should be happy to have General Knox’s sentiments with respect to a plan of operation for Kennebec, but it is difficult to extract from him any ideas concerning these lands, and being so far distant from them, it is impossible for me to act, without information. His son was recently here, who, I was sorry to observe, was very dissipated.398

Whilst I was attending the legislature at Lancaster, he was nominated by the President a Lieutenant of the Navy, and from the interference of one of the Massachusetts delegation, was negatived. I felt much regret at not being present, as I am persuaded that I could have insured success to the vote, and I believe that the best mode of reforming him will be an employment in the naval service, in which his ambition should be somewhat gratified.

I observe that the half of the lands which had been deeded by General Jackson to Madame Leval, appear to be the property of La Roche. I expected they had been conveyed to Walker, and that from this source I should obtain payment for the advances made to Madame Leval, for which Walker became security.

I concur in opinion with you that it would be proper to record the deeds as soon as I am in possession of them. The lands are all paid for, but you know that one half of the deeds are withheld, untill the settlement duties are liquidated. I wish this latter business could be arranged, in such a manner as to enable me to receive the deeds. What is your opinion of a relaxation of the legislature on the subject of this demand, if application was now made to them and our various expences and exertions properly appreciated? As I wish to have the deeds kept together, I will thank you to forward to me by some safe conveyance, those which I sent to you.

I shall reply immediately, as I receive it, to your letter, conveying your private and loan account, and will agree to your anticipating part of your next years salary. I most ardently wish that period to arrive, when these lands would be productive and give some return for the very heavy disbursements they have occasioned. The annual advances of money, independent of the loss of interest on the first purchase and expences, are very oppressive drawbacks.

I am with regard and esteem

Dear General

Your obedient humble servant

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb


H. Jackson to Cobb, Boston, 27 May 1800 [CP]

Boston May 27. 1800

My dear David:

Your two letters by Captain Godfrey of the 18th instant are duly received. You may, young man, think to screen yourself under the poplar willows you plunder at Castine from the garden of some hospitable friend when on duty as foreman of the Grand Jury, yet you have much, very much to answer to your conscience (if you have any left) for the unwarrentable abuse given to two amiable, active, and industrious bachelors,399 who are disposed to render to man and women all the good in their power. Nothing but your own native indolence, total laziness, and inactivity can be the least apology for your unprovoked attack. Altho’ you have been seting in judgment on the conduct of others, less hardened than yourself, remember for all thy sins and ingratitude you will one day be judged, and unless you immediately depart from evil and learn to do good, your case will be deplorable indeed.

A world of home news, as the saying is—Timothy is discharg’d, and so was McHenry,400 the army is disbanded, HK a representative—what think you of that—Lieutenant Governor Gill is dead and was buried on Saturday. Slim, very slim, procession indeed. Ward M. Boyleston is arrived here, after some of Moses’s estate.401 Mr. C. Strong is Governour, and tomorrow is election day. Now for it, seat yourself down, take a little tobacco, put on your spectacles, and take up the inclos’d papers, and there you will find all the news, foreign and domestick—a treatise on the yellow fever, Brooks eulogy, the School for Libertines, an exhortation of repentance—the last enemy is rum—message with full powers to envoys—tracts of land for sale by HK—propriety of attending public worship—behold the rod of Aaron—rise up and come away—institution of the Boston Dispensary. To close the whole—The National Bankrupt Law and The School for Scandal. I hope you will take care how you call me lazy again.

Down to the earth thy body drops

Whence it was framed at first;

Forgets its former flattering hopes

And hastens to its dust.

I anticipate with much delight the pleasure of a visit from you on or about the 4th of July. I believe it will be much for your good, both soul and body, and I can assure you, it will be highly gratifying to your friends and none more so than old Henry. I observe what you say respecting your son Henry. Captain Talbot in the Constitution is expected to arrive here early in July. I will keep in mind your wish on that head.402

We are all well and going on much after the old sort. As to myself I never enjoyed better health in my life. I am very regular, but very little in society. Indeed its disagreeable to me. I am making up my accounts and preparing for the end of all things. My regards to Mr. Richards.

Yours as ever and ever

H. Jackson

General D. Cobb


Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 5 June 1800 [CP]403

Philadelphia June 5th 1800

Dear General:

I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 28 April, which has been detained for a considerable time on the road. I am happy to find that Mr. Merrick’s plan of settlement meets your approbation. It appears evidently that he possesses a perfect and practical knowledge of the business and is much attached to that essential object in all such undertakings, œconomy.

His plan is certainly formed on proper principles and will require but comparatively small disbursements of money. I had determined to make no attempt at a regular progressive system of improvement, untill I had disposed of a considerable part of this property, as I was intimidated by the expence. But Mr. Merrick’s calculations are so much within bounds, that I am almost tempted to commence my operations, from a conviction of the advantages the lands will derive from being placed in a train of settlement which will probably enable me to procure much better terms in the sale. In this instance, the business would be natural and not forced, as in the case of the lower tract, where expences have been exceedingly great, considering the result.

In carrying this object into effect, I think it would be proper for the reasons you have alledged, to employ Dr. Cony, but I wish to know in what capacity he would be engaged and on what terms, so as to answer the purposes intended. What offer shall I make Mr. Merrick, or can you sound him on the subject and let me know the result?

I have some remote idea of making a proposal to the same parties who are interested in the lower tract, to take a concern in the Kennebec lands, in which case, it is possible that Mr. Richards might superintend the settlements, as, considering the little progress that our Penobscot lands are likely to make with respect to settlement, the exertions of two persons can scarcely be deemed necessary for superintendance. But, on the other side, the parties have probably been so disappointed in their expectations, that they would not be easily induced to make an additional purchase, and, besides, the Kennebec lands were held some time since in disrepute, altho they are beginning to recover their character. However, these ideas are only in embryo, and I do not wish any hint to be given on the subject, to Mr. Richards.

After Shaw had induced General Jackson to employ him in making purchases at Gouldsborough, he went there and bought the property of Daniel Wright, Benjamin Allen, and Peter Godfrey,404 each containing 100 acres, for two of which he paid £300 each and for the latter £210, which I consider as a most enormous price, and I wish your opinion on the subject, as I cannot conceive that such a price as $10 per acre could have been paid. If it has been paid, I wish to know what price could be procured for the same property at the present moment. But what is more particularly desireable is to know what could have induced Shaw in the deed which conveyed this property to insert the sum of $1,000 as the consideration money received therefor, whereas the amount paid him for the property, including a compensation for his services and interest on the original sums is $2,978.52. This contrariety betwixt the deed and the account places this business in an awkward position, as one half is to be charged to Messrs. Hope and Co., and the acknowledgment of the money having been paid should have appeared in the deed, whereas not more than one third of the amount of the purchase money is to be found there.

I was sorry to hear that you had been so violently attacked by the gout, as to prevent your having the free use of your hands, but I hope you have recovered, and that you will be able to resume your pen without any inconvenience, for I am very anxious to be made acquainted by regular communications with the success or failure of the various objects that occupy your attention, as attached to the business of settlement and improvement.

You have omitted returning to me the deeds which I sent to you. I hope you have had them recorded. Mr. Baring thinks $60 for the expence of recording his deeds, extravagantly high.

I am with sincere regard

Dear General

Your obedient humble servant

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb


Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 9 June 1800 [BP]405

Gouldsborough June 9th. 1800

To William Bingham, Esquire

Dear Sir:

Inclosed I have forwarded my private and loan accounts for the last year.

I have now before me your two last letters of April 10th. and May 1st. As Mr. Richards will in a few days go from this place on a tour to Philadelphia, I must refer you to him for a general conversation on the subjects contain’d in those letters. I cannot however omit to remark that the observations there contain’d, and the spirit with which they are dictated, would be sufficient to damp the ardor of the most faithfull servant, in the persuit of the interests of his principal. I would further observe that I know of no important settlement of any large tract of country, belonging to one or two individuals, that has ever been bro’t into a state of flourishing improvement, without the expenditure of much larger sums than has ever been contemplated in the improvements of this country, and I cannot conceive that you can be “seriously impressed with the very unwelcome intelligence at this late hour, that this country was remote from the tide of emigration,” when I have constantly informed you for three or four years past, that that was the situation of the country. And you may perhaps recollect that one of the last questions I propos’d when I was last at Philadelphia was that, as this country was distant from the current of emigration, whether we should wait for that current or force the settlement? The answer was force it, and indeed your instructions to us are fill’d with directions for this purpose.

Mr. Richards will take on your deeds, and my draft for one thousand dollars which I hope you will honor.

I have not receiv’d Dr. Cony’s account for his last years service, altho I presume it is long since paid by Mr. Wilde of Hallowell, whom I directed to do it the last winter. I shall wait your answer to my letter of 28th. April before I make any engagements at the Kennebeck.

As it is necessary for me, after a five years residence, to have some of the lands which I am entitled to by contract in fee, I have requested Mr. Richards to obtain yours and Mr. Baring permission for a deed of the Shaw farm on which I now live, taking therefrom the store and wharf. I am entitled to a lot on this harbour, and the other part of the farm I wish to have consider’d as a part of the land I am to receive. The house, a small one, which has been repair’d and an addition put to it, I am willing to make such allowance for as shall be considered equitable. Mr. Richards on his return can execute whatever you determine, in the same manner we were directed to do with any other lands that I should want.

I am dear sir, with esteem

Your most obedient servant

David Cobb

Richards to Cobb, Boston, 19 June 1800 [CP]

Boston the 19th. June

Dear General:

We arrived here safe yesterday afternoon after a very tedious passage, not having put into any port between Gouldsborough and this, and in consequence of continued N.W. winds being driven rather to the southward so that the first land we made was the southern point of Cape Cod. We had however fine and calm weather so that the sickness to be complained of was less than the confinements. I have seen Miss Debby safe at Barney Smith’s.406

Tomorrow morning I proceed to Philadelphia—am therefore in somewhat a greater hurry than I left Gouldsboro’, enough God knows for my weak pericranium. Today I have dined with Jeffrey who appears as rosy, healthy, sick, and grumbling, as usual. General Jackson is out of town, Eustis poorly with a complaint in his eyes. Our other friends as great blackguards as ever. Every thing looks at least 3 weeks or a month forwarder than with us—green peas out of date, cucumbers the same, strawberries, cherries and melons in perfution.

To what few commissions I have left with me, I shall pay due attention, and shall direct Godfrey accordingly. John Codman is gone to Europe with our friend Gore whose stay here was very short. We therefore have to transmit business with his brother Stephen, as I suppose you know by a circular letter which Cazeneau tells me he sent to us. I have been conversing with Andrews this morning about the price of vessels and the propriety of sending a vessel to the West Indies. From him I learn that vessels look up well and he says that our packet if two years old would readily bring $3,500; if 4 years old, $3,200. He tells me sloops are proportionately cheaper, from 50 to 70 tons not being in such demand for foreign voyages. Godfrey says they think of parting with the Ruby and expect about $1,500—less perhaps would tempt them. Do turn these hints in your head and write me fully if you have more time than I have per return of packet. When I return from Philadelphia I mean to purchase, but I think, from what intelligence I can collect, a vessel of $2,500 will serve my turn better than a dearer one. David Godfrey will take about $360, which ought to be placed to my credit in store but had [better?] remain unaccounted for till my return. I find we have only $155 in Codman’s hands. I send this cash on my account as the carpenters told me on the morn of my departure they should soon want money. I wish you to think of the road through No. 7, and of clearing out our centre road by contract. Also to tell Black to provide refuse boards for my garden. Stephen Codman wishes to have the refusal of the next boards if they are very good. I like not such friendly offers, but leave him to you and Godfrey. Adieu. My best regards to all and believe me yours truly

John Richards

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 26 June 1800 [CP]407

Philadelphia June 26th 1800

Dear General:

I have had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Richards, whose visit to his friends was highly agreable. He delivered me your letter of the 9th instant, in which you complain of “damping your ardor” by the impressions made by the perusal of my letters of the 10th April and 2 May. You certainly have very essentially misconceived my intentions, if you could suppose I meant my communications to have such a tendency, or in the smallest degree to wound your feelings. Such could neither be my interest nor inclination, nor can I conceive why you should infer my remarks to be “dictated by a spirit” of so unfriendly and inauspicious a nature.

My personal interests being so deeply involved in the result of your operations, it was natural for me to reply to your observations relative to your progress in improvements and settlements, in a full and explicit manner. In reviewing what I wrote, I do not see a sentence that I regret, for the language is calm and temperate, and I gave my remarks more freely, from a persuasion, that, if at this distance from the scene of action, I should labor under mistakes, which was very natural, you would correct my opinions in your reply. I certainly was under no injunction from a sense of propriety or delicacy to withhold my sentiments. As for the latter sentiment, it could not enter into the calculation, as my motives were pure, and not malevolent. As an evidence of this I quote a letter I wrote to General Knox about the same time (May 15) in which I mention “I am well persuaded that our agents have concerted the best plans and have faithfully devoted their services for carrying them into execution, but the insuperable difficulty of situation is not easily removed or counterballanced.”

With respect to that part of your letter wherein you express that you cannot conceive that I “can be seriously impressed with the very unwelcome intelligence at this late hour, that the country was remote from the tide of emigration,” for that you had constantly informed me of this being the situation of the country, for three or four years past.

You certainly are not correct on this point. It was well known at all times, that the population lay westwards and that our tract was remote from the best peopled districts. But it was supposed that the water navigation would facilitate their emigration, which was the prevailing motive to establish the packet and that the encouragement we should hold out would be an additional incentive.

These were my ideas, founded on the language of your letters, which perhaps have escaped your recollection.

In yours of January 30, 1797, you mention that “if cutting of roads and building houses of entertainment on them are pursued,” you pledge yourself “there will not be wanting settlers or speculators to purchase the lands.” You appropriate eight thousand dollars to both objects as sufficient, and this sum to be expended in the course of two or three years, during which period it is certain “that the income from mills etc. etc. etc. will far exceed the disbursments, that this or any other operation can call for.”

In yours of February 10, 1797, you mention that if I have “not systematized my operations,” to send you charte blanche, and appropriate a capital of ten thousand dollars for various purposes, and that your present opinion is that you will never have occasion for further advances, but what will be created out of the operations here, and supplies besides that will be annually increasing to a great amount.

It is needless to enumerate other parts of your letters confirmatory of the same sentiments, which naturally made a corresponding impression upon my mind. If the result has proved a disappointment to your expectations, it is not surprizing that I should express the circumstance to be of an unwelcome nature.

I know that without a certain degree of enthusiasm, in all such operations, there can be no eventual success, and that under such a state of mind we are induced to be too confident, and that extreme confidence will lead us into mistakes which must be corrected, as soon as they happen.

If our expenditures are greater than the advantages we derive from them will counterballance, it is the part of prudence to correct them, by diminishing their amount. If the position of Mr. Richards in one of his letters is just, that we must wait for the lands westward of the Penobscot filling up before ours can be in demand, it is the particular object to claim our attention, to œconomize our funds, but at the same time to place the property in a progressive state of improvement, so as to attract settlers whenever they may be disposed to make their appearance. Another object will be to impress the legislature so favorably with respect to our exertions and expenditures, as well as evident marks of improvement, as to induce them to relinquish their claim to the settlement duties, which are very oppressive, and ought as soon as possible, to be liquidated, by a discharge from the State.

It will be recollected that you have been compelled to procure your labourers from Kennebec, as they are not to be obtained in the country, which is a serious difficulty, of so discouraging a nature, that in your letter of July 2, 1797, you mention that “the price of labor is still too high for to venture on any important operations in our country, either by contract or otherwise.” Such considerations would of course have their weight in any system which I might form with respect to expenditures, especially when connected with the results which would probably take place. Such sentiments seem to have pervaded the mind of Sir Francis Baring who in a recent letter says “with regard to our joint concern we must continue with moderate improvement and wait for more favorable times which may arise, if peace shall appear.” He further says that the conduct of “the agents of Sir William Pultney has been one of the prominent causes which have thrown a general discredit on speculations in land,” for their expenditures have been immense and no receipts.

With respect to myself, I must confess that I should very much dislike making heavy advances without being well persuaded of a speedy return, and I am confident that you would have great reluctance in advising such a measure, as you are acquainted with the immense sum already disbursed on this property. I am well persuaded that, if we carry our views to a period somewhat more remote, the Penobscot tract will be of vastly greater value than the Kennebec, but at the present moment I am equally convinced that the latter may be rendered more available, from its local position, as relative to settlers. This occasions an uncommon anxiety on my part to commence my operations there, altho the first exertions would be on a small scale, such as the selection of a few townships, which could have their lines run out, and divided into small farm lots, suitable to the wants of the farmers, who might emigrate into this country. Altho Dr. Cony does not appear to be well calculated for extensive scenes of operation, where a great deal of intelligence and activity are to be combined, yet for this inferior class of the business, he would answer perhaps better than a more accomplished character. Nor do I suppose that his pretensions in his own estimation can extend beyond the first stages of the system, which I think should be the selection of some townships for settlement and having them surveyed and prepared for emigrants. The more detailed parts of the plan, as relative to price, terms of payment and a variety of other objects connected therewith, could be the subject of future communications. I therefore shall thank you to take such measures as will be necessary to engage Dr. Cony’s services, as far as my views extend, and to stipulate such terms with him, as considering all circumstances, you may deem just and proper.

Should Mr. Merrick’s talents for such operations be of a superior kind, and that by his experience and intelligence, he can become very usefull to the system, when extended on a larger scale, I certainly would not wish to forego them, as it is œconomy in such business to procure the employment of the best abilities, altho they may be attended with apparently greater expence. You will be the best judge, how these points can be best arranged, so as not to lose sight of either.

I am well persuaded that our sale of these lands will be very much effected by the improvements and settlements, of which they will appear to be immediately susceptible, and therefore the sooner I commence my operations, the nearer I shall arrive at the point I have in view and it is a very important one, as you will readily conceive how distressing to my finances must be the advance of such an immense sum of money as has been disbursed for the payment of these lands.

Mr. Richards, in several conversations I have held with him, fully confirms the idea of the difficulty of procuring emigrants into our territory. I am well persuaded that the difficulties are daily removing, and from your joint exertions they will at last be effectually surmounted. I find the civilization of the inhabitants is making a rapid progress, altho I much doubt, considering their inveterate habits, that they can be fully reformed, and whilst from their idleness and dissipation, they present such an appearance of wretchedness, such misery is attributed to the poverty of the country and not to its true cause. Hence it becomes necessary, by the encouragement of agricultural settlements, to exhibit the country in its true point of view. And untill settlers can be procured from the other parts of the Union, I think it would be adviseable to push forward by facilities of various kinds, those which are already established, at Epping408 and elsewhere in the neighbourhood. This may be done by instruction and advice, by procuring the best quality of seeds, and the most approved farming utensils. It would not be amiss to engage one of the merchants at Boston or Salem to send for some Siberian wheat, by one of their vessels to Petersburgh, which coming from a high latitude, would best suit our meridian. This seed could be dispersed amongst the farmers, and a few bushels would cost but a trifle. If you were to write to a dozen merchants on the subject, and but one was to execute your order, it would be of advantage, by making an impression upon the minds of these men, with respect to your views of agricultural improvement, and such impressions have an amazing effect in bringing a country into notice. I have watched the progress of the Genesee, as well as other recent settlements and I have found them uniformly get into credit by puffing—by spreading far and near an account of their advantages, so that the public mind may be familiarized to a knowledge of them, so that the country may no longer appear a terra incognita. By extracts of letters wrote to and from various places, by well timed paragraphs in the public prints, and a variety of other modes which his ingenuity suggested, Williamson soon attracted the public attention to the Genesee Lands.

The city of Washington was puffed into notice in the same way, and even the lands within the British lines in upper Canada are receiving the advantages of this resource, and hundreds of our families in the interior counties of this state, are removing into that country, which I believe to the northward of your lands.

There can be no delusion practised in our case, for those who emigrate will be far more than overpaid for the preference they give our lands.

I find an immense increase of population is taking place in the Kennebec country. Altho we are not actually benifited by this circumstance at the present moment, yet we shall eventually derive great advantages therefrom as the tide of population will continue its course untill it arrives at our settlements.

Mr. Richards mentions your intention of establishing a mill on the Union River, which I think will be attended with great advantages, not only on account of profit, but from arresting the progress of the log cutters.

Do you not think that your knowledge of the inhabitants of Massachusetts might be turned to great account, by a journey into the interior of that State, and endeavoring to impress them favorably with respect to our country?

Such a journey might personally be of great service to you, as exercise would dissipate your erratic gout.

If once we could procure a few settlements of respectable farmers, they would soon increase considerably, and no settlers could have greater encouragement than they would receive, by the prices they would procure for their produce, and which would continue, untill they raised more than would satisfy the wants of the inhabitants of the District.

If such an excursion should meet your views, you will have an opportunity of seeing Mr. Merrick and Dr. Cony on your route, and conversing with them on the subject.

I recommended to Mr. Richards to send the packet here with a cargo of various kinds of lumber, which I think would sell to great profit and in return she might carry back Indian corn, rye and whiskey. I think you might introduce this latter article into the consumption of the country which would be far more œconomical for the people and be far more profitable to your store than West India rum. It is made of the same materials, and is very little inferior to the gin of Europe.

I have accepted and paid your draft on me for $1,000, which is charged to your account.

With respect to the farm in Gouldsborough which you wish to receive as part of the lands which you are entitled to in fee simple, I have spoke to Mr. Baring, and we are both of opinion that according to the construction of the agreement, such lands were not contemplated, for it is mentioned that they should be of an average quality in point of value, whereas this farm cost upwards of $10 per acre which at such rate would render this part of the compensation higher than either of us contemplated. I am of opinion that I was exceedingly imposed upon in this cursed purchase made from Shaw. We will think more seriously on the subject and make known to you our ultimate intentions.

I wish you to reply to some of the most important subjects of my communications as early as will suit your convenience.

We must not be discouraged by our first efforts not proving so successfull as we expected. The soil and situation are excellent, and the country must engage the attention of the farming interests. The principal object is to obtain some good settlers in the interior, who will be removed from the vicious habits and bad example of the lumbermen. Others would follow, and the lands from their essential advantages would soon grow into repute.

I am very anxious to have matters placed in such a train as to procure from the legislature the remission of the settlement duties, which amount to nearly forty thousand dollars. When do you suppose an application may be made for this purpose?

I will forward to you a note of the kinds of lumber that will suit this market and you will then determine whether it will be proper to dispatch the packet. However, this should not interfere with her sale if you should find a good opportunity of substituting a smaller vessel in her place.

With sincere regard and esteem, I am

Dear General

Your obedient humble servant

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb

Ross to Cobb, Union River, 1 July 1800 [CP]

Union River July 1st. 1800

Dear Sir:

I sent over to day for the dimensions of the mill work you wanted from Mr. Fabrique, but not being at home have not yet got them. The mail having arrived now and on the eve of departure, being twelve hours sooner than usual, prevents my sending it you this post.

I find my cheese hoops are too small for your use. The infernal owls have distroyed eighteen turkies for me a few nights since. I mean to warn them out of town to morrow, when they will probably visit Goldsborough. My most respectful compliments attend Mrs. Cobb and your good family,

And am with much respect and esteem

Dear sir your most obedient servant

Donald Ross

Honorable David Cobb, Esquire


Ross to Cobb, Union River, 15 July 1800 [CP]

Union River 15 July 1800

Dear Sir:

I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your esteemed favor of the ninth instant. Tho’ you have no owls at Goldsborough, ’tis not for the reason you mention, but yet a very obvious one. You have no groves of shady oaks or pleasant maples where they can retire to, and tho’ your flocks of turks and ducklings are, to be sure, alluring yet will not these marauders invade them without a secure retreat, so that you have to thank your Goldsborough goths that have distroyed your forests for the protection your naked hedges afford the little turks.

Fabrique, poor fellow, has had to taste of the cup of affliction. His wife is deposited in the silent tomb, her young one has since followed. But hitherto he has behaved like a man and philosopher on the occasion. I waited on him yesterday to urge your request about the mill irons, which he has furnished me with and which you have here with.

Am sorry that you seem so indifferent about your visit to Union River. I have so much faith in your doctrines and tenets that I shoud anticipate more real good to the temporal interests of our folks here, from three or four of your lectures on agriculture, eoconomy and industry, than I shoud to their spiritual concerns from six months preaching of the most orthodox Methodist that comes amongst us. And yet to speak candidly, I have a much better opinion of them than formerly. Whatever their motives may be, they certainly cannot be ascribed to avaritious or mercenary views. Their pittance is small, their living amongst the poorest of their hearers, their manners are simple, they are humble and meek in their deportment, and to speak without prejudice, I have much pleasure in observing a radical reform progressing in the morals of the people. They are more temperate, more circumspect in their behavior, more conscientious in their transactions with each other, have more of the fear of God and the magistrate, and begin to have the dawn of industry breaking upon them.

You may infer probably from my preaching that am one of their converts or perhaps had a fit of the nightmare. But neither. My heart has yet too much of the adamant tho’ I often wish it suscesptible [sic] of the raptures these people some times say they experience. From all I’ve said you will no doubt feel the necessity of paying us a visit soon. At least let us blend some of your precepts with those of religion. They will be ornaments to each other and I hope to see them much courted and sought after.

Herewith I have sent you a statement of what I have received from the loggers, etc., on your account. The prospect of obtaining any more at present is very doubtful. The mills here have done sawing for sometime, but as the men indebted in general evince a disposition to pay and fulfil their agreements, I have little doubt but the whole may be collected this fall if the season is favorable. But the poor devils can no more make boards without water than the Israelites coud bricks without straw. I have advertized the meadows and have a prospect of getting as many hayers as last year, the amount of which you’ll see in the Account Current sent you from hence last April. My best wishes always attend you and family and believe me to be with much respect and esteem

Dear sir

Your most obedient servant

Donald Ross

Honorable David Cobb, Esquire


Charles Vaughan of Hallowell

Enterprising Promoter of the Kennebec Country

Portrait by an unknown artist

H. Jackson to Bingham, Boston, 16 July 1800 [BP]

Boston July 16th. 1800


Your letter of the 2d instant by Mr. Richards was duly received. Although you appear’d to hesitate respecting Mr. Tudor’s demand,409 yet I was led to hope that before the presentment of the bills, some circumstance on the subject would have occurred to your recollection to induce you to honor them. But to my great disappointment, I am notified their having been noted for non acceptance. This information, sir, is unpleasant and chagrining, and is a wound to my reputation and feelings that I am unaccustomed too. However on a further reflection, I yet persuade myself you will not permit my drafts to return upon me, but in honor and justice take them up at maturity. I will call to your remembrance a conversation that you, General Knox, and myself, had at your brakefast table in your library. General Knox observed that I wish’d some evidence from you in writing to indemnify me against the payment of Mr. Tudor’s note. You reply’d you had no objections whatever, but as Tudor had said he never would take a shilling if it came out of my pocket, you thought it was best to let it lay without any indemnification, as in that case, I might be able with more confidence to put Tudor of, and that I might depend on your honor to bare me harmless. This virbal engagement from you was sufficient, and I have continued to beat him of to the last moment. Nothing would satisfy him or prevent a suit but full payment of the note with interest, and this I was unable to do at this time without the assistance of a friend. I am happy that General Knox is just arrived, to whom I refer you for further information respecting this transaction. I therefore continue to flatter myself from your known candour and justice, that you will without any further hesitation honor the bills, that I may be reimbursed the sum I have paid on your account. This is incumbant on you by the most sacred tye that binds man to man. If you should permit them to return, it will extreemly distress and embarrass me at this moment. It cannot be that you will allow them to come back.

I am with sentiments of regard and friendship

dear sir your humble servant

H. Jackson

Honorable William Bingham, Esquire


Charles Vaughan to Bingham, Boston, 23 July 1800 [CP]410

Boston July 23d. 1800

Honorable William Bingham



The Million of Acres that you own on the Kennebec River has had as yet but little of your attention and none of your funds to appreciate its value.

Its remote situation, and the vast tracts of country that were unsettled, between your tract and the incorporated towns on the Kennebeck, was a bar to any profitable expenditures, till the actual settlement of these intermediate tracts and the general reputation of the country was established. I am happy in the opportunity of informing you that the settlement of the country adjoining your tract to the south, has progressed beyond the expectation of the most sanguine; and the moment has arrived when the advance of a small sum (without waiting a general plan of improvement and expenditure) will essentially promote the value of your property. The quality of lands, command of water for the common objects on a farm, are little valued where there is no communication with navigable waters. You have a communication with Hallowell; but from the direction of the road, and the nature of the country, it is not a straight line. The Penobscot River is (now) from the high price of grain, and provisions, the market for your lands, and the lands in its neighbourhood, and it will always be the most natural market because the road is capable of being better with less expense, and the distance is not so great to Bangor, the head of navigation on Penobscot, as it is to the Hook, the head of navigation on the Kennebec. A road to the former once made will prove these facts, and will bring your lands more into view than any road or expenditure within your tract. This road is not only begun, but is chiefly made, and if your assistance is given, I will this fall or at furthest next spring have the communication open, from the line of your Million to Bangor. The direction of this road I give you with a minute of what is yet to be provided for. The whole distance to your S.E. corner is 40 miles,411 to the Karatunk settlement not more than 64. Beginning at the head of navigation at Bangor, the road runs about a N.W. course on the east side of the Kenduskeg about 21 miles. This road is made and a good road for carts, except about 2 miles at the last, and passes through many settlements. From this the road is laid out and will run westerly tending a little to the north about 5 miles, to the west line of No. 3 on the 5th range. This is not provided for. From thence the road is laid out a due west course for 19 miles, through Nos. 4 and 5 and Hallowell Academy Township with no other deviation from a straight line than for about 2 miles, to accomodate a situation for the bridge over the Sabastacook at a sett of falls, the waters for some miles above being deep and called “Still Waters” from there being little current. Of this 19 miles, 12 are not only provided for but actually made. From the west line of the Academy Township, the road passes west, a little northerly, thro’ Copstown and continues in that direction about 6 miles. This road is cut but not fit for carts. It is however constantly travelled with horses. From this it will take a northerly direction towards your line and may strike it perhaps in 3 or 4 miles. The latter road in this direction is to be made. Thus the whole distance from Bangor to your tract as the road runs is 54 miles, but from your S.E. corner, 3 miles of road southerly will open the communication with this road, 38 miles from Bangor.412 Thus:

  Roads made and provided for Unprovided for

From Bangor to the Kenduskeg



Thro’ No.


5th Range





made by me






Hallowell Academy Township, made by me






Further west






Twelve miles of this road I made and it is fit for carts. The expense of this 17 miles, and to build the bridge over the Sebastacook, which will cost 200 dollars, will be about 700 dollars, and about as much more will be sufficient, with such help as I can get among the setlers, to add another rod [sic]. I have a contribution of about 200 dollars, and I propose the expenditure of the funds as follows: first to compleat the communication between your S.E. corner and the termination of the 19 miles on the Kenduskeg, then to make a bridge over the Sebasticook, and then apply as far as funds will go to the opening the road at your south line, thro’ the last 3 miles, and making good such spots as need it. From yourself I ask 500. dollars. I have contributed 300. who had but a small interest in the lands. The money and expenditure you may place in such hands as you see fit. I shall be on the spot very soon, to expend what I have collected (which I shall by consent put on the bridge, if I have no further aid), and if you have no special agent to act for you, I shall cheerfully attend to the expenditure of yours, with the other contributions that will pass through my hands and make such a road as will most effectually produce the end intended, and without any charge of my time. I should observe the bridge to be built over the Sabastacook waters, which runs through the lands to the southward and eastward of your S.E. corner, is carried as far north as the ground and water will admit, as the stream for miles to the north is deep and wide. In addition to the above road, another is making which will give a value to your property, and for which no contribution is asked. The Piscataqua rises in your Million, and in spring and fall the use of it will be important and frequent to your setlers. The road making is from Piscataqua River to the 19 miles of road east of Kenduskeg, and it will leave the Piscataqua on the line between Nos. 2 and 3 in the 6th range of townships, and continue a due south course till it strikes the above road. At this point by means of this road a market will be established, and if your settlers prefer the Bangor market, they will save full 40 miles in going this road, which they must go if they continue by water. I am the more anxious to compleat this road, this fall, because another road is cut more south (running around the northerly part of Moose Pond)413 which however from the quality of the land and the probability of want of funds for a bridge, will leave a decided advantage (if the travelling is secured this season) to the upper road. You will perhaps in no other part of America find an equal extent of road made in a straight line and at so small an expense.

I am sir with respect

Your humble servant

Charles Vaughan


Knox to Bingham, Boston, 3 August 1800 [BP]

Boston August 3 1800

My dear Sir:

I have only time to make a short reply to your favor of the 26th of July, being on the point of departure for St. Georges.

It is to be regretted that time has shed its misty influence in any degree on the transaction between General Jackson and Mr. Tudor.

The facts are according to my recollection: that while General Jackson in 92 was negociating the 2d contract with the Committee, expecting to obtain the lands for ten cents, Tudor stepped in on the part of Mr. Soderstrom, agent for Mr. McComb of New York, and raised the price to 21 cents, and would have continued his offers had not a compromise took place between General Jackson and him by the former giving his note for one thousand guineas payable in one year. This conduct was approved by General Jackson’s employers.

That when you assumed the 1st contract in December 92, and visited Boston, you found it expedient also to assume the 2d in fact and substance if not in form by paying 5,000 dollars thereon. You afterwards paid Flint, or gave your obligation to that end, for 2,500 dollars expressly for his relinquishing to you half of the 2d contract, and you also I beleive obtained Duers relinquishment of one moiety thereof, Flint having acted as his agent. And further you offered General Jackson the same sum you gave Flint or a proportion of the profits at his option.

That you also formed a contract for a sale of a part of these lands embraced by the 2d contract with Mr. Baring, which was not executed owing to the circumstance of the surveys embracing a greater quantity than one million contemplated by the contract.

That the circumstance of the note to Tudor was always brought to view both by General Jackson and myself, as obligatory on the purchasers and not on the agents, not however to be paid if it could be avoided. The circumstance of General Jacksons solicitation, in your library in 1795 (not 97) to obtain indemnification, was postponed solely on account of Tudor’s declaration “that if the amount was either to come from General Jackson or myself he would not insist on the payment.” Tudor went to Europe in 97 and left this note with Mr. Quincy415 who continualy threatened General Jackson with a suit for its recovery, but was prevailed upon to suspend the suit until the return of Tudor. When this happened in 98, Tudor pressed payment, and legal advice was taken upon a statement of the case, and opinion given that General Jackson could not avoid payment. In this exigency it would have been injurious as well to General Jackson as to myself to have sustained a suit on any amount, and I conceiving that in any event he ought not to sustain the whole weight, I took a moiety. Lately Tudor has obtained from General Jackson payment. Mine remains unpaid.

I presume you will upon full recollection of all the circumstances conceive it incumbent on you to indemnify General Jackson. Had the 2d contract provided a profit of 100,000 dollars or more, and in that case had General Jackson refused to transfer to you, it would not be conceived to be right and just, on his part. If this be so, the reverse will be in the same predicament.

If General Jackson, on whom the labour of the business devolved, should be a victim to Tudor, and Mr. Flint, who comparatively did nothing, receive as he has 2,500 dollars from you,416 it would be one of those cases of peculiar hardship which seldom occur in the affairs of men. I however all along from the commencement of the business have assured General Jackson that it is impossible that you should suffer him to remain ultimately in this situation in which his confidence in your character has placed him.

I am happy that you have attempted to heal the breach between the federal and true interests of our country. Our happiness if not our existence depends upon a union of the various parts of our country. Union ought to be the cement and watch word of all true friends to their country. Corrosive councils, factious ambition, and discord ought not to have a place in the minds of the wise men of our country. The attempt of some to obtain a new President, at the expence of the dignified and wise existing one, will be repelled by the sober sense of the country. The choice will be between Mr. A. and Mr. J., and I hope with you that Mr. A. will have a considerable majority.

At attempt at assassanation of some surveyors under my authority has been made in the woods above 50 miles from my house. Only three persons within the Waldo Patent were concerned in the business. The others were in the Plymouth Patent.417 I have made such representations to the Government that I have no doubt the security of persons and property will be enhanced by this event. I shall sail probably this day for St. Georges, where I hope to hear further from you.

Please to present my respective compliments to Mrs. Bingham, Mr. and Mrs. Baring and Miss Bingham.

I am my dear sir

Your friend and humble servant

H. Knox

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 5 August 1800 [CP]418

Philadelphia August 5th 1800

Dear General:

I have received from Mr. Charles Vaughan a letter on the subject of a road which he has projected and is about carrying into execution, which he asserts will be of essential advantage to my Kennebec tract. I cannot competently judge the relative value of this road as it respects my property, but I do not suppose that the most eligible course for the productions of the Kennebec lands will be thro’ this route, which will probably only furnish a market during the period that the lands on the Penobscot are in the progress of settlement, for the best road, as well as the nearest, to a port of exportation for a foreign market will be that which passes on the borders of the Kennebec River. I send you a copy of Mr. Vaughan’s letter, which will enable you to form an accurate opinion on the subject, and I will thank you to communicate to me what would be most expedient for me to do in this business. It gives me great pleasure to find that the Kennebec lands are in a state of such rapid improvement, as nothing will more effectually tend to induce capitalists to engage in a purchase than the certainty of a speedy settlement and the prospect of immediate returns for their advances.

It is a very interesting circumstance that this property should get into great repute, as early as possible, as well as that a sale should be effected of a great portion thereof, in order to subdivide it, and prevent that jealousy which, in republican governments particularly, is always excited towards very large proprietors. I find by a recent publication of a map of Maine that it is therein asserted I am a contractor for the lands in the rear of your tract, containing nearly three millions of acres, than which nothing can be more fallacious,419 but this will greatly assist in adding fuel to the blaze of envy and jealousy, which are unfortunately passions too prevalent in the human mind, whereas if the state of my land concerns was actually known, there would be but little cause to excite either. Some paragraphs from the Castine Gazette have been inserted in our papers, relative to the immense increase in the population of Maine, particularly on the Penobscot, which have had an excellent tendency, by bringing this country into public notice.420 I am well aware of its peculiar advantages, but whilst such a competition in various parts of the Union takes place, and such a struggle to attract settlers, it becomes necessary to avail ourselves of all circumstances, to engage a preference. I have great confidence in the impression that will be made by the result of the next census, which will probably exhibit this country in a very interesting point of view.

I wait with anxiety for your sentiments with regard to the employment of Mr. Merrick and Dr. Cony, the stations to be assigned to them, in the system of improvement, and the salaries that each will be entitled to. After which, I will accept a plan suitable to circumstances, and put it into immediate execution.

I wished much to have been able to make it convenient to pay you a visit this summer, that we might have freely conversed together on the various details concerning our operations. But I find it impossible to gratify my inclinations.

I am with sincere regard

Dear General

Your obedient humble servant

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb

Cobb to Cony, Hallowell, 15 August 1800 [BP]421

Hallowell August 15th. 1800

To Daniel Cony, Esquire


As you have kindly undertaken to superintend such present operations as may be necessary for bringing into a state for settlement, the tract of land on the Kennebeck River purchas’d by William Bingham, Esquire, I have to request your immediate attention to the following measures for that purpose, viz.,

1st. To have run out three or four townships of six miles square each, into half mile square or one hundred acre lots, as you may think best. You will take these townships on the southern line of the tract and up the river so as best to include those places where the settlements now are and those where it is most probable the future settlements will be first made, taking care to run out at the same time all the lots on which settlers now are, that may be within the townships thus run, and such as may be without the townships lines and not far distant therefrom—in all cases these lines must be run, as near as may be, parallel to the township lines.

2dly. To number all the inhabitants now on the lands as well those who are, as those who are not intitled to land as settlers, noting the time when settled, and particularly designating those whom you may determine as properly entitled to land as settlers under the purchase, and all such may receive their deeds immediately after their lots are run on paying the sum stipulated by contract. As to demanding interest on this sum for the past time, it is left to your discretion. As an accommodation to any of the settlers you may allow them to purchase to the amount of one hundred acres in addition to their lots, on paying one dollar per acre therefor; and the settlers who are not entitled to lands by the contract may have their lots at the same price; and in both cases, with interest from this fall or without interest for one year, as you may think will best subserve the general interest of the proprietor.

3dly. After the townships are run out, you may allow any new settlers, who may apply, to purchase one or two hundred acres at one dollar per acre with interest payable in three or four years, and deeds shall be given them on the completion of their payments, agreeably to such contracts as you shall make with them, taking care that if any valuable meadow or intervale are on the lots, an advanced price must be demanded; and in no case to engage any mill seats or lands having iron mines upon them, unless the mill seat in your opinion will be improved to the best future advantage of the settlement, and even then, a better price should be demanded. Of this however you are to judge and determine.

4thly. If in your opinion it should be found necessary to have a few miles of road or roads cut out from the present settlements or from places where others may soon be made, so as to communicate with the great roads of the country, you may have it done, and it would be best to employ the settlers now on the tract, or those who may wish to go on, for this purpose either by contract or otherwise, and for the labour in this business to pay for it in land, if it can be done. Indeed it would be particularly agreeable to have as much of your expenditures as possible paid for in the same way, such as the surveyors, chainmen, road makers, or any other labour you may require.

5thly. The surveyors will make out, and return to you, regular maps or plans of the townships they survey with the course of the rivers or streams and the settlers lots mark’d thereon, and all those lots that may be run out that are adjacent to those townships, with their field notes that particularly remark the quality of the soil as 1st, 2d, and 3d qualities, with the intervale, meadows, mill seats, iron ore, lime rock, and any other remark they may think worthy of notice.

Finally. Whatever additional measures you may think, that have the interest of the proprietors in view, and that are conformable to those here detail’d, you will adopt; and such information as you acquire by viewing the tract, or from others, as to its general advantages, as to its situation for increase of settlement, as to goodness of soil, as to mines and minerals, lime stone, mill seats, meadow, intervale, etc. etc., you will from time to time communicate to me, and any information you may wish to receive I shall at all times be ready to afford. Measures shall be taken to forward to you on my return from Boston two hundred dollars, and at any time while your measures are in operation, if small sums are required, Mr. Wilde at Hallowell will be requested to afford them, and when the accounts of your disbursements are forwarded to me at Gouldsboro’ with your account for your services, the ballance shall be convey’d to you immediately. Relying on your attention to the several objects committed to your charge, and having a confidence in the strickness of your ceconomy in the execution of them I wish you the best success in the undertaking, and am dear sir, etc.

D. Cobb

Attorney to William Bingham, Esquire

Richards to Cobb, Gouldsborough, 20 August [CP]

Gouldsborough the 20th August 1800

Dear General:

Nelson brought me your two letters on Friday last on his way to Machias, for which place he set off on Sunday on his solitery tour.

We have experienced no important occurrence since you went away. The work on the Point goes on as it did, but slowly. However the new house will be finished nearly about the end of next week, to such a degree that the mason may continue plaistering the whole of it except the entry and porches. The carpenters will then adjourn to your house which had better be worked upon till finish’d. We shall on these accounts be obliged to leave alone the store till next spring. If so, we may try to cover the floors, doors, etc., with hemlock as old Jones has been lately telling me it is a wood which rats will not gnaw. You may enquire into its virtues at Boston.

Fabrique was down yesterday and is not I believe yet returned. His errand was for provisions which he will be supplied with, his having been consum’d by fire at the falls. He says that his hay is nearly secured, that he has ten men at work upon the dam which will be compleated in ten or twelve days; if so we shall do. Hull and Burr422 are not in the number, and the manner in which he mention’d them was I thought doubtingly as to their determination of going up there. You do not say in what capacity they are to go up. If we make a loan to them, you will have fewer settlers to hunt up, and as you are at the westward of course you will give a preference to western people.

Beal423 was down here the other day but I did not see him. I am told he has now two hands falling, by the job, that he has also another whom he has hired by the month and that he purposes to have down 60 or 70 acres this fall. He wishes to try winter wheat which I hope you will be able to procure. What the sloths of Annsburgh are about I know not, but intend riding up there the beginning of next week.

N. Gubtail424 and some other fellow are now looking out the road from our upper mill to Taunton Bay. I intend to agree with them when they return, and intend to set about mending roads in my district next week. I am glad you have agreed with Peters to run out that gore. What you say about coasters I will attend to. None have yet made their appearance, and fear we shall find a difficulty in procuring boards for them.

I was at old Jones’s the other day who holds on much as usual, being obliged to make sure of what boards he has by him, tho’ you know he is not the most easy of any one in his prices, and more especially as he knew they were for my vessel. In a conversation with him he told me that he was not press’d for money, but as he understood from you it would be a convenience to us not to call for any cash till your return, he was glad it was in his power to confer the obligation. This is what I wanted to avoid, and therefore acquainted him, what with the cash I should pay him for his boards and the sum due him upon Fabriques notes, he might draw upon me for $400 at sight or more if he was press’d. There the matter rests. I have heard no further.

As the proceeds of the cargo will not meet the whole of the demands we shall have for cash at Boston, and as it is possible we may require cash for Mariaville and No. 23, exclusive of the notes we have to take up from Jones I have drawn a draft for $1,500, which you will fill up, if our credit is extended.

Our people are mad to clear up rye fields, and worse than mad to set the woods on fire at this time. The wind has blown heavily now the second day and the western Bay from W. Shaws to nearly old Halls425 appears to be envelopped in one volume of smoke. Another species of madness possesses all our carpenters who wish to purchase lots and turn farmers on Union River.

I avail myself of your offer to purchase some things for me at Boston and will trouble you to get a quarter cask of Port wine from Dennie426 if he has any very good. If not, dont get me any but let me be considered as half purchaser if you lay in a small stock of Madeira. I almost blush at the commission I am now going to write, but it is a necessary one which must plead its excuse; namely, if in your walks you should meet with an upholsterer who should have for sale a tolerably decent and delicately conceald machine, which may save that sex “who never use it” a walk in a winters night, pray buy it for me. Don’t let it be extravagant but neat. It is vulgarly styled a close st--l.

Two steels for whetting knives, for I mean to present you with one, and if you can hire a boy a little larger than your Joe or from that to 16 years of age that will answer my purpose, I shall be obliged to you. Charles has left me which in a manner breaks me up. Adieu. With best remembrances to all friends, believe me,

Yours sincerely

J. Richards

Can you also buy for me a book of cookery?

Cobb to Bingham, Boston, 23 August 1800 [BP]427

Boston August 23d 1800

Dear Sir:

I came from Gouldsboro’ on the 2d instant, as soon after the receipt of your letter by Mr. Richards as circumstances would permit, and after staying three or four days at Union River for the purpose of expediting the building of our mill and beginning the settlement on that river, I proceeded across the country to Kennebeck. The inclosed Copy of Instructions to Dr. Cony will shew you what arrangements have been made with him for forwarding the settlement of the million acres on that river, and which I hope will meet with your approbation. From thence I came to this place on the 20th. On the morrow I shall proceed to the counties of Worcester and Hampshire, with an intention of procuring settlers agreeably to your wishes, and shall return here in the course of eight or ten days from this, at which time I hope to have the pleasure of a letter from you, and an addition to our credit with Mr. Codman, so that we may meet the engagements we have already made for the season, and which will probably amount to two or three thousand dollars more than we shall be able to obtain from our other resources.

In some future communication I will explain to you those extracts from my letters of 1797 which you remark’d in your letter by Mr. Richards, and will now only observe that your instructions to us in February 1798 sufficiently evinces what your ideas then were of the remoteness of our situation from the current of emigration, and of the necessity, from thence, of forcing the settlement of the country.

When Mr. Richards went on to Philadelphia I requested him to converse with you on two subjects in particular: One was respecting the house and farm on which I now live; the other, as to my being elected a senator of this Commonwealth. The first you have noticed in part in your letter, and if you and Mr. Baring consider this place of importance to you in the settlement, I do not wish the indulgence I have requested. My only object in desiring this favour was, that in case of my death my family could have a place to reside at untill they could be more conveniently accommodated. Your interest however may perhaps be as well serv’d by permitting me to make the purchase as otherwise, for the one thousand dollars which you are by contract to afford me for the building of my house, I must otherwise very soon call for, and a lot of land on the harbour I shall always retain. As to being a senator, I have no wish for it. I have been long since sick of public life, and the only reason why I now contemplated it, is that perhaps I may be of some advantage to you whenever the subject of your purchases should come before the legislature. If you think otherwise, I wish you to inform me as soon as possible, that I may prevent any measures now taking to bring me forward at the next election for this office. I am not certain that with all the exertion of my friends I should be able to obtain the election, but I shall not even attempt it unless I have your particular permission therefor.

La Roche is dead, and those who have any connection with Mrs. Van Burkell’s property, wrapt up under his name, may now perhaps find it difficult to obtain it. He died in the West Indies.

I had a small conversation with Mr. Merrick at Hallowell, but he was so button’d up that I obtain’d but little from him. What I did, I must give you at some future time.

I am, dear sir, with esteem

Your obedient servant

David Cobb

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 1 September 1800 [CP]428

Philadelphia September 1 1800

Dear General:

I have received your letter of the 23d August from Boston from whence I observe you meant to proceed to the counties of Worcester and Hampshire with a view of engaging settlers from that district, where I flatter myself your exertions will be attended with success.

I have attentively perused the instructions given to Dr. Cony, which very minutely describe the duties you wish him to perform. For the present, my views extend no further than having several townships surveyed into farm lots, ready for the operations of settlement, whenever a systematic plan should be formed for that purpose, and to have some person engaged on or near the premisses, who might superintend and have the inspection of the same, that there might not exist any longer an appearance of a neglect or a dereliction of the property. I am fearfull that Dr. Cony may construe your instructions in too extensive a point of view, as you authorize him to sell lands to settlers on credit and make roads, as well as adopt whatever additional measures he may think will have the interest of the proprietors in view and are conformable to those you have detailed. Now as Dr. Cony does not appear, from the opinions you have impressed me with, to possess those qualities requisite for an extensive undertaking of this nature, I think it would be improper to commit too much to his management, which might flatter him with expectations, in which he would not be gratified, and instead of a friend, he might from such disappointment, become an enemy. He is fully capable of having the townships surveyed, which I should prefer being done by contract, and which is the most ceconomical as well as usual mode of effecting that business in the Kennebec district. The price of doing which, being ascertained, and the amount of the stipend to be allowed to him for his services, an exact account of the expences attending the arrangement would be known, which is highly desireable and even necessary, when I have funds to so small an extent that I can possibly devote to such an operation. I wish therefore that in your communications with Dr. Cony you would so manage the business as to conform as nearly as possible to the ideas I now express on the subject. Your instructions to him are very full and explicit and extremely well calculated for the commencement of very active measures with regard to extensive settlements, but this is not at present my object, as I cannot provide the funds for the purpose. I only wish to place the property in a favorable point of view, that I may have an opportunity of engaging monied men in the purchase, at such a rate, as may in some measure compensate for the immense advances I have made for so long a period, and the actual difference in the value of money betwixt the present time and that when the purchase was effected from the State.

Are you capable of forming an opinion on the subject of a sale to any of the great capitalists in Boston, Salem or any other of the commercial towns of New England? I would not make an offer, except there was a probability of its being accepted, which would essentially depend upon the sentiments that are generally entertained of the progressive value and increasing population of the country. If all hopes fail me on this score, I must then have again recourse to an European market, where at present American lands are in great discredit, but when necessity presses, it is natural to expect great sacrifices must be made.

I observe you have had a conversation with Mr. Merrick, but you do not communicate the result. I had entertained a very favorable opinion of his capacity for the execution of a plan of this nature, from the specimen I possessed of his practical ideas, communicated in a letter which I received from him, copy of which I forwarded to you. It certainly requires a man of very great experience, and extensive range of thought, who is well acquainted with human nature, to succeed in such an undertaking. I have no further knowledge of Mr. Merrick than that which I have obtained from the perusal of his letter, joined to the favorable opinions impressed upon me by his brother in law, Mr. John Vaughan, who has repeatedly conversed with me on this subject.

But at any rate, and whatever the extent of his talents for such an operation, the period has not arrived, when such a person could be engaged for an active scene of employment, as the present steps in this business are only of a preliminary nature.

With respect to the object of your election as a senator of Massachusetts, I cannot see any serious objections to the measure, which will not be counterbalanced by those of an opposite tendency. At the season when the legislature meets, which is usually in winter, no active operations are at that period taking place in the District, with regard to settlement or improvement, and the affairs of the store can be so regulated as to experience no injury from your absence.

When our pretensions on the score of expence and exertion are to be considered by the legislature, as relative to the settlement of the lands, with a view of being exonerated from the claim of settling duties, your knowledge of these circumstances and your influence on the occasion, will be of essential service, and when it is considered that others have obtained the relinquishment of this demand on the part of the State, and that no instance can be produced of such large monied expenditures, I flatter myself that there can be no doubt of success. I sincerely wish that the period had arrived when it would be prudent to solicit this favor from the legislature, as one half of the deeds are in an awkward situation, whilst held in escrow.

I think you may be usefull in another essential point of view, whilst occupying a seat in the legislature. The reputation of our lands has been very much injured from their unfortunate local situation, being placed in a corner of the Union, and not exposed to the inspection of but a few persons who casually visit them. The information necessary to fix their value must therefore be received from men of character and intelligence who reside on them. From the intercourse you will naturally have with the various characters which compose the legislature from the different districts of the State, you will have an opportunity of making an impression highly favorable to our lands, by giving a faithful account of the soil, climate and situation of the country, and of its resources in a commercial point of view, which will not be evidenced to the fullest extent, untill the return of peace and an unmolested trade to Europe and the West Indies.

I have spoken to Mr. Baring on the subject of an additional credit on Mr. Codman and he has agreed to open one for $2,000. I had really flattered myself that these heavy expences would have been at this period of time supported by the sales and resources of our lands, but I find we must wait still longer for this desireable state of things.

A Handbill used by Cobb and Richards in one of their many attempts to promote a boom in Maine Lands

I shall address this letter to you at Boston under the care of Mr. Codman, who I shall request to forward it to you, in case you should have taken your departure for Gouldsborough.

I hope to have the pleasure of hearing from you on your return from the interior counties of Massachusetts, when I flatter myself you have succeeded in your efforts. I shall thank you to forward to me all communications from Dr. Cony, as it is highly interesting that I should be acquainted with every circumstance, relative to those lands, which can lead to a more perfect knowledge of them, and which will furnish means of disposing of them to the best advantage. Hitherto I have not had an opportunity of selling them for the price they cost, including interest, but I confidently hope that a favorable change will take place.

I am with sincere regard

Dear General

Your obedient servant and friend

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb


Cobb to Bingham, Boston, 19 September 1800 [BP]429

Boston September 19th. 1800

Dear Sir:

On the 10th instant I returned to this place from my tour to the western counties, when Mr. Codman handed me your letter of the 1st. instant. In this tour thro’ the counties of Worcester, Hampshire and part of Middlesex and Essex on the Merrimack adjoining to the State of New Hampshire, I have been much pleas’d with the general good opinion entertain’d by the inhabitants of the eastern country; and the present rage of emigration, particularly from the county of Worcester, on the Merrimack and in New Hampshire, is for the District of Maine. This emigration is now filling, with great rapidity the tract between the Kennebeck and Penobscot, and on the Penobscot River, and in some instances has reach’d the western line of our tract. Settlers for our tract may now be obtain’d in numbers by proper encouragement; and in a short period the western part of the tract, especially towards the north, will be overun with them.

I shall this day embark on my return to Gouldsboro’, where I hope to arrive by Sunday next, and I must refer you to my next letter for answers to your several letters that have been receiv’d. I shall pay due attention to your several requests. My conversations with Cony impressed him with all the caution and œconomy you have mentioned, and within three days past I have wrote to him repeating the same ideas, agreeably to your wishes, and inclosed him 200 dollars for his use.

You will see our advertisement in the Centinel. It is likewise inserted in the Worcester and Portsmouth papers, and hand bills of the same are scatter’d thro’ the country.430

I am, dear sir, with due respect

Your obedient servant

David Cobb

Cony to Cobb, Augusta, 17 October 1800 [CP]

Augusta 17. October 1800

(Burgoyne’s Anniversary)

The Honorable David Cobb, Esquire

Dear Sir:

Since writing to you 27 ultimo I have made a thorough-tour up the Kennebec to see and confer with the settlers, to advise and direct our surveyor, to explore the country and ascertain the best direction to open a road, and generally to obtain more correct information on the subject of operations which are now progressing conformably to your instructions to me of the 15th August last.

1st. The settlers. They are about 40 in number interspersed along the banks of the river about 7 miles from the south line. A considerable portion of the lots now occupied were improved on before 1784, part of which were laid out for settlers by the Plymouth Company. They had the promise of 200 acres each. Those appeared obstinate and determined to hold 200 acres, agreeable to a former survey, or quarrel with us. Of this description there are only 6 or 8, some of whom I have accomodated by allowing a lot to one of their sons who has now become a settler. I found it a source of much difficulty, and endeavoured to reason with them on the subject. I read to them the contract between the government and Mr. Bingham (which fortunately I had with me). I admonished them against a proceedure which inevitably must involve them in difficulty; told them my object and business was not to abridge, but to confirm them in their rights, and to arrange things so as to have them become freeholders; that the government in no instance contemplated settlers having more than 100 acres, and that Mr. Bingham was a gentleman of the strictest honour. As a pledge of that it was sufficient that I appeared as his agent; that they knew and had heard too much of my character to believe me capable of undertaking any business for the government or for an individual, where the object was not honorable, and the pursuit laudable; but fortunately Mr. Bingham, the proprietor and owner of this tract of country, had other and better testimonials: his character stood high in the annals of our country; that he now filled with reputation one of the highest offices the state of Pensylvania had to confer; that no consideration would induce him to swurve from a line of conduct that would be deemed honorable and proper; that he had expended a large sum of money in the purchase, and must still be at great expence in opening roads and bringing forward the settlement which was now the object contemplated; that they might be assured the contract on his part as it respected them (the settlers) would be honorably complied with; and that nothing more they had a right or ought to expect. These observations and others appeared to produce conviction but not satisfaction. These effects however I have some reason to believe were greater than might have been expected on the minds of a description of people who will always be found on the margin of a new country. I indulge an expectation of an amicable settlement with all of them except 4 or 5. Your opinion and advice on this part of the business I have to request.

2d. Our surveyor. I found him proceeding in the business assigned him. He will no doubt compleat two townships (the lotting) this season, probably by the middle of November, to wit, Nos. one and two, east side the river adjoining the south line,431 which I was induced to expect would find as ready a sale and settlement as any part of the tract. A further survey of the one or two townships on the west of the river I have in contemplation and which probably shall be able to effect early next spring. Several enquiries and applications for lots have been made, but the idea of one dollar per acre for the first settlers to pay is generaly considered to high. They tell me Mr. Vaughan and some others offer better terms in those townships east of the Million Acres and south of the Pasquatiquis, to wit, at 4/ and 4/6 per acre. Quere: would it not be for the interest of our proprietor, Mr. B., under existing circumstances, to let the first 15 or 20 in each township who shall actually settle have one lot at 75 cents per acre, whence probably we shall be able to turn the current of emmigration? On this head you will also please to advise me.

3rd. On the subject of opening a public road. On this head I am much gratified, having discovered a rout that more than equals any anticipations. On my return from the Million Acres I cam thro’ the woods being determined to render my journey as useful to Mr. B. as possible. I did not parley with trifling difficulties or fatigue. The result was I found the situation of the country highly favourable for a road, and particularly nearly in the direction we could wish. This road will pass thro’ two townships owned by Colonel Barnard432 and others from whom and the settlers I expect aid in opening the road which will shorten the distance into the two townships we have now lotting 12 miles, when compared with the circuitous, serpentine and savage rout now travelled. I shall have it looked-out and spotted this fall before the snow falls, and take measures by a contract to have it cleared open and rendered passable the next season, being an object of the first concern, connected with future operations. This road will leave the town of Canaan at Skowhegan Falls, pass thro’ east part of Barnards No. 1, on the east side a considerable pond which emptieth into Wesserunsett, continuing thro’ No. 1 in 2nd range adjoining Binghams tract, strikes the south line of Million Acres about 3 miles east of the river, and thence inclining a little more westerly, so as to strike the river below Austin’s Stream, which you will readily perceive by casting your eye on the plan, will be a very direct straight rout. The distance from Canaan to the settlement below Austin’s Stream will be about 22 miles instead of 36, the rout now travelled.433

4th Situation of the country, quallity of soil, etc. It really appeared mountainous, and hilly, tho’ most of the south part of the tract I presume to be capable of settlement. The little intervale on the river is taken up by the settlers, and the mountains in near are high and steep. After passing over those highths, the situation appeared better. Our surveyor fell in with horrid haricanes which retarded his progress very much, the forest some years since being swept to the ground.

I have not time to ad. Be assured that my best exertions shall be employed to bring forward the various operations that shall from time to time be deemed proper, and as far as practicable promote the objects submitted.

Believe me, dear sir,

With sentiments of respect and esteem

Your obedient servant

Daniel Cony

Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 5 November 1800 [CP]434

Gouldsboro’ November 5th. 1800

Dear Sir:

Immediately after my return from Boston I found it necessary to visit our new setlement, Mariaville, on the Union River, where I remain’d for some time to push forward the contractor, who had been delitory, so as to secure the dam and mills against the approaching winter, and to have them so far compleated as to be ready for business in the spring. This I hope I have effected, and this must be my apology for not giving you a letter agreeably to my promise in my last of September 19th. from Boston. Indeed, out of the six weeks since I left Boston, I have been four of them in the woods. When I was at Mariaville I had the country reconoitred from thence to Penobscot River, and the distance is not more than fourteen miles, and but eight to a settlement made this year at the south east corner of Eddy’s Town, No. 10,435 from which there is a road to the river, so that we have only eight miles of road to make to have a communication from our settlement to the Penobscot.

Inclosed you have a copy of Doctor Coney’s last communication. The one of the 27th of September which he mentions was only acknowledging the receipt of the 200 dollars which I remitted him from Boston. On the two subjects which the Doctor wishes advise, I have to request your directions. Since I am on the subject of the Kennebeck lands, I will relate, as far as my memory serves me, the conversation I had with Mr. Merrick when I was last there, but I must request that it remains with you a profound secret, as your communications do with me relatively to him. When I call’d upon him, I inform’d him that you was contemplating a system for the improvement of your Million Acres on the Kennebec, and that you had in one of your late letters requested me, whenever I came this way, to call and converse with him on the subject; and if a system should be adopted, whether he would probably be at leasure to undertake the execution of it, and what he would consider as an adequate return for his services. He answer’d, by relating that his brother John Vaughan, when he was there the last year, convers’d with him about your lands, and that he had receiv’d a letter from you, after Vaughan’s return, requesting his opinion of the best mode for bringing forward the tract into a state of settlement, that he had communicated a plan for that purpose, but that he had heard nothing of it since (he related this I thought with some temper, as if he had been disappointed in not being imploy’d after he had communicated his plan); that he had never contemplated any fix’d salary or stipend for his services; that his plan would be to take by contract five or six townships on the southern line of the tract—more he would not undertake—and operate upon them, in surveying the townships into lots, cutting roads, building mills and bringing on 20 or 30 families upon each township, as may be agreed upon; the proprietor to make all the advances; and at the close of the contract he and the proprietor were equally to divide the remaining lands and the amount that had been receiv’d for the sale of any of the lands, he repaying one half of the advances that had been made. He places his time, trouble and personal expences against the first purchase of the soil. Of this however I am not positively certain. He may repay his proportion of the first purchase as he does of the advances, and I think interest is not to be allow’d in any case. My answer was that I did not know but that this mode of conducting the business might be as agreeable to you as any other, but that I presum’d, as you had heretofore proceeded in a different manner, you would still prefer fixing a stipend for his services as you had done with me and others. He answer’d that he would not undertake to settle a new country for any body on any other terms than what he had mentioned, and that he was then in treaty with a person who was an owner of 2 or 3 townships, whose answer he expected in the course of a month, and if he engaged with him it would be out of his power to have any concern with your lands. In the course of the conversation I inform’d him that Dr. Coney had been appointed by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth to number the settlers on the Kennebeck purchase agreeably to your contract with the government, by which likewise you was obliged to run out all settlers lots that were on the lands, and as I had lately receiv’d your directions to have this business compleated, I had call’d upon Dr. Cony, and conceiving it would be attended with œconomy, when running the settlers lots, to have the townships on which they resided run at the same time, I had directed the Doctor accordingly. Merrick highly approv’d of the plan and thought it of the first consequence that all such rubbish as settlers rights etc. should be adjusted before any serious operations are commenced upon the tract. After this information, I could perceive that a burthen was remov’d from his mind, and he convers’d with more freedom; but he still persisted in the assertion, that he never would undertake to settle a new country upon any other terms than what he had before mentioned, as he was determin’d to have a full share of what was the work of his own hands.

Your letter of the 5th. August inclosing C. Vaughans was at my house when I returned from Boston. I saw Vaughan at Boston who told me he had your directions to call upon me for assistance in cutting a road near the Kennebeck lands. I told him I would not contribute a farthing, that we had business of that kind enough of our own. The truth is the Vaughan’s want this road to accomodate some townships they are concern’d with, and for their own conveniency. It may probably run within five miles or perhaps three of your lands. The Academy Township, which is No. 4 on your little map directly adjoining the s. east corner of your tract is theirs, and No. 3 is Copstown, in which I likewise suspect they are concern’d, so that by Vaughan’s own stating this road of his will only run 6 or 8 miles in front of your tract and from 3 to 5 miles distant therefrom. The rest of it goes off east thro’ townships in which they are interested and comes out at Bangor, which is No. 1 of 2d range in your little map, on Penobscot River. This road is of so little advantage to you at present that I am at a loss to conjecture upon what principles Mr. Vaughan could have call’d upon you for assistance; and if the road Dr. Cony proposes to cut should be compleated, he cannot with any propriety ask of you a contribution of any consequence on the score of your lands being benefited by his road. If he had requested of you 100 dollars it would have been modest, but to ask for 500, he might as well have requested a sufficiency for the whole road. If you are disposed to contribute any thing, I should think that 100 dollars would be generous ’till the road comes within your tract, and then you will naturally bear a larger portion of the expence. You will have roads to make to come out from your tract by and by, when I will warrant that not a man among them will contribute a shilling to assist you in the business.

You have frequently expressed your anxiety for an application to the legislature to obtain a remission of the settling duty etc. I have certainly heretofore given you my opinion on this subject, that it was your interest not to make the application ’till the expiration of the 12 years stipulated in the contract as the ultimate period for settlers to be placed on the lands, as it is probable by that time the public mind will be so completely possess’d of the magnitude of your ex[er]tions and expenditures, and of your steady perseverence in the best measures for settling the country, that if you then should fall short of the number of settlers as stipulated for, it would be considered as occasioned by circumstances of such a nature as human foresight and exertions could not controle, and that any member of the government who should wish a forfeiture from you under such circumstances would be dispis’d. But if I was rightly inform’d by some country member of the House on my late visit to the westward that a motion was made at the last May sessions for an inquiry into the state of your contract with the government, and which for want of time was referr’d to the next winter session, you will have this business bro’t forward sooner than I could have wished it.

I have frequently convers’d on this subject with a great variety of characters, many of whom are now in the legislature, and they have in every instance given it as their decided opinion that if you can fairly shew that you have expended in your exertions for settling this country, the amount of the sum contemplated as the forfeiture on failure of settlement, that government will never demand a shilling, even if one half the number of settlers are deficient; but on the contrary, they are equally decided, that every shilling will be demanded. This opinion you must be sensible has been mine for some time past, and I am certain it is your interest to view it in a similar light.

From the best information I can obtain you will not succeed in the sale of any of your lands among the capatalists of New England, or at least among those east of Connecticut. How you may succeed there I am not able to say.

I will endeavour to give you another letter in the course of a post or two, when I will further notice the several subjects you have requested in your different letters.

I am dear sir with esteem


D. C.

H. Jackson to Cobb, Boston, 5 November 1800 [CP]

Boston November 5. 1800

and November 8

My old Friend:

I received your favor of the 24 October by the packet. Captain Talbot has been a lodger in our house for several weeks. I communicated to him that part of your letter wherein you mention your son, to which he appeared well disposed. Henry, after having been on board about 3 or 4 weeks, made us a visit for a day or two to obtain some articles he was in want of. He returned on board again yesterday. I directed him to write you by the return of the packet, and enclose you Mr. Callenders bill, and an account of the articles Mr. Barney Smith had supplied him with, also a memorandum of every article of cloathing etc. that he took on board with him, which he promised me to do, but I have my doubt on this head. I at the same time impress’d his mind, that after this equipment that you expected that his pay would be fully sufficient to support him in his present station, and in order to effect that desirable object, he must be very carefull of his cloathing and in the expenditure of his money, and to œconomize and be prudent in every instance. I learn from some of the officers that he was attentive and active while on board and gave great satisfaction.

I observed the advertisement you allude to respecting the defaulting in the taxes on the Ohio shares and until then I had supposed that some person was directed by me to attend to that business. On the 2d of October I wrote to my friend who resides at Marietta to immediately pay all the tax’s due on your and my shares, and to draw on me at sight for the amount, and I calculate by the 10th of this month to receive the draft with the information that the tax’s are paid.436

Mrs. Archbold received the two barrels of potatoes, and is highly gratified for them.

Yesterday was a high electioneering day particularly in this town, the Fed’s in the support of Mr. Quincy, and the Repub in favor of our friend Doctor Eustis—and so great exertions were never made on the like occasion and indeed on any other. The voters exceeded four hundred more than was ever known to be given in the town. I suppose that near one thousand of the votes were illegal. Altho’ Quincy had a small majority in this town, yet Eustis is choosen in the district by a majority of two hundred and upwards.

I enclose some of the last papers with your friend Hamiltons letter to Mr. Adams, with a short reply said to be written by N. Webster.437 Mr. H. has done it for himself in the estimation of all honest and good men. I expect he will be handled without mittens by all the friends of Mr. Adams, and the supports of his administration. By the papers you will observe that our Commissioners in France have sign’d a treaty with that Republic,438 and the Commissioners are hourly expected to arrive on the Continent. This it is hoped will have a happy and pleasing effect on the minds of all parties in our country, and be the means of reconsiling all interests into one great family of harmony and peace.

Our friend General Knox proposed to be here this evening to take his seat in the legislature on Tuesday next, but by a letter I received from him a few days since, he wrote me he was much afflicted with a severe rheumatism, which he was apprehensive would detain him at St. Georges. However I little expect him this evening in the Portsmouth stage, as I think a good jolt may be of service to his fat and heavy carcase. On some accounts I wish him here, as he proposes to come without his heavy baggage, but I believe he contemplates at the January term to take up the line of march with his whole garrison, light and heavy baggage, and take quarters for the winter in the capital. Of this I am not in the secret. I learn it through another channel. It is well known that my opinion and wish are contrary to this movement, it being attended with an enormous expence, without the least advantage whatever, and liable to unpleasant observation from those who daily experience disappoint [ment] in his non compliance with his engagements. As it respects myself every thing remains as it has done for some time, and I frequently doubt whether I feel or act as I ought in my present situation. I am really at a loss to know what is best to be done. I am fully satisfied he will do all and every thing that is in his power that I can reasonablely wish or ask of him. I assure you my dear friend I am press’d down with the weight and heavy burthens of this unhappy concern, and every year I find my self less able to bear up under it. It is a source of much thought and anxiety. Mr. B. still continues to refuse the payment of my draft, but I am determined never to give up this object until I have justice done me. This business shall not long rest in its present situation. To my last letter which was dat’d September 28 I have not as yet received any answer. I intend writing him again in a few days, and know from him what are his final determinations. All our friends are well and are going on in the good old way which I expect they will follow to their graves, eating, drinking, sleeping, and praying. If Eustis is not too much taken up, he will write you. Remember me kindly to Mr. Richards, and believe me

Very sincerely your friend

H. Jackson

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 8 November 1800 [CP]439

Philadelphia November 8th 1800

Dear General:

I received your letter of the 19 September dated at Boston and wrote after your return from the western counties, in which you mention the general good opinion which prevails concerning the lands of the eastern country, which I should be happy to see exemplified by a more numerous emigration into that country, especially, after having expended such an immense sum of money in the purchase and improvement of these lands.

I have waited for the letter you promised to write me (in reply to several which I had addressed to you) immediately on your return to Gouldsborough, before I communicate to you any further ideas on the subject of our property, which has become an essential object of my attention.

I suppose you have been prevented by indisposition or urgent business from writing.

I observe that in addition to the $1,500 which you recently drew on Mr. Codman, you have again passed your draft on him for $2,500 more.

This is certainly not consonant to the ideas with which Mr. Baring and myself were impressed when we had our last explanations on the subject of expenditures, but is decidedly in opposition to my views both as relative to personal convenience, as well as calculation with respect to the advantages of such large disbursements in money. I have had sufficient experience on this score to direct my opinions, as I have made my observations on all the great settlements which have been undertaken in this country.

I shall add nothing further at present on the subject than to inform you that I could have saved Mr. Codman’s commission of 2½ per cent etc., if I had been previously informed of this want of these funds and had assented to the supply of them by remitting the amount to the Branch Bank, there to be carried to your credit.

The success of the New England commerce has been such as to have greatly increased the monied capital of their country. I do not observe that our Maine Lands have begun to attract the attention of these capitalists. I wrote you before on this subject.

I am with regard

Dear General

Your obedient humble servant

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb


Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 17 November 1800 [CP]440

Gouldsboro’ November 17th. 1800

William Bingham, Esquire

Dear Sir:

In reviewing the rough copy of my last letter of the 5th. instant, I suspect I have omitted in that letter the following, which is the last part of that paragraph in which I mention the subject of applying to the legislature for a remission of the settling duty, and comes in directly after these words “who should wish a forfeiture from you under such circumstances would be dispis’d,” viz., “But if I was rightly inform’d by some country member of the House on my late visit to the westward that a motion was made at the last May sessions for an inquiry into the state of your contract with the government, and which for want of time was referr’d to the next winter session, you will have this business bro’t forward sooner than I could have wished.”

The inclosed is a copy of a letter I receiv’d a few days since. As it might afford you some information for your future directions respecting the Kennebeck lands, at the same time give you a consolation that that property is coming into notice, I have thought it best to communicate it to you. I am not acquainted with the writer, but he was a lawyer at Concord near Boston, and had an appointment of a majority in one of the late disbanded regiments.441

Our packet has just returned from Boston with our supplies and stores for the winter. She is now taking in a cargo of boards and sparrs for Charlestown, South Carolina, where she will remain in the southern coasting for the winter, and for sale if a good market offers. This mode of improving the packet for the winter season, either coasting at the southward or going to the West Indies, has ever been a favorite measure with me, but thro’ yours or Mr. Barings intimations on this subject I have never been able to effect it, when it is not possible for either of you to be acquainted with the little business of this country by which great profits are to be made. There has not been a winter since we came here, but what we could have made from 2 to 5,000 dollars by the packet, and have had all the property cover’d, but instead of this she must lay at the wharf six months in the year to as much injury as a voyage at sea. By thus imploying the packet and the improvement of the mills (if the prejudice was not so great against them), we should experience returns more than adequate to all your expences in this country, and I am persuaded we never should have lost sight of this as one of the modes of improving of this country if we had not been blinded by theories that are inapplicable to its local situation.

The mills at Mariaville are excellent, and nearly compleated. An establishment is made there for lumbering the present winter, and altho’ every thing is new and from thence a number [of] difficulties must be encounter’d and a greater portion of contingences calculated upon, yet, if we are not deceiv’d in the activity of the principal, we calculate a generous return, in the ensuing season, for the expence of the establishment however large it has been. I think we cannot be deceiv’d, without some great unforseen misfortune, and I sincerely hope that the returns will be so generous as to convince you and others of the propriety and advantage of making like establishments upon all the important streams within the purchase.

I have not heard from Dr. Cony since my last, but as at the close of this season he will naturally present his accounts for payment, it will be necessary for me to be in cash to meet that demand. I shall therefore be under the necessity of drawing upon you in the beginning of next month for 1,000$, 500$ of which I consider as the remaining part of my stipind for this year, agreeably to my wishes express’d to you in my letter of 26th. March last. The other will be for the payment of services done on the Kennebeck, 200$ of which have already been advanced to Dr. Cony, and as he has inform’d by his letter that two townships will be compleated this season, this together with his own services will certainly exceed the 500$. Whatever it does I will take care to provide for.

After the packet is dispatch’d I shall give myself the pleasure of affording you another letter.

I am dear sir etc.


Ross to Cobb, Union River, 19 November 1800 [CP]

Dear Sir:

I have sent by Mr. Fabrique 2½ gallons of honey for Virginia Todd,442 a kegg of butter for Mr. Richards, and your two volumes of Count Rumford. I catched a woodchopper at Langden’s443 the other day who owed your concern about three dollars. I never coud get any thing of him but found his credit good with Langden from whom I took a shawl, which I take the liberty of sending herewith. ’Twill do for Miss P. Cobb444 to ride in this winter. You must forgive me this liberty, and you will add much to my happiness if you can spare me by the return of the vessel the perusal of a few volumes of your books—Campbells tour to India,445 Burnets history of his own times, and any thing you can spare. Sermons I make for myself. My best wishes attend you all, and believe me to be

With much respect and esteem

Dear sir

Your most obedient servant

Don Ross

Honorable D. Cobb, Esquire

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 24 November 1800 [CP]446

Philadelphia, November 24 1800

Dear General:

I have received your favor of the 5 November inclosing a communication from Dr. Cony of the 17th October in which he mentions that he had recently made a visit to the Kennebec tract, with a view of making arrangements with the settlers and superintending the survey of the two townships which I observe will be compleated in the course of the present season.

I suppose the two townships most eligibly situated for settlement have been selected, and that the lots have been run out in such manner, that the lines can always be found. Dr. Cony mentions that he has in contemplation a further survey of two townships on the west side of the river, which he meant to have undertaken in the spring.

On this point I request you to write him and make known that my views are altogether confined for the present to the surveys that are now making and therefore not to undertake any further operations whatever, especially the cutting of roads or any species of improvement that will involve the disbursment of money, my determination being to involve myself in but very trifling expenditures for this property untill I can procure some cooperation, as well as reimbursment for my heavy advances, by the sale of a portion thereof to some persons who would participate in the expences attending such operations.

I think I have fully explained to you in a former letter my views of this subject, and it would only terminate in disappointment to all parties if I was to attempt any thing further. Such purchases and operations of improvement have their limits and can only be supported by the capitals of joint companies, and not by the confined means of any individual. When I authorized the survey of two townships, I calculated the expence, according to what I find others have paid, who have contracted for similar surveys in the same district, which, added to the allowance to be made to Dr. Cony for his services, would form the full amount of the sum I mean to expend in the present state of things. This prevents the appearance of a dereliction of this property and is placing it in a train for more extensive operations whenever the period shall arrive which may render a more active progress expedient.

Necessity alone has prompted a recourse to the system of settlement which was not embraced within the views of the contract, formed betwixt General Knox and myself when the purchase was effected, it having been a stipulation betwixt the parties that the lands should be sold as early as possible, which was at that time deemed the most eligible mode of liquidating the business.

I hope the expences you have made for Mariaville settlement will induce settlers to resort there and that they will undertake the road to Eddys Township and receive land in exchange therefor, if such road should be necessary. We must resort exclusively to such measures of ceconomy as will obtain our ultimate object, without the advance of money. Whenever our pretensions to be released from the payment of the settling duties come forward, expenditures made thro’ the medium of a commutation of lands for labor, will count equally with money expended, as it is immaterial in what manner the payments are effected.

The legislature will always make allowance for a great proportion that will be expended on the lower tract, which by being further removed from settlements, requires more expence and exertions.

Besides, as this tract is a frontier, it must be more desireable to pay attention to its settlement.

With respect to Mr. Merricks prospects, they are of such a nature as in the present state of this property would be inadmissable. Besides they would involve great difficulties in a future liquidation, from being of so complicated a nature. Such an arrangement might better suit a concern of a few townships, and might under certain modifications, not be ineligible.

It is not worth while to enter into any explanations with Mr. Merrick at the present moment, as matters are not ripe for the commencement of active operations.

I am sorry to find it your opinion that there is no prospect of disposing of these lands to any of the New England capitalists. I had flattered myself that a few years experience of the quality of the soil, from the productions thereof and the reports of settlers, would have prompted a disposition to make investments therein, and that they would prefer making purchases in their own neighbourhood, rather than trust to the delusive representations of southern lands, from which they have already so essentially suffered.

In regard to Dr. Cony’s arrangements with the old settlers, I think he had better satisfy the 4 or 5 persons who hold out, rather than have any discontented persons, who may be disposed to make disturbances. He may so manage the business as to have the appearance of taking an equivalent for the excess of the quantity of land, beyond what their rights extend to, in labor or produce, so as not to form, by the settlement he makes with them, a plea which the other settlers may attempt to avail themselves of.

I think it might contribute to the encouragement of settlers to introduce upon the lands 15 or 20 at the easy rate of 75 cents per acre, which Dr. Cony recommends. It is to be noticed that every settler exonerates me from the payment of a settling duty, which is an advantage to a certain extent.

I have viewed on the map the projected road of Dr. Cony, which will pass thro’ the property of other persons, 15 miles at least of the distance contemplated, which I observe to be 22 miles. They will be proportionably benefited, and whenever the road shall be carried into effect, they should contribute their equitable share. He does not mention at what rate it could be contracted for, which would be a guide to my decision at any future period.

You were perfectly right in refusing to contribute to Vaughan’s road, under existing circumstances. I referred the application to you and am not disappointed in the result. Your superior judgment and local knowledge could suggest reasons for not complying with his request, which would not have occurred to me. I have subscribed small sums for laying out several roads in this state, but in no instance where my property was not evidently and essentially benefited.

I shall endeavor to make a remittance to Mr. Codman in a few days, for one half of the $2,500 which you and Mr. Richards drew on him.

I expect the letters you promised me, in further reply to the objects referred to in my recent letters addressed to you, and am with sincerity and regard

Dear General

Your obedient humble servant

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb


Ross to Cobb, Union River, 2 December 1800 [CP]

Union River 2d December 1800

Dear Sir:

I had the honor of your esteemed favor of the 26th ultimo by Mr. Fabrique. The Mariaville frigate has got into the river, tho’ neither the great Bonaparte or my Scotch friends have yet announced themselves; and a certain Je ne scai quoi of the gums, occasioned by a memorandum on the back of your letter, has not yet been appeased. I will pay attention to your directions respecting the Mariaville store.447

The mill business I have seen executed according to your instructions and have herewith sent your part of the agreement. You will pardon me for mentioning one or two remarks that occurred to me on perusal of the writings previous to their execution, and mentioned to Mr. Peters in presence of Mr. Fabrique. Shoud Messrs. Peters and Pond448 hold the mill long enough to answer their purposes and decline demanding a deed from you, and refuse paying the purchase money agreeably to contract, how can they be compelled? Ought there not to have been notes of hand or bonds for the different payments and on stamped paper? Or shoud the mill by any fatality be destroyed, vizt., by fire or freshets before Messrs. Peters and Pond can have any benefit from her, will it not open a door for litigation?449 I have thought it my duty to mention this to you, not confiding in my own opinion as right, but to give you an opportunity of revolving the subject in your own mind.

What I conceive to be my duty I hope will never be a trouble especially when so politely urged as your request to explain the logg prosecution. I must confess that I had not before rightly comprehended your request. If I have not now, I will subscribe Numbhead. Upon each suit commenced and settled by me the cost of suit was calculated at nine dollars, which was included in the notes they gave for the timber rent. Of the whole number prosecuted only two remain from whom nothing has been obtained either for rent or costs, vizt., old Nathaniel Smith and one eyed Benjamin Smith. The subjoined list of those prosecuted will further elucidate the matter.450

There is nothing new here. The river is about shutting up. My friend the Major has been much reduced. I hope he’s on the mending hand. The cruel unrelenting hand of some blood thirsty murderers has been on my poor innocent Romeo, poor pussy. My Romeo is gone, he is no more. Monkies, us [?]451 do not rejoice, and Fidele stay at home, nor trust the haunts of the boor.

Mine and my wifes best respects attend you and your good family at all times, and believe me to be particulary [sic]

Dear sir, with much respect and esteem

Your much obliged humble servant

Donald Ross

I have got no more butter neither can I at present hear of any.

I had a letter from Colonel Hunewell lately who makes warm and kind inquiries of you and family, and also of Mr. Richards.

Honorable David Cobb, Esquire

Cobb to Ross, Gouldsborough, 10 December 1800 [CP]

Gouldsboro’ December 10th. 1800

Dear Ross:

Your favour of the 2d instant per post duely came to hand. I hope the Mariaville frigate has safely landed her cargo, that you have been gratified with a taste of her fruit, and that your mental appetite is feasting on your countrymen and the Frenchman.452

I am obliged by your kind intimations respecting the validity of our agreement with Peters and Pond, but I presume it is as good against them as a bond or notes on stamp’d paper, and the estate is as secure to us as a mortgage could make it. If the mills in their possession suffers by fire or freshets, it is there loss. If they have property without them to make good their agreement with us—and this would be the case if we held their bonds and a mortgage—indeed I know of no instrument more perfect and secure. Our promises of performance are mutual. We promise that we will deed upon such conditions; they promise that they will comply with those conditions. If they do not, they are liable to be sued for non performance and so they would be if we held their stamp’d notes if they did not pay them. This mode of agreement was form’d by one of the first lawyers in Boston, and I do not see but it is compleatly secure.

I drop a tear for poor Romeo. When Fabrique went from here I requested him to inform the Major453 that if he had not yellow eyes and his bowels were in good order, to take a tea spoonfull of your tincture of the bark two or three times in a day in part of a glass of wine, and to drink Port wine and water or your claret and water for his common drink and to eat meat brothes without the fat upon them. He is reduced too low. He wants braising with animal diet, if he has an appetite. Perhaps the cold weather will benefit him. It is extreamly difficult to proscribe for a person without seeing him.

Your return of the lumber chops [?] is right. Monk and Fidelia are well and in good spirits, but like their master they confine themselves to the house in cold weather; and the rest of our four ledged [sic] and two legged animals with your humble servant, are in their usual health and spirits, with a plenty of beef, hog and poultry, sausages, cyder and some little rum which God grant may be the happy portion of you and the Major and every body at Union River and every where else, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

D. C.

Cobb to Bingham, Gouldsborough, 10 December 1800 [CP]454

Gouldsboro’ December 10th. 1800

William Bingham, Esquire

Dear Sir:

By the last mail I receiv’d your letter of the 8th. ultimo in which you made some observations on our late draft for 2,500 dollars and which exceeds our credit on Mr. Codman about 1,500. I assure you it was with the greatest pain and reluctance that we did it, and nothing short of a real loss of property to the concern could have induced it; and I persuade myself that on your being acquainted with our reasons for it, you will amply justify us in making the draft. On my return from the westward, as I have heretofore inform’d you, I visited our emprovements on the Union River, where I remain’d for some time, during which, as the season was advancing, it became necessary to determine the manner in which the new mills were to be occupied during the ensuing winter and spring. Our contractor had frequently intimated his willingness to take the mills when finish’d on the usual custom of the country, and indeed we had depended upon him, altho’ nothing decisive had taken place. (This custom is, the owner of the mills finds the oxen and their forage for the winter, chains, sleads, etc. The tenant is at the expence of all the labour in taking care of the oxen, gitting logs and sawing them into boards. Then the owner and tenant equally divide the boards that are made. This custom is equally advantageous when the business is persued with activity.) In conversing with him now, I found he was ready to engage in the mills, but as the object was so great, requiring eight additional hired hands to his family, he inform’d us he could not undertake it without our advances to him, as it was not in his power to procure provisions and stores for so large a family and the necessary supplies to the families of some of his labourers during the winter. After my return from the mills, Mr. Richards and myself frequently revolv’d this subject in our minds, and at last we were reduced to this alternative, either to let these mills remain a dead capital for the year, which will have cost sixteen hundred dollars, with the addition of three or four hundred dollars more for a salary to some person to reside there, to prevent the accidental or wilfull distruction of the whole property, or to advance fifteen hundred dollars in provisions and stores, with a moral certainty of its repayment next summer with the addition of 25 per cent, and with almost as great certainty of receiving as the nett proceeds of the mills, from 1,000 to 1,500 dollars more. On this view of the subject we determin’d to make the draft and justify ourselves hereafter, rather than sacrifice so much property of the concern. As the winter was approaching and our packet was just then sailing for Boston, for the last time this year, and to return here immediately with supplies for our store for the winter, you will readily perceive that there was not time to give you that previous notice by which you could have remitted to Boston so as [to] meet our wants. I please myself with the idea that after viewing this state of facts, the subject that was so disagreeable to you before, will meet your full approbation; and I anticipate such ample returns during the next season as cannot fail of making you doubly satisfied with our proceedings in this case.

Some time since you observ’d that Mr. Baring had express’d to you that sum I had charged for having his deeds recorded, which was 68$, he thought rather too extravigant. Mr. Baring will recollect that in his letter to me and in his conversation with me here on the subject of his deeds, he particularly enjoin’d it that they must be sent to the different offices by some confidential person who was to remain ’till they were recorded and return with them here; for this purpose I employ’d my son, as I inform’d you by letter at that time, to whom I gave two dollars per day and his expences (about the usual price for the labour of lumbermen in this country). He was sixteen days on the business, at Machias and Castine. The Register’s fees at the two offices were 25½ dollars on Mr. Baring deeds for which I hold these receipts. You had some small deeds recorded at the same time, and I made a proportionate distribution of the expence as I then conceiv’d to be just and right, and I charged neither to you or him any thing more than I really paid. I am unhappy that an idea should be entertain’d to the contrary.

Our packet sail’d the 6th instant for Charlestown, South Carolina, with a load of boards and sparrs. The Captain after the freighting season is over, has orders to sell her if a good market offers. We have wrote to Boston for insurance. If she should return here in the spring, I hope we shall have your permission to employ her in transporting our lumber to the West Indies, by which means we shall be enabled to continue any additional operations you may think necessary for the emprovement of this country without any further addition to our funds.

The provisions and stores for Mariaville have gone round from this to Union River some time since, and unless the river is frozen up, they have arrived at the settlement.

By the next weeks mail I shall forward to Boston my draft on you for one thousand dollars, as mentioned in my letter of the 17th ultimo, which I hope you will honor.

I have no further information from Dr. Cony, only thro’ my son in law Mr. Wilde at Hallowell, on whom I gave the Doctor a small credit. He has used a little of it, but I weekly expect his accounts. You must have observ’d in my instructions to Dr. Cony that I have not fixed any stipend for his services, but have left him to charge what he should think is an equivalent for them, altho I am sensible you have intimated your wish to have it otherwise; but being persuaded this mode will be far less expensive to you, ’till you establish a permanent system, I have adopted it. I presume that the Doctor’s account for his services this year will not much exceed 100 dollars. This would certainly have been too trifling to have offer’d him as a stipend, yet in the form of an account he will consider it as an ample return for his attention. In estimating the amount of your expence at the Kennebeck this year I have no other data than Cony’s last letter, wherein he mentions that the surveyors will finish two townships this fall. If this is done, it will probably amount to near 500 dollars, and the other expences for reconoitering for a road etc. with his own services cannot exceed from 150 to 200 dollars. I think you may calculate that the whole amount will not be more than between 6 and 700 dollars.

I omitted to mention that we are at no expence for the navigation of the packet, as she sails upon shares. Our only expence is the risk of the vessel and a part of the portage charges.

[No signature]

Daniel Greely to Cobb and Richards, St. Stephens, 10 December 1800 [CP]455

Saint Stephens December 10th 1800

Honourd Gentalmen:

I take the libety to wright to you in forming you that the peaple in this place and Machias have a mied [mind?] for a road throw from the Uper Mills hear in this Scouduck River to Machias a crost the hight of the land. The distance is 35 m., and the road as it now goess is uperds of 60 miels, and as bad as bad can bee and never can be much better but a crost this way. Thair can be as good a road as any in this cuntery and cuts of half the distence.456 I in formed the inhapetence of this place that Id some little acquantence with you gentalmen and wood under take the bisness if you wood give any thing in reason for douing of it. The lands thay tell me excead any in this cuntery for butey and goodness, and thir air sevrel in this place and Machias that wood stetle [sic] on them if thair wass but a road throw. The biger part of the peaple that now travel from hear to Machias goes this way. Thay tell me thay heave traveld it in a bout eight hours. Firther moar thay air going to cut aroad throw to St. Johns a coming right out to theas mills. I will in gage to lay out and compleat a road for teams and slays to pass by the fust of September next for any thing in reason and will not ask for any pay till compleated. I wish you to be good enuff to wright to me how it strickes you and if you think fitt, make to [?] me some perposels and I will come and see you and tell you firther about it. I wish you to wright as soon so that I might no how to plane my bisness. I will percuer two good bonsmen for my performence.

So I remember your goodness to me last fall when the Sloop of Conn. [?] left me at your house.

Daniel Greely

[Endorsed by Cobb]

On the subject of a new road from Schoodic to Machias, as only a part of this road passes thro’ our lands, we have promis’d thus far, our proportion of the expence.

Fabrique to Cobb, Ellsworth, 16 December 1800 [CP]

Ellsworth December 16th. 1800


I recived your favour dated the 10th of [torn] month with the invoice of the articles for the store at Mariaville. You observed in your letter that you thought I should have a bad time up the river, which was the case. The vessel did not get round untill Monday the first of the month, and on Tuesday and Wednesday, we was buting the ice and halling up the goods from Mr. Grunt [?].457 On Thursday got a boat load over the falls and set off for Mariaville that night, and Friday night we got to Hapworth458 by brakeing about 3 or 3½ miles of ice that would beare four men to hall the batteau on and brake it down in order for the whale boat to follow, and on Saturday and borroughing Sunday and on Monday and Tuesday we got a [torn] to Webs Brook. Made a good loging sled and three [torn] and brot the oxen down from Webbs Brook, and on Wednesday set off for the [torn] best to cut [torn] road as I had [torn] provisions and axes, etc. on the spot, and it is much wanted as you may see hereafter. I then returned home and sent the rest of the oxen on and I expect they arrived there before the last storm. Expect to set off for the falls in the morning in good health and intend doing everything in my power for the benifit of thoes concerned, at all times. The winds blew and the flud came, beet upon our dam but it stood for it was founded upon a good foundation. But poor Brimmers Dam on Pattons Bay went away by the flud459—a short sketch of a Roberson Cruso voyge.

I am, sir, your obedient humble servant

John Fabrique

General David Cobb

[Postscript torn so badly as to be illegible]

Bingham to Cobb, Philadelphia, 31 December 1800 [CP]

Philadelphia December 31. 1800

Dear Sir:

I have received your two favors of the 17 ultimo and 10 instant. You mention in the former that you had received information from some country member that a motion was made in the legislature for an enquiry into the state of my contract, which for want of time was postponed untill the next session.

I think there must be some mistake on this subject, as I have received no hint of this nature from any other quarter, and surely General Knox, who is a member of the General Court, would have made known to me such an important piece of intelligence.

I always supposed that when I should require the deeds which remained in escrow would be the period when this subject would be agitated, and as I would wish to claim them as soon as possible, I was anxious that the legislature should be properly impressed, so as that a relaxation should take place with respect to their demands. I shall be thankfull to you to take such measures of a preparatory nature as will lead to this result, and by corresponding with General Knox, you will probably be acquainted with the dispositions and views of the legislature, on this subject, should you not become a member of that body, which I understood there was a prospect of your being, at the next election.

I had received a letter of a similar import from the gentleman who wrote you on the subject of the Kennebec tract, and who wished to be employed in that business, but being divested of experience in regard to such operations, and being unacquainted with his private character, he had no claims to any encouragement on my part.

I observe that you have employed the packet in a southern voyage, which you suppose will be very profitable, and which you think would have been always the best destination for her in the winter season. You will recollect that she was originally purchased for the purpose of facilitating the transportation of emigrants and their effects, which was the sole object we had in view, as relative to her establishment, as part of our system. As for employing vessels on trading voyages from Gouldsborough, it is altogether foreign to our purposes, as is everything else that departs from the idea of settling our lands and procuring settlers on them.

Neither can I believe that the settlements are to commence in the neighbourhood of Gouldsborough and progress from that spot. The interior of the lands must be penetrated, by the efforts of those who become the first settlers.

I shall most anxiously wait for the result of the advantages to be derived from the Mariaville settlement, concerning which you are so sanguine. I sincerely hope it will compensate the very heavy sums which have been expended thereon.

With respect to a credit on Mr. Codman, as expressed in your letter of the 10th instant, I always understood that it would not be necessary, but that by the diminution of your expences and the advantages of some available objects, you would be able to face all demands for the present year. I do not therefore recollect that any fixed credit was given on Mr. Codman.

Indeed my expenditures have been enormous and have subjected me to the greatest inconvenience.

To morrow I shall pay the last bond to Shaw, which will make the amount he has received for his Gouldsborough property $20,357.80, not reckoning interest from the period of the respective payments.

And notwithstanding all these heavy disbursements, for property which I was advised to be cheap, and recommended to purchase at all events, there cannot be found with all our exertions any settlers or speculators who by buying any portion thereof will refund any part of the money advanced. Such is the miserable state of this concern, which I hope will soon experience a better fate.

The advances made to the tenant who has hired the mill are certainly very considerable and I cannot be persuaded that it is any part of our system to build mills, furnish capital to the tenant, and make trading voyages with the lumber, the produce of these mills. With respect to profits on West India voyages such as to furnish a capital for our operations and improvement, they may sometimes be produced. But I am sufficiently well acquainted with that trade to know that none but those who pursue the most rigid œconomy in all their disbursments, are eventually successfull, and the knowledge of making such expenditures, which are essentially necessary, is not possessed by every merchant or seafaring man. Your vessel was losing money in the coasting trade, whilst others must have been gaining.

From the mildness of the season, there is reason to believe that your stores and provisions have not been frozen up, in their way to the settlement on Union River, which probably would be a serious misfortune.

I lament exceedingly that you are under the necessity of making the additional draft of $1,000, as I find it very inconvenient to raise such large sums.

However I hope we shall soon [have] a proper return for our numerous expenditures.

I have had several conversations with Mr. Merrick on the subject of improvements in the Kennebec country. I find him very intelligent, and as he has been engaged with persons who have possessed very scanty funds to support their operations, he seems to have discovered the means of making a little go a great way in the settlement of a new country. His plan very much resembles that which is adopted in the numerous settlements of this state, and which Colonel Pickering is about adopting.460

I request you to make my kind compliments to your family, as well as to Mr. and Mrs. Richards.

I have recently had an addition to my family by the birth of a son,461 of which I will thank you to inform my friend, Richards. To morrow I take my departure for the Federal City.

Yours sincerely

Wm. Bingham

General Cobb