Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Two letters from Deblois to Nicholson 1795

Lewis Deblois came from Boston to Washington in late 1794 to build and run a store on the lots of the Philadelphia speculator John Nicholson. Deblois expected Nicholson to help him establish and maintain his credit until his operations could take off. A combination of bad luck and bad bills of exchange ruined Deblois. He wrote to Nicholson frequently. There are many more letters like these in the Nicholson Papers at the Historical Museum of Pennsylvania. The collection is available on microfilm. At the end of their relationship Nicholson tried to wiggle out of his obligations by insisting that Deblois had not maintained a proper accounts of his operations.

Lewis Deblois to John Nicholson
September 25, 1795
I have recd. Your several favors for eight days past, but I have been so deranged and harrassed out of my life for want of money that I much fear I shall loose my senses. I would not for the whole City of Washington go on as I have done for the last three months, I cannot look at a single man on my works, but what looks back on me with a dunning eye and some use very unpleasant language to me. Mr. Duncanson put his cash into my hands as his Cashier, say 1000 dolls and has drawn it all out but about 100 Dolls. and the last fifty he drew for, I was oblig'd to send an express to Georgetown to borrow it of Mr. Dalton [his father-in-law] and if he should draw for the balance god only knows how I shall get it. I could take 100 dollars a day in the Store if I had goods; I was to be supplied with 5000 Ds for my Store by you, in lieu of which, my dear sir, I have supplied my Store chiefly with my own Credit and now my debts remain unpaid and my Credit so much Injured that I cannot obtain a new Credit, which is doubly mortifying having got my store in such Credit as to have several Customers from Georgetown and all from the Point, Presidents house and Capitol and pay off my old debts, (I don't owe 500 dolls in the world but for this concern) Get the Store well supplied and then I can go on finely having the conveniences of Storage and c. and the Millers want me to purchase wheat for them on Commission which I could do with half goods and half cash but I have neither - My Brother wants to come on here from Boston. I cannot help him. I have a Clerk at near 300 Ds a year to tend Store. I must dismiss him if I am not immediately supplied - It is agreed on by every one that I have done more good for the city than any other man, and indeed more then the Co. has done. (?) For the convenience(?) Of my people and the neighbourhood ; a needle, an egg 1/4, butter, hogs lard, 1 pt soap, 1/4 soap, pint of milk, gingerbread, /2 peck potatoes & in short not the meanest thing that I have not condescended to do for the good of the place, I shall raise near one hundred bushels of potatoes and all my fencing is my cord wood for Brick Kilns. I must soon take up my crop as the are burning up my fences at the Brick yard. I have supplied the neighborhood with Beans and potatoes and out of my garden all summer and have exerted myself to the utmost and can go thro' any thing in this world but the want of money, The want of that unfits for all business. I dream in the night that people are at the door dunning me - I have drawn on you in favor of Messrs Dubs and Mar-----ant for 1200 Dollars and I had rather give up the business than that you should not pay this bill punctually as they have used me like a Brother, their money was due them 6 months since for mercy sake pay it - perhaps you could get Messrs Whelen and Miller to ship me 2 or 3000 Dollars worth on your account....

Lewis Deblois to John Nicholson
December 11, 1795
I take up my pen in hopes of answering your several favors in a few lines, as I do not feel calm enough to sit long at my pen - Mr. Greenleaf and Co's accts. I applied long since to Mr. Cranch for, and last week renewed my call; he told me there were people about bringing them to a close and as soon as they were finished you should be furnished with transcript -

All the accounts have been so blended together that it would save much time in settlement of them if they went together, the Board Yard and Brick Yard they have endeavored to keep separate, but they have not been kept entirely so, many charges on each have been carried to a Genl Charge acct with the other charges - the Board Yard was rather a profitable business, the Brick Yard I think must have been a loosing one, if the Brick Machine is not taken into the Brick yard business, the loss on the latter will not be (I think) much more than the Gain on the Boardyard - Mr. Prentiss is going on but how I do not know. I feel so mortified that he has a Large Shop of goods, and driving on when I who have beaten the Bush should be forsaken and suffered to sink and dwindle away, my exertion and attention to the business have deserved it. Mr. Law told me this day that he, Prentiss, was throwing away money in carting Bricks at 5/ from Carrollsburgh when they ought to have been had at the Point. I have once before wrote you that I had found it impossible to keep accounts here that I had thrown everything into the Genl Concern in order to facilitate the business it would have taken ½ doz. Clerks to have kept Regular accounts, such has been the borrowing and lending, buying and selling and shifts oblg to be made for want of Money that it was impossible to attend to regular accts. The accts of the numerous workman and shop accounts are as much as I have had in my power to attend to....

No comments: