W0175 TO DR. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from Adams W. Platt
Feb 3 1857
To: Dr. Calvin McQuesten, [Hamilton, Canada]
From: Clinton, Iowa
Mr. Calvin McQuesten
Many years have passed away since you were at my house in West Galway, and since I last saw you I have occasionally heard of you, through Brother Hugh McAllister1--That you have met many changes in your Family--But have been prosperous in your worldly business--Mr. McAllister and family are here--Moved here last summer from Ohio--I came out here last spring, Purchased a lot in this new place--had a store built and a dwelling in the upper part & moved my family here last fall.
I had been disabled from preaching for several years--and had resorted to the Drug Blood and Stationary business--that business I continue here--Hugh McAllister with his brother in Boston occupy for the present one half of my store--I am able now to preach some--We have a Presbyterian church formed here, under favourable auspices--I have been thus particular to let you know why I am here & thus engaged.
My wife has yet been spared to me while yours that I knew of has long since been removed from you--I have eight daughters and no sons--All living, God has dealt very graciously with my family--My oldest daughter is settled in Ohio, 2nd in Brooklyn, N.Y., 3rd Trumansburgh, N.Y.,2 & 4th is married to a young man from Concord N.H. by the name of Lovejoy and lives with me, a partner in the business since I came to this place--A steady business man.
This place is 136 miles west of Chicago by the Dixon & Fulton Railine R.R.--Here the R.R. crosses the Mississippi--I am on the West bank towards the Missouri & Nebraska 20 miles about completed and more than 80 miles under contract to be completed in less than a year--Two locomotives are here on the track and the other car for passengers and freight etc. which will be running 20 miles in a few days.
This place called Clinton is about 1 year old--with some 12 or 14 hundred inhabitants--Two large Hotels, Mills etc. An immense amount of buildings will go up this season doubtless--I have specified these particulars as Mr. McAllister informed me, that you had sold out your business in Hamilton--That you might wish to invest money somewhere, and perhaps would be inclined to come out here4--On the line of this R.R.--there are good opportunities for investments in New Land in the neighbourhood of the Depoes & elsewhere--A number of the engineers are here and boarding with Mrs. McAllister--lately returned from the surveys--and will soon go out again.
Any information can be obtained from them to good advantage. Many are making money here in the purchase of Lots--The plot of ground is beautiful--the best it is said on the River--and I think will be healthy. We shall like to see you here --or hear from you.
I have thought sometimes I should like to join some good Godly families in establishing a colony--and take up a larger tract of land--and sell out under terms to exclude utterly, Rum and every thing of the kind & establish schools etc. There are some such in Iowa & Illinois--very flourishing--What do you think?
Mr. McAllister's family are well except Sarah--It is found she will not remain long among the living --if you should think it best to come out and look at us--I may like to borrow of you 4 or 5 hundred under good security for a year or two--as I am owing a little on my house and lot--and have not means sufficient to spare it from my business.
The place is worth three thousand or more beside the stock of goods--Excuse this liberty in addressing you.5 My wife wishes a remembrance.
Yours very sincerely
Adams W. Platt
1 Hugh McAllaster (sometimes spelled mis-spelled "McAllister") was married to Louisa [Lerned] McAllaster, the sister of Dr. McQuesten's first wife Margarette Lerned McQuesten. About the McAllasters, Mary Farmer, in the Calendar, notes that they "were a singularly unfortunate family; the father, Maj. Hugh McAllaster being totally incompetent to provide for his family, and in the style of a Wilkins Micawber moving about from one place to another looking for prosperity. In 1855, his daughter Louisa wrote to her uncle appealing for financial assistance, which was sent to them at once. Hugh McAllaster died in April 1874, after which no more is recorded of this afflicted family."
(CMQPW 5) For more on the McAllasters, see W0889 as well as W0565, W0484, W0679, W0801, W1009, W1021, W1026, W0675, W0701, W1174.
2 Trumansburgh is approx. 10 miles North of Ithaca, N.Y.
3 We have been unable to trace this R.R. Perhaps the name was changed even as it was being built.
4 Dr. Calvin McQuesten sold his foundry business and retired in 1857 at the age of 56 and "received $500.000 not including the value of the land and buildings, for which he still held the deed." (Minnes 4).
5 This is another instance of a "begging letter" as in W0701. Dr. Calvin McQuesten received many of these letters. This letter is interesting in the variety of ways it attempts to capture Dr. Calvin's interest. Platt's final plea betrays the real purpose of the letter, to borrow money from Dr. Calvin. It is not known what Dr. Calvin replied to this letter. He was a dedicated Presbyterian and philanthropic by nature, assisting many churches in Canada and the U.S. However, he was also exceedingly prudent and an astute judge of character.