W0824 TO DR. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from Edward Lerned's guardian Mr. Dustin
Oct 5 1835
To: Dr. Calvin McQuesten, Brockport, New York, [U.S.A.]
From: Hopkinton, New York, [U.S.A.]
Your Brother E. A. Lerned has made up his mind to attend to the study of Medicine and as his Mother & Majr. McAllister [McAllaster] are of the opinion that it is fit & proper that he should be put under your care and Guidance I have made him such an outfit as his Mother requested that is enough to pay his Expenses to you & buy him a few articles of clothing. You will see to him as you would to a son & so will Mrs. McQuesten.1 I have no doubt but parents some times err by over much fondness & indulgence, others by continual finding fault & harshly treating their children. I have no doubt you will avoid all extremes with Edward as you know his ways. If he should be inclined to extravagances you will do all in your power to moderate him. I shall be willing to pay his board bill as often as is your practice in your place. I also for clothing & for which you will make your drafts on me or Majr. McAllister or your Brother as shall best suit your [?]. You will let Edward certify his approbation of your bills before they are sent. As to Edwards money I shall be able to give you a more particular amount hereafter.
Your Obedient Servant
[To] Dr. C. McQuesten, Brockport
1 In 1835, Dr. Calvin McQuesten took in Edward Lerned, the half-brother of his wife, Margarette (Lerned) McQuesten, in order to supervise his education in medicine. Mr. Dustin, Edward's guardian, wished to have Calvin take over legal guardianship of Edward rather than pay $1 000 for the boy's care. Calvin declined this proposal, and in March of 1835, accepted an alternate agreement in which Dustin would pay the $1 000 on condition that Calvin bind himself to support Edward until he turned 21 (W0755). However, Dustin may have wanted to turn over guardianship simply to avoid paying anything for the boy's care and education since we have evidence that he avoided sending the money for over a year after Dr. McQuesten agreed to care for Edward into adulthood. In March of 1836, Major Hugh McAllaster (the husband of Margarette's sister Louisa) remarked
"Mr. Dustin says he is perfectly willing to resign his guardianship, but I suspect he does not intend to forward the $1 000 mentioned it might be a long time before the funds could be taked out of his hands should he feel disposed, to retain them" (W0841).
There is no conclusive evidence that Dr. McQuesten ever received the full amount promised.
In January of 1838, Mr. Perkins sends a letter to Dr. McQuesten on behalf of Edward's mother with an enclosed bank note for $475.00 for Edward's care. However, as of June 8 the same year, Edward and Mr. Dustin were threatening legal action against Dr. McQuesten for money that he supposedly owed to Edward for his work at the pharmacy of Budlong & McQuesten. Dr. McQuesten tried to settle this affair, but as of March 1840, Mr. Dustin was still pushing for specific terms of remuneration which Calvin was not inclined to accept. In addition, Edward was acting as a witness in a defamation suit launched by a Mrs. Jones (possibly "Janes"), although the lawsuit was dismissed and Dr. McQuesten received judgement for the cost of the suit (W0137).
According to this letter, part of Dr. McQuesten's defense was to demonstrate that Edward was a liar (W-MCP4-6.233), and there may be some scattered evidence to support an attack on Edward's character.
In a letter to his mother in 1835, Edward apologizes for his behaviour towards her and for the "months of pain & trouble I have caused you" (W0743). In 1837, Margarette wrote to her stepmother about Edward's character, stating that he "is so much taken up with trifling things...[h]owever [he] has some very good qualities and has greatly improved within two years" but she still expresses some minor concerns for his personal development (W0906). However, Louisa writes to Margarette, saying "make no promise to Mother nor Cath[erine] for they will not wish you to tell the truth about Edward" (W0486) and that she and her husband Hugh "were perfectly ignorant of the steps Edward had taken & so was Mary," (W1009), most likely referring to their sister, Mary (Lerned) Flanders. On May 31, 1839, Margarette writes her husband that "they talk plainly about E.[Edward] and many things are not as they should with him...I cannot think there is any change in him for the better by what they say" (W0978) and two months later, Calvin writes to her, stating that "[y]ou wrote me that E. says the last $100 I received for his expenses saved me from failing. That is too childish a remark to call for a reply" (W0144).
For additional information, see W-MCP4-6.233, W0144, W0771, W0809, W0810, W0812, W0824, W0833 and W-MCP5-6.310. To learn more about Margarette Barker Lerned [McQuesten] please see W0609.