W2423 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his brother Isaac Baldwin McQuesten
Oct 11 1873
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten, New York
From: Hamilton, Ontario
My dear Brother,
Not hearing from you delayed my writing, as I did not care to have the enclosed paper read by other than yourself. Everything is now drawn up ready for execution, which is to be done on Monday morning at half past eleven. I have not sent you the documents1 as they are very long, there being some 40 pages altogether. Did they in any way go astray, there might possibly result therefrom the whole thing leaking out. It took Proudfoot full a week before he settled upon what could not be undone. The great bug-bear in the way being that this is a voluntary conveyance, and as a class they are not difficult to be voided by those who enter into them. The other difficulties of secrecy, &c you know about. Then the unpleasantness of having recitals of an unpleasant family nature. This however has had to be adopted for perfect security.
The general sketch is this: Father assigns all his property real & personal to you, Proudfoot & myself by three different deeds, to be held upon the trusts contained in a deed also from father to W.P., C.B. McQ., & I.B. McQ. This last deed recites that Mrs. McQ. makes various attempts to control most of father's property; that she & her relatives (this father told Proudfoot; I did not know it before) keep reiterating that you & I are unworthy of his confidence & that they can tell stories very injurious to our moral character, &c. & other things that you know. The trusts are to pay him the whole dividends during his life. At his death the trusts are simply a verbatim copy of the will you either saw or that father told you to see, with some modifications not affecting as much as $2000.
This is to be witnessed in presence of J. Turner, C.R. Murray, W.D. Booker, Drs. Mullin & McDonald (to have medical testimony to upset any possible plea of insanity). The deed can be altered or revoked at anytime in the presence of you, W.P. & self, but not otherwise, unless one cannot be found. Proudfoot preferred that this power of attorney be made to me than to him. It is necessary, as no money could be paid over to father when once in our hands without the consent of all by themselves or attornies [sic]; & to send every check to you would be folly & trouble. I think there can be no mistake. Directions are in pencil. Fill in date. Let witness go before a Notary Public; but don't let the witness be the Notary Public. This is the course adopted in some of the States, and causes a good deal of confusion sometimes.
If you are acquainted with a Notary Public, he will not probably want his fee of $1.00. so much for this business. If you are not especially anxious for a copy of the papers, I will be glad, as I am quite sick of all the writing I have had in connection with it: Proudfoot & I did it all, as we did not care to have it known to the others in the office.
Can you do for a week or so longer for the funds, as I am rather short? Can send them in that time without trouble. Mr. Proudfoot & father were quite pleased at the papers you sent them. Father read them carefully through.
I cannot send the apples to the Dr. for a week yet, & as the pears are beginning to mellow, & it takes nearly a week to send by freight to N.Y. Do you not think it would be rather a rotten piece of business to send a barrel of pears? Mary is flourishing, and wants to be remembered in the kindest manner. She has concluded that you have always been an ill-used mortal, and that being petted would have a permanently good effect. No one is more heartily glad than I am that you get along well together; and I think there is very little doubt but that you will. When you have leisure enquire about that medical work.
By-the-way, have you my revolver with you? I don't care a scrap, only I don't design making it a present to Mrs. McQ. if it is at the house.2 It is dark & I must post this. Ever your brother.
I.B. McQuesten [Isaac Baldwin McQuesten]
1 Isaac and his law partner, William Proudfoot, drew up a "deed of trust," a document designed to ensure that Dr. Calvin McQuesten, Isaac's and Calvin Brooks' father, could not sign over his property without the permission of those named on the deed, namely his two sons and Proudfoot (W0234). Dr. McQuesten entered into this agreement willingly as his third wife, Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten, was a demanding and manipulative woman who had been harassing her husband to leave her the lion's share of his assets. Due to her violent temper and emotional abuse, Dr. McQuesten did not want to reward her with a grand estate. In fact, in 1880, a secret will was drawn up which gave Isaac "Whitehern" (then named "Willowbank"), Calvin Brooks the real estate and investments and Elizabeth was awarded a comparably small annuity. See W-MCP5-6.351 for more details about Elizabeth's relationships with her husband and stepsons.
2 Isaac is apparently insinuating that their stepmother may try to kill their father for the inheritence. As a rather facetious character, Isaac may have been joking around somewhat, but it is clear from his many letters about Elizabeth's behaviour that he is very sincerely concerned about his father's well being and ability to cope with her. In an earlier letter he remarks that he has ways of finding out if his father develops a "sudden sickness," alluding to poisoning (W2413). See W-MCP5-6.351 for more about the feud with Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten.