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W2480 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his half-brother, Isaac
Apr 9 1877
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten New York City
From: Hamilton, Ontario

My dear Brother,

I should have sent draft last week, but one thing and another kept me out of my office a great deal, and when I was in the matter slipped my memory.1

We are having quite an ecclesiastical row about St. Paul's Church (the one with the fine steeple) as to whether it is to be saved to the Presbyterian body or to be sold to Baptists or Catholics. A number of us have endeavoured to ascertain what the outside Presbyterian congregations in the city would do if St. Paul's people would guarantee--and fulfill the guarantee of a certain {amount?]. Today at noon settles the matter so far as the Church being offered by auction. I think father has had enough of church outlay, and, except as to a condition of two or three thousand dollars to the common fund if a successful return can be carried through, he will do nothing.2

By the way, I want to ask another favor of you, which will involve not an outlay of probably more than twenty-five cents, but may give you a little running about. I want to lay out a Mushroom bed. It involves only a day or two of labor, but very trifling expense, there being a large quantity of very fine manure now piled up. I have one or two short articles upon the best mode of preparing; but I know there are several recent pamphlets written on the subject; and I thought if you would be kind enough to go to the offices in N.Y. of one or two of the best nursery men, you might find what I want. The bricks of [spacure?] [are?] but little; and it would probably be scarcely worth while to get them from N.Y. as I fancy they can be got here of such a quality as to be [relied?]. Should there be any difficulty on that score, I would rather be at a little extra expense & not view much risk of a failure. Understand I do not want you to go to any more trouble than I have asked. Perhaps I could get along as it is. But it is a somewhat difficult matter to be certain of starting a bed though when that is once done, the yield is usually large. If fortunate, perhaps I can make you some slight return when you are at home next Fall.

Aunt Varnum 3 died on Saturday. Some time since she fell & broke her thigh bone. To the surprise of all, she did wonderfully well, suffered but little, & was rapidly recovering. But a week ago, so far as we can learn from telegrams & a couple of short letters, some affection of the lungs seized upon her; and she died as I have said above. I will let you know the particulars when I hear them.

I do hope that we--you, Mary, myself--will be able to make a short visit to the old homestead next summer. I want Mary to see Aunt Margaret.4 And then we can have a few days at the White Mountain & Boston.

The family could not be more flourishing. I believe Mary is going to send you a photo of Tiny [Mary]--a very different looking mortal from what she was last fall. They all think the boy [Calvin] looks remarkably like you. Whether he does about the face or not, he most certainly does about the belly. Were it not for the danger of busting the last-named member of your frame, I would tell you that when this remark is made about his likeness, Mary says she only hopes he will have as kind disposition.5

As ever your brother,

I.B. McQuesten

[P.S.] About the watch:-- am I to infer from your reference to being relieved at a certain price for customs duties that it is an important watch? If so will it not be better to be bonded directly from your port here without being taken out of bond by [new monies] as by that means duties would be 15% instead of 45%. Or do you mean that Tiffany when exporting to foreign countries invoices at such & such a figure? It may be my stupidity, not knowing which you meant, but there is no harm in asking the question.

I.B. McQuesten


1 Isaac often apologizes for neglecting to send a draft to Calvin, see W2471, W1380.


2 Dr. Calvin McQuesten was a generous benefactor for many Presbyterian churches in Hamilton, Ontario, and in the U.S. See note on the "begging letters" which offer him business and church development opportunities, W0128, W0175, W0171, W1026, W0499.


3 Aunt Varnum is likely Dr. Calvin McQuesten's sister, Eliza (1799-1877), who was married to Jonas Varnum. She died on April 7, 1877. See note on her sister Margaret below.


4 Aunt Margaret (1796-1893) is also Dr. Calvin McQuesten's sister whose "whole life was passed on the homestead in Bedford, and she died in the room where she was born. She was the survivor of the David McQuesten (III) and Margaret [Fisher] family" (L.B. McQuiston p.81). See the excerpt of David's will regarding his provision for his two daughters, who were both unmarried at the time of the making of the will, and although Eliza did marry, Margaret never did. Margaret died in 1893 at the age of 97. See, W-MCP1-3a.006, W-MCP5-6.336.


5 Isaac and Mary's second child and first son, Calvin McQuesten, indeed grew up to be a very kind and gentle person. He was a journalist, a homesteader, and was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1909; he was a cultured gentelman, a lover of nature and literature and after 1920, spent a number of years ministering as chaplain to the tuberculosis patients at the Mountain Sanatorium, likely to honour the memory of his dear sister Ruby, who died of tuberculosis in 1911 (W6135). Calvin was born with some disability on his left side, left hand and leg, which remained with him all of his life. He also suffered from the family's inherited "nervous excitability" and was prone to breakdowns under stress, see Box 12-501.




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