This letter was written by Levi Callender (1777-1849) of Greenville, New York, to his son, Charles Callender (1803-1859) of Burdette, New York. Levi was married to Lucy Cottle (1779-1839). He was a member of the New York State Assembly, representing Greene County from 1816-1817 and he was one of the founders and original directors of the American Bible Society.
From this letter we learn that Charles Callender operated an early-day general store in Burdette and hired young men to work as clerks. By 1850, Charles and his wife, Eliza (Botsford) Callender, and their three sons were residing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Charles’ occupation is given as Book Keeper.
Addressed to Mr. Charles Callender, Burdette, Tompkins [now Schuyler] County, New York
Greenville [Greene County, New York]
Saturday, May 28, 1831
Your letter at Burdette the 22 inst. came to hand today — and Mr. Finch & Mariah being here as usual — I use no time in writing a few lines to be placed in the post office at Durham [New York]. I am sorry to hear your boy Eli has left you, but I approve of your course. As it is probable his Father’s estimate of his _____ would ultimately render it indispensable to discharge him and perhaps it is best you should do it at once that you may get a boy to be improving while you continue Mr. Woodruff. As respects Mr. Hutchins’ son, you can but judge if he appears to be a lad of quick apprehension, active and healthy, and naturally industrious, you had better if your business requires his services, take him at once on trial. As I should feel great confidence that early manual instruction had been good — and I think it an advantage if the friends of boys we may have are respectable — to have them live not very remote from us, perhaps an opportunity in a store has been such that he can earn what would be equivalent to his clothing and board from the commencement say $35 or $40 the first year, and $40 or $45 the second, and $50 or $55 a year for the residue of the time. As you find you can agree, I think it better calculated to your satisfaction to pay a stipulated sum than to undertake to cloth them. Let the understanding be that unless they can purchase cheaper, that you are to have the privilege of furnishing the clothing out of your store. But as soon as you are satisfied that the boy will answer well, it is best to have a written agreement for the whole time as it is very common for boys and their friends, if they become in any way useful, to over estimate their services.
I returned from New York yesterday. I was able to pay all demands against me in New York on my own account except about two hundred dollars. And I shall be able to apply (if necessary) all over that sum that I may realize out of my accounts and notes &c. during the summer, which I hope will be sufficient with what you can collect to meet your engagements satisfactorily. I wish you not to be backward in selling goods on a credit to good and substantial freeholders, but would have you very cautious to be well assured of their undoubted responsibility. If you find you have not goods enough and should want a supply of important articles, you must send me a memorandum and I will go and purchase them. It is important that you keep up a good assortment and especially trading actively. I think it will probably be the best time to lay in a good stock of molasses and perhaps sugar in July or August. Of that I shall be well advised. It will be attended with trifling expense to me to go to New York from here and I hope you wil not fail to send your memorandum if you find yourself in want of any material articles.
Your Ma and Grandma who is with us and Dr. Botsford’s family are in usual health. For news, I have to mention the death of Mr. Thomas Conklin who had for a time indulged the hope he should regain his health but was taken and died suddenly while at work in his shop. The only son. _______ is married to a daughter of Abraham Hagaman & she your cousin Susan Burr had a a son born while I was in New York and was very comfortable. Nothing further of importance that occurs to me. Let us hear from you very frequently and be particular. Business here as usual. Very little doings. A few eggs &c. &c.
Remember us all very affectionately to [your wife] Eliza & your aunt R. if with you. Let us know particularly when you write the progress and improvement of the boy. And how Eliza likes her situation.
Yours affectionately, — L. Callender
N. B. Think some of visiting to Burdette in July.