Letters from P.E.I. - William Black Wellner to George W. Howlan, May 4, 1854

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PAPEI ACC 2851/4 - Letter from William Black Wellner to George W. Howlan

Mr. George W Howlan
Care of Captn Ryder

Clifton opposite
4th May, 1854

Dr Sir

I some very long time since received a letter from you enclosing a scrap for the Royal Gazette which letter was duly delivered but I am not aware of its fate; I should long since have answered the former but having turned over a new leaf in the volume of my life and having so very many entries to make on it which are not all posted up yet, that I could not well find a leisure hour till now that I am settled in a shanty "over the ferry beyont" alongside of Chandler the Blacksmith & Kendal the Tanner, the former you know has done well here & the latter is makeing a "beginning" by erecting a tan house some 4 or 5 & twenty feet wide 80 feet long & about 13 feet Post and has commenced the cellar of a dwelling house. He is between Chandler & me and is said to be likely to make a splendid business of tanning & currying if he could only curry those fellows who have been so long tanning in sloth & put some "go ahead" movement in them it would be well for the public at large & they would individually benefit by it. But you will no doubt wonder "what on airth" has risen to root me out of Ch'town delving into somebodys old musty ledgers or bowing to some petticoat shrine from behind a counter! Well then I must tell you -- I saw and learned that all around me prices for goods, provisions & labour were rising but no rise in clerk's or book keeper's salaries & a notion one day took me that I would walk across "Old Boreas" bridge to see Chandler & have a chat with him about business on his side of the brook. I missed him however but fell in with a sensible old man with whom I went back to town on his sled load of wood. he let me into some facts connected with a little trade which might be done here and thought a sober steady person with only tea, tobacco, molasses & pipes might readily set down here if he only had a shed and make money telling me at the same time that Geo Beer Esqr was about to plant one of his sons here & pointing out


the scite between Chandler and the Store on the same side of the road whereon a quantity of scantling was then being drawn & he considered that Mr. Beer was a person who would not lay out a shilling unless he was sure of making 3 pence on it, thought this an omen of something being done here; I turned those observations over in my mind and fancied them to be just but the difficulty was to get a place to go into, not a house, not a room not a part of Chandlers large shop nor even an Indian's wigwam could be had, however I had made up my mind to go from town & went to Major Beete who readily leased me a tract of land & gave me every encouragement as to its being a place to do a good business on before many years. I had scarcely concluded the bargain with him when quite accidentally I heard of
a house to sell of 14 by 20 & 10 feet post. Off I went & found the owner with whom I was only about 1/4 of an hour making a bargain both for the house & to take it across the river which he did the next day. A few days later I fell in with another house with a leanto to it. This I also bought & had taken over at once. A few days after this I fell in with another smaller building which I bought & took apart & had moved over in large pieces. Here then quite providentially, I have a shop, ware room, dwelling house & large kitchen for about £ 35 & one of them ready to go into at once with a little stock for £ 5 less than a carpenter offered to put me up one
small building if I would wait till midsummer to get into it! But I had got a "leetle" just a leetle of the Yankee in me & wouldnt be stopped although some persons in Chtown tried to discourage me personally and then tried to frighten the wife by telling her that it would be an enormous expense to build, that nobody would stop short of Chtown because they had been so long in the habit of crossing, that if I had a large stock of goods perhaps it might attract some few who would return from town &
perhaps forget a few pins, needles & thread, in short I was going to undertake a speculation which I would ruin myself & family by getting into debt for buildings & goods. Well sir, here I have been planted alone (the family being still in town till I can get a carpenter who is coming to finish Beers frame to fit up the shop & put up the kitchens) for a week I would not exchange places with the best merchant in Chtown, not because I have taken anything like the money they have taken perhaps but there is so large a field here to work in & a fellow feels so independent by dressing in his


old clothes just to suit his work & appears more generally respected than the best starched up clerk in town, beside having almost everyone who passes or calls can didly express their gratitude for this commencement at improvement at a place which for years has wanted a shop & can well support half a dozen of them & to hear & witness the proofs of their determination to support this establishment by their calling on their way to town & leaving money & calling again from town and leaving some more. This is more encouraging than the town folk would evince toward the infant establishment and there is every prospect of its growing how large or rapidly i cannot tell. I am in hope that before this month closes if all be well, to have the family with me on this side when we shall be very much more comfortable than at present and can then see my friends and have more chance of conversing with them than if behind anybodys desk in Chtown afraid to stop one minute beyond meal hour, or to have them come in and find us in conversation; I trust these iron days are past not to return again speedily. I suppose Mason would allow me to work in the office again for him if I would condescend to take £ 60 a year as I heard somebody was fool enough to offer to take but that would not begin to pay anybody. Weatherbe who last summer wanted Chandler to rent him part of his smiths shop to sell goods in when he found out that I was determined on going from town considered it would not be a place for business except for some wealthy person like Beer or him who could force a sort of trade, but I discovered the cause of this "Jim Crowism" he thought to get me planted under his thumb at Summerside to open shop there in my name, but I think there are plenty coons there now. In consequence of having deserted the town I shall not now be able to say much on the multifarious affairs of daily occurrence there however shall be happy to hear from & write you as in time past and give
you a tithe of what is doing as far as I learn it. Mr. Pope has turned merchant and expects two vessel loads of goods this spring to keep a wholesale establish ment. Doctor Hobkirk was out shooting on the river on Tuesday in a goose boat when the wind sprang up & jammed his boat between two cakes of ice when he had to take to one of them & yelled pretty lustily till the soldiers from the Barrack went to his assistance. Our river is now pretty well clear of ice 3 vessels sailed yesterday 1 for
Pictou & 2 for St. John, N B a fourth one is off today to bring the mail from Pictou, I think Mr. Peake's. I have not heard the exact reception which the Petitions for a dissolution of our Parliament met at the Governors hands yesterday. Beer establishment over here is a wooden building 26 by 50 & 14 ft post


for shop & warehouse & part of the upper story a dwelling for Henry & his rib till next year when a Brick house is to be erected. Major Beete is going to do business in the Brick way this summer having market for upward of two hundred thousand at 60/- & upward per M. He supplies Duncan with brick for his castle on Breckens corner. He is on his way to Boston or New York to procure a brick making machine. Weatherbe is off for the States about a fortnight since to look out a local habitation for his tribe of 13 children. Tim Weatherbe is learning the printing & bookbinding with Bremner & is making a very good attempt at the trades especially the latter. We are going to have a post office here soon, so much for the first lessons of improvement. Do not be ashamed to write & come over too.

Yours Truly

W B Wellner
P.S. Excuse haste as I have to measure some new [capes?]

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