Our Historical Society member, Mary Campbell gave us a copy of this letter written by David Gairdner (sic.) in 1837 to Robert Campbell in Scotland. David lived in Augusta Twp. on Bemis Road.
Ypsilanti April 8th 1837
I take the opportunity of sending you by James Pearson a few lines to let you know we are all in good health at present thank God for it and we fondly hope this will find you and yours in the same state. I hope you will excuse my long delay in writing to you for though six years have passed is nearly run since we parted it seems to me but yesterday.
There is a great difference in this countryside since I came to it. The woods is fast disappearing and improvements making rapid strides. Eighteen years ago where the town of Ypsilanti now stands nothing was to be heard but the war whoop of the Indians.
Now there is stores and groceries everywhere that luxury or fashion could think of. And flouring mills from which hundreds of barrels of flour is exported every year. And there is a railroad in progress now from this to Detroit which is expected to be opened this Fall.
Last summer was very wet and cold. Crops of all kinds was very deficient and we have had a long severe winter. I have got nothing done yet on the farm as the fields is covered with water but I hope in a few days it will go off. This will be a hard summer on poor emigrants coming into this country as provisions of every kind is at a very high price. Wheat is one dollar 74 cents per bushel, corn one dollar 12 cents per bushel. Salt port eighteen cents per pound.
Butter twenty-five cents per pound, eggs 16 cents a dozen and other things in proportion. There's no chance of a man of small propensity doing much good in this neighborhood now land is got to such a high price. They are asking twelve hundred dollars for wild lots around this place and little improvement on it. Could not be got for a less sum for five miles around Ypsilanti.
Mr. Wilson is on the way of selling this place-he has four hundred and eighty acres. His price is thirteen thousand dollars. But there is yet plenty of Government Land yet to be got at the distance of eighty or one hundred miles.
And now you will see in the map which I send you the District of Huron attached to Michigan and is now set off into a Territory by itself and called Wisconsin and is beginning to settle. There is water carriage from Detroit all the way to it. And when you come out we will ALL go and buy half of the Territory and govern a Scotch settlement.
I have let the clearing of eighty acres on my lot, the cost is ninety two dollars. It is to be finished by the first of September and I intend to put into it wheat as I expect it will be the last crop on this farm as he is determined to sell and go to Illinois. When I bought my land it looked a solitary place in the heart of the woods. Now there is a house on every lot round it and a saw and grist mill and a store just put up two and a half miles from it. And a nearest neighbor to us is a Scotch man from Braeman. They say when the clearing is finished the lot will be worth six hundred and fifty dollars. That is a good advance in two years.
Our stock at present consists of four cows, two four year old oxen, one yearling heifer, eleven sheep and if luck is with us we will have four or more lambs. I have 12 acres of wheat which looks as though it would come on if the weather helps.
We all like this country very well now that have begun to to make acquaintances and get used to the ways of the country. The impression of old customs begins to wear off and there is nothing wanting on the part of living to make us comfortable. We are all clothed with the wool from our own sheep. This winter eight hogs will be coming on for next years port and what more could any reasonable man wish for?
Give our respects to all our friends and wellwishers and tell our friend James Campbell if he has any thoughts of coming to this country it would be a great benefit to him to send one of his sons out one year before him to see the ways of the country and he would be a great benefit to the family on their coming out.
May all goodness attend you and your family and warm friends,
The money I had from you I am very sorry is out of my power at present to send it. I did not know of James going home before I let the clearing(?). I tried him if he would settle with you and the money would be ready on his return but he said it was uncertain whether there would be any money or not to spare. If you don't think of coming send me word and I will put the money with investment in New York one year from this date and you can draw in Kilmarbock as you shall see by the newspapers.