1848: Benjamin Wright Raymond to Simon Newton Dexter

Benjamin Raymond Wright in later years

Benjamin Raymond Wright in later years

This letter was written by Benjamin Wright Raymond (1801-1883), the son of Benjamin and Hannah Raymond of Rome, Oneida County, New York. Raymond was educated at St. Lawrence Academy in Potsdam, New York as well as in Montreal, Canada. He returned to East Bloomfield, New York and worked as a merchant before deciding to try his luck in real estate in Chicago in 1836 with the backing of his friend, Simon Newton Dexter, to whom he addressed this letter. In 1835, he married Amelia Porter, the step-daughter of Judge Josiah Porter of East Bloomfield.

Raymond was twice elected mayor of Chicago. In 1839, he was elected the city’s third mayor, defeating James Curtiss. He ran for reelection the following year, losing to Alexander Loyd. In 1842, he was elected to a second term as Chicago’s sixth mayor, defeating the incumbent, Francis Cornwall Sherman. At the time, mayoral terms were one year. During his terms as mayor, Raymond ensured that State Street would be a wide thoroughfare. During his first year in office, he secured the site of Fort Dearborn for the city of Chicago when it was sold by the federal government.

In 1843, after finishing his second term as Mayor, Raymond and Dexter built the first woolen factory in Illinois, in Elgin, Illinois. Raymond also served as the president of the Fox River Railroad, which connected Elgin to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. In the 1850s, he was instrumental in securing the charter for Lake Forest University and building the city of Lake Forest, Illinois. In 1864, approached by J. C. Adams of the Waltham Watch Company, Raymond agreed to put up the money to start a watch company in the Midwest. The men elected to build the company in Elgin, Illinois, which donated 35 acres (140,000 m2) of land to the entrepreneurs. The building was completed in 1866 and housed the Elgin Watch Company. The first model the company made was named the B.W. Raymond. [Source: Wikipedia]

1848 Letter

1848 Letter

Addressed to S. Newton Dexter, Whitesboro, Oneida County, New York

Chicago [Illinois]
June 21st 1848

S. Newton Dexter, Esqr.
My dear Sir,

I was much grieved to learn from your 2 favors of the 13th & 14th inst. received last evening of the illness of the family and hope & trust they may be convalescent by this time. We were also much disappointed as expected to see you about this time with Martin in Chicago. I have not written you for the last ten days expecting you would be on the way before a letter could reach you. I thought  not far from 3.800 _ wool before receiving your letters last evening but  had held up for 3 or 4 days as 6 or 7 buyers were in the market & paying much higher than you wished me to go about 1/3 of my purchase us beautiful, clean, fine wool 2/3 to 3/4 of the balance is from 1/8 to 1/2 blood & balance — say 1/8 in all — course. My average cost about 22 cents. A great portion is very clean & light fleeces.

I have commenced sacking today & shall send a part, if not all, by one of our Parpellars (now in port) next day after tomorrow. I am making 3 quantities the ___ come by itself. The medium & the fine.

I really hope your family are not to be so long ill as to prevent your contemplated visit as we shall be woefully disappointed if have not the pleasure of seeing yourself. Sickness of course cannot be foreseen or avoided but shall still look for you all the time & hope to hear often how you all are getting on.

I have send & paid orders for Lurwood to amount of $600 & paid out over 800 here & am still aiding him at Elgin & have as fast as he calls for it & can get it & have been able so far to do it as he has wanted. But money is exceedingly hard to get here and cannot collect much from Elgin Store until after harvest. In sales there are fair to good men. We have been calling in customers & reducing our sales some as do not want to do so large a credit business as to keep borrowed as have been to meet it ___ debts.

By the way, I have to pay a Note to Bank of Whitestown on the 13th July payable ___ L___ M___ Sutton & Company. How I can get it, I do not know unless can get one of the Notes I sent you discounted either at 4 or 5 months if no longer & have the bills sent out here to pay out in out business as we are all the time bagging produce for somebody & paying out a great deal of money & much of it goes down to Illinois River. If can get the Bills, can put them in circulation & with other funds purchase a draft to meet the ___ in New York. I enclose a letter to Mr. Thomas thinking it possible you may be absent on the subject, hoping to hear that the family are improving & to see you son.

Am very truly yours. Best love to all.

— B. W. Raymond

Large amounts of wool can be purchased with cash at Ottawa & Lasalle as I wrote some 6 weeks ago & think at some the price ____ here. There has been some 6 to 80,000 bought here already besides some large lots shipped East.

I enclose another Note to Mr. Thomas thinking you may be absent.

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