This letter was written by Jeremiah Price (1786-1854), a native of Wales who first settled in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Jeremiah built, or helped to build, the Auburn State Prison in Auburn, New York. About 1830, Jeremiah removed to St. Joseph, Michigan, and from there he removed to Chicago, about 1834 or 1835. On the 9th of May, 1835, he entered into an agreement with Henry Seymour, father of Gov. Horatio Seymour, of Utica, N.Y., by which the latter was to advance $5,000, and with this, he was to buy lands in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and the Territories of Michigan and Wisconsin. The lands purchased were to be sold at the end of five years from the 9th of May, 1835, and out of the profits of the purchase and sale, after charging to the investment the taxes and other charges, if any, together with seven per cent. interest on the investment, there was to be paid to Price one-half of the same, which one-half the profits were to be in full of his services and expenses of every kind, in making the explorations and searches for the lands, &c. It was understood by the agreement that the purchases were to be made during the year 1835, and that no payments for services or expenses were to be made by Seymour, except from the profits from the sale of lands. It appears that when the five years transpired the lands could not be sold on account of the great decline in real estate from the speculative times of 1835. Price, however, continued to pay the taxes for some time longer; in fact until the death of Henry Seymour by suicide in 1837. And after Mr. Seymour’s death, Price continued to pay the taxes and act as agent for the property till his own death, by cholera, in 1854. It is said that Price’s real estate was worth more than half a million dollars when he died.
Jeremiah no doubt saw the following circular that was published in the New York Scientific American and picked up by numerous newspapers across the country in March 1848:
Mr. Joseph Grant, of Providence, Rhode Island (or of Delaware, Ill.) has invented a machine for making bricks, which is one of the greatest labor saving machines ever invented. It is entirely new and original and with proper power, (2 horses,) will make more than one thousand bricks in one minute, or thirty thousand per hour, allowing the machine to be one half the time receiving the clay. The machine is locomotive and is drawn over the yard, leaving three rows of pressed bricks upon the ground as handsomely as though laid by hand. It requires only one man to tend the machine. A patent is secured and a machine will be ready to work in two or three weeks.
Addressed to Joseph Grant, Esq., Providence, Rhode Island
February 26th 1848
Joseph Grant, Esq.
Providence, Rhode Island
I see a communication in the New York Bulletin of a new Brick Machine invented by you. It says with proper (or 2 horse power) it will make more than one thousand bricks per minute or 30 thousand per hour, which I thought must be a mistake. It says your machine is locomotive leaving 3 rows of pressed bricks on the ground as it moves along. It says your patent is secured and you expect to have one to work in a few weeks.
Will you please drop me a line by return mail informing me about your Machine and if the above is correct or not, and what you would charge for the right — exclusive right — for Cook, Grundy, Will, and Lasalle Counties, State of Illinois, and say what price for Cook County alone. Chicago is in Cook County.
You will say what the expense of a machine is and can we make one from a description or must we get of you a model and does the clay require more or less working than usual before put in the machine, and how many hands, horses &c. does it require. I would like to purchase a [machine] if it will be any advantage to me or to CHicago as considerable of brick buildings is about to be erected. I expect to erect 2-4 story stores myself.
Respectfully yours, — Jeremiah Price
If you do not wish to see rights, can you not start a machine here in the spring? Yours, — J. Price