Back to Previous Page

History Lives Here Text

A Piano for Franklin

 

FranklinB. Wallin had apprenticedto the tannery trade as a boy and in 1853 the firm of C. C. Wallin & Sons, which included his father, hisbrother, Thomas, and himself, purchased an old tannery which had been built on Goshorn Creek about 1844 by Wellsand Johnson. Wallin andSons already had an interest in a tannery at Plummerville, and a large store specializing inleather in Chicago.They would later also buy the old Gerber tannery in Douglas.Franklin hadmarried Orcelia Tanner in 1857 and the couple soon begun work on a newhouse near the tannery. That house still stands at 6473 135th Avenue and in 1992 its presentowners, Bill and Molly Baker, were remodeling the kitchen when they discovereda small cache of letters in the ceiling rafters. The first concerns an earlierletter that Franklinhad written to his father noting that the couple wanted to purchase a piano forthe parlor. The response was quick and emphatic. Portions of the letters thatare mouse-chewed, or too faded to read or indicated by ( ].

 

ca 1870 Wallin home on [now] Clearbrook Drivein Wallinville

 

ChicagoSept 2nd 1859

Frank -- Yours upon the Pianobusiness is to hand. Its contents and Spirit carefully noted. Nowparents are almost useless except to grumble at their children. I suppose I amthe only person living that would take the trouble to tell you the truth, or inothers words to differ with you upon any matter that might come up about yourown affairs. Now I know it makes but little difference to me whether you buy aPiano or not, but I don't think it is so to you. Now I think every body thatdeals with you in the house or out of it will say well never mind ourboss is rich, he keeps a Piano. He can stand it. The Girls in the housealways expect more price where the Lady of the housekeep a Piano and they will be more liberal handed with every thing thereis in the house. The men in the Shop will say, well I guess our Boss can affordto pay more wages, times must be flush with him, he has got a new Piano. Thewhole neighborhood will charge you more for any thing they have to sell or thatyou want of them because you keep a Piano. A man with a Piano in his houseought immediately to double the number of his Spare beds -- to all benevolentobjects -- and objects of charity he must double his subscription. Indeed ifhis minister or his [ ] family want anything he can't easily refuse it withoutcausing great dissatisfaction. But after all the realmischief will be with your own house hold and your own employees. Theywill change more price and won't work so well. Thefact is when persons have things about them that are peculiarities of the rich,they must pay rich prices. There is no dodging that. Charles Fowler said that ayoung man needed a Father most after he was 21 years of age and in business forhimself than at any other time in his life. Now I will suppose you to be alooker on and you had an acquaintance, a young man recently married, prospectof family immediately before him, health not very good. Tanner,with but little property. You found he wanted a Piano. What wouldbe your thoughts upon the subject? Now I have only found today that the Pianoat my house did not come there by my consent. Your mother bought it, paid $100dollars for it and agreed to pay for the whole of it with her own money, it has always been a great eye sore to me. I havenever felt well enough off to keep it in the house.

Now, if these thoughts are just and right and can be of any useto you. I shall feel well paid for putting them on paper

 

About drawing money from the concern. I took theproperty on the [????] side from the concern at $7000 [?] Dollars It was a bad bargain. Now I couldn't sell it at $4000. Itook this property more [ ] on your account that you might not have so muchinterest to pay. I am using the proceeds of that property to pay [ ] and notdealing out of concern for your interests.

 

I hope youdo not conclude that what I have to say if from ill nature. I believe it is asunpleasant for me to advise contrary to what I knowyour feelings are as it is for you to hear me. and Iwill further say that my advice may clash with your feelings for the moment butit will be for your interests in the end.

Is it notpossible to find a place in that Tannery for Edwin to work this winter. I don't know what in the world to do with him. Tryagain to get a book of qualifications to enter that school.

-Father

 

Edwin wasapparently Frank's brother, the youngest Wallinson, born to C. C. (Charles Curtis) and his wife, Dorothy Strongitharm Wallinin 1846. Although C. C. dabbled in a nearly continuous stream of real estate,farming, manufacturing and retail ventures (he was even appointed postmaster ofBuchanan in the 1850s.), he was a trained physician and continued in thisprofession for most of his life.

 

Did Franklin get his piano?There is no direct word, but in a 1933 book about the family, Frank's son VanA. Wallin notes that hissister, Elizabeth, was "an excellent pianist "and later became amusic teacher in Wisconsin.

***

FranklinB. Wallin and his new wife,were part o f a group of people who decided to form a Congregational church inSaugatuck. They chose as the first pastor of the church C. H. Eaton, who hadbeen living at Summit, near Jackson. Eaton why had apparently told hisinterviewers that he could be in Saugatuck by the, following Sunday,changed his mind, after he surveyed the packing that needed to be done. Hedecided to ship the household goods by train to Allegan. Bro. alert was amember of the committee from Allegan.

 

ca 1880 The Congregational Church

 

Summit Nov 30th1859

Dear bro. Wallin

I arrived at home on Wednesdayevening and found all well. After looking around a little I found that it wouldbe impossible for me to pack up, settle up and get out to your place by Sat.Evening Dec. 3rd so I have given it up. I expect to send my goods to Ann Arbor to be shipped to Kalamazoo immediately. I send them to Ann Arbor tomorrow Dec 1 st.

I found myhorse unsold and therefore shall take him out and wait for a chance to dobetter. I shall go as far as I can on Friday, Sat & perhaps Monday &Tuesday before I ship my horse & buggy on the cars if it is pleasant. If mygoods are shipped immediately as they probably will be they will be in Kalamazoo as soon as yourteams can get there next week. You can ascertain the probabilities of gettingmy goods from Allegan to your place by boat. That would be cheaper and lesstrouble to you. But I leave it to your judgementto decide. If you think it best to try and get them by boat send the enclosedline to bro. alert and he will get teams to haul the goods to Allegan.

Hoping tosee you soon I subscribe myself your friend and bro in Christ C. H. Eaton

PS I shallbe in Kalamazooand pay the charges on the goods before the teams will get there next week.

CHE

No teammet the train in Kalamazoo,so Eaton sent a second letter by way of E.D. Billings who drove a regular stageroute between Saugatuck and Allegan. The Oliver bedstead factory opened inAllegan in 1854 and Eaton notes that he has purchased some of its wares andwill include his new bedsteads in the household goods that needed to be hauledto Saugatuck. The First Congregational Church of Saugatuckhas always dated its beginning to a meeting held at the Saugatuck school houseJanuary 11, 1860. From the dates on these letters it would appear thatorganization was well in hand before the official meeting.

 

 

Allegan Dec6th 1859

Dear bro. Wallin

Having arrived here last nightand ascertained that probably you had not received my letter written and mailedlast Thursday I write and send you this line by the stage driver Mr. Billings.

My goodscame to KalamazooSat morning. I saw them stored and paid the freight and am anxious to get themremoved to Saugatuck as soon as possible. I shall have to pay storage afterTomorrow at the rate of 63 ctsper day. I wish if possible that two teams may start tomorrow after them. Twoof the boxes are quite bulky. The rest are compact. They weigh 21000 twenty onehundred. We shall perhaps stay over until tomorrow before we come down. I amhere with wife & children, horse & carriage.

I shall buy2 bedsteads here and wish them to be taken from here by the team with the restof the goods. Hoping to see you and talk face to face soon.

your sincere friend & bro inChrist Jesus C. H. Eaton ** *

TheAllegan firm of Williams & Moyers( W. B. Williams and Gilbert Moyers) was engaged to assist the C. C. Null in andSons with a legal problem in 1859. Thomas and William Pincheon (spelled Pinching in the letter) were Irish-borntanners who lived in Ganges Township. Wells andJohnson had sold the Wall ins some interest in the Plummerville Tannery in Ganges about 1850 and had sold the Goshorn Creek operation to them outright in 1853.The legal question was whether Wells and Johnson knew, and did not disclose,that a mortgage existed an the property at the time ofthe sale. Since the Pincheonsboth lived in Ganges Township in 1850 it islikely the question concerns the Plummervilletransaction.

Moyers must also have been a personalfriend. Hence the postscript on the political scene.The Democratics, especiallyin Michigan,were torn by inter party quarrels. Moyer favored William H. Seward,U. S. Senator from New York. as the Republican candidate for the presidential election of1860. Instead the party nominated Abraham Lincoln and Seward campaigned across Michigan, urging Lincoln'selection. Appointed to Lincoln's cabinet asSecretary of State, Seward is most famous for his purchase of Alaska.

 

Allegan, Mich. Nov 16th 1859 F. B. Wallin Esq.

Dear Sir

On furtherexamination of Mr. Pinchingscase I am satisfied that we must show that Msrs. Wells & Johnson at the time of takingtheir mortgage knew of Williams claim. My first Scruples in regard tosubsequent accruing equities were well founded. Yet cannot this item ofevidence be supplied. It appears from your letter that Mr. Sanders was presentat the time the first mortgage was executed and heard William forbid Thomasexecuting a mortgage on his land. Now what I wish to know iswas either wells or Johnson present at that time?

William canrecover the land as against the widow of Thomas Pinching and his heirs. This isclear. The only obstacle in the way is the Mortgage title and if we can provethat wells & Johnson had notice of Williams claim we are all right as tothat.

The 80 thatWilliams claims now [... ] the mortgage for $25026/100. Should we fail to secure the necessary evidence to defeat the mortgagetitle would it not pay to redeem and then enforce his claim against the widowand heirs of Thomas? You can rely upon it he (William) can recover his land andremove the mortgage title. Please inform me who Williamsheirs are as they must be made parties. Where does his father live and what ishis name? Answer by return mail and oblige.

Yours truly

G. Moyers.

NB TheDemocratic Party has recently departed this life and bequeathed to theRepublican party all the free states East of the rocky mountains. Sewards chances are good..

GM