Adams Papers
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Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 5 May 1797

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch

East Chester May 5 1797

my Dear sister

we reachd here yesterday being thursday the 7th day from leaving home. we had very bad Roads, the Rains having washd all the stones bare, and the ruts were very deep I was much fatigued; Brisler and Family went on to N york mrs Brisler much mended in her Health by her journey. I hope when we get over our fatigue we shall all be able to say so. Betsy does not seem the worse for it, tho I think I have run a risk in taking so feeble a Being, but I hope it may be a means of restoreing a Good Girl to Health— I found mrs Smith and her Children in good Health. mrs smith grows very fleshy as much so I think as before she first went abroad, tho being older and more moulded into the form of woman, she does not look so burdend. the col has been gone, a journey for a fortnight up to his New Lands—1 tomorrow I go into New york and on Monday proceed for Philadelphia. I think it a very fortunate circumstance that mr smith accompanied us. it has renderd the journey much pleasenter, and he has taken a good deal of care and anxiety from my mind, which I should have felt if he had not been with me.

I want to hear how you all are, and how my Farming buisness goes on. I would wish you to go & look at them sometimes. my Love to all Friends and Neighbours Mrs smith joins me in a kind remembrance.

your affectionate Sister

A A

RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters); addressed: “Mrs Mary Cranch / Quincy”; endorsed by Richard Cranch: “Letter from Mrs / A: Adams (E Chester) / May 5th. 1797.”

1WSS departed Eastchester, N.Y., in April 1797 and did not return until late Jan. 1798. He first visited his lands in what would become Chenango County, N.Y., and from there traveled to Detroit in the Northwest Territory then to Fort Stanwix, N.Y., before returning home. During the months he was gone, WSS rarely wrote to AA2 (there are no extant letters), and the Adamses presumed he had abandoned his family. The lands in central New York were part of a land speculation scheme WSS had undertaken in 1791, when he applied to purchase six townships in the future Chenango and Madison Counties. Comprising 150,000 acres and costing £24,375, WSS received the patent to these lands on 16 April 1794, retaining two of the townships and entering into an agreement to be the agent for Englishmen Sir William Pulteney and William Hornby for the other four. WSS allegedly failed to pay Pulteney and Hornby for lands that were sold and failed to report advances amounting to £60,000, and in March 1796 Pulteney dismissed WSS. Patrick Colquhoun, another land agent, wrote on 6 May about WSS’s financial problems, “it was impossible that such a career of folly could end in anything but ruin,” and that Pulteney “could not be easily persuaded that Mr Smith’s intentions were not from the beginning very impure.” By 4 Oct. WSS owed Pulteney and Hornby nearly $231,000, a debt that remained unpaid in 1805 when Pulteney was informed that WSS was “totally bankrupt in fortune” and continually “pressed by his numerous creditors” (James H. Smith, History of Chenango and Madison Counties, New York, Syracuse, 1880, p. 68; Luna M. Hammond, History of Madison County, State of New York, Syracuse, 1872, p. 545; The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary, ed. Julius Goebel Jr. and others, 5 vols., N.Y., 1964–1981, 5:54, 55, 107, 110).

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