LAKE COMMERCE - A REMINISCENCE.
The Buffalo Courier has obtained possession of the Letter Book of Messrs. Phyn & Ellice, who were Merchants at Schenectady more than 80 years ago. They are curiously interesting, as will be seen:
Schenectady, 22d Dec. 1769
To Commodore Grant - Sir: We hope this will find you safe and happy at the end of your long journey, which we will be glad to hear as soon as it is convenient.
Since you left we have received from Detroit the several orders we expected for goods next spring, whereby it appears we will have 450 barrels of bulk to transport over Lake Ontario, 300 over Lake Erie, and about 100 over Lake Huron providing dry goods are in the country, which, however, will not lessen the quantity, much as the Rum trade is to be tolerated another year. We think ourselves extremely fortunate in having it in our power to confess our gratitude for the many good offices you have don us, by making you an offer of the freight of those stores our A. E. will probably attend himself, provided you will engage that they shall be all taken on board and that the vessels will sail from Ontario the 1st of May, from Fort Erie the 20, and from Detroit the 1st of June, wind and weather permitting.
You will easily see our reasons for asking you to put us upon a certainty in these respects, as we have our boats to prepare & our men to engage accordingly. We have likewise contracted for a large quantity of Rum, to be delivered at Michilimac the 15th of June, & you well know that 2 or 3 weeks of the spring trade is worth half of the year; we will on our part engage that our boats shall set off as early as we possibly can so as not to detain the vessels * * * *
Please likewise to let us know the quantity of flower [sic] you will want next spring, exclusive of provisions for batteaumen. We beg your ansr [sic] - and are very respectfully, dr. sir, &c. ,
12th Feb. 1770.
To Capt. Grant - Dr. Sir: We are favoured with yours of the 29th ulto, since which Capt. Friend has been here & recd payt of his draft on you except L69 14 10, which he has discounted in part, and being one-half of the value of stores sent by us to Fort George on his and your joint acct; the other half by his desire we have charged you. * * * * Some batteau men arrived here last week from Detroit via Fort Pitt; we have letters by them dated 13th Decr, which make mention that your boat with some other were not then arrived; some boats have been 70 days on Lake Erie, & and you may guess their distress, when they were obliged to keep two human bodies they found on the shore unburied in order to kill the ravens & eagles that came to feed upon them for their provisions.
They are busy fitting & rigging the new sloop, which is intended for Machina early in the spring, so that the other two vessels will confine their navigation to Lake Erie.
As Mr. Shipboy is in New York we can have no opportunity off receiving payt for the two barrels of flour. Mr. Gordon goes to Ontario in a fortnight or three weeks. Your letters that are here as well as any others you send, he will carry to Onondago [sic], & hire an Indian from thence to Niagara; if you think proper to write on letters you direct for us on his Majesty's service from Ct. Grant, which saves postage.
We are very truly, dr sir, yours, &c. ,