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To "Major" Isaac Sandford, P. Master, Flora, Edgar County, Illinois, from John D. Early, Baltimore, Maryland

"Boston is a good market generally for shipments of Flour from New Orleans" John D. Early, Baltimore, Maryland, November 16, 1841


Esteemed Friend, Your valued favour of the 8th instant is just recd and contents noted. If you conclude to pack, Beef & Pork, it is my opinion that you should be extremely cautious both as to the price you pay and in the particular management of the cutting and salting. If you have no convenient safe place to do the business safe and in a proper manner, I would advise you by all means to get Jo. Miller or some experienced person to cut, trim and salt and pack the Hogs & Cattle. It is verry important to trim your Hams smooth and Hamonie using a sufficient quantity of Salt petre to give them a hamonie red colour when made into bacon, and if you bacon the shoulders or any part of them you should use Salt-petre on them also. You ought to smoke the Hams & Shoulders before leaving home for any Market in order to make the business profitable. if Hams & Shoulders lay too long in Salt, they are never good. from present appearances you cannot buy either Hogs are [or] Cattle any too low.

I would suppose Hogs of good fair quality averaging 180 pounds bought on an average of $1.75 per 100 lbs Nett delivered at the packing establishment on the Wabash River, when every thing can be well done and in proper time and season that some money can be made particularly by such a man as yourself who is capable of going to market and doing his own business - but recollect friend Isaac, everything depends upon the proper management in business these times. You cannot be too cautious. There is now more old provisions on hand in the United States than ever was before - and the price Lower on the average in United [States] than heretofore. I have more confidence in your flour operation - it is my opinion that you will do better in that than Pork or Beef - this is a large provision Market, particularly for Flour & Bacon, New York & Boston are the largest markets for Barreled provisions, particularly Pork & Beef. I would caution you against packing beef except your own feeding or those you know to be equally good and then you ought not to pay over 2, 2.25 or 2.50 at the out side for the verry best that your country affords the purchaser receiving the rough, Tallow, Heads & Tongues as booty, only paying for the 4 qrs of the bullock.

Boston is a good market generally for shipments of Flour from New Orleans. This is perhaps the best Market for bacon and a limited quantity of Mess & Prime Pork. Now my friend whatever you do towards packing or salting of provisions do it well. Jo. Millers fees are pretty high but he can do the business well if he pays attention to it personally. We are allready salting here both beef and Pork - Cattle for Barrelling 3 1/2 to 4$ Hogs from $3 to 350 per 100 lbs Nett both of which is plenty, indeed the market is glutted last years Provisions plenty and low to say: Mess Pork at $9, Prime 750 Bacon Hog round 4 1/2c, Beef Mess $10. No 1 [?]8. Prime 6$ on 4 to 6 months credits It is the opinion of some people that there is on hand in the United States old provisions enough laying over for next year. I do not think so myself and believe that prudent, cautious business men understanding the business can and will make money by packing at the low prices this winter be sure to Salt petre your Beef freely and also your Bacon Hams & Shoulders.

I would by all means effect insurance on the produce shipped in flatt Boats at & from the point where shipped and to the place of destination. You can have this done by H[ar]ry McKinnel who ha[s] recently go[ne] from this city to New Orleans. Jacob P. Early can give you a Letter of recommendation to him. At the time you write for Insurance you had better remit the money by obtaining a Check from the Bk [Bank] at Terre Haute or leave the money with Jacob and get him to write to McKinnel for Insurance.

Whatever you do, do it well and with more than the usual prudence and caution observed by most of packers or Salters, take time and do every thing well, be sure that the Animal heat is well out of the hogs & Cattle before they leave the Slaughter House -

With my kindest regards to Mrs. Sandford & family

I am dear Sir your friend John D. Early

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Date: Tue Nov 5 2002
Name: Phillip F. Schlee
E- mail: schlee@ksu.edu
Notes: This letter is addressed to "Major" Isaac Sandford, P. Master, Flora, Edgar County, Illinois, from John D. Early, Baltimore, Maryland, November 16, 1841. In it, Mr. Early he refers to Isaac's beef and pork packing and flour operations, and was apparently written in response to a letter from Isaac dated November 8. The following clipping is from the Paris (Illinois) Daily Beacon of June 22, 1923. The article was written by Dr. Floyd M. Davis, and entitled, "Isaac Sandford At One Time Wealthiest Man In County": "About 1840 General Sandford took his young son, Hiram, into partnership. The son took charge of affairs at Sandford. [C]ommencing with a store many other things were rapidly added including a saw mill, blacksmith shop[,] cooperage shop, flour mill, stock pens and a powder house. At Durkee's ferry on the Wabash, ways for the construction of flat boats were built and a pork packing plant established. Do you realize what this meant to the people of Edgar county? For the first time they had a market at home for their surplus farm products. Before that a farmer would often drive his stock all the way to Chicago, only to find a glutted market and be compelled to almost give it away. During the Summer the Sandfords would construct one and sometimes two flat boats. These were usually from eighty to one hundred feet long and twenty feet broad. In the Fall they were loaded with all manner of supplies. If grain was included it was put up in sacks, the latter being made at Sandford, and floated down the river to the Ohio and then on to New Orleans, where not only the cargo but the boats themselves were sold and goods purchased, which were brought back by a steamer, usually in the Spring when the Wabash was high. This business was conducted until the coming of the railroad by the Sandfords. About this time ill-health compelled General Sandford to retire from active management of the business, and Hiram, who had been largely responsible for the success of the new road and had been elected one of its directors, moved to Paris and gradually disposed of his interests in Sandford."

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