Every once in a while some oddity in the history world presents itself. In its own time, this letter probably made sense, but now is proving to be a bit of a conundrum. I realize that by publicly making this claim, someone will email and tell me the entire letter makes perfect sense.
Please! Someone email me and tell me this letter makes perfect sense, because I sure cannot figure it out. Until that individual eases my (our)curiosty, I can provide some background information about the persons mentioned in its content.
The letterhead indicates the letter was sent from Franklin Edson and Company / 435 Produce Exchange. Franklin Edson (1832-1904) happens to have been the 85th Mayor of New York City, elected in 1882.* Because of his success,finding information about him proved easy enough. In addition to a short political career, Edson was an astute business man. He made his fortune in the distillery business by recognizing and meeting American demand for liquor created by the Civil War. Some even call him a "booze mogul."** Furthermore, Edson served three terms as president of New York's produce exchange. Edson and his company serve our purposes as Participant No. One.
Participant No. 2 is Mr. D.K. Gillespie (1821-unknown) of Kirkwood, Ohio. The first building to be built in Kirkwood was a grain warehouse. Built in 1863, owner G.W. Holley, soon sold the storage facility to Mr. D.K. Gillespie who began to buy grain in 1864.*** Additionally, the November 29, 1904 edition of The Piqua Daily Call, memorialized Gillespie's eighty-third birthday with an article which declared he "shows some signs of age." In case you were wondering, there was no family gathering and Gillespie enjoyed a quiet birthday.
The third participant in the event surrounding the letter is anonymous. The letter was dictated by an unknown individual--"L." Perhaps it was signed by Edson, but I would not be surprised if it were a secretary (perhaps "L"?) who signed on his behalf. I managed to find Edson's purported signature online (here). Although I am no handwriting expert, the signatures appear quite different suggesting "L," or another party, signed in Edson's stead.
I suppose the letter content serves as participant No. four, but the content is the actual problem. What does the letter mean? Is it meaningless waste (distiller's draff), perhaps Edson's attempt at some form of levity? Is the reference to "old masters" some joke to which future readers are not privy? What is "the manipulation," to which he alludes? Are they manipulating stock? Hopefully, some informed reader will shed light on the subject. Until then, Enjoy. Pat Earnest
Questions? Comments? Ideas? firstname.lastname@example.org
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*The following link is another of those instances in which different dates appear, in this case probably a typo--Note the correct date and some wonderful information was included further down on the same page.
**For a quick but fun read, I suggest "The Bowery Boys: New York City History."
*** Hitchcook, A.B.C. Sidney Ohio. Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co. History of Shelby County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens. 1913