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Two Historically Interesting Original Autograph Letters Addressed to the Lumber Dealers “Rouse, Forman, Co.” in Antioch, CA, Regarding the Price and Terms of Furnishing Lumber from California to New Mexico, Possibly for the Interior Design of Silver City’s (Grant County, N. M.) Renowned Meridith & Ailman Bank. Eureka Mining District, New Mexico: 14 February 1881; Eureka, New Mexico: 20 February 1881.



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Two Quarto Letters (ca. 26x20.5cm, 10x8in). In all 3 pp. Brown ink on lined wove paper. Fold marks, but overall very good letters, written in a legible hand.

A collection of two manuscript letters shedding light on early negotiations for the purchase and transportation of lumber by the carload from Antioch, California, to Lordsburg, New Mexico. In the letters, dated 14 & 20 February 1881, Baldwin & Parker act as agents for potential buyers, Silver City’s (incorporated in 1876) pioneer entrepreneurs Meridith and Ailman. Later that year, the two established Meredith & Ailman Bank, which after its bankruptcy in 1887, transformed into a fire station, and eventually became the Silver City Museum in the late 20 th century.

“…Meredith and Ailman wanted a business house as fine as any back east. The year was 1881… H. M. Meridith and H. B. Ailman had just come from the silver mines of Georgetown to establish a mercantile and banking business in downtown Silver City. The building they had bought, which stood on the corner of Bullard and Broadway, was in need of general repair and stabilization, so the men took the opportunity to install what was probably the city’s first cast-iron façade on the front of their building. The components of the storefront survived the long cross-country trip, as did the French plate-glass windows, which were just coming into use at that time… Assembled and installed, the storefront… was magnificent-an enduring example of the pride of the early-day residents.” (Silver City Daily Press. 29 November 1975. P.2).

In the first letter dated 14 February 1881, miner James Cruickshank from Eureka Mining District in New Mexico writes to the wood dealers “Rouse, Forman, Co.” in Antioch, California. He reveals the exciting news that local merchants, Baldwin & Parker (apparently agents of Meridith & Ailman), will soon reach out to them to buy lumber in California, expressing confidence in the success of the deal.

In the second letter dated 20 February 1881, Baldwin & Parker inquire with the same “Rouse, Forman, Co.” about lumber prices and terms, specifically for building lumber, flooring, shingles, and timber suitable for a mill frame. The authors also request information on railroad freight rates to Lordsburg, New Mexico, and mention the upcoming demand for lumber. Overall, historically interesting correspondence documenting early negotiations in the booming lumber industry.

The text of the first letter:

Messrs Baldwin + Parker merchants of this place having purchases of lumber to make in California and being in every respect reliable gentlemen, I have recommended them to your house. They will write you in relation to prices delivered at Lordsburg or on side track 25 or 30 miles west of that point. The Chicago company here will require considerable lumber as will other companies. I think that the trade can be made a good one, if you can (which I do not doubt) furnish lumber at sales which will enable the above firm to handle it. I am much pleased with my prospects here. I expect to be in – this fall. Does your Mr Forman still think of visiting this part of the world.

The text of the second letter:

Mess. Rouse, Forman & Co. Gentlemen I wish to ascertain the price you can furnish us lumber by the car load, say the usual building lumber unduped – flooring and shingles – also timber for or suitable for the mill frame – give your prices and terms. We should expect a reasonable time as it takes us quite a time to receive and dispose – Also please ascertain the R. R. freight per car load to Lordsburg N. M. or a side track 20 miles west of Lordsburg. There will be considerable lumber used here this summer and a 60 ton furnace – soon. I enclose a letter from Mr. Cruckshank – as we have no post office at present please addup.

Item #MA18
Price: $650.00