Letter from John McConihe to John Kellogg, May 26, 1858

On May 26, 1858, John McConihe wrote to his business partner, John Kellogg, about the breaking of the Bank of Tekama and the subsequent ruin of those holding Tekama currency. He also mentions the discovery of gold near Des Moines and some neighborhood violence he attributes to a lack of law enforcement in the area.

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Friend John

Yours of the 13th is at hand and contents noted. It has just arrived havig been thirteen days on the road.

We have had very exciting times since I last wrote and there have been many long faces. As I wrote you "Bank of Tekama was the only currency, and everybody took it, even the boats.

Consequently the merchants expecting freight had large quantities on hand, when news came from St Louis that they had stopped redeeming there and with that news it fell dead and is not to day worth anything. One of our merchants lost $1600#, another $400# and so on. One of our Bankers

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here, got wind that the Bank would go up in a few days and he shut up his office and started with some $10,000 of it for Nebraska City, where he bo't Land Warrants and property with it, sticking them bad. His partners went in different directions and in three days there passed off $21,000#!!!

With the breaking of Tekama the people became scared and when they saw there was no security in such currency, they became more alarmed and to-day there is no Nebraska currency received at any place of business here or at the Bluffs. To add to the excitement the Gov. has enjoined them all as illegal and contrary to the laws of the U.S.

I had $39# of Tekama, having

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passed off all I could spare or turn into other things.

I have traded off our shotgun for a fifty dollar County Warrant. The same draws 10 percent interest and will be paid as soon as the County taxes are levied, which will be in about six months. I consider the Warrant as a valuable exchange for the gun, and hope you will be satisfied with the exhange. The gun was paying you no interest I noticed by the paper that all our lots at the Bluffs were advertised for taxes, and found that the $1650 paid by me in Feb. was only the City taxes, and that there was a State County & School tax of some $25# more which caused me to 'migrate over there and pony up-

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I think you are right about the division of Omaha taxes and will so credit you, tho' I have no minit of its settlement. The Council Bluffs taxes I will charge up. The grade in front of our office has been changed and side walks ordered by the City Fathers. There will be a filling of about 2 ft by my door and as the cheapest way to get dirt I shall dig a cellar which will cost about $5.00 — $5.00

Raising building two ft. —18.00
Brick for walk & underpinings
say 5000 @ 2 per mi -
Labor & curbing say —30.00

I have now, delivered, some $— 4600 brick and will commence the work soon. It will improve our building in looks enough to pay for the work. It will also make it dryer than at present, and

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preserve the timbers from rotting, as they now lay close to the ground and are damp and wet.

Poor Touseley has been unfortunate, had twelve sheep shot last night by a malicious neighbor and when Touseley remonstrated with him this A.M he took occasion to club Mr Touseley breaking his left arm and almost breaking his head. It was a most outrageous affair, and worst of it is, the man is free and there is no redress, as we have no criminal law here. Touseley might shoot him and go unmolested. O' sweat [sic] Liberty.

The discovery of gold at Fort Desmoines [sic] is a fixed fact and the excitement is on the increase daily. In the Bank of

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the River and at the junction of the Des Moines and Raccoon River some two hundred men are paning gold and making about $2. per day. At Wintersett they have all turned gold hunters and all kind of [etovies] are abroad. Mr Finch has just returned from these and saw them at work, washing the gold from the black sand and he also bro't some specimens.

It will be a good thing for them in these times, as F. says he never saw people so flat on their marrow bones, as they are in the interior of Iowa. They are strapped and doing nothing. Corn sells @ 8 cts per bus. The Bankers are all in debt, and everybody is discouraged. I thought Nebraska was about as hard up as any

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community, but am sorry to hear others are in the same fix. I wish you were here to see the difference between these times & the fall of '57. Many buildings are tenantless, no businesses, no money and lots of sulky people. But Let us live and hope.

I think I can do something with the Warrants. They sell here now @ $1. I had an application this A.M for one. Can't you make arrangements to have them sent direct from N.Y. and perhaps bay on time; have themsent forward by parties in N.Y. say the Land Warrant Brokers?

I have a complete set of Goverment plots of this land district and can tell the character of all the land in this district.

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Am going to get out circulars & try and do something. If parties in Troy wish to buy land in the fall I will attend to the business. It will pay a large interest. I will argee to any arrangement you make to buy land or loan the Warrants to others. You know all about it.

Send me the dollar in scrip you have. It will bring 25 cts.

I enclose you one grain or piece of Des Moines gold. Mr F took it out the pan.

Write soon


When is Martin I— coming out. I am looking for him. Remember me to all.

About this Document

  • Source: Letter from John McConihe to John Kellogg
  • Extent: 8 pages
  • Collector:
  • Citation: Archives and Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries, John McConihe Correspondence, Archives and Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries, MS308, Box 1, Folder 3
  • Date: May 26, 1858