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Squire Ensworth's Letters to Mr. Whaley

January, 1861

San Diego, Ca.
January 9, 1861

Mr. Thomas Whaley

Dear Sir:

I'm getting old and blind that even with spectacles I can't make a pen without much trouble, as I have never adopted the use of steel pens (and never shall so long as geese have quill feathers). It gives me much annoyance. Now with a little trouble you can remedy all this. There is a little trick which some enterprising and inventive genious of the age has patented called a "Patent Pen Maker". Some few months since I saw one in Sim's office in Los Angeles, and he informed me that it came from San Francisco, and could be found in most stationers' establishments and in cutlery houses. It is three or four inches long by a half or three quarters wide, and a quarter thick, has a pen knife blade in one end that moves in and out like a slide, and is pushed out and in by a little knob on the side of the handle.. attached to the blade, a slit or open crease being left in the handle in which it moves back and forth. In the other end of the handle (sunk in so as to be out of sight) is the animal that manufactures the pen after you have made (as we say at school), a sled out of the quill, touch the spring, and presto change, the pen is made. When I saw this article in Los Angeles, I was much struck with it, but have, from time to time, neglected sending for it. Please do me a favor and see if such a thing is to be found - if so, send it to me and you shall have the thanks of a blind old man who has spent at least three years of his life in making and mending pens.

As to the Escajadillo claim - I have somewhat let down relative to it, for so soon as I commenced talking to Arrevara about it with a view to commence suit, (as I informed you I intended to do) I found him quite offish when he saw I was in earnest, evidently not wishing me to sue. As the best of these men think nothing of telling a lie swearing to it, and, avoid on all occasions, to tell the truth when withholding it will serve a friend. I became suspicious from the manner in which he talked to me, and have done nothing, for fear of incurring a large bill of costs. But if the claim was mine, I would take the rough chances by commencing immediately, and run the risk of their committing perjury. On enquiry I find that the bill of sale was not made to Rivos, but to the Frenchman, Pedro Porter, his partner, and was not written by Arrevara, but by a Nichocheer, who is now living in Mrs. Aguirre's house.

Mr. Morse is in town for the first in some time. He says he will send by this boat as requested the surveyor's certificate of property Mead sold to Goldman. He says he has collected nothing of Leno Lopez.

This morning I had a horse - Laugh. All alone by myself having kept my cash receipts and moneys paid out on a single sheet of paper, I come to the conclusion to copy them into one of them account books you sent me. So I got them out from where I had carefully stowed them away, and after copying the invoice into the one I intended to use for that purpose and having neatly accomplished the job to my satisfaction I took up the other book and seeing some loose sheets of paper inside of it, and written on in your hand, I had my curiosity excited and what should I find but your 'imaginary set of books,' with all the charges, debts, credits, losses, profits, cash accounts, merchandise accounts etc. etc. And of course was no longer at a loss to interpret and appreciate your remark that if "Now I did not know what to do with them, I could sell them." You may say the thing is "not complicated" At all but very simple. It may be so. I suppose a watchmaker like Harrison, Hugghens or Hooke would consider any sort of horolocial machine not at all 'complicated' and very simple.' But ask a man who never saw a watch what he thinks of it. Your set of imaginary books may be all very fine - No double all right, but it strikes me it takes a heap of ink and a sight of figuring.

If I keep the goods all here in the house until I get the money for them - Keep an account of the quantity of goods I receive, (The invoice will tell this, so there can be no mistake in that, any how), The different amounts of moneys I receive & pay out, who to and what It is for, then at the end of six months can't you take all this and tell how much you made or lost, if I send you a list of what is on hand? I don't know that I could for I would make forty mistakes in adding or subtracting - But I bet you could - And as to charging goods to Jack Hinton or Jack Wall, or any other Jack - I'll have none of it. Jack Hinton never buys anything in town, & if Jack Wall hauls goods and wants goods in pay. I shall pay in goods but say "Cash Rec'd $4 for goods" "Cash paid Wall $4" But I think you must be tired, by this time of my nonsense. If they live long enough, second childhood overtakes the whole human family, and as some excuse for this rigarmorale I will observe that on the 4th I was fifty.

With kind regards for Mrs. Whaley and the Little One, I remain,

A. S. Ensworth

January 11

Boat is in this morning and your letter received. I have said nothing more to Morse about the certificate, for the reason that if it is not all right it is now too late to make it up so, as the County Surveyor is not in town.

I wish you would leave more of a margin in your letters, as I intend to have them bound in a book, for they will be quite an essay in mercantile literature and beneficial to somebody. (Some New Beginner). If I do not see clearly as yet, still I am improving.

The goods are received - but of course I can't inform you if they are right. I intended to send you $100, but shall not do it, as the freight will reduce me too much.

I don't know as I shall want anything by next boat save some sugar and two boxes of Schnapps.

The ditch around the house and wall is all right. It slopes from wash of the storm, and not from the bottom. I think I have got rid of the rats, save about 3 or 4 who have only three legs each the 3rd one having been trapped off.

It commenced raining old fashioned this morning at day light, and now (10AM.) is holding up.

God Bless you,

A. S. Ensworth

After closing my letter I found yours of the 5th inst. in the post office. All the city scrip was paid me and I have accounted for it in our accounts. In My books I have sold bricks, but as yet have not rec'd the money - From what I have said about the Escajadillo matter, you may well say "This may be all Custom Building."

San Diego, Ca.
January 23, 1861

Mr. Thomas Whaley
San Francisco

Dear Sir:

Please send me by next boat 100 pounds of beans, one quart of new sea rice (you can get it from the rice mills in San Francisco). Also some large white onion and cabbage seed. These articles I want for Col. Ferrell to plant, and you will not charge them in the merchandise account, but in my private account, where I shall give you credit for them. Try and fix it some way so that the freight will be distinct from the merchandise, so that eventually there will be no confusion. The Col. writes up to men, and I have to attend to his wants, but why I do not know. But so it is.

I want you should also send me some late work on stenography or phonography as it is called. I want to amuse myself in learning it. They say that with some quite late work any sap head can learn to write as fast as five men can talk. I don't want any old work.

Now as to merchandising - slow business - slow business. Got all the goods I have not got the money for. I have no whiskey save the 20 gal cask. Poor whiskey sells the best. I have never had a man or woman ask to buy a single gal. I sold the two balls rec'd for 75 cents per gallon by the barrel. You had better send me about two balls of the meanest you can find in town - the poorer the better, as it will sell the quickest. I have not sold more than 3 or 4 sacks of flour since the last boat. I put it at $2.12 per sack which is 3 bits less than any other sells for in town, but as long as they can purchase on credit for about double the price they had rather gamble the money off.

Jan 25

The boat did not arrive until this morning. Invoice of goods is rec'vd.

As to lard, I have 3 tins left. Can't you send similar tins? I don't think the yeast powders will pay - have had only one enquiry for them. As to the beans, only send me those heretofore mentioned, for Ferrell. As to the Escajadillo, I don't know as I have anything more I can say. The "sowing machine" I rather like - Maybe so I Can sell some. Make them send me down a sample & I will set it up and go to work. I am, at present, of a diversity of employment. As to Homestead, if you have not the laws of California for 1860 step into a book store, ask for the volume and turn to page 311, then buy a blank and by reading it you will see how to fill it out - Go before a notary, make the acknowledgements, send it to me and I will record it. Scan the first section of the set closely and see if you can avail yourself of its benefit.

An invoice of $170. 60 by this boat - It appears to me you are purchasing largely. Don't buy more than you can pay for at time of purchasing - any how without looking down the coast - There is no business here, as you will see by the amt. of money I send you. How much exactly, that will be I can't tell until I settle the freight.

I have just settled freight bill (27.75) being $2 more than you make it. You differ on the number of feet in bread boxes. I also spoke to him about our paying the other bills, and read him your calculation, but it was all no go.

Through W. F. & Co's express I send you one hundred and seventy dollars - fifty dollars of this belongs to Eugene Edmund Stockton and you will dispose of it as requested my letter which accompanies this by express. Twenty dollars you will give me credit for on merchandise account. The express charge is paid. This sets me ahead in both accounts several dollars.


A. S. Ensworth


2476 San Diego Avenue, San Diego 92110
(619) 297-7511



2476 San Diego Avenue · San Diego CA 92110 · Phone (619) 297-7511
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