Iowa City’s Old Growler – Part Two.

In an earlier post, we told you about Abraham H. (A.H.) Palmer – the owner/editor of The Iowa Capital Reporter newspaper from 1845-1850. You can read all the details here, but suffice to say, that A.H. Palmer certainly came by his nickname – The Old Growler – honestly.

In that post we shared a rather “salty” letter that Palmer sent to his friend and financial supporter – William Carter – back in Defiance, Ohio, where Palmer had numerous land investments. That letter – written in June of 1845 – was so harsh, it made us wonder if it might have ended the long-standing friendship between Palmer and Carter. But apparently, just as it was in Iowa City, Palmer’s friends must have come to the realization that The Old Growler was just that, and if one could just overlook his rather cantankerous character traits, they could keep a friendship going.

So it was with William Carter in Defiance, Ohio.

(JP-037b) Here’s a rare stamp-less postal cover postmarked in Iowa City on October 2, 1846 – addressed to William Carter in Defiance, Ohio.

In this 3-page letter from Palmer to Carter – written on October 1, 1846 – it appears that A.H. is still griping and complaining, but this time, his anger and frustration is directed toward a man named Mudgett – another land-investor back in Ohio – and not his “friend” William Carter. Enjoy…

Iowa City Oct. 1. 1846

My Dear Sir

Some two months since, I wrote to you & to Mudgett by the same mail, & have not rec’d a reply from either of you. I have been looking for a reply from you with some anxiety, as the intention of my letter was to procure such definite information relative to one or two matters as would enable me to give you definite instructions what to do in them.

It’s obvious that William Carter is a long-time friend and business partner, who not only has been a financial supporter of Palmer when A.H. moved to Iowa City in 1844 (see earlier post), but he is also a representative on behalf of Palmer when dealing with land A.H. owns back in Defiance County, Ohio. As it was in the correspondence of 1845, it seems that Carter is never in a big hurry to respond to The Old Growler – as weeks, and in this case, two months have gone by without a response. This, of course, seems to send Palmer into a worry-mode, thus that anxiety floods over into his letters.

You had inquired of me twice what should be d whether you should proceed to foreclose the mortgage on against Mudgett’s land for the sale’s note of 99 dols. I did not recollect the precise situation of that matter, & before replying desired some more information concerning it. I also desired in that letter that you would inform me how far Sessions had proceeded in the foreclosure of his mortgage on my land and when he would get a decree. I want to pay and release that mortgage, so as to have the land free of incumbrance ready for sale, as you informed me that Mudgett would probably never pay; which is confirmed to my satisfaction by the course he has pursued thus far, and by his not replying to my last letter.

Mudgett and Sessions are obviously two Ohio men who are tied up in this land dispute with Palmer. Show me the money!

My impression is that he is aiming to play some deep villainous game with me; but I am convinced that he can not succeed, if you prove faithful to me, (which of course I can not doubt). I can not think that you can ever be induced to connive at any rascality which he may attempt to perpetrate, by availing himself to circumstances, as such, and insinuating a scheme, as I fear he is, and disregardless of the obligations of honor and honesty.

We’re not certain if its Sessions or Mudgett – or both – that are trying to “play some deep villainous game” with Palmer, but The Old Growler sees some conniving “rascality” here, and is trusting that his loyal friend, William Carter, will not be caught up in the “scheme.”

Do not let that land be offered for sale to satisfy Sessions’ mortgage, without letting me know and giving me an opportunity of saving it. This must be done; and this done – all will be well. Still I will take no advantage of Mudgett; he shall have the land if he wants it, by paying me for it.

An offering of some grace from The Old Growler – but show me the money!

I also, in that letter, desired you to advise me of the prospect of Esq. Eanick’s making payment, and the amt. he could probably pay this fall, & c (etc.), together with many other things I cannot fully allude at present.

There’s so many more details to cover – including other land-related issues – but not here, not now.

If you have rec’d that letter, I hope you will reply fully in rec’t of this, and if not, do not fail to reply concerning the matters here spoken of with as little delay as possible.

In other words, get on the stick, Carter, and communicate with me! Today, if not sooner!

Very Respect. Your Friend A.H. Palmer

Ah yes, the friendship between Carter and Palmer continues! A.H. lived on until 1874, while William Carter made it to 1881. I wonder if ‘ole Ohio Bill was a bit relieved those last seven years of his life – not having to respond to letters from his dear friend in Iowa City – The Old Growler?


Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

William Carter, Find-A-Grave

Abraham H. Palmer, Find-A-Grave


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