Early Days of Greenbush: The Calf Market of 1840



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About the year 1840, John A. Butler, being thirteen years old, concluded he would like to work out for wages. So he hired to F. G. Snapp for the sum of twelve and a half cents a day, and worked for him up to harvest. He then went to binding wheat for David Bay at thirty-seven and a half cents a day. He afterwards worked in harvest at the same price for Elder Peter Downey.At this time John A. was the owner of two calves, having purchased one of them from his uncle Harry Butler, paying him one dollar and twenty-five cents for it; the other he got of J. E. Heath, giving Mr. Heath an old ax and one dollar and twenty-five cents for it.

About this time Charles Vandiver, who was a Baptist preacher living west of Greenfield, took a notion to sell a black yearling steer calf he had. So he told his son Absalom to take the calf to St. Augustine and sell him to Mattingley. Abs. placed a chain around the calf’s horns and started with him. When he arrived at Greenfield, he stopped on the street to rest. John A. Butler saw him, went to him and questioned him about the calf, and finally asked Abs. what he would take for him. Abs. replied, “Father told me to take him to Mattingley and sell him for three dollars.’’ John A. said, ‘‘I will tell you what I will do. I will just give you two dollars and a half for the calf and it is all he is worth.” Abs. was not satisfied to take it, and told John A. he would take the three dollars or take the calf to Mattingley.

About this time Andrew Stice, Henson Martin, and Aaron Holeman came up and said, “Trade, boys, trade.” Stice and Martin then proposed that they split the difference. John A. consented to this, but Abs. held off for some time.

The price was finally agreed on at two dollars and seventy-five cents. Abs. told John A. that the chain did not go with the calf. John A. said he must have the chain. So the matter was left to the by-standers who decided that the chain went with the calf.

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