Letter From Jesse Stoner, Helena, Montana
To John Lee Stoner, Green Springs, Ohio
November 28, 1886
Transcribed by Stephen J. Hartzell

Lee Stoner has apparently been agonizing over an impending business decision. In this letter brother Jesse is trying to help Lee to decide which way to go. Lee is entertaining 2 well paying options at 2 different lumber houses, one at Lincoln, presumably Lincoln, Nebraska. Interestingly, Jesse offers his brother a quick instruction on the art of wheeling & dealing.

Helena Mont.
Nov. 28th, 1886

Dear Lee
Yours from (illegible) at hand. Again you ask me a question which can only be decided by your self.

But still secures to me you can make some capital of the two offers. I think I would have a plain talk with F. S. and tell him you have an offer of 1000$ from the lumber firm of Lincoln. But that you think you would prefer to travel for a while and that you will make him a proposition, only he must let you have time to hear from the other party. Say to him if he will give you 50$ a month and expense for the first 6 months, then if you prove satisfactory to each other he is to allow you 800$ per year for the first year, and all expense, do not be afraid to ask him enough if he refuses you. Can maybe split the difference or can accept his proposition. Write at once to the Lincoln house and tell them you have an offer at 800$ per year to travel for F. S. & Co. but that you want to do the best you can for your self and get the best offer you can, then show that to Giddings and if he will not raise you can accept the other.

For my self I am rather in favor of the traveling scheme, it really takes you away from the Springs. Ida can board and rent the house, or can live very cheap alone. You will be investing more and making your self acquainted and worth more to any house in the lumber business. Your time will be mostly at your own disposal, that is you can arrange it to such hours as you like, of course I do not know what position you would take if you went with the Lincoln house. But if you close with F. S. have a plain talk with him, tell him you are going to do your best. But that if you fail in doing in all case just as he would you would be glad of suggestions, but that he must rely on you as doing the best you could. Find out about what he intends to allow for overages for expense, tell him you expect to be economical as if it were your own business but that he must allow you, and you expect to travel first class, and as the reputation of a good house should, but that he must trust you as to the necessity and that you will expect no objection to any expense you make, for it will be done to the best of your judgment.

If you go to Lincoln you will have some two or three hundred dollars expense and if you can get 800 I think I would take it. I do not think but that you will get along all OK with F. S. I think he always rather liked you and would not be surprised if J. too was at the bottom of the offer. Well, let me know as soon as you decide what to do.

Hope there are pleasanter and brighter days in store for us all.

Affectionately Your Brother