Louisville Past and Present: Its Industrial History
As exhibited in the Life-labors of its Leading Men.
by M. Joblin & Co., 1875, page 220
[previous page] ...it in less than six months to Snead for about thirty-four thousand dollars. The only piece of property that he sold for which he got value was a lot of about five acres that he bought from Samuel Gwathmey, adjoining Gigus, on the Ohio River, and running back to Beargrass Creek. Henry Forsythe, then a director in the United States Bank, bought it at eleven thousand dollars. Mr. Colmesnil gave Gwathmey three thousand dollars for it some years before. The sale was considered a good one at that time. Forsythe was under the impression that the railroad would go near it when built. As an instance of his paying all his debts in Louisville we mention that a man by the man of Kegwin, a keeper of the penitentiary in Jeffersonville, Indiana, held his note for over one thousand dollars, for pork barrels. The note had over sixty days to run before it was due. Kegwin, very much alarmed, came over to Louisville, and saw Colmesnil as to arrangements for security, etc. He told him he would pay it at maturity. Kegwin appeared dissatisfied, fearful he would get no pay, and he agreed to take half down, deducting the sixty days' interest. To his surprise when the note was due, on going to the bank, he found Colmesnil had given check for the whole amount, less the interest. He went to Mr. Colmesnil after drawing the money, and observed that he had given check for the whole amount. He stated the fact to George Gwathmey, then cashier of the United States Bank. Gwathmey laughed, and observed that John D. Colmesnil had paid all his debts, dollar for dollar, and he was not surprised at it. Mr. Kegwin is now, or was a few years back, living in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
While the late James Guthrie was secretary of the treasury Mr. Colmesnil was under him, as agent of the department, in the most confidential relations. If large amounts of coin were to be removed from one point to another, the custody of it was intrusted to Mr. Colmesnil, whose scrupulous honesty Mr. Guthrie had learned and known and seen tried for years. Mr. Colmesnil was indeed the personification of honesty. He knew no guilt and harbored no deceit. His honest face mirrored his honest soul, and those who saw the one knew the other. He could not bear dishonesty or deceit in another, and made his friends alone of those whom he at least believed to be like himself in this respect.
He was once the largest and richest merchant in the city of Louisville. He had plenty of money, abundance of property, and credit without limit. He owned valuable lots everywhere in the city, and many of them not by the foot, but by the acre. The financial disasters, however, which have ever and anon prostrated others, came finally upon him. His money and most of his property went to pay debts created by others, but for which he became, one way or another, bound. He determined to quit the scene of his former wealth and power, and retire to the country. He purchased the beautiful property known as "Paroquet Springs," near Shepherdsville, in Bullitt County, with a resolution to spend there the autumn of his life. This purchase was made in 1833, when he moved from the city there; and there he resided in the midst of a beautiful grove, whose shade-trees he would never permit to be cut, but preserved them as if they had been the trees of life. The lovely grove that, now renders this place so attractive was the growth of his care. [next page]
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