Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Booker, 7 October 1796

From William Booker

Goochland County October 7. 1796


I Receiv.d yours of the fourth Instant by Mr. Buck. I have with pleasure Given him Every Information I am able respecting the Machine.

At present I am very unwell. As soon as I should be better in healh I will make a drawing of the machine and forward it by the post to charlottesville for you.

Mr. Graham told me Colo. Coles had apply.d to him and that he had promis.d him a drawing. But it has never been Since in my power to comply owing to my Indisposion and previous Engagements.

I feel much Indebted to you for your offering your assistance in procureing a patent. Had you been convenient, I should have Taken the Liberty to have Call.d on you at first.

I have got the assistance of some Gent. in Richmond, and have sent forward a model, at present I believe the buisiness is as forward as could be Expected if any difficulties Shoul arise by your permission I will Call on you.

Having not as yet obtained a patent I cannot Say what will be my price for using the machine but Shoul.d I Succeed the price Shall be Moderate. I am, with due respect your Most Obet. an very Humble Sevt

Wm. Booker

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 11 Oct. 1796 and so recorded in SJL.

Upon his return to Monticello, John H. Buck, whom TJ employed to build threshing machines, built one incorporating Booker’s improvements (MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , ii, 935, 946).

The information Booker sent to TJ respecting the machine probably included the following:

“A bill of Scantling, for a Threshing Machine to be worked by bands—

  • for a wheel thirty six feet Diameter
    • one Shaft   long. 16. Inches through hewd. 8 sqr
    •  8. pieces for arms 19. feet Long 2 1/2. by 9—
    • 16. pieces for braces and Ties 13. feet long 2 by 3
  • for the framing inside of a house or to Support the drum &C.
    •  4. pieces 16. feet Long 5. by 8
    • 12. Do.   16         4. by 8
  • for Rolers bands beaters &c.
    • 10. pieces of Tough. white oak. or any Strong hard wood 4. 1/2 feet long 4. Inches sqr.
    • 2. wheels 4. feet Diameter made as a Common Cart or waggon wheel not Dished for the Drum
    • 2. Do. for Turning the Rolers 3 feet 8. Inches Diameter as Strong as the Rim of a spinning will Will be sufficient, nuts 6 or 7. Inches through
    • one Do. 3. or 4. feet Diameter Some Stronger for Directing the band to the whirl”

(MS in MHi, in Booker’s hand; undated).

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