Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to James Walker, 11 January 1811

To James Walker

Monticello Jan. 11. 11.


I am about opening a canal at the hither end of my dam, and carrying it about 300. yards through the low grounds to where I shall have 6.f. fall, with a view of there building a saw mill, and joining to it a threshing machine. I can afford it but little water, & the fall being small, I propose a breastwheel of 10½ f. diameter, with a spur wheel on each side, the one driving the wallower with it’s crank and saw, the other my present threshing machine instead of the horse-wheel which now moves it. the canal will take me a month to dig, & I should wish the mill to be immediately after that compleated as soon as practicable. will it suit you to undertake it? if it would, I should wish you to call at convenience & give me a bill of scantling to be got by my carpenter’s, and the irons necessary to be procured. in the mean time I shall be glad to hear from you if it does not suit you to come immediately. Accept my best wishes.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr James Walker”; endorsed by TJ.

James Walker was a millwright who had helped construct TJ’s mills at Shadwell (TJ’s Agreement with Walker, 28 Sept. 1802 [MHi]; MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , esp. 2:1162).

On 12 Jan. 1811 Walker wrote to Isaac A. Coles explaining that when TJ’s letter arrived he had been “from home & did not return untill last night” and asking Coles to advise TJ that “in a few days I will call on him—I think I can do his work as soon as he wishes it done—my business is such at this time that I cant go immediately. say 10 days hence I will see him” (RC in DLC; addressed: “Mr. I. A. Coles per Boy”; endorsed by TJ: “Walker James to I. A. Coles”).

Index Entries

  • agriculture; threshing machines search
  • Coles, Isaac A.; letters from J. Walker to search
  • machines; threshing search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); sawmill at search
  • sawmill; at Monticello search
  • Shadwell mills; improvements to search
  • threshing machines search
  • Walker, James; and mill construction search
  • Walker, James; identified search
  • Walker, James; letters to search