Thomas Jefferson Papers

Earl Sturtevant to Thomas Jefferson, 13 May 1812

From Earl Sturtevant

Norfolk May 13. 1812


At the request of Mr A. H. Quincy of Boston, I enclose to you an advertizement of his for Soap Stone, at the same time he handed me an Inkstand made of the same kind of Stone, which he wished conveyed to you as a compliment.—

He presumed from your extensive information that if such an article existed it would be within your knowledge.—

I shall forward the Inkstand to Wm Wirt Esq Richmond to be forwarded to you whenever oppy may offer.

Any information on the subject will be reced with much sattisfaction.

Verry respectfully Yr. M. O. St

E. Sturtevant

RC (MHi); at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 June 1812 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Abraham Howard Quincy’s undated advertisement entitled “Fire Stone Wanted,” 95 Broad Street, Boston, stating that he has invented stone stoves that save “90 per cent. of the usual expense of both fuel and labor, and entirely reduces the hazard from fire”; that his holdings of the necessary stone on the Connecticut River would suffice to supply the entire United States; that he wishes nonetheless to be advised of the whereabouts of other deposits so that he can establish local stove manufactories; that he thinks this cotton- or soapstone “(soft and free from grit)” is widely dispersed; that the stoves will reduce from six months to two days the time it takes for a man and team to supply enough wood for a year to a family keeping two fires; that the stoves are powerful enough for all sorts of public spaces, applicable to all sorts of cookery, and use entirely new principles; and adding that he operates “An extensive Manufactory of Inkstands, Slate Pencils, Foot-Stoves, Furnaces, Oven, and other Fire-Doors, Boiling, Refining, and Cooling Kettles, and Vats for Sulphur, Salts and Salt-Petre, &c. all of stone, under Patents,” and that as “the sole Inventor of Stone Stoves” he will prosecute those who infringe his patent (printed broadside in ViW: TC-JP).

Earl Sturtevant, merchant, joined with Luke Bixby in 1803 to establish the firm of Bixby & Sturtevant in Boston, Massachusetts. By 1812 Sturtevant had moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where he operated a consignment and dry-goods business in his own name until he assigned his estate to his creditors in 1818. The following year he dealt in candles and soap and was appointed measurer of grains, coal, salt, and lime for the city (Boston New-England Palladium, 8 July 1803; The Boston Directory [1803], 118; [1810], 186; Norfolk Gazette & Public Ledger, 23 Mar. 1812; Norfolk American Beacon and Commercial Diary, 14 Aug. 1815, 10 Oct. 1816, 17 Mar. 1817; American Beacon and Norfolk & Portsmouth Daily Advertiser, 17 Nov. 1818, 30 Jan., 12 May 1819, 9 Dec. 1820).

Sturtevant also wrote to William Wirt from Norfolk, 13 May 1812, forwarding “to your care an Inkstand for Mr Jefferson. which be so good as to receive & forward to him by any safe conveyance,” adding another copy of Quincy’s advertizement “for the purpose of assertaining if there be any Stone therein described in this state,” and offering to receive any information on this subject (RC in MHi; endorsed by TJ as a 2 June 1812 letter from Wirt in Richmond received 4 June 1812 and so recorded in SJL, with Wirt’s name subsequently canceled in endorsement but not in SJL). The 2 June 1812 covering letter from Wirt to TJ has not been found.

Index Entries

  • Bixby, Luke search
  • household articles; inkstands search
  • household articles; stoves search
  • inkstands; stone search
  • Quincy, Abraham Howard; and stone stoves search
  • saltpeter search
  • soapstone search
  • stoves; stone search
  • Sturtevant, Earl; forwards inkstand to TJ search
  • Sturtevant, Earl; identified search
  • Sturtevant, Earl; letters from search
  • Wirt, William; and inkstand for TJ search
  • wood; firewood search