Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Slaughter, 8 September 1813

To Joseph Slaughter

Poplar Forest Sep. 8. 13.

Dear Sir

By the help of your survey, I am now enabled to lay off my fields to my mind. but there are 3. or 4. dividing lines to be run with a compass & chain. I stay to see this done, in the hope that the day after you get1 back from Albemarle court, you will be so good as to come & run them for me. it will take a few hours only, and the moment they are run, so that my overseers may know where to begin their fallows, I depart. Accept the assurance of my respect & esteem

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); at foot of text: “Capt Slaughter”; endorsed by TJ.

At some point during the previous year TJ composed a memorandum apparently asking Slaughter to surveyTomahawk branch from where the Ridge branch enters it to where it crosses my line below & recieves a small branch from the South. Survey the Ridge branch, Middle branch, Machine branch, Prize branch, and a branch below that, without a name, from where they enter Tomahawk to their headsprings, & from each head spring run to the Lynchburg road, & mark the course & distance to it. let the offset from the spring of the Machine branch to the road, strike it at the barn. from different points of the survey, take the bearing of the dwelling house, that we may know the position of that with respect to the fields
the ground between the Ridge branch & Machine branch is to be divided into two equal fields by a line or lines from Tomahawk up. the back line of the cleared lands, from where the present road crosses the Machine branch, North-Eastwardly to the North Easternmost corner of what is called the 3. years old ground, & then down along the Eastern side of the same cleared land to Tomahawk.
the quantity of open land between branch & branch to be ascertained, as these branches are to be the divisions of fields.
the whole on a scale of 10. po. to ¼ of an Inch
when at the place where Tomahawk crosses my line, fix the position of the county line by a large marked poplar near there which Ben Johnson shewed me” (MS in ViU: TJP, TB [Thurlow-Berkeley] no. 1136 [532-o6]; entirely in TJ’s hand; undated; with drawing by TJ showing the Mountain and Lynchburg roads, Tomahawk Creek and the branches flowing into it, and a part of Poplar Forest’s eastern boundary). Slaughter’s surviving field notes are located on the back of a letter he had written to an unidentified correspondent on 10 Nov. 1812 (ViU: TJP, TB 1136 [532-n1]). The completed survey, which is in Slaughter’s hand and signed by him, contains notes by TJ giving the names of several streams and eight cultivated fields, the acreage of various parts of Tomahawk plantation, the date “Septemb. 1813,” and the scale of the map as “40. po. to the inch.” In addition to depicting the six fields present on Jefferson’s Map of Tomahawk plantation published as an illustration to Vol. 4, Slaughter’s survey reveals three new fields on the north branch of Tomahawk Creek: an 81½-acre Upper field, a 60-acre Middle field, and an 80-acre Lower field (MS in ViU: TJP-ER).

1TJ here canceled “here.”

Index Entries

  • Albemarle County Court, Va. search
  • Johnson, Benjamin; and survey of TJ’s Tomahawk plantation search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); barns at search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); main house at search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); surveys of search
  • Slaughter, Joseph; letters to search
  • Slaughter, Joseph; surveys TJ’s Tomahawk plantation search
  • Tomahawk plantation (part of TJ’s Poplar Forest estate); fields at search
  • Tomahawk plantation (part of TJ’s Poplar Forest estate); surveys of search