Thomas Jefferson Papers

From John Parkham to Nelson Barksdale, 23 March 1819

No 62 South 11th St Philadelphia, March 23d 1819.


Observing in the Philada Papers an advertisement under the head of “Workman Wanted” I beg leave to offer the following proposals &c. on the subject.

The book of Prices said to be printed by M. Carey, is not known at all by the measurers and Carpenters of this City; and was never used as a rule for Measurement by any Carpenters in this City. There are two books at present in use, One belonging to old, and the other to what is called the New Carpenters Hall. There are no private books in use, those I speak of, belong to the “Halls” and are loaned to the Members; and there is very little variation in them in regard to prices. The Carpenters in the City, where lumber and all other Materials are at hand, general work, at 10 per. Cent. or sometimes 15 pr. Ct. below the prices laid down in those books, and which will only afford to us a scanty living. I have generally worked at the prices in the book, and I would not be able to pay wages for good workman by undertaking the work at less than than prices. One of those books I have borrowed from the ‘Old Hall’ and I would send it to you, but that I am fearfull as to its safety. But if you will point out any means of Conveyance, by which the book would return safe to me, I would send it to you, and then you could judge of the prices.

I have been a Master Carpenter in this City for 17 years, and served eight years as an apprentice to my business, and have 5 apprentices Myself at a time. I have built very largely for many persons in the City, and have erected some of the finest buildings the City can boast, particularly those in Chesnut St. opposite the Academy of Fine Arts. I have built lately for the following Gentlemen. Viz Captain Dunlap, Thos. Pratt Esq Capt. Hardy, Burtan Wallace &c. I have been regularly bred to Architecture, and would therefore be of service as a draftsman. My assortment of tools and Architectural Works are very extensive, and I would if engaged, bring them with me. As you require certificates in regard to capability, I would produce them from the Old Carpenters Hall, W. Strickland, Archt. of the U. S. Bank &c—Certificates with Regard to character, would be given from the Rev. Dr. Wylie, Dr. Pilmore, Col. W. Duane, The Major of the City &c.—

In you answer to this you will please inform me whether white and yellow Pin boards, are to be had well seasoned and what proportions of each would be used in the buildings. Also what journeyman could be loan’d at in the Neighborhood; The wages here for good workmen, are generally One Doll. 33 cents pr day. and it would be impossible to get good men to for less, unless boarding is very low. The boarding here is $2.59—. I would also wish to know as I am married man, whether I could have comfortable accommodations for my family, consisting of a wife, & 4 children, and whether there are Schools in the Neighborhood.

With Regard to Security for the performance of any work I might undertake, I would remark that I am a man of considerable property in the City, and would give any security that might by demanded. I could also bring with me an experienced Clerk, (the writer of this would act as Clerk of the works if required—

You will please answer this as soon as possible, (before the Spring work begins), and as I have no business at present I could come immediately, Should you wish to see me personally, I would come down, provided my expenses are paid, which I would refund if engaged.

I am, Very Respectfully Sir, Yr: humble Servt

John Parham


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