George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Sommers, 20 November 1799

To Samuel Sommers

Mount Vernon 20th Novr 1799


In consequence of your letter, and the information of Mr Rawlins, I sent to Richmond and obtained the enclosed warrant—With which (in the absence of Colo. Payne) I pray you to do what will be necessary to give it legal and proper effect and advise me thereof by a line lodged in the Post Office as the most certain mode of getting it to hand.1

You will perceive that the Warrant is for 100 Acres only, this has proceeded from my mistake in saying, I believed the vacancy would not exceed this quantity; but my intention in the Entry was to cover all the waste land within the limits I had described—be it more or less—and if the location cannot comprehend this I shall be disappointed and ask your advice & assistance to correct it.2

It appears from the Registers letter, which accompanied the Warrant that Mr William Shepherd has made, and returned a Survey to that Office which bears some similitude to my Entry, I would ask the favour of you, therefore to examine the Surveyors Books to see at what time it was made and whether, in your judgment it is the identical Land I have been aiming to obtain. Mr Shepherds conduct while I was employed in Surveying my land on Difficult was so full of concealment and deception that I have not, nor shall not place any confidence in any thing he may say respecting the premises. For if he has made a Survey of this vacancy it was done unknowingly to the neighbourhood thereabouts; who, one and all (whom I saw) expressed a belief that Tankervilles Line and mine—between which the vacancy is now supposed to lye—were the same, and was so understood by them all.3 And Mr Jno. Moss who formerly lived on Tankerville’s land, and whom I have lately seen declares the same.4 With esteem I am Sir Your very Hble Servant

Go: Washington

P.S. I have written to Colo. ⟨Payne⟩ also, for informatn on this subject. but request no delay on that account.5

ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers.

1Sommers’s letter has not been found, but see GW to William Price, 7, 8 November. Price enclosed the warrant in his letter of 15 Nov., which has not been found.

4John Moss is probably the John Moss who before the Revolution had an ordinary at Sugar Land Run about halfway between Leesburg and Alexandria. See Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:238, 239.

5The letterpress copy of GW’s letter to William Payne, the Fairfax County surveyor, is in part not legible and the rest barely so. It appears to have been dated 28 Nov., but its contents indicate it was written before that date, probably on the twentieth. The legible portion of the letter reads: “Sir, If this letter should find you at home, the intention ⟨of it⟩ is (through Mr Rawlins the bearer) to enquire into the State of my Entry, of a supposed vacancy of land, on Difficult run ⟨illegible⟩ and always supposed ⟨illegible⟩ boundaries; and to learn what ⟨illegible⟩ a Mr Willm Shepherd, or others for him have taken in your Office to interrupt the progress of my Entry & Warrant.

“If you have seen your Deputy Mr S. Sommers, since your return, you would from him, have received a perfect account of the whole ⟨illegible⟩ business. If you have not, Mr Rawlins relation, who is acquainted therewith will save me the necessity of detailing them. I have done, and am ready to do, all that has been adjudged expedient & proper. I am Sir—Your most Obedt Servt Go: Washington” (NN: Washington Papers).

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