Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Circular from Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Coleman and Other Road Viewers, 1 October 1817

Circular to Joseph Coleman and Other Road Viewers

Monticello Octob. 1. 17.

Sir

Having petitioned the court of Albemarle to change the public road1 from Charlottesville to the Chapel branch, a little below the Shadwell mills, so as to run it along the river side instead of it’s crossing the mountain, and there being opposition to this in the neighborhood the court has thought it best to name as viewers persons at a distance feeling no bias or2 interest but the common and proper one of favor to the best road. under this impression they have appointed yourself & the other g[e]ntlemen named in the inclosed order, as viewers. we are anxious to have the view in time to be returned to the court on Monday next because as it must lie over one court for witnesses and consideration, it is important that it be decided at the November court. the advance of the winter would otherwise render the meetings of the court and viewers precarious, and might put both roads out of the proper condition for being viewed. as the viewers cannot assemble to name a day for themselves, I have taken the liberty of fixing on Saturday next, & of requesting you to meet the other gentlemen at Charlottesville on that day by 12. aclock. the road to be changed is of about 4½ miles; consequently you will have to examine 9. miles of road. as this may prevent your return home on the same day, the parties will ask permission to defray the expences you may of course incur. in the hope you will be so kind as to perform this good office for us, I tender you the assurance of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); on verso of portion of reused address cover to TJ, with Dft on recto; one word faint; at foot of text:

Jos. Coleman near Samuel Dyer’s
Ben. Childress near Warren
Andrew Hart. South garden.
John Slaughter. on Dick Wood’s road
Ro. McCullock. near Brown’s cove
Brightberry Brown. in Brown’s cove
Horsley Goodman. near the barracks”;
endorsed by TJ, giving surnames only, in same sequence, and so recorded in SJL. Dft (MHi); with above PoC on verso; incomplete. Enclosure: Albemarle County Court Order Concerning a Proposed Road, 8 Apr. 1817, which names viewers in same sequence except that McCulloch precedes Slaughter.

Joseph Coleman (1770–1846), farmer, was a native of Virginia who lived in Albemarle County by 1802 and served as an ensign in the Virginia militia. At his death his personal estate was valued at $7,747.20 and included twenty-five slaves (Annie Noble Sims, comp., Francis Morgan: An Early Virginia Burgess and Some of his Descendants [1920], 114–7; Woods, Albemarle description begins Edgar Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia, 1901, repr. 1991 description ends , 372, 403; DNA: RG 29, CS, Albemarle Co., 1810–40; Albemarle Co. Will Book, 17:338–9, 373–5).

Benjamin Childress (1764–1852), farmer, was a Virginia native who served briefly in the militia during the Revolutionary War. At his death in Albemarle County, his estate included 480 acres of land and fourteen slaves (DNA: RG 15, RWP; DNA: RG 29, CS, Albemarle Co., 1850; Albemarle Co. Will Book, 21:352, 22:298–300; gravestone inscription in Mount Zion Methodist Church Cemetery, Albemarle Co.).

Andrew Hart (1754–1832), merchant and farmer, was born in the county of Linlithgow, Scotland. By 1784 he immigrated to Virginia, and from 1786 until 1807 he operated a store in Albemarle County. Hart was a postmaster from an undetermined period until 1811. He subscribed $100 to Central College in 1817 and owned twenty-seven slaves at his death in Albemarle County (Mildred Carrington Hart Ewell, The Hart Family: An Account of Andrew Hart [1754–1832] of Sunny Bank, Albemarle County, Virginia, emigrant from Scotland and His Descendants [1997]; Woods, Albemarle description begins Edgar Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia, 1901, repr. 1991 description ends , 223–4; Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 4; Master List of Subscribers to Central College, [after 7 May 1817], document 5 in a group of documents on The Founding of the University of Virginia: Central College, 1816–1819, 5 May 1817; Albemarle Co. Will Book, 11:99–101, 146–7).

John Slaughter (b. ca. 1792), farmer, was a native of Virginia. He subscribed $50 to Central College in 1817. In 1831 Slaughter moved from Albemarle to Muskingum County, Ohio, where he continued to farm and was active in the Whig Party. He moved to Illinois after 1850 and lived until at least 1857 (Sarah Travers Lewis Anderson, Lewises, Meriwethers and their Kin [1938], 339–40; Central College Subscription List, [ca. 7 May 1817], document 4 in a group of documents on The Founding of the University of Virginia: Central College, 1816–1819, 5 May 1817; American Farmer, and Spirit of the Agricultural Journals of the Day, new ser., 3 [1842]: 410–1; Ohio State Journal and Columbus Gazette, 11 Sept. 1835; Columbus Ohio State Journal, 13 Oct. 1841; DNA: RG 29, CS, Ohio, Muskingum Co., 1840, 1850).

Robert McCulloch (1781–1853), miller, was a native of Albemarle County. He served as a captain in the Virginia militia, 1814–15. McCulloch operated a post office at his mills, 1818–22, and he supplied lumber for the construction of the University of Virginia. In 1835 he moved to Cooper County, Missouri, where he died (William F. Johnson, History of Cooper County, Missouri [1919], 229, 414; Stuart Lee Butler, A Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812 [1988], 45, 253; Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 5; ViU: PP, ledger, 1817–23; James Harris and Robert McCulloch to TJ, 16 Dec. 1821; gravestone inscription in McCulloch Cemetery, Cooper Co., Mo.).

Brightberry Brown (1762–1846), farmer, was a lifelong resident of Albemarle County. He served in the Revolutionary War and was later a captain in the Virginia militia. Brown co-owned the county’s first turnpike, which was begun in 1805 and crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains. He served as postmaster at Brown’s Turnpike, 1812–14 and 1820–28. Brown patented a water loom in 1814, and in 1830 he owned twenty-three slaves (DNA: RG 15, RWP; Woods, Albemarle description begins Edgar Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia, 1901, repr. 1991 description ends , 69, 153, 235, 375, 403; Washington National Intelligencer, 1 Aug. 1812; Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 3; List of Patents description begins A List of Patents granted by the United States from April 10, 1790, to December 31, 1836, 1872 description ends , 137; DNA: RG 29, CS, Albemarle Co., 1830; Albemarle Co. Will Book, 17:286, 522–6).

Horsley Goodman (1760–1827), farmer, was a brother of TJ’s overseer Jeremiah A. Goodman. He resided his entire life in Albemarle County. Having briefly served in the Revolutionary War, Goodman later became a major in the Virginia militia. He owned twenty-four slaves in 1820 (Woods, Albemarle description begins Edgar Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia, 1901, repr. 1991 description ends , 210, 374; DNA: RG 15, RWP; DNA: RG 29, CS, Albemarle Co., 1820; Albemarle Co. Will Book, 9:3–6, 40–1; gravestone inscription in Earlysville on land formerly belonging to his father).

On this date TJ paid Gill Gillette $1 for “expences in carrying letters to Coleman et al. viewers of road” (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, 2 vols., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1338).

1Dft ends here.

2Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Albemarle County, Va.; and road orders search
  • Albemarle County Court, Va. search
  • Brown, Brightberry; and proposed Albemarle Co. road search
  • Brown, Brightberry; identified search
  • Brown, Brightberry; letter to search
  • Charlottesville, Va.; roads in search
  • Childress, Benjamin; and proposed Albemarle Co. road search
  • Childress, Benjamin; identified search
  • Childress, Benjamin; letter to search
  • Coleman, Joseph; and proposed Albemarle Co. road search
  • Coleman, Joseph; identified search
  • Coleman, Joseph; letter to search
  • Gillette, Gill (TJ’s slave; b.1792); delivers letters search
  • Goodman, Horsley; and proposed Albemarle Co. road search
  • Goodman, Horsley; identified search
  • Goodman, Horsley; letter to search
  • Hart, Andrew; and proposed Albemarle Co. road search
  • Hart, Andrew; identified search
  • Hart, Andrew; letter to search
  • McCulloch, Robert; and proposed Albemarle Co. road search
  • McCulloch, Robert; identified search
  • McCulloch, Robert; letter to search
  • Rivanna River; and Albemarle Co. roads search
  • roads; in Albemarle Co. search
  • Shadwell mills; road at search
  • Slaughter, John; and proposed Albemarle Co. road search
  • Slaughter, John; identified search
  • Slaughter, John; letter to search
  • Virginia; roads proposed in search