Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Francis B. Deane, Willis Wilson, and John G. Daniel to Thomas Jefferson, 21 July 1819

From Francis B. Deane, Willis Wilson, and John G. Daniel

Cartersville July 21st 1819

Sir

The Legislature of Virginia at its last Session, passed an act authorising the erection of a Toll Bridge across James River at this place, The Board of managers appointed by that act, desirous to obtain such information as will enable them to have the work executed on an approved and permanent Plan, nominated the undersigned a Committee to correspond with Gentlemen conversant with subjects of that description,—At the place contemplated for the Bridge, The River is 290 yds wide, from 2 to 3 feet deep at common low water, with a Rock foundation, The Banks 23 feet high, abounding with rock, suitable for building of Piers, which are intended to be of solid masonry—As we feel persuaded that much valuable information could be had from you in relation to this subject, We take the liberty of soliciting a Plan and as far as practicable an estimate—Though we fear this application may somewhat interfere with your other pursuits, We are confident from the disposition ever manifested by you to promote the Internal Improvement of your Native State, as well as to gratify those who have a high respect for your character, the information solicited will be cheerfully afforded, provided it does not call for too great a sacrifice on your part, this We do not suppose will be the case, otherwise be assured this application would not be made—It is deemd necessary to add that the contemplated Bridge is intended to be 24 feet wide and 23 feet high—Accept our best wishes for your Health & Happiness & believe us with much respect

Yr Ob servants
F B. Deane
Willis Wilson
Jno G. Daniel

RC (DLC); in Deane’s hand, signed by Deane, Wilson, and Daniel; addressed by Deane: “Thomas Jefferson Esquire Monticello Charlottesville”; franked; postmarked Cartersville, 21 July 1819; endorsed by TJ as received 27 July 1819 and so recorded in SJL.

Francis Browne Deane (1770–1860), merchant, was born in Galway, Ireland, and moved to Virginia in 1788. Three years later he became a permanent resident of Cartersville in Cumberland County. Deane subscribed $100 to Central College in 1817. He was involved in several internal improvement efforts, being named a trustee of a Willis’s River navigation project in 1817, a manager of the Cartersville Bridge Company in 1819, and a director of the Cartersville Rail-road Company in 1837. Deane served as postmaster of Cartersville from 1829 until about 1853 (WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 1892–  description ends , 2d ser., 14 [1934]: 318–32; Deans v. Scriba et al. [1800], Va. Reports description begins Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, 1798–  (title varies; originally issued in distinct editions of separately numbered volumes with Va. Reports volume numbers retroactively assigned; original volume numbers here given parenthetically) description ends , 6 [2 Call], 415–6; Richmond Virginia Argus, 24 Apr. 1802, suppl.; 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, printed above at 5 May 1817; Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1816–17 sess.], 84 [28 Jan. 1817]; [1818–19 sess.], 116 [3 Mar. 1819]; [1836–37 sess.], 121 [24 Mar. 1837]; Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 50; Rode’s United States Post Office Directory and Postal Guide [1853], 34; gravestone inscription, Deanery Cemetery, Cumberland Co. [13 Aug. 1936 transcription in Vi: Virginia Historical Inventory Project]).

Willis Wilson (1756–1822), planter, was a lifelong resident of Cumberland County. He served in the 1st Virginia Regiment of the Continental army during the American Revolution. Rising from ensign to first lieutenant before his capture by the British on 12 May 1780 at Charleston, South Carolina, after the war Wilson joined the Society of the Cincinnati. The Virginia General Assembly named him a trustee for the establishment of the town of Cartersville in 1790, a trustee of a Willis’s River navigation project in 1817, and a manager of the Cartersville Bridge Company in 1819. Wilson owned sixty-two slaves in 1820 (Heitman, Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, rev. ed., 1914, repr. 1967 description ends , 599; List of Original Members of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia [(1896?)], 9; Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1790–91 sess.], 30 [26 Dec. 1790]; [1816–17 sess.], 84 [28 Jan. 1817]; [1818–19 sess.], 116 [3 Mar. 1819]; DNA: RG 29, CS, Cumberland Co., 1820; Cumberland Co. Will Book, 7:105–7; gravestone inscription, Bonbrook Cemetery, Cumberland Co. [29 June 1936 transcription in Vi: Virginia Historical Inventory Project]).

John G. Daniel (d. ca. 1848), merchant and planter, was a native of North Carolina. He served as the postmaster of Cartersville, 1803–28, and in 1819 he was named a manager of the Cartersville Bridge Company. Daniel afterwards resided in Powhatan County until at least 1840. He then moved to Granville County, North Carolina, where he owned at least thirty-three slaves at his death (Axelson, Virginia Postmasters description begins Edith F. Axelson, Virginia Postmasters and Post Offices, 1789–1832, 1991 description ends , 50; A Register of Officers and Agents, Civil, Military, and Naval, in the Service of the United States, on the 30th of September, 1821 [Washington, 1822], appendix, p. 18; Richmond Virginia Patriot, 15 Dec. 1814; Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1818–19 sess.], 116 [3 Mar. 1819]; DNA: RG 29, CS, Powhatan Co., 1840; Daniel’s will, dated 29 Sept. 1847 and proved Aug. 1848, Granville Co. Will Book, 17:351–3 [Nc-Ar]; 1 Apr. 1849 estate inventory in Granville Co. Probate Court Records [Nc-Ar]).

On 3 Mar. 1819 the legislature of virginia established the Cartersville Bridge Company under “An act incorporating a company to erect a toll-bridge across James river, at the town of Cartersville” (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1818–19 sess.], 114–8).

Index Entries

  • An act incorporating a company to erect a toll-bridge across James river, at the town of Cartersville (1819) search
  • Cartersville, Va.; Cartersville Bridge Company search
  • Daniel, John G.; and Cartersville Bridge Company search
  • Daniel, John G.; identified search
  • Daniel, John G.; letter from search
  • Deane, Francis Browne; and Cartersville Bridge Company search
  • Deane, Francis Browne; identified search
  • Deane, Francis Browne; letter from search
  • James River; toll bridge on search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Virginia; internal improvements in search
  • Wilson, Willis; and Cartersville Bridge Company search
  • Wilson, Willis; identified search
  • Wilson, Willis; letter from search