Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the Heirs of Bennett Henderson, 7 November 1795

To the Heirs of Bennett Henderson

To John, William, Sally, James, Charles, Isham, Bennet Hilsborough, Eliza, Frances, Lucy and Nancy Crawford Henderson, children of Bennet Henderson deceased.

Be pleased to take notice that on the 24th of November at the dwelling house of Thomas Morgan between the hours of eleven and one in the day, I shall proceed to take the deposition of the said Thomas Morgan by virtue of a commission issued from the high court of Chancery in a suit instituted by me against you in the said court concerning the reflowing of backwater on my mill seat occasioned by your mill dam.

Th: Jefferson
November 7th 1795

MS (CtY); in TJ’s hand, except for dates inserted by Deputy Sheriff Francis Taliaferro beneath TJ’s signature and in blank left by TJ in body of text; with attestation on verso in Taliaferro’s hand, signed and dated by Justice of the Peace Thomas Bell, 17 Nov. 1795, recording Taliaferro’s oath that “he gave the within notice to John & William Henderson on Thursday the 12th of November & that John Henderson Acknolledg that he recd the within Notice for the Rest of the Children.”

Bennett Henderson’s children are evidently named above, and in other documents relating to TJ’s suit against them, in their birth order. John, the only sibling of legal age at the time of their father’s death in 1793, took the lead in opposing TJ in later lawsuits involving the Henderson family’s lands and mill (Albemarle County Court Order of Guardianship, 9 Oct. 1794, and Craven Peyton’s Bill in Chancery, 5 May 1804, both in ViU: Carr Papers, 19th-century transcript, being part of record of TJ v. Michie in the hand of George Carr; TQHGM description begins L. G. Tyler, ed., Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Richmond, 1920–52, 34 vols. in 33 description ends , x [1928], 60).

On 24 Nov. 1795 Thomas Bell and Benjamin Brown took the deposition of the said Thomas Morgan at Morgan’s house, the deponent declaring that he was “aged about ninety four years”; that he had come into TJ’s employ in about April 1766 and worked as miller at TJ’s mill at Shadwell until the mill “was carried away by the great Fresh” of 1771; that he had since that flood lived within half a mile of the mill site; that there had formerly been a shoal near TJ’s mill that was only under water during “a full winter tide” and that a horse ford had crossed the river at the mill; that since the construction of the mill at Mountain Falls by the deceased Bennett Henderson the depth of the “dead water” upstream at TJ’s mill had increased by about two feet, overflowing the shoal, rendering the ford unusable, and making it impossible, in times of high water, to operate a mill wheel on TJ’s site; and that Henderson had built his mill in 1780, when TJ was away on public service, and took from TJ’s property stone that Morgan understood TJ intended to use to rebuild his mill and which Henderson used to construct his own mill dam at Mountain Falls (ViU: Carr Papers, 19th-century transcript, being part of record of TJ v. Michie in the hand of George Carr).

By virtue of a commission: see note to Bill in Chancery on the Henderson Milldam, [24 Sep. 1795].

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