Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John M. Perry, 7 May 1809

To John M. Perry

Monticello May 7.1 09.


When I bespoke of you the other day the thousand feet of heart pine plank, cut crosswise in the stock into bars of a full inch or rather inch & eighth,2 I forgot to desire that the planks might not after sawing, be separated by splitting them asunder at the butt end [but] that the stock may come entire. perhaps the end should be bound round with a hiccory withe. if the planks are separated, the planks will be very apt to break.

Yours Etc

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); faint; at foot of text: “Mr John Perry”; endorsed by TJ.

John M. Perry, master brickmason and carpenter, was involved with building projects at Monticello, Poplar Forest, and TJ’s mill between 1800 and 1811. His work on residential buildings and churches in Albemarle and surrounding counties enabled him to purchase large amounts of land, part of which he sold in 1817 to Central College (later the University of Virginia). A condition of the sale was that he would have carpentry and joinery contracts during construction of the university. Perry served as a local magistrate, and as a justice of the peace in 1826, he helped to appraise TJ’s estate. He began selling off his real estate holdings in 1829 and moved from his Albemarle County home, Montebello, to Missouri about 1835. At the time of his death Perry lived in Mississippi (Woods, Albemarle description begins Edgar Woods, Albemarle County in Virginia, 1901, repr. 1991 description ends , 294–5; Lay, Architecture description begins K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, 2000 description ends , 99–101, 160–1; Richard Charles Cote, “The Architectural Workmen of Thomas Jefferson in Virginia,” 2 vols. [Ph.D. diss., Boston University, 1986], 1:62–3, 148–55; Perry to TJ, 3 [June] 1817; 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, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , esp. 2:1023).

Letters Perry wrote TJ on 13 June and 26 Sept., not found, are recorded as received 13 June and 29 Sept. 1809 in SJL, which also records a missing, undated letter from Perry received 8 Oct. 1809.

1Number interlined in place of “9.”

2Manuscript: “eigthth.”

Index Entries

  • building materials; plank search
  • Central College (Charlottesville); construction of search
  • Central College (Charlottesville); land and buildings owned by search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); builders at search
  • Perry, John M.; and plank for TJ search
  • Perry, John M.; identified search
  • Perry, John M.; letters from accounted for search
  • Perry, John M.; letters to search
  • pine planking search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); builders at search
  • Shadwell mills; builders at search