Thomas Jefferson Papers

William A. Burwell to Thomas Jefferson, 12 October 1810

From William A. Burwell

October 12th 1810

My dear Sir,

A visit to the Springs for the benefit of my family delay’d the Receipt of your letter until a few days past; otherwise I should have given you an answer sooner; The quarry to which you allude is in the County of Franklin on the Pigg River, about 45 miles from New London, the Road is generally hilly but firm, such as the waggoners are accustomed to carry from 3. to 4000—in the summer, & Fall Seasons—the greatest difficulty occurs in removing the mill stones to the Public road—

I suppose the price of Cutting them would be about 35 or 40 $ tho I believe the man who formerly followed the business is now dead—to this price must be added the Carriage which will be equal to 10$—The quality is remarkable for the closeness sharpiness & hardness of the gritt—It requires dressing very seldom, not more than three times in the year—I have understood this to have been the practice of a miller who used them, but with constant grinding oftener would become necessary—My knowledge of this quarry is derived more from the opinion of others than any experience of my own; the stones in my own Mill were brought from a distance—there however is not the smallest doubt of their suiting remarkably well for Country mills.—If from what I have said you should decide in favor of this quarry—I will endeavor to enter into a contract for you, & have them deliverd at Poplar Forest as soon as possible— from my knowledge of the utility of a mill upon a farm of considerable extent & value, I think you will find the most beneficial result from one cheaply constructed—Much expence would be thrown away—because its principal value will consist in its convenience to yourself—You will find it difficult to procure a good miller, & the custom not equal to the expence of constantly keeping a valuable Negroe attending—by all means therefore I should avoid much expence unless the Stream is uncommonly abundant, & the dependance of the Neighbourhood almost exclusive upon your mill—

It gives me pleasure to hear Mr B intends settling in Bedford, I am sure he will find it his interest; to enter as soon as possible upon some agreable, & lucrative employment and I am in hopes we shall interchange visits with our families— Since we saw each other I have been very much afflicted by the indisposition of my wife—I have found her in every respect entitled to my warmest affection, & have felt what you may readily conceive during the period which threatend me with the loss of her— from the Springs she derived considerable benefit; but since our return she has been very unwell—I propose Seeing you at M,cello on my way to C—shall remain as long as I can—Adieu my dear Sir, may You be happy is the wish of your friend

W. A Burwell

RC (MHi); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esq New London by Mail Care of Mr Steptoe”; stamped; postmarked Brown’s Store, Franklin County, 21 Oct. 1810; endorsed by TJ as received 26 Oct. 1810.

The following spring Burwell’s wife Letitia McCreery Burwell wrote to TJ that “Mrs Burwell takes the liberty of troubling Mr Jefferson with the enclosed letter for Mr B. whom she expects will pass by Montichello” (RC in MHi; undated; addressed: “Honorable Thomas Jefferson Montichello Virginia”; franked; postmarked Baltimore, 14 Apr.; endorsed by TJ as received 17 Apr. 1811 and so recorded in SJL; enclosure not found). On 7 May 1811 Elizabeth Trist advised Catharine Wistar Bache that Martha Jefferson Randolph had informed her that “Mr Burwell had set out for Baltimore to bring his wife and child” (PPAmP: Bache Papers).

Charles L. Bankhead (mr b) did not settle in Bedford. On 18 Oct. 1811 Trist informed Bache that “Mr Jefferson was to have sett out for Bedford but had an attack of the Rhumatism which confined him to his chamber some time and was the means of procrastinating his trip to Bedford for some weeks, and Mr Burwell heard from a Gentleman who lives in that Neighbourhood that he seem’d in bad spirits that Bankheads abandoning his plan of settling there had blightd Mr Jeffersons schemes of improving the place or finnishing the House at poplar Forest, I fear that he has a great deal to tease and embarras him” (PPAmP: Bache Papers).

Index Entries

  • Bache, Catharine Wistar search
  • Bankhead, Charles Lewis (Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead’s husband); and Bedford Co. land search
  • Bedford County, Va.; C. L. Bankhead to buy land in search
  • Burwell, Letitia McCreery (William Armistead Burwell’s wife); health of search
  • Burwell, Letitia McCreery (William Armistead Burwell’s wife); sends letter for her husband to TJ search
  • Burwell, William Armistead; and quarries in Franklin Co. search
  • Burwell, William Armistead; letters from search
  • health; rheumatism search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; rheumatism search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); attempted sale of part of search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); mills at search
  • quarries; in Va. search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); mentioned search
  • rheumatism; TJ’s search
  • roads; and Franklin Co. search
  • springs; therapeutic search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; on TJ search
  • Virginia; quarries in search