Thomas Jefferson Papers

James C. Steptoe to James Steptoe, 18 May 1812

James C. Steptoe to James Steptoe

May 18. 1812.

Dear Pappa

In complyance with your letter pr Ben I have made a diligent search for the information required by Mr. Jefferson and am sorry to say this office affords no proof either of an entry by Stith or a conveyance from him to Dayles—It seems no return of Entrys were made to the county court before the year 1773 at which time they began and were regularly continued ’til about the year 1780, under the name of ‘Surveys’ stating the name of the person in whose name it was made the date, the number of acres, & where the land laid—

I find a conveyance from John Dayles to Thomas McCauley in ’72 of 230 acres stated to be part of 454 acres granted him pr Patent dated 3d August 17[7]1 lying on the branches of No name creek—but whether this lies on the waters of the creek now known by the name of Ivy I can’t say, I belive there is no such water course in the limits of this county at present known by that name.

Mattw Pate Jr is the present surveyor of this county, and I am informed by one of the comrs appointed by the court for inspecting the books of the late Surveyors office that they were delivered to Mr P. he lives in Pates settlement.

Your affectte son

J. C Steptoe

PS. It’s possible the entry may be made1 by Stith assigned to Dayles in whose name the patent issued

RC (ViU: TJP); mutilated at crease; dateline between signature and postscript; endorsed by TJ: “J. C. Steptoe.”

James Callaway Steptoe (1781–1827), the son of TJ’s longtime friend James Steptoe, was a Bedford County native and plantation owner. Appointed deputy county clerk by 1803, he held that post until he succeeded his father as clerk in 1826, serving himself until his own death. In 1805 Steptoe was recommended as a county militia captain, and he invested about 1812 in two lots in the town of Liberty. Early in the 1820s he was concerned about his considerable indebtedness. In his will Steptoe directed that his lands be sold to cover his debts, but at his death his substantial estate included fifty-three slaves (Bedford Co. Order Book, 12:338, 13:166, 16:333, 21:203–4; Bedford Co. Will Book, 6:431, 7:40–1, 61–4; Lynchburg Virginian, 8 Nov. 1827; Steptoe’s gravestone inscription, Callaway-Steptoe Cemetery, Bedford Co.).

Sometime this month TJ spoke with James Steptoe (1750–1826) about the condition of the Bedford County clerk’s office early in the 1770s. This conversation evidently prompted Steptoe to write his son a letter, not found, which elicited the above response that the elder Steptoe must have passed on to TJ. dayles is a mistaken reference to John Wayles (TJ to James Steptoe, 10 Sept. 1812).

1Manuscript: “made made.”

Index Entries

  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; dispute with S. Scott search
  • McCauley, Thomas search
  • Pate, Matthew; as Bedford Co. surveyor search
  • Scott, Samuel; TJ’s land dispute with search
  • Steptoe, James; and TJ’s land dispute with S. Scott search
  • Steptoe, James; letter to from J. C. Steptoe search
  • Steptoe, James Callaway; and TJ’s land dispute with S. Scott search
  • Steptoe, James Callaway; identified search
  • Steptoe, James Callaway; letter from to J. Steptoe search
  • Stith, Richard; as Campbell Co. surveyor search
  • Wayles, John (TJ’s father-in-law); and Campbell Co. land search