Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Johnson, 2 December 1812

To Benjamin Johnson

Poplar Forest. Dec. 2. 1812.

Dear Sir

I return you the deeds you were so kind as to lend me, respecting the boundaries about which we are in doubt. indeed I never found myself so bewildered as by the conflicting1 circumstances of this case. yet after the mature consideration which I have now given it (and really never had done before) I think I see grounds sufficiently strong to bear down the smaller circumstances and to authorise a decision satisfactory to me, and I shall be happy if they carry the same conviction to your mind which they do to mine. I consider then the line we run yesterday from Gill’s corner (from a. to b. in the above plat) as established both in course & length of 154. poles, by the actual marked trees and the declaration of mr Wayles’s patent, which being older than the one adjacent to that line, prevails of right. I then consider the marked trees from the post oak at h. back along your son’s fence 120. po. to i. (which you told me of yesterday but I did not examine) as better evidence of right than any I see opposed to it. the marks from the post oak to the hiccory (h. to e.) and on the two remaining lines ef. and fg. place them out of question as we both agree. the 2d line then from h. to i. is the only one not obvious. but the 1st being run from a. to b. 154 po. & the 3d from the post oak at h. back to i. 120. poles, the termination of these two lines at b. & i. being fixed & united by a straight line, fix of course the 2d line with as much precision as the 1st & 3d

I agree therefore to consider the lines a. b. i. h. e. f. g. as before described, as the rightful lines of mr Wayles’s patent, & if you concur and can from yesterday’s work run a strait line from the termination of the 154. po. at b. near the mouth of Moreman’s lane, to the hiccory at e and will estimate the quantity, the Valuers may settle, according to that, the equivalent to be laid off for me on Tomahawk adjacent to Thomson’s lines & those of the Poplar Forest, if we agree as to the lines of that equivalent, as to which, circumstances of convenience will weigh on my choice.

The agreement with mr Clay was to meet at your son’s shop on the road, tomorrow morning at 10 aclock. the weather is so unpromising at present that I fear disappointment, as we cannot expect him to turn out if it be bad. in that case we must have our meeting as soon as he can attend. I salute you with friendship

Th: Jefferson

P. S. since writing the above, mr Clay is arrived here, so that nothing but a continuance of the falling weather will prevent our attendance.

  [Remainder moved here from head of text by the Editors:]

A Survey & plat made by Benjamin Johnson & Thomas Jefferson Dec. 1. 1812. a. b. c. d. e. f. g. are the lines called for by mr Wayles’s patent. the dotted lines ek & f.l. shew the present variation of the needle on those lines.

PoC (MHi); endorsed by TJ. Dft (ViU: TJP, TB [Thurlow-Berkeley no.] 1136 [532-o7]); consisting only of three plats in TJ’s hand, including a version of the one in PoC.

The enclosed deeds to Johnson from Mary Bradley and John W. Bradley are described in TJ’s Notes on Benjamin Johnson’s Lands Adjacent to Poplar Forest, [ca. 1 Dec. 1812]. A land patent to John Wayles, 1 Aug. 1772, signed as governor of Virginia by John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, granted 256 acres in Bedford County to Wayles for “divers good Causes & Considerations but more Especially for and in Consideration of the sum of Thirty shillings of good & lawful money,” giving its bounds as “beginning at Fry & Companys Corner on the Revd Mr William Stiths line & running thence on the Companys line North sixty Degrees East seventy eight poles to a red Oak thence North thirty five Degrees & a half East one hundred & seventy eight Poles to a hickory thence North fifteen Degrees East thirty two poles to a white Oak thence North fifty five Degrees West one hundred & seventy Poles to a red Oak thence South seventy five Degrees West eighty eight Poles to a white Oak thence South twenty degrees West one hundred & fifty four poles to an Ash thence South twenty five Degrees East one hundred & forty nine poles to the first station” (FC in Vi: RG 4, Virginia Land Office Patent Book, 40:825).

SJL records missing letters from Johnson to TJ of 30 Nov., 1 and 6 Dec. 1812, the first received on 30 Nov. from “Greenhill,” the second and third on 1 and 7 Dec. 1812, respectively.

1Reworked from “bewildered by conflicting.”

Index Entries

  • Bedford County, Va.; TJ’s lands in search
  • Bradley, John W.; and Bedford Co. land search
  • Bradley, Mary (Absalom Bradley’s wife); and Bedford Co. land search
  • Clay, Charles; and sale of Poplar Forest land search
  • Dunmore, John Murray, 4th Earl of; colonial governor of Va. search
  • Gill, John (of Bedford Co.); and Bear Creek lands search
  • Johnson, Benjamin; land transactions with search
  • Johnson, Benjamin; letters from accounted for search
  • Johnson, Benjamin; letters to search
  • Johnson, Jarvis; and Bedford Co. land search
  • Thompson (Thomson), John (Campbell Co. landowner); and Bedford Co. land search
  • Wayles, John (TJ’s father-in-law); and Bedford Co. land search