Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph E. McIlhenney to Thomas Jefferson, 17 September 1816

From Joseph E. McIlhenney

Winchester Septr 17th 1816

Dear Sir

Mr Peale of Philada called upon my brother, and told him, he had reacieved a letter from you, requesting him to procure a young man, who would be willing to settle in Charlottsville. He, as a particular friend of my brothers, advised him to communicate the circumstance to me; which he did in a letter of the 5th Instant. I immeadiately answer’d his letter, and requested him to inform Mr Peale, I would with pleasure except of the offer. He wrote me that mr Peale would inform you of my intended visit. He also advised me, (as a preliminary step) to address a fiew lines to you with a view of knowing wether you had return’d to Monticello; which place you had left (as he acquainted me) on a journey. Mr Peale represents the place as a very good cituation for a Watch Maker.

I am respectfully Yours &Ca—

Jos E McIlhenney

P.S. I shall remain in this place untill I reaceive an answer. I have been abcent from Phlada during the summer; and was on the point of returning when I reacd the above intelegance.

J E McI—

RC (MHi); endorsed by TJ as received 5 Oct. 1816 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Chapman Johnson, 26 Dec. 1816, on verso; addressed: “Thoms Jefferson, Esqr Monticello Va”; franked; postmarked Winchester, 28 Sept.

Joseph E. McIlhenney (ca. 1795–1873), clockmaker and dentist, was a native of Pennsylvania. He soon decided against moving to Charlottesville and returned instead to Philadelphia, where he lived thereafter. He worked as a clock- and watchmaker, both alone and in partnership with Thomas G. West, until at least 1825. Later in the 1820s McIlhenney became a dentist, in which profession he amassed a considerable fortune. He owned real estate worth $25,000 in 1850 and $45,000 twenty years later (Charles Willson Peale to TJ, 28 Feb. 1817; John Adems Paxton, The Philadelphia Directory and Register, for 1818 [Philadelphia, 1818]; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 2 Oct. 1820; Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post, 7 Aug. 1824; Thomas Wilson, ed., The Philadelphia Directory and Stranger’s Guide, for 1825 [Philadelphia, 1825], 90; Philadelphia Directory and Stranger’s Guide, 1829 [1829], 122; DNA: RG 29, CS, Pa., Philadelphia, 1850, 1870; Philadelphia Inquirer, 25 Mar. 1873).

Index Entries

  • Charlottesville, Va.; watchmaker needed in search
  • McIlhenney, Joseph E.; as watchmaker search
  • McIlhenney, Joseph E.; identified search
  • McIlhenney, Joseph E.; letters from search
  • McIlhenney, Joseph E.; visits Monticello search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; McIlhenney, Joseph E. search
  • Peale, Charles Willson; and watchmaker for Charlottesville search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ returns from search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ visits search