Thomas Jefferson Papers

Letter of Recommendation for David White from William S. Reid, John M. Gordon, George Cabell, and John Bullock, 3 March 1819

Letter of Recommendation for David White from William S. Reid, John M. Gordon, George Cabell, and John Bullock

The subscribers having had considerable knowledge of the Bearer hereof, Mr White, as a Plaisterer, state, that he is, in our judgment, an excellent workman; remarkable for his diligence & fidelity in his profession, & moreover that he is well acquainted with stucco & ornamental plaistering—& cheerfully recommend him to those who may wish to employ him in his professional capacity

Wm S. Reid
John M Gordon
Lynchbg March 3rd 1819


Mr White has resided for several years in this Town, has given general satisfaction to all those who have employed him as a plaisterer and is sober and correct in moral conduct as well as prompt, and faithful in his profession—

W. S. Reid
Geo Cabell
John Bullock

MS (ViU: TJP); in Reid’s hand, signed by Reid, Gordon, Cabell, and Bullock; addressed by Reid: “Mr White”; endorsed by TJ, in part, as a letter from “Reid et al. recommendg David White” received 10 Mar. 1819 and so recorded in SJL.

William Shields Reid (1778–1853), educator and clergyman, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1802. After a brief stint teaching at an academy in Georgetown, D.C., he joined the faculty of Hampden-Sidney College in 1804. During his four years there, Reid was also the school’s vice president and served as president pro tem, 1806–07. He later sat on the college’s board of trustees, 1821–50. In 1808 Reid relocated permanently to Lynchburg, where he operated an academy that eventually became a girls’ boarding school. In 1840 he had some sixty pupils under his charge. Reid was licenced to preach by the Winchester Presbytery in 1806, and he oversaw the creation of the First Presbyterian Church of Lynchburg nine years later. After preaching pro bono for a number of years, he was formally installed in 1822 as pastor, a position he held until 1848. During this period Reid kept from five to nine slaves, and he owned real estate worth $9,000 a few years prior to his death (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; Sprague, American Pulpit description begins description ends , 4:388–93; General Catalogue of Princeton University, 1746–1906 [1908], 114; General Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Hampden-Sidney College. Virginia. 1776–1906 [(1908)], 17, 27; DNA: RG 29, CS, Lynchburg, 1820–50; Richmond Enquirer, 28 June 1853; Lynchburg Hustings and Corporation Court Will Book, C:453–4; gravestone inscription in Presbyterian Cemetery, Lynchburg).

John Matthews Gordon (1781–1840), businessman and public official, settled in about 1804 in Lynchburg, where he operated a countinghouse and, in 1816, served as mayor. A Freemason, he was also a Presbyterian elder for more than two decades, president of the Lynchburg Temperance Society, and secretary and treasurer of the Lynchburg Bible Society. Gordon owned eight slaves in 1810, seventeen a decade later, and eleven in 1830. He died in Lynchburg (Nancy S. McBride, Gordon Kinship [1973], 144, 151; Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine 11 [1929]: 43–4; Proceedings of a Grand Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Virginia [Richmond, 1806], 29; William Asbury Christian, Lynchburg and Its People [1900; repr. 1967]; James M. Elson, Lynchburg, Virginia: The First Two Hundred Years, 1786–1986 [2004], 467; DNA: RG 29, CS, Lynchburg, 1810–30; Lynchburg Virginian, 28 Feb. 1833, 21 May 1840; Lynchburg Hustings and Corporation Court Will Book, B:418–9, C:222–3; gravestone inscription in Presbyterian Cemetery, Lynchburg).

John Bullock (1779–1858), merchant and farmer, moved to Lynchburg from Albemarle County by 1810. After his arrival, he was a director of the local branch of the Farmers’ Bank of Virginia for a number of years and a partner in the mercantile firm of Galt, Bullock & Company until 1822. Bullock retired from business early in 1828 and lived for the rest of his life on a farm in Bedford County, where he owned nine slaves in 1830 and sixteen in 1850. In the latter year his real-estate holdings were valued at $2,000 (Ruth H. Early, Campbell Chronicles and Family Sketches Embracing the History of Campbell County, Virginia, 1782–1926 [1927], 356; DNA: RG 29, CS, Lynchburg, 1810, 1820, Bedford Co., 1830–50, 1850 slave schedules; Petersburg Daily Courier, 13 Jan. 1815; Richmond Enquirer, 10 Jan. 1822; Galt’s Executors v. Calland’s Executor [1836], Va. Reports description begins Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, 1798–  (title varies; originally issued in distinct editions of separately numbered volumes with Va. Reports volume numbers retroactively assigned; original volume numbers here given parenthetically) description ends , 34 [7 Leigh]: 594–604; gravestone inscription in Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church Cemetery, Forest, Va.).

On this same date James Bullock also wrote from Lynchburg to recommend White in a letter presumably addressed to University of Virginia proctor Nelson Barksdale, observing that “Mr David White who will hand you this—a plaster by profession—have been a resident of this place for several years, and during all this time, have been closely employed at his profession—and I can safely say all his contracts have been by him fullfild with neatness, and dispatch, much to the satisfaction of all his employers”; that a local depression has caused all work to cease; that White is seeking employment in or near Charlottesville, possibly at the University of Virginia; that “you may rest assured M White is a man of good morals—& Complete master of his trade”; and that White’s brother was the late William White, of Albemarle County (RC in ViU: TJP; endorsed by TJ: “White recommd by Bulloch”).

In a document dated 10 Mar. 1819, White proposed to do all the plastering at the University of Virginia, stipulating that he would furnish all the materials at these prices:

“Three  Coat  plaster and Lathing  62½ Cents
 Three  Do Brick—On Walls 56
 Two  Do   and Lathing 46
 Two  Do on Brick Walls 34
 One  D and Lathing 34
 One  D and Brick Walls 17”
(MS in ViU: TJP; unaddressed, but also probably intended for Barksdale; first and third “Brick” editorially corrected from “Brck” and final “One” altered from “On”; endorsed by TJ: “plaisterer. White David. Mar. 10. 19”).

The University of Virginia evidently did not employ White during TJ’s lifetime.

Index Entries

  • Barksdale, Nelson; as University of Virginia proctor search
  • Bullock, James (of Lynchburg); recommends D. White search
  • Bullock, John; identified search
  • Bullock, John; recommends D. White search
  • Cabell, George; recommends D. White search
  • Gordon, John Matthews; identified search
  • Gordon, John Matthews; recommends D. White search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • plastering; at University of Virginia search
  • Reid, William Shields; identified search
  • Reid, William Shields; recommends D. White search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; plasterers for search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; wages for workmen search
  • White, David; prices for plastering search
  • White, David; recommendations of search
  • White, William (of Albemarle Co.) search