Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joel Yancey to Thomas Jefferson, 20 October 1819

From Joel Yancey

Bedford 20th Octr 19

Dr Sir

Yours of 14th & 16th I received yesterday, in answer to that of the 14th permit me to asure you of my particular attentions to the contents, and at all times my best exertions to manage your estate here as well as I know how I wrote you on thursday last informing you of the amount of your Taxes which is 145d and some cents, I Should have mentioned the amount1 in my letter of 8th but had not then seen the Sheriff, it is higher this year, (owing to the Cty. and parish levies) then last I2 state the amount from memory, having mislaid the memo I took, when I examined the list but I am certain it is between 145 & 146 dollars

Moses Billy is at Tomahawk at work, he arrived at the Forest Monday night, (he says,) he came to me last Evening, I shall send him down as soon as I can get any person that I can depend upon to take charge of him, Hanahs, Billy has not made his appearance yet, but expect him to night if he Started on Monday as you expect,d but I had rather not see him, if you could dispose of him any other way that would be agreeable to you, I had at one time great hopes of reclaiming him, but for the last 12 Mos I despair of making any thing of him, he is certainly the most consumate, bloody minded Villan that I ever Saw of his age, and he becomes more & more daring as he increases in strength, Bowling Says, that Billy commenced the attack on him, with a stone in each hand, and struck him several times before he could get one of them from him, and when he did so he used it in self defence, he acknowledgs with a view to do him all the harm he could, Billy however in the scuffle got his thumb in his mouth and [. . .] it severely and made his es[cape] Hanah Saw it all, and told me Billy had bitt and struck the overseer before I had seen him3 and she expected he was then looking me, I’m thus particular, at the request of Bowling, what must be done? They run from here to you, and from you here, I Know of only one remedy

Yrs truly

Joel Yancey

RC (MHi); torn at seal; addressed: “Mr Thomas Jefferson Monticello”; franked; postmarked (faint) Lynchburg, 2[2?] Oct.; endorsed by TJ as received 25 Oct. 1819 and so recorded in SJL.

For TJ’s letters of the 14th & 16th, see TJ to Yancey, 16 and [18?] Oct. 1819.

1Manuscript: “amout.”

2Yancey here canceled “only.”

3Preceding five words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Billy (TJ’s slave; b.1799); escape of search
  • Bowling, Lewis; attacked by slave search
  • Hannah (Hanah) (TJ’s slave; b.1770); family of search
  • Hern, Moses (TJ’s slave; b.1779); family of search
  • Hern, William (TJ’s slave; b.1801); escape of search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); taxes on search
  • slaves; behavior of search
  • slaves; fugitive search
  • slaves; management of search
  • taxes; TJ pays search
  • Yancey, Joel (d.1833); as superintendent of Poplar Forest search
  • Yancey, Joel (d.1833); letters from search