Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Eston Randolph, 15 January 1820

To Thomas Eston Randolph

Monticello Jan. 15. 20.

Dear Sir

I recieved yesterday an alarming account of the danger there is of the mill floors being crushed down by the weight with which they are now loaded. I went to day to examine into1 it, and indeed I found it most imminent, and every moment to be expected. on the garrett floor is about 150,000 ℔ and on the ground floor about 120,000 ℔, making a whole of 270,000. weight and the danger is proved and rendered most immediate by the wind beams of the principal rafters having their tenons withdrawn out of their mortises. no consideration would induce me to be 24. hours in the house, and if the upper floor falls in it will crush every thing down to the foundation. the question is what is the speediest relief? my opinion is that it would be 1. to waggon all the flour immediately to Milton. 2. to set both pair of stones to work & clear out the wheat. 3. as soon as the floors are lightened so as they can be raised, to sure them up with posts properly distributed. 3. waggons would carry off the flour in as many days, and the 2. pr of stones would grind up the wheat in 10 or 12 days, and would afterwards keep it clear as fast as wheat would come in. and as soon as the floors would be lightened I would give you the aid of my carpenters. if your lumber house at Milton is full, you shall be welcome to put your flour into my warehouse at Milton, without any charge. but permit me at any rate to press instantaneous attention to the subject. mr Colclaser being absent when I was there, I could only leave the above ideas with Carden for him, & therefore have thought not amiss to submit them to you with pressing urgency. you may command any help I can give. ever & affectionately yours

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); on verso of reused address cover of John Adams to TJ, 2 Mar. 1819; damaged at seal, with one word rewritten by TJ; at foot of text: “Thos E. Randolph esq.”; endorsed by TJ.

wind beams or collar beams are crossbeams that connect rafters to prevent them from spreading or sagging (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

A missing letter of 3 Feb. 1820 from Daniel colclaser to TJ is recorded in SJL as received the same day from “Shadwell.”

1Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • Carden, Youen; and TJ’s toll mill search
  • Colclaser, Daniel; as miller search
  • Colclaser, Daniel; letter from accounted for search
  • flour; milling of search
  • Milton, Va.; warehouses at search
  • Randolph, Thomas Eston (TJ’s cousin); and Shadwell mills search
  • Randolph, Thomas Eston (TJ’s cousin); letters to search
  • Randolph, Thomas Eston (TJ’s cousin); warehouse of search
  • Shadwell mills; repairs to search
  • slaves; as carpenters search