Thomas Jefferson Papers

George Evans to Thomas Jefferson, 29 March 1820

From George Evans

Petersburg 29th March 1820


on my return from your hospitable mansion, I spent a week with my friends on Willises & when at Mr John Trents partook of some very fine silver perch, which were caught in his mill pond, which reminded me of your enquiries about the Eppington old mill, & then I enquired of Mr Trent, if he could supply you with some to stock your pond, he answered that if he had information a few days previous to your sending he would give you as many as you wanted—the pond is situated 12 Miles above the mouth of Willises & boats pass to & from his Mill tail, so that by directing a boat up the creek you may have a supply & a direct carriage to your house.—On my return, the road I travelled was nearly in a direct line between Monticello & Willises mountain, so that I had frequent opportunities of viewing its situation & appearances, & think you have formed an incorrect Idea of the two Mountains inter locking each other & forming the inverted triangular Gap which shows from your terrace—the first or largest on its summit has the line of undulation with several abrupt Gaps, of which that to the east, is the largest & to the west, from 6 to 8 Miles distant is the 2d Mountain unconnected with the first, so that the appearance pointed out can not take place, unless there is a 3d more south & of this I have heard no mention made by the neighbours around it—I intend visiting my grandsons this summer & will take the same rout, that I may more particularly [. . .] Willises mountain & will then make known the result of my examination & enquiries—I wrote a few days since to Mr Stack making enquiries after the young mr Johnsons, anxious lest they should have been agents in the late Riot, which is said to have taken place in his school & will gratefully acknowledge the Obligations confered on them & my selfe, by your personally recommen[ding] them to Mr Stack or his assistant Tutor—

with my best wishes for your restoration to perfect health & the completion & prosperity of your University, I am with great respect your very obedt servant

George Evans

RC (MHi); dateline at foot of text; edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received 4 Apr. 1820 and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Bernard Peyton, 6 Sept. 1820, on verso; addressed: “The honorable Thomas Jefferson Monticello”; franked; postmarked Petersburg, 29 Mar.

George Evans (ca. 1756–1822), planter, was a native of Pennsylvania. During his service as a surgeon in the 3rd Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons under George Baylor, 1777–79, he was seriously wounded in New Jersey in September 1778. The injury was exacerbated by a march to Virginia, and after convalescing, Evans settled permanently in Chesterfield County at his Oakland estate (Septimus E. Nivin, Genealogy of Evans, Nivin and Allied Families [2d ed., 1930], 29, 41, 45; CSmH: Robert A. Brock Collection, Evans Papers; Heitman, Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, rev. ed., 1914, repr. 1967 description ends , 219; Washington, Papers, Rev. War Ser., 17:167; petition from Evans, 3 June 1783 [Vi: RG 78, Legislative Petitions, Miscellaneous]; Richmond Virginia Argus, 19 Feb. 1808; Richmond Enquirer, 5 July 1822; Chesterfield Co. Will Book, 9:582–3, 662–4).

Evans’s grandsons attending Gerard E. Stack’s Charlottesville Academy were most likely Edward Johnson and George William Johnson, the latter of whom studied at the University of Virginia in 1826–27 (Nivin, Genealogy of Evans, Nivin and Allied Families, 52; Chesterfield Co. Will Book, 9:582; Joseph Van Holt Nash, Students of the University of Virginia: A Semi-centennial Catalogue, with Brief Biographical Sketches [1878]).

Elizabeth Trist supplied nearly contemporary evidence of riot and misbehavior at the Charlottesville Academy. She remarked that Stack had “a large school at present but the Inhabitants of Charlottesville find great fault with Boys who are constantly committing some mischevious action” (Trist to Nicholas P. Trist, 25 Feb. 1820 [RC in DLC: NPT]). To another correspondent she indicated that “The Boys at Mr Stacks school became so unruly that the people of Charlottesville complaind very much of them Stack wou’d assume no authority over them [out?] of school and La Porte had no controul even to make [them?] behave orderly in the House wine or Toddy I am told was introduced of an evening and they becam[e] bon vivants Mr Cocke and some other Gentlemen who had sons there, last Court day set about a reform drew up articles for the Boys to sign and give their word of honour they wou’d adhere to the Rules one was not to introduce any more Liquor another was that not more than two Boys were to be seen together in the Streets, some of them demur’d at the terms but finally subscribed their names tho Browse [i.e., Hore Browse Trist] says that some of them say they are very sorry they did. the fact is that all Boys will take advantage of the liberty they have, Stack does not Board in the same House and thinks that he has no right to controul them except when in school and I am told he does not use any authority even there. it is wonderful that people will send children to such a school. I heard that Walker Gilmer was taken home and I was surprised to hear that he was among the number of wild ones, but I cou’d not get Browse to tell me any thing respecting the conduct of the Boys Eppes Baker and himself generally spend Saturday and sunday at the mountain [i.e., Monticello] and carry their Books with them” (Trist to Mary House Gilmer, 15 Mar. 1820 [RC in ViRoHM: Breckinridge Family Papers]; damaged at seal).

Index Entries

  • Baker, John Wayles (TJ’s grandnephew); visits Monticello search
  • Charlottesville Academy; misbehavior of students search
  • Cocke, John Hartwell (1780–1866); and Charlottesville Academy search
  • drunkenness; of Charlottesville Academy students search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); at Monticello search
  • Eppington (Eppes’s Chesterfield Co. estate); mill at search
  • Evans, George; and education of his grandsons search
  • Evans, George; and fish for TJ search
  • Evans, George; identified search
  • Evans, George; letter from search
  • Evans, George; visits Monticello search
  • fish; perch search
  • Gilmer, Thomas Walker; and Charlottesville Academy search
  • Johnson, Edward (George Evans’s grandson); education of search
  • Johnson, George William (George Evans’s grandson); education of search
  • Laporte’s boardinghouse (Charlottesville); misbehavior of boarders search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); terraces at search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Baker, John W. search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Evans, George search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Trist, Hore Browse search
  • perch search
  • Stack, Gerard E.; and Charlottesville Academy search
  • Trent, John; and fish for TJ search
  • Trist, Elizabeth House; and grandchildren’s education search
  • Trist, Hore Browse (1802–56); and Charlottesville Academy search
  • Trist, Hore Browse (1802–56); visits Monticello search
  • Willis’s Mountain; described search
  • Willis’s River search