Thomas Jefferson Papers

James W. Widderfield to Thomas Jefferson, 1 April 1821

From James W. Widderfield

April 1=21

Dear Sir

hopeing these lines may not be offensive to you I write to inform you that having been inployed at the University for nearly four years as A Jurnaman and haveing know fullfill my Contrect with Mr John M [Perry] and wishing to do something for my self and family it meating the approbation of Mr Dinsmore & Mr Nelson and being advise by my friends to write to you stateing that I wish to have A part of the Carpenter work to be let this year being willing to do it for the same as such work has been don for, should this meat your approbation I should feel myself indetted to you for the same & should execute the work in the very best maner

I remain your most obbedient Survent

James. W. Widderfield

RC (ViU: TJP); dateline at foot of text; torn at seal; addressed: “Mr Thomas Jefferson Mountasellow”; endorsed by TJ as received 2 Apr. 1821 and so recorded in SJL.

James W. Widderfield (ca. 1789–ca. 1862), carpenter, purchased 17¾ acres of land near the University of Virginia from John M. Perry in 1819, and he helped construct buildings there from about 1817 until at least 1821. By 1835 Widderfield was working in Staunton. In 1850 his real estate in Albemarle County was worth $5,000, and at his death his personal property there was valued at $470.75 (Albemarle Co. Deed Book, 21:436–7, 513; Alexander Garrett’s Accounts with the University of Virginia, 30 Sept. 1820 and 31 Mar. 1821, printed as enclosures to University of Virginia Board of Visitors Reports to Literary Fund President and Directors, 2 Oct. 1820 and 30 Nov. 1821, respectively; Widderfield to Arthur S. Brockenbrough, 27 Mar. [1819] and 3 Apr. 1821 [both in ViU: PP]; DNA: RG 29, CS, Albemarle Co., 1850; Albemarle Co. Will Book, 26:426–7, 448–51; Lay, Architecture description begins K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia, 2000 description ends , 102, 204; Rivanna Archaeological Consulting, The Foster Family–Venable Land Site: Report of Archaeological Investigations [2003], 13–4, 31–6).

Index Entries

  • Dinsmore, James; as builder for Central College–University of Virginia search
  • Neilson (Nelson), John; as builder for Central College–University of Virginia search
  • Perry, John M.; as builder for Central College–University of Virginia search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; carpenters and joiners search
  • Widderfield, James W.; and University of Virginia search
  • Widderfield, James W.; identified search
  • Widderfield, James W.; letter from search