Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John Leyburn, 1 January 1822

To John Leyburn

Monticello Jan. 1. 22.


When I was at the Natural bridge I mentioned to you that I would endeavor to procure a copy of Greenlee’s survey, to which my patent must yield if there were any difference. I have since recieved from the Surveyor of Botetourt a certified copy of it, of which I now inclose you an exact copy. you will see by that that Tremble in running my lines followed exactly on those of Greenlee which he had run but a year or two before.

On a separate sheet I have platted Greenlee’s survey on a larger scale and conformably with Kincaid’s patent for the 160. as and on the same paper I have laid down the line’s of Ochiltree’s inclusive patent for 181¾ as by which you will see where the new land was taken in. you will see also how carelessly & erroneously mr Ochiltree’s surveyor run the lines of his inclusive patent. for besides the little encroachment on me, he run in considerably on mr Ochiltree’s own lines, throwing out a part of what he held under Kincaid’s patent, under which alone that is now held. this survey however of Greenlee’s and Capt Paxton’s detection of the error in the length of one of my patent lines, calling it N. 55. W. 36. poles instead of N. 55. W. 20. poles as stated in Greenlee’s survey and found to be in truth by Capt Paxton, sets all our lines to rights, so as to leave no further doubt that the lines run by Capt Paxton on the 12th and 13th of November last, are the true lines. I shall be at the bridge the next summer and will have with me for your inspection the certified copy sent me by the surveyor of Botetourt of which the inclosed is a copy, and I salute mrs Leyburn and yourself with friendly respects.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MHi); on verso of a reused address cover from Bernard Peyton to TJ; mutilated at seal, with part of one word rewritten by TJ; at foot of text: “Mr Leyburn”; endorsed by TJ without given name and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: enclosure to James Breckinridge to TJ, 28 Nov. 1821. Enclosed in TJ to Edward Graham and TJ to William Paxton, both 1 Jan. 1822.

John Leyburn (ca. 1770–1831), merchant, lived in Lexington by 1800 and operated a store there for thirty years. In 1806 he was a captain of artillery in the Rockbridge County militia, and the next year he helped found the Ann Smith Academy. Leyburn served as the Rockbridge County sheriff from 1816 to 1818. He owned two slaves in 1810 and four in 1830. Leyburn died on a visit to New York City (Rockbridge Co. Deed Book, D:260–1; Lexington Gazette, 9 Oct. 1835; Oren F. Morton, A History of Rockbridge County Virginia [1920], 207–9, 398, 400, 564; DNA: RG 29, CS, Lexington, 1810–30; Rockbridge Co. Will Book, 4:184, 290–1, 6:511–6; New-York Evening Post, 10 Jan. 1831; Lexington Intelligencer, 15 Jan. 1831; gravestone inscription in Oak Grove Cemetery, Lexington).

James tremble surveyed TJ’s Natural Bridge land in 1773 (MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 1:321, 345). Thomas Kinkead’s (kincaid’s) 10 Apr. 1781 land grant of 160 acres in Botetourt County shows that he received the land as the assignee of John Anderson, who in turn was the assignee of William Greenlee (Vi: RG 4, Virginia Land Office Grant Book, F:26–7).

Index Entries

  • Anderson, John (of Botetourt Co.); property of search
  • Botetourt County, Va.; surveyor of search
  • Greenlee, William; Botetourt Co. property of search
  • Greenlee, William; Rockbridge Co. property of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Travels; to Natural Bridge search
  • Kinkead, Thomas; Botetourt Co. property of search
  • Leyburn, John; and survey of Natural Bridge search
  • Leyburn, John; identified search
  • Leyburn, John; letter to search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; survey of search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; TJ visits search
  • Ocheltree, James; Rockbridge Co. land of search
  • Ocheltree, Mrs. (later John Leyburn’s wife); TJ sends greetings to search
  • Paxton, William; and survey of Natural Bridge search
  • surveying; and Natural Bridge search
  • Tremble, James; and survey of Natural Bridge search