George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 11 August 1786]

Friday 11th. Mercury at 68 in the Morning—76 at Noon and 74 at Night.

Clear & pleasant with the wind at So. West.

Rid to Muddy hole and Dogue run Plantations. At the first, Sowing wheat begun this Morning. At the latter I agreed with one James Lawson who was to provide another hand to ditch for me in my mill swamp upon the following terms—viz.—to allow them every day they work—each 1 lb. of salt or 1½ of fresh meat pr. day—1¼ lb. of brown bread, 1 pint of spirits and a bottle of Milk—the bread to be baked at the House, & their Meat to be Cooked by Morris’s wife—and to allow them 16 d. pr. rod for ditches of 4 feet wide at top, 1 foot wide at bottom, and 2 feet deep; with 12 or 15 Inches footing and 2/. for ditches of 6 feet wide at top, 2 feet at bottom, and two ft. deep with equal footing.

On my return home found Mr. John Barnes and Doctr. Craik here—the last of whom returned to Alexandria. The other stayed all night.

GW and James Lawson of Fairfax County signed an agreement on 14 Aug. in which GW hired the latter on a temporary basis as a ditcher. In November Lawson agreed to a year’s service at a salary of £31 10s. Virginia currency. Patrick Sheriden was probably the hand Lawson provided, as GW also engaged him in November, at eight dollars per month (agreements with Lawson, 14 Aug. and 18 Nov. 1786, DLC:GW). GW discharged Sheriden in Dec. 1786, and Lawson left Mount Vernon because of ill health in Sept. 1787 prior to the termination of his contract (see entry for 18 Dec. 1786; GW to Thomas Nelson, Jr., 3 Aug. 1788, DLC:GW).

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