George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lund Washington, 19 August 1778

From Lund Washington

Mount Vernon Augst 19th 1778.

Dr Sir

Two Posts have past and no letters from you unless they have been sent on to newcastle where mrs Washington directed when she left home, hers shoud go1—when I was below I see Mr Hill who Askd me whether you had given any orders about your Estate in his Hands—his meang I suppose was, as Custis and he are about to part, who was to take Charge of the Estate and further said, he wishd he had known I was down, he woud have provided money which he had of yours, I told him to give it to Mrs Washington.2 I recieved £50 of one Wms who formerly lived in Norfol⟨k⟩ and Bought Flour of Newton, it was in part of £180.3

I was at your Plantation under Davenport, He told me there was 200 Barrels of Corn to sell which he had long expected Mr Hill wou’d have sold, but did not believe it was yet agreed for, the price now giveg for Corn is 30/ I advised, it to be immediately sold, and not keep it longer in expectation of a Higher price, He likewise said 40. Cattle fit for Beef might be sold—I see the Cattle they are small, but in good order, they will never be larger as they are of Full age—I advised they shoud be immediately sold for two reason, one is the price is high & they perhaps can never be disposed of to better Advantage, the Other that the Destemper is in the Neighbourhood all round the Plantation & may by some means or other get there & destroy the whole Stock. Davenport says he Uses every precaution to prevent its getg Among your Stock he never suffers either his to go out or any other to come on the place—He has about 40 that decended from Custis’s Bull, 3 of which he has turn’d out for Bulls they are more than years old, & very likely he keeps them seperate from the Stock, & puts his Cows that are Bullg to them, he haveg Killd [h]is old Bulls that he might immediately get into the English Breed. Never was there more rain of a Summer than this we have more wet Days than Fair, No such thing as plowg, nor is it in the power of people to keep their corn Fields in proper order for sewg Wheat, with Hoes, for the grass can only be stinted in it is growth, to kill it is impossible Frequently we have with the rain Violent winds which Break the Corn off below the Ear, which is totally lost, & most of it Blown down in such a manner that it will be impossible to plow in wheat before the Fodder is got—for set it up right one day, & it is down the next, the ground being so soft. I am determined to make Morris & Davy4 prepare for makeg Tobacco next year, & do not mean to make Morris sew more than 40. Acres of Land in wheat, so very wet is the mill swamp that I fear I shall not be able to sew the ground I had prepared, and which was in very fine order before Harvest, in Timothy, I meant within this month to have given it two good workgs by which I expected to have destroyd all roots &c.—but if the weather keeps on as it now is raing every Day that cannot be done, the ground I sewed last Fall is well taken with Timothy but there are many Briers & Bushes come up in it, we are now cleang it, of all such growth—As yet I have no other worckmen but Lanphier & his man5 nor can I get a Possitive promise of any some there are who say they will come if Possible soon, I have made a mill for the purpose of pressg Corn stalks, and am putg up Kettles to Boil the juice in, this Day I expect to have all ready & shall begin to morrow about makeg Mollasses—our Family are pretty well as is all other things with us—am Dr Sir your affectionate Servt &c.

Lund Washington

Old Billy Harding wants to Rent part of the Land you Bought of Mercer on four mile Run & desired me to ask you to Rent it.6


1Martha Washington visited GW’s King William County plantation called Claiborne’s in August (see GW to James Hill, 27 Oct.).

2GW had hired James Hill in 1772 to manage John Parke Custis’s plantations “together with his other business—As also of my Plantation in King William, Lotts in Williamsburg &ca” (Memorandum of Agreement with James Hill, 17 Mar. 1772, MH). Hill discusses GW’s money and the parting with Custis in his letter to GW of 5 September.

3An entry for 12 Aug. in GW’s accounts lists the receipt of £50 from “Jacob Williams in part of a Debt contracted by Mr Thos Newton for Flour Sold at Norfolk & left with Mr Hill to Collect” (Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , f. 154, DLC:GW). Newton had acted as GW’s agent for the sale of flour at Norfolk since 1773.

4The dower slaves Morris and Davy were overseers at GW’s Dogue Run farm and Mill farm, respectively.

5Lund Washington paid the carpenter and joiner Going Lanphier for forty-four days’ work by his man Joe and thirty-five days’ work by Lanphier himself in July and August (Lund Washington’s Mount Vernon account book, f. 65, ViMtvL).

6Lund Washington may have been referring to William Harden (d. 1781), whose will lists a Fairfax County plantation and several leased lands in Fairfax and Loudoun counties (Fairfax County Will Book D-1 [1776–82], 236–37, ViFfCh). For discussion of GW’s acquisition of approximately 1,200 acres on Four Mile Run in Fairfax County from James Mercer in December 1774, see GW to Mercer, 12 Dec. 1774, and note 3 to that document, Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 10:201–5 (see also GW to Mercer, 26 Dec. 1774, ibid., 10:211–14).

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