George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Anthony Whitting, 15–16 January 1792

From Anthony Whitting

Mount Vernon [and Alexandria, Va.] Jany 15th [–16] 1792

Honrd Sir

In a Letter wrote on Friday last I informed your Excellency of the Loss of your letter by Dogue run Will. I sent him to Town on friday with a Letter to a friend of mine begging he would Give every assistance in his power in endeavoring to find it which he I believe did but without Success—Not knowing its Contents I can make no reply. However there are a few things I Could wish to Mention in order to Get your information.1 The first is respecting a fence around the ferry new Barn. no directions have ever yet been Given me but it will not look finishd untill a post & rail fence is put around it likewise a Stack & Straw yard should be made with a Good post & rail fence and as we are now hauling rails for the Lane fence it will be proper to know in what form or Manner you Sir will Chuse it Laid of. Whether the Lane will Go any farther than the begining of the Barn Yard or will be Continued into N. 3 Ferry field Where the Brick yard was—The Size of the Yard will likewise be proper to be pointed out as well as its form. There Should be I think two Good Corn Houses built near the Barn the floor being a Good place to Get out Corn with expedition.2

I have Grubbd the Visto through to the White Gate Only yet forty feet wide as there is now a better Oppertunity of Staking it properly.3 I Could wish if You Sir have no Objection to plant Ever Greens & some Other trees in a Line with the Outsides that is at fifty feet each side from the Centre as at present the trees are so thin no regular line will be seen, from this appearance now to be seen it will look very well when 100 feet wide, and I think will be improved by trees planted as above. A farther improvement might be made by continuing the Visto as far as a prospect can be Obtaind. that may be to the extremity of the hill leading to Muddy hole Branch any farther attempt I believe would be fruitless this however would be then better seen if the fall there should be so Great as not to admit of the tops of the trees being seen it might bring to View some of the Grounds over by Pools, if not there might be a Large Clump of Ever Greens planted on each side and Something like an Obelisk fixd in the Centre where it terminates. this I have seen done when no farther prospect could be Obtaind and it has lookd very well[.] A few trees planted in the Lane leading to the ferry Barn in a line with each Fence would I think have a very Good appearance. We have been Getting Ice since Thursday but the Snow in places is very deep and it has been Very Cold we Got but little till yesterday⟨.⟩ Many of the Carts have been employd hauling wood. Shall fill the house as soon as possible it being a fine Oppertunity but the Carts will again be hauling wood to Morrow Morning which will hinder some time—This is a severe Spell of Weather but there being plenty of Snow on the Ground will I hope keep the Wheat from injury—I am Surprizd at not hearing from Major Washington since he left Mount Vernon as he promisd to write me as soon as he Got to Coln. Bassets I hope he is not sick or any thing happend that has prevented him.4 I am Honrd Sir Your Obdt Servt

A. Whitting
Alexandria January 16/ 1792

I have just found the Letter Will dropt in the snow it was pickd up by a Negro boy & Carried to the post Office where I have just now receivd it. I have seen Mr Bushrod Washington who informd me your request in seeing Coln. Little before I had your Excellency Letter, he farther informed me Coln. Little was in Town at Wards Tavern I have been there and find he is Gone to Dr Browns Funeral shall endeavor to see him before he leaves Town & Get fuller information respecting the Trespass on your Excellencys Lands.5 The Spring Mules have been some time on the Wheat N. 2 Ferry & last week had a Shelter Made the six Mules you desired to be Got up was so done before Major Washington Left Mount Vernon. I advised the taking of the Mule from River Plantn & that from Dogue run which was done & the best Other four which could be pickt out. they are all halter broke & well taken Care off But the finest mules will be the present Spring Mules these if taken Care of will do Credit to the Jacks as well as the proprieter I should think they will be as large at 2 years Old as these we have now up are at 3 years—The Overseers have all been Charged by me to Count there stock of all sorts every week but such is there Stupidity that I Cannot Confide in there Counting them which is the reason of the late reports being somewhat Confusd my time has been very much taken up with the Sick people in preparing medi⟨c⟩ine & attending them I have applyd to Dr Craik & he has been down & I have frequently his directions we have several now very sick Beck at ferry I think will not recover Isaacs two Girls Mima & Ally are both very poorly & young Boatswain is very sick Some of the Others Sall at Dogue run Betty Davis[,] Delia at frenchs Charlotte Caroline &c. are now better.6



2For the two-story brick barn at the Ferry and French’s farms, begun in February 1788, see GW to Thomas Newton, 10 Oct. 1788. Its interior was still being finished in 1791 (see George Augustine Washington to GW, 14 Dec. 1790).

3This is the vista from the west, or inland, side of the Mount Vernon mansion. The “White Gate” was one of the gates along the road to GW’s mill.

4George Augustine Washington had gone to Eltham, the New Kent County, Va., home of his father-in-law, Burwell Bassett, Sr., in an effort to recover his failing health.

5For GW’s problems with trespassers removing wood from his land on Four Mile Run, see GW to Bushrod Washington, 8 Jan. 1792.

6GW’s slave Isaac may have been purchased in 1772. He worked as a carpenter at the Mansion House Farm and constructed carts, wheels, plows, harrows, rakes, wheelbarrows, and other implements. Isaac was later involved in the erection of GW’s sixteen-sided barn (see GW to Howell Lewis, 18 Aug. 1793, and GW to William Pearce, 19 Jan., 23 Nov. 1794). Like other skilled slaves at Mount Vernon, Isaac performed fieldwork at harvesttime (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:3). His mate was Kitty, a dower slave, who worked as a dairymaid and spinner at different times. By 1799 they had nine daughters, including Mima (born c.1774), a dower slave and field laborer. Surviving illness in January 1792, she later married Godfrey, another dower slave, and by 1799 had two small sons. Ally (Alia; born c.1776), a dower slave, was the third daughter of Isaac and Kitty. She later married James, another dower slave, who served as a carter. A field laborer at the time of this letter, Ally was employed as a knitter in 1799. “Young Boatswain” (c.1780–1794) was the son of Boatswain, a ditcher, and Matilda (Myrtilla), a spinner, both of whom belonged to GW and lived at the Mansion House Farm. Although he recovered from this illness, his health seems to have been fragile, and his mother tried to keep him with her at the Mansion House Farm. He was transferred to work at Dogue Run, however, and died there (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:278; GW to Pearce, 31 Aug., 14 Sept. 1794; Farm Reports, 24–30 Aug. 1794, DLC:GW; CD-ROM:GW). “Sall at Dogue run” was probably the woman described in GW’s 1799 slave inventory as Sall Twine (born c.1761), a dower slave who worked as a field laborer at Dogue Run. By 1799 she had married George, a slave belonging to GW who worked as a gardener on the Mansion House Farm. She was the mother of at least four children. Betty Davis was a dower slave and spinner at the Mansion House Farm, whom GW later described as one of the worst malingerers at Mount Vernon, complaining to Pearce that “a more lazy, deceitful & impudent huzzy, is not to be found in the United States” (GW to Pearce, 8 Mar. 1795; see also GW to Pearce, 15 Feb. 1795). In 1799 she was married to Dick, a slave living at Hayfield, the nearby plantation owned by the widow of GW’s cousin Lund Washington. She was the mother of at least three girls. Delia (born c.1764) was one of forty slaves GW rented from his neighbor, Mrs. Penelope French. By 1799 Delia had at least six children.

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