From William Booker
Richmond 15 May 1799
Your letter of the 6 Inst. I duly receivd, and agreably to promise I Expect to be at Mount Vernon in the Early part of June.1
I Should have answerd you respecting Mr Roberts before this, but Waited to Get the best Information. I hear he resides in the town of petersburg and has for some time Quit the Milling Buiseness and has become Such a Sott that he is by No Means fit for buisiness. Instead of his being reclaimd I am told he is much worse.2
I Expect to go to petersburg in a few days, and will be Very particular in Inquiring about his Conduct, and will relate the particulars to you as soon as I return, although I believe the Information I have had to be Correct.
Should you wish any Inquiry to be made about any one Else, or Indeed about any thing that I can be of any Service to you, I will with pleasure Execute it. I am your Obt Sert
2. GW hired William Roberts, a Pennsylvania miller, in 1770 to operate his new gristmill at Mount Vernon. Roberts proved to be a superb miller, but in April 1785 GW reluctantly discharged him because Roberts had become “such an intolerable sot” (GW to Robert Lewis & Sons, 1 Feb. 1785, in Papers, Confederation Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Confederation Series. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1992–97. description ends , 2:317–18). Despite the fact that Booker on 6 June gave GW an even worse report on Roberts’s present conduct, GW a few days later offered Roberts his old job back, which Roberts eagerly accepted (GW to Roberts, 17 June; Roberts to GW, 21 June). When Roberts arrived at Mount Vernon at the end of the summer, however, he apparently was so ill as to be incapacitated. On 16 Nov. 1799 Anderson paid Roberts $35.58 in “full” (Mount Vernon Ledger, 1799–1800 description begins Mount Vernon Farm Manager James Anderson’s Ledger, 1799–1800, including his working accounts with individuals, the farms and other operations such as the distillery, mill and fisheries. Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union, Virginia. description ends ). See also GW to Roberts, 8, 17 July, 29 Aug., Roberts to GW, 12, 22 July, and GW to James Anderson, 8 Sept. 1799.