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Smithfield Preston Foundation

Papers, 1784-1881, n.d., Ms1997-002


March 23, 1822 -- letter from J. Preston at Greenfield to James McDowell

Greenfield Mar 23rd 1822

Dr Sir

I lament very much that you had not come to Montgomery March Court to have met, and conversed with Genl Cloyd & his brother David about the sale of the Hshoe. In consequence of your not coming, I did not go to the Courthouse, therefore did not see either of the Gentlemen, tho Major Edmondson did, & had a good deal of conversation with David; the result of which was that they would add to the debt already on the place 7 or 8000 Dollars, so as to make the whole sum 20.000$ or a little upwards, take ----- interest, I guess ---- other year for the amount. -- If any person would give more for that I with in that period, they would acquiese in the sale, if not, the Land was to be theirs, or some thing nearly to that effect. Major E immediately apologized Genl F.P. of it, who has returned an answer which I have not seen, but suppose he has advised him to accept their proposal, or to ask somewhat more & a little longer indulgence if it could possibly be obtained. In a letter from my brother F. of the 15th ---- he estimates so much to me. Looking on every side of the business, situated as I am, realy I am totally at a loss where first to act, or what to do. The place lies not intirely exposed, only a few negroes on it whom sitation has rendered them uneasy, & infaith feel, who are daily doing some mischief, burning the fenxes, neglecting ---- lock, letting the hogs & cattle destroy everything they can & not doing any work what-----. The tenants who got on it last year are even worse if possible, than the negroes, in all things; shortly the whole place will come to distruction or be scarcely fit to be occupied. There is now 370 acres of low ground gennerally in good order for a spring crop, & not a furrow drawn on it yet & no prospect of it. From the situation into which we have got, we could not come to any conclusion what to do with it, until the Messr. Cloyd's had decided, & now we are at a loss. However I intend to go up tomorrow if I can ride for I have been in bed for three days, & rose in great pain to write this and rent out, if practicalble, what cannot be worked by the few indifferent hands now on the place, and when I am there if the Messr. Cloyd's do not accept Major E's offer - ------ ------- the sum, I've send the time of payment for the whole 18 Mo. Or 2 years, to set seriously about laying if off into small & convenient tracts & offering it in that way at public sale. I had long thought of this plan, but hope that some relation would purchase the whole or the Messr. Cloyds whom I prefered next, at a fair price, has hitherto prevented me. It will divide very well into four or five excellent tracts of from 300 to 600 acres each.

When my brother Francis left Richmond I thought he had made such arrangements with Major Ferguson that ------ this time Little Creek and all the property on it would have been sold, bur from a letter I received from the Major four days ago, I find that nothing has been done, that all the negroes are yet on lands and that they will not sell as well now as they would have done two or three months ago, that they are of little use on the plantation which is not yet -----, nor does he know that under circumstances it ought to be rented. I have written to him to occupy both, untill all can be sold, & to make the property as valuable to my securities as he can, taking care of himslef for his trouble and risk. This I thought is as the best for the present; if the land is sold the purchasor can have the growing crops at the time he takes possession I have such grain as is on the place the fodder & which may be raised of all to my share which probably he might want. I will not take any more of the proceeds of that place, but wish it all to go towards ------- my debt to the public.

If you have come to Montgomery March Court I intended to have got your signature to the enclosed power of attorney which is necessary, ------- ------- Robertson Esqu. To make sale of some of my property ------- near Richmond. My Brother Francis spoke to him to undertake -----, & he willingly engaged in it & thereby he may subserve the interest of the Commonweath sure & his own. Pray sign it and as soon as possible enclose it in a letter to him obey his early ---- ---- ---- ----- to the business. He is acquainted w----- ----- the property, has a copy of the deeds of tru--- -- - will I hope make exertions to get some ---- ---- into the Treasury on our account. I ---- ---- was promised a good fee on our part & ---- will exit himself not only to sell the property but to get or secure the debt Robert Gamble owes me, also Carrington, and Wilson Nicholas's Please to mention --- these subjects to him earnestly.

Major E. nor myself have no appointments nor whatever. As I said above I will go to Montg------ as I can ride, will continue there until the ----- is rented ----- off in small tracts, & ---- the same time be endearing to sell some small tracts in ----- plans for which were laid when I was up last. All this will delay me till the April Court Election. All my family except myself are well & --- to be remembered to you & yours

J Preston


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Last Modified on: Thursday, 29-Oct-2009 09:29:07 EDT

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