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Smithfield Preston Foundation

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

November 29,1838 -- letter from Thomas Lewis Preston in Abingdon, Virginia to William Cambell Preston in Charlottesville, Virginia

Abingdon Nov. 29, 1838

My Dear Brother

Your very kind letter of the 21st was duly received, and I delayed answering it for a few days hoping to have something more definite to say. But time has made no developements and I find myself to day where I was last week. The fact that I had made a lease of the Saltworks to a Northern company was published in the papers before I returned home and that simple notice contained the most important fact. The two properties were leased together for a term of ten years. The King estate of $20,000 and the Preston $30,000. The quiet possession of both guaranteed under an agreement with the King heirs with me. The leasers take all the property on hand at valuation, except the ---- which go as a partr of the leased premises. The crops and every thing else to be paid for upon delivery are the 1st of ----. Already the leasees and their employer’s have arrived, consisting of about 50 men besides women and children. The purpose of the company is to manufacture salt with white labor as it is done in N. York, and also to mine and manufacture plaster. The old mill is to be remodeled and made to turn out 30 ---- flour daily. The ---- to smelt ---- are and make tons of ----. The farm to be divided into dairy farms and to flow with milk and glisten with butter and smell of cheese. The hills to resound with the ---- ---- ----, and be festooned with grapes, and the whole valley abound in the luxuries of the promised land. This is the ----, and the parties to the lease have the means of carrying out all these plans.

The Germans affirm the soil and climate are well adapted to the grape, the yankees say the grass is peculiarly suited to the production of milk and cheese. The manufacturer appreciates the brine, and the water power and the miner the plaster and ---- are.

I hope all their anticipations may be more than realized, and that pecuniary profit will accompany my enterprise. This is I trust the beginning of an old scheme, and one which promises ultimate profit and ---- to me. A colony is established and the Saltworks is in the hands of capitalists. The property, may, before five years, be sold on advantageous terms or the lease renewed so as to secure a large revenue in the future.

As yet no progress has been made in raising money upon the lease. Judge Rose could affect nothing and cousin Ballard has not been in a situation to try his hand. He writes hopefully and tells me to be of good courage, but I confess I am not sanguine. I have learned to be distrustful and you say suspicious. The past has given me a better ----. I am trying to close up my business and if it pleases God to give me the means of doing so, I promise myself repose and quiet, and a total withdrawal from every speculation, or effort to do more, than live retired and please myself with the cultivation of a small farm. By the sale of every thing at the saltworks I hope to raise money to pay the most pressing debts, and by ---- applying the rests to the others gradually and certainly begrudate all others. If cousin Ballard succeeds in raising money on the lease all shall go to my creditors. Mr. Hampton in the handsomest and most generous manner agreed to take all the negros I could sell and after the payment of his dabts assume to brother Johns the balance. As soon as I can settle my affairs so as to leave no doubt of my right to send off these negros I will send them to Hampton. If I am not able to accomplish this, then this property must go with the other kinds to my creditors in Virginia.

We have moved here and are quite comfortably fixed. I have a few more dashing journeys to make and then I hope I may be quiet and composed. My wife is pretty well and writes in best tone to you. With ---- to those around you and hoping to hear from you again soon and often I am

Your truly affectionate brother

Thomas L. Preston

Col William C. Preston
Charlottesville, Va

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Last Modified on: Thursday, 29-Oct-2009 09:30:17 EDT