Nolensville, Tennessee: 1825. Envelope or Cover.
This two-page stampless letter is dated, “Cross Rodes July the 3rd 1825”. It bears a manuscript postmark, “Nolensville Ten / July 11th” and a rate mark of “25” cents, the cost to send a letter up to 400 miles. It was received by William Hay at the Wyeth Court House on July 23rd. In nice shape. Transcript included.
In this letter, Joseph McGavock, a member of the prosperous southwest Virginia McGavock family, provides information regarding land and slaves, presumably owned by the family in Tennessee:
“Concerning the surveying of the place . . . I feel very uneasy about it, far without evidence can be obtained before or against that time, I am afraid it will go against me . . .. the Bills of Sales have been Recorded in Franklin Jacobs was Recorded at the same time yours were. Andrew was executed with the others, I have imployed too the best lawyers in Franklin. I will try and use every exertion in my power to save the Negroes I have had a great many difficulties since you left this Country to save the property but I have scuffed out at last and over came them all, except the last the worst of All, and if it was a Just debt it would not vex me so much. the Receipts you speak of I have searched for and cant find them I think that Mr Shelton must have them. on the East Side of this branch there is 55½ acres on the west side 29½ it is rented for 2½ Barrels of Corn per acre Burks place Contains 12½ acres 8½ poles it is rented for $2 per acre to Thomas Webster, the Harpeth place has not been surveyed yet but will be done I expect shortly. . ..”
Joseph also notes with some pride the improvements he has made to his Tennessee land:
“We have fine crops of Cotton and tobac also Corn and wheat. . .. I have a blacksmith shop carried on here now. Andrew works in it with a young man that had a set of tools. . .. there is also a wagon maker shop here in the wagon yard. . .. I think if nothing happens I will Clear four or five hundred Dollars by Christmas.”
Joseph’s development of the estate at Nolensville (not far from Nashville) follows the model set at the family’s main estate at Fort Chiswell, Virginia. There, in addition to operating a plantation, the family established a major trading hub, not just for settlers but the military as well. It held stocks of lead, powder, and flint among the regular goods at its store and included an inn, mill, smithy, and carpentry shop.
Joseph returned to Wythe county after spending several years in Tennesse (perhaps out of concern for his children):
“Martha Ann is learning very fast. Sarah learns her hear at home. She is in too Sylables. we are uneasy about her scooling, there is no school near here, and Sarah don’t like to send her to Nashville. she appears more anxious to send her to Virginia. The fact is this is a Rough Neighbourhood to rase a Child in.”. Very good. Item #009400
Once home, Joseph and his brother, Stephen, built an impressive five-story mansion with large Palladian windows that still stands today as a event center and restaurant.