Robert King Carter's Correspondence and Diary

   A Collection Transcribed
        and Digitized
   by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.

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Electronic Text Center , University of Virginia Library


Letter from Robert Carter to an Overseer, [August 27, 1729]

     Robert Carter writes to an Overseer, [August 27, 1729], directing the work on lands near the Frying Pan mines to give him instructions, and to reassure him about his future employment whether or not the mine fails; he plans a visit to the area in a month or so and needs horses.

Letter from Robert Carter to an Overseer, [August 27, 1729]

-1 -

[Corotoman, Lancaster County, Virginia]     

     Work you set your gang upon will be to Clear & grub your ground [. . .]
Corn field & if you can get a good Piece of Ground for Tobacco too as Certain [. . .]
beginning so Early & with so Large a Strength it will be no uncom [mon thing]
every one tells me, although where the housing Stand there is Not [. . .]
[. . .] ds yet the Soil is of so good a Sort that it will bring Extraord[inary ...]
or Tobacco Either

     I Expect god willing to be up in your parts if I have a tolerable Share
of health about the Middle of Next Month & I have written to Mr. Jones & Mr.
too to arrange for me a Couple of good able Horses for my Occasions
while I am there, for what I know you may be better able to Supply me than
Either of them Large good trotting Horses tht. have Courage Enough & Yet Not
Skittish, Such as I rode of yours last year will please me as well as pacers .
I Reckon I may get other Horses to Tim Dargans, & there I may take yours both
to the Frying pan & to the Landing for if I am able to bear it I propose to
See all them places & Sandy run tract too

     My Son Charles tells me you would be willing to move your
H [ouseho] ld goods & family if you Could be certain of the Continuance of our
[. . .] for more Years than One, but if the Ore Should fail as tht.we have no
[enco] uragement from that it will be a Considerable damage to you to be
[mo] ving again in a twelve Month time, & I must allow that it would be
[...yo] u have no reason to fear a discontinuance from the company bus [iness]
for Severa [ll] years if you will take Care to please us with your diligence & Industry
for if the Ores Should fail us & we Should meet with so much discouragement
to throw up that design we Shall have gone into So Large a Charge & have Land
so Convenient fit for improvement to plant Gangs upon, That you Need not fear
but we Shall lay a foundation to give you A very good employment for many Years
I need say no more of this Matter at present when we Meet this may be talked
at l [ar] ge I am

              Your friend to Serve you --

[I ha] ve Clothed all my people
[for the] whole year their thick Cloths & what you [. . .] necessary I would have you k[ eep]
[f] om them until the Cold weather Makes it Convenient to let them have the [m ...]
[if] they have them Now Some of thm. would dest [r] oy them by [. . .]

[. . .] the Negro Woman is a fine Young wench [. . .]
[. . .] good Hominy Cook & to wash the people's [clothes . . .]
[. . .] as I hope before this in a f [ew ...]
[. . .]
-2 -

      [I] have promised my Son to be down here very Soon after him, we are
[in expec] tation of his Coming this Week if he can do what he proposes it's
[certain] we Shall employ him for raising the Ore & Managing tht.
[affair if] you hear he is not Come Away when the Sloop gets up & you have
Opportunity let him know our Expectation if we can agree with him
We Shall be in a fair way of Quickly knowing what is to be Expected
from the Mine

     I believe the best way will be to work Colonel Pages Negroes & my
Son Robins at Frying pan with these people leaving only tht.
Overseer or some Indifferent hand to look after that Plantation
until time for getting Fodder Comes & then Carry a good Gang & get it
in & Stack it at Once & so also in gathering the Corn but these things
I shall leave to your discretion --

      All the ore that is brought down to the landing
while the Sloop is at Occaquan she must bring away [. . .]
Cannot buy 6 horses if you buy 2 or three you will want [fewer]
of mine and the fewer you have the better you must send [Ha] rry
Cain away forthwith to his business letting him only [. . .] re
turn with these People that may be Accompa [nying]
the Oxen


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1727 April 13-1728 July 23, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond. The first page or pages of this letter are missing; this letter concludes on the letter book page on which the succeeding letter (to Mann Page, August 27, 1729) was begun, and has accordingly been assigned that date. The leaves on which the draft was written have suffered some damage with portions missing along the margins affecting the text as well as smaller damage elsewhere.

The name of Carter's home, "Corotoman," the county, and colony have been added for clarity to this unheaded draft.

The last paragraph of the addition to this letter is in the hand of a different clerk.

[1] John Warner was the surveyor of King George County in 1727; he laid off the town of Falmouth in 1728. Later he worked for Lord Fairfax, and prepared an important map of his holdings. (Harrison, Landmarks of Old Prince William , 626-628. )

[2] A pacer is "a horse whose customary gait is the pace [A distinctive lateral gait, in which the fore and hind legs on one side move in unison, alternating with those on the other.] ; a horse bred or trained to this gait." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. 3

[3] "In 1724, Robert Carter took out patents for, among others: the Licking Run tract of 10,227 acres which lay along and east of Licking Run above Germantown and across Owl and Turkey Runs, to what was then supposed to be the western boundary of the vast Brent Town Tract . Here Carter seated the Lodge Quarter mentioned in his will." Timothy Dargan was its overseer in 1733 according to the inventory of Carter's estate . ( Carl F. Cannon, Jr., "Robert ("King") Carter of "Corotoman." Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Duke University, 1956, p. 274; and Carter Papers: An Inventory. . . ." )

[3] In 1728, Carter, his sons Robert and Charles, and his son-in-law Mann Page, organized a company to mine for copper on a tract of some 27,000 acres that Louis Morton describes as lying "near the present boundary of Fairfax and Loudoun counties." Fairfax Harrison wrote that the tract was "on the Horsepen of Broad." Horsepen Run joins Broad Run on the northern border of Dulles airport. The company was not successful. (Morton. Robert Robert Carter of Nomini Hall. pp. 18-19; Harrison. Landmarks. . . . p. 342; and Alexandria Drafting Company. Regional Northern Virginia. [Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Drafting Company, 2002.] pp. 12, 16-17, 151. )

[4] It is not clear to what property Carter refers because there is no tract with this name in his will. There is a Sandy Run in today's Prince William County. It runs from the north in Fountainhead Regional Park, and drains into the Occoquan Reservoir. ( Alexandria Drafting Company. Regional Northern Virginia. [Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Drafting Company, 2002.], p.92. )

[5] Hominy is "maize or Indian corn hulled and ground more or less coarsely and prepared for food by being boiled with water or milk." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[6] The Occaquan River is a major tributary of the Potomac River that lay in Stafford County in Carter's day. Much of the river today is known as the Bull Run, and forms the boundary between Fairfax and Prince William counties, and to the west, between Loudoun and Prince William counties. ( Alexandria Drafting Company. Regional Northern Virginia. [Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Drafting Company, 2002.] Coverage of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William counties.)

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised June 3, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.