Gunston-Hall August 20th: 1792.
About four or five Years ago, Mr. Henderson imported from Scotland, upon annual Wages, two Stone Masons, James Reid, & Alexander Watson, very good Workmen. Since the Expiration of their Contract with Mr. Henderson, they have been working in Dumfries, & about that Part of the Country; and last Year, made some free Stone Chimney-Peices for Colo. Cooke; which I think are well done; & upon reasonable Terms; to the best of my Recollection, a Guinea each. Being desirous to get these Men to make four free Stone Chimney-Peices for your Brother Thomson's House, I sent down to Dumfries, three or four Days ago, to get one of them to come up, to take the Dimensions of your Brother Thomson's Chimneys, that they might immediately get the Chimney Peices; but was informed they are both at work at George Town; I suppose about the new Bridge building over Rock Creek. I must therefore beg you will inquire them out, and see if you can get them to do your Brother's Chimney-Peices, as soon as the Rock Creek Bridge is finished; which I am told will be by the last of this Month; and that in the mean time, the sooner the better, you will endeavour to get one of them to ride down to your Brother Thomson's, to take the Dimensions of the four Chimneys, for which he wants free Stone Chimney-Peices, and also of the Fire-Place in his best Room, & give Directions for a Marble Chimney-Peice, to be sent for to England; unless one of those you have to dispose of will suit it, or can be made by them to do so; which you will know, by getting the Man to examine them, after he returns from yr. Brother's. If you can get one of these Men to go down to your Brother Thomson's, you will be kind enough to let your Man Lewis go down with him, to shew him the Way; and you will hire a Horse, upon my Account, for the Man to ride. I purpose that these Men shall get the Stone, themselves, for Thomson's Chimney-Peices, & Hearth Stones, either at Aquia, or at the Quarry near Dumfries, whichever they think the best Stone; & I will carry them, from thence, to your Brother Thomson's. This Letter will be delivered you, by our Cousin, Young George Mason of Pohick; by whom you will let me know, whether you can get these Men to do the Chimney-Peices; and also how common Tobacco in George Town Warehouse sells at present, & if likely to rise?
I see in a late Alexandria News-Paper, notice of an intended Application to the Virga. Assembly, at the next Session, for their projected Bridge over Potomack River, opposite, or nearly opposite to George Town, & for a Condemnation of Land to join the Southern Abuttment to, & for a Road, if necessary.
You shou'd take Care to be fully prepared, in time, with a true Plan & Representation of the Situation of the Place, as connected both with George Town, & the federal City, the comparitive Width of a Bridge in each of the Places (that proposed by them above, & that to & from the Island; the true Depth of Water, in both Places, shou'd be ascertained (in which I wou'd not have you trust to any Representation of theirs) & every thing so done, as to be authenticated by Affidavits: the new Bridge over the Mouth of Rock Creek shou'd also be laid down. And I think it wou'd be of great Importance, if by writing to Mr. Le Enfant, you cou'd procure his Opinion, with his Reasons, in favour of a Bridge at the Island; not letting the George Town People know, that you make any such Application.
I am something better than when you left me; my Fevers have left me; but I am still very weak & low, and my Stomach & Bowells very much disordered.
I am, dear John, Your very affecte. Father