Fairfax County, Gunston-Hall Sept. 10th. 1782.
The Bearer, my Son William, will deliver you fifty Portugal half Joe's, at 48/ £120..0..—Virga. Curry. vizt. £20..0.. —on Acct. & for the Use of Capt. Hancock Lee, and £100..0..—upon my own proper Acct. to defray the Charges of surveying my Lands in the Western Country; you will be pleased to give my Son Receipts accordingly. Thinking Silver wou'd be a heavy & burthensome Carriage for you, I have taken some Pains to procure Gold.
You misapprehended the Proposal in my former Letter; it wou'd have been very unreasonable to expect you shou'd advance such a Sum of Money for me; but as I knew Nothing of your Intention to settle in the back-Country (until since inform'd of it by Capt. Lee) I thought you might probably receive a good deal of Money there, for surveying for other People; which you wou'd have to bring down with you, at your Return; in which Case, it might be a mutual Advantage (saving me the Risque of Carriage out, and you the Risque of Carriage in) if you paid the Charges of my Surveys there, and received the same Sum of Money from me here, when you came Home again; and it was in this View only, that I mentioned it to you. Upon the same Principle of mutual Convenience, and to save the Trouble & Risque of carrying Money backwards & forwards, I am (according to an Agreement with Mr. John May, on Behalf of his Brother) to pay the Amount of the principal Surveyor's fees (in my Surveys) to the Masters of the College in Williamsburg, upon Account of Mr. George May; it will therefore be proper that you adjust with him the Amount of his Part, and that he shou'd give an Order, or some Direction in writing, to me, to pay it to the College on his Account, as a Voucher for my so doing, in Case of Death, or Accidents hereafter.
Capt. Hancock Lee has lately been here, and upon an Estimate he & I made (in which we made some Allowance for Accidents & Disappointments) we both imagine that the Sum of £100..0..— (which I now send upon my own proper Account) will be sufficient to defray the Expence of all my Surveys, vizt. Chain-Carryers, Marker Hunters, & other Charges, and the Deputy-Surveyor's fee. The Principal Surveyor's fees I am to pay to the College as before mentioned. If we shou'd prove mistaken, and the Charges shou'd turn out higher, I will repay you the Difference; and if on the Contrary, it shou'd not require so much, I make no Doubt of your keeping exact Accounts, & repaying me the Over plus; and I thoroughly confide in your managing every thing to the best Advantage, &consulting my Interest as your own: the good Character you have acquired, and the Acquaintance I have with your Father, gives me the fullest Assurance of this. Altho' I wish Frugality, & to avoid unnecessary Disbursements, yet I wou'd begrudge no Expence, that may be necessary to have the Lands well bounded, & the Lines plainly marked; and also to search & examine the Grounds thoroughly so as to shape the Courses, & extend the Lines in such Manner, as to avoid the indifferent, & take in the best Lands; and if this can't be done (on Account of the legal Restraint of making the Breadth equal to at least one third the Length) in one Survey upon each Warrant, the number of Surveys must be encreased to do it; the Act of Assembly giving a Right to execute a Warrant in one or more Surveys; but particular Care must be taken (in Case of dividing the Surveys under any Warrant) to mention in the Returns, or Certificates of Survey, the particular Warrant by Virtue of which each Survey was made; and the Amount of such different Surveys must, in the whole, correspond exactly with the Quantity of Acres mentioned in the Warrant, by Virtue of which they were made, otherwise the Register will not be able to make up the Records in his Office, & issue the Patents in the Manner the Law directs; but if I remember right, I explained this Subject fully in my last Letter. If indifferent Land can be avoided, & the best included, without dividing my Warrants into different Surveys, I wou'd greatly prefer making one Survey for each Warrant, to any other Method; but the Goodness of the Land is of such superior Importance, that every other Consideration must yield to that; and therefore I entreat you, Sir, to spare no Pains to get the best Lands for me that the Nature & Situation of my Locations will admit; as they are the first Locations (of any considerable Quantity) upon Panther Creek, &consequently have a Preferrence, I hope you will be able to avail yourself of this important Circumstance to my Advantage; it is an Advantage that I have a legal & just Right to; and was Capt. Lee's principal Inducement for making my Locations at such a Distance from the Settlements.
Where any Survey binds upon a Creek or Water-Course, the Courses of such Creek shou'd not only be mentioned in the Certificate of Survey; but also the particular Expression of running or binding with the Meanders; and where one Tract runs with, or binds upon the Lines of another, it shou'd also be particularly mentioned to prevent Disputes hereafter; the Patents will be drawn, verbatim, according to the Certificates of Survey; and I have known many Law-Suits, thro' the Neglect of Surveyors, for Want of these necessary Insertions.
As it is of the utmost Importance to have the Lands so described & bounded, as to be easily found hereafter I wish to have the Beginning of each Tract very particularly described, any remarkable Object noted, & the beginning Tree or Trees of each Tract mark'd G. MASON. the other Corners all mark'd GM, & any remarkable Object near any of them mentioned; it will also be necessary, in running the Lines, to mention the Distance at which the Course crosses any large Run or remarkable Water-Course; such Precautions as these will always explain & establish the Bounderys of the Lands, & prevent Disputes; where the[re] are no remarkable Objects (which must often be the Case) all that can then be done, is to mark two or three different Trees for Corne[r]s, describing the Kinds.
In your field-Notes it will be necessary to mention many Circumstances, which it may not be proper to insert in the Certificates of Survey, & which may be of real Use & great Satisfaction to me; and for this Reason, I shall beg to have a Copy of your field-Notes, to keep bye me, for my Information. The Circumstances I mean, are, such as the Distance at which you cross every pretty constant Run or Stream, great or small, or pass by any remarkable Object, such as Rocks, Springs, &c. or where you run thro' Meadow-Grounds; also the different Growths, or Timber; and your Opinion of the comparative Quality of Soil &c. of each Tract. These things will be of great Use to me; more especially if I shou'd ever have Occasion to sell any of the Lands; and for any extraordinary Trouble, which such Remarks may occasion to you, I will thankfully make you such Satisfaction (over & above your Contract with Capt. Lee) as you may think just & reasonable.
In Case you do not return yourself, soon after having made these Surveys, they shou'd be transmitted to me by some safe Hand; that I may return them to the Land-Office in the time prescribed by Law; which (if I remember right) must be within a Year after they are made; and I wou'd therefore have them bear Date, as late as you conveniently can, before bringing, or sending them in; that I may have the longer time for returning them to the Land-Office, in Case of Miscarriage, or Accidents.
Capt. Hancock Lee tells me you are well acquainted with the Contract he made, on my Acct. with Mr. John May, in exchanging one of my eight thousand Acre Warrants, which was located upon the Ohio River, for a Warrant of Mr. May's located upon Panther Creek; he says it was first intended that both these locations shou'd be withdrawn; so that Mr. May's Warrant might be located in the Place of mine upon the Ohio, and my Warrant in the Place of his upon Panther Creek; but as this was neglected to be done, as it ought to have been, immediately, it will be very unsafe to do it now; as it wou'd be losing that Priority of Title & Location, which we both now have, and might be the Means of giving some Younger intervening Location the Preferrence; by which one or both of us might lose our Land; this Circumstance I mentioned to Mr. John May, when he came to see me, about this time twelvemonth, and proposed to him, as the safest, & least troublesom[e] Method of carrying the sd. Agreement into Execution, that my Warrant located up [on] the Ohio shou'd be surveyed in my Name, and his upon [Panther] Creek surveyed in his Name, in Order to retain & secure the Priority of Title in both Places, and that we wou'd afterwards exchange the Surveys, by reciprocal Assignme [nt] to each other, upon the Certificates of Survey, before they were return'd into the Land-Office. This Method Mr. May approved of as much as I did, & very readily agreed to it, as the surest & safest Mode of Proceeding; and as the only remaining Difficulty was, that Mr. May said his Warrant & Location entered upon Panther Creek prior to mine was a thousand or two Acres more than mine upon the Ohio; that he might not lose that Quantity, we agreed to settle the Difference hereafter between ourselves, in such Manner as shou'd be just & reasonable; in which neither of us was under any Apprehensions of disagreeing; and I have been thinking since, that the best Method for [produc]ing this, will be to make two distinct Surveys of Mr. May's Location upon Panther Creek, one for exactly the same Quantity of Acres with my Location upon the Ohio (which shou'd be made to correspond with the Situation of my adjacent Lands) & the other for the Number of Acres remaining in Mr. May's Location; so that the Survey for the same Quantity with my Ohio Location may be assign'd to me, & the other remain the Property of Mr. May.
I send you a Letter to Mr. George May upon the Subject; who, if his Brother shou'd not be in that Country, I presume is authorized to act for him, you will be pleased to consult with him about it. As Mr. May is to have my Location upon the Ohio I imagine he will give Directions for laying it off; and as I [a]m to have an equal Quantity of Mr. May's Location upon Panther Creek, I wou'd chuse to have it correspond properly with the Situation & Lines of my adjacent Surveys. I make [no] Doubt of Mr. May & your managing the Matter to the mutual Interest of both Partys; and I apprehend it is probable that [. . .]