• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



Near Nashville 17th July 1827


dear sir,


I have been here more than a month and have as yet neither seen nor heard of my books baggage &c, nor have I recd a line from you since I left Westmoreland. I wrote to you from Wheeling & as soon as I got to Nashville, but did not doubt that without a letter from me you would communicate to me the issue of my business left in your hands. I am at a loss to concieve [sic] the cause of your silence and sometimes fear that unless foul play is practised on our letters, you are sick. I shall enclose this letter to Triplett, with a request that he forward it to you under cover & hope in that way it may reach you. As I was detained some days by Mrs Lee’s sickness at Wallace’s I heard of the decree against me in the case of Storke & wife, & thinking it concerned Henry Somerville, I went to Baltimore for the express purpose of conferring with him on the propacety of an appeal. I was in favour of it. He was disinclined, & it was our joint opinion that he should go to Fredericksburg & consult Scott & Harrison. I would not wait his return. But his letter once took me at wheeling declining an appeal, & calling on me to save him from any trouble respecting the mortgage on Stratford. His letter is a curious one, & as the matter is viewed in different lights by us both, I must beg you to get a sight of my letter to him which will I think satisfy you of the correctness of my proceeding, will at least inform you of the ground on which I stand & enable you to prevent misrepresentations to my disadvantage, so likely to arise & be easily propagated in Westmoreland. Since I came to this neighbourhood I have become acquainted with Genl. Overton of Red River, who is a wealthy planter & is desirous of enlarging his operations. I inclose you a copy of a proposal he made me in conversation & at my request reduced to writing you will perceive that I cannot furnish the quota of negroes. But he offers to take any number that I may be able to furnish and to hire them, or to give me a portion of the profits, proportioned to my share of the joint stock, or, provided we each retain the titles of our property, to the value of my property or capital employed. I prefer the plan of putting in 40 working hands which are said to be required for the profitable cultivation of 640 acres although 60 ought be worked to advantage. What would you say to uniting in the project & adding out of your stock a number of slaves sufficient to make 40 working hands, which number in a cotton country you know will be much less than in a grain country. I am convinced this would be to your interest as well as mine; but whether you accede to it or not I must beg the favour of you to send out my negroes this fall. They ought to leave Westmoreland by the 1st of September, and I authorize you to give up all their hires in order to extricate them from their present employers and to do any thing else necessary to that end. If you can sell my herd to Stork pray do so, and for any balance coming to me take negroes. I am perfectly in love with this new country, & if I can establish a plantation in La. shall endeavour to reside in Cincinnati of course you will obtain the best terms you can, discontinue the house on the best terms you can. Tell Dr [Pitts?] I shall write to him as soon as I get a little leisure. But that my advice to him is that a move out at once to Cincinnati. I have been no place equal to that for a professional man. Remember me affectionately to Stork & George Wheldone, Henry [Hungerford?] & Sterman & [Coulter?] My horse performed admirably & the carriage to my [illegible] as good & well looking as when I left Westmoreland. Campbells wooden springs to the contrary notwithstanding. It is by far the best machine I ever saw, & endured the hardest service over the worst roads. Give my love to Frederick & the boys & girls. My respects to Mrs Brown and [assurances?] of great regard to yourself. I have not heard from Richard.

H. Lee

Col Jones writes me that he called on [illegible] he still professed an earnest [illegible] & [illegible] to [approach?] Edwin        



If you can send out my slaves, let them start by the 1st of September under the conduct of young Richard Omohundro the son of Wm. Their route must be by Charlottesville Waynesborough, Lexington, Arlington Knoxville to Sparta in this state where by my being informed of beforehand by a letter to Nashville of the probable time of their arrival I will meet them & forward them on to Natchez & Alexandria La near which last place Genl. Overton lives. When Omohundro starts you can inform me by letter to Nashville & when he reaches Knoxville he can inform me when he will probably be at Sparta. I will give him 10 dollars a month for the time he is travelling & for one year after he gets out for his service you must furnish a waggon & 2 good horses, purchase 2 barrels of molasses, & one or 2 of salt fish & start them with 100 dollars. Omohundro must buy grain & meat as he travels, taking care to buy as little as he can in the dear country below the mountains. The children & infirm to ride the others to walk. They ought to travel 20 miles a day. You have a waggon & any horse will answer for one. If you cant do any better you must sell one negroe to get out the rest. I know yet what to do about separating wives & husbands. George & Jack for [washing?]. I leave all to you


Soldiers rest June 29th 1827


Dr Sir,


In conformity with your request I submit the following propositions as a basis for a subsequent contract between you & myself viz First If you will furnish thirty or forty working negroes, at my residence in Louisiana. I will furnish a Farm counting 640 Acres, about 200 of which is in cultivation (recognized as the Estate purchased of Judge Johnston, now a Senator in Congress in 1820, for which I paid $15,000 for the negroes and Land to form a joint concern for ten years, the property of each to be appraised and the net profits divided agreeably to the proportion of the stock furnished reserving to myself the management of the Estate, and the privilege of working any number of Hands under Twenty one, they to draw their proportion of profits. 2d the same partnership may exist with the difference each party reserving to himself the title of the property placed in the concern 3d The negroes may be appraised and the amount of the appointment shall be considered as so much U. States bank stock for the use of which I will pay an interest conforming to the annual dividend of that Bank, you making good all losses whether by replacing the property, or deducting that amount of principal. 4th If you will settle the plantation with 30 or 40 Hands I will make you a sale of such time as will enable you to pay for it in three years

I deem it unnecessary to go into detail as the contract if made will embrace them.

Very respectfully yours


W. H. Overton     





Source: Checked against original letter, Henry Lee to Richard T. Brown, Mss2 L5124 a 4, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 October 5      



1. Elizabeth “Betsy” McCarty Storke and Henry Stroke. Betsy would own Stratford from 1828 until her death in 1879.

2. Walter Hampden Overton (1788-1845), who was born in Virginia but eventually settled in Louisiana. He served in the War of 1812 and was later named a general of state militia in Louisiana. He served one term in the United States Congress as a Democrat and owned plantation land in central Louisiana along the Red River.

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