1822: George Williams to Roger Williams

George Williams (1775-1853)

George Williams (1775-1854)

This letter was written by George Williams (1775-1854) of Nelson County, Virginia. He was the son of George Williams and Catherine Taylor. The following biography was found for him written by Catherine H. Whitehead:

“…Court records…indicate that he was orphaned at an early age and at age 17 was apprenticed to Roger Williams (possibly his brother) to learn the carpentry trade. After completing his apprenticeship in 1796 he established a carpentry business in Frederick County. In 1803 he moved with Major Thomas Massie, also of Frederick County, to Amherst County (now Nelson County) where the Major had purchased land from the estate of Rev. Robert Rose. For 17 years Mr. Williams worked for the Major, building homes for his and his sons. Assisting Mr. Williams were his slaves who were skilled in the building trade.

On May 19, 1807 Mr. Williams bought land (which he called Willowbrook) from Andrew Morgan and his wife, Mary, who only months before had purchased it from Robert Rose and his wife Mary Seymour.

Ad for Runaway Slave placed by Roger Williams in Kentucky

Ad for Runaway Slave placed by Roger Williams in Kentucky

In 1806 Mr. Williams married Maria Pettus Blount of Campbell County. They had seven children, six girls and one boy. [They were: Dr. Charles Williams, Catherine, Mary Ann, Maria, Virginia, Hardenia, and Lucy Frances.] When they first moved to Willowbrook Mr. Williams and his wife lived in a small frame house that stood west of he brick house he later built for his family. All of his children were born in the little house. The rock chimneys still stand. Construction on the brick house spanned several years because the work was done when Mr. Williams was not tending to his farm work or engaged in construction for Major Massie.

…Around 1807, Mr. Williams donated land for the first Jonesboro Free Church located about 100 yards east of the present Jonesboro Church.” [Source: Nelson County Virginia Heritage 1807-2000, by S. Grose]

George wrote the letter to his older brother, Roger Williams (1770-1833) of Bourbon County, Kentucky. Roger married Marry (“Polly”) Kerfoot (1773-1841)  in 1794 and came to Kentucky in the early 19th Century, locating on a plantation about 6 miles from Paris.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter


Addressed to R. Williams, Bourbon County, Kentucky (Near Paris)

Rose Mills
Nelson County [Virginia]
2 February 1822

Dear Brother,

I received a letter yesterday from Mr. Carnaga informing me that you expected to come to Virginia this spring and would come and see me as you came on to Frederick. He mentioned you expected to bring some horses for sale and requested me to inform you what prospect there was in this section of the country for selling. I think they are dull but some better than they have been for some time back. I should judge they are better in this part and generally on the waters of the James River than they are in Frederick. He informed me that he should advise you to come in by the first of March. In that event, you must start about the time I suppose you will receive this. If yout should not come so soon, I wish you would write to me as soon as you receive this and let me know at what time you will be here and I will make enquiry to see if there will be a chance to sell any in this neighborhood.

I live about 33 miles from Lynchburg. From there you come to New Glasgow and almost any person there can direct you to my house which is about 12 miles. I have none of my children with me except the youngest. I have had that with me since April last. My three oldest daughters is going to school at the same place that I first put them. I saw them on Monday last. They were well. My son is going to school about 7 miles from me. My other two daughters is still with their uncle and aunts.

The last letter I received from you I think you rather recommended me to marry. I am thankful to you or any of my friends for advice for I am confident you would advise what you thought for the best and I really am in need of advice. I believe before my misfortune I never saw the time but what I had something in view to better my situation in life but I must confess I see no prospect now of making my situation tolerable comfortable. You say the confidence you have in me forbids any fears of my marrying to the injury of my children. I really have not that confidence in myself for if I was to marry, I certainly should have fears for I think there is a risk (at least in my situation). Let a man be ever so cautious. If I know myself, I have a much greater anxiety for the comfort and happiness of my children than for myself. But what to do for the best, I do not know. If I should live and be so fortunate as to raise them and they should turn out well, it certainly would be a great comfort to me in my old age. There is one thing I can assure you if ever I was to marry. It must be to a woman that I thought capable of bringing up my children, has none of her own, and so old that she never would have any. I do not know what I may be compelled to do but so far I have not intended marriage for if I was and it did not turn out well, I know I should be very unhappy.

Do not fail writing to me as soon as you receive this whether you come in or not, but I hope you will come. I am very anxious to see you. My love to sister Polly and your children. I remain your friend and brother, — George Williams


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