Billy

Born: unknown
Died: after 1822
Family relationship: unknown
Role: carpenter

Billy first appears at Highland on an 1810 blanket distribution list. In an 1822 letter between Monroe and an overseer, Billy is described as a carpenter who can construct complex agricultural equipment. It is not known what happened to Billy after the sale of Highland.


1810 blanket list inside account book of expenses in Paris, June 1794–April 1797
It is curious that Monroe made a list in 1810 within an account book from thirteen years prior; this action could reflect a shortage of paper. This list is most likely based at Highland because Monroe spent 1810 primarily at Highland, and often referred to a “mountain” tract at the property.

“Blankets 1810.                                                                      mountain
Joe & wife 2.                                                                          Cyrus 1.
Charles—1.                                                                             Ralph 1.
Dick—                                                                                      Peter 1.
Billy—1                                                                                <Illegible> 1
Joe watermn 1.
Hartford 1.
Cyrus—1.”

Image courtesy of the James Monroe Museum. Transcription courtesy of the Papers of James Monroe.


James Monroe to William Benton

“Washington  February 4, 1822

…I have not heard from the owner of this machine*, whether he will take the [$}200 offer’d him. I think that I will bring Billy over this spring, + let him make one or two, such as I have in Albemarle. If I had two there, to be placed in different parts of the estate, under straw covers, or roofs, fix’d, temporarily, on posts, so as to shelter the grain, they might answer every purpose and save expense. If you think this would answer, you had better have all the timber for the wheels, cogs [etc], such as are wanted, for the machines, sawed, in abundance, as this is the season for it. I will write to Mr. Watson on the subject, and also to Mr. Maupin.”

*It is not specified what “this machine” is, but likely a threshing machine since grain is mentioned in the description.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress:   https://www.loc.gov/resource/mss33217.008/?sp=181&r=-0.03,-0.022,1.156,0.711,0


Albemarle County Deed Book (25:143)
James Monroe mortgaged Limestone Farm and 21 enslaved people to John Hooff, Cashier of the Farmer’s Bank of Alexandria for $4,735.76. It is difficult to determine whether the individuals listed were at Limestone or at Highland.

“April 5, 1825

Have granted bargained and sold aliened released and confirmed and by these presents do grant bargain and sell alien release and confirm into the said John Hooff and his heirs a tract of land in the County of Albemarle and the State of Virginia about three miles below Mill on and about one mile from the Rivanna a branch of the James River consisting of seven hundred and eight acres divided into two farms, with a good framed Dwelling house and other improvements on each. Also the following negro slaves, Jesse, Charles, Nelson a Blacksmith, all young men and brothers, William a Carpenter*, Joe and Eve his wife and their four children, Armstead and Zachariah both young men, Toby and Betsy his wife with their three children, Solomon and Nancy his wife, Ned & Peggy his wife.”

*This individual may be Billy