JEFFERSON, Thomas (1743-1826), President. Autograph letter signed ("Th: Jefferson"), as President, to James Dinsmore (1771-1830), Washington, 10 December 1802. 1 page, 4to, some foxing, remnant of tipping on top edge of verso.
JEFFERSON'S THE GADGETEER DEVISES A MEANS OF GETTING FRESH WATER AT MONTICELLO
Taking a moment out from his duties as Chief Executive, Jefferson remembers an important "requisite" he left out of his earlier instructions to his skilled joiner about the construction of an ice-house at Monticello, "which I must get you to have done." He tells Dinsmore to "make a long square tube, open at both ends, 6.I[nches] square within, the bottom of the tube to be notched thus"-- Jefferson draws a tube with a serrated bottom edge--"to let water run into it at bottom. Then make a square bucket about 12.I high, a little smaller than the internal square of the tube, so as to run easily up & down inside of that. In the bottom of it make a hole, and nail a bit of stiff leather as a valve, so that when it goes down it may fill with water & bring it up. Put a handle to it like that for a bucket, but fixed, and to this handle tie a rope, by which it is to be worked, whenever it is found that there is water in the well..." He then leaves it up to Dinsmore whether the tube and bucket should be square or round. But he urges that it "be fixed immediately and put in, before a season happens of getting ice, as it can not be put in afterwards..."
Dinsmore worked at Monticello from 1798 to 1809 and built much of the woodwork inside the main house. Jefferson also had him train his slave John Hemmings, son of Betsy Hemmings, who would perform much of the work on Jefferson's residence at Poplar Forest. After leaving Monticello Dinsmore performed work at the University of Virginia and Madison's plantation at Montpelier.