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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Robert Rowan to Richard Caswell
Rowan, Robert
February 14, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 387-388

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[From Executive Letter Book.]

Cross Creek Feb 14th 1777


I think it my duty to inform your Excellency that I am returned from the Iron works where Mr. Alston and myself (Mr. Harper the other Commissioner, having on account of his private business declined acting) agreed with Messrs Wilcox and England for the purchase of the Furnace Forge, and all their interest in the lands adjoining for the sum of £5000.

By the resolves we are empowered to buy the lands of Balaam Tompson & Thomas & Wm. Graves adjacent to the Furnace-as well as any other lands which we might think useful to the public. We are now in treaty for them, and hope immediately to effect a purchase. We are also empowered to erect another Furnace and a Slitting Mill. All the Tools, Implements, waggons, carriages, oxen, provisions &c. which belonged to the late Proprietors being now useless to them– and highly necessary for the works we have agreed to take, tho' we have not yet ascertained the value. All these things will make a considerable addition to the sum. The Congress granted us only £1000, which will not be nearly sufficient to supply the daily expense, of the works, as there must be at least 100 people employed, including the negroes of McKnight &c. which we have also taken into possession. Conveyances are executed to us in trust for the public– and we have already drawn on the Treasurers for the balance due on the purchase of the real property of Wilcox and England and shall give them an order for the value of the movables as soon as it is ascertained. The great quantity of provisions which will be wanted, the wages of the artificers and laborers– clothing of the negroes– the necessary buildings and additional works and the bedding and furniture, which are immediately wanted by the manager– founders &c. will require a very considerable supply of money-without which it will be impossible to carry on the works. The sum voted for the works by Congress last Spring (when the views of the Legislature were not as extensive) was £5000 of which £1500 only has been paid. I expect £2500 at least will be wanted, exclusive of what we have

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already drawn for, to make the additional purchases, to erect the necessary works and buildings and to carry on the business with spirit. In a short time I do not fear but the works will support themselves with the sale of Iron to the Country and at the same time supply the public with Ordnance and Ball. The Furnace was not in full blast when I left it, but the manager expected metal from it, on the 10th Inst. and it has every appearance of doing well– Mr. Wilcox is by no means satisfied with the purchase money and expects a further sum from the General Assembly– which is mentioned in the conveyance– but it will lie entirely with them whether any further and what sum they will give. There is also a Clause that the works shall not be farmed or rented out to any private person– but if the Assembly should think the public exigencies answered, Wilcox & England shall have them again paying the public the legal interest of the purchase money & the value of the additional works, lands &c., and receiving a reasonable rent for the use of them. I have reasons to believe that these provisions were unnecessary as the resolves of Congress seem to imply that an Iron Manufactory in all its branches should be established, and this cannot be well expected from private adventurers.

I have subjoind an account of the payments made for the purchase, and am with much respect Sir, your Excellency's ob. serv't


Money advanced by the late Commissrs.
By order of the late Congress
Paid by the present Commissr.
Negro hire for 8 months
Order on the Treasury in favor of Montgomery
in whom the title of the Forge and Blowing
was and to whom Wilcox owed the money
Order in favor Wilcox for the balance