Louis Leschot

Little is known about Louis Leschot (1779-1838). He most likely was a watch repairer and dealer and was Jefferson's agent in such matters. Born in Switzerland, he ran a shop on the east side of Court Square in Charlottesville. It has been suggested that Jefferson brought him to United States, but there is no documentary evidence that Jefferson encouraged him to emigrate. However, there was a relationship between them, strong enough that Leschot and his wife are one of the few unrelated individuals buried in the Monticello Graveyard.

Primary Source References[1]

1817 March 15. (Jefferson to Charles Willson Peale). "We have had the good fortune to et a Swiss from Neufchatel, inferior I think to no watchmaker I have ever known, sober, industrious, and moderate. He brought me recommendations from Doctr. Patterson and Mr. Hassler. He compleatly [sic] knocks down the opposition...Brought up among the mountains of Switzerland, he is delighted with ours."[2]

1817 June 6. (Jefferson to William Lee). "We have there a fine watchmaker, a Swiss from Neufchatel, finding much more work than he can do, and taking in money as fast as he can earn it. He finds himself peculiarly happy and delighted with the country and his own situation."[3]

1817 October 26. (Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes). "I have procured from Leschot for Mrs. Eppes a very elegant watch and of the very best construction being of the kind called a cylindre horizontal, the only inconvenience of which is that they require being touched with oil a little oftener than the others. He had no watch of the common construction which was proper for a lady. He required 40.D. boot, allowing only 30.D. for the gold of the old watch, the works being entirely past use. i hope you will never put her into any hands but his when she wants any thing. I know that the Richmond watchmakers are as absolute murderers of a watch as your neighbor watchmaker..."[4]

1818 January 24. (Jefferson to J. Keller). "No industrious, sober, and skillful individual, possessing an art useful to the country, has ever failed of success as far as I have seen. We have an instance in our little village of Charlottesville in a watchmaker of your country, a Swiss from Neufchatel. He came and settled there a twelvemonth ago, and every one pronounced that he could not find business enough to give him bread. On the contrary he finds twice as much as he can do, and is making money with a rapidity beyond all his wishes. Every neighborhood can furnish demand for a single workman in any useful art."[5]

1819 January 1. (Jefferson to Francis Wayles Eppes). "Leschot has repaired Mrs. Eppes's watch and changed the pipe of the key, but the watch was so short a time in his hands that she could not be well regulated. She will therefore probably need further regulation to make her keep good time."[6]

1819 April 8. "Drew on Jas. Leitch in favor of Louis Leschot for 165.64 for watches."[7]

1819 December 25. (Jefferson to Ferdinand R. Hassler). "I have been on a former occasion indebted to you for being instrumental in furnishing our neighboring town with the most skilful [sic] artist I have known in the line of watchmaker. Mr. Leschot is perfect in that art, is a most correct and excellent citizen, and I am glad to be able to assure you he is doing as well as himself wishes."[8]

1820 September 30. "Paid Lewis Leschot for spoons 10.D. watch acct. 4.25."[9]

1821 July 30. "Pd. Leschot for a watch &c. in full 71."[10]

1822 February 15. "Pd. Leschot for spectacles for Mrs. Marks 5.D."[11]

1822 March 26. "Pd. Leschot cleaning 3. clocks 1.D."[12]

1822 November 11. "Leschot rectifying clocks 1.D."[13]

1823 August 15. "Pd. Leschot garters and chrystal."[14]

1823 October 18. "Leschot chrystal .50."[15]

1823 November 3. "Pd. Leschot mendg. watch 1.D."[16]

1824 January 21. "Leschot a chrystal .50."[17]

1824 September 23. "Leschot repairing clocks 1.D."[18]

1825 March 31. "Gave Leschot ord. on do. [Raphael] for watch &c. 82.56."[19]

1825 July 19. (Jefferson to Leschot). "Th:Jefferson sends his watch to Mr. Leschot to be put ot rights. She goes 12 or 15. hours after being wound up and then stops--he is always sorry to give Mr. Leschot the trouble of coming here. The large clock has never gone right since the last repairs because the hands will not stand in place. In the kitchen...the hour hand will not stand. If Mr. Leschot can come up some cloudy cool day Th:J will be thankful to him, and will send a horse for him if he will permit him."[20]

1825 December 31. "Leschot key and seal."[21]

1827 January 5. (Joseph Coolidge to Nicholas Philip Trist). "As for the clock [Jefferson's astronomical clock], it is larger than is used with us, (where the small french clocks are the only ones seen,) and the danger and expense of getting it to Boston will be great: nevertheless, if Leschot, upon examination, pronounces it unworn and first rage, let me have it: for this purpose I must beg of you to contrive to get Leschot to go to Monticello before the sale, and thoroughly satisfy himself of its value."[22]

Footnotes

  1. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  2. Lilliam Miller, ed. Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and his Family (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2000), 3:475.
  3. Letterpress copy at the Library of Congress.
  4. University of Virginia
  5. Letterpress copy at the Library of Congress.
  6. Family Letter, 428.
  7. MB, 2:1353.
  8. Letterpress copy at the Library of Congress.
  9. MB, 2:1368.
  10. Ibid, 2:1377.
  11. Ibid, 2:1383.
  12. Ibid, 2:1384.
  13. Ibid, 2:1391.
  14. Ibid, 2:1397.
  15. Ibid, 2:1400.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid, 2:1401.
  18. Ibid, 2:1406.
  19. Ibid, 2:1410.
  20. University of Virginia
  21. MB, 2:1415.
  22. Trist Papers, Library of Congress

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