Indian Camp

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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Indian Camp was the land owned by William Short in Albemarle County. The Indian Camp purchase was another attempt by Thomas Jefferson to get a friend to live close to him. He was successful with friends like Philip Mazzei, James Monroe, and James Madison.

In 1795, Jefferson bought for Short 1,334 acres of land that was four miles south of Monticello, and he ran it in Short's absence that involved collecting rent and paying the taxes. Although the two men did discuss agricultural methods in hopes of Short coming to live at Indian Camp one day, Short never settled on the land.

When Short decided to live in Philadelphia, he sold the estate to David Higgenbotham in 1813 for over $10,000. Jefferson arranged the sale where Jefferson was able to transfer a $10,000 debt he owed to Higgenbotham's mercantile business to Short, and then Short simply paid off the mercantile debt to Higgenbotham. Jefferson then in part repaid Short when he sold his books to the Library of Congress in 1815.

Higgenbotham renamed the land Morven.

Primary Source References[1]

1795 May 25. (Jefferson to William Short). "An opportunity also lately occurred of making an advantageous purchase of lands for you...The survey which was made yielded 1334 acres...I bought Indian Camp for you because you have expressed some partiality for our neighborhood and climate, because no lands in this state of equal fertility and equal advantages as cheap as ours, and you can always get them off your hands for the same money and it's interest, should you not like the purchase."[2]

1813 February 10. "Executed 3. bonds to Wm Short dated Jan. 31. as follows 1st. 3333 1/3 D. paiable Apr. 30. 1814. 2d. 3333 1/3 D. paiable Apr. 30. 1815. 3d. 3600 D. paiable Apr. 30. 1816 with int. from Dec. 25 next preceding the day they are paiable. These are by way of paiment of my debt to Higgenbotham which they discharge to the 1st. of Aug. 1812. Mr. Short takes them as paiment for the lands he sold to D. Higgenbotham.[3]


  1. Please note that this list should not be considered comprehensive.
  2. PTJ, 28:353, 355.
  3. MB, 2:1286.