George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lewis Stephens, 20 September 1757

From Lewis Stephens

September the 20th 1757

Honourable Sr

I think it my Duty Indispencibly to acknowledge with Greatfullness Your Timeous Sending Immediate relief in our deep Distress also by Leaving a Number of men, for our Protection the which had it not been done we Should not had men to protect us, and certainly must have moved my Family to Some part for their Safety1 and Further Inform Your Honour, that by all Probability our Enemy is round us as by the Inclosed affadavid will Inform You also one of the Sentrys Last Night heard 3 Indian Hallowing in Different Parts, and a Gunn was heard Yesterday in the Evening by People Goeing to their habitations, about 2. Miles distant from this place it was So near them and Samuel Newels Plantation, and they being Cattle run[.] they Immediately returned and Gave us this account, all which Gives me Just reason to Suspect that the 3. Indians Seen Last night were Detatched from their body in order to discover the Country & thereby find where they may Strik the next Stroke, there are about 46. People Safely Come in from Cacapon, To Frys Fort women & Children Besides,2 I am of oppinion that the Place of their General Randisvous, is in the Cove between the heads, of this and Stoney Creek, Rivers,3 in the mountains, a Place Commodeous for Such Enemies to resort4—I and others are well acquainted with the Place, and Could Pilot men there but have not a Sufficient Number of men to Goe in Search of them, for we are weak at this tim and know not when we Shall be attacked, we Shall always Give Intelidgence of what Occurence, and am With Due regard Your Honours obedient Humble Servant

Lewis Stephens


Lewis Stephens (Ludwig Steffen), one of the German settlers coming into Frederick County in the 1740s, lived on Cedar Creek to the southwest of Winchester. His house, sometimes called Stephens’s fort, was just northeast of the northernmost bend in the creek, near the modern town of Marlboro. He was sheriff of the county until August 1757 and was now a member of the county court.

1For the attack on 17 Sept. see Dinwiddie to GW, 24 Sept. (second letter), n.1, and GW to John Stanwix, 8 Oct. 1757. The raid was reported in a letter dated 29 Sept.: “a Number of the Inhabitants (I was told Thirty-four) were killed and carried off lately from Cedar and Stony Creeks; and that some of the Murders were committed within thirteen Miles of Lord Fairfax’s House” (Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 6 Oct. 1757). Both Cedar and Stony creeks are tributaries of the North Fork of Shenandoah River; Cedar Creek flows into the river at present-day Strasburg and Stony Creek joins the river a few miles to the south of Woodstock.

2This was probably Benjamin Fry who built a stone house on his property on Cedar Creek. The settlers on the Cacapon River lived to the north and west of Cedar Creek over the next range of mountains.

3Stephens originally wrote “of this and Shenandoah Rivers” and then crossed out Shenandoah but not “Rivers” when he inserted “Stoney Creek.”

4One branch of Stony Creek rises on the slope of North Mountain only a mile or two to the south of where Cedar Creek begins and flows northeast for a number of miles before turning southeast into the Shenandoah. See note 1.

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