George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Valentine Crawford, 24 June 1775

From Valentine Crawford

Jacobs Creek [Pa.] June 24th 1775

Dear Sir

I [am] verey Sorrey to Enform you I Recved a Letter from Mr Cleaveland of the 7th of June wherein he Seems to be in a good dale of destress[.] five of the Sarvents has Run a way and plagued him a good dale[.] the[y] got to the Indens towns Butt by the Esesten [assistance] of one Mr duncan a trador he has got them again and he has Sent three of them up By a Man he had hired with a Letter to My Brother willim or My Selfe to Sell them for you but the man Sold them him Selfe Som where about wheeling on his way up and Never brought them to us for £20 pen. Currency and give one years Credit which wase verey Low and he did Not Recve one Shilling which wase Contraray to Cleavelands orders to him as he wase to Rais Som Cash by the Sails for to purches provesins and I think it would be advisable if the Men they are Sold tow is Nott good to take them from them and Sell them again but the Man Shant be Stopt for want of Money for I will furnish him and will Esest Mr Simson in geting Started as quick as posable with his Canew and previsons[.] Mr Cleaveland Left Som Corn att Mr Simsons when he went down and I will get him Som Flower to Load his Canew[.] Mr Cleaveland Sank a Canew a going down and Lost five or Six Caske of Corn and Severell other things and James Mccarmick and Charls Morgen found a bag of ⟨Clo⟩ths and Severell other things a few day after as ⟨they⟩ wase a going [down] the River deliverd them to Mr Cleaveland again as the[y] New they belong to His Company By Som papers they found in the Bundle[.] Cleaveland dose Not Mention of geting Eney but the three Sarvent he Sent to be Sold but Mr duncan told Me yesterday att fort don More that he had got the hole five that Run a way[.]1 docter Crakes Manager has had very Bad Luck for in the Canew that wase Sunk he Los⟨t⟩ all his papers and wase Much att a Loss to find his Land or att Least to find the Corner trees but I have Sent him all the plats and Instructions I had from the docter[.] Least a Letter I have wrote to him Should Miscarey you Can Enform him I hope to be down in Fairfax as Soon as Ever I Reap My harvest and will Setle all My acoumpt with you.2

we had Chose Cometees out here and are a Raiseng Independent Company and Regu[l]a⟨te⟩ Maters the best we Can but an unhappy Confusio⟨n⟩ hapend the other day[.] the pencelvanans Came to fort pitt and tuck Major Coneley a bout Mid Night with the Sheriff and a bout 20 men and Cared him as far ⟨as⟩ Legenier the verey Night Before we wase to have the [meeting] with the Indens and Severell of the pencelvania tradors by the Indens Story wase Indevering to put Ill in the Minds of the Indens But on Majr Coneley being taken the people of Shirtee Came in in a Companey and Sceised three of the pencla. Magestrats who where Concernd in taking of Coneley—George Willson Joseph Speer and dedreck Smith and Snt them in an old Leakey Boat down to Fort fincastle under a gard Butt our Court had Now hand in this Butt it wase done by a Mob or Sett of Coneleys frends that Lives on Shirtees Creek.

But there wase all the Members of our Cometee wrote a verey Sperited Litter to the Gentlmen of pen. Cometee to demand Coneley Back and all Signd it and Sent it with an axpress on the Recpt of which they amedently Sent Majr Coneley Back and things Seemes to be a Little Modreited and I bleve the Indens wonts Nothing but peace but it Seemd to Elarm verey Much to here our grate Man wase Stole and Indeed it Elarmed us all verey Much as Majr Coneley wase the Man that had done and transacted all the besness with them before Now other parson wase So able to Setle besness with them as him3 So I hope you will Escuse the Lenth of My Letter and I am dr Sir your Most Hble Savet

Vale: Crawford

N.B. pleas to give my Complements to Mr Lund Washington and tell him his people is well and in a verey good wey to Make a good Crop of Corn.4



Valentine Crawford (d. 1777) lived on Jacobs Creek in western Pennsylvania, several miles north of Stewart’s Crossing on the Youghiogheny River (now the site of Connellsville, Pa.), where his brother William Crawford (1732–1782) had settled. Both men were deeply involved in GW’s efforts to acquire large holdings of land west of the Allegheny Mountains. During the late 1760s and early 1770s, William Crawford surveyed a number of tracts for GW, including one on the Youghiogheny, one near Chartiers Creek, and several along the Kanawha and Ohio rivers. To preserve his titles to those Kanawha and Ohio lands, GW engaged Valentine Crawford in the spring of 1774 to take a party of workers down the Ohio and seat his tracts by building houses and cultivating fields as required by Virginia law (3 Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 312–13). That expedition was canceled before it started because of the outbreak of Dunmore’s War.

1On 10 Jan. 1775 GW hired James Cleveland of Loudoun County, Va., to do what Valentine Crawford had been prevented from doing the previous year: lead an expedition down the Ohio to improve his Ohio and Kanawha lands. Cleveland reached GW’s tract near the mouth of the Kanawha in late April, but his work went slowly. He described his difficulties, in particular the problem of the runaway indentured servants, to GW in letters of 12 and 21 May and 7 June 1775. The five runaways who tried to escape to the Shawnee town on the Muskingum River were caught, but one man ran off again before he could be brought back to Cleveland’s camp. Cleveland did not think it worth the time to try to recapture him. Of the four servants who were returned, Cleveland considered three to be poor workers, and apparently they were the ones sold. The Indian trader who assisted Cleveland in recovering the runaways was David Duncan of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. During the latter part of the Revolution, Duncan moved his home to western Pennsylvania and served as deputy quartermaster general at Fort Pitt. Fort Pitt was called Fort Dunmore by Virginians during 1774 and 1775 in honor of their royal governor, John Murray, fourth earl of Dunmore. Gilbert Simpson, Jr., with whom Cleveland left three barrels of corn, was GW’s manager at Washington’s Bottom, the tract of land that GW owned on the Youghiogheny River at the site of present-day Perryopolis, Pennsylvania. For Cleveland’s account of the canoe that sank on the way down the Ohio, see Cleveland to GW, 12 May 1775. James McCormick (died c.1789) of Berkeley County, Va. (now W.Va.), served as a soldier under GW during the Fort Necessity campaign in 1754. Charles Morgan became GW’s rent collector in western Pennsylvania in 1794.

2Dr. James Craik (1730–1814) of Port Tobacco, Md., a close friend of GW, was granted several thousand acres of land on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers for his service as a surgeon during the Fort Necessity campaign. He was appointed one of the Continental army’s chief hospital physicians in October 1780 and became chief physician and surgeon of the army in March 1781.

3Jurisdiction over the area around the Forks of the Ohio had long been contested between Virginia and Pennsylvania, and by 1775 the two colonies had established rival local governments in the region. Virginia included the disputed territory within the boundaries of its District of West Augusta, and in February 1775 a court for West Augusta was convened at Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania considered the area to be part of its Westmoreland County, whose court sat at Hannastown, about thirty miles east of Pittsburgh. Dr. John Connolly (c.1743–1813), a physician and land speculator, was Governor Dunmore’s chief representative at Pittsburgh despite the fact that Connolly was a native Pennsylvanian. Appointed commandant of militia at Pittsburgh by Dunmore, Connolly took possession of the abandoned Fort Pitt in January 1774, renamed it Fort Dunmore, and summoned the local inhabitants to form a militia under his command. His actions greatly angered Pennsylvania’s adherents in the area, and there ensued a series of arrests and counterarrests by Virginia and Pennsylvania officials, of which the ones mentioned in this letter were only the latest. On 22 June 1775 the sheriff of Westmoreland County, John Carnaghan, arrived at Pittsburgh with a force of men, including Westmoreland justice George Wilson (d. 1777) of Georges Creek, and freed James Cavet and Robert Hanna, two Westmoreland justices whom Connolly had held under arrest since February. At the same time Carnaghan arrested Connolly and took him to the house of Arthur St. Clair, a Westmoreland justice and future Continental general, who lived at Fort Ligonier, about forty-five miles east of Pittsburgh. In reprisal for Carnaghan’s actions, a group of Connolly’s supporters from Chartiers Creek southwest of Pittsburgh, led by Capt. George Gibson, seized George Wilson and two other Westmoreland justices, Joseph Spear and Devereaux Smith, both Indian traders residing at Pittsburgh. Those three prisoners were sent to Fort Fincastle at Wheeling, which a Virginia force commanded by William Crawford had built the year before.

The problems caused by these arrests were settled by the committees of safety for the two rival governments, both of which were chosen on 16 May 1775. The West Augusta committee included not only Virginia justices, such as William Crawford, but also two of the Pennsylvania justices who were seized in June, George Wilson and Devereaux Smith. John Connolly was not a member of the West Augusta committee, however. Because of his close ties to Governor Dunmore, he became a staunch Loyalist, and he was attempting at this time to organize support for the royal government on the western frontier. The West Augusta committee was particularly fearful that Connolly would use his considerable skills as an Indian negotiator to persuade the Indians living north of the Ohio to ally themselves with the king against his rebelling subjects, but they also found themselves in the embarrassing position of having to depend on Connolly to conduct a previously scheduled peace council with those Indians. At the conclusion of Dunmore’s War in October 1774, Governor Dunmore promised the defeated Indians that their hostages would be returned and a final peace made at Pittsburgh the next spring. Connolly was preparing to negotiate this peace under the watchful eyes of the members of the West Augusta committee when he was suddenly carried off by the Pennsylvanians, leaving the assembled chiefs puzzled and the committee members frustrated in their desire to placate the Indians. To remedy the unfortunate turn of events, the West Augusta committee not only persuaded the Westmoreland committee to return Connolly but also secured the release of the three Pennsylvania justices, whose seizure it condemned as illegal. Connolly conferred with the Indian chiefs at Pittsburgh on 29 June, and between 3 and 6 July he concluded a peace that satisfied the West Augusta committee, even though the Shawnee were absent. During the next several months Connolly vigorously pursued a scheme for raising a Loyalist force west of the Alleghenies. In November 1775 American authorities arrested Connolly and eventually imprisoned him at Philadelphia. See William Cowley to GW, 30 Sept.-12 Oct. 1775, and Lund Washington to GW, 3 Dec. 1775. The border dispute between Virginia and Pennsylvania was not settled until 1780.

4William Crawford procured a tract of land near the Youghiogheny River for Lund Washington sometime before the fall of 1770 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 2:290, 323).

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