George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Cleveland, 16 November 1775

From James Cleveland

November 16th 1775


I Tack This oppertunity to Let you know how I have proseded In your bisness on the ohio1 First I proseded To the Tract Directed on the kanhawa 10990 acres2 as Directed I Sarchet That Extenceve Tract Fore Dayes To Find the best place To be gin my Impruve ments at lingth I Fixt in the great Bend Not be Cause it tis the best Land For it is all So Rich that I Saw no Choss but Thought I had reson To Beleave that you would Continue To keep hands out In that part of the Cuntry & a Cording to my judgment That is the properest place for a plantasion & Stock be Cause it lies Near a bout the midel of the Tract First As Directed I planted Near a bout 2000 peach Stone Cearls [kernels] Next I planted my petatoes & then proceded To put In a Crop of Corn by this Time I Found I Should Not Save So much land as I Could wish to Do by Clearin of land & thought it best To Try what I Could Save by bulding in the Same Time & a pon macken The Expearament I found that To be the way which I pushet with all my Deligence havin my buldings or other worcks vued Day by Day be Cause the Indans was Continuely Do roberys but Not being Disturbed Tell I had buldings a nuf To a mount To a £1100.15.7½ & 28 acres of land Cleard & well Tild And on it a large Crop of Corn Turnups petatoes I have a proper bill Dron & the buldings Distinctly mened a Cording to law the Said praisers First S[w]orn & a Stevemt Tacken. Col. Crawford Saw the bill & many other good judges all a lowes the bill To be good August the 4th 17793 I tuck a bill in full & left this Tract With all my hands onely one of the Negroes To Tacke Chear of the Crop & to thin the turnups Wheare thay ware to thick but when I got To The Next Tract Which Lies a bout three or Fore miles a bove the raped at the Grat bend4 But Seon after I got to that Tract ther Came Wourd to warn in all the Inhabatance of the ohio But I kept at worck but Every inhabant of this River left it for 200 miles Some in to forts & Som In to Companes we worcket on for Some time & saw No Danger but ware Sent for a SeCont Time by The offesor which Commands the Garroson at which This made me begin to Thinck ther was Danger5—I Sent Down to the first Tract to See if the Negro Was not Tacken a way he was brought to me in a Short Time but Not haven buldings a Nuf To Save this Tract of 4395 acres and Loth to lead up before it was Saved I Cheard up the hand⟨s⟩ & And to worck we went with a Reselusion not To leave the land Tell it was Saved at october 14th 1775. I found that Tract to besaved in The Same maner as the other is[.] the some praised for This Tract is £468.3 know [now] I have Finishet what I was Directed to Do at this time I met an Expre⟨ss⟩ Coming Down a gain as Si[g]ned by Thomas walker Col. lewis Cap. James wood & the Commander at fo⟨rt⟩ pit.6 This Expres was to go Down to Fort blar7 & From thence Down to Cantuck [Kentucky] & as the Ind[i]ans has Told the peopel That war Treting at fort pitt that thay had burnt The Garrowson and a number of houses up the Ohio But this I was Told by Cap. William Linn who Saw the a bove in fior as he Came up From Cantuc So he Tucket for Granted that it was ware and So traveled up by land8 but as there is a Company Sent Down to the kanhawa I have Sent Stevens & Skilling to Se Cure the Corn & the other truck all your Twles [tools] powder lead & 40000 Nailes the[y] is at Whelen Fort the Nailes is in Cags heded up The other are all in a Chist that Can be put in And locket & Naild all round & in the Cear of Cap. zeanes & I be leave will besafe & Deliverd When Cald For9 I have saved yours a Cordeng to Law So Far if the bills must be re turnd to Cort & recorded as the law Directs it must be Don in the County whear it lies but does not Say in what Time as it is So Far right I or Some other purson Aught to know Whether know [now] or hear after is the time10 k[n]ow I prosed [proceed] to Lit you know what is be Come of your sarvents one of Them at last got a way Two of them Drownded one of them behaved him Selef so bad that I Could Not keep him & in Such a place that I Could Not Git a price For him So I was a Forst to Tack a rifel gun & forty shillings11 bringing in your Gun has Forst me to leave my one on the ohio whear I have know [no] Chance to Git hur a Gain which is £4.2.6 lose to me and wors then that ware hear And I [have] know Gun to Fight as Mr washington Tackes hur a way12 I should have been Glad to have kept the Gun Tell Your Excellence returnd & been more fuller a[s] I wanted with Every thing at which Time if you faltd My Conduct in Selling this sarvent I would a low you The Same price For him & tack the Gun the other Six Sold From £24 To £28 five Shillings virginia money ther Buck Skin britches & blankets I have kept For your own Negroes Which I have left with Col. william Crawford & has Given From under his hand to a low you or any Purson left in Chear of your bisness wha⟨t⟩ Ever you Shall thinck resonabel & Deliverd when Cald fore you may thinck I ought to a left them at Sympsons but he would not a low any thing For them If you Dont blame me for the provesion I have bought Which is mor then I Expected I rote to you that I lost best Cannue and all the load of Corn13 tho a pon The hole you would have less money to pay by a Great Deal then you Expect so No more at prese⟨nt⟩ But remain yours to Command

James Cleveland


1For a discussion of Cleveland’s efforts to seat GW’s lands on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, see Valentine Crawford to GW, 24 June 1775, n.1.

2This tract, which was granted to GW on 15 Dec. 1772, lay on the west side of the Kanawha River between present-day Point Pleasant and Pliny, West Virginia.

3The certificate of 4 Aug. 1775 signed by George Aubry, John Clemonds, and William Stevens is printed in Cook, Washington’s Western Lands description begins Roy Bird Cook. Washington’s Western Lands. Strasburg, Va., 1930. description ends , 52. Cleveland erected fourteen buildings of various sizes including three dwelling houses and a barn. The other ten structures were small cabins. For the Virginia law regarding the seating of lands, see 3 Hening 312–13.

4This tract of 4,395 acres, which was also granted to GW on 15 Dec. 1772, lay on the east side of the Ohio River, about seven miles downstream from present-day Ravenswood, West Virginia.

5There was fear of an Indian uprising before a treaty was concluded at Fort Pitt on 23 October. See Lund Washington to GW, 5 Nov. 1775.

6Dr. Thomas Walker (1715–1794), Andrew Lewis (1720–1781), and James Wood (1741–1813) were three of the Indian commissioners who negotiated the treaty at Fort Pitt in October. The commander at Fort Pitt was Capt. John Nevill (1731–1803), who occupied the fort with 100 men on 11 Sept. by order of the third Virginia convention.

7Fort Blair was at Point Pleasant.

8William Linn (1734–1781), a veteran of the Forbes campaign in 1758, was first lieutenant of a rifle company that George Gibson raised at Fort Pitt earlier this year. In 1776 Linn accompanied Gibson to New Orleans to obtain gunpowder, and in 1778 he served under George Rogers Clark in the Kaskaskia campaign. Appointed a militia colonel in 1780, Linn participated in the Indian campaign of that year, and on 5 March 1781 he was killed by Indians near his home in Kentucky.

9Three Zane brothers settled at Wheeling in 1769: Ebenezer, Jonathan, and Silas Zane.

10Cleveland recorded the certificate of valuation for the Kanawha tract in the Fincastle County court on 2 April 1776 and the certificate for the tract near the great bend of the Ohio in the Botetourt County court on 9 April 1776.

11For Cleveland’s problems with the indentured servants, see also Valentine Crawford to GW, 24 June, and Lund Washington to GW, 5 Nov. 1775.

12Cleveland is apparently referring to Lund Washington.

13For the loss of the canoe while traveling down the Ohio, see Cleveland to GW, 12 May, and Valentine Crawford to GW, 24 June 1775.

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