George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel Lewis, 1 February 1784

To Samuel Lewis

Mount Vernon 1st Feby 1784


After an absence of near nine years I am returned to my own home again, & am begining to look into my private concerns, which have undergone an almost total suspension during that period.

In my researches after papers, I find Memorandums of warrants, which had been put into the hands of the Surveyor of Bottetourt to execute; particularly one in my own right, under the Royal Proclamation of 1763 for 5000 acres, which appears to have been executed in part on the 6th of Novr 1774 by a survey for 2950 on the Great Kanhawa, adjoining to (what is commonly called) the Pokitellico Survey for 21,941, acres.1 And in a Letter of the 15th of Feby 1779, from Genl Lewis (whose death I sincerely regret) I find a paragraph containing these words:

“With regard to what you ask respecting Lands, no patents have been granted for any by the Proclamation of 63, but one which Doctr Connelly obtained by favor of Lord Dunmore, tho’ there seems no doubt of our obtaining such rights, as soon as the Land office be opened, which is expected next meeting of the Assembly.2 The burning Spring is surveyed in your & my names, I shall put the plat in the office, when opened, with some others I have in readiness.3 It will, for the quantity, make a good stock place, as a great proportion may be turned into meadow. The ground off the river, from the mouth of Cole river up, & particularly about the burning Spring is very high, uneven & barren, so much so that no Settlement can be made off the low-grounds of the river.”

I have now to beg the favor of you Sir, to give me such further information respecting the application of my warrants which have come into your office, as it may be in your power to do; & to inform me at the same time whether the Survey of 2950, acres made for my benefit, has ever been returned to the Secretarys office: Also, whether a patent for the Tract including the burning Spring has ever been obtained—for what quantity of acres—what improvements are on it, with such other particulars as may be interesting for me to know—particularly, in what County it lies—how far it is from the Kanhawa in the nearest part—& from the mouth of Cole river, where it forms its ju[n]ction with the latter.4

A Letter directed to any of your acquaintances in Fredericksburg or Richmond, with a request to put it into the post office, will be sure of getting to hand—other conveyances, more than probable will be precarious. I am—Sir Your most obt Servant

G: Washington


Samuel Lewis, a son of GW’s old friend and comrade Andrew Lewis (1720–1781), was the surveyor of Botetourt County, a position he had held since 1769 when the county was created from a part of Augusta County.

GW devoted a great deal of time and effort between 1769 and 1773 to securing for himself and other Virginians land promised to those who had fought in the French and Indian War. At the outbreak of that war, Robert Dinwiddie, lieutenant governor of Virginia, signed a proclamation dated 11 Feb. 1754 declaring that 200,000 acres would be set aside on the Ohio River for the officers and men who voluntarily served in the upcoming expedition to the Monongahela. Nine years later, in 1763, a royal proclamation instructed the colonial governors to reward the officers and men who had served in America in the recent war against the French with tracts of western land, ranging from 5,000 acres for field officers to 50 acres for privates. Because the transmontane west was closed to settlement after 1763, the Virginia veterans received no bounty land under either proclamation for nearly a decade after the war, but on 15 Dec. 1769 GW petitioned the Virginia governor and council on behalf of the officers and men of the Virginia Regiment of 1754 for the 200,000 acres of land promised them by Dinwiddie. The council consented to the survey of 200,000 acres, to be made in no more than twenty tracts, along the Great Kanawha and Ohio rivers for the benefit of the participants in the 1754 expedition (Va. Exec. Jls., description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 vols. Richmond, 1925–66. description ends 6:337–38). William Crawford, who often served as GW’s agent in the west, made the first survey in 1771. The initial allotment of land under this survey was completed on 6 Nov. 1772. GW received four tracts of land surveyed by Crawford, three on the Ohio River between the Little Kanawha and Great Kanawha rivers totaling 9,157 acres and one tract of 10,990 acres along the Great Kanawha. In the second bounty allotment under the Proclamation of 1754, made in November 1773, he secured a tract of 7,276 acres on the Great Kanawha, 3,953 acres in his own right and the rest by a trade with George Muse (ibid., 513–14, 548–49). See also Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 8:passim, and, in particular, GW to George Mercer, 7 Nov. 1771, GW’s Report on the Allotment of Bounty Lands, 23 Nov. 1772, GW to Charles Mynn Thruston, 12 Mar. 1773, GW’s Advertisement, 13–15 July 1773, and GW’s letter to Lord Dunmore and Council, 3 Nov. 1773.

On 6 Nov. 1773, after gaining the Virginia council’s approval for the second allotment of land under the Proclamation of 1754, GW persuaded the governor and council to authorize warrants of survey on the “western waters” for those entitled to land under the Royal Proclamation of 1763 (7 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 663–69). GW had a right under this second proclamation to 5,000 acres for his own service as colonel of the Virginia Regiment, and by this time he had bought the shares of Capt. John Posey, who was entitled to 3,000 acres as a captain in the 2d Virginia Regiment in 1758, and the rights of Lt. Charles Mynn Thruston whose service as lieutenant in the 2d Virginia Regiment entitled him to 2,000 acres (see GW to James Wood, 13 Mar. 1773). With the Thruston warrant GW obtained a tract of 2,000 acres on the Great Kanawha at the mouth of the Coal (Cole) River (see GW to William Preston, 28 Feb.1774, and Preston to GW, 7 Mar., 27 May, 15 Aug. 1774, and 27, 31 Jan. 1775; see also GW to Thomas Lewis, 1 Feb. 1784, n.6, and GW’s grant dated 12 April 1784 in Vi: Va. Land Grants and Surveys, 1779–1800, Book I, pp. 540–41). GW used Posey’s warrant for 3,000 acres to claim a tract of 2,813 acres surveyed by William Crawford on Millers Run at Chartiers (Shurtees) Creek and 187 acres of the 587 acres in a tract called Round Bottom on the Ohio River. For the Chartiers Creek tract, see GW to Thomas Lewis, this date, n.2; for the Round Bottom grant, see note 3 of that letter. Early in 1774 GW obtained the right to claim 3,000 more acres of bounty land under the Royal Proclamation of 1763 through his purchase of a warrant of survey from John Rootes, formerly a captain in the 2d Virginia Regiment. Sixteen years later GW used the Rootes warrant to claim three tracts of land on the Little Miami in the Northwest Territory (see GW to Thomas Lewis, 1 Feb. 1784, n.5).

As for the 5,000 acres GW was entitled to in his own right under the terms of the Proclamation of 1763, GW had the warrant for this acreage directed in 1774 to Botetourt County and to its surveyor Samuel Lewis (see William Preston to GW, 7 Mar. 1774, Andrew Lewis to GW, 9 Mar. 1774, GW to Andrew Lewis, 27 Mar. 1775). On 6 Nov. 1774 Samuel Lewis issued to GW a certificate of survey for 2,950 acres on the Great Kanawha, a tract first surveyed by William Crawford (see Vi: Va. Land Grants and Surveys, 1779–1800, Book 4, p. 444; GW to William Preston, 28 Feb. 1774; Preston to GW, 7 Mar. 1774; Andrew Lewis to GW, 9 Mar. 1774, and GW to Andrew Lewis, 27 Mar. 1775; see also note 1). Of the remaining 2,050 acres in GW’s own warrant, a survey made on 26 May 1775 of the Burning Springs tract in Botetourt County accounted for 250 acres (Vi:Va. Land Grants and Surveys, 1779–1800, Book E, pp. 43–44). For correspondence regarding surveys of the 1,800 acres to which in 1775 he was still entitled by his warrant for 5,000 acres in Botetourt County, see William Crawford to GW, 7 Feb. and 6 Mar. 1775, and also, particularly, GW to Andrew Lewis, 27 Mar. 1775. Except for the Chartiers Creek tract, apparently no patents for any of the bounty land that he held under the Proclamation of 1763 were issued to GW before the Revolution. The grant for the Burning Springs tract was issued jointly to GW and Andrew Lewis on 14 July 1780 (see Vi: Va. Land Grants and Surveys, 1779–1800, Book E, pp. 43–44; GW to Andrew Lewis, 15 Oct. 1778; and Lewis to GW, 15 Feb. 1779; see also note 3). The two tracts on the Great Kanawha, for 2,000 and 2,950 acres, were granted to him on 12 April 1784; the Round Bottom tract, on 30 Oct. 1784; and the three Little Miami tracts, on 1 Dec. 1790 (Vi: Va. Land Grants and Surveys, 1779–1800, Book I, pp. 540–41, Book K, pp. 495–96, Book M, pp. 487–89, and Book 23, pp. 420–23).

1The tract of 2,950 acres, downstream from present-day Charleston, W.Va., ran along the east, or south, bank of the Great Kanawha for about six miles in what was then Botetourt County, Virginia. GW claimed it in 1774 as a part of the 5,000 acres due him under the Proclamation of 1763 for his own service during the French and Indian War. The 2,950–acre tract was one of those that William Crawford had surveyed in 1771 for allotment under Dinwiddie’s Proclamation of 1754, but it was not alloted to anyone in 1772 or 1773 after GW discovered that Crawford’s surveys exceeded the authorized total of 200,000 acres. GW attempted without success in December 1773 to have a certificate of survey issued in Botetourt County for the tract on the strength of Crawford’s 1771 survey and thereby obtain it for himself under the terms of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 (see GW to William Preston, 28 Feb. 1774, and, particularly, GW to Andrew Lewis, 27 Mar. 1775). GW secured Samuel Lewis’s certificate of survey dated 6 Nov. 1774, but it was ten years later, on 12 April 1784, before Gov. Benjamin Harrison signed the grant to GW of the 2,950 acres (Vi: Va. Land Grants and Surveys,1779–1800, Book 4, p. 444). The Pocatellico survey of 1773 was William Crawford’s second survey on the Great Kanawha for the soldiers’ land bounty under Dinwiddie’s Proclamation of 1754. It included 21,941 acres and bordered the river on the same side and downstream from GW’s 2,950–acre tract and upstream of the tract that he acquired earlier on a warrant issued to him and George Muse jointly under the Proclamation of 1754 (see source note).

2Dr. John Connolly (c.1743–1813), an explorer, land speculator, and trader living in Pennsylvania, acted as agent in the West for Virginia’s governor, Lord Dunmore. He wrote to GW often in 1774 and 1775, before GW became commander in chief of the American forces and Connolly became a Loyalist.

3In the spring of 1775 GW hoped to acquire 1,800 acres in the Ohio Country (see GW to Thomas Lewis, 1 Feb. 1784, n.7). With the 2,950–acre tract on the Great Kanawha, this would account for all but 250 of the 5,000 acres allowed him by his own warrant of survey issued to him under the Proclamation of 1763. On 27 Mar. 1775 GW suggested to Gen. Andrew Lewis that Lewis have a survey made of the final 250 acres at Burning Springs near present-day Charleston, W.Va., and that he and Lewis hold the tract jointly. Gov. Thomas Jefferson granted the tract to the two men on 14 July 1780 (Vi:Va. Land Grants and Surveys, 1779–1800, Book E, pp. 43–44). Thomas Hanson wrote in his journal on 15 April 1774: “the Burning Springs ... is one of the wonders of the world. Put a blaze of pine within 3 or 4 inches of the water and immediately the water will be in flames and continues so until it is put out by the force of the wind” (quoted in Cook, Washington’s Western Lands, description begins Roy Bird Cook. Washington’s Western Lands. Strasburg, Va., 1930. description ends 65).

4No answer from Samuel Lewis has been found.

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