George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Stephenson, 13 February 1784

To John Stephenson

Fredericks[bur]g [Va.] 13th Feby 1784

Dear sir,

After condoling with you on the unhappy fate of your Brother William, which I do very sincerely; & upon the Death of your brother Valentine, I should be glad to get a copy from both their Books, or Memos, of the accounts as they stand between us; which are of long standing, & I fear not a little intricate. I write to you Sir, because I do not know (if you are not one yourself) who are the Executors or Administrators of those deceased Gentlemen. There were also some Land transactions, in partnership & otherwise between your Brother William & me, which I wish to have an account of. If it is in your power therefore, or you should have come across any warrants, Entries, Memoms or papers relative to this business, which can give me insight into the matter, I shall be much obliged to you for the information.1

There is also a Bond in my possession from your deceased brother Hugh (for whose Death I am also very much concerned) with your name, or that of your brother James’s to it (I am not certain which as I am from home, & have accidentally met with this good & direct opportunity) for a Sum of money due to me from your Fathers Estate; which I wish to know when it can be settled & paid, as the situation of my private Affairs makes it absolutely necessary to close my Accounts & to receive payment as soon as possible.2I am, with great esteem Your very hble servant

G: Washington


John Stephenson of Frederick County, Va., settled near the Great Crossing of Youghiogheny in the late 1760s. He was one of the younger half brothers of William (1732–1782) and Valentine (d. 1777) Crawford.

1GW entered into an agreement with William Crawford in 1767 by which Crawford became GW’s agent for surveying and claiming land in the West (see GW to Crawford, 17 Sept. 1767, and Crawford to GW, 29 Sept. 1767). All of GW’s claims to land in the Ohio country in 1773 and 1774 under the proclamations of 1754 and 1763 were based on surveys or information provided by William Crawford (see the notes in GW to Samuel Lewis and GW to Thomas Lewis, both 1 Feb. 1784). GW’s land dealings with William Crawford may be followed in the extensive correspondence between the two from 1767 to 1781, particularly in the years from 1769 to 1775. In 1774 GW sent William Crawford’s brother Valentine out to his lands on the Ohio to establish legal right to the tracts that GW claimed by making clearings and building cabins on them (see particularly GW’s instructions to Valentine Crawford, 30 Mar. 1774).

2GW’s bond of indebtedness from the Richard Stephenson estate was signed by his sons John and Hugh. Richard Stephenson died in 1765. He had five sons by Onora Grimes Crawford Stephenson (d. 1776), named Richard, James, John, Hugh, and Marcus. GW surveyed land for the senior Stephenson in 1752, and for the rest of that decade Stephenson was a fairly regular supplier of provisions and services for GW in Frederick County. At his death Stephenson owed GW £70.10, most of it for “a Negro—named Fortune—sold him in 1763” (Ledger A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 3). By 24 Nov. 1771 the estate debt had grown to £85.0.2, mostly from unpaid interest (Ledger A description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 1, 1750-72, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 331). GW credited William Crawford with paying on the account a total of £51 in 1772 and 1773; and in an entry in Ledger B description begins Manuscript Ledger Book 2, 1772-93, in George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 38, GW closed the Stephenson estate account. There is this notation in the ledger: “By Ball[anc]e of this acct—in John and Hugh Stephensons Bond—wch was put into the hands of Thos Smith Esqr. of Carlisle (Pennsa) to bring suit after all the credits were made wch was accordingly done & £103.11.6 3/4 Pennsa C[urrenc]y was reed wch Ball[anc]es all accts with the Estate.” For reference to Thomas Smith’s collection of the bond of the two Stephenson sons, see GW to Smith, 23 Sept. 1789.

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