George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Parker, 16 November 1799

To Thomas Parker

Mount Vernon 16th Novr 1799


By Colo. Lear, I am informed that you have a journey to the Western Country in contemplation.1

In consequence, and on the presumption that you will accomplish your intention, I take the liberty of requesting (if you go by the way of Pittsburgh, especially) that you would do me the favour of making the following enquiries, & reporting the result on your return.

First, what is the supposed value (by the Acre) of three tracts of Land which I hold on the Ohio River (East side) between the mouths of the two Kanhawas; the uppermost of wch containing 2314 acres, is the first large bottom below the little Kanhawa, running upwards of five miles on the River; the second, containing 2448 acres is about Sixteen or eighteen miles lower down the River; and is bounded more than three miles by the River; the 3d tract measuring 4395 acres, is still lower down (four or 5 miles, opposite to the Great Bend in the Ohio) and all of them said to be of the first quality. What I mean by the value thereof is, what they probably would sell for, one third of the purchase money paid down—and the other two thirds in annual Instalments, with Interest.2

Let me further request the favour of you to make precisely the same enquiry with respect to three tracts of Land which I hold in the Northwestern Territory on the Little Miami River; one within about a mile of the Ohio River, containing 839 acres; another about Seven miles up the former of 977 acres; and the third about 10 miles up the same, measuring 1235 acres.3

I pray you to enquire whether the lands on the other side the Ohio are taxed, & under what predicament mine are; and if any of the tracts hereinmentioned (on either side of the River) have settlers on them; what kind; and what sort of Improvements with the number of them.

If you should pass by the Great Kanhawa—let me repeat my request with respect to my lands thereon also4—I wish you a pleasant tour, & safe return, being with esteem Sir—Your Most Obedt & very Humble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS (facsimile), advertised in catalog of Superior Stamp & Coin Co., Manuscript Society Sale, 13 Feb. 1991, item 3. ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers.

1On 5 Nov. Parker wrote Tobias Lear: “You will be pleased to forward any Commands that you may have for the western Country as soon as possable Tho I Shall not leave my Quarters untill the Troops are Comfortably provided for & not then If my further Services Shoud be Required” (DLC:GW). Lear replied promptly, on 7 Nov.: “As you had the goodness to tell me that you would make enquiries respecting the situation of the lands granted to the late Majr Geo. Augte Washington in the North Western Territory, during your intended excursion to that Country, I take the liberty to furnish you with such particulars respecting them, as are in my possession, as Administrator to Major Washington’s Estate” (DLC:GW). GW’s nephew George Augustine Washington was the first husband of Lear’s deceased wife Frances Bassett Washington Lear. After describing the tracts, Lear wrote: “Now, my dear Sir, if you can, from this statement, gain information respecting these two tract[s] of land, and will be so good as to pay any tax or taxes which may be due upon them, the money shall be immediately reimbursed, and you will lay me under great obligations, as well as render a singular service to the Orphans to whom the land belongs” (DLC:GW).

Parker wrote Lear on 13 Nov.: “In Concequence of the lateness of the arrival of the Other Troops I find that I Cannot without some Injury to the service avail myself of the permission that General Pinckney has Given me to go to the Western Country as soon as I expected⟨.⟩ I shall therefore postpone it untill the Begining of January when my services will not be so necessary in Camp” (DLC:GW). Lear wrote Parker again on 14 Nov. and told him that GW wished Parker also to inspect his western lands (DLC:GW).

2On 6 Nov. 1772 the Virginia council issued to GW patents for 15,000 acres of western land, on the Ohio and Great Kanawha rivers, to which GW was entitled under the terms of Gov. Robert Dinwiddie’s Proclamation of 1754. GW first advertised these lands for sale on 15 July 1773 (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 , 9:118–23, 278–80). His most recent of many subsequent futile attempts to peddle these three tracts on the Ohio River was in September 1798 when he tried without success to persuade Daniel McCarty to take them in exchange for the Sugar Land tract in Loudoun County (see GW to McCarty, 13 Sept. 1798; see also note 9 to GW’s Schedule of Property, printed as an enclosure to his will at the end of this volume).

3In 1788 GW used the warrant for 3,000 acres assigned to him in 1774 to claim these tracts on the Little Miami River near present-day Louisville, Kentucky. In 1798 GW was assured by the secretary of the Northwest Territory that reports that GW’s title to these lands was in doubt were groundless (Winthrop Sargent to GW, 16 June 1798). See also the description of these lands in GW’s Schedule of Property, which is printed as an enclosure to his will at the end of this volume. See also note 9 of the Schedule of Property.

4In a complicated transaction GW conveyed his extensive holdings on the Kanawha River to James Welch. See Welch to GW, 29 Nov. 1797, n.1; see also GW’s description of his Kanawha lands in the Schedule of Property and note 10 of that document which are printed as an enclosure to his will at the end of this volume.

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