George Washington Papers
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[Diary entry: 8 September 1784]

8th. Set out about 7 oclock with the Doctr. (Craik) his Son William,1 and my Nephew Bushrod Washington;2 who were to make the tour with us. About ten I parted with them at 15 Miles Creek, & recrossed the Potomack (having passed it abt. 3 Miles from the Springs before) to a tract of mine on the Virginia side which I find exceedingly rich, & must be very valuable. The lower end of the Land is rich White oak; in places springey; and in the winter wet. The upper part is exceedingly rich, and covered with Walnut of considerable size many of them. Note—I requested a Mr. McCraken at whose House I fed my horses, & got a snack, & whose Land joins mine—to offer mine to any who might apply for £10 the first year, £15 the next, and £25 the third—the Tenant not to remove any of the Walnut timber from off the Land; or to split it into rails; as I should reserve that for my own use.3

After having reviewed this Land I again recrossed the river & getting into the Waggon road pursued my journey to the old Town where I overtook my Company & baggage. Lodged at Colo. Cresaps—abt. 35 Miles this day.4

1William Craik (b. 1761) studied law and began practice, probably about this time, in Charles and St. Mary’s counties, Md. He was chief justice of the fifth judicial district of Maryland 1793–96 and 1801–2 and a member of Congress from Maryland 1796–1801. He died before 1814 (CONGRESSIONAL DIRECTORY description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989. Washington, D.C., 1989. description ends , 796).

2Bushrod Washington (1762–1829), eldest son of John Augustine and Hannah Bushrod Washington, was long a favorite of GW. After attending the College of William and Mary, Bushrod served briefly as a volunteer cavalryman during the Virginia campaign of 1781 and early the following year went to Philadelphia, where with the help of a recommendation and 100 guineas from GW, he began studying law under politically prominent James Wilson (GW to Wilson, 19 Mar. 1782, typescript from PSC, and 22 Mar. 1782, DLC:GW). His studies were now finished, and he was temporarily “at leisure . . . waiting the arrival of his Law Library” to set up practice in Virginia. Somewhat ill earlier in the year, Bushrod had left his father’s Westmoreland County home in July and had gone to Warm Springs in order “to confirm his health and be in readyness” for the western trip (John A. Washington to GW, 8 July 1784 and July 1784, MH).

3This 240–acre tract in Hampshire County (now Morgan County, W.Va.) had remained virtually undeveloped since GW acquired it by patent from Thomas, Lord Fairfax, in 1753 (SIMS description begins Edgar B. Sims. Sims Index to Land Grants in West Virginia. Charleston, 1952. description ends , 803). In an effort to derive some real benefit from the land at last, GW announced in conjunction with the 24 June 1784 advertisement of his Washington’s Bottom property that he would lease this Hampshire tract for a term of seven years to the highest bidder at Bath on 7 Sept. (Va. Journal, 15 July 1784). As GW’s actions of this date indicate, no satisfactory offer was received while he was in Bath. The tract apparently was not leased during GW’s lifetime, and over the years much timber was taken off it by trespassers.

Ovid McCraken appears in the 1784 Hampshire County census as head of a family of nine whites (HEADS OF FAMILIES, VA. description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Virginia; Records of the State Enumerations, 1782 to 1785. 1908. Reprint. Baltimore, 1970. description ends , 72). In 1799 Squire Virgil McCraken lived next to GW’s land (Isaac Weatherington to GW, 24 Aug. 1799. ViHi).

4Col. Thomas Cresap, now about 90 years old, had been blind for several months, but a visitor to Oldtown in May 1785 reported, “his other faculties are yet unimpaired his sense Strong and Manly and his Ideas flow with ease” (MATHEWS description begins Catharine Van Cortlandt Mathews. Andrew Ellicott: His Life and Letters. New York, 1908. description ends , 34).

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