George Washington Papers
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[Diary entry: 18 September 1784]

18th. Set out with Doctr. Craik for my Land on Millers run (a branch of Shurtees [Chartier’s] Creek). Crossed the Monongahela at Deboirs Ferry—16 Miles from Simpsons1—bated at one Hamiltons about 4 Miles from it, in Washington County,2 and lodged at a Colo. Cannons on the Waters of Shurtees Creek—a kind hospitable Man; & sensible.3

Most of the Land over which we passed was hilly—some of it very rich—others thin. Between a Colo. Cooks4 and the Ferry the Land was rich but broken. About Shurtee, & from thence to Colo. Cannon’s, the soil is very luxurient and very uneven.

1James Devore (d. 1779) operated this ferry as early as July 1773, running it from his house on the northeast bank of the river across to the mouth of Pigeon Creek, now the site of Monongahela, Pa. It was established as a public ferry Feb. 1775 by the Virginia court for the district of West Augusta, which then claimed jurisdiction over the area, and in Oct. 1778 it was further established by act of the Virginia General Assembly (CRUMRINE [1] description begins Boyd Crumrine, ed. “Minute Book of the Virginia Court Held at Fort Dunmore (Pittsburgh) for the District of West Augusta, 1775–1776.” Annals of the Carnegie Museum 1 (1901–2): 525–68. description ends , 531; 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 , 9:546). Joseph Parkinson, who settled at the mouth of Pigeon Creek about 1770, apparently took over the ferry after Devore’s death and soon began operating it under Pennsylvania jurisdiction (VAN VOORHIS description begins John S. Van Voorhis. The Old and New Monongahela. 1893. Reprint. Baltimore, 1974. description ends , 83–84; MULKEARN AND PUGH description begins Lois Mulkearn and Edwin V. Pugh. A Traveler’s Guide to Historic Western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, 1954. description ends , 329–30). However, the name “Devore’s Ferry” continued to be used by some travelers until at least 1804 (FOORD description begins Bayrd Still. “To the West on Business in 1804, an Account, with Excerpts from His Journal, of James Foord’s Trip to Kentucky in 1804.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 64 (1940): 1–21. description ends , 19).

2David Hamilton of Ginger Hill and John Hamilton (1754–1837), who lived nearby, were both prominent residents of the Mingo Creek area west of Devore’s ferry. Both men later became Washington County judges, and both became much involved with the rebels in the Whiskey Insurrection of 1794. John Hamilton served as Washington County sheriff 1793–96 and as a United States congressman for one term 1805–7 (CONGRESSIONAL DIRECTORY description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989. Washington, D.C., 1989. description ends , 1057; BALDWIN [2] description begins Leland D. Baldwin. Whiskey Rebels: The Story of a Frontier Uprising. 1939. Rev. Ed., Pittsburgh, 1968. description ends , 247).

3John Canon (c.1740-1798), of Washington County, owned about 800 acres on Chartiers Creek, site of present-day Canonsburg, Pa., which he laid out in 1787. A justice of the Virginia courts for the district of West Augusta and for Yohogania County 1775–80, he was appointed a Washington County justice in 1785, serving until his death. His title of colonel derived from service as a sublieutenant of the Washington County militia 1781–83. Canon acted as GW’s western agent 1786–94, but proved unsatisfactory in his attention to GW’s business (CRUMRINE [2] description begins Boyd Crumrine. History of Washington County, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Philadelphia, 1882. description ends , 226; WASHINGTON COUNTY SUPPLY TAX—1781 description begins “Effective Supply Tax for the County of Washington. 1781.” Pennsylvania Archives, 3d ser., 22 (1898): 699–782. description ends , 713; GW to Thomas Smith, 23 Sept. 1789, DLC:GW).

4Edward Cook (1738–1808), of Fayette County, lived near the Monongahela River in the vicinity of present-day Belle Vernon, Pa. His handsome limestone mansion built 1774–76 was reputed to be at that time “the most pretentious home west of the Alleghenies” (MULKEARN AND PUGH description begins Lois Mulkearn and Edwin V. Pugh. A Traveler’s Guide to Historic Western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, 1954. description ends , 242). A conservative and well-to-do Presbyterian elder, Cook owned a number of slaves (HEADS OF FAMILIES, PA. description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: Pennsylvania. 1908. Reprint. Baltimore, 1970. description ends , 111). In 1776 he was a member of both the Pennsylvania Provincial Congress and the state constitutional convention and during the war served as county sublieutenant and eventually county lieutenant of Westmoreland County, which embraced all of present-day Fayette County before Fayette’s formation in 1783 (EGLE description begins William H. Egle. “The Constitutional Convention of 1776: Biographical Sketches of Its Members.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 3 (1879): 96–101, 194–201, 319–30, 438–46; 4 (1880): 89–98, 225–33, 361–72. description ends , 3:320).

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