George Washington Papers
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[Diary entry: 29 September 1784]

29th. Having appointed to join Doctr. Craik and my Baggage at Colo. Warner Washington’s, but finding it required only one day more to take the rout of Mr. Thos. Lewis’s (near Stanton) from whose Office I wanted some papers to enable me to prosecute my ejectments of those who had possessed themselves of my Land in the County of Washington, State of Pensylvania; 1 and that I might obtain a more distinct acct. of the Communication between Jackson’s River & the green Brier; I sent my Nephew Bushrod Washington (who was of my party) to that place [Warner Washington’s] to request the Doctr. to proceed [to Mount Vernon] & accompanied by Captn. Hite, son to the Colonel,2 I set out for Rockingham in which County Mr. Lewis now lives since the division of Augusta.

Proceeding up the So. fork of the So. Branch about 24 Miles—bated our Horses, & obtained something to eat ourselves, at one Rudiborts.3 Thence taking up a branch & following the same about 4 Miles thro’ a very confined & rocky path, towards the latter part of it, we ascended a very steep point of the So. Branch Mountain, but which was not far across, to the No. fork of Shanondoah; 4 down which by a pretty good path which soon grew into a considerable road, we discended until we arrived at one Fishwaters in Brocks gap, about Eight Miles from the foot of the Mountain—12 from Rudiborts & 36 from Colonl. Hites. This gap is occasioned by the above branch of Shannondoahs running thro the Cacapehon & North Mountains for about 20 Miles and affords a good road, except being Stony & crossing the water often.5

1Thomas Lewis (1718–1790), a brother of GW’s deceased friend Andrew Lewis, lived on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River about 20 miles northeast of Staunton, Va. He was surveyor and a justice of Augusta County from its formation in 1745 until 1777 when his home became part of newly created Rockingham County (WAYLAND [2] description begins John W. Wayland. Historic Homes of Northern Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Staunton, Va., 1937. description ends , 224; AREY description begins Hiram C. Arey. “The Public Career of Thomas Lewis.” Master’s thesis, University of Virginia, 1933. description ends , 26–27, 74). Now surveyor of Rockingham, he nevertheless retained records of his tenure as Augusta County surveyor. In response to a letter of 1 Feb. 1784 from GW (DLC:GW), Lewis had assured him that he had “in Safe keeping” the warrants and assignments for both the Millers Run land and a tract on the Ohio known as “the round bottom,” which GW also claimed (Lewis to GW, 24 Feb. 1784, ViMtvL).

Staunton, seat of Augusta County, had been laid off by Lewis 1747–48 and had been established by the General Assembly in 1761 (HARRISON [7] description begins J. Houston Harrison. Settlers by the Long Grey Trail: Some Pioneers to Old Augusta County, Virginia, and Their Descendants, of the Family of Harrison and Allied Lines. 1935. Reprint. Baltimore, 1975. description ends , 140–41).

2Abraham Hite, Jr. (1755–1832), enlisted in the Virginia Continental line as a second lieutenant 15 Nov. 1776. He reached the rank of captain in April 1779 and was a regimental paymaster after 1778. He was among the Virginia troops taken prisoner by the British at the fall of Charleston, S.C., 12 May 1780, but was soon paroled. Before the war Hite had explored and surveyed lands in Kentucky and after the war settled there, apparently preceding his father (HILLIER description begins Richardson Hillier. “The Hite Family and the Settlement of the West.” Master’s thesis, University of Virginia, 1936. description ends , 78, 89–96; HEITMAN [2] description begins Francis B. Heitman. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783. 1893. Rev. ed. Washington, D.C., 1914. description ends , 292).

3Johann Reinhart Rohrbach (d. 1821), of Hampshire County, lived on the South Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac near the mouth of Rohrbaugh Run, about four miles north of the present-day boundary between Hardy and Pendleton counties, W.Va. He arrived in Philadelphia from the Palatinate or from Switzerland in 1749 and lived in Berks County, Pa., before moving to the South Fork about 1767. On Virginia records his name often appears as John Rorebaugh, John Roraback, or John Rohrbaugh (ROHRBAUGH description begins Lewis Bunker Rohrbaugh. Rohrbach Genealogy: Descendants of nine Rohrbach immigrants to Colonial America, 1709–1754, and more than One hundred Rohrbach immigrants to America, 1825–1900 . . .. Philadelphia, 1970. description ends , 332–39).

The South Fork (also called the Moorefield River) joins the South Branch of the Potomac near present-day Moorefield, W.Va.

4GW followed Rohrbaugh Run southeast to South Branch Mountain (now Shenandoah Mountain) and after crossing it, continued southeast along Overly Run, Bennett Run, or Crab Run to the North Fork of the Shenandoah River near present-day Bergton, Va.

5John Fitzwater, of Rockingham County, lived about two miles southeast of present-day Bergton, Va., “at a place called the Slippery Ford,” where in 1771 he had bought 130 acres of land (CHALKLEY description begins Lyman Chalkley. Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1745–1800. 3 vols. 1912. Reprint. Baltimore, 1974. description ends , 3:513; WAYLAND [2] description begins John W. Wayland. Historic Homes of Northern Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Staunton, Va., 1937. description ends , 198). A captain in the Rockingham County militia during the War of Independence, he also served the county as a justice 1778–85 (GWATHMEY description begins John H. Gwathmey. Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, 1775-1783. Richmond, 1938. description ends , 276; VA. COUNCIL JLS. description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds. Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia. 5 vols. Richmond, 1931–82. description ends , 3:460).

Brocks Gap, located a short distance west of present-day Cootes Store, Va., is an opening in Little North Mountain through which the North Fork of the Shenandoah River flows into the broad level valley beyond. However, in the eighteenth century the name was also applied to the gorge above the gap, including Fitzwater’s place about 11 miles upstream. This gorge is flanked on the east by Church Mountain, an extension of Big North Mountain, and on the west by Hughs Mountain.

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