George Washington Papers
Documents filtered by: Period="Confederation Period" AND Project="Washington Papers"
sorted by: editorial placement

[Diary entry: 3 September 1784]

3d. Having business to transact with my Tenants in Berkeley; 1 & others, who were directed to meet me at my Brother’s (Colo. Charles Washington’s),2 I left Doctr. Craik and the Baggage to follow slowly, and set out myself about Sun rise for that place—where after Breakfasting at Keys’s ferry 3 I arrived about 11 Oclock—distant abt. 17 Miles.

Colo. Warner Washington, Mr. Wormeley,4 Genl. Morgan,5 Mr. Snickers 6 and many other Gentlemen came here to see me & one object of my journey being to obtain information of the nearest and best communication between the Eastern & Western Waters; & to facilitate as much as in me lay the Inland Navigation of the Potomack; I conversed a good deal with Genel. Morgan on this subject, who said, a plan was in contemplation to extend a road from Winchester to the Western Waters, to avoid if possible an interference with any other State but I could not discover that Either himself, or others, were able to point it out with precision. He seemed to have no doubt but that the Counties of Frederk., Berkeley & Hampshire would contribute freely towards the extension of the Navigation of Potomack; as well as towards opening a Road from East to West.

1In the late 1760s and early 1770s GW leased the lands he owned on Bullskin and Evitts runs to ten tenants. Collection of rents from those tenants, as well as from ones in Loudoun and Fauquier counties, was much neglected during the war years, and what rents were received were paid mostly in badly depreciated currency. GW could do little about this last circumstance, having given lifetime leases that specified particular cash payments with no allowance for inflation (GW to John Armstrong, 10 Aug. 1779, DLC:GW). Nevertheless, he could collect the considerable balances still due and, being in need of ready cash, was determined to do so. On 28 Feb. of this year, he sent a stern warning to his Berkeley County tenants through Charles Washington: “if they do not settle & pay up their arrearages of Rent very soon I shall use the most efficatious means to do myself justice” (InU). One tenant, Isaac Collet, who held 200 acres on Bullskin, settled in April, but the others still had debts outstanding (General Ledger B description begins General Ledger B, 1772–1793. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 22, 31, 32, 71, 72, 101, 113).

2Charles Washington had moved to the Shenandoah Valley from Fredericksburg in 1780, settling on land on Evitts Run which he had inherited from his half brother Lawrence. Charles’s new house, Happy Retreat, stood on a hill overlooking the run, near the southern edge of present-day Charles Town, W.Va. The town, named for him, was laid out on his property in 1786 (WAYLAND [1] description begins John W. Wayland. The Washingtons and Their Homes. 1944. Reprint. Berryville, Va., 1973. description ends , 160–62; 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 , 12:370–71).

3Key’s (Keyes’) ferry on the Shenandoah River, about four miles east of Happy Retreat, had been authorized by the General Assembly in 1748 to run between William Fairfax’s land on the east bank and the land of Gersham Keyes (d. 1766) on the west bank (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 , 6:18). John Vestal, apparently a tenant on Col. Fairfax’s land, kept the ferry for many years, and hence, it was often called Vestal’s ferry. Humphrey Keyes (1721–1793), son of Gersham, now lived on the west bank and was probably operating the ferry at this time (BROWNE description begins Fairfax Harrison, ed. “With Braddock’s Army: Mrs. Browne’s Diary in Virginia and Maryland.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 32 (1924): 305–20. description ends , 313–14, n.18; HARRISON [1] description begins Fairfax Harrison. Landmarks of Old Prince William: A Study of Origins in Northern Virginia. Berryville, Va., 1964. description ends , 482, 511, n.124; KEYES description begins “More about Keyes of Keyes’ Ferry.” Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society 8 (1942): 18. description ends , 18).

4Ralph Wormeley, Sr., of Rosegill, Middlesex County, was staying at his hunting lodge on the Shenandoah River, Berkeley Rocks, also known simply as The Rocks (Wormeley to GW, 16 July 1784, DLC:GW). Situated near the mouth of Long Marsh Run, about ten miles south of Happy Retreat, this lodge was at the heart of a tract of about 13,000 acres, which Wormeley is said to have bought on GW’s advice “many years before” (NORRIS [1] description begins J. E. Norris, ed. History of the Lower Shenandoah Valley. 1890. Reprint. Berryville, Va., 1972. description ends , 484; CHAPPELEAR [2] description begins Curtis Chappelear. “A Map of the Original Grants and Early Landmarks in Clarke County, Virginia, and Vicinity.” Proceedings of the Clarke County Historical Association 2 (1942): facing p. 56. description ends , map facing p. 56). The lodge and much of the land were given about this time to Wormeley’s son James (ROCKS description begins “The Rocks.” Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society 10 (1944): 16–17. description ends , 16–17; WORMELEY description begins “The Wormeley Family.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 35 (1927): 455–56; 36 (1928): 98–101, 283–93, 385–88; 37 (1929): 82–86. description ends , 37:84–85).

5Daniel Morgan (c.1735–1802), a rough-and-tumble frontiersman during his youth, had emerged during the Revolution as an American military hero and was now one of the most prominent men in Frederick County. Forced to retire from military service in 1781 because of the ill health that frequently plagued him in his latter years, Morgan went home to Frederick County and finished building his house, Saratoga, on his farm between Winchester and Berry’s ferry, near present-day Boyce, Va. Morgan shared GW’s interest in western lands, east-west transportation, and flour manufacturing. In the postwar years he obtained extensive holdings beyond the mountains and about 1785 became a partner in a large merchant mill near his house (HIGGINBOTHAM description begins Don Higginbotham. Daniel Morgan: Revolutionary Rifleman. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1961. description ends ).

6Edward Snickers today offered to act as GW’s agent in leasing 571 acres of unsettled land near Snickers’s home which GW had bought from George Mercer in 1774. GW accepted the offer on the following day (GW to Snickers, 4 Sept. 1784, DLC:GW; CHAPPELEAR [2] description begins Curtis Chappelear. “A Map of the Original Grants and Early Landmarks in Clarke County, Virginia, and Vicinity.” Proceedings of the Clarke County Historical Association 2 (1942): facing p. 56. description ends , map facing p. 56).

Index Entries