George Washington Papers
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[Diary entry: 13 September 1784]

13th. I visited my Mill, and the several tenements on this Tract (on which Simpson lives).1 I do not find the Land in general equal to my expectation of it. Some part indeed is as rich as can be, some other part is but indifferent—the levellest is the coldest, and of the meanest quality—that which is most broken, is the richest; tho’ some of the hills are not of the first quality.

The Tenements, with respect to buildings, are but indifferently improved—each have Meadow and arable [land], but in no great quantity. The Mill was quite destitute of Water. The works & House appear to be in very bad condition and no reservoir of Water—the stream as it runs, is all the resource it has. Formerly there was a dam to stop the Water; but that giving way it is brought in a narrow confined & trifling race to the forebay, wch. and the trunk, which conveys the water to the Wheel are in bad order. In a word, little rent, or good is to be expected from the present aspect of her.2

1Gilbert Simpson’s plantation or farm covered about 600 of the 1,644 acres GW owned at Washington’s Bottom. Included on it were 152 acres of fenced meadow, “a good Dwelling House, Kitchen, Barn, Stable, and other necessary Buildings, 110 bearing Apple Trees &c.” (GW’s advertisement, in Va. Journal, 15 July 1784). The gristmill stood about a mile from the farm on the bank of Washington’s Run, a small stream that flowed into the Youghiogheny River about three-fourths of a mile below the mill.

2GW had spared little expense in making this large stone gristmill as fine as possible. Its construction, which had taken nearly two years, cost him between £1,000 and £1,200 (GW’s land memorandum, 25 May 1794, DLC:GW), and after William Crawford saw it “go for the first time” in spring 1776, he assured GW that “I think it the best Mill I ever saw any where, tho’ I think one of a less value would have done as well” (20 Sept. 1776, DLC:GW). Equipped with two pairs of millstones made of local rock, which the alcoholic but skilled millwright Dennis Stephens deemed “equal to English burr,” the mill was supposed to grind “incredibly fast” when working (GW’s advertisement, in Va. Journal, 15 July 1784). The shambles that GW found today in his first view of the mill should not have surprised him knowing what he did of his partner and manager Gilbert Simpson. “I never hear of the Mill under the direction of Simpson,” he wrote Lund Washington 20 Aug. 1775, “without a degree of warmth & vexation at his extreame stupidity” (NN).

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