George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 19 October 1770]

19. Dined at Colo. Croghans abt. 4 Miles from Pittsburg & returnd.

George Croghan was living at Croghan Hall near Pittsburgh. He and GW were old acquaintances from the 1754 campaign against the French, in which Croghan had agreed to provision the Virginia troops. At that time GW had been highly critical of his efforts (GW to William Fairfax, 11 Aug. 1754, DLC:GW). After the French and Indian War, Croghan acquired, on paper at least, an empire of some 250,000 acres of land in New York and 200,000 acres in Pennsylvania. By 1770, however, his pyramid of land speculation was crumbling and his creditors were pressing him for payment. In July 1770 he returned from his New York lands to his establishment near Fort Pitt, hoping to confirm title to his Pennsylvania holdings and sell them before returning to develop his tracts in New York. Exaggerated reports of land sales sent out by his agents had evidently reached GW, since at their meeting in mid-October they discussed the possibility of his purchasing a tract from Croghan. He wrote Croghan, 24 Nov., from Stewart’s Crossing on his return from the Ohio, that he would be willing to buy a single tract of 15,000 acres. Since Croghan had had difficulty in securing an uncontested title to the Pennsylvania lands he had acquired from the Indians, GW added cautiously that the acres would be purchased only when legal title could be confirmed (DLC:GW). Croghan was optimistic after GW’s visit: “I am likely to sell another Tract to Col. Washington and his Friends—if I do that, I expect to have One good Nights Rest before Christmas, which is more than I have had for eight Months past I assure you” (Croghan to Samuel Wharton, Jr., 25 Oct. 1770, PHi: Sarah A. G. Smith Family Papers). However, GW soon began to have serious doubts about the validity of Croghan’s title and by late 1771 decided against purchasing the tract (William Crawford to GW, 2 Aug. 1771; GW to Crawford, 6 Dec. 1771, DLC:GW).

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