George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 22 April 1785]

Friday 22d. Mercury at 50 in the morning—56 at Noon and 63 at Night.

Took an early breakfast at Abingdon; & accompanied by Doctr. Stewart & Lund Washington, and having sent for Mr. Moses Ball (who attended); I went to a Corner of the above Land, within about 3 poles of the Run (4 Miles run) a white Oak, 18 Inches in diameter, on the side of a hill abt. 150 yards below the Ruins of an old Mill, & 100 below a small Branch which comes in on the No. Et. side and after having run one course & part of another, My Servant William (one of the Chain Carriers) fell, and broke the pan of his knee wch. put a stop to my Surveying; & with much difficulty I was able to get him to Abingdon, being obliged to get a sled to carry him on, as he could neither Walk, stand, or ride; At Mr. Adam’s Mill I took Lund Washingtons horse & came home. After my return I had the grd. which was sowed yesterday Morning with Barley harrowed.

Perceived the Service tree to be full in bloom. It bears a white flour in clusters but on single stems, and is a tolerable handsome tree in bloom.

Sowed the remainder of the circle which (on acct. of wet) was left unfinished on the Seventh instant. Put both kind of the Holly Berries together mixing them well.

Moses Ball (1717–1792) received a grant from Lord Fairfax of 91 acres lying on the south side of Four Mile Run in Fairfax County near Alexandria, the land adjoining GW’s on the west. He seems to have been one of the earliest patentees to clear land and live in the Four Mile Run area, and probably built a house there in 1755. GW undoubtedly requested Ball’s presence as much because of his long familiarity with the area as for his personal interest in the boundaries; Ball had earlier made lengthy depositions during several boundary disputes over these and surrounding lands (see STETSON [1] description begins Charles W. Stetson. Four Mile Run Land Grants. Washington, D.C., 1935. description ends ).

ruins of an old mill: probably on the land of Moses Ball.

my servant william: The accident to his servant put an end to the surveying of this land for another year (see entries for 4 and 5 May 1786). William (also called Billy or Will) Lee broke the other kneepan in 1788 and was a cripple for the rest of his life. GW greatly indulged Will in his later years because he was an old and faithful servant. “This is enough for the President to gratify him in any reasonable wish” (Tobias Lear to Clement Biddle, 3 May 1789, DLC:GW). In his will, GW gave William his freedom but allowed him, if he preferred, to remain at Mount Vernon in his present situation. In either case, he was to have an annuity of $30 for the rest of his life.

mr. adam’s mill: GW is probably referring to a mill at the ford over Four Mile Run, where the road from the ford over Hunting Creek passed on its way north to the ferry crossing at Georgetown. This mill is listed on a 1789 map as “Adam’s” (COLLES description begins Christopher Colles. A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America, 1789. Edited by Walter W. Ristow. Cambridge, Mass., 1961. description ends , 182), and in earlier years was called Chubb’s Mill (STETSON [1] description begins Charles W. Stetson. Four Mile Run Land Grants. Washington, D.C., 1935. description ends , 97–98). It was probably the mill operated by Robert Adam, the Alexandria merchant.

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