George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 5 August 1785]

Friday 5th. Thermometer at 74 in the Morning—76 at Noon and 76 at Night.

After Breakfast, and after directing Mr. Rumsey when he had marked the way and set the labourers to Work to meet us at Harpers ferry on the Evening of the Morrow at Harpers Ferry (at the conflux of the Shannondoah with the Potomack) myself and the Directors set out for the same place by way of Frederick Town (Maryland). Dined at a Dutch mans 2 Miles above the

Mo[uth] of Monocasy & reached the former about 5 ’Oclock. Drank Tea—supped—and lodged at Govr. Johnsons.

In the Evening the Bells rang, & Guns were fired; & a Committee waited upon me by order of the Gentlemen of the Town to request that I wd. stay next day and partake of a public dinner which the Town were desirous of giving me. But as arrangements had been made, and the time for examining the Shannondoah Falls, previous to the day fixed for receiving labourers into pay, was short I found it most expedient to decline the honor.

Robert Harper (d. 1782), of Philadelphia, settled at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers in Virginia before 1747, and there developed a ferry which crossed the Potomac to Maryland just above the mouth of the Shenandoah. By 1785 Harper’s home had become a nucleus for a small village, variously called Shenandoah Falls and Harpers Ferry (BUSHONG description begins Millard Kessler Bushong. Historic Jefferson County. Boyce, Va., 1972. description ends , 17–21). In 1795 GW, as president, chose Harpers Ferry as a site for a federal arsenal and armory.

Frederick Town was laid out and settled in the 1740s on land owned by the Dulany family of Maryland. Lying on a major crossroads in the heart of the Monocacy River Valley, it became the seat of Frederick County, Md., when that county was formed in 1748. Its population was for many years heavily German, mostly immigrants from German communities in Pennsylvania whom the English colonists commonly referred to as “Dutch” (LAND description begins Aubrey C. Land. The Dulanys of Maryland: A Biographical Study of Daniel Dulany, the Elder (1685–1753) and Daniel Dulany, the Younger (1722–1797). Baltimore, 1955. description ends , 180, 252). The “Dutch mans” may have been the inn located on the road between the Potomac River and Frederick Town, which in 1780 was being kept by Leonhard Heil (MERENESS description begins Newton D. Mereness, ed. Travels in the American Colonies. New York, 1916. description ends , 591).

Index Entries