George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 6 August 1785]

Saturday 6th. Thermometer 76 in the Morning—88 at Noon and 82 at Night.

Breakfasted in Frederick Town, at Govr. Johnsons, and dined at Harpers ferry. Took a view of the River, from the Banks, as we road up the bottom from Pains falls to the ferry, as well as it could be done on Horse back. Sent a Canoe in a Waggon from the Ferry to Keeptriest Furnace in ordr. to descend the Falls therin tomorrow.

In my ride from George Town to this place, I made the following observations. That the Land about the first, is not only hilly, & a good deal mixed with flint stone, but is of an indifferent quality ’till we left the great Road, (3 Miles from G. Town) which leads to the former. The quality of the Land then improves, and seems well adapted to the culture of small grain but continues broken and by No means in a state of high cultivation. It is also better timbered and of a sameness to the Seneca Falls. That about the Maryland Sugar Lands (1400 Acres of which belong to George Plater Esqr.) which is five Miles above Seneca It is remarkably fine, & very level. From thence to Monocasy about 12 Miles further they are less levl. and of much inferior quality. That from Monocasy to Frederick Town (distant 12 or 13 Miles) nothing can well exceed them for fertility of Soil—convenient levelness and luxurient growth of Timber. The Farms seem to be under good cultivation, which is somewhat Surprizing, as the possessors of them (on a Mannor belonging to Chs. Carroll Esqr. of Carrolton who holds in one Tract, 12 or 14,000 Acres) are Tenants at will—paying for the low grounds on Potomack & Monocasy 5/. Maryland Curry. pr. acre & for the high land 4/. for all the land within the boundaries of their respective Tenements. That from Frederick Town to the Kittoctan Mountain (about 7 Miles) the Land is nearly similar but not quite so luxurient to the eye. And from that Mountain to the river estimated 10 Miles it is more hilly & of a second quality but strong & very productive especially of small grain. That the remaining 3 Miles to the Ferry is river bottom and of course good.

Frederick Town stands on a branch of Monocasy, and lyes rather low. The Country about it is beautiful & seems to be in high Cultivation. It is said to contain about [ ] Houses; for the most part of wood; but there are many of Brick and Stone, & some good ones. The number of Inhabitants are computed to be [ ] Souls. There are Churches, a Court House—Work House & other public buildings. The Mechanics are numerous, in proportion to the aggregate; and the Spirit of Industry seems to pervade the place—tho’ Trade, it is said, has slackened.

Johnson’s house in Frederick Town was on Market Street; his country estate was about four miles northeast of the town (SCHARF [3] description begins J. Thomas Scharf. History of Western Maryland. Being a History of Frederick, Montgomery, Carroll, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties from the Earliest Period to the Present Day; Including Biographical Sketches of Their Representative Men. 2 vols. 1882. Reprint. Baltimore, 1968. description ends , 1:487).

The Keep Triste iron furnace was located on the right (Virginia) bank of the Potomac near the mouth of Elk’s Run, about two miles above the confluence of the Potomac with the Shenandoah River. This area is now in Jefferson County, W.Va.

GW left the Great Road to Frederick Town to follow the river road along the Potomac. The Sugar Lands were named for the stands of sugar maple trees found in the Broad Run area in the western part of Montgomery County, Md., which also extended across the Potomac into the Sugar Land Run neighborhood of Virginia.

George Plater (1735–1792), of Sotterly, on the Patuxent River in St. Mary’s County, Md., practiced law in Maryland and took a leading role in the Revolution, representing Maryland in the Second Continental Congress (1778–80). In 1776 Plater participated in a joint Virginia-Maryland commission for safer navigation of the Potomac River.

Carrollton, a tract of land of over 10,000 acres in the fork of the Potomac and Monocacy rivers in Frederick County, Md., was given to Charles Carroll (1737–1832) by his father Charles Carroll (1702–1782) when the younger Charles returned to America in 1765 following his schooling in Europe. The younger Charles Carroll added “of Carrollton” to his name to distinguish himself from three other Charles Carrolls then living, although he never maintained a home at Carrollton. His regular residence was on the great plantation Doughoregan Manor in Anne Arundel (after 1851 in Howard) County, Md., about 16 miles west of Baltimore and 30 miles east of Carrollton. In 1821 Carroll divided Carrollton among a dozen members of his family, while retaining a life interest in the rentals from his tenants there (W.P.A. [2] description begins W.P.A. Writers’ Project. Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State. American Guide Series. New York, 1940. description ends , 331; Charles Carroll to Charles Carroll [of Carrollton], 10 April 1764, Md. Hist. Mag., 12:167; ROWLAND [1] description begins Kate Mason Rowland. The Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737–1832, with His Correspondence and Public Papers. 2 vols. New York, 1898. description ends , 1:68–69, 180–81, 196, 2:49, 409).

GW’s party apparently followed the old road from Frederick Town to the gap in South Mountain made by the Potomac River. kittoctan: now Catoctin Mountain, which runs almost due south through Frederick County Md., into Loudoun County, Va., and is cut by the Potomac at Point of Rocks, Md.

Index Entries