George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 16 November 1797]

16. Very hard frost—Wind at No. wt. & clear. Mer. at [ ]. All the Compy. above mentd. went away & Mr. B. Bassett came to dinner & a Mr. Augs. Woodward came in the Evening.

Augustus Woodward, of Greenbrier Court House, stopped at Mount Vernon on his way to Philadelphia with a “draft” from George Alderson, sheriff of Kanawha County, for taxes due for the years 1791–96 on four tracts of GW’s land lying on the Kanawha River in Kanawha County (Alderson’s draft to GW, Aug. 1797, NjMoHP). Since his knowledge of the county’s tax laws was sketchy, GW declined to pay until he could make further inquiry. Woodward informed him that the necessary information could be obtained from the treasury or auditor’s office in Richmond, and GW requested his nephew Bushrod Washington, then living in Richmond, to investigate (GW to Bushrod Washington, 18 Dec. 1797, DLC:GW). On 9 Jan. 1798 Bushrod informed his uncle that Sheriff Alderson was substantially correct, but that some of these lands and two lots in Berkeley County had also been returned for nonpayment of 1788 taxes and 1795 taxes, respectively, “with a view under a late Law, of subjecting them to forfeiture and future appropriation by any other person, or to be sold by the public.” This, he urged GW, was the more urgent matter, and payment should be made at the treasury or the auditor’s office promptly. The taxes due for the last six years should be paid directly to the “Sheriff or Collector of the County where the Lands lie” (ViMtvL). Woodward stopped at Mount Vernon on 14–15 Jan. 1798 on his way home from Philadelphia and received the full amount of the taxes requested by the sheriff of Kanawha County. GW sent the amount due at the auditor’s office promptly to Bushrod Washington for payment (GW to Bushrod Washington, 19 Jan. 1798, DLC:GW). See also GW to Bushrod Washington, 30 Jan. and 7 Feb. 1798, DLC:GW; Bushrod Washington to GW, 1 Feb. 1798, ViMtvL; schedule of GW’s western lands, Jan. 1798, DLC:GW.

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