George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Michael Cresap, 26 September 1773

To Michael Cresap

Mount Vernon Septemr 26th 1773


In my Passage down the ohio in the Fall of the year 1770 I made choice of a piece of Land, being the first bottom on the So. East side the river above Capteening, as also a little above a place where the effects of a hurricane appear among the Trees, & opposite to a Creek on the other side near the upper end of the bottom, call’d Pipe Creek. The next Spring, when Capt: Crawford went down the Ohio to survey, I desired him to run out this Land for me, which he accordingly did, & returned me the Plat of it, as you may see by the inclosed copy, intending as soon as a Patent could be obtained, to apply for one.1 The Summer following, hearing that Doctor Brisco had taken possession of this bottom, (altho’ inform’d of my claim to it) I wrote him a letter, of which the inclos’d is a copy.2 And within these few days I have heared (the truth of which I know not) that you, upon the Doctors quitting of it, have also taken possession of it. If this Information be true, I own I can conceive no reason why you, or any other person should attempt to disturb me in my claim to this Land, as I have not, to my knowledge, injur’d, or attempted to injure, any other Man in his pretensions to Land in that Country, it is a little hard therefore upon me, that I cannot be allowed to hold this bottom (which is but a small one) in peace & quietness, ’till a legal right can be obtained, which I always have been, & still am ready to pay for, as soon as I know to what office to apply. I would feign hope that my information respecting your taking possession of this Land, is without foundation; as I should be sorry to enter into a litigation of this matter with you, or any other Gentleman; but as I conceiv’d that I had as good a right to make choice of this bottom, as any other person had; as I am sure that I am the first that did so, & have had it survey’d so as to ascertain the bounds, upwards of two years ago, I am resolved not to relinquish my claim to it.3 But if you have made any Improvements thereon, not knowing of my claim, I will very readily pay you the full value thereof, being Sir Your Most humble Servant

Go: Washington


1GW went up to Pittsburgh and down the Ohio River with Dr. James Craik and others in October 1770, and on 24 Oct. he inspected a tract of bottomland on the river opposite Pipe Creek about seven miles above Captina Creek (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 2:298). The next year on 2 Aug., William Crawford wrote GW that he had surveyed the Round Bottom tract. He subsequently gave GW a plat of it, which GW endorsed: “Plat of the Land above Capteening opposite Pipe Ck” (DLC:GW). Crawford resurveyed the tract twice in 1774 (see Crawford to GW, 8 May, 8 June, 20 Sept., 14 Nov. 1774).

2GW’s letter to Dr. John Briscoe warning him off the Round Bottom tract is dated 3 Dec. 1772.

3GW finally secured from Gov. Benjamin Harrison of Virginia in 1784 a patent for the 587—acre Round Bottom tract, but Cresap’s heirs continued to challenge GW’s right to the land on into the nineteenth century. See William Crawford to GW, 2 Aug. 1771, n.6, and Cook, Washington’s Western Lands description begins Roy Bird Cook. Washington’s Western Lands. Strasburg, Va., 1930. description ends , 88–99.

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