George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Preston, 27 May 1774

From William Preston

Fincastle, May 27th 1774

Dear Sir

Agreeable to my Promise I directed Mr Floyd an Assistant to Survey your Land on Cole River on his Way to the Ohio, which he did and in a few Days afterwards sent me the Plot by Mr Thomas Hog. Mr Spotswood Dandridge who left the Surveyors on the Ohio after Hog Parted with them, wrote me that Mr Hog and two other Men with him had never since been heard of.1 I have had no Opportunity of writing to Mr Floyd Since. Tho’ I suppose he will send me the Courses by the first Person that comes up, if so I shall make out the Certificate and send it down. This I directed him to do when we parted to prevent Accidents. But I am realy affraid the Indians will hinder them from doing any Business of Vallue this Season as the Company being only 33 and dayly decreasing were under the greatest Apprehension of Danger when Mr Dandridge parted with them.

It has been long disputed by our Hunters whether Louisa or Cumberland Rivers was the Boundary between us and the Cherrokees. I have taken the Liberty to inclose to you a Report made by some Scouts who were out by my Order; and which Sets that matter beyond a Doubt.2 It is say’d the Cherrokees claim the Land to the Westward of the Louisa & between Cumberland Mountain and the Ohio. If so, and our Government gives it up we loose all the most Valluable part of that Country. The Northern Indians Sold that Land to the English at the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744 by the Treaty of Logs Town in 1752 and by that at Fort Stanwix in 1768. At that Time the Cherrokees laid no Claim to that Land & how the[y] come to do it now I cannot imagine.

I have wrote twice to his Lordship on this Subject. If it is not disagreeable to you I would take it as a great Favour if you would Converse with his Excellency on this Matter, and endeavour to have it considered in Council. Most of the Officers have Entered their Lands below the Louisa; but I am almost certain the Surveyors will not Survey any there, untill they have further Instructions. My Reason for taking Enter⟨ies⟩ below that River was, that his Lordship gave Connolly and Warranstaff Warrants for their Claims at the Falls; but I am doubtful that would not be a sufficient Warrant for me to Survey the Land & Sign Certificates.3

Your taking some Trouble on this Head will be doing a great Service to the Officers, and a very particular Favour to Dr Sir your most Obedt and very hble Servt

Wm Preston


1For GW’s Coal River tract, see GW to Preston, 28 Feb., and note 2 of that document, and Preston to GW, 7 Mar. 1774. John Floyd, Preston’s deputy surveyor, made his survey of the tract on 18 April, and GW sent him the money by Col. William Christian in March 1775. See Cash Accounts, March 1775, n.11. Thomas Hog was probably Peter Hog’s brother. Bones and clothing thought to be Hog’s were found near the mouth of the Great Kanawha River a few days before the Battle of Point Pleasant (William Fleming’s orderly book description begins William Fleming’s orderly book, 4 Sept.–28 Oct. 1774. William Preston Papers in Draper Collection, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison. description ends ). Alexander Spotswood Dandridge (1753–1785), son of Nathaniel West Dandridge and his wife Dorothea Spotswood Dandridge, served during the Revolution as an officer in the 1st Continental Dragoons. He settled in Jefferson County with his wife Anne, only child of Adam Stephen.

2The report by the four scouts, or “runners,” Richard Stanton, Edward Sharp, Ephraim Drake, and William Harrel, sworn before William Russell on 7 May 1774, is in DLC:GW. The scouts, following “Instruction given by Colo. William Preston to William Russell,” were “Employ’d as Runners to Scout to the Westward of Clinch Settlement; and to Reconnoitre the Rivers of Cumberland & Louissa so far down as to be able to Judge and return a just account upon oath not only of the approach of an Enemy; but also a true account which of the aforesaid Rivers the Boundary Line Terminates on, which was Settled by Colo. Donalson between Virginia and the Cheerekees.” The scouts found no sign of Indians, but they traced the line marked off in 1771 by John Donelson according to the 1770 Treaty of Lochaber to “the verry River Called by the Hunters Louisa since called Kentucky which empties about seventy five Miles above the Falls into Ohio.” There was to be much confusion over the river traced by Donelson. The Kentucky River was sometimes referred to as the Louisa, but the river named Louisa in 1750 by Thomas Walker was farther east and seems to be what is today called Levisa, a branch of the Big Sandy. A line drawn at the Kentucky River gave much more land to Virginia. For a discussion of the confusion over the Donelson boundary line, see Abernethy, Western Lands description begins Thomas Perkins Abernethy. Western Lands and The American Revolution. 1937. Reprint. New York, 1959. description ends , 74–76, and Alvord, Mississippi Valley description begins Clarence Walworth Alvord. The Mississippi Valley in British Politics: A Study of the Trade, Land Speculation, and Experiments in Imperialism Culminating in the American Revolution. 2 vols. Cleveland, 1917. description ends , 2:84–89.

3See Dunmore to GW, 24 Sept. 1773, and Preston to GW, 7 Mar. 1774. The patents issued to John Connolly and to Charles Warrenstaff (Warmstoff) in Fincastle County are dated 16 Dec. 1773 (A List of all the Patents granted by His Excellency John Earl of Dunmore Governor of Virginia, enclosed in Dunmore to the earl of Dartmouth, 24 Dec. 1774, P.R.O., C.O. 5/1353, 42–62).

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