George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Joseph Caverly, 14 August 1788

To Joseph Caverly

Mount Vernon August 14th 1788


I have not yet been able to examine the drifted wood on my shores—but as I am informed you have been a considerable sufferer by the Storm1—you shall be welcome to all that now lays from the Gut which formerly divided Simpsons plantation and Johnsons, to the point of Pocoson opposite to the mouth of Piscataway Creek—excepting Walnut logs.2 or such pieces as will do for the framing of a wharf—These I reserve for my own use, in that district. and above it, my Nephew, Major Washington, has occasion for the wood for purposes of his own. It will be necessary for you to acquaint his Overseer and mine that this priviledge is allowed you, as orders have been given them to stop all encroachments of this kind and your own interest will prevent them from doing it till you shall have taken of[f] the Drift Wood which at present (for I do not mean this as a general priviledge) lies on that shore which is here described. I am Dr Sir &c.

Go. Washington


Joseph Caverly, a ship carpenter who was living in Alexandria as early as 1783, owned a wharf in the city which evidently had been heavily damaged by the hurricane of 24 July 1788.

1For GW’s own description of the hurricane and for other reports of the damage the storm did in the Alexandria area, see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:366–67.

2In 1760 GW bought from William Clifton an 1,806–acre tract lying across Little Hunting Creek from Mount Vernon. Samuel Johnston (Johnson) and Gilbert Simpson, Sr. (d. 1773), at that time were renting land on Clifton’s Neck on either side of Carneys Gut which was just above where Little Hunting Creek flows into the Potomac. GW confirmed Simpson’s lease but exchanged two Johnston leases for one farther upstream on Clifton’s Neck. (See Lease to Samuel Johnson, 25 Dec. 1761, and notes.) On 25 Oct. 1786 GW offered to turn over to his nephew and estate manager, George Augustine Washington, for his own use the upper part of the Clifton tract on which Clifton and later Johnston had once lived, with the understanding that George Augustine would receive at GW’s death the whole of Clifton’s Neck. In effect, GW was giving Caverly permission to collect driftwood along the shore of Clifton’s Neck from Carneys Gut along the riverbank of River farm to the end of Pocoson Swamp at the lower end of George Augustine Washington’s place.

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