George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Graham, 20 July 1789

From Richard Graham

Dumfries [Va.] July 20th 1789


I am just returned from a trip down the River Ohio—when I went up the little Kanawa to look at my Lands there I found a Settlement formed of twelve familys in which are twenty good Rifflemen, at the head of them a Mr James Neal from Frederick County of whome they held the Land he having patented Twenty two hundred Acres about Six miles above the mouth of the Kanawa on the west Side1—they are nearly in the center of a Tract of 28,400 Acres that was Survey’d for Some of the Officers of your old Virga Regt viz. Robt Stobo, Jacob Vanbraam, James Towers, Andr. Fowler, Thomas Napp, John Fox, Francis Self, Robt Stewart, Robt Murphy, John Smith, Alexr Bonny, William McAnnulty, & Mary Horn—I informed them of this, & Satisfied both Mr Neal & the rest of them, that they had no right to the Land—but that as they had made a Settlement which would render the rest of the Tract much more valuable, it was probable that the proprietors, or your Excellency on their behalf, would let them have the 2200 Acres on very easy Terms rather than break up the Settlement—on this they gave me a power of attorny to make a purchase & to go as far as Ten pounds ⅌ hundred Acres—this is not more than a tenth part of what the rest of the Land will Sell for when either this Or any other good & Secure Settlement is made on it, but until that is Acomplished the Land will nether sell nor rent—The Landholders finding this to be the case, every where on the Ohio River below Grave Creek, are willing to give up a part, at first cost & charges, (which the Ten pounds ⅌ hundred Acres will cover,) rather than not get their Lands settled.2 If your Excellency approve of this Settlement being made on that Land on the above terms be pleased to let me know as Soon as you can with conveniency, as I promised to write Neal as Soon as possible that they may have time to look out for places to move to in the fall in case they are not to remain.

I expect to be on the Kanawa in November, if I can render you any Service in that part of the Country it will give me much pleasure. I have the honor to be with the highest respect Your Excellencys Most Obedient humble Servant

Richd Graham

ALS, ViMtvL.

Richard Graham (d. 1796) was a Dumfries merchant. In the 1780s he acted as agent in Dumfries for Robert Morris, probably aiding Morris in obtaining Virginia tobacco to fulfill the terms of his contract with the French Farmers General. Graham was heavily involved in speculation in western lands and, with the Gratz family of Philadelphia, in shipping interests.

1James Neal (1738–1822) of Frederick County, Va., served as a captain in the 7th, 9th, and 13th Virginia regiments during the Revolution. In 1785 Neal founded a settlement on the south side of the Little Kanawha River called Neal’s station. The settlement soon became a trading post and a source of protection from the Indians for the settlers in the area of the Little Kanawha.

2For the bounty lands offered to veterans of Virginia’s forces during the French and Indian War, see George Mercer to GW, 16 Sept. 1759, and GW to Samuel Milford, 29 Sept. 1788. GW had already considered various options in disposing of his western lands. See his letter to Nicholas Dubey, 27 Sept. 1788, and to Thomas Lewis, 1 Dec. 1788. In his letter to Lewis, however, GW had exempted the some two thousand acres he owned on the Little Kanawha from sale or long lease because its proximity to the new Ohio Company settlement at Marietta, a few miles up the Ohio, would “in my opinion render it peculiarly valuable at no very distant period.”

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