George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Bernard Hubley, Jr., 28 July 1789

From Bernard Hubley, Jr.

Alleghany County Fort Pitt [Pa.]

My Dear Beloved GeneralJuly 28th 1789

I take this first Opportunity to inform you, that I have come thus far on my way homeward, my place of Residence in Northumberland County, which I left now six Weeks in Compy with Col. Fredk Antis, (of the same Place)1 we set out with an intention to explore the Western parts of Pennsylvania, we kept up the West Branch of the River Susquehannah as far as Chincklecamoos, then left the River & went through the Woods keeping mostly a North West Course, all the way till we came to the River Alleghany where we came to this River we were four Miles below the Mouth of French Creek; we were very Friendly received by all the Indians we fell in with, as we proceeded on our Journey between Fort Le Boeuf and Presquille, we met Mr Marcus Huling2 of Fort Pitt, with seven Men in Compy on their way for Pitt, Mr Huling, acquainted us that at Presquille he fell in with a British Captn one sergt Eight Soldiers, a Surveyor, Six or Seven Sea Men, and one Indian they had with them; the Surveyor inform’d Mr Huling, that they came from Niagara, and meant to go round Lake Erie, they were provided with two Months Provisions, they survey’d the Country as the[y] went along, Mr Huling was of Opinion, that they mean to Erect Fortifications at and near Presquille,3 the conversation which pass’d between him and the Surveyor confirm’d him strongly, the Surveyor told him he was much surprized at the stupidity of the Americans for neglecting so principle a place as Presquille in not having a Garrison there; the Sergt told one of Mr Hulings Party, that they meant in a short time to have some works there and keep a Garrison; every Night they doubled the Sentries making the Watermen do the same, and appear’d to be somewhat afraid in their Manoeuvres, they also seem’d a good deal surpriz’d, when they discover’d Mr Huling and his Compy, some of them told Mr Hulings Party, that they were inform’d by some Indians that there was a Party out from Fort Franklin to prevent them in their Intentions, after we took our departure with Mr Huling, we proceeded on but the British had left Presquille before our Arrival, we trac’d the Stakes they put in the Ground, and were of Opinion that they mean to carry a Mill Race and erect Works for the purpose, there is a Noble Mill Seat at the very place, and which is within One Hundred Rod, from where the Old Fort formerly stood; it may be the case that there is a Compy to Erect Mills there, and as it appears to be a place to carry on a Trade with the Indians, who live in different parts along the Lake (this place is said to have the finest Harbour on the Lake) that may be their Object, with a fair Wind in one Day & half, they can Sail from thence to Niagara—With the Dearest sentiments for my much Esteemed General and Patron, under whose Banners I had the Honour to serve in the Capacity of an Officer in the late War, I beg the freedom I have taken will not be consider’d an Intrusion upon the Patience of your Excellency, I thought it my duty to acquaint you thereof, my most fervent Prayer I offer to the Supreme Being, that the People of America may strive with each other to support you in your Station in the present Glorious Government.4 I am my Dear General, Your Most Obdt & ever Humbe servt

Bernd Hubley Jur

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 78.

Bernard Hubley, Jr. (1754–1810) was the son of a German immigrant who settled in Lancaster, Pa., around 1740. Hubley served in the German Battalion during the Revolution, ending the war with the rank of captain, and during his military service gained considerable frontier experience. After the war he settled in the West Branch Valley of the Susquehanna, where he was active in Northumberland County political and military affairs and began work on an eight-volume History of the Revolutionary War, the first volume of which was published in 1807. In 1789 Hubley was appointed county lieutenant for Northumberland County.

1Col. Philip Frederick Antes of Northumberland County, Pa., served with the 6th Philadelphia Battalion and with the Northumberland militia during the Revolution. In April 1790 Antes was one of three commissioners appointed by the Pennsylvania legislature to explore the “country adjacent to the headwaters of the Delaware, Schuylkill, Lehigh and Northeast branch of the Susquehanna” (Pennsylvania Archives, 4th ser., 4:98–99).

2Marcus Huling (Hulings), a longtime resident of Pittsburgh, operated a ferry across the Monongahela River and kept a tavern at the landing on the south side of the river.

3Presque Isle, now Erie, Pa., offering one of the best harbors on Lake Erie and a gateway to the interior, was a point of contention between the United States government, Great Britain, and Pennsylvania during the 1790s. The French erected a fort in the area in 1753, and Fort Presque Isle was constructed by the British in 1759. After the French and Indian War the fort fell into disrepair, although the ruins were still standing as late as 1795. The Six Nations nominally owned the land, and the United States and Pennsylvania both made purchases from the tribes after the Revolution. The decision by Pennsylvania in 1793 to erect a town at Presque Isle in what was known as the Erie Triangle revived administration fears that the United States would become involved in a three-way conflict over the site (Pennsylvania Archives, 2d ser., 6:677–80; Cabinet Meeting. Opinion on Drafting of Militia by Gov. Thomas Mifflin, 24 May 1794).

4On 14 Sept. 1789 GW wrote Hubley: “I have been favored with the receipt of your letter of the 28 of July last. Returning my thanks for the information it contains, I desire to assure you of my gratitude for the kind wishes you express in my behalf” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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