George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Gilpin, 28 January 1791

From George Gilpin

Alexandria [Va.] January 28th 1791

Dear Sir,

Upon reciving in this Town your proclamation locating a district of ten mile Square it was deemed proper to run the two first lines to discover the point on Great Hunting creek which was to be the Begening of the district, it appears from this actual Survey that running from the Court house a South West Cour[s]e 160 poles that we were brought to Potowmack river above the mouth of Great Hunting Creek at the place where the marsh and the high land meet, and in order to strike great Hunting creek it is necessary to run from the Court house a South West course 220 poles. This will Strike Hunting Creek at the first point of fast land which comes down to the creek on West Side of Jones’s point and a N. E. course extended from this intersection will Strike the S. W. extremity of Joneses or fishing point. from the above mentioned point on huntg Creek a North West course will pass a few poles to the eastward of the house on Shooters hill.1 This information I have taken the liberty to make as I thought it my duty.2 I am Sir your most Obedient Hume Servt

George Gilpin

p.s. as the post waits I can say no more at present. G.G.


1Shooters Hill is a promontory due west of Alexandria and the site of the present George Washington Masonic Memorial.

2Gilpin, an Alexandria merchant and one of the directors of the Potowmack Company, along with William Hunter, Jr., an Alexandria merchant and recent mayor, and other leading men of the town, surveyed on 28 Jan. 1791 the first lines described in GW’s 24 Jan. 1791 proclamation. The same day Hunter wrote to GW with much the same report offered by Gilpin. His letter reads: “Your Proclamation, locating a part of the District of the General Government, arrived in this ⟨mutilated⟩ing, and several Gentlemen competent ⟨to⟩ the business, this morning, for curiousity made a Survey in order to find the two first lines therein described, & have found that by running half a Mile from the Court House of this Town on a South West Course, & from thence South East they leave Hunting Creek considerably to the Southward & strike Potowmac above Jones’ Point, where the Marsh & Highlands meet.

“And that in order to strike Hunting Creek it is necessary to run Two hundred & twenty Poles South West from the Court House, and that a South east Course from thence will strike Hunting Creek at the first point of firm land which comes down the West side of Jones’ or Fishing Point. A North West Course from this Point will pass a few Poles Eastward of the House on Shooter’s Hill.

“I think it proper to give you the earliest information on this Subject, & therefore have forwarded this, by Mr Isaac Roberdeau, by Express, who has been present at the Survey, & will give you any further information you may wish.

“Colo. Gilpin attended the Survey and has written you by this days post” (DLC:GW).

The letters of Gilpin and Hunter apparently arrived too late to affect the instructions given to Andrew Ellicott, the surveyor chosen by GW to run the lines of the federal district, who probably left Philadelphia on 3 Feb. 1791. For GW’s reply, see GW to Gilpin, 4 Feb. 1791.

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