George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edward Graham, 9 March 1798

From Edward Graham

Kenhawa March 9th 1798


In the year 1772 a survey of 28,627 acres was made by William Crawford on the Ohio & the great & little Sandy Rivers—By a certificate with your signature, filed in the Registers Office of this State, it appears the survey was to be patented in the names of John Savage & sixty others whose names are inserted in the certificate1—A petition was prefered to our last Assembly to have an Act passed for the division of this land; but the Assembly very justly considered that they ought not to interferre, as a mode is already pointed out by the law for obtaining a division2—I have been told however that a division of the above mentioned survey actually took place at or about the time that the survey was made—If this was the case, there must have been some record of the division & it is of importance that it should be known where that Record is, if it still exists—For some of the persons concerned, as appears by the petition I have mentioned, do not know that there even was a division; & others I find, do not know where their shares lie—Hence several persons, in some instances, lay claim to the same spot of ground—Disputes, litigations & inconveniences must arise, unless something can be found which will specifically point out the situation, the boundaries & the original owner, of each Division.3

If you can give any information in this subject, that will be useful you will oblige a number of persons who are at present in a state of uncertainty with respect to their claim—You will excuse this application, as it has utility for its object & respects a business in which you were once an agent—A line addressed to me & forwarded by post to Lewisburgh in Greenbrier will be conveyed from thence to me.4 I am Respectfully yr obt Sert

Edward Graham


When writing to GW from Greenbrier County on 3 Sept. 1796 offering to become GW’s agent for the sale of his lands on the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, Graham identified himself in this way: “I went through the course of study usual at public Seminaries, under the care of my Brother the Rev. William Graham at Liberty Hall Accademy—From there I went to New London in Campbell County & the Accademy at present established at that place took its rise under my immediate tuition—From New london I was called to Liberty Hall to assist as tutor under my Brother—Last Spring I resigned my place at the Academy & removed to Kenhawa which is my present place of residence & I practice law there & in this County” (DLC:GW). Edward Graham represented Kanawha County in the Virginia house of delegates in 1797 and 1798. His brother, the Rev. William Graham (1746-1799), was the founder of Liberty Hall Academy in Lexington, which became Washington (later Washington and Lee) College. At this time William Graham was trying to establish a Christian community on the banks of the Ohio and in March 1798 bought a tract of 6,000 acres in Kanawha County from John Polson of England (Chalkley, Scotch-Irish Settlement, description begins Lyman Chalkley. Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1745–1800. 3 vols. 1912. Reprint. Baltimore, 1974. description ends 2:164; see also GW to the Offices and Soldiers of the Virginia Regiment of 1754, 23 Dec. 1772, and Waddell, Annals of Augusta County, description begins Jos. A. Waddell. Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, From 1726 to 1871. 1902. Reprint. Bridgewater, Va., 1958. description ends 355–56).

1For the grant referred to here under the survey of William Crawford, see GW’s Petition to Lord Dunmore and the Virginia Council, c.4 Nov. 1772, n.3.

2For the petition to the Virginia legislature, see the journals of the house of delegates for 18 Jan. 1798.

3For earlier attempts to divide this tract, see GW to Peter Hog, 21 Mar. 1774, n.3.

4GW replied on 25 April: “Sir, I have received your letter of the 9th Ulto but am not enabled to answer it satisfactorily. The burthen of obtaining the Grants for 200,000 acres of land under Governor Dinwiddie’s Proclamation of 1754, and indeed the greater part of the expence attending this business, from the first move that was made therein until the issuing of the Patents, were thrown upon me—nor has the latter been re-embursed to this day.

“It was with great difficulty after Peace was established in the year 1763, that I could obtain a recognition of the above proclamation; and then, instead of assigning a district, & permitting every Claimant to locate his own quantum therein, we were compelled to take the whole quantity in twenty Surveys; or rather, not allowed to exceed that number. This it was that occasioned so many names to be jumbled together in the same Patent and has caused the difficulties which have since occurred to the Patentees, to obtain their respective quantities. The same happened to myself; but rather than be at the trouble & expence of dividing with others, I bought, & exchanged, until I got entire tracts to myself.

“After the Patents were granted and the Land thereby secured, I concerned myself no further with any part thereof except my own, than to give the notice you have alluded to; and am altogether ignorant of the measures the Patentees have taken to ascertain their proportions; consequently can afford you no satisfactory information on that subject of your enquiry. I am Sir Your very Hble Servant Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, DLC:GW; LB DLC:GW).

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