BICYCLING THROUGH HISTORY
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At the young age of 16, George Washington began to work with a Company of
Surveyors. One of his first assignments was for Lord Fairfax, who was granted
ownership of territory in Virginia by the King of England. Neither the King nor Lord Fairfax really
knew the extent or the boundaries of this domain.
Lord Fairfax had come from England and established a residence at Belvoir.
This was the neighboring estate to Mount Vernon. Lawrence Washington,
Georges's older brother was the owner of Mount Vernon. There
would be a lifetime friendship between these two families.
Lawrence Washington married his neighbor, Ann Fairfax, in
On one of the first of his many journies, George Washington accompanied James Genn, surveyor for Prince William county, and George William Fairfax, the son of Lord Fairfax to a gap in the mountains approximately 50 miles west of Alexandria.
The first entries in George Washington's Diaries follow : Notice the differences in spelling and grammar from current styles.
- Fryday March 11th 1747(8). Began my Journey in Company
with George Fairfax, Esqr. [eight years older than George
Washington], we travell'd this day 40 miles to Mr. George
Neavels in Prince William County
- Saturday March 12th This Morning Mr. James Genn ye,
surveyer [he had previously surveyed Lord Fairfax's South
Branch and Greenway Court Manors; this expedition was to
subdivide some of those territories into lots to be leased to
tennants] came to us we travell'd over ye. Blue Ridge to Capt.
[John] Ashbys on Shennondoah River, Nothing remarkable
- Sunday March 13 Rode to his Lordships Quarter [Greenway
Court] about 4 Miles higher up y. River we went through most
beautiful Groves of Sugar Trees and spent ye. best part of y. Day
in admiring ye. Trees and richness of ye Land
- Monday 14th We sent our Baggage to Capt. [Jost] Hites
(near Frederick Town [Winchester] ) went ourselves down ye
River about 16 miles to Capt. Isaac Penningtons (the Land
exceeding Rich and Fertile all ye. way produces abundance of
Grain Hemp Tobacco &ca.) in order to lay of some Lands on
Cates Marsh and Long Marsh
- Tuesday 15th We set out early with Intent to Run round ye sd.
Land but being in a Rain and it Increasing very fast obliged us to
return it clearing about one oClock and our time being too
Precious to Loose we a second time ventur'd out and Worked hard
till Night and then we returned to Penningtons we got our
Supper and was lighted into a Room and I not being so good a
Woodsman as ye rest of my Company striped myself very orderly
and went in to ye Bed as they called it when to my Surprize I
found it to be nothing but a Little Straw-Matted together without
Sheets or anything else but only one thread Bear blanket with
double its Weight of Vermin such as Lice Fleas &c I was glad to
get up (as soon as y. Light was carried from us) I put on my
cloths and Lay as my Companions. Had we not been very tired I
am sure we should not have slep'd much that night I made a
Promise not to Sleep so from that time forward chusing rather to
sleep in y. open Air before a fire as will appear hereafter.
- March y. 15th. Surved'd for George Fairfax Esqr. a Tract of
Land lying on Cates Marsh and Long Marsh. [Henry Ashby and
Robert Taylor were chainmen; Robert Ashby was the marker;
William Lindsy was pilot] [Surveyor's notes and measurements
- Wednesday 16th We set out early and finish'd about one
oClock and then Travell'd up to Frederick Town where our
Baggage came to us we cleaned ourselves (to get Rid of y. Game
we had catched y. Night before) and took a Review of y. Town
and thence return'd for us Wine and Rum Punch in Plenty and a
good Feather Bed with clean Sheets which was a very agreeable
- Fryday 18th We Travell'd up about 35 Miles to Thomas
Barwicks on Potomack [above Harper's Ferry] where we found y.
River so excessively high by Reason of y. Great Rains that had
fallen up about y. Allegany Mountains as they told us which was
then bringing down y. melted Snow and that it would not be
fordable for severall Days it was then above Six foot Higher
than usual and was rising we agreed to stay till Monday we this
day call'd to see y. Fam'd Warm Springs [Berkeley Springs or
Bath, now Morgan County West Virginia] we camped out in y.
field this Night Nothing Remarkable happen'd till Sonday y.
- Sonday 20th finding y. River not much abated we in y.
Evening Swam our horses over and carried them to Charles Polks
in Maryland for Pasturage till y. next Morning
- Monday 21st We went over in a Canoe and travell'd up
Maryland side all y. Day in a Continued Rain to Collo [Colonel
Thomas Cresap] Cresaps right against y. Mouth of y. South
Branch about 40 Miles from Polks I believe y. worst Road that
ever was trod by Man or Beast
- Wednesday 23d Rain'd till about two oClock and Clear'd when
we were agreeably surpris'd at y. sight of thirty odd Indians
coming from War with only one Scalp We had some Liquor with
us of which we gave them Part it elevating their Spirits put them
in y. Humour of Dauncing of whom we had a War Daunce there
manner of Dauncing is as follows Viz They clear a Large Circle
and make a Great Fire in y. middle then seats themselves around
it y. Speaker makes a grand speech telling them in what Manner
they are to Daunce after he has finished y. best Dauncer jumps up
and one awaked out of a Sleep and runs and Jumps about y. Ring
in a most comical Manner he is followed by y. Rest then
begins there Musicians to Play ye. Musick is a Pot half of Water
with a Deerskin Stretched over it as tight as it can and a goard
with some Shott in it to Rattle and a Piece of an horses Tail tied to
it to make it look fine y. one keeps Rattling and y. other
Drumming all y. while y. others is Dauncing
- Saterday 9th Set ye Surveyor to work whilst Mr Fairfax and
myself stayed at ye Tent our Provisions being all exhausted and
ye Person that was to bring us a Recruit disappointing us wed
were oblige to go without untill we could get some from ye
Neighbours which was not till about 4 or 5 oClock in ye
Evening we then took our Leaves of ye. Rest of our Company
Road Down to John Colins in order to set off next Day
- Sunday 10th We took our farewell of ye. Branch and travell'd
over Hills and Mountains to 1 Coddys on Great Cacapehon about
- Monday 11th We Travell'd from Coddys down to Frederick
Town where we Reached about 12 oClock we dined in Town
and went to Capt. Hites and Lodged
- Tuesday 12th We set of from Capt. Hites in order to go over
Wms. Gap about 20 Miles and after Riding about 20 Miles we
had 20 to go for we had lost ourselves and got up as High as
Ashbys Bent we did get over Wms. [Williams or Snickers'] Gap
that Night and as low as Wm. Wests ["Lacy's" at the head of Bull
Run Mountain near Aldie] in Fairfax [later Loudoun] County 18
Miles from ye Top of ye Ridge This day see a Rattled Snake
ye first we had seen in all our Journey.
- Wednesday ye. 13th of April 1747(8) Mr Fairfax got safe
home and I myself safe to my Brothers [Lawrence Washington's
home, named Mount Vernon, on the Potomac] which concludes
Fredricktown, now known as Winchester, was once a Shawnee Indian camping
ground to which Pennsylvania Quakers came to settle in 1732, the same year as George Washington's birth. The town was named Frederick Town after Frederick, the father of King George III of England. In 1752 the name was changed to Winchester in honor of the ancient English capital. By then it had already become an important trading center.
Winchester, in the very heart of the Shenandoah Valley, has many layers of history. During the Revolutionary War, Daniel Morgan's Rifleman from Frederick County were among the first who came to Washington's aid against the British. Revolutionary War prisoners were housed in Winchester and the neighboring countryside. During the War between the States, the city suffered severely and changed hands many times. It was a strategic prize of great importance during the Civil War. In Confederate hands, it was a serious threat to the supply lines of the Union armies trying to reach Richmond - the heart of the Confederacy. In the hands of the Union army, Winchester made southern raids possible and protected invasion of the north. The Shenandoah Valley opened a protected avenue for Union troop movements south from which they could attack on the flanks and rear of Lee's main armies. Thus, Winchester and Frederick County became the scene of six battles during the Civil War, and the city itself changed flags around seventy times during the four year conflict. It is said to have changed hands thirteen times in one day alone. General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson demonstrated his military leadership in the Valley Campaign. WInchester was familiar to him not only as a military objective, but also as his home during the winter of 1861-1862. Here he enjoyed the companionship of his wife for the last winter. His headquarters was located on North Braddock Street and is still open today in the spring and summer months.
In Winchester and Frederick County visitors will see many relics of the area's history. The tomb of Lord Fairfax is in the yard of Christ Episcopal Church. The home and grave of General Daniel Morgan, hero of the Revolutionary
War is just down the street. George Washington's headquarters is still open for viewing as well as the headquarters of "Stonewall" Jackson. The headquarters of the Union General Philip Sheridan was nearby, from which he started his 12 mile ride on October 19, 1864, to rally his retreating army at Cedar Creek. That ride was made famous by Thomas Buchanon Read's poem, "Sheridan's Ride". Abram's Delight was built in 1754 and is now completely furnished with relics of the 18th century. Other houses of the Revolutionary era and the ruins of an old church used as barracks during the Revolutionary War are still evident. The Hopewell Meeting House was established in 1734. The Belle Grove Plantation in 1794.
The founder of Winchester was Col. James Wood Sr. He was a surveyor and the first clerk of Frederick County. He also served as a quasi-campaign manager for George Washington in his first electoral win for a seat in the House of Burgesses. Colonel Wood provided much of the foundation for this area's rich history. As a surveyor, he knew which land was best, and he probably picked out the best land for himself. As a clerk, he knew the prices for land and who was selling, so he could also take advantage of that additional knowledge. In 1743, Wood laid out Winchester's lots, using the authority given to him by the House of Burgesses. Winchester would be divided into 26 half-acre lots with two streets running it. Gen. James Wood Jr. followed in his father's footsteps, becoming clerk of Frederick County before eventually becoming Virginia's governor in 1796.
Another son, John "Jacky" Wood was born in 1744, and he helped in the development of Glen Burnie, which was the elaborate family estate. In 1746, the elder Wood became ill, considered to be "sick and weak of body," which forced him to draft a will.
This bequethed the estate to his family. By October, he got better, returning to his official duties as clerk. Another son, Robert "Bobby" Wood was born July 27, 1747. Bobby Wood would build Glen Burnie, at least as we know it today, on the grounds that his father owned and where he had lived. As a member of the Loyal Company in 1748, James Wood Sr accompanied Thomas Walker, James Patton, Joel Buchanan, Charles Campbell, and a number of hunters and woodsmen to scout and survey North Carolina and the lands west. The actual route of that journey is unknown.
The last entry attributed toJames Wood Sr. was in the Frederick County Will Book from August 1759. He died on Nov. 6 of that year. Mary Wood lived at Glen Burnie until her death in 1798, and Robert also lived at Glen Burnie and managed the site until his death in 1801. Still, it is junior son, Gen. James Wood's rise to governor from 1796 to 1799 that probably was the high point of the Wood childrenŐs legacy.
George Washington used a little log building, now the middle room of The Office
Museum, as a military headquarters from September 1755 to December of 1756.
It was at this time that Fort Loudoun was being constructed at the north end of town. Washington planned Ft Loudoun, supervised the work and brought his own blacksmiths from Mount Vernon to do the iron work. The fort was a redoubt with four bastions. There were fourteen mounted cannon and it covered one-half acre. It was made of logs filled with earth and on the inside there were barracks for 450 men. A well was sunk 103 feet through solid limestone rock to supply the fort with water. This well, now on private property, is all that remains of the fort today. It was considered a very strong
fort and was never attacked.
Located on the grounds of the headquarters office is a cannon which was left by General Edward Braddock in Alexandria. It is among a number of interesting artifacts
displayed at the office.
Winchester has long been known as the "Apple Capital" of Virginia. It surrounded by vast orchards and constitutes one of the largest apple export markets of the nation and among the largest agricultural producing areas in Virginia.
Winchester played an important role in George Washington's
early adult life. His military and political career began there.
As a young man of sixteen, he came to the area to begin what
he thought would be his life's profession, surveying. With
the earnings from his surveying business he was able to buy a
number of acres around Frederick County and also a lot in
the town that enabled him to served as a Burgess from
Frederick County from 1758-1765. It was during the French and
Indian War that he commanded the Virginia Regiment from his
headquarters in Winchester. After the fall of Ft. Duquesne in 1758 and his having inherited his half-brother's home, he decided to marry Martha Custis and take up the life of a planter at Mount Vernon.
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