Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

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eved on the part of Virginia) that nothing was ac-
DHiplishcd in 1781 towards running the temporary
ne. On the 2d of March, 1782, Council received
nd adopted the following report from a committee
ppointed to consider the question of running the
ne, viz. :

" That Council and your Committee are unanimous

1 Opinion, from the great expences necessarily at-
snding the compleating the Line between this State
nd Virginia, it would be most prudent to defer it for
ae present, and that a temporary Line during the
ontinuance of the present War, or till times are
lore settled on the Erontiers, may be made and agreed

I at a small expence, which will answer every pur-
se expected, and to effect which Council will take
e necessary measures."

The work was ordered to proceed, and the first part
f June set for the commencement. At the time named
ol. McClean repaired to the rendezvous, but neither
ommissioner Madison nor the Virginia surveyor,
oseph Neville, appeared, and an armed party of
'irginians who had collected there prevented him
|om proceeding with the work. The circumstances
nttending this occurrence, with some other matters
I ertaining to the boundary, are set forth in the follow-
ig letter ' from McClean to President Moore, of the
I'ouncil, viz. :
I -CoLL" Cook's, on mv way rnoji PiTiscrnoir, 2Tlli June, 1782.

! "Sir, — To my great Mortification, I am lead to in-
'ini vdu that after every effort which prudence
liiilii ilictate, I am again prevented from iJunning
ir Line. The Circumstances I presume you will be
'ixiuiis to know, — they are as follows. Viz.: Shortly
lUi my Return from Philadelphia, an expedition
a^ lormed against Sandusky by the Volunteers of
nth ( 'iiunties, which drew off a great Number of the
lilitia and Arms. The Situation of Washington

County was very distressing to appearance. I thought
it not prudent to call any part of the Guard irona
thence altho' Impowered so to do. The Lieut, of the
County of Westmoreland furnished me with a guard
of one hundred and upward, but had not Arms sufl!i-
cient to supply them; about Sevent}' were armed.
We proceeded to the Mouth of Dunkard Creek, where
our Stores were laid in, on the tenth day of June, and
were prejiaring to Cross the River that Night, when a
party of about thirty horsemen, Armed, appeared on
the opposite side of the River, Damning us to come
over, and threatening us to a great Degree; and sev-
eral more were seen by our Bullock Guard, which we
had sent over the river, one of which asked them if
they would Surrender to be taken as prisoners, with
other Language of menacing; and hearing of a great
Number more who were on their way to their assist-
ance. We held a Council, the Result of which was to
appoint a Committee to confer with them on the
Causes of their opposition ; the result of said Confer-
ence you will see enclosed. This Mob or Banditti of
Villains are greatly increased since the supply Bill
has been published amongst them. ... In short the
Cry against Taxes in Specie is general, and in any
IMode, by a Number of those who formerly adhered to
Virginia, and they think the Running of the Line
will be a prelude to and increase the power of Col-
lecting them ; Together with the Idea of a New State,
which is artfully and industriously conveyed (under
Coverture) by some of the Friends of that State, as
the only expedient to preveiit the Running of the
Line. I have also to inform you that I have the most
finished assurance that they have not the least Desire
to Settle the Line in any equitable manner, for the
Instructions of their Commissioners (if they have ap-
pointed any) will doubtless direct them to begin at
the end of Maryland, which is not yet ascertained,
neither can it be without the concurrence of that
State, which I am fully persuaded was thrown in as a
barrier to keep the Evil day the further off, as I fell
into Company with a person of great Consequence in
that State on my Way from Philadelphia, who was
big with the propriety of it, and Quoted a Gentleman
of this Country as the Author of it. Yet it would be
out of Character to say that the Executive of Vir-
ginia, who are so tender of Duplicity on any occa-
sion, should Wrap their Councils in Darkened Lan-
guage. I think it would be much to tluir honour
and the Interest of this State, as well as those I'nited,
if their Actions could be brought to Correspond with
their Declarations.

"Coil" Hayes, who was present on Committee, was
Zealous to proceed against all opposition, but all to
no purpose, other than to enrage the Mob Still more ;
they proceeded to dare us to trial of their Resolution
and intention. I have just now been with General
Irwin, who is well disposed to render every Service in
his power, but as a Continental Officer he cannot in-
terfere without instructions for that purpose. In



short, every measure has been taken that might be
thought prudent, but to no purpose ; their obstinacy
is such that they never will Submit until destruction
overtakes them. ;

" I have therefore to request you will devise some
mode that it may be accomplished speedily, as the
Enemies of this State are daily encreasing, and I find
it is out of my power, unless a Commissioner from
Virginia should appear, to proceed without open War,
which, if you are determined upon, 3'ou'll please to
give me instructions agreeably, together with the Ne-
cessary Powers. I am just now informed that a meet-
ing of some of the former Subjects of Virginia has
been lately Requested to choose Officers to Resume 1
the Government in this place, the Result of which I
ain not able to inform you."

With the above letter was transmitted to President
Moore the following minutes ' of a conference between
the boundary commissioners of Pennsylvania and a j
committee appointed for the purpose by the partisans
of Virginia, viz. :

' At !V meeting of the Con


the Part of Pen


"P.e5cnt Alexander JIoCIc;
& Samuel McClean As.-i>' Surveyor J for Running the Line.

"With the Several Drafts of the iMilitia of the S* & 4* Bat-
talions of Westmoreland County, under the Command of Cul.
Benjamin Davis, &c.

" When a number of the Inhabitants of Wa-hington County,
holding themselves yet under the Jurisdiction of the State of
A^irginia, appeared in Opposition to us, under Arms. And as
the meeting of Parties in sueh cases Inraged with Passion are
frequently attended [with ?] Evil Consequences, it was thought
Proper to ap[ioint a Committee to Confer on the Causes or
Reasons of saiil Opposition; on which Henry Vanmeter, Jesse
Pigman, and George Xcwland, of tlie Opposite Partie, were ap-
pointed a Committee to Confer with us ; and Christopher Hayes,
lUnry Benson, and Alexander JlcClcan a Committee on behalf
of Pennsyhiinia : After Producing the Several Papers and In-
structions, Together with Corresponding Letters of the Council
of A'irginia, The said Couimittce on the Part of Virginia Re-
fuse t.) Coiirui with the Committee of Pennsylvania in the
Jleasuie. untill linaily Determined or Proclaimed to he agree-
able to the State of Virginia, other than through furceable or
Dangerous Measures, Which might be attended with Conse-
quences truly Evil.

" In Witness that it is
represent. We, as a Com)
the Day and year aforcsa

full Intention of the
e, do Sign our Names


' Geoue Xewla

: Cop,

E. Cook.''

In the mean time, however, the Legislature of Vir-
ginia had given its formal assent to the runtiing of
the line, and thereupon President Moore sent to Col.
McClean his instructions to proceed, viz. :

"In Council, Philadelphia, July 20, 1782.
" Enclosed you have a copy of a resolution of the Legisla-
ture of Virginia respecting the line between that State and
ours, dated June 1, and copy of Governor Harrison's letter ac-
companying it, d.ated June 29, and also the order of f .in-il
of the lOih inst., directing you to attend at the west . ud uf
Mason and Dixon's line on Monday, the 4th of Xovcmlier m-xt.
You arc then, in eonjunoiion with the Surveyor to be appointed
on the part of Virginia, to proceed in running the line agreea-
ble to your former direction. It will be advisable to call out
the militia for guards from among those who live at some dis-
tance from the line, and we hope Virginia will take the same
precautions, to prevent heats and needless controversy. . . .
Colonel Hayes will continue his assistance under the former

Under this arrangement and these instructions,
Col. McClean, with Joseph Neville on the part of
Virginia, ran the temporary line in the fall of 17S2.
The boundary thus run was an extension of Mason
and Dixon's line from the point where it was left in
1767 twenty-three miles, and from that point (which
was afterwards proved to be about one and a half
miles too far west) due north to the Ohio River. Oa
the 23d of February, 1783, McClean reported the
completion of the work to the Council of Pennsyl-

The permanent boundary line was run and estab-
lished from the Maryland line westward to the south-
west corner of the State of Pennsylvania in 1784,
under the direction of James Madison, Robert An-
drews, John Page, Andrew EUicott, John Ewing;
David Rittenhouse, Thomas Hutchins, and John
Lukens ; the first four of whom were appointed by
Virginia, and the others by Pennsylvania, commis-
sioners "to determine by astronomical observations
the extent of five degrees of longitude west from the
river Delaware, in the latitude of Mason and Dixon's
line, and to run and mark the boundaries which are
common to both States, according to an agreement
entered into by commissioners from the said two
States at Baltimore in 1779, and afterwards ratified
by their respeeti ve Assemblies." About the beginning
of June Commissioners Ewing and Hutchins set-out
for the southwest corner of the State, as marked by
the temporary line of 1782, where they met Madisoa
and EUicott. Rittenhouse and Lukens proceeded to
Wilmington, Del., where they were afterwards joined
by Page and Andrews. At each of these points aa
observatory was erected, where the respective parties,
by many weeks of careful astronomical observations,
carefully adjusted their chronometers to the true time.

" Th(? astronomical observations being completed,
on the 20th of September the Eastern Astronomers
set out to meet the other commissioners in the west
in order to compare them together. Messrs. Ritten.
house and Andrews carried_,with them the observa-
tions made at Wilmington, while Messrs. Lukens and
Page returned home, not being able to endure the
fatigues of so long a journey, nor the subsequent
labor of running and marking the Boundary line.



Mr. Madison continued with the Western Astrono- j
mors till the arrival of Messrs. Rittenhouse and An-
drews, when the affairs of his family and publick
station obliged him to relinquish the business at this
stage and return home, after concurring with the '
other commissioners a^ to the principles on which the
matter was finally determined." '

The difference in time between points five degrees
of longitude distant from each other is twenty min-
utes, but on comparing chronometers it was found
that the two observatories were twenty minutes one
and one-eighth seconds apart. The observatory at
Wilmington was also 114 chains 13 links west of the
intersection of Mason and Dixon's line with the Del-
aware River. This showed that the western observa-
tory was 13-1 chains 9 links west of the end of the five
degrees of longitude. That distance was thereupon
measured back eastward on the line, the line cor-
rected, and the permanent southwest corner of the
State mai'ked by a substantial post. In the joint
report of the commissioners, dated Nov. 18, 1784,
they say, " The underwritten commissioners have
continued Mason and Dixon's line to the termination
of the said five degrees of longitude, by which work
the southern boundary of Pennsylvania is completed.
The continuation we have marked by opening vistas
over the most remarkable heights which lie in its
course, and by planting on many of these heights, in
the parallel of latitude, the true boundary, posts
marked with the letters P and V, each letter facing
the State of which it is the initial. At the extremity
of this line, which is the southwest corner of Penn-
sylvania, we have planted a squared, unlettered white-
oak post, around whose base we have raised a pile of
stones. The corner is in the last vista we cut, on the
cast side of an hill, one hundred and thirty-four
chains and nine links east of the meridian of tlie
Western Observatory, and two chains and fifty-four
links west of a deep narrow valley through which the
said last vista is cut. . . . The advanced season of
the year and the inclemency of the weather have
obliged us to suspend our operations, but we have
agreed to meet again at the southwest corner of Penn-
sylvania on the 16tli day of next May to complete
the object of our commission." In accordance with
this agreement they met in the following year, ran
and established the west line of Pennsylvania due
north from the southwest corner of the Ohio River,
and made a report of the same on the 2.3d of August.
In 178G, Col. Alexander McClean and Col. Porter ran
and completed the State lino northward from the
Ohio River to the lake.

Of the people who emigrated from the east to
settle west of the Laurel Hill prior to 1780, a large
proportion were from Virginia and Maryland, and

1 Report of tlio Pcnnsjiva:iiii Coniuiissioners.

many of them who had held slaves east of the moun-
tains brought those slaves with them to their new
homes in the West, for at that time the laws of Penn-
sylvania recognized and tolerated the " peculiar insti-
tution" as fully as did those of Virginia. Among
these were the Crawfords, Stevensons, Harrisons, Mc-
Cormicks, Vance, Wilson, and others. A most dis-
tinguished (though non-resident) holder of bondmen
in Fayette County was George Washington, whose
improvements on his large tract of land in the present
township of Perry were made principally by their
labor. Frequent allusions to these " servants" are
found in letters addressed to Col. Washington in 1774
and 1775 by Valentine Crawford, who resided on
Jacob's Creek, and acted as general agent in charge
of Washington's lands and afiairs of improvement in
this region. A few extracts from those letters are
given below, viz. :

"Jacob's Creek, 3Iay 7, 1774.

"... Your servants are all in very good health,
and if you should incline selling them, I believe I
could sell them for cash out here to different people.
My brother, William Crawford, wants two of them,
and I would take two myself . . ."

"Gist's, Jliij 13, 1774.

" I write to let you know that all your servants are
well, and that none have run away.- . . ."

"Jacob's Ckeek, June S, 1774.

"... I will go to Simpson's [Washington's estate
in the present township of Perry] to-morrow morning
and consult him farther on the affair, and do every-
thing in my power for your interest. The thoughts
of selling your servants alarmed them very much, for
they do not want to be sold. The whole of them
have had some short spells of sickness, and some of
them cut themselves with an axe, causing them to lay
by for some time. One of the best of Stephens'
[Washington's millwright] men cut himself with
an adze the worst I ever saw anybody cut in my
life. He has not been able to do one stroke for
near a month. This happened in digging out the
canoes. ..."

"Jacob's CiiEEK, July 2", 1774,

" Dear Colonel, — On Sunday evening or Monday
morning, William Orr, one of the most orderly men
I thought I had, ran away, and has taken a horse and
other things. I have sent vou an advertisement' of

of the proposition to sell them.
3 Following is a copy of the advertisenien

" Run awiiy f
I art's Crossing, ii
I tho24thin5tanl

g on Jacob's Creek, near Stcw-
P'-nnsylvanra,on Sunday night,
named William Oit, the prop-


liim. I am convinced he will make for some ship in
Potomac River. I have sent two men after him, and
furnished them with horses and money. I have also
written to my brother, Richard Stevenson [a half-
brother of Crawford's], in Berkeley, and James Mc-
Corraick to escort the men I sent, and to forward this
letter and advertisement to you. ... I have sold all
the men but two, and I believe I should have sold
them but the man who is run away had a very sore
foot, which was cut with an axe and was not
long well, and John Smith was not well of the old
disorder he had when he left your house. I sold
Peter Miller and John Wood to one Mr. Edward
Cook for £45, the money to be applied to the use
of building your mill. I sold Thomas McPherson
and his wife and James Lowe to Maj. John McCul-
loch and Jones Ennis for £65, payable in six months
from the date of sale. To my brother I sold William
Luke, Thomas White, and the boy, John Knight. He
is either to pay you for them or he loses them in case
you can prosecute your designs down the river [the
opening of a plantation on the Virginia side of the
Ohio, between Wheeling and the Little Kanawha].
I took John Smith nml William Orr on the .same
terms; so that, in jii^tii r. 1 am accountable to you
for the man if 111- is iirvir L''jt. I should have sold
the whole of llii' sii\ ants, agreeable to your letter,
if I could have iro! casli nr L-'ood pay, but the confu-
sion of the times put it out nf my power. ... I only
went down to Fort Pitt a day or two, and two of my
own servants and two militiamen ran away. I fol-
lowed them and caught them all down at Bedford,
and brought them back. While I was gone two of
your men, John Wood and Peter Miller, stole a quan-
tity of bacon and bread, and were to have started
that very iiinlit I gut liome, but a man of mine dis-
covered tlieir ilesigii. I xild them immediately, and
Avould have suld tlio whole if I could, or delivered
them to Mr. Simpson, but he would not be concerned
with them at any rate."

liim .1

yfai-s of age. He was born in
■ mncli. He is of a red cuni-
iilKly-colored liair, and very re-

■ • 1 7I" Im 1 . h .,h>l took Willi

ids higtl, liranded
liefurc. He liad
he will make to

11. 1 s.M Viuit .ind oLCufio liim, so tliat he and horse may I
I receive the above reward, or three pounds for the man
able charges if brought home paid by me.

lna.sti-r3 of vessels

r CoL. C.F.onoE '

j "I am very sorry to inform you I received a letter
from Mr. Cleveland of the 7th June, wherein he
seems to be in a good deal of distress. Five of the
[ servants have run away and plagued him much.
' They got to the Indian towns, but by the exertions of
I one Mr. Duncan, a trader, he has got them again.
j He has sent three of them up by a man he had hired
i with a letter to my brother William or myself to sell
them for you, but the man sold them himself some-
I where about Wheeling on his way up, and never
: brought them to us. He got £20 Pennsylvania cur-
rency for them, and gave one year's credit. This was
very low, and he did not receive one .shilling. Tiiis
was contrary to Cleveland's orders, as the latter wanted
to raise some cash by the sale to purchase provisii.ns.''
It is noticeable that Crawford, in the corresponileiiee
above quoted, never uses the word " slave," but always
" servant." Among the people employed on Wash-
I ington's improvements in Fayette County there were
I a few African slaves (some of whom lived until within
t the memory of people now living), but they \m re
1 principally white bondmen, such as, until the niiin-
j iug of the Revolution, were continually sent t i
America from Britain for crime or other eau-es
and sold into servitude on their arrival by the mas-
ters of the vessels which brought them over. Tlie
following advertisement of such a sale is from the
Virginia Gazette of March 3, 17G8:

"Just arrived. The Xeptune, Capt. Arbuckle, with one hun-
dred and ten hcaltliy servants, men, women, and boys: ain.mj
whom are many valuable tradesmen, viz.: tailors, weavers,
barbei-s, blacksmiths, carpenters and joiners, shoenialMi-, a
stay-maker, cooper, cabinet-maker, bakc:s, silversmith.^, ;i ,;..M
and silver refiner, and many otliers. The sale will en:iinnn.;o
at Leedstown, on the Eappahnnnoe. on Wednesday, the '.'th of
this (March). A reasonable credit will be allowed on giving
approved security to

"Thomas Hunin:."

On the 1st of March, 17.S0, the General Assembly
of Pennsylvania passed " An Act for the gradual
Abolition of Slavery," which provided and declared
" That all persons, as well Negroes and Muhittoes as
others, who shall be born within this State from and
after the passing of this act shall not be deemed and
considered as servants for life or slaves ; and that all
servitude for life or slavery of children in conse-
quence of the slavery of their mothers, in the case of-
all children born within this state from and after the
passing of this act as aforesaid, shall be and hereby
is utterly tiiken away, extinguished, and forever
abolished. Provided always, and be it further enacted,
That every Negro and Mulatto child born within this
State after the passing of this act as aforesaid (who
would in case this act had not been made have been
born a servant for years, or life, or a slave) shall be
deemed to be, and shall be by virtue of this act, the
servant of such person, or his or her assigns, who
would in such ease have been entitled to the service




of .such child, until such child shall attain unto the
age Qf twenty-eight years, in the manner and on the
conditions whereon servants bound by indenture for
four years are or may be retained and holden. . . ."

The law required that, in order to distinguish slaves
from all other persons, each and every owner of slaves
at the passage of the act should, on or before the 1st
of November, 1780, register in the office of the court
of the county his or her name and surname and oc-
cupation or profession, with the name, age, and sex
of his or her slaves or " servants for life or till the age
of thirty-one years;" and it further enacted, "That
no man or woman of any nation or colour, except the
Negroes or Mulattoes who shall be registered as afore-
said, shall at any time hereafter be deemed adjudged
or holden within the territories of this commonwealth
as slaves or servants for life, but as free men and free
women," except in the cases of slaves attending on
delegates in Congress from other States, foreign min-
isters and consuls, or nonresident travelers in or
through this State, and also in the cases of slaves em-
ployed as seamen on vessels owned by persons not
residents in this State. In October, 1781, was passed
" An Act to give relief to certain persons talcing refuge
in this State with respect to their slaves," which pro-
vided that such refugees might hold their slaves not-
withstanding the act of March 1, 1780, but the opera-
tion of the law of 1781 was to cease at the end of six
months after the termination of the war of the Revo-

On the 13th of April, 1782, the General Assembly
passed " An Act to redress certain Grievances within
the counties of Westmoreland and Washington."
This act was designed for the relief of certain per-
sons living within the so-called counties of Yoho-
gania, Monongalia, and Ohio, who had taken the
oath of allegiance to Virginia, and had, at the time
of the passage of the act for the gradual abolition of
slavery in this State, and for a considerable time
thereafter, supposed that their places of residence
were outside the limits of the State of Pennsylvania,
and had on that account neglected or been prevented
from registering their slaves within the time required
by the provisions of the act. All such persons, in-
habitants of the counties of Westmoreland and Wash-
ington, who could produce proof of their having
taken the oath of allegiance to Virginia before the
establishment of the boundary line between the two
States was agreed to, and whose names should be
found in the records of the above-mentioned Virginia
counties, were, by the act of 1782, " declared to be to
all intents and purposes free citizens of this State;"
and it was further enacted, —

" That it shall and may be lawful for all such in-
habitants of the said counties who were on the 23d day
of September, 1780, possessed of negro or mulatto

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 28 of 193)