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Full text of "Early chapters in the development of the Patomac route to the West"

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Early chapters in the development of the 




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George Washington, 1st President of the Patowmack Company 
(Old Engraving of an Original Painting by Gilbert Stuart) 



EARLY CHAPTERS IN THE 
DEVELOPMENT OF THE 

PATOMAC ROUTE TO THE WEST 



BY 

MRS. CORRA BACON-FOSTER 



WASHINGTON 

Published by the Columbia Historical Society 
1912 



p\, Ito'o 18^ 



Copyright, 1912 
By The Columbia Historical Society 



Press of 

The New era printing companv 

Lancaster, Pa. 



inscribed to the 
Memoey 

OF 

EOSE Mo.HENEY BEACKETT. 



IN THEEE PARTS. 

I. 

The Ohio Company and Other Adventxjees. 
1748 to 1774. 

II. 

The Patowmack Company. 

1784 to 1828. 

From its Unpublished Eecords. 

III. 

Life op Colo. Charles Simms, Gtentleman. 
With Selections from his Correspondence. 



ILLUSTRATIONS. 

Gen. George Washington, First President of the Patow- 
mack Company. (Old Engraving of an Original Paint- 
ing by Gilbert Stuart.) Frontispiece 

Gov. Thomas Johnson, Second President of the Patow- 
mack Company. (Family Group by Chas. Peale in the 
Maryland Historical Society Gallery.) Opposite 18 

Great Seal of the Patowmack Company. (Reproduced 
from Original by the Maurice Joyce Co.) . . Preceding 33 

First Annual Report of the Patowmack Company. 
(Original in Possession of the Chesapeake and Ohio 
Canal Co.) Opposite 74 

Little Falls of the Potomac. Entrance to the old Canal at 
Extreme Right. (Photograph by Mr. B. G. Foster.) 

Opposite 86 

Old Stone at the Entrance to the old Canal around Little 
Falls. (Photograph by Miss Violet Bacon-Foster.) 

Opposite 90 

Letter from Gov. Wm. Paca of Maryland. (Original in 
Possession of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Co.) 

Opposite 98 

Great Falls of the Potomac in 1802. (Drawn by Beck, 
Lithograph in the Library of Congress. ) . . . . ' Opposite 104 

The First Lock at the Great Falls of the Potomac. (Pho- 
tograph by Miss Violet Bacon-Foster.) Opposite 112 

The Second Lock at the Great Falls of the Potomac. 
(Photograph by Miss Violet Bacon-Foster.) Opposite 120 

View of the Potomac River from the Fifth Lock at the 
Great Falls. (Charcoal Drawing by Miss Milicent 
Strange.) Opposite 130 

Gen. John Mason, Last President of the Patowmack Com- 
pany. (From Portrait in Possession of Mrs. V. C. 
Dawson.) Oppos-ite 140 



viii Illustrations. 

Autographs of Stockholders in the Patowmaek Company. 

Opposite J.70 
Autographs of Stockholders in the Patowmaek Company. 

Opposite 190 
Colo. Charles Simms, Gentleman. (Drawn by Mrs. J. 0. 

Estabrook from a Minature.) Preceding 237 

Harpers Ferry, Showing First Arsenal Buildings. (Rare 
English Engraving of 1800.) Opposite 260 



PAET I. 

THE OHIO COMPANY AND OTHER 

ADVENTURES. 

1748 to 1774. 



[Eeprinted from the Eeeords of the Columbia Historical Society.] 



THE OHIO COMPANY, 1748-1874. 

By MRS. COERA BACON-FOSTER. 
(Read before the Society, December 14, 1909.) 

The story of the first incorporated effort to secure 
an easy communication between the English settle- 
ments on the Atlantic coast and the great country west 
of the Alleghany Mountains commences about 1740, 
when Thomas Cresap,^ the sturdy Yorkshire man, built 

^ Biographical Sketch of the Life of the late Capt. Michael Cresap. 
Cumberland, Md. Printed for the author (John J. Jacob) by J. W. 
Buchanan, 1826. 

Reprint, Cincinnati, Ohio, with notes and appendix, for Wm. Dodge 
by Jno. F. XJhlhom, Steam Job Printer, 58 W. 3d St., 1866. 

Cin. edition, page 29: 

"The Cresap family is large, extensive and respectable; it will not 
yield the homage of superiority to any family in Virginia or Maryland. 
. . Col. Thos. Cresap . . . the head and founder of the Cresap family, 
emigrated from Yorkshire, England when about fifteen years of age, but 
the dark shades of obscurity rest upon all the intermediate part of his 
life from this period until he married a Miss Johnson at the age of about 
thirty and settled at, or near the place now called Havre de Grace on the 
Susquehanna River. He was at this time poor, and in providing the 
necessary articles for housekeeping got involved in debt to the enormous 
sum of 9£ currency, when it is believed with a view to extricate himself 
from this debt he took a trip to Virginia, got acquainted with and rented 
a farm from the Washington family with the intention of removing to 
that colony. But during his absence his wife was delivered of her first 
born son, Daniel and on his return refused to go to Virginia. Now 
however he might be displeased at this he acquiesced; and after having 
paid his 9£ debt he removed higher up the Susquehanna to or near the 

3 



4 The Ohio Company. 

place called Wright's Ferry, opposite the present town of Columbia and 
obtained a Maryland title for 500 acres of good land. But this unfortu- 
nately at that time was disputed territory; and as others set up a claim 
to this land under a Pennsylvania title a war — called the Conojacular 
War — took place. Cresap espoused the cause of Lord Baltimore with as 
much zeal and ardor as the Pennites did that of Mr. Penn, and a battle 
ensued at a place called Peach Bottom. Cresap 's party proved victorious, 
kept the field and wounded some of the Pennites. But they soon recruited 
their army and beseiged the old fellow in his own home which happened 
I think to be built of stone. The attack was made in the night, but as 
the beseiger had neither cannon or battering rams it was found that the 
fort was impregnable. Finding that it would in all probability be a 
work of time the beseigers built a fire some distance from the house that 
they might warm themselves, counsel and deliberate. Cresap, aware of 
his perilous situation, put out his son Daniel, nine or ten years old to 
warn his neighbors and friends to his assistance; but the assailants 
discovered and took him prisoner. . . . The beseigers finding all their 
efforts unavailing at length ... set fire to the roof of his house. This 
had the desired effect, the fort was no longer tenable. As no terms of 
capitulation were offered the Colonel flew to the door wounding the 
sentinel who stood there and made good his retreat to his boat, which 
happened to be so fast as not to be loosened in time and he was sur- 
rounded and taken. They tied his hands behind him and were pushing 
across the river with their herculean prisoner, watched and guarded by 
a man on each side, but our old Yorkshire hero, seizing a favorable 
opportunity elbowed one into the river. . . . When the guard arrived at 
Lancaster with their prisoner they had him handcuffed with iron, which 
was no sooner done than raising both hands together he gave the smith 
such a tremendous blow upon his black pate that it brought him to the 
ground. . . . The prisoner was committed to jail in Philadelphia but for 
some reason it seems they soon grew tired of their guest and wanted him 
to go home, which he refused to do until liberated by order of the king. 
' ' During all this time Mrs. Cresap with her children took shelter in an 
Indian town near Little York. . . . Soon after this Col. Cresap removed 
to Antietam on a valuable farm called the ' Long Meadows, ' now in pos- 
session of the Spring family. On this farm he built a house of stone 
over a spring designed as a fort because he was on the frontier and in 
advance of a white population. He now commenced as an Indian trader 
and borrowed from Mr. Dulany 500£ to aid him in his business. Having 
provided a large quantity of furs and skins he shipped them to England. 
But fortune still frowned. The ship was taken by the French and once 
more he was compelled to begin the world anew. He gave Mr. Dulany 
his land, 1400 acres, for the debt and removed to the place now called 
'Old Town,' but by himself, 'Skipton' after the place of his nativity. 
This place is a few miles above the junction of the north and south 



The Ohio Company. 5 

branches of the Potomac, on the north fork and it became his permanent 
residence, here he acquired an immense landed estate on both sides of 
the river, in Virginia and Maryland. It was perhaps about this time 
that he renewed his acquaintance with the Washington family and he 
entered conjointly into an association with two or three gentlemen of 
this name, of which I think the General was one, George Mason and 
many other gentlemen in England and America and formed what was 
called the 'Ohio Company.' This company made the first English settle- 
ment at Pittsburg before the Braddock war and it was through their 
means and efforts that the first path was traced through that vast chain of 
mountains. Col. Cresap as one of the company and active agent thereof 
. . . employed an Indian, Nemacolin, to lay out and mark a road from 
Cumberland to Pittsburg. . . . 

"There can be no doubt that the exertions of this company had a 
strong tendancy to accelerate the exploration and settlement of the 
western country. 

' ' Col. Cresap 's literary attainments were small. His mind was how- 
ever vigorous, comprehensive and strong, by industry and application he 
obtained a sufficient knowledge of mathematics to be entrusted with the 
surveyorship of Prince George County . . . and such also was his decision 
and energy of mind that he frequently represented his county in the 
legislature. Benevplent and hospitable, Indians called him ' Big Spoon. ' 
He was not large, but of great muscular strength. He lived to reach 
105 years. 

"At the age of seventy he went to London. While there he was com- 
missioned by Lord Baltimore to run the western line of Maryland with 
a view to ascertain which of the two branches of the Potomac was the 
largest and which was in reality the fountain head or first source of that 
river. 

"The original autograph map was made by Col. Cresap in the neat 
style of a good county surveyor and sent by him to Gov. Sharpe. It 
came to Mr. Gilmor's possession with many other of the Eidout papers 
and is attested by Horatio Ridout whose father was Sharpe 's secretary. 
This was the first map ever made to show the course and fountains of 
the north and south branches of the Potomac Eiver in regard to which 
there has been so much controversy between Maryland and Virginia. ' '— 
Note p. 39, Cin. ed. 

(Map, made prior to 1754 given in Md. Archives, Vol. 6, p. 72.) 

' ' When eighty he married a second time. When one-hundred he made 
a land and sea journey to Nova Scotia. His son Michael was a celebrated 
character on the frontier for many years, was ignorantly accused of the 
murder of Chief Logan's family, died in the Eevolutionary service." — 
Ohio Archoeological and Historical Quarterly, Vol. 10, p. 146, with sketch 
of house. 



6 The Ohio Company. 

him a fortified home on a beautiful bluff overlooking 
the upper Potomac and near a deserted old village of 
the Shawnees.2 

To-day no one knows what impulse drove this man 
beyond the last outpost of civilization for his third 
venture in life. Did the wife who had refused to go 
to Virginia, cheerfully consent to go with her young 
family into the wilderness? The home made secure 
against attack and the crop of wheat and Indian corn 
safely stored, with an Indian for guide and companion, 
Cresap strode forth bound for the west to trade and 
prospect. His repeated expeditions — we infer they 
were successful — led him farther and farther into and 
beyond the mountain ranges to the great western coun- 
try, even beyond the "Beautiful Eiver" where no 
white man had then dared fix his abode. 

Thomas Cresap seems to have settled on the west bank of the Susque- 
hanna some time about 1730 under a grant from Lord Baltimore; being 
a man of intelligence and strength of character he was intrusted with the 
supervision of that neighborhood, surveying land for settlers, collecting 
taxes and quit rents. The Penns were also claiming that portion of the 
country and settlers on the east side of the river gave the Marylanders 
much trouble. These culminated in open warfare when in 1736 a settle- 
ment of Palatines fancied they were properly in Pennsylvania and refused 
to pay Maryland taxes. Cresap was several times assaulted in his own 
house and finally was burnt out and arrested and kept in irons for nearly 
two years. This naturally embittered him very much, his resentment 
against Pennsylvania never smouldered and when opportunity offered he 
never hesitated to strike. The friendship of all Indians for him at that 
period of his career is shown by the fact that Shawnees gave his wife 
and children shelter and protection during his imprisonment. 

^Journal of Capt. Chas. Lewis, a soldier in Braddoek's army, Deo. 2, 
1755. While foraging — "We arrived about two o'clock at a plantation 
of one Cresap 's, most delightfully situated on land that gave me great 
pleasure, 'twas a piece of low ground entirely surrounded by the moun- 
tains, the prospect remantick, high rocks on the sides of the mountains 
some hundred feet perpendicular to the river Potomack. Here we lodged 
this night in a comfortable house. ' ' — Wisconsin Hist. Soc, Draper MSS. 
*18 U. W., Va. Hist. Mag., Vol. 4, p. 109. 



The Ohio Company. 7 

From Indians and the occasional hunters he met, he 
learned that the French were preparing to take posses- 
sion of all that fertile land.^ Imbued with the true 
Briton's hatred of the papist Frenchman he pondered 
seriously upon the situation as he returned to the east 
laden with his valuable pelts. He then probably con- 
cluded that to locate English colonies with strong mili- 
tary protection would check invasion and repel attacks 
of hostile Indians; such settlements would be in Vir- 
ginia territory and if he had his will not open to Penn- 
sylvanians.* He had sometimes hunted with George 
Croghan,^ who was in the employ of Philadelphia mer- 
chants and also in the confidence of Sir "William John- 
son, of the Mohawk Valley.^ Croghan, it is true, was 
always most amiable with Virginians, but he was Irish 
and under the genial influence of Cresap's fine rum he 
doubtless told much of his patrons' plans that he had 
been wise to reserve/ 

The hatred of Cresap for the Pennsylvanians we may 
regard as the first political incident in our story; he 
regarded them as the enemies of himself and Mary- 
land. As Maryland had no western territory he would 
naturally go to Virginia with his projects. So loading 
a stout boat with his accumulation of fine furs and 
wrapping his gentleman's costume in waterproof cover 
he floated with the current of the Potomac to the civili- 
zation in tide-water settlements, skilfully avoiding 
rocks and shoals by day, by night tied up out of reach 
of possible marauders. At Great Falls was the only 

'E. G. Thwaites, "France in America." W. M. Sloane, "French 
War and Eevolution, " p. 267. Facsimile of the Celeron plate, "The 
Olden Time," Craig, Vol. 1, p. 288. 

* Thwaites, ' ' France in America, ' ' p. 144. 

°W. M. Darlington, "Christopher Gist's Journals," p. 176. 

«F. W. Halsey, "The Old New York Frontier," p. 95. 

' Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Smyth, Vol. 4, p. 461, Vol. 5, p. 46. 



8 The Ohio Company. 

portage, but there lie found rest and refreshment at 
the warehouse of Ludwell Lee in the town of "Philae." 
Thence to the York the sailing would be mere pas- 
time — with fair winds. 

Many of the prominent men of the colony were at 
the time in the Assembly in session at Williamsburg. 
The intelligent Cresap had no difficulty in interesting 
them in his view of the political and economic situation 
over the mountains. Indeed some such scheme must 
already have suggested itself as a result of the Treaty 
of Lancaster in 1744,^ when Thos. Lee for Virginia 
paid to the Indians £200 in gold and £300 in goods for 
a deed recognizing the king's right to all the "lands 
that are or shall be by His Majesty's appointment in 
the colony of Virginia." Lord Baltimore at the same 
time paid £300 in goods for a release of all claim to 
western Maryland "as far as two miles . . . above 
where Thos. Cresap has a hunting or trading cabin." 
A strong company was at once formed (1748) for trad- 
ing with the Indians and establishing settlements in 
the western country. This was the organization of the 
"Ohio Company," the most powerful of all pre-Eevo- 
lutionary trade corporations and the first incorporated 
effort to reach the great west. Its lineal successors 
have been: the Potomac Company, 1784, the Chesa- 
peake and Ohio Canal Company, 1826, the National 
Eoad, the first national inland improvement, 1806. We 
might include the Baltimore and Ohio Eailroad, com- 
pleted to St. Louis in 1857.'* 

»Penna. Col. Eeeords, Vol. 4, pp. 698-737. 

° Bancroft, Vol. 3, p. 29, p. 50. — ' ' While Penna. neglected its western 
frontier the Ohio Co. of Va. profiting by the intelligence of Indian 
hunters who had followed every stream to its head spring and crossed 
every gap in the mountain ranges discovered the path by Will's Creek 
to the Ohio. Their stores in 1750 were carried no farther than that 
creek." W. H. Lowdermilk, Cumberland, Md., p. 26. Darlington, Gist's 



The Ohio Company. 9 

The company was organized in 1748 and secured 
from the King in May, 1749, a charter and grant to a 
half million acres of land on these terms — 200,000 acres 
to be at once located on the north of the Ohio Eiver 
with the provision that if the company did not erect a 
fort on the land and maintain a sufficient garrison 
therein and locate at their own expense a hundred 
families therein in seven years the grants would be 
void, but if these terms were accomplished they were 
to receive the further grant of 300,000 acres of land. 
On a second petition the company secured the entire 
grant with very little restriction as to location. 

Thos. Lee, at the time president of His Majesty's 
Council in Virginia, held two of the twenty shares and 
was president of the company, the John Hanbury Co., 
of London, held two shares and were the London 
agents, Geo. Mason became and always remained the 
treasurer, John Mercer, th-e most distinguished lawyer 
in the colonies, was chosen secretary and legal adviser, 
Thpmas Cresap became the manager in the field, Law- 
rence and Augustine Washington held shares, three 
shares were held in Maryland. Upon his arrival Gov- 
ernor Dinwiddle promptly secured shares and was a 
valuable member.^" Upon a general meeting at Staf- 
ford Court House in 1749 they agreed with H. Parker 
for the carriage of all their goods from the Falls of 
the Potomac to their general factory on the Ohio and 
authorized Colonel Cresap to have a road opened to 
these places.^^ 

Journals, p. 224, etc. "The papers of the Ohio Company are in the 
possession of Mr. Eobt. Clarke of Cleveland, Ohio." — Pernow. 

""Dinwiddle Papers, Vol. 1, p. 17, in reply to a letter from Cresap, 
' ' I have the success and prosperity of the Ohio Co. much at heart. ' ' 

"Toner, "Washington's Journal," 1747-8, p. 65, "Mem, to survey 
the lands at the mouth of Little Caeapehon and the mouth of 15 mile Ck. 
for the gentlemen of the Ohio Co." See note, p. 64. 



10 The Ohio Company. 

These terms required energetic action. By the ad- 
vice of Cresap, Christopher Grist,^^ a man of good fam- 
ily connections, educated, experienced in dealing with 
Indians, familiar with the Ohio country, living by pref- 
erence on the frontier, was engaged to select the enor- 
mous tract of land by actual observation, to go as far 
down the river as the "Falls" (Louisville) and to se- 
cure the friendship of the chiefs of the tribes he en- 
countered. In November, 1749, he set out on this 
hazardous mission, leaving Will's Creek (Cumberland) 
well equipped for the journey. He critically examined 
the country to the north of the great river as far as the 
Miamis, cultivated the acquaintance of the numerous 
chiefs by making them many presents of trinkets from 
the "Great White Father," took copious notes by the 
way and made plots of many good locations and in 
three months returned weary and foot-sore to the com- 
pany's station at Will's Creek. His report was emi- 
nently satisfactory. The company at once built a 
storehouse at Will's Creek and ordered £4,000 worth 
of trading goods from Hanbury & Co., in London. 
Cresap with the assistance of the Indian Nemacolin 
surveyed and blazed a path from Will's Creek to the 
point on the Monongahela afterwards known as Fort 
Eed Stone, the home of Christopher Gist.^^ This was 
the original survey of the road over the mountains fol- 
lowed by Washington in 1754, Braddock in 1755 and 
the engineers of the "National Pike" in 1807 and the 
railroad engineers in our own day. 

But it was necessary to have the king's grant of land 
recognized by the savages in possession, hence in 1752 

'^Darlington, "Gist's Journals," p. 88. 

'» Lowdermilk, "Cumberland," p. 29. He built there the first house 
west of the mountains to have a nailed-on roof. Eleven families settled 
about him. 



The Ohio Company. ii 

Gist, as agent of the company, with three commission- 
ers from Virginia, met the Half King and other chiefs 
at Logstown on the Ohio and made a treaty by which 
was secured to white settlers unmolested possession of 
lands southeast of the Ohio.^* George Croghan was a 
subscribing witness. Gist was then instructed to lay 
off a town at Chartier's Creek, just below the junction 
of the Alleghany and Monongahela rivers; £400 was 
allowed for building the protecting fortification; he 
with several families settled there. A third depot of 
supplies had been built at Red Stone and the temporary 
store at Will's Creek replaced by one more commodious 
and capable of defence, a town called Charlottesburg 
was also there laid out and trade in town lots was quite 
active for a time.^^ 

The business prospered; no shares of the stock could 
be bought. The favored holders were jubilant. In 
transportation of stores the Potomac and Mononga- 
hela rivers were utilized. 

But clouds lowered on the horizon. The Pennsyl- 
vania and New York traders were not pleased with the 
Virginia monopoly, claiming the same privileges under 
the terms of the Lancaster treaty of 1744. And the 
French were not caught napping; they soon followed 
up the planting of the Celeron lead plates with armed 
invasion. 

In 1752 the Virginia Assembly passed an act for en- 
couraging western settlement by relieving the settlers 
from all taxation. In 1754 during the exodus to the 

"Darlington, "Mercer's Instructions to Gist in Eeference to Terms 
of Treaty," pp. 231-6. 

" Lowdermilk, "Cumberland," pp. 30-1. Hulbert, "Historic High- 
ways," Vol. 4, opposite p. 26. Plan of Tort Cumberland and vicinity 
dated Feb., 1755, shows the two store houses of the Ohio Co., one a long 
two-story building, the other much smaller, like a block house, both across 
the Potomac River from the fort and consequently in Virginia territory. 



12 The Ohio Company. 

protection of the east another act was passed, with 
much opposition, for taking £10,000 from the revenues 
for military service on the frontier. In 1766 an act 
was passed with an appropriation of £200 for the im- 
provement of Braddock's road. All these acts were 
in the interest of the Ohio Company and secured by the 
influence of the stockholders.^^ 

From the first days of the settlement the Virginians 
of the tide water country had used their many water 
ways as highways between their widely separated plan- 
tations, and much of the early legislation was directed 
to the improvement of navigation on these streams ;^'^ 
hence it was but natural that they should seek a water 
transportation to the country beyond the mountains as 
soon as trade with the Indians and frontiersmen be- 
came of value. The Ohio Company had used the Po- 
tomac from 1749.^* 

The importance of the beaver as a factor in the com- 
mercial and political history of the English and French 
colonization has been recognized by all historians. The 
barter for these and other valuable pelts led the adven- 
turous traders farther and farther beyond the defiles 
of the mountain boundaries of the English colonies; 
returning they gave glowing descriptions of the beauty 
and fertility of the country — of the noble streams flow- 
ing to the southwest and to the great lakes. Early in 
the eighteenth century New York and Philadelphia 

"Arthur Dobbs, John Hanbury, Samuel Smith, Jas. Wardrop, Capel 
Ilanbnry, Eobt. Dinwiddie, Esqr., Exec, of Thos. Lee, late President and 
Governor of Va. — 2 shares. John Tayloe, Esq., Prestly Thornton, Esq., 
Exrs. of Law. Washington, Augustine Washington, Eichard Lee, Nath. 
Chapman, Jacob Giles, Thos. Cresap, John iMercer, James Scott, Eobert 
Carter, George IMason. 

"Hening's Statutes of Va., Vols. 5-6. 

" Eeport of Gen. J. P. ]\Iercer from Com. on roads, *90, 19th Congress, 
Jst session, House Document. 



The Ohio Company. 13 

merchants were sending out wily tradeirs well equipped 
with firearms as well as with firewater and trinkets 
adapted to captivate the savage taste, such as beads, 
bits of looking glass and bright ribbons. The mer- 
chants reaped a rich harvest from the returns. For 
convenience these traders often located their families 
far out on the frontier.^^ Of these hardy adventurers 
Christopher Gist, George Croghan, Thos. Cresap and 
his son Michael became famous in the trying years 
after the French invasion. A few sturdy Palatines 
pushed on through the valleys of Pennsylvania to west- 
ern Maryland and the beautiful f alley of Virginia along 
the Shenandoah ; they were followed in a few years by. 
the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, who went into and be- 
yond the mountains.^" 

Meantime, about 1747, two young gentlemen, George 
Washington and George William Fairfax, were amus- 
ing themselves in surveying fields and outlying lots 
about Mt. Vernon and Belvoir on the lower Potomac ; 
an occasional companion was a slim lad of about the 
same age with a pleasant, refined countenance lighted 
by a pair of wonderful dark eyes; he cared little for 
horses and athletic sports, but was reading law in 
Mr. Bordley's office at Annapolis; this stripling was 
Thomas Johnson, Maryland's greatest son.^^ Thus 
early commenced the lifelong friendship between these 
men. The cynical Lord Fairfax, who was at the time 
visiting his cousin, became interested in the surveying 
and in the young man who arrived at such accurate 
results, and who he was told had his own fortune to 
seek. He chose the shy, awkward and overgrown lad 
for his companion on many excursions, to the amuse- 

'" All histories of the period. 

=° Esten Cooke, ' ' Virginia, ' ' Chap. 23. 

" Tradition in the Johnson family. 



14 The Ohio Company. 

ment of a bright lady of the family, who remarked that 
the two must be congenial company, "as the Lord never 
spoke at all and George only when addressed. "^^ 

When Lord Fairfas sent out Mr. Geen, an expe- 
rienced surveyor, to explore and locate his northern 
lines, he had evidently heard of the location of the 
western boundary of Maryland by Captain Thomas 
Cresap,^^ he employed the two young gentlemen to ac- 
company him as assistants, paying each the goodly 
sum of a daily doubloon. Of the two months thus em- 
ployed we have an interesting account in Washington's 
diary in which he jotted down his close observation of 
soil, timber and streams; he was for several days the 
guest of Captain Cresap and had his first experience 
of a Potomac freshet.^* The surveyor's report of his 
assistants 'work evidently pleased the Lord for he soon 
appointed Washington surveyor-in-chief with head- 
quarters at his hunting lodge, Greenway Court, in the 
Shenandoah Valley. 

In the three years thus occupied Washington had 
constant opportunity to become very familiar with the 
upper Potomac in its various stages of drouth and 
high water. He must have often visited the depot of 
the Ohio Company at Will's Creek and the two-storied, 
stockaded home of Thomas Cresap. Upon the receipt 
of his military appointment in 1751^^ he returned to 

^ See Dr. Weir Mitchell 's ' ' AutobiogTaphy of George Washington in 
His Youth," p. 72: "George only when spoken to and the Lord once a 
week. ' ' 

^ Cresap probably made the survey of the headwaters of the Potomac 
about 1745. His original map is among the Gilmor Papers in the Mary- 
land Hist. Soo. collection. Legend — "First map ever made to show the 
course and fountains of the north and south branches of the Potomac 
Eiver. " Signed by Mr. Horatio Eidout, the son of Gov. Sharpe's 
secretary. 

"'Toner's "Journal of Washington," 1747-8, p. 7. 

"" Dinwiddle Papers, Vol. 1, pp. 49-59. 



The Ohio Company. 15 

the lower country and found the engrossing topic of 
the day to be "The Ohio Company and its golden 
future." 

In 1753 the tidings of the French invasion was 
brought in by returning hunters. Governor Dinwid- 
dle, a holder of Ohio Company stock, promptly sent 
the best envoy at hand, also interested, to investigate 
and to warn.^^ The heroic winter journey made by 
Washington and Gist to the French camp on the Alle- 
ghany is too well known to here recite.^^ The French 
did not heed the warning and thereby lost a continent. 
A detachment was sent to fortify the Forks of the Ohio 
and to defend the company's stores at Chartier's 
Creek, but were too late.^^ When Washington was 
sent to assist Captain Trent he opened the path blazed 
by Cresap and Nemacolin into a fair wagon road; it 
had hitherto been merely a trail for moccasined feet 
and pack horses. General Braddock made of it a mili- 
tary road in 1755. Doubtless the colonists' jealousy 
of the success of the Ohio Company was one cause of 
their lukewarm support of his campaign. During the 
Washington and Braddock campaigns heavily laden 
boats were constantly passing up and down the Poto- 
mac. The militant Governor Sharpe of Maryland, in 
company with Braddock 's commissary-general, made 
a careful inspection of the river from Cumberland to 
Great Falls and reported that while artillery could not 
be carried by that route all other supplies might.^' 

During the terrible years of conflict on the frontier 

'^ The same, Vol. 1, pp. 49-59. 

="' Washington's Journal," Ford, Vol. 1, p. 11. "Gist's Journals," 
Darlington, p. 80. 

^ Letter from Washington to Col. Bouquet, Ford, Vol. 2, p. 62. 

^ Jan. 28, 1755. ' ' These gentlemen stepped into a small boat at Fort 
Cumberland and descended the Potomac to Alexandria." Lowdermilk, 
p. 103. Also Sharpe's letter in Md. Archives, Vol. 6, p. 186. 



1 6 The Ohio Company. 

little thougM was given to trade, transportation or set- 
tlement. The Ohio Company's seven years of grace 
lapsed. The last meetings of the company of which 
we have any record were called through the Virginia 
and Maryland Gazettes in 1778 and 1779 by Greorge 
Mason, treasurer, for "business of the utmost im- 
portance. ' '^^ 

The great political influence of the Ohio Company 
had been shown by the selection of the Potomac route 
for General Braddock's advance on Fort Du Quesne — 
this influence had been exerted in London and was most 
displeasing to the Philadelphians, who contended they 
had better roads and greater facilities for transporting 
and provisioning troops in Pennsylvania.^^ 

General Forbes in 1758, after some delay, selected a 
Pennsylvania route for his advance and made a road 
directly over the mountains, much to the disgust of the 
Virginians and Marylanders. That was the era of 
provincial distrust and jealousy. Here is one of the 
Virginia Colonel Washington's letters on the selection 
of the route addressed to Colonel Bouquet in command 
of the advance :^^ 

"Camp neae Fort Cumberland, 2d. August. 1758. 
"Sir; — The matters of which we spoke relative to the roads, 
have since our parting, been the subject of my closest reflec- 
tion, and so far am I from altering my opinion, that the more 
time and attention I bestow, the more I am confirmed in it, 
and the reasons for taking Braddock's road appear in a 
stronger point of view. To enumerate the whole of these 
reasons would be tedious, and to you who have become so 
much master of the subject, unnecessary. I shall therefore, 
briefly mention a few only which I think so obvious in them- 
selves, that they must effectually remove objections. 

» Va. Gazette, May 1, 1778. Maryland Gazette, Nov. 10, 1779. 
" Lowdermilk, p. 238, and many other authorities. 
=" Quoted in Lowdermilk, p. 238. Ford, Vol. 2, p. 62. 



The Frederick Town Adventurers. 17 

' ' Several years ago the Virginians and Pennsylvanians com- 
menced a trade with the Indians settled on the Ohio, and to 
obviate the many inconveniences of a bad road, they, after 
reiterated and ineffectual efforts to discover where a good one 
might be made employed for the purpose several of the most 
intelligent Indians who in course of many years hunting had 
acquired a perfect knowledge of these mountains. The 
Indians having taken the greatest pains to gain the rewards 
offered for this discovery, declared that the path leading from 
Will's Creek was infinitely preferable to any that could be 
made at any other place. Time and experience so clearly 
demonstrated this truth that the Pennsylvania traders com- 
monly carried out their goods by Will's Creek. Therefore the 
Ohio Company in 1753 at considerable expense opened the 
road. In 1754 the troops whom I had the honor to command 
greatly repaired it, as far as Gist's plantation; and in 1755 
it was widened and completed by Gen. Braddock to within 
six miles of Fort Du Quesne. A road that has so long been 
opened, and so well and so often repaired ihust be much firmer 
and better than a new one, allowing the ground to be equally 
good. ' ' 

The distance by the way of Braddock 's road from 
Will's Creek to Fort Du Quesne was 115 miles, com- 
paratively level, from Eaystown in Pennsylvania 
through the trackless forest and over mountain ranges 
was 100 miles, but the new road was cut and the ad- 
vance made on that line. 

So there were then two routes to the Ohio which 
after the pacification of the Indians in 1768 were well 
worn by westward bound parties of homeseekers. 

The Feedeeick Town Adventueees. 

Projects for clearing the channels in the Potomac 
Eiven began to be agitated in the sixties. Probably 
the Johnson brothers, at Frederick, were the first to 
suggest organizing a company to improve t>e naviga- 



1 8 The Frederick Town Adventurers. 

tion. They had early settled in that rich valley, had 
prospered, were progressive and public-spirited citi- 
zens. Thomas Johnson was doubtless interested with 
them in many enterprises and joined them in the 
county in 1779. 

Studying the noble river that sweeps in graceful 
curves past the valley it was not strange that they 
should become impatient of the heavy toll to be paid 
on the wagon transportation to Baltimore of the prod- 
ucts of their farms and furnaces, and seek another 
outlet, so Thomas Johnson appears to have attempted 
to organize a company to raise the means for improv- 
ing the navigation of the Potomac. Our only knowl- 
edge of it is from the following letter by Washington, 
which on account of its importance we will quote in 
full:33 

"July 20, 1770. 

"Sir; — I was honored with your favor of the 18th of June 
about the last of that month, and read it with all the attention 
I was capable of ; from that time till now I have not been able 
to enquire into the sentiments of any of the gentlemen of this 
side in respect to the scheme of opening the inland navigation 
of Potowmack by private subscription, in the manner you 
have proposed — and therefore any opinion which I may now 
offer on this head will be considered I hope as the result of 
my own private thinking, not of the public. 

"That no person concerned in this event wishes to see an 
undertaking of the sort go forward with more sincerity and 
ardor than I do, I can truly assure you ; and I will at all times 
give any assistance in my power to promote the design, but 
I leave you to judge from the trial which before this you have 
undoubtedly made, how few there are, (not immediately bene- 

""This letter was among the Potomac Co. papers; it was loaned to 
Mr. Andrew Stewart for his fine report in 1826, "Chesapeake and Ohio 
Canal," House Doc, 228, 1st Session, 19th Congress. Its present loca- 
tion is not known; it is not given by Ford or Sparks. 




o 



o 
O 



IS 

o 

o 

g 

to 



2- f^ 



Z 
o 



o 



O 



o 'a 



The Frederick Town Adventurers. 19 

fited by it) that will contribute any thing worth while to the 
work ; and how many small sums are required to raise a large 
one. Upon your plan of raising money it appears to me there 
will be found but two kinds of people who will subscribe much 
towards it. Those who are actuated by motives of public 
spirit, and those again who from their proximity to the navi- 
gation will reap the salutatory effects of, clearing the river. 
The number of the latter you must be a competent judge of; 
those of the former, is more difficult to ascertain; for which 
reason, I own to you, that I am not without my doubts of 
your scheme falling through, however sanguine your first 
hopes may be from the rapidity of subscribers, for it is to be 
supposed that your subscription papers will probably be 
opened among those whose interests must naturally incline 
them to wish well to the undertaking, and consequently will 
aid it; but when you come to shift the scene a little, and 
apply to them who are unconnected with the river, and the 
advantage of its navigation how slowly will you advance. 

"This, sir, is my sentiment generally, upon your plan of 
obtaining subscriptions for extending the navigation of the 
Potowmack, whereas I conceive, that if the subscriptions were 
vested by the two legislatures, with a kind of property in the 
navigation under certain restrictions and limitations and to 
be re-imbursed their first advances with a high interest 
thereon, by a certain easy toll on all craft proportionate to 
their respective burthens, in the manner I am told works of 
this sort are effected in the inland parts of England, or upon 
the plan of turnpike roads; you would add thereby a third 
class of men, to the two I have mentioned, and gain consider- 
able strength by it. I mean the monied gentry, who tempted 
by lucrative views would advance largely on account of the 
high interest. 

"This I am inclined to think, is the only method by which 
this desirable work will ever be accomplished in the manner 
it ought to be, for as to its becoming an object of public 
expense, I never expect to see it. Our interests (in Virginia 
at least) are too much divided — our views too confined, if our 
finances were better, to suffer that, which appears to redound 



20 The Frederick Town Adventurers. 

to the advantage of a part of the community only, to become 
a tax on the whole, though in the instance before us, there is 
the strongest speculative proof in the world to me of the im- 
mense advantages which Virginia and Maryland might derive, 
(and at a very small comparative expense) by making the 
Potowmack the channel of commerce between Great Britain 
and that immense territory, a tract of country which is 
unfolding to our view, the advantages of which are too great 
and too obvious, I should think to become the subject of serious 
debate, but which through ill-timed parsimony and supineness 
may be wrested from us and conducted through other chan- 
nels, such as the Susquehanna, (which I have seen recom- 
mended by some writers) — the Lakes, &c. How difficult it will 
be to divert it afterwards time only can show. 

"Thus far, sir, I have taken the liberty of communicating 
my sentiments on the different modes of establishing a fund, 
but if from the efforts you have already made on the north 
side of the Potowmack it should be found that my views are 
rather imaginary than real, (as I heartily wish they may 
prove) I have no doubt but the same spirit may be stirred up 
on the south side, if gentlemen of influence in the counties of 
Hampshire, Frederick, Loudoun and Fairfax will heartily 
engage in it and receive all occasional sums, received from 
those who may wish to see a work of this sort undertaken, 
although they expect no benefit themselves from it. 

"As to the manner in which you propose to execute the 
work in order to avoid the inconvenience -which you seem to 
apprehend from locks, I profess myself to be a very incompe- 
tent judge of it. It is a general received opinion I know that 
by reducing one fall you too frequently create many, but how 
far this inconvenience is to be avoided by the method you 
speak of, those who have examined the rifts — the depth of 
water above, &c. must be infinitely the best qualified to deter- 
mine. But I am inclined to think that, if you were to exhibit 
your scheme to the public upon a more extensive plan than 
the one now printed, it would meet with a more general appro- 
bation, for so long as it is considered a partial scheme, so long 
will it be partially attended to — whereas — if it was recom- 



The Vandalia Company. 21 

mended to the public notice upon a more enlarged plan, and as 
a means of becoming the channel of commerce of the extensive 
and valuable trade of a rising empire ; — and the operations 
to begin at the lower landings, (also the Great Falls), and to 
extend upwards to as high as Fort Cumberland, or as far as 
the expenditure of the money would carry them, from whence 
the portage to the waters of the Ohio must commence, I think 
many would be induced to contribute their mite, that other- 
wise will not. It may be said the expense of doing this will 
be considerably augmented. I readily grant it, but I believe 
that the subscriptions will increase in proportion ; at any rate 
I think that there will be at least an equal sum raised by this 
means, and that the end of your plan will be as effectually 
answered by it. ' ' 

Johnson's scheme is probably the one referred to by 
Scharf^* where he gives the following gentlemen as 
managers: Colonel George Mason, Jacob Hite, James 
Hamilton, John Hough, John Patterson and Abraham 
Hite, of Virginia ; Eev. Thos. Bacon, Dr. David Eoss, 
Christopher Lonndes, Thos. Cresap, Benj. Chambers, 
Jonathan Hagar, Thos. Prather, John Carey, Casper 
Schaaf, Eobt. Peter and Evan Shelby, of Maryland; 
Colonel George Mercer and Col. Thos. Prather were 
elected treasurers. 

Vandalia Company. 

Others outside of Maryland and Virginia were obser- 
vant of the natural restrictions upon western trade. 
Eobert Morris, of Philadelphia, the greatest of all 
American promoters, published in 1764 a scheme for 
utilizing the Schuylkill and Susquehanna rivers to 
reach the upper Alleghany.^^ Sir William Johnson, of 

'* Scharf , ' ' History of Maryland, ' ' Vol. 2, p. 258. The date, 1762, is 
evidently an error. 

^Morris, "An Historical Account of Rise and Progress and Present 
State of Canal Navigation in Pennsylvania," 1795. 



22 The Vandalia Company. 

New York, Governor Eicliard Franklin, of Pennsyl- 
vania, Samnel Wharton, merchant, with Greorge Cro- 
ghan, hunter and trader, were planning colonization 
on a gigantic scale.^" The Indian tribes north of the 
Ohio who had plundered Wharton's stores and mur- 
dered some of his traders, were summoned to a council 
at Fort Stanwix on the Mohawk in 1768. After many 
days of feasting and drinking the savages were cajoled 
into signing away an enormous quantity of western 
land to the white men.^'^ 

Wharton then went to London and associated with 
himself Benjamin Franklin, Thos. Walpole, a man of 
political influence and wealth, our old acquaintance, 
John Hanbury, Governor Thos. Pownall and others in 
an effort to secure a grant of land from the crown for 
a new colony beyond the mountains. After many vexa- 
tious delays they were about to succeed in establishing 
the buffer province of Vandalia when the expose of 
Franklin's connection with the Hutchinson letters 
ruined their schemes. 

Immediately after the close of hostilities on the fron- 
tier the Ohio Company had sent George Mercer, son of 
the secretary, to London to renew the old charter. He 
remained there six years, accomplishing nothing; he 
finally accepted for the company an offer to combine 
with the Walpole Company and returned to America 
about 1774. The Ohio Company refused to confirm 
his action. In 1770 Mercer had the assistance of Thos. 
Cresap, who went from Maryland for the purpose. 

In 1754 Virginia had made a grant of 200,000 acres 
on the Kanawha for the benefit of her men engaged in 
the French and Indian War. There was much diffi- 
culty in locating these military warrants. Washing- 

'°See Benj. Franklin's letters to his son, in Smyth, Vols. 4-5-6. 
" Halsey, ' ' Old New York Frontier, ' ' p. 99. 



The Vandalia Company. 23 

ton became the agent of the claimants and served his 
clients faithfully. In 1770 he made a personal inspec- 
tion of the lands on the Ohio and Kanawha. On the 
way homeward he visited Colonel Cresap, who had re- 
cently returned from London with the latest informa- 
tion of the new province on the Ohio.^* He at once 
wrote several eloquent letters to Grovernors Botecourt 
and Dunmore, pleading for justice for the defenders 
of Virginia's frontiers.^** Mercer had secured recog- 
nition of the soldiers' rights from the Walpole Com- 
pany, but Washington was evidently ignorant of it.*° 

While all this paper disputation was going on set- 
tlers were pouring into the rich valleys beyond the 
mountains, selecting homesteads and paying scant at- 
tention to paper titles, fearing only the wily foe who 
lurked in the surrounding thickets.*^ 

For many years Washington was a member of the 
Virginia House of Burgesses. Early in 1772 he se- 
cured an act for opening the Potomac navigation.*^ 
Writing to Dr. Boucher from Mt. Vernon, May 4, 1772, 
he referred to this act : 

"... An act has passed this session empowering Trustees 
(to be chosen by ye Subscribers to the Scheme) to raise money 
by way of Subscriptions & Lottery, for the purpose of opening 
& extending the Navigation of Potowmack from the Tide 
water, to Fort Cumberland ; & for perpetuating the Tolls aris- 
ing from vessels to the Adventurers in the Scheme — but ye 
execution of it must necessarily be suspended till something 
similar passes into a Law in your Province." 

=« Ford, Vol. 2, Diary, Oct. 8, 1770. 

=» Ford, Vol. 2, p. 272. 

* Mercer secured from the Walpole Co. for the Ohio Co. 2/72 of the 
new grant, for himself 1/72. This last possibly had something to do 
with the company's repudiation of the contract. 

"Doddridge, Joseph, "Notes on Settlement in Va.," pp. 99-112. 

*2 Hening, Va. Statutes, Vol. 8, p. 573. Ford, Vol. 2, p. 348. 



24 The Ballendine Scheme. 

Thomas Johnson exerted himself to secure a like act 
from the Maryland assembly but failed on account of 
the opposition of Baltimore merchants. This is al- 
luded to in Washington's letter to Jefferson from Mt. 
Vernon, March 29, 1784. 

"... More than ten years ago I secured the passage of an 
act for the opening of Potowmack navigation. . . . The local 
interest of that place (Baltimore) joined to the short-sighted 
policies or contracted views of another part of the Assembly 
gave Mr. Thos. Johnson, who was a warm Promoter of the 
Scheme on the north side of the Potowmack a great deal of 
trouble. ' ' 

The Ballendine Scheme. 

John Ballendine, gentleman, of Fairfax County, Vir- 
ginia, for many years engaged in iron works at Col- 
chester*^ and at the Falls of the James Eiver, familiar 
with the Potomac, took notice of the drift of public 
interest and concocted a most brilliant plan for achiev- 
ing fame — and a fortune. Taking advantage of a 
meeting of the governors of the two colonies. Lord 
Fairfax and a number of prominent gentlemen in 
Prince William County,** he secured from them on the 
8th of May, 1772, a testimonial of their confidence in 
his integrity and ability with a subscription to a fund 
to enable him to go to G-reat Britain to examine canals, 
locks, etc. there in operation with a view to applying 
the knowledge thus obtained to the improvement of the 
navigation of the Potomac and James rivers. In Au- 
gust he inspected the Potomac and from the head of 
the navigable waters of the North Branch he followed 

"Pord, Vol. 2, p. 142. Washington Diary, Jan 8, 1760: "Directed an 
Indictment to be formed by Mr. Johnston against John Ballendine for 
a fraud in some Iron he sold me." Sept. 24, 1768: "Colo Henry Lee 
& Lady & Miss Ballendine came to dinner & stayd all night." 

" Ford, Vol. 2. Washington in letter to Boucher refers to Gov. Eden 's 
visit to Va., May 23, 1772. 



The Ballendine Scheme. 25 

the Nemacolin Path to the Monongahela in "the pro- 
posed Ohio Province." He announced that the dis- 
tance between the two rivers was not more than ten or 
eleven miles !*^ 

He reached London with his credentials in the height 
of the Walpole Company excitement and was doubtless 
well received.*® Franklin had opened the way for Bal- 
lendine in his famous reply to the Lords Commission- 
ers of Trade in which he stated : 

"The country is well watered by several navigable rivers 
connnunieating with each other and by which and a short land 
carriage of only forty miles the produce of the lands of the 
Ohio can even now be sent cheaper to the seaport town of 
Alexandria on the river Potomac than any kind of merchan- 
dise is at present sent from Northampton to London."*' 

Soon Ballendine (1773) had in circulation his "Pro- 
posals for opening the navigation of the Elvers James 
and Potomac" and was seeking subscribers. It was 
a formidable document by which the subscriber was 
insured against all possible loss, the installments of the 
sums subscribed were to be paid only on the certifica- 
tions of the two governors that certain portions of the 
work had been completed in a satisfactory manner. In 
a printed advertisement widely circulated he stated : 

" It is proposed by Mr. Ballendine that the locks intended to 
be erected in the Rivers James and Potomac shall always have 
four feet of water in them, as that is the general depth of those 
rivers, except in the spring and fall (which are the great 
periods of exportation and importation from and into Mary- 

*" " A connected view of the whole internal navigation of the U. S., ' ' 
published by the author, Phila., 1830 (written 1825), in which the Ballen- 
dine English contracts were copied. I have been so far unable to locate 
the original authority. 

"Spark's "Washington," Vol. 2, appendix 7, p. 483. 

" Same as above. 



26 The Ballendine Scheme. 

land and Virginia) when these rivers usually have from six 
to eight feet water in them. Mr. Ballendine is thoroughly- 
convinced from an experience of fifteen years that all kinds 
of British goods can be carried from George Town to the head 
of navigation at 6d. ster. per cwt. He proposes at first to 
employ barges of only 60 feet keel, 15 feet wide and 8 feet in 
depth, which will not draw more than two feet of water. But 
when the country on the Ohio is thickly settled, barges of 150 
and 200 tons can be properly made use of. It requires but 
three days for barges to go down the stream from head waters 
to Alexandria and eight to ascend. ' ' 

Franklin's political difficulties probably defeated 
Ballendine 's efforts in London, at any rate he is knovra 
to have been circulating a subscription among the 
prominent gentlemen of Virginia and Maryland in 
1774. In his efforts he liberally patronized the Mary- 
land and Virginia Gazettes. 

From the Maryland Gazette of September 8, 1774: 

' ' The subscriber being just arrived from Great Britain with 
a number of engineers and artificers in order to remove the 
obstructions to the navigation of the Potowmack River at and 
above the Lower Falls and thinking himself fully qualified for 
such an undertaking, agreable to the proposals before his em- 
barkation to Europe, he is desirous to have a meeting of his 
principal subscribers and others interested in this necessary 
work, and considering it most convenient to all concerned to 
have the same at George Town in Maryland, he proposes that 
it shall be there on Monday, 26th day of September next. At 
which time and place he will certainly attend and be ready 
to lay before them an accurate plan and estimates of the 
expence, also an Act of the Virginia Assembly, and likewise a 
subscription from some of the principal proprietors, &c. of the 
Province of Vandalia now residing in England, for the further 
encouragement of the proposed undertaking. 

' ' ( Signed ) John Ballendine. ' ' 



The Ballendine Scheme. 27 

A meeting was held at Greorgetown on October 10, 
attended by Washington, Johnson and other promi- 
nent men, who subscribed substantial sums to the fol- 
lowing :** 

"We the subscribers, have considered John Ballendine 's 
plan and proposal for clearing Potowmack River and do ap- 
prove it ; to enable him to set about that useful and necessary- 
undertaking we do hereby agree and promise severally to con- 
tribute such assistance or pay such sums as we respectively 
subscribe to the trustees named in the said proposals, or to 
their order, at such times and places and in such proportions 
as shall be required for the purpose of clearing said river. 
Witness our hands this 10th. day of Oct. 1774. 

"N. B. As nothing effectual can be properly done for less 
than £30.000, this subscription is not binding unless the value 
of £30.000 Pennsylvania currency, be subscribed. ' ' 

About £8,000 in the various currencies in use was 
subscribed at the meeting, Washington heading the list 
with £500 Virginia currency, Ch. Carroll, of Carroll- 
ton, following with $1,000 at 7.6. Thos. Johnson was 
present and David Eoss for the Frederick Company 
subscribed £400 (was this the company formed by John- 
son in 1770?). This meeting was followed by this an- 
nouncement in the Maryland Gazette of October 25 : 

"A plan and estimate for opening the navigation of Potow- 
mack River above the Falls being approved by many persons 
interested therein the following gentlemen are appointed 
Trustees by the subscriber to adjust and settle all matters 
related thereto; George Washington, George Mason, Thomp- 
son Mason, Bryan Fairfax, Daniel McCarty, John Carlyle, 
John Dalton, Wm. Ramsay, Robert Adam, Wm. EUzey, John 
Hough, Jos. Janney, Isaac Lane, Robt. Rutherford, Abram 
Hite, Jos. Neville of Virginia, Gentlemen — ^Thos. Johnson Jr., 

" From a paper, ' ' Old Georgetown, ' ' read by Mr. Hugh Taggart before 
the Columbia Historical Society, May 13, 1907. Authority not given. 



28 The Ballendine Scheme. 

Launcelot Jaques, Daniel Carroll, David Ross, Robt. Peter, 
John Murdock, Thos. Richardson, Thos. Johns, Wm. Deakins, 
Adam Stewart, Richard Thompson, John Hanson, Chas. 
Beatty, John Gary, Jacob Young, James Marshall, Dan. & 
Sam. Hughes, Thos. Cresap, Jonathan Hagar, John Stall of 
Maryland, Gentlemen ; — who are requested to meet at George 
Town on Saturday the 12th of November in order to elect and 
choose a small and convenient number of the Trustees which 
shall be a committee to act for the whole. This meeting is 
judged to be the more necessary as the subscriber is now at 
work on the locks at the lower Falls on the Maryland side of 
the river with what hands he has. 

' ' ( Signed ) John Ballendine. ' ' 

From the Virginia Gazette of January 14, 1775 : 

"Falls op the Potowmack, Dee. 22, 1774. 
"At a meeting of the Trustees for opening the navigation of 
Potowmack River held at George Town Dec. 1, 1774 Thos. 
Johnson, Jr., Attorney-at-law, Wm. Deakins, Adam Stewart, 
Thos. Johns, Thos. Richardson, of Georgetown, merchants, — 
Wm. Ellzey, Robt. Alexander, Philip Alexander of Virginia 
present, who ordered and directed that the subscriber should' 
on the credit and at the risk of the above named Trustees hire 
fifty slaves to labor in cutting the canals around the several 
Palls of said River ; and at another meeting of Trustees for 
the purpose aforesaid held at Alexandria 19th inst., present 
Geo. Washington, John Carlyle, John Dalton, Wm. Ramsay, 
Gentlemen of Virginia together with many of the Trustees at 
the former meeting, who recognized and approved of the order 
for hiring fifty slaves and agreed to become equally liable. 
In consequence of which order of the Trustees I hereby give 
notice that I want to hire negro men for the ensuing year for 
the purpose above mentioned. Any person inclining to hire 
the whole or any part of them may see the proceedings of the 
said Trustees subscribed with their respective hands in my 
custody. 

"(Signed) John Ballendine." 



The Ballendine Scheme. 29 

Again in tlie issue for October 28, 1775 : 

"Falls of the James River, Oct. 25. 1775. 

"At the earnest solicitation of many gentlemen on Potow- 
mack and influenced by my own interest on that river I have 
been endeavoring to open its navigation from tide water 
upwards, and have been at considerable expense in prepara- 
tion &c. to forward that useful work, but the necessity of a 
Maryland Act of Assembly co-operating with one passed in 
Virginia and which I have not been able to obtain has obliged 
me to decline it for the present. This disappointment would 
be the more affecting if it did not afford me an opportunity 
of employing my time and attention in opening and extending 
the navigation of James River, which though a work less 
interesting to me is of equal utility to the public. But to 
make my interest in some measure correspond with the pub- 
lick's I have paid £360 sterling to Mr. Patrick Coutts for the 
lands situated on the river where the water must be taken 
out into the canal & which I have began and done some part 
of the canal with other improvements very expensive. 

"I therefore inform the publick that having a fee simple 
therein, I am going on with the canal at my own expense, and 
will farther risk my whole fortune & time on the success of 
my undertaking, and desire no aid or assistance until I make 
this navigation safe and easy to Shoekoe warehouse ; expecting 
never-the-less the more large & generous contributions from 
all who benefit when the work is done. • 

"(Signed) John Ballendine. 



I want to hire 100 slaves for the above purpose and 
should be glad to treat with any person or persons inclinable ; 
at the same time could assist with the best part of their winter 
clothing, if not otherwise provided. ' ' 

But the lowering of another war cloud effectually 
terminated all these efforts for public improvements 
and we have no record of attempts to open an easier 
communication with the great west for ten years, 



3© The Ballendine Scheme. 

altlioiigh settlers in an ever increasing number fol- 
lowed the sun on the old "Nemocolin Path." 

Ballendine 's furnace at Eichmond was offered at 
sheriff's sale. His proprietary rights there, however, 
received recognition in the charter secured in 1784 for 
the "James Eiver and Potowmack Companies." 

When the Potowmack Company was organized in 
1785 for the purpose of improving the navigation of 
that river, John Ballendine was one of the first sub- 
scribers to the stock.*® 

"Hening Statutes of Va., Vol. 11, p. 580, 1784. "And be it farther 
enacted, That so much of every act, and acts within the purview of this 
Act, shall be, and the same is hereby repealed. Provided, nevertheless. 
That nothing in this act shall be eonstiued so as to take away the right 
which the representatives of John Ballendine have to that part of the 
canal which is already begun, and to all the advantages resulting from 
the same, but the same shall be valued by a jury in manner and form as 
before directed and the said representatives shall be entitled to so many 
shares in the said Company, and to so much of the surplus water as the 
said jury shall determine, or they shall receive, at their option, the value 
thereof in money, to be estimated by the said jury." 



PAET II. 

THE PATOWMACK COMPANY 

1785 to 1828. 

From Its Unpublished Records. 

(By Permission of the Trustees of the Chesapeake and Ohio 
Canal Company.) 




Gbeat iSeal of the Patowmack Company 
(Reproduced from Original by the Maurice .Jo3'ce Co.) 



[Eeprinted from the Eecords of the Columbia Historical Society.] 



THE PATOWMACK COMPANY, 1785-1828. 

(Eead before the Society, November 21, 1911.) 

During the long serious years of the Eevolutionary 
War emigration to the fertile country west of the 
mountains increasingly continued. Three routes were 
popular: Boone's path through Cumberland Gap, by 
the mountain passes of Pennsylvania, and by the most 
direct and best improved road, so often the recipient 
of public funds, from Fort Cumberland to Old Fort 
Red Stone on the Monongahela. It had been opened 
in 1748 by the Ohio Company, made fit for wagons in 
military service in 1753-4, thoroughly graded and 
bridged by Braddock in 1754, well repaired by Virginia 
in 1766 and thereafter kept in condition for the contin- 
uous traffic to the west. To it converged the two 
routes from Baltimore and Winchester; it was also 
much used by Philadelphia traders.^ 

Washington from his youth had regarded the west- 
ern country with its trade as of incalculable value to 
Virginia ; we have seen his effort in the Legislature to 
secure means to utilize the Potomac Eiver for trans- 
portation,^ and his cheerful assistance in the Ballen- 
dine scheme, utopian as it was. The idea did not en- 
tirely give way to the excitement of war; Maryland 
business men were constantly revolving schemes for 
easier communication with western settlers. In the 
spring of 1783 the legislature passed an act appoint- 
ing Charles Beatty, of Montgomery County, and 

' See Washington 's letter to Colonel Bouquet in Part I. 
^ Hening, ' ' Act of the Virginia Legislature in 1772. ' ' 

4 33 



34 The Patowmack Company. 

Normand Bruce, of Frederick, commissioners to ex- 
amine the Potomac Eiver and make an estimate of the 
cost of making it navigable, and they had drawn £250 
for preliminary expense.* If they made a report it is 
not now to be f onnd. 

During the tedious waiting for the dismissal of the 
army, Washington often thought of his lands on the 
Ohio and of a more ready access to them, as well as of 
the political significance of the isolated settlements. 
His letters to Lafayette and Chastellux are of peculiar 
interest in this connection. 

' ' To THE Marquis de Lafayette. 

"Princeton, 12 October, 1783. 

" ... I have it in contemplation to make a tour thro' all 
the Eastern States, thence into Canada, thence up the St. 
Lawrence and thro' the lakes to Detroit, thence to Lake Mich- 
igan by land or water, thence thro' the "Western Country, by 
the river Illinois to the river Mississippi, and down the same 
to New Orleans, thence into Georgia by the way of Pensaeola, 
and then thro' the two Carolinas home. A great tour this, 
you will say. Probably it may take place nowhere but in 
imagination, tho' it is my wish to begin it in the latter end of 
April of next year." 

"To the Chevalier de Chastellux. 

"Princeton, 12 October, 1783. 

"Having the appearance, and indeed the enjoyment of 
peace, without a final declaration of it, I, who am only wait- 
ing for the ceremonials, or till the British forces shall have 
taken leave of New York, am placed in an awkward and disa- 
greeable situation, it being my anxious desire to quit the walks 
of public life, and under the shadow of my own vine and my 
own fig tree to seek those enjoyments and that relaxation, 

' Original draft among papers of 1783 in Maryland Historical Society 
collections. 



The Patowmack Company. 35 

which a mind, that has been constantly upon the stretch for 
more than eight years, stands so much in need of." 

' ' I have lately made a tour through the Lakes George and 
Champlain, as far as Crown Point. Then returning to Sche- 
nectady, I proceeded up the Mohawk River to Fort Schuyler 
(formerly Fort Stanwix), and crossed over to the Wood 
Creek, which empties into the Oneida Lake, and affords the 
water communication with Lake Ontario. I then traversed the 
country to the head of the eastern branch of the Susquehanna, 
and viewed the Lake Otsego, and the portage between that 
Lake and the Mohawk River at Canajoharie. Prompted by 
these actual observations, I could not help taking a more con- 
templative and extensive view of the vast inland navigation of 
these United States, from maps and the information of others ; 
and could not but be struck with the immense diffusion and 
importance of it, and with the goodness of that Providence, 
which has dealt her favors to us with so profuse a hand. 
Would to God we may have wisdom enough to improve them. 
I shall not rest contented, till I have explored the western 
country, and traversed those lines, or great part of them, 
which have given bounds to a new empire. But when it may, 
if it ever shall, happen, I dare not say, as my first attention 
must be given to the deranged situation of my private con- 
cerns, which are not a little injured by almost nine years' 
absence and total disregard of them. ..." 

On the occasion of tlie resignation of his commission 
as commander-in-chief of the army Washington spent 
several days in Annapolis, where the congress of the 
United States was then in session. The State legisla- 
ture was also in session. Certainly the opportunities 
were improved for exchange of opinions on this en- 
grossing subject, in which Thos. Johnson at least was 
equally enthusiastic, and Thos. Jefferson discursive as 
usual.* 

* ' ' Annals of Annapolis, ' ' David Eidgeley, 1840. 



36 The Patowmaclc Company. 

While still enjoying tlie relaxation of rest at home, 
he wrote the following beautiful letters : 

' ' To THE Marquis de Lafayette. 

' ' Mount Vernon, 1 February, 1784. 

"At length, my dear Marquis, I am become a private citizen 
on the banks of the Potomac; and under the shadow of my 
own vine and my own fig tree, free from the bustle of a camp, 
and the busy scenes of public life, I am dolacing myself with 
those tranquil enjoyments, of which the soldier, who is ever 
in pursuit of fame, the statesman, whose watchful days and 
sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the 
welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if 
this globe was insufficient for us all, and the courtier, who is 
always watching the countenance of his prince, in hopes of 
catching a gracious smile, can have very little conception. I 
have not only retired from all public employments, but I am 
retiring within myself, and shall be able to view the solitary 
walk, and tread the paths of private life, with heartfelt satis- 
faction. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with 
all; and this, my dear friend, being the order for my march, 
I will move gently down the stream of life, until I sleep with 
my fathers." 

' ' To Major-General Knox. 

Mount Vernon, 20 February, 1784. 

" ... I am just beginning to experience that ease and 
freedom from public cares, which, however desirable, takes 
some time to realize; for strange as it may seem, it is never- 
theless true, that it was not until lately I could get the better 
of my usual custom of ruminating, as soon as I waked in the 
morning, on the business of the ensuing day ; and of my sur- 
prise at finding, after revolving many things in my mind, 
that I was no longer a public man, nor had any thing to do 
with public transactions. 

' ' I feel now, however, as I conceive a wearied traveller must 
do, who, after treading many a painful step with a heavy 
burthen on his shoulders, is eased of the latter, having reached 



The Patowmack Company. 37 

the haven to which all the former were directed; and from 
his housetop is looking back, and tracing with an eager eye 
the meanders by which he escaled the quicksands and mires 
which lay in his way ; and into which none but the all-powerful 
Guide and Dispenser of human events could have prevented 
his falling. ' ' 

Neither master nor mistress found the anticipated 
calm and leisure; the long neglect of business and 
household were to he repaired, old friends and neigh- 
bors were to be entertained; but amid all the inipera- 
tive demands upon mind and time Washington soon 
found opportunities for conference and correspond- 
ence with many prominent and influential men in the 
country on the important topic of communication with 
the west ; Georee Mason, James Madison and Thomas 
Jefferson were confidential friends, often in earnest 
consultation about the library fire at Mount Vernon. 
The letters of March to and from Jefferson are inter- 
esting and indicative of the general interest. 

"Thos. Jefferson to Gen. George Washington. 

Annapolis, March 6, 1784. 

"... The present hurry forbids me to write to you on a 
subject I have much at heart, the approaching & opening the 
Navigation of the Ohio & Potowmac. I will trouble you by 
the next post. ' ' 

"March 15, 
"... It (western boundary) will preserve to us all the 
upper parts of Tohogany & Cheat-rivers within which much 
will be done to open these which are the true doors to the 
Western commerce. The union of this navigation with that of 
the Potowmac is a subject on which I mentioned that I would 
take the liberty of writing to you — I am sure its value and 
practicability are well known to you. This is the moment, 
however, for seizing it if ever we mean to have it. All the 
world is becoming commercial. . . . For the trade of the Ohio 



38 The Patowmack Company. 

or that which shall come into it from its own waters of the 
Mississippi, it is nearer to Alexandria than to New Tork by 
730 miles & is interrupted by one portage only. Nature then 
has declared in favor of the Potowmac and thro ' that channel 
offers to pour into our lap the whole commerce of the Western 
world. But unfortunately by the Hudson is already open & 
known in practice ; ours is still to be opened. ... It behoves 
us then to open our doors to it. ' ' 

"To Thomas Jeffeeson in Congress. 

' ' Mount Vernon, 29 march, 1784. 

"Dear Sir, It was not in my power to answer your favor of 
the 15th by the last post, for the reason then assigned. I 
wish I may be able to do it to your satisfaction now, as I am 
obliged to pay attention to the other company, the Governor 
being gone. 

"My opinion coincides perfectly with yours respecting the 
practicability of an easy and short communication between 
the waters of the Ohio and Potomac, of the advantages of that 
communication and the preference it has over all others, and 
of the policy there would be in this State of Maryland to 
adopt and render it facile. But I confess to you freely, I 
have no expectation, that the public will adopt the measure; 
for, besides the jealousies that prevail, and the difficulty of 
proportioning such funds as may be allotted for the purposes 
you have mentioned, there are two others, which, in my opin- 
ion, will be harder yet to surmount. These are (if I have not 
imbibed too unfavorable an opinion of my countrymen) the 
impracticability of bringing the great and truly wise policy 
of the measure to their view, and the difficulty of extracting 
money from them for such a purpose, if it could be done ; for 
it appears to me, maugre all the sufferings of the public 
creditors, breach of public faith, and loss of reputation, that 
payment of the taxes, which are already laid, will be post- 
poned as long as possible. How then are we to expect new 
ones for purposes more remote ? 

"I am not so disinterested in this matter as you are; but 
I am made very happy to find that a man of discernment and 



The Patowmach Company. 39 

liberality, who has no particular interest in the plan, thinks 
as I do, who have lands in the country, the value of which 
would be enhanced by the adoption of such a measure. 

"More than ten years ago I was struck with the importance 
of it; and, despairing of any aid from the public, I became 
a principal mover of a bill to empower a number of subscribers 
to undertake at their own expense, on conditions which were 
expressed, the extension of the navigation from tide water to 
Will's Creek, about one hundred and fifty miles; and I de- 
voutly wish that this may not be the only expedient by which 
it can be effected now. To get this business in motion, I was 
obliged even upon that ground to comprehend James River, 
in order to remove the jealousies, which arose from the attempt 
to extend the navigation of the Potomac. The plan however, 
was in a tolerably good train, when I set out for Cambridge 
in 1775, and would have been in an excellent way, had it not 
been for the difficulties, which were met with in the Maryland 
Assembly from the opposition which was given (according to 
report) by the Baltimore merchants, who were alarmed, and 
perhaps not without cause, at the consequence of water trans- 
portation to Georgetown of the produce, which usually came 
to their market by land. 

"The local interest of that place, joined to the shortsighted 
politics or contracted views of another part of the Assembly, 
gave Mr. Thomas Johnson, who was a warm promoter of the 
scheme on the north side of the Potomac, a great deal of 
trouble. In this situation I left matters when I took command 
of the army. The war afterwards called men's attention to 
different objects, and all the money they could or would raise 
was applied to other purposes. But with you I am satisfied 
that not a moment ought to be lost in re-commencing this 
business, as I know the Yorkers will lose no time to_ remove 
every obstacle in the way of the other communication, as soon 
as the posts of Oswego and Niagara are surrendered; and I 
shall be mistaken if they do not build vessels for the navi- 
gation of the Lakes, which will supersede the necessity of 
coasting on either side. 

' ' It appears to me that the interest and policy of Maryland 



40 The Patowmack Company. 

are proportionably concerned with those of Virginia, to re- 
move obstructions, and to invite the trade of the western 
countery into the channel you have mentioned. You will have 
frequent opportunities of learning the sentiments of the prin- 
cipal characters of that State, respecting this matter; and 
I wish if it should fall in your way, that you would discourse 
with Mr. Thomas Johnson, formerly governor of Maryland, 
on this subject. How far, upon mature consideration, I may 
depart from the resolution I had formed, of living perfectly 
at my ease, exempt from every form of responsibility, is more 
than I can at present absolutely determine. The sums granted, 
the manner of granting them, powers and objects, would merit 
consideration. The trouble, if my situation at the time would 
permit me to engage in a work of the sort, would be set at 
nought; and the immense advantages, which this country 
would derive from the measure, would be no small stimulus 
to the undertaking, if that undertaking could be made to 
comport with those ideas, and that line of conduct, with which 
I meant to glide gently down the current of life, and it did not 
interfere with any other plan I might have in contemplation. ' ' 

"I will not enter upon the subject of commerce. It has its 
advantages and disadvantages; but which of them prepon- 
derates, is not now the question. From trade our citizens will 
not be restrained, and therefore it behoves us to place it in 
the most convenient channels under proper regulations, freed 
as much as possible from those vices, which luxury, the conse- 
quence of wealth and power, naturally introduce. ' ' Etc., etc. 

It only required the earnest persistence and power- 
ful influence of Washington to secure the incorpora- 
tion of the first company for making easy an inter- 
communication with the great west. This company 
was the lineal successor of the pioneer Ohio Company 
and included the Frederick Company and the Ballen- 
dine adventurers. Its successor is the Chesapeake 
and Ohio Canal Company, which I believe is operated 
under the same charter. 



The Patowmack Company. 41 

We have intimation of some opposition to such a 
scheme in the letters written General Washington by 
one Stephen Sayre, of George Town, which are on file 
in the Library of Congress. In the one dated October 
10, 1784, is suggested a "Tontine for raising money for 
the improvement of the navigation of the Powtow- 
mack" and scouts the idea that any locks would be 
necessary ; he had a plan of his own more practicable 
to propose instead. In another letter dated August 8 
he urged that ' ' no time be lost in removing prejudices 
against the work which are worse than the rocks in 
our way." 

One great obstacle in the way of any movement for 
utilizing the Potomac was the diversity of the commer- 
cial laws of the two states. By some carelessness in 
the legislation of 1776 Virginia had ceded to Mary- 
land jurisdiction over the river, reserving only the 
right of free navigation. The situation was thus ren- 
dered almost intolerable and there was a popular de- 
mand for an adjustment of traffic regulations. James 
Madison, Jr., an able and earnest young man, was 
chairman of the committee on commerce in the lower 
house of the Virginia legislature. On June 28, 1784, 
the following resolutions which he introduced were 
carried : 

"Whereas; Great inconveniences are found to result from 
the want of some concerted regulations between this state and 
the state of Maryland touching the jurisdiction and navigation 
of the river Potomac ; Resolved that George Mason, Edmund 
Randolph, James Madison, Jr. and Alex. Henderson, Esqs. be 
appointed commissioners and that they or any three of them 
do meet such commissioners as may be appointed on the part 
of Maryland and in concert with them frame such liberal and 
equitable regulations concerning said river as may be mutually 
advantageous to the two states and that they make report 



42 The Patowmack Company. 

thereon to the General Assembly. Resolved ; That the Execu- 
tive be requested to notify the State of Maryland of the above 
appointment, with the object of it, and desire its concurrence 
in the proposition. ' ' 

In Maryland under the lead of Thomas Johnson, 
then in the state senate, the proposition was accepted 
by the Assembly and Thos. Johnson, Thos. Stone, 
Samuel Chase and Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer ap- 
pointed conferees to meet the Virginians at Alexan- 
dria March 20, 1785. The result, known as the Mount 
Vernon compact, was accepted and ratified by both 
legislatures. The outcome has been considered as the 
origin of the call for the constitutional convention held 
at Philadelphia in 1787.^ 

During the summer and fall of 1784 many confer- 
ences were held in both states and the public became 
very enthusiastic over the prospect of a great inter- 
state improvement. According to one of Madison's 
letters to Jefferson it is evident that the Baltimore mer- 
chants still opposed the scheme, but western Maryland 
had grown powerful in twelve years and western Mary- 
land demanded release from Baltimore monopoly and 
extortion. 

In the cool days of September General Washington 
set out for a journey over the mountains to settle some 
disputes on his lands near Fort Pitt, and, as he wrote in 
his diary on the 4th, "one object of this journey is to 
obtain information of the nearest & best communica- 
tion between the eastern and western Waters, and to 
facilitate as much as in me lay, the Inland Navigation 
of the Potowmack. ' ' Six weeks were spent on this ride 
of 680 miles, going over the familiar Nemacolin Path, 
returning by a more southerly route to seek a possible 
good portage from the Potomac to the Cheat, state 

"John Fiske in "Critical Period." 



The Patowmach Company. 43 

policy dictating avoidance of Pennsylvania territory. 
He found a long, rough, and perilous way over indis- 
tinct mountain trails, but no feasible portage. On this 
journey he encountered Albert Gallatin in a frontier 
settlement. At Eed Stone he very possibly met Jacob 
Joder, who had recently returned from a most re- 
markable venture ; in 1782 he had taken a boat load of 
flour down the rivers to New Orleans, there disposed 
of cargo and boat, invested in furs from the northwest 
which he took to Havana and exchanged for sugar 
which he sold in Philadelphia for a handsome profit. 
Thus would "Washington be reminded of the trade and 
political possibilities of free navigation of the Missis- 
sippi; this political interest was a great factor in Ms 
determination to effect the Potomac transportation. 
The territory of the United States extended to the 
Mississippi, which was nature's outlet for the com- 
merce of the immense trans- Appalachian region; the 
lower river was controlled by the Spanish — it would 
be possible for them to induce the people of the south- 
west to unite with them ; also the traders from Canada 
were very active along the Great Lakes where Great 
Britain retained possession of the frontier posts — 
surely speedy action was necessary if Virginia would 
profit by the opportunities now open to her. 

On the way west he had spent a night at Bath, where 
we learn from the Maryland Gazette of 13 June, 1784, 
James Eumsey was "at the time associated with Rob- 
ert Throckmorton in keeping a very commodious 
boarding house at the sign of the Liberty Pole and 
Flag." Eumsey seized this opportunity to interest 
the great man in his latest invention for propelling 
boats against the stream by a mechanical contrivance 
and exhibited his model which worked perfectly, and 
secured a certificate from General Washington. This 



44 The Patowmack Company. 

was not a model of the steamboat publicly exhibited at 
Shepherd's Town December 3 and 11, 1786, but the ac- 
quaintance later brought results interesting to us in 
our subject. 

Immediately upon his return to Mt. Vernon Wash- 
ington prepared a report of his journey which he en- 
closed in an eloquent letter to Grovernor Harrison, in 
which he enclosed a bill for an act incorporating a com- 
pany for opening the Potomac navigation. The bill 
was also sent to Thos. Johnson of Maryland accom- 
panied by the following hitherto unpublished letter : 

"Mount Vernon, Oct. 15, 1784. 

"Dear Sir, On a supposition that you are now at Annapolis, 
the petition of the Potowmack Company is enclosed to your 
care. A duplicate has been forwarded to the Assembly of this 
state ; the fate of which I have not yet heard, but entertain 
no doubt of its favorable reception; as there are many aus- 
picious proofs of liberality and justice already exhibited in 
the proceedings of the present session. I hope the same spirit 
will mark the proceedings of yours. The want of energy in 
the Federal government — the pulling of one State & party 
of States against another & the commotion amongst the East- 
ern people have sunk our national character much below par ; 
and has brought our politics and credit to the brink of a 
precipice ; a step or two further must plunge us into a Sea of 
Troubles, perhaps anarchy and confusion. I trust that a 
proper sense of justice & unanimity in those States which 
have not drunk so deep of the cup of folly may yet retrieve 
our affairs. But no time is to be lost in essaying them. 

"I have written to no gentlemen in your Assembly respect- 
ing the Potowmack business but yourself. The justice of the 
cause and your management of it will insure success. "With 
great regard and respect I am Dear Sir, ' ' etc." 

The bill was passed in the Virginia Assembly in 
October, in Maryland in November. 

' From original. 



The Patowmack Company. 45 

Of a mass meeting called for the discussion of the 
project at Alexandria we have only the account pub- 
lished in the Virginia Gazette of December 4 : 

"At a numerous and respectable meeting held the 15th. of 
last month at Alexandria by gentlemen of this state and Mary- 
land to deliberate and consult on the vast great political and 
commercial object, the rendering navigable the Potowmaek 
Eiver from tide water, it was unanimously resolved that every 
possible effort ought to be exerted to render those waters navi- 
gable to their utmost sources. . . . This is perhaps a work of 
more political than commercial consequence, as it will be one 
of the grandest chains for preserving the Federal Union. The 
western world will have free access to us and we shall be one 
and the same people whatever system of European politics 
may be adopted." 

When Washington went to Eichmond on the 15th of 
November to meet the Marquis de Lafayette he con- 
ferred with many of the members of the Assembly on 
the subject and then accompanied the Marquis to An- 
napolis. To Madison and Joseph Jones he wrote 
from Mt. Vernon on the 28th : 

"In one word, it should seem to me, that if the public can- 
not take it up with efficient funds, & with out those delays 
which might be involved by a limping conduct it had better be 
placed in the hands of a corporate company. ' ' 

The bills not being entirely satisfactory as intro- 
duced into the two state legislatures a conference was 
arranged for delegates from both to meet in Annapolis. 

The report, as recorded, is as follows : 

"At a meeting in the city of Annapolis, on the 22d day of 
December. 1784, of the commissioners appointed by the Com- 
monwealth of Virginia to confer with persons authorized on 
the part of the State of Maryland, upon the subject of opening 
and improving the navigation of the river Potomac, and con- 



46 The Patowmack Company. 

certing a plan for opening a proper road between the waters 
of the Potomac and the most convenient western waters, and a 
committee appointed by the Senate and House of Delegates of 
Maryland, to meet the Commissioners of Virginia for the pur- 
pose aforesaid — were present, 

' ' General Washington and General Gates from Virginia ; 

"The Hon. Thomas Stone, Samuel Hughes, and Charles 
Carroll of Carrollton, Esquires, of the Senate ; and 

"John Cadwallader, Samuel Chase, John Debutts, George 
Digges, Philip Key, Gustavus Scott, and Joseph Dashiell, 
Esquires, of the House of Delegates. 

"General Washington in the chair; Randolph B. Latimer 
appointed Clerk. 

"The conference proceeded to take the subject-matters to 
them referred, into their consideration, and, thereupon, came 
to the following resolutions: 

' ' That it is the opinion of this conference, that the removing 
the obstructions in the river Potomac, and the making the 
same capable of navigation from tide water as far up the north 
branch of the said river as may be convenient and practicable, 
will increase the commerce of the Commonwealth of Virginia 
and State of Maryland, and greatly promote the political 
interests of the United States, by forming a free and easy 
communication with the People settled on the western waters, 
already very considerable in their numbers, and rapidly in- 
creasing from the mildness of the climate and the fertility of 
the soil. 

' ' That it is the opinion of the conference, that the proposal 
to establish a company for opening the river Potomac, merits 
the approbation of, and deserves to be patronized by, Virginia 
and Maryland, and that a similar law ought to be passed by 
the legislatures of the two governments, to promote and en- 
courage so laudable an undertaking. 

' ' That it is the opinion of this conference, that it would be 
proper for Virginia and Maryland each to become subscribers 
to the amount of fifty shares, and that such subscription would 
evince to the public the opinion of the legislatures of the prac- 
ticability and great utility of the plan, and that the example 



The Patowmacli Company. 47 

would encourage individuals to embark in the measure, give 
vigor and security to so important an undertaking, and be 
a substantial proof to our brethren of the Western Territory, 
of our disposition to connect ourselves with them by the 
strongest bonds of friendship and mutual interest. 

"That is the opinion of this conference, that an act of 
Assembly of Virginia 'For opening and extending the navi- 
gation of the river Potomac from Fort Cumberland to tide 
water, ' ought to be repealed. 

"That it is the opinion of this conference, from the best 
information they have obtained, that a road to begin about the 
mouth of Stony River may be carried in about twenty or 
twenty- two miles to the Dunker Bottom on Cheat river; from 
whence, this conference are of opinion, that batteaux naviga- 
tion may be made, though, perhaps, at considerable expense. 
That if such navigation cannot be effected, by continuing the 
road about twenty miles farther, it would intersect the Monon- 
gahela, where the navigation is good and has been long 
practised. 

' ' That a road from Fort Cumberland to Turkey Foot would 
be about thirty-three miles, from whence an improvement of 
the Toughiogeny river would be necessary, though probably 
it might be done at less expense than the navigation of the 
Cheat river could be rendered convenient from the Dunker 
Bottom. 

"That it is a general opinion, that the navigation on Po- 
tomac may be extended to the most convenient point below, 
or even above the mouth of Stony river, from whence to set 
off a road to Cheat river; and this conference is satisfied that 
that road, from the nature of the country through which it 
may pass, wholly through Virginia and Maryland, will be 
much better than a road can be made at any reasonable ex- 
pense from Fort Cumberland to the Youghiogeny, which must 
be carried partly through Pennsylvania. 

' ' That it is the opinion of this conference, that, if the navi- 
gation on Potomac should be carried to about the mouth of 
Stony river, a communication with the western waters, through 
a road from thence, extended even to Monongalia, would be 
preferable in most points of view to that by a road from Fort 



48 The Patowmack Company. 

Cumberland to Turkey Foot, the only other way practicable, 
and in any great degree useful ; that the communication by a 
road from Fort Cumberland to the present navigable parts 
of the Youghiogeny, and thence through that river, though in 
the opinion of this conference a second object only, would 
facilitate the intercourse with a very respectable number of 
the western settlers, contribute much to their convenience and 
accommodation, and that the benefits resulting therefrom, to 
these states, would compensate the expense of improving the 
road. 

' ' The conference therefore, recommends that the Legislatures 
of Virginia and Maryland appoint skilful persons to view and 
accurately examine and survey Potomac, from Fort Cumber- 
land to the mouth of Stony river, and the Cheat, from about 
the Dunker Bottom to the present navigable part thereof, and 
if they judge the navigation can be extended to a convenient 
distance above Fort Cumberland, that they may from thence 
survey, lay off, and mark, a road to the Cheat river, or continue 
the same to the navigation, as they may think will most effectu- 
ally establish the communication between the said eastern and 
western waters. And that the said road be cut and cleared, 
not less than eighty feet, and properly improved and main- 
tained in repair, not less than forty nor more than fifty feet 
wide, at the joint expense of both States; and your conferees 
beg leave to recommend that each State appropriate three 
thousand three hundred and thirty three and one third dollars 
for the purpose; and this conference are further of opinion, 
that the States of Virginia and Maryland request permission 
of the State of Pennsylvania to lay out and improve a road 
through such part of that State as may be necessary, in the 
best and most proper direction from Fort Cumberland to the 
navigable part of the Youghiogeny; and, on such permission 
being obtained, that proper persons be appointed to survey, 
mark, clear, and improve, such road, at the equal expense of 
Virginia and Maryland. 

"Which are submitted to the consideration of the Legisla- 
tures of Virginia and Maryland. 

"By order,'" 

' From original. 



The Patowmack Company. 49 

To Madison General Washington immediately wrote 
this report : 

"Annapolis. 28 Dec. 1784. 
"Dear Sir; 

"I have been favored with, your letter of the 11th. The 
proceedings of the Conference and the Act and the Resolution 
of the Legislature consequent thereupon (herewith trans- 
mitted to the Assembly), are so full and explanatory of the 
motive which governed in the business, that it is scarce neces- 
sary for me to say anything in addition to them, except that 
this State seems highly impressed with the importance of the 
object which we have had under consideration, and are de- 
sirous of seeing accomplished. 

"We have reduced most of the Tolls from what they were 
in the first Bill, and have added something to a few others — 
upon the whole we have made them as low as we conceived 
from the best information before us, and such estimates as 
we had means to calculate upon as they can be fixed without 
hazarding the plan altogether. — We made the Value of the 
Commodity the governing principle in the establishment of 
the Tolls; — but having had an eye to some bulky articles of 
produce, & to the encouragement of the growth and manufac- 
ture of some others, as much as to prevent a tedious enumera- 
tion of the diif erent species of all, we departed from- the gen- 
eral rule in many instances. — The rates of the toUage as now 
fixed, may still appear high to some of the Southern gentle- 
men when they compare them with those on James River, but 
as there is no comparison in the expense & risk of the two 
undertakings, so neither ought there to be in the Tolls. 

"I am fully persuaded that the gentlemen who were ap- 
pointed and who have had this matter under consideration 
were actuated by no other motives than to hit (if they could 
do so) upon such a happy medium as would not be burthen- 
some to individuals or give jealousy to the people on one 
hand, nor discouragement to adventurers on the other. — To 
secure success and to give vigor to the undertaking, it was 
judged advisable for each State to contribute (upon the 
terms of private subscribers) to the expense of it, especially 

5 



50 The Patowmack Company. 

as it might have a happy influence on the minds of the West- 
ern Settlers, and it may be observed here, that only part of 
this money can be called for immediately, provided the work 
goes on — And afterwards only in the proportion of its 
progress. 

' ' Though there is no obligation upon the State to adopt this 
(if it is inconvenient, or repugnant to their wishes) yet I 
should be highly pleased to hear that they had done so. — (Our 
advantages will most assuredly be equal to those of Maryland, 
and our public spirit ought not in my opinion to be less) — as 
also the resolutions respecting the roads of communication, 
both of which tho' they look in some degree to different objects, 
are both very important — that of the Yohiogany (thro' Penn- 
sylvania) is particularly so for the Furs and Peltry of the 
Lakes, because it is the most direct rout by which they can 
be transported; — whilst it is exceedingly convenient to the 
people who inhabit the Ohio, (or Allegany) above Fort Pitt, 
the lower part of the Monongahela and all the Yohiogany. 

"Matters might perhaps have been better digested if more 
time had been taken, but the fear of not getting the report to 
Eichmond before the Assembly would have risen, occasioned 
more hurry than accuracy — or even real despatch — But to 
alter the Act now, further than to accommodate it to circum- 
stances when it is essential, or to remedy an obvious error, if 
any should be discovered, will not do. The bill passed this 
Assembly with only nine dissenting voices and got thro' both 
Houses in a day — so earnest were the members of getting it 
to you in time. 

"It is now near 12 at night, and I am writing with an 
Aching head, having been constantly employed in this business 
since the 22nd. without assistance from my colleagues. Gen. 
Gates having been sick the whole time & Colo. Blackburn not 
attending. 

"But for this I would be more explicit. 

"I am with great esteem & regard Dear Sir, 
"Tr. Most Obt. Ser't. 

"Geo. Washington. 



The Patowmack Company. 51 

"I am ashamed to send such a letter but cannot give you 
a fairer one, Gr. W. 
"Jas. Madison, Esqr."^ 

The articles of the compact between the states, 
known as "the Mount Vernon," were drawn up and 
duly forwarded to the respective legislatures at the 
fall sessions of 1785. The sixth article reads : 

"The river Potomac shall be considered as a common high- 
way for the purposes of navigation and commerce to the 
citizens of Virginia and Maryland, and of the United States 
and to all other persons in amity with the said states trading 
to or from Virginia or Maryland. 

"Seventh; — The citizens of each state respectively shall 
have full property in the shores of the Potomac rive adjoining 
their lands." 

The compact was approved by both legislatures with 
the farther stipulation introduced by Thomas Stone in 
the Maryland senate : 

' ' That joint application be made to Congress for consent to 
form a compact for the purpose of affording in and in just 
proportion naval protection to Chesapeake Bay and Potomac 
river which may be left unprovided for by Congress; — That 
currencies should be regulated; — That duties and imposts 
should be the same in both states; That commissioners should 
be annually appointed to regulate commerce ; — That Delaware 
and Pennsylvania should be notified and requested to join 
with Virginia and Maryland. ' ' 

The amendment was sent to Virginia and ratified. 

This compact between Virginia and Maryland in the 
interest of the Potomac improvement is another polit- 
ical incident in the history of the development of this 
route to the west and as before stated has been con- 
sidered by Madison and other statesmen as the initial 

'From Madison MSS. in the Library of Congress. 



52 The Patowmack Company. 

step toward calling the national convention in 1787 
whicli framed our constitution. 

Meanwhile Washington with unwonted enthusiasm 
was writing to absent friends and wielding all of his 
great influence to secure support for the "adventure," 
as such undertakings were appropriately called. To 
Eiehard Henry Lee, then president of Congress, he 
wrote December 14 : 

' ' The Assemblies of Virginia and Maryland have now under 
consideration the extension of the inland navigation of the 
Rivers Potowmac and James, and opening a communication 
between them and the western waters. They seem fully im- 
pressed with the political as well as the commercial advan- 
tages, which would result from the accomplishment of these 
great objects; and I hope will embrace the present moment 
to put them in a train for execution. Would it not at the 
same time be worthy of the wisdom and attention of Congress 
to have the western waters well explored, the navigation of 
them fully ascertained, accurately laid down, and a complete 
and perfect map made of the country; as least as far west- 
wardly as the Miamies, running into the Ohio and Lake Erie, 
and to see how the waters of these communicate with the river 
St. Joseph, which empties into the Lake Michigan, and with 
the "Wabash? For I cannot forbear observing that the Miami 
village, in Hutchin's map, if it and the waters are laid down, 
with accuracy, points to a very important point for the Union. 
The expense attending such an undertaking could not be great ; 
the advantages would be unbounded ; for sure I am, nature has 
made such a display of her bounties in those regions, that 
the more the country is explored, the more it will rise in esti- 
mation, consequently the greater will be the reyenue to the 
Union." 

Again, February 8, 1785 : 

' ' Since my last I have had the honor to receive your favors 
of the 26th of December and 16th of January. I have now the 
pleasure to inform you that the Assemblies of Virginia and 



The Patowmach Company. 53 

Maryland have enacted laws, of which the inclosed is a copy. 
They are exactly similar in both States. At the same time 
and at the joint and equal expense of the two governments, 
the sum of 6666.66 is voted for opening and keeping in repair 
a road from the highest practicable navigation of this river 
to that of the river Cheat, or Monongahela, as commissioners, 
who are appointed to survey and lay out the same, shall find 
most convenient and beneficial to the western settlers; and 
they have concurred in an application to the state of Pennsyl- 
vania for permission to open another road from Fort Cumber- 
land to the Toughiogheny, at the Three Forks, or Turkey 
Foot." 

With tlie final action of tlie Virginia Assembly on 
the 5th of January, 1785, the Patowmack Company was 
formally launched, subscription books were opened at 
Eichmond, Alexandria and "Winchester in Virginia, 
and at Annapolis, Frederick and Georgetown in Mary- 
land, to be closed by the tenth of May. 

In the Maryland Gazette of February appeared this 
advertisement : 

"PATOWMACK CANAL! 

"By Virtue of an act of the last General Assembly of Mary- 
land entitled ' An Act for establishing a company for opening 
and extending the Navigation of the River Patowmack' notice 
is hereby given that the laudable subscriptions so essentially 
necessary to accomplish a work fraught with such universal 
advantages is now opened at Annapolis where it will so con- 
tinue until the 10th of May next in the hands of 

"Christopher Richmond, John Davidson." 

In January Madison, whose assistance had been so 
valuable, wrote to Jefferson, whose interest we per- 
ceive by his letters was also most lively. 

"Shortly after his (Washington with Lafayette) departure, 
a joint memorial from a number of citizens of Virginia and 



54 The Patowmach Company. 

Maryland, interested in the Potomac, was presented to the 
Assembly, stating the practicability and importance of the 
work, and praying for an act of incorporation, and grant of 
perpetual toll to the undertaking of it. A bill had been pre- 
pared at the same meeting which produced the memorial, and 
was transmitted to Richmond at the same time. A like me- 
morial and bill went to Annapolis, where the Legislature of 
Maryland was sitting. 

"The Assembly here lent a ready ear to the project; but a 
difficulty arose from the height of the tolls proposed, the 
danger of destroying the uniformity essential in the proceed- 
ings of the two States by altering them, and the scarcity of 
time for negotiating with Maryland a bill satisfactory to both 
States. Short as the time was, however, the attempt was de- 
cided on, and the negotiation committed to General Washing- 
ton himself. General Gates, who happened to be in the way, 
and Col. Blackburn, were associated with him. The latter did 
not act; the two former pushed immediately to Annapolis, 
where the sickness of General Gates threw the whole agency 
on General Washington. By his exertions, in concert with 
Committees of the two branches of the Legislature, an amend- 
ment of the plan was digested in a few days, passed through 
both Houses in one day, with nine dissenting voices only, and 
dispatched for Richmond, where it arrived just in time for 
the close of the Session. A corresponding Act was imme- 
diately introduced, and passed without opposition. 

"The Scheme declares that the subscribers shall be an' in- 
corporated body; that there shall be 500 shares, amounting 
to about 220,000 dollars, of which the States of Virginia and 
Maryland are each to take 50 shares; that the tolls shall be 
collected in three portions, at the three principal falls, and 
with the works vest as real estate in the members of the Com- 
pany ; and that the works shall be begun within one year and 
finished within ten years, under the penalty of entire for- 
feiture. 

"In addition to these acts, joint resolutions have passed the 
Legislatures of Virginia and Maryland for clearing a road 
from the head of Potomac navigation to Cheat river, or if neces- 



The Patowmach Company. 55 

sary to Monongalia, and 3.333 1/3 dollars are voted for the 
work by each State. Pennsylvania is also to be applied to by 
the Governors of the two States for leave to clear a road 
through her jurisdiction, if it should be found necessary, from 
Potomac to Yohogania; to which the Assembly here have 
added a proposition to unite with Maryland in representing 
to Pennsylvania the advantages which will accrue on a part 
of her citizens from opening the proposed communication with 
the sea, and the reasonableness of her securing to those who 
are to be at the expense the use of her waters as a thorough- 
fare to and from the Country beyond her limits, free from 
all imposts and restrictions whatever, and as a channel of 
trade with her citizens, free from greater imposts than may 
be levied on any other channel of importation. This resolu- 
tion did not pass till it was too late to refer it to General 
Washington's negoeiations with Maryland. It now makes a 
part of the task alloted to the Commissioners who are to settle 
with Maryland the jurisdiction and navigation of Potomac, 
below tide water. By another Eesolution of this State, per- 
sons are to be forthwith appointed by the Executive to survey 
the upper parts of James river, the country through which a 
road must pass to the navigable waters of the New River, and 
these waters down to the Ohio. I am told by a member of the 
Assembly, who seems well acquainted both with the inter- 
mediate ground and with the western waters in question, that 
a road of 25 or 30 miles in length will link these waters with 
James River, and will strike a branch of the former which 
yields a fine navigation, and falls into the main stream of the 
Kenhawa below the obstructions lying in this river down to 
the Ohio. If these be facts James River will have a great 
superiority over Potomac, the road from which to Cheat river 
is, indeed, computed by General Washington at 20 miles only, 
but he thinks the expence of making the latter navigable will 
require a continuation of the road to Monongalia, which will 
lengthen it to forty miles. The road to Yohogania is com- 
puted by the General at 30 miles. ' ' 

' ' The Treasurer is by this act directed to subscribe 50 shares 



56 The PatowmacJc Company. 

in the Potomac and 100 shares in the James River companies, 
which shall vest in General Washington and his heirs. This 
mode of adding some substantial to the many rewards bestowed 
on him was deemed least injurious to his delicacy, as well as 
least dangerous as a precedent. It was submitted in place of a 
direct pension, urged on the House by the indiscreet zeal of 
some of his friends. Though it will not be an equivalent succor 
in all respects, it will save the General from subscriptions 
which would have oppressed his iinances; and if the schemes 
be executed within the period fixed, may yield a revenue for 
some years before the term of his. At all events, it will demon- 
strate the grateful wishes of his country, and will promote the 
object which he has so much at heart. The earnestness with 
which he espouses the undertaking is hardly to be described, 
and shews that a mind like his, capable of great views, cannot 
bear a vacancy ; and surely he could not have chosen an occu- 
pation more worthy of succeeding to that of establishing the 
political rights of his Country than the patronage of works 
for the extensive and lasting improvement of its natural ad- 
vantages ; works which will double the value of half the lands 
within the Commonwealth, will extend its commerce, link with 
its interests those of the Western States, and lessen the emi- 
gration of its citizens by enhancing the profitableness of 
situations which they now desert in search of better. ' ' 



At an early hour on the 17th of May, 1785, an unu- 
sual number of the gentry of Virginia and Maryland 
met in Alexandria to organize the much heralded com- 
pany for improving the navigation of the Potomac. 
After a mid-day banquet they were called to order in 
the assembly room, so often the scene of festivity, by 
His Excellency General Washington. In brief intro- 
ductory remarks he expressed his pleasure in meeting 
so large and representative a company, referred to the 
magnitude of the proposed enterprise — its political as 
well as commercial significance — and assured his audi- 



The Patowmack Company. 57 

tors of the certainty of ultimate reimbursement to the 
subscribers. Eesponses followed in the same confident 
strain and the meeting proceeded to the business of 
organization. 

The minutes of the meeting as transcribed by John 
Potts, Jr., are among the Gilmor papers in the collec- 
tions of the Maryland Historical Society, who cour- 
teously have permitted a copy. The originals are not 
to be found. 

"Alexandria, ITth. May, 1785. 

' ' This day & at this Town pursuant to the act of the Gen- 
eral Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia for Opening 
and Extending the Navigation of Patowmack River & pur- 
suant to the act of the General Assembly of the State of 
Maryland for the same purpose, there was a general meeting 
of the Subscribers to the undertaking who proceeded to the 
Choice of a Chairman & elected Daniel Carroll Esq. to that 
office & appointed Charles Lee Esq. Clerk of the Meeting. 

' ' The Book that has been opened for receiving subscriptions 
at the City of Richmond, at the Towns of Alexandria & Win- 
chester in Virginia, & at the City of Annapolis, at George 
Town & Frederick Town in the State of Maryland being pro- 
duced & examined the Subscriptions therein appeared to be 
as follows — 

In Richmond Book, One hundred Shares, 

In Alexandria Book, .... One hundred thirty -five Shares, 
In Winchester Book, .... Thirty-one Shares, 

In Annapolis Book, Seventy-three Shares, 

In George Town Book, . . Forty- two Shares, 
In Frederick Town Book, . Twenty-two Shares, 

Amounting in all to Four hundred and three Shares, which 
made a Capital of 40.300£ Sterling money. 

"On a Motion made & seconded; Resolved — That the Sub- 
scribers present in person together with those present by 
Proxy proceed to the Choice of a President and Directors of 
the Patowmack Company & that the President & Directors 



58 The Patowmacli Company. 

now to be chosen should continue in Office untill the first Mon- 
day in the Month of August which shall be in the year 1786. 

"Resolved — That at every General Meeting in taking the 
votes of the Proprietors each Proprietor shall give in his vote 
or votes at the Clert's table in writing, and when the vote or 
votes shall be given by Proxy, that the name of each Con- 
stituent be also inserted. 

"Ordered — That Chas. Simms and Jas. Keith be a Com- 
mittee to examine the deputations to act & vote as Proxy & to 
make report thereof to this Meeting, who having made report 
accordingly — 

"Resolved — That the deputations from Thos. Blackburn to 
Wm. Brown, from Thos. Johnson to Abraham Faw, and from 
Jno. Lynn to Abraham Faw, to act & vote for them respec- 
tively at this Meeting appearing to have been executed before 
One witness only, are Illegal & insufficient & that the said 
Blackburn Johnson & Lynn be not admitted to vote their 
respective Proxys aforesaid. — " 

' ' The Proprietors present as well as such of the absent Pro- 
prietors as are represented by Proxys having given in their 
votes in manner before mentioned for the choice of a President 
& four Directors of the Patowmack Company, & the said votes 
being duly examined & accounted, a majority of votes was in 
favor of his Excellency, George Washington to be President 
& in favor of Thos. Johnson, Thos. Sim Lee, James Fitzgerald 
and George Gilpin to be Directors & thereupon his Excellency 
George Washington, Thos. Johnson, Thos. Sim Lee, James 
Fitzgerald and George Gilpin were declared by the Chairman 
to be elected President and Directors of the Patowmack 
Company. 

"Ordered — That the names of the Proprietors who were 
present in proper person, & also of those who voted & acted by 
Proxy at this meeting with the names of each Proxy respec- 
tively be inserted in the Minutes. ' ' 

"Present in proper person — 
His Excellency, George Washington 



The Patowmack Company. 



59 



Daniel Carroll, Robert Peter, Sam '1 Davidson, 

Wm. Deakins, junr. Chas. Worthington, Thos. Beall of George, 



Henry Townsend, Jas. M. Lingan, 
Jno. Boucher, Bernard 'Neill, 

Thos. C. Crampline, Geo. Digges, 



Abraham Faw, 
Edward Beeson, 
John Gunnell, 
Lund "Washington, 
Wm. Lowry, 
Wm. Scott, 
Wm. Hartshorne, 
Chas. Simms, 
Sam'l L. Brown, 
John Allison, 
James Lawreson, 
David Stuart, 
Wm. Herbert, 



Horatio Gates, 
Edward Smith, 
Chas. Little, 
Wm. Hepburn, 
Benj. Shrieve, 
Dan'l McPherson, 
Geo. Gilpin, 
Robert Hooks, 
Joseph Janney, 
Baldwin Dade, 
James Keith, 
Wm. Lyles, 
Dennis Ramsay, 
Chas. Lee. 



Benj. Stoddert, 
Lionel Bradstreet, 
Jas. Johnston, 
Peter Bruin, 
Joseph Holmes, 
Roger West, 
Henry Lyles, 
John Harper, 
Wm. Brown, 
Leven Powell, 
Wm. Ellzey, 
Dan'l Roberdeau, 
Benj. Dulany, 
Alex. Henderson, 
Jno. Potts, Junr. 
Richard Conway, 



Jno. Fitzgerald, 

' ' Present by Proxy — 

Jacquelin Ambler, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Vir- 
ginia, by His Excellency George Washington, 

Richard Harrison, Jas. W. Harrison, Thos. Lewis, Rob't. 
Mackey, Henry Ridgeley, Wm. Bates, Geo. Scott, James 
Rumsey by Peter B. Bruin ; 

Baker Johnson, Geo. Schertzell, Thos. Sim Lee, Joseph Chap- 
line, Philip Thomas, Thos. Beatty, Joseph Sim, Jno. T. 
Amelung, Thos. Grant, Thos. Hawkins, Patrick L. Smith, 
by Abraham Faw ; 

Alex. White, Philip Pendleton, Wm. Drew, Moses Hunter, 
Wm. Brady, Wm. MIcKeward, James Campbell, Henry Bedin- 
ger, Geo. Scott, Geo. Hite, Walter Baker, Abraham Shep- 
herd, Benj. Beisler, Cornelius Wyncoop by Horatio Gates." 

"Resolved — That the writings concerning the deputations 
to vote and act as Proxy be delivered together with the Sub- 
scribers voting and the Minutes of this Meeting to the Presi- 
dent and Directors & that a General Meeting of the Patow- 



6o The Patowmack Company. 

mack Company be held at George Town on the first Monday in 
August next. 
"(Signed) 

"Chas. Lee, 

"Clerk of the Meeting." 

And tliiis tlie first incorporation of a company for 
the improvement of our inland water ways was accom- 
plished ; its successors have been many but none have 
ventured into unknown difficulties and perplexities 
with greater courage or higher motives; their aims 
were to benefit the remote settler, to safeguard the 
Union and incidentally, to place a remunerative invest- 
ment. Washington and Johnson had been equally ac- 
tive in securing the charters from their respective 
states — -Washington never lost his faith or interest in 
the project, Johnson's activity seems to have ceased 
when he became commissioner of the District of Co- 
lumbia, although he always maintained that his shares 
were of great value. This new company was the lineal 
successor of the powerful old Ohio Company; George 
Mason and others still treasured the stock of that un- 
fortunate organization and vainly sought its recogni- 
tion by the new. It will be noticed that very few of the 
subscribed shares were unrepresented at the initial 
meeting; among these were John Ballendine, Gover- 
nors Paca and Harrison. Such a subscription list in 
such a time of financial stress and uncertainty is evi- 
dence of the great popular interest and confidence in 
the ultimate result. 

On the 18th General Washington addressed the fol- 
lowing note to Thos. Johnson and Thos. Sim Lee : 

"Gentlemen; — At a meeting of the Subscribers to the Po- 
towmack Navigation held yesterday agreeable to the Acts of 
Assembly of both States, a President and Directors were 



The Patowmach Company. 6i 

chosen, the former I have accepted of, & you two in conjunc- 
tion with George Gilpin & John Fitzgerald Esqrs. were 
appointed Directors, which I hope will be agreeable to you. 
As the season begins to advance I have thought necessary 
that we should have a meeting as soon as it can be with con- 
venience, I have appointed Monday the 30th Inst, for that 
purpose. I have no doubt of your punctual attendance at 
that time. The place I leave to you to fix upon, & request 
your answer by return of the Express, which is sent on this 
special Business, You'll also please mention the Hour you 
would wish to meet on. 

' ' I have the honor to be &c, G. Washington 
"May 19th. '85. Since the letter which accompanies this 
was wrote by Genl. Washington I have found a private copy. 
(Mr. Buff of this town) who is to return immediately to this 
place, hence to save expense to the Company committed it to 
his care. If you find it necessary to send an express to Mr. 
Lee the expense shall be paid at the meeting."" 

At the first meeting of the directory there were many 
important questions to be decided ; two long days were 
spent in almost continuous session in a private room 
of the old City Hotel. William Hartshorne, a promi- 
nent merchant and underwriter of Alexandria, was ap- 
pointed treasurer with an allowance of 3 per cent., 
bonded at £10,000 sterling with two securities. John 
Potts, Jr., a member of a Pennsylvania family, was se- 
lected for "clerk to this Board, to be paid 21s. sterling 
for each day he shall attend, beside his reasonable ex- 
penses when he occasionally attends out of Alexandria 
and thereby incurs an extraordinary expense. ' ' This 
attended to the gentlemen resolved : 

"That it is the opinion of this Board that it is the most 
eligible to employ two sets of hands, one of them in opening 
and improving the navigation from Great Falls to Payne's 
Falls and the other from the upper part of Shenandoah Falls 

"From original. 



62 The Patowmach Company. 

to the highest place practicable on the North Branch. That 
each sett consist of fifty men to be under the general direc- 
tion of one skilful person who shall have a proper assistant, 
as well as three overseers with each party. 

"Ordered that the Proprietors of the said Company pay 
into the hands of William Hartshorne, treasurer, on each 
share £5 ster. on or before July 15 and also the further sum 
of £2. 10 s ster. on or before October first next." 

Books were directed to be opened at Mr. Harts- 
horne 's store for subscriptions for the 97 unsold shares. 
(It was not long before 87 of these were taken by three 
firms in Amsterdam, Holland, probably induced thereto 
by Louis Casanove, their American agent.) Ordered, 
advertisements to be inserted in Philadelphia, Balti- 
more and Alexandria papers for a skilful person to 
conduct the work from G-reat Falls upward — also for 
two assistants and overseers — also liberal wages with 
provisions and a reasonable quantity of spirits offered 
to not over one hundred good hands. Ordered, 
a letter to Capt. Abraham Shepherd, of Shepherd's 
Town, requesting him to contract for the building of 
two strong boats for the use of the company, to be 35 
feet long 8 wide and not less than 20 inches deep, in the 
common manner of the fiats used at the ferries on the 
Potowmack above tide water ; also two other like boats 
to be contracted for by Col. Josias Clapham. A gen- 
eral view of the river with the superintendent was rec- 
ommended to be made after the general meeting in 
August. 

No applicants appearing on the first of July the 
meeting was adjourned until the 14th. The energetic 
Gilpin undertook to meet and employ laborers that 
should apply at Seneca and Shenandoah. It must be 
remembered that the work to be done required untried 
skill; no engineer in America had ever seen a canal 



The Patowmack Company. 63 

lock, few imderstood anything of the mechanical prin- 
ciples involved. There were no applicants for the su- 
perintendency on the 14th. After some deliberation it 
was resolved to proffer the position to James Eumsey, 
the most skilled mechanician in the two states, a man 
of genius, industrious and inventive, his pay to be £200 
Virginia currency per year ' ' inclusive of all expenses 
he may incur." Mr. Eichardson Stewart was ap- 
pointed assistant manager at a salary of £125 Virginia 
currency. The second assistant was not appointed, 
but his selection left to Mr. Eumsey. The rations for 
laborers were to be: one pound salt pork, or one and 
quarter pounds salt beef, or one and half fresh beef or 
mutton, one and half pounds flour or bread and three 
gills of rum per day. 

After the general meeting in Georgetown, of which 
there is no record, the president and directors, accom- 
panied by a number of shareholders, started on a tour 
of inspection of the river under the guidance of Eumsey. 

"The object of this tour (up the Potomac) was to inspect 
minutely the course of the Potomac from Georgetown to 
Harper's Ferry, and ascertain in what places and to what 
extent it was necessary to construct canals and remove ob- 
structions in the river. The directors went up by land, part 
of the distance on one side and part on the other; but they 
returned from Harper's Ferry to the head of Great Falls 
above Georgetown in boats; thus effecting a thorough exami- 
nation of the river. ' ' 

General "Washington left the party at Seneca and — 
(from the Diary) : 

"August 5th. After breakfast, and after directing Mr. 
Eumsey, when he had marked the way and set the laborers at 
work, to meet us at Harper's Ferry, myself and the directors 
set out for the same place by way of Frederick Town in Mary- 
land. Dined at a Dutchman's two miles above the mouth of 



64 The Patowmack Company. 

the Monoeacy, and reached Frederick Town about five o'clock. 
Drank tea, supped, and lodged at Governor Johnson's. In the 
evening the bells rang and guns were fired; and a committee 
waited upon me by order of the gentlemen of the town to 
request, that I would stay the next day and partake of a 
public dinner, which the town were desirous of giving me. 
But as arrangements had been made, and the time for examin- 
ing Shenandoah Falls, previously to the day fixed for receiv- 
ing laborers into pay, was short, I found it most expedient to 
decline the honor. "^'' 

The full board met for a three days' session at 
Shenandoah Falls on the 8th of August and resolved: 
"That the President and all the directors having yes- 
terday viewed and examined the Shenandoah Falls 
from the flat water above to that below were unani- 
mously of opinion that the navigation may be carried 
through the falls without a lock and that the purposes 
of the incorporation would be best promoted by the 
speediest removal of obstructions within the above de- 
scribed space." The following letter was written to 
Mr. Rumsey, transcribed in the minutes and signed in 
duplicate by General Washington : 

"Sir, — As you have attended the President and directors in 
their view and examination of the river from the upper part 
of the Seneca Falls to the Great Falls and from the fiat water 
above to the flat water below the Shenandoah Falls you are 
possessed not only of their opinion of the course in general to 
be improved and their idea of the manner of effecting the 
work but also of their sentiments on many particular spots. — 
The President and directors have no doubt could they per- 
sonally attend the work in its progress and see the river and 
those places in its different situations, they might in many 
instances depart from their present opinions. — The nature of 
the work and our situations make it therefore, necessary to 
leave it in your discretion to vary from what you may have 

*> See Ford, ' ' Writings of Washington, ' ' Vol. 10, p. 487. 



The Patowmack Company. 65 

conceived our opinion to be as to the track or manner of 
executing the work. And vfe do it the more cheerfully as 
you seem to be equally impressed as ourselves with the im- 
portance of a straight navigation and the advantages of 
avoiding as far as well may be, cross currents. The oppor- 
tunity you will have to watch the water at different heights 
and your industry in examining more minutely the different 
obstructions will enable you to exercise the discretionary 
power left with you to your own credit and satisfaction. Tou 
are already apprised of our change of resolution as to the 
place of working the upper party and the reasons which 
induced that change, and as effecting the navigation through 
the Shenandoah and Seneca Falls will be immediately advan- 
tageous to a great extent of country you are not to consider 
yourself restricted to the number of fifty hands for each 
party, but you are to employ as many as you have an oppor- 
tunity to engage and you can work to advantage, so that the 
work may be expedited ; but you must immediately on exceed- 
ing one hundred in the whole give information to the Presi- 
dent least any disappointment should happen in the ready 
payment of the company's debts, which by all means is to be 
avoided. 

' ' For the President and Directors 

"(signed) G. "Washington." 



Up to that time no public undertaking had ever 
aroused so much enthusiasm. When we consider the 
lean and impoverished condition of the gentry after 
the "war it seems almost incredible that 403 shares, 
amounting to £40,300, should have been readily sub- 
scribed. It is worthy of note that John Ballendine's 
subscription was one of the first received in the Alex- 
andria office. For forty years the work of this com- 
pany occupied relatively the same position in the atten- 
tion of the mechanical world as the Panama canal does 
in ours — but unfortunately a nation's plethoric purse 
6 



66 The Patowmach Company. 

could not be called upon to remedy untoward condi- 
tions. The locks constructed at Great Falls were the 
engineering feat of the eighteenth century and were 
described in every scientific publication in the civilized 
world. This work was the culmination of "Washing- 
ton's hope for national expansion, for prosperity, for 
national unity and in its future he never lost his faith. 
To those of us who have considered this great and good 
man as an abstraction, a merely practical man of good 
hard sense and moral rectitude, the story of his con- 
nection with this enterprise will be a surprise, reveal- 
ing him as a man of vivid imagination and unbounded 
enthusiasm; read this letter written to Lafayette in 
July, 1785 : 

' ' I wish to see the sons and daughters of the world in peace 
and busily employed in the more agreeable amusement of ful- 
filling the first and great commandment — 'Increase and mul- 
tiply,' as an encouragement to which we have opened the 
fertile plains of the Ohio to the poor, the needy and the op- 
pressed of the Earth. Any one therefore who is heavy laden, 
or who wants land to cultivate, may repair thither and abound, 
as in the Land of Promise, with milk and honey, the ways 
are preparing, and the roads will be made easy, thro' the 
channels of Potomac and James rivers. ' ' 

In letters addressed to David Humphreys and others 
in the same month he further emphasizes his fear of 
Spanish influence and his attitude on the question of 
opening the navigation of the Mississippi. 

' ' I may be singular in my ideas, but they are these ; that to 
open a door to, and make easy the way for those settlers to 
the westward (who ought to advance regularly and com- 
pactly) before we make any stir about the navigation of the 
Mississippi, and before our settlements are far advanced 
toward that river would be our true line of policy. ' ' 



The Patowmack Company. 67 

"To Edmund Randolph, 

"13 August, 1785. 
"Bear Sir, ^ 

"... The great object, for the accomplishment of which 
I wish to see the inland navigation of the Rivers James & 
Potomack improved & extended, is to connect the Western 
Territory with the Atlantic States; all others with me are 
secondary. ' ' 

' ' To Richard Henry Lee, 

"22d August, 1785. 

"... However singular the opinion may be, I cannot 
divest myself of it, that the navigation of the Mississippi, at 
this time, ought to be no object with us. On the contrary, 
until we have a little time allowed to open and make easy the 
ways between the Atlantic States and the western territory, 
the obstruction had better remain. There is nothing which 
binds one county or one State to another, but interest. With- 
out this cement the western inhabitants who more than prob- 
ably will be composed in a great degree of foreigners, can have 
no predilection for us, and a commercial connection is the 
only tie we can have. ' ' 

In the intervals of attending board meetings and in- 
specting critical points in the river, General Washing- 
ton wrote many eloquent letters to influential public 
men as well as friends on the engrossing topic — the 
summer and fall were very fully employed. Many 
guests also were to be entertained; Mr. Hunter, an 
English traveler, has left a pleasant account of his 
visit : 

"At three the dinner was on the table and we were shown 
by the General into another room, where everything was set 
off with a peculiar taste, and at the same time very neat and 
plain. The General sent the bottle about pretty freely after 
dinner and gave success to the Navigation of the Potomac for 
his toast, which he has very much at heart, and when finished 
will I suppose be the first river in the world. He never under- 



68 The Patowmack Company. 

takes anything without having first well considered of it, and 
consulted different people, but when ever he has begun any- 
thing, no obstacle or difficulty can come in his way but what 
he is determined to surmount. The General 's character seems 
to be a prudent but a very persevering one. 

"He is quite pleased at the idea of the Baltimore mer- 
chants laughing at him and saying it was a ridiculous plan 
and would never succeed. 'They begin now,' says the Gen- 
eral, ' to look a little serious about the matter, as they know 
it must hurt their commerce amazingly. ' ' '^^ 

The directory of the James Eiver project through 
Edmund Eandolph tendered the presidency of their 
company to G-eneral Washington, who in the following 
letter declined the additional responsibility : 

"16 Sept. 1785. 
" ... I feel very sensibly, the honor and confidence which has 
been reposed in me by the James river company; and regret 
it will not be in my power to discharge the duties of President 
of the Board of Directors, with that punctuality and attention 
which the trust requires. — Every service however that I can 
render, compatible with my other avocations, shall be afforded 
with pleasure, and I am happy in being associated in the 
business with gentlemen so competent to the purposes of their 
appointment — and from what I have heard of the navigation, 
and seen of the Falls, I think your work may be soon and 
easily accomplished — and that it will be of great public utility, 
as well as private emolument to the subscribers when done ; — 
for the advantage of both, tho' I believe the business lies in 
another line, I would earnestly recommend it to you to press 
the execution of the survey between James river and the navi- 
gable waters of the Kanhawa, and a proper investigation of 
the latter. It will be a source of great commerce with the 
capitol and in my opinion will be productive of great political 
consequences to this country; — the business of a similar 
nature, as it respects this river, is at an entire stand. — Mr. 

" See W. Va. Historical Mag., Vol. 1, p. 60. 



The Patowmack Company. 69 

Massey who was first appointed on the part of this State, hav- 
ing declined acting ; the Maryland Commissioner knows of no 
other in his room, and is unable, tho ' ready to proceed. 

"Besides what appears in the minutes, which are enclosed, 
it is in contemplation by the Board of Directors of the Navi- 
gation of this river, to endeavor to hire a number of slaves 
next year as labourers thereon, — and as the Great Falls are 
tremendous, and the navigation thereof, in whatever manner 
it is attempted will require much skill and practical knowl- 
edge in the execution; we propose, before this is undertaken, 
to invite a proper person from Europe, who has been employed 
in works of this kind, as a superintendant of it ; With respect 
to the other parts of the river, tho' what are called the Shen- 
andoah Palls are as difficult in my opinion as the Falls of 
James river at Westham, we seem to have confidence enough 
in ourselves to undertake them; and mean to do so without 
having recourse to either canals or Locks. — Thro' all the Falls 
and rapids above the Great Falls, we mean to attempt nothing 
more than to open a strait passage to avoid, as much as pos- 
sible, currents ; — giving sufficient depth, and as much smooth- 
ness as may be to the surface; — and if Rumsey's project fails 
(of which he has not the smallest apprehension) to pull the 
Boats up by chains floated by buoys; — the latter, when Ice 
begins to form, may be slipped and thereby saved ; whilst the 
former rivoted to rocks at bottom, may remain during the 
intemperate season undisturbed and without injury. 

"Upon an estimate of the expence of those chains and 
Buoys, we (that is, the Directors of the Potomac navigation 
and myself) are of opinion, without having an eye to the 
probable advantages which are expected to be derived from 
Rumsey's mechanical discovery, than it will be infinitely less 
than what must arise from cutting canals, building Locks, 
making track paths, &c., as was the design of Balendine and 
others; and will have this . advantage over them, that when 
once done, that is when the passage is opened in a straight 
direction in the natural bed of the river, it is done as it were 
forever, whereas canals and Locks, beside the natural decay 
of them, are exposed to much injury from Ice, drift wood, and 



70 The Patowmach Company. 

even the common freshes; in a word, are never safe where 
there are such sudden inundations and violent torrents, as the 
rivers in this country are subject to." Etc. 

Johnson and Lee seldom attended directory meet- 
ings held at Alexandria but seem to have given their 
personal attention to the work about Shenandoah and 
Seneca. In September Johnson wrote General Wash- 
ington from Frederick : 

"Sir, I received your letter of the 10th Inst, five days after 
its Date and the next day had an Opportunity of showing it 
to Mr. Lee he had very lately been to see Mr. Rumsey and was 
Spectator of several successful Blasts. 

"Rumsey had discharged several disorderly Fellows and had 
but one left that he was any way desirous of getting rid of 
he had then about seventy hands Mr. Lee says the Men seemed 
to work with Spirit and the Difficulties appear less in the 
progress of the Work than were expected it seems they only 
want more Strength. 

' ' We both think it desirable to have Negroes as well as pur- 
chase Servants but imagine very few can be got in this State 
perhaps indeed they cannot be removed from hence on the 
Virginia side of the Great Falls with propriety we think your 
supply must be altogether from Virginia and we are alto- 
gether unacquainted with the common Terms we both must 
and are willing to submit this Point to yourself and the other 
Gent, as you are so much better informed than we are we think 
their labour will be more valuable than that of common white 
Hirelings As to the number there 's no other check as we can 
see but Employment for them in Winter Your and the other 
Gents View of the Great Falls will have enabled you to correct 
my Guesses if we go on Imagine we might find Employment 
for 100 Hands perhaps more Amongst the Servants I think it 
would be well to have four Smiths some Carpenters and a 
Wheelwright or two As the Season is fast approaching in 
which we must resolve whether to do any Thing this Winter 
or not I had determined to meet you at Seneca today and to 



The Patowmach Company. 71 

have gone with you to the Great Falls Tomorrow but last 
Night I reed, a pressing message to go to Annapolis I there- 
fore gave up so much of my Design as to seeing the Great Falls 
and a very rainy Day prevents my meeting you at Seneca to 
remedy it as far as my Situation will allow though I would 
prefer half an Hours Conversation on the Subject to all I can 
write in a Day I have amused myself with writing my Ideas 
on the Canal and Locks in detail and making Calculations of 
the Expence which indeed surprises me for its smallness in 
the Amount though I do not see where to add to bring it 
nearer my former Conjectures I enclose them to you my 
intention must be their Recommendation I propose to myself 
the pleasure of seeing you before long 

"The Butcher who was to have supplied Mr. Stewarts 
party would not enter into the Contract on my return without 
being ascertained there should be 50 Rations issued I told 
him there was a probability of more instead of less and pre- 
vailed on him to take a letter from me to Mr. Stewart he set 
off with it but came back without going near Mr. Stewart 
or coming to me on his Return I was unwell and knew noth- 
ing of this Bchr. for a Week or ten days afterwards. 

"I fear Mr. Stewart has been equally disappointed about 
Boats Colo. Clapham has been ill and as has been common 
with us this Season has had a great proportion of his people 
sick he has been obliged to take his own people out of his 
Crops for he could not hire Hands I dare say he is as much 
chagrined at the Delay as Mr. Stewart for no Body is more 
friendly to the Success of the Work than he is. ' ' Btc.^^ 

Free white labor of the time was unskilful and unre- 
liable, the management at once perceived that recourse 
must be had to slaves. A large number of redemption- 
ers or indentured servants were purchased from Euro- 
pean ships landing in Philadelphia and Baltimore. 
These were classed at the works as "Red Boys," 
"Blue Boys," etc., according to their ships. Irish 
servants appear to have given the superintendents 

" From original. 



72 The Patowmack Company. 

very mucli annoyance, to judge from the press of the 
day. In the Maryland Chronicle of the 22d February, 
1786, we find this : 

"From the Alexandria Gazette of the 1st. January we hear 
that several servants who had been purchased to work on the 
Potowmack Navigation lately ran away, but being soon after 
apprehended, were sentenced to have their heads & eyebrows 
shaved, which operation was immediately executed, and is to 
be continued every week during the time of their servitude, 
or until their behaviour evinces that they are brought to a 
sense of their duty. This notice, it is expected, will suffi- 
ciently apprize the country should they again make a similar 
attempt. ' ' 

James Eumsey also on June 21, 1786, advertises 
from Great Falls : 

"These indented Irish servants, Wm. Fee (shaved,) James 
Nevin, Francis Cacy, Arthur MuUin, (shaved) Thos. Moore, 
James Munnay, Hugh Taylor, Rob't Meighan, Taylor took a 
variety of clothes with him, among them a super fine green 
cloth coat with bright buttons. £60 reward for all or £10 
for each. ' ' 

July 10th : 

' ' Four more Irish servants & a woman belonging to a neigh- 
boring planter, claims to have married Taylor, she wore a 
crimson frieze clothe cloak, a blue petticoat & a white furred 
hat, (all stolen,) £100 reward for all or £20 for each." 

As in modern times real estate values along the 
river vs^ere enhanced. One John Cannell laid off a 
town on the west side of Seneca on the river in Mont- 
gomery County and advertised it as "the most advan- 
tageous place for erecting a town, for benefit of the 
coming navigation. ' ' 

On the 18th of October there was a two days' session 
of the full board at Great Falls. The question of labor 
was most perplexing, the indentured servants were 



The Patowmack Company. 73 

quite as unreliable as the hired men; it was resolved to 
hire negro slaves for £20 Virginia currency per annum 
with comfortable clothing and substantial rations; so 
henceforth the]*e were three classes of laborers em- 
ployed, with the usual clashes between them. On the 
new year hands were working at Shenandoah, Seneca 
and Great Falls, at the last place building huts for the 
men and digging the canal. Eumsey was instructed to 
order as many boats as would be needed for work in 
the bed of the river. This ingenious young man seems 
to have put aside his schemes for utilizing steam in 
navigation and to have devoted all his energies to the 
service of his employers — for a time at least. He 
wrote almost daily reports to the treasurer, Mr. Harts- 
home; this will serve as a specimen: 

"Great Falls potowmack July 3d 1786. Sir We have Been 
much Imposed upon the last Two weeks in the powder way 
(we had our Blowers, One Run off the other Blown up) we 
therefore was Obliged to have two new hands put to Blowing 
and there was much attention gave to them least Axedents 
should happen yet they used the powder Rather too Extrava- 
gant, But that was not all they have certainly stolen a Con- 
siderable Quantity as we have not more by us than will last 
until tomorrow noon. Our hole troop is Such Villians that we 
must for the future give the powder into Charge of a person 
appointed for that purpose to measure it to them on the 
ground by a Charger. — I hope you will have it in your power 
to send us powder here Immediately (if Left at Mr. Shep- 
herds we can get it.) I am just finishing some houses at Bath 
for which I want foure Boxes of window glass 8 by 10 if you 
will be kind enough to furnish it, and Deliver it to the Bearer 
of this letter Mr. Mordacai Throckmorton he will send it up 
for me, and I will Settle with you for it, as well as all other 
of my accounts, the next time I Come to town, I am with 
esteem your friend and serv't James Rumsey 

"P. S. please to send lib of Salt Petre with the powder, 
we think we Can make matches with it that will Save powder. ' ' 



74 The Patowmach Company. 

At a three days' session at Great Falls in March, 
1786, Eumsey was directed to give his personal atten- 
tion to the point where the largest force was employed 
and James Smith was appointed an assistant manager. 
A call was made for 10£ ster. on each share. 

"And upon a view and examination of the different 
tracks proposed to carry the canal in, it was unani- 
monsly determined that the one last examined between 
the river and the Falls Island is the most eligible and 
that it be taken in that course." 

In August the general meeting of the .proprietors of 
the Potowmack Company was held in Alexandria and 
was very largely attended. General Washington read 
the first annual report of the president and directors, 
which autograph report has been preserved and is 
herewith represented. 

"Annual Repoet, August, 1786. 

' ' The President and directors of the Potomac Company beg 
leave to report that they have called for four dividends on the 
several subscriptions as follows; the first of 5%, the sec- 
ond of 2%, the third of 10%, the fourth of 10%. Amounting 
in the whole to Twelve thousand, four hundred and thirty 
pounds sterling, of which there has been paid, five thousand 
nine hundred & forty pounds sterling. The several expendi- 
tures will appear by the Treasurer 's account, who has in hand 
one thousand six hundred thirty six pounds 13s 2. Virginia 
Currency equal to One thousand Two hundred Twenty seven 
pounds 10s 2 sterling. — 

"With respect to the business we beg leave to refer to the 
Secretary's Books which contain all our orders relating 
thereto. 

"In consequence of these orders the Work has been carryed 
on at the Seneca and Shenandoah Falls while the waters were 
low enough to admit of it. After the river rose too high, the 
hands were removed to the Great Falls, where a considerable 
progress has been made in cutting a canal and the most of the 




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First Annual Report of the Patowmack Company 
(Original in Possession of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Co.) 



The Patowmack Company. 75 

men are still employed on account of the uncommon wet 
Season. 

(Erasure of two lines.) 

"We beg leave to remind the Subscribers that this is the 
day appointed by law for electing a President & Directors for 
the ensuing year. 

"In behalf of the Directors, 

"Gr. Washington P. 
"Alexandria, Aug. 7th. 1786" 

The committee appointed to report on the proceedings of 
the Directors thus reported; — 

"In obedience to an order of the General meeting of the 
Proprietors of the Potowmack Company at Alexandria Augt, 
7th 1786 we your committee beg leave to report that, we have 
carefully examined the account of the President and Direc- 
tors and find the monies credited for dividends received, and 
charges made for expenditures and disbursements, to be fairly 
and justly stated. That we have perused their book of pro- 
ceedings and orders, from which it appears to us, they have 
directed and managed the Company's business with great 
attention and ability. 

"That it is our opinion the President and Directors ought 
to be allowed out of the Company's money for their expenses 
in going to, attending and returning from their different meet- 
ings as follows ; viz. — General Washington, thirty four pounds, 
ten shillings, Thomas Johnson, Esq. thirty pounds, Thomas 
Sim Lee Esq. twenty two pounds ten shillings, John Fitz- 
gerald Esq. Thirty four pounds, ten shillings, George Gilpin 
Esq. thirty four pounds ten shillings, it being in proportion 
to the time each has attended at thirty shillings, Virginia 
currency, per day. All of which is submitted to the Meeting. 
"Signed. R. Hooe 

John Thomas Boucher 
Wm. Lyles"^^ 

" From the Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser, Thursday, 
Aug. 17, 1786. "On Monday last, agreeable to law, a general meeting 
of the Potowmack Company was held at Mr. Wise's Tavern, when an 



76 The Patowmach Company. 

Of these earnest and interested gentlemen of the di- 
rectory Greorge Gilpin was the most untiring. For 
twelve years he was indefatigable in his service to the 
company ; the work at Shenandoah, Seneca, Great and 
Little Falls he constantly supervised, even undertaking 
the construction of the great locks in the absence of a 
competent engineer. He familiarized himself with 
every point in the river from Cumberland to tide water. 
The journeys to these widely separated places were of 
course always made on horseback. 

Probably the first man to pay serious attention to 
the improvement of our inland water ways as a means 
of communication with the west was the shrewd and 
speculative Eobert Morris. He organized a company 
for uniting the Schuylkill with the Susquehanna by 
means of a canal and brought a number of consulting 
engineers from England before actually commencing 
any work. One of these General "Washington enter- 
tained while he was on his way to advise with the 
promoters of the James Eiver scheme and he insisted 
upon securing his expert advice in this letter to the 
other members of the board resident in Alexandria.^* 

account of the proceedings of the President and Directors was laid before 
the Company and received with infinite satisfaction. From this it 
appears that the great national work which forms the object of the 
Company is prosecuted with an industry and order truly characteristic 
of the illustrious President and highly honorable to the Directors; and 
there is fullest room to expect an entire success of their undertaking. 
The friends to American commerce and American happiness will no 
doubt feel much pleasure in contemplating the probable success of the 
work which, while it contributes to the Aggrandizement of the one, will 
serve as a lasting monument of the amity and sisterly love with which 
two states can concur in promoting the second. The Company after 
re-electing their oflScers for the last year and unanimously decreeing a 
vote of thanks to them for their past attention, fixed on George Town 
as the place of holding the next annual meeting. ' ' 

" James Brindley, the first of the great English canal engineers of 
the eighteenth century was an enthusiast on the subject of slack water 



The Patowmack Company. 'j'j 

"Mt. Vernon, 31st. March, 1786. 
"To. Col. Gilpin and Fitzgerald. 
"Gentn., 

"Yesterday Mr. Brindley, in company with a Mr. Harris, 
Manager for the James river Company, left this on their way 
to Richmond from whence Mr. Brindley expects to be returned, 
as far as Alexandria, in seven days from the date hereof. I 
have engaged him to call upon Colo. Gilpin on his rout back. 

"Mr. Brindley and Mr. Harris took the great Falls in their 
way down and both approve of the present line for our Canal 
—the first very much. He conceives that 9-lOths of the ex- 
pence of the one fifth proposed will be saved by this cut, the 
work altogether as secure, and the entrance into the river by 
no means unfavorable. He thinks however that a good deal 
of attention and judgment is required in fixing locks there; 
the height of which he observes is always governed by the 
ground — they frequently run from four to eighteen feet, and 
sometimes as high as twenty-four. The nature and declina- 
tion of the ground, according to him, is alone to direct — and 
where this will admit he thinks the larger the Locks are made 
the better, because more convenient. 

' ' With respect to this part of the business I feel, and always 
have confessed an entire incompetency : — nor do I conceive 
that theoretical knowledge alone is adequate to the under- 
taking. Locks, upon the most judicious plan, will certainly 
be expensive ; and if not properly constructed and judiciously 
placed, may be altogether useless. It is for these reasons 
therefore that I have frequently suggested (though no decision 
has been had) the propriety of employing a professional man. 

"Nevertheless whether the expense of obtaining one in, and 
bringing him from Europe has been thought unnecessary, or 
too burthensome for the advantages, which are to be expected, 
I know not; but as it is said no person in this country has 
more practical knowledge than Mr. Brindley, I submit to your 
consideration the propriety of engaging him to take the Falls 

canals; when jocularly asked once what he supposed was the mission of 
rivers, or for what they were created, replied, ' ' to feed navigable canals 
of course. ' ' The Brindley mentioned in the text was his son, also a noted 
canal engineer. 



78 The Patowmack Company. 

in his way back ; to examine, level and digest a plan for Locks 
at that place ; if it shall appear good, and his reasons in sup- 
port of the spots and sizes conclusive it will justify the adop- 
tion; if palpably erroneous, there is no obligation upon us to 
follow him, and the expence in that case is the only evil which 
can result from it — this for the chance of a probable good, I 
am not only willing but desirous of encountering ; and if Colo. 
Gilpin has not already made the trip to that place which he 
proposed at our last visit, and disappointment there, it would 
give me great pleasure if it could be so timed as to accompany 
Mr. Brindley; this would not only give countenance to the 
measure, but aid also, and might serve to remove the little 
jealousies which otherwise arise in the minds of our own 
managers. Taking Mr. Brindley to the works now may ulti- 
mately save expence — at the same time having a plan before 
us, enable us at all convenient times to provide materials for 
its execution. 

"I am etc. etc. 
"P. S. If my proposition is acceded to, it would be better 
to fix at once what Mr. Brindley is to receive, and I wiU 
readily subscribe my name to what you two gentlemen shall 
agree to give him." 

The years of 1785-6 were remarkable for the extra- 
ordinary amount of the rainfall; on several occasions 
the great forty-foot rock that towers above the flood 
at G-reat Falls was submerged. Of course under such 
conditions work in the bed of the stream was impos- 
sible and very little progress was made. It became 
necessary to ask an extension of time from the legis- 
latures. So on the 2d of October, 1786, a petition was 
addressed to the legislatures : 

"For an extension of the three years' time allowed for the 
work between Great Falls and Cumberland to November 1790 
or such other time as your Honors shall deem reasonable for 
making and improving the Navigation between Great Falls 
and Fort Cumberland, reciting that the Company have en- 



The Patowmack Company. 79 

« 

tered on the work within the time limited & prosecuted the 
same at great expense with unremitted assiduity with such 
prospect of success that they hope and expect to complete the 
whole navigation within the ten years allowed, but that the 
latter part of the summer and the fall of 1785 were so unfa- 
vorable that the hands employed in the bed of the river above 
the Great Falls were often drove from their work by rises of 
the waters and frequently kept out for several days together 
so that the work could not proceed as was wished and expected. 
And the last summer hath proved so very rainy that the water 
has constantly kept up too high to permit any work to be done 
in the bed of the river though the Company retained a consid- 
erable number of men in their service through the whole of 
the last winter with the view of being prepared to enter on 
the work about the 20th. June, the time that the water is com- 
monly low enough for such purposes and thus by extraor- 
dinary exertion to retreive the unavoidable loss of time in the 
preceding year. (Signed) G. Washington." 

By the various rolls of the overseers it is seen that 
over two hundred men had been employed during the 
summer of 1786. 

Mr. James Eiunsey had grievances against Mr. 
Richardson, assistant manager, and brought charges 
against him tinder ten heads : incapacity, want of truth 
and candor, disobedience of his orders, misrepresenta- 
tions to the board, interfering with overseer's men, 
telling them it was to keep up his dignity, appointing 
improper persons overseers, cruelty to servants, refus- 
ing to permit officers of court to serve any process 
upon his men, thus permitting them to terrorize the 
country people, stirring up strife against Eumsey, 
prejudicing neighboring people against company so 
that wagoners dare not deliver goods to the works, etc. 
To which the board replied : 

"Having heard the charges . . . and the testimony adduced 
in support thereof and having maturely considered the same 



8o The Fatowmack Comfany. 

are of opinion; — 1st. — previous to the first application they 
took the measures they thought most likely to give them an 
opportunity of employing managers who had experience in 
works of the nature of that in contemplation, but as no per- 
son offered who had practical knowledge in such business, Mr. 
Rumsey was appointed and continued as principal till his res- 
ignation (in July) in which event the Board under all circum- 
stances advanced the present to the place of the late manager 
without any endeavors on the part of Mr. Stewart to impress 
on the Board an idea of his competency to the work and in 
general he has not fallen short of their expectations in its 
progress. ' ' 

The charges were taken up in detail but not proven. 
The board deplored the impossibility of securing labor- 
ers of good morals. 

The two legislatures promptly acted upon the peti- 
tion for extension of time and passed the acts in 
November. 

Financial troubles now began to threaten in earnest. 
The low condition of national affairs affected every- 
thing, capitalists became very timid, many assessments 
were not paid, the spirit of enthusiasm was becoming 
faint. Notices were sent delinquents in 1787 threaten- 
ing sales of delinquent shares, a few subscribers re- 
sponded, but fifty-five were advertised for public sale 
in Alexandria and Georgetown. No bidders appear- 
ing, the sales were twice postponed. Some satisfac- 
tory arrangements seem to have been made with many 
of these holders. Another assessment of six per cent, 
was called. 

At the proper date for the annual meeting of the 
shareholders in August General Washington was in 
Philadelphia attending the Constitutional Convention, 
the meeting was held at Alexandria in November when 
the president made the following report : 



The Patowmach Company. 8i 

"Second Annual Report. 

"The President & Directors of the Potowmack Company- 
beg leave to report that they have eall'd for one Dividend of 
sis p. cent since their communication of August 7th, 1786, of 
which a small part. only, has been received, & there are still 
considerable Ballances due of the sums previously eall'd for, 
the particulars of which being too tedious for this report, will 
appear by reference to the Books of the Treasurer. 

' ' The several Expenditures have appeared by the amts. this 
day laid before you by which a Ballance of 64. 8s is due the 
treasurer. 

"For the several orders in conducting the Business en- 
trusted to our care we beg leave to refer you to the books of 
the Secretary — in consequence of which the work has been 
carried on at the Great Falls where the Canal is extended 
down to the place at which the Locks must begin, the whole of 
which Canal is nearly completed — One of the most difficult 
passes also, between the Great Falls & Seneca is open'd & a 
good Towpath made. The River continued high throughout 
the summer & fall of 1786 which greatly retarded the opera- 
tions intended. A part of the Hands were sent to Seneca in 
July last, & hopes were entertained from the report of Mr. 
Smith, that the River would be pass'd by loaded Boats on the 
approaching Spring, but the bad state of Health experienced 
by the people there will prevent its being effected as soon as 
was reasonably supposed. 

"At Shenandoah the work has been carried on at the most 
difficult & Expensive part, which promises the success wished 
for, although in appearance so much has not been done as if 
the Hands had been employed on the more easy parts. 

"It appears to us by the Books of the Treasurer, which you 
have before you, that the sums paid into his hands since our 
last report amount to Four Thousand Seven Hundred Eighty 
nine Pounds Sixteen Shillings & four pence Sterling which 
added to the former sum received makes Ten Thousand Seven 
Hundred & twenty nine Pounds Sixteen shillings & four 
pence Sterling in which are to be considered the Servants, 
7 



82 The Patowmack Company. 

Utensils &c. on hand belonging to the Company agreeable to 
the Lists herewith submitted to you. 

' ' In behalf of the Directors 
"Alexandria "(signed) Gr°. "Washington, P" 

"Novr. 8th 1787" 

Acts were secured from the legislatures in Novem- 
ber, 1787, giving a more speedy remedy against delin- 
quent subscribers. Work continued at Shenandoah, 
Seneca and Great Falls. Of the board meetings few 
records were kept, as Mr. Potts had removed to Phila- 
delphia for a time. At the meeting at Shenandoah in 
June, 1788, Mr. Hartshorne was requested to serve 
until a proper person could be secured to act as clerk. 
At this meeting the board resolved to employ only one 
manager and Mr. Smith was retained. This remark- 
able letter was addressed to Mr. Eichardson : 

"We met today by appointment to hear the charges against 
you but could not with propriety go into an examination of 
witnesses in your absence, which however to be regretted we 
believe is involuntary. On a general view of the situation of 
the Company's affairs being of the opinion that the present 
funds or prospects will not warrant our continuing two man- 
agers we have come to the inclosed resolution. It is with 
reluctance we found ourselves under the necessity to make an 
arrangement which at this point of time may possibly be 
thought by your enemies to be occasioned by the charges 
against you, but it has proceeded solely from our duty and 
inclination to promote the Company's interest without being 
influenced in any degree by facts alleged and not examined 
into. The preference given to Mr. Smith is on different prin- 
ciples and we expect cannot surprise you or hurt your feel- 
ings. "We request on the expiration of your present year you 
will deliver up the property of the Company under your care 
to his hands. "(Signed) G. "Washington, P 

Thos. Johnson 
T. S. Lee 
Geo. Gilpin." 



The Patowmack Company. 83 

The board, "being of opinion that the work at the 
Great Falls, Seneca and Shenandoah, being so far per- 
fected in the approaching season as to permit the pas- 
sage of loaded boats in favorable seasons, is an object 
highly interesting to the company and the public, rec- 
ommend the most vigorous efforts for that purpose, 
and that with that view the force now at the Seneca 
and Great Falls be employed there till the water be low 
in July and after leaving a sufficient number to go on 
with the work at those places that the rest be removed 
to the Shenandoah and that the force be increased as 
the occasion may require and opportunity will serve." 
The board allowed Mr. Smith, manager, £25 annually 
to indemnify him for expenses he may incur by the 
visits of the president and directors and strangers 
travelling and other personal expenses to avoid the 
trouble of keeping minute accounts. 

General Washington submitted the annual report of 

1788, but no record of the general meeting has been 

kept. 

"Third Annual Report 

"The President & Directors of the Potomack Company beg 
leave to report that, since the general meeting of last year by 
which they were instructed to petition the Legislatures of the 
two States to pass an Act obliging the delinquent Subscribers 
to pay their respective quotas in a more summary way than 
by the common course of Law, they now have the pleasure 
to inform the Company that such Laws have been obtained 
which they expect will be competent to the intention, although 
the good Effects of them h%,ve not been as yet very productive. 

"Since the call of six p. cent laid before the last meeting 
we have been under the necessity, from the Delinquency of 
the Subscribers, to call for six and one half p. cent more 
which in the whole makes 40 p. cent on each share subscribed. 

"For the several orders in conducting the business entrusted 
to our care we beg leave to refer you to the Secretary 's Books. 



84 The PatowmacJe Company. 

The unusual height of the Waters this Spring «& Summer have 
greatly retarded our Operations on the River but should the 
Weather become more favorable we have reason to believe 
that a partial though not a perfect Navigation may be effected 
this fall & winter from Fort Cumberland to the Great Falls — 
at which place the Canal is nearly completed. Our principal 
force has been applied to the Shenandoah & Seneca Falls, 
which considering the number of hands & the unfavorable 
Season are in as great forwardness as we could expect. 

"It appears to us by the Books of the Treasurer which you 
have had before you that the sums paid into his hands since 
last year's report amount to £2990, 2/2 Sterling which added 
to the former sum received makes Thirteen Thousand Seven 
Hundred & Nineteen Pounds Eighteen Shillings & Sixpence 
Sterling in which are to be considered the servants utensils 
&c. on hand belonging to the Company agreeably to the lists 
herewith submitted to you. 

' ' G. Washington P. 
"Alexandria 4th August 

1788" 

At a meeting in George Town in September, 1789, 
Thomas Johnson qualified as president, George Gilpin, 
Jas. Fitzgerald and Notley Young as directors. It was 
then ordered that the subscribers should pay £5 on each 
share on or before November 15. It was also ordered 
that the treasurer take the most effectual legal meas- 
ures to compel a speedy payment of all monies remain- 
ing unpaid on the several calls preceding this last 
special call. This order was repeated in April of the 
next year, and in September i^ was ordered that ten 
per cent, be immediately called for on each share in the 
company and the same is ordered to be paid to the 
treasurer on or before November, 1790. At the same 
time either director was authorized to employ hands to 
work on the river between Williamsport and Cumber- 
land. In October the president and directors found 



The Patowmack Company. 85 

themselves obliged to take condemnation proceedings 
of land and water power at Grreat Falls, having been 
unable to make terms with Henry Lee, owner of the 
land. This was carried into effect in 1792. About the 
same time Edward McCarty was paid £150 Maryland 
currency for completing the navigation from the upper 
part of the Ohio Bottom, or lot No. 5, to the still water 
below Thos. Dameron's by carrying the water by a cut 
of thirty feet wide. 

An order signed by Geo. Grilpin, David Stuart and 
Wm. Deakins, jr., directed Messrs. Gant and Fitzhugh 
to take proper steps for the condemnation of lands 
through which the canal at Little Falls passes. 

An agreement was made with Colonel Thurston, of 
Frederick Co., Virginia, to commence the business of 
clearing obstacles from the Shenandoah Eiver. This 
was done, it seems, to comply with the terms of an act 
of the Virginia legislature requiring work to be com- 
menced on the Potomac tributaries at once. Thus the 
Patowmack Company entered upon the most stormy 
period of its history. The same act permitted aliens 
to become stockholders in the company and a large 
block of stock was sold to merchants in Amsterdam in 
Holland. 

With an advertisement for 200 slaves came the call 
for another ten per cent, on each share, and the con- 
tract was given for four locks at Little Falls. 

At the general annual meeting in 1792 the following 
report was read : 

' ' 1792. Gentlemen, The president and directors of the Poto- 
mac Company beg leave to make the following report respect- 
ing the state of the treasury and the situation and progress of 
the works on the various parts of the river. 

"From the treasurer's books it appears that the sum of 
money expended is £32,971 Virginia currency; the sums due 



86 The Patowmach Company. 

from delinquent subscribers £6543; cash in the hands of the 
treasurer amounts to £4775. for particulars on this head 
you will herewith receive an extract from the treasurer's 
books. 

' ' Since our report delivered at the meeting in August last, 
the passage between the Seneca and the Great Falls has been 
made safe and easy by making it straight in many places, re- 
moving rocks and throwing up dams to collect and deepen 
the water where ever it was necessary. 

"The navigation at Hook's Fall has been made perfectly 
safe, by making the passage straight along the Virginia shore. 

"A canal at the Little Falls is cut on the Maryland side of 
the river nearly the whole distance necessary, and in general 
to the full depth, the stone is swept out and a wall built for 
nearly a mile; the digging for the lock seats is let out for a 
specific sum and the work commenced. As the number of 
hands intended to be employed at this place could not be 
procured and those that were got being sickly the work has 
not been carried on with that expedition we wished and in- 
tended, but have every reason to expect it will be nearly, if 
not quite, completed this fall and winter. 

"We farther report that Captain Thomas Beall of Fort 
Cumberland has undertaken to complete the navigation from 
that place to Gregg's Mill according to law for a certain sum. 
Mr. Denton Jaques has engaged to employ hands and clear a 
small rapid near Fort Frederick called Garrison Falls. Cap- 
tain Henry is now employed in clearing the Shepardstown 
Falls, all of which we will have finished with the greatest dis- 
patch in our power. 

"We are gentlemen. Your obedient servants. 
"Signed, John Fitzgerald, George Gilpin, Dd. Stuart." 

The report is in the handwriting of Thos. Johnson, 
president, but he neglected to sign it. The business- 
like tone is quite ditferent from any other of the annual 
reports that have been preserved. 

At the general meeting in 1793 James Fitzgerald was 




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Eh 
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The Patowmacli Company. 87 

elected president, Geo. G-ilpin, "Wm. Deakins, Jr., James 
Keith and Thos, Beall of George, directors. On ac- 
count of excellent work the pay of the three managers 
was increased £6 Virginia currency per month. The 
treasurer was ordered to advertise delinquent shares 
for sale "but not to express the names of their pro- 
prietors, only the number of shares in each State and 
that he do by a special messenger inform the several 
persons whose shares are intended for sale." In this 
list of 44 we find the names of James Eumsey, Francis 
Key, Henry Lyles, "Warner "Washington, two Jenifers, 
James Syme and Henry Lee. 

The Virginia legislature permitted the trustees to 
lay off a town at Great Falls to be called Matildaville 
from which great things were expected. It cannot now 
be accurately located but the name lingered on Virginia 
maps for fifty years. In 1793 Lee and the directory 
came to terms, the legal proceedings were dismissed 
and the secretary adds "never again resorted to." 
Hartshorne and Potts were the witnesses of the trans- 
action. The latter erected a fine forge at Matildaville, 
which, with the sawmill and grist mill, made quite a 
manufacturing center. Beside these the company had 
erected an imposing residence for the superintendent 
(the ruins are still in evidence) ; there were also store- 
houses and boarding houses. 

Financial difficulties beset these worthy gentlemen, 
the directors, so unaccustomed to the management of 
large enterprises; when the receipts came in from their 
urgent calls expenses were lavish, when these were 
exhausted the works were idle and only those abso- 
lutely required to care for their properties were re- 
tained in service. In January, 1794, they found them- 
selves under the necessity of appealing to the banks 
for assistance until further collections could be made. 



88 The Patowmach Company. 

Another extension of two years' time was secured 
from the legislatures. 

One hundred shares were added to the capital stock ; 
of these the state of Maryland took forty and indi- 
viduals sixty. Calls were made for twelve per cent, 
and £10 on each share of the new stock. Work was 
now pushed on all parts of the river. Tobias Lear^^ 
and John Templeton became directors. Through 
Lear's advice, probably, the following resolution was 
passed : 

' ' That the president on behalf of the Company apply to the 
president and manager of the Schuylkill and Susquehanna 
Canal Company for their permission to Mr. "Weston to come 
down to the Great Falls of the Potomac to examine the works 
constructing there and give his opinion thereupon and that he 
do at the same time apply to Mr. Weston and make him ac- 
quainted with the application and request his compliance in 
ease he can be spared." 

"Which indicates that Mr. Morris was proceeding 
with his scheme, and the hesitancy with which the di- 
rectory undertook the task at Great Falls. 

Under date of 12 December, 1794, President "Wash- 
ington wrote Lear : 

"For many very important reasons (unnecessary to enu- 
merate to you) the navigation of that river ought to be pushed 
forward with all the celerity which the nature of the work 
will admit. Viewing the matter as I do I shall not neglect 
any fair opportunity of facilitating a visit from Mr. Weston 
to that quarter, but (under the rose I must say it) however 
fair the assurances of his going thither may be, you may take 
it for granted that from motives of jealousy there is a counter 
tide to that measure ; and I wish you may not find something 
similar to it in another quarter, if the operations on the 

" ' ' Anon. Observations on the River Potowmaok and the Country 
Contiguous, &c," N. Y., 1793, also published in the New York Magazine 
or Literary Sepository, Vol. 5, 1794. Now known to have been written 



The Patowmach Company. 89 

Shenandoah are postponed much longer. Do not forget how 
the trade of Fredericksburg and Falmouth, Hanover Town 
on York river and indeed Richmond itself will be affected by 
the opening of this navigation. I shall not be at all surprised 
therefore if applications to the Assembly of Virginia respect- 
ing it should meet with much coldness and difficulty." 

In fact Virginians generally appear to be gradually 
losing interest in the work, but Maryland ever stood 
loyally ready to assist by encouragement and funds. 

A month later Washington wrote that "The Penn- 
sylvania Canal Company has granted Mr. "Weston per- 
mission to visit Great Falls." Again he wrote in 
February : 

"Weston was detained by canal matters; much has been 
said of late of the inclined plane in Connecticut river — of the 
utility of it I mean. It would be well to question Mr. Weston 
pretty fully on this mode of raising and lowering boats, as 
the simplicity, cheapness and eifect is the subject of eulogism." 

And in March : 

' ' Presume Weston is on the Potomac. He is certainly a 
judicious man. I am pleased to learn that the locks which 
have been erected at Little Falls have stood the test of a first 
trial so well and this pleasure will be increased if Mr. Weston 
should make a favorable report of them."^'' 

by Tobias Lear in the interest of the Potowmaek Company. On the 
2d of An^st Washington had written Lear from Mt. Vernon, ' ' Monday 
next being the day fixed on by the constitution of the Potomac Company 
for their annual meeting, and as you seem resolved to relinquish your 
present office as president, — I wish you would turn your thoughts atten- 
tively to the situation of it and revolve seriously on characters fit, and 
proper to supply the places, of those who perhaps ought to, as well as 
those who will quit the directorship ; that our struggles in that interesting 
and expensive concern the labor of years may not end in disgrace 
and loss." 

" " An Historical Account of the Eise, Progress and Present State of 
Canal Navigation," Philadelphia, 1795. By order of the Company, 
Robert Morris, President. William Weston was the engineer and super- 
intendent of the Schuylkill and Susquehanna canal; page 68, "Early in 



po The Patowmack Company. 

The gentleman made his visit and examination, con- 
firmed Brindley's advice as to the course of the canal 
and locks and returned with £370 ster. in pocket. 

Early in 1795 twenty-four shares were sold at Alex- 
andria and eleven at Greorgetown for fairly good prices, 
the principal purchasers being one Jesse Simms and 
Gustavus Scott. At the general meeting it was an- 
nounced that tolls would be collected above G-reat Falls, 
the navigation being so far improved as to justify the 
collection. Books were opened for one hundred addi- 
tional shares in order to commence work on the Shen- 
andoah Eiver. The state of Maryland subscribed for 
sixty, individuals for the remaining forty. The locks 
and works at Little Falls were reported as completed 
and all impediments removed between that place and 
Great Falls. £10 ster. was called on the new shares. 
Eenewed vigor was infused into the directory and two 
of them made a close inspection of the river from Cum- 
berland down. Workmen were employed at many 
places, but still an experienced engineer was badly 
needed at Great Falls in the erection of the large locks. 
Lear appealed to Washington who soon replied: 

"November 30 1795. If the directors are in want of such 
a character as the enclosed letter describes, it may be well to 
intimate it as soon as possible as it is not likely Mr. Myers 
will remain long unemployed as lock navigation is contem- 
plated in many parts of the country. I have not seen the 

the month of January, 1793 arrived from London Wm. Weston, Esq. 
the engineer engaged by the company, a gentleman who had directed 
the execution of some of the principal canals in England, whose great 
abilities activities and experience in all the branches of his department 
have merited and obtained the perfect confidence and esteem of the 
managers, and of whose advice and assistance which have been solioitated 
and given as occasion might permit, will be of the utmost importance 
towards facilitating improvements of a similar nature in the neighbor- 
ing states." 




Old Stone at the Entrance to the Old Canal Around Little Falls 
(Photograph by Miss Violet Bacon Foster) 



The Patowmack Company. 91 

gentleman myself but understand from others that his testi- 
monials are full and ample & that he is a stout and healthy 
man ... P. S. I will send to & have a little conversation 
with Mr. Myers and give you the result in my next. ' ' 

December 26th: 

"This letter will be handed you by Capt. Myers, of whom 
I have made mention in a former letter. Being desirous of 
knowing whether the Directors of the Potomack Company are 
disposed to employ him as an engineer & superintendent of 
their lock navigation, and on what terms, he has resolved to 
wait on them for those purposes. The testimonials of his skill 
as an Architect, and of his knowledge relative to locks, &c. 
will I presume be presented to you. These with such farther 
inquiries as prudence may induce you to make, will enable 
you to decide on your measures and thereby place Capt. 
Myers on the ground of Certainty." 

In the minutes of the directors' meeting at Union 
Hotel in Georgetown on the 4th of January, 1796, we 
read: 

"Capt. Christopher Myers having been invited by the Di- 
rectors to meet them on the subject of engaging as engineer 
and superintendant of the works to be executed on the Poto- 
mac produced at this meeting documents and plans as evi- 
dences of his fitness for the business in which his services 
may be required upon the examination and consideration of 
which ; — ■ 

Resolved, that a stipend of $1600 per year be offered to 
Capt. Myers as a compensation for his services, with this 
understanding, that at the expiration of the year, such further 
allowance may be made to him as shall appear to the directors 
adequate to his services, it being thought best to put it upon 
this footing as Capt. Myers is unacquainted with the expense 
of supporting a family &c. in this country. . . . This having 
been communicated to Capt. Myers he accepted the same." 

At the meeting of the next month it was resolved to 
immediately complete the house on the lot belonging to 



92 The Patowmack Company. 

the company at Great Falls and to erect such other 
works as may be necessary for the accommodation of 
the hands who may be employed in the cheapest man- 
ner that will answer the purpose. The dimensions of 
the building for the hands to be 72 feet long by 18 wide, 
7 feet high in the clear, covered with plank. Also that 
a quantity of three-inch rope — not less than two coils — 
be procured and fixed in the ring bolts below the Falls 
for the purpose of hauling boats up the river. John 
Henry was employed as clerk for the company at a 
salary of $500. There was still much trouble in secur- 
ing skilled workmen. Work was pushed on the resi- 
dence for the superintendent, which was of stone and 
brick, two stories, 25 feet front, 35 in depth. A second 
call was made for 10 per cent, on all shares. Again 
collections were difficult, measures were taken to force 
payments, while $1,500 was discounted at the Bank of 
Columbia. 

And now appears upon the minutes the name of 
Thos. Beall, of Sam'l, with whom there was much trou- 
ble over a contract to clear the upper river. This 
worthy gentleman was a pioneer at Fort Cumberland, 
a very prominent man in western Maryland, who do- 
nated ground for the courthouse and offered to erect 
the building if the state would organize a new county. 
The present beautiful structure and the handsome old 
school opposite occupy sites given by him. He had 
contracted on the last day of 1792 to clear the river of 
all obstructions and to open canals through all shoals 
from Cumberland to Williamsport within one year for 
the sum of £1,900 current money of Maryland, giving 
bond for £3,800 for faithful performance. Of course 
the task was an impossible one, but he claimed to have 
performed it. His time was extended and in 1796 he 
was paid £80 in order to encourage him to complete 



The Patowmack Company. 93 

his contract, which he never did. Final settlement was 
made in 1799, after his failure to comply with the terms 
of two succeeding contracts. 

In July, 1796, a market house, thirty by fourteen feet, 
was built in Matildaville. There was another call for 
twenty per cent, on new shares. The breadth of the 
locks at Great Falls was extended to fourteen from 
twelve feet. More Irish laborers were bought in Balti- 
more on a credit of sixty days. Tobias Lear was in 
August elected president, with Keith, Templeman, Fen- 
dall and John Mason directors. A settlement was had 
with General Darke, who had furnished supplies to the 
company from its organization. 

With the advent of the brilliant John Mason into the 
directory renewed energy characterized the proceed- 
ings of the company, which was composed largely of 
the conservative wealthy class that we know as the 
Federalist political party. With the exception of 
two years he remained in the directory until the com- 
pany was merged into the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal 
Company in 1828, most of the time as its president, 
thus following the example of his father, George Ma- 
son, who had been the treasurer of the Ohio Company 
and ever refused to acknowledge its extinction. 

It was ordered that Captain Myers, the engineer, be 
allowed $2,400 per annum for this year and the next 
and the further sum of $5,000 if he completes the locks 
at Great Falls so that loaded boats can pass in twelve 
months, or $2,500 if in fifteen months, or in proportion 
for any time above twelve and under fifteen. Beall 
was paid another sum of $400 to complete his contract. 
A third appeal was made to the legislatures for a 
further extension of time, which, as always, was readily 
granted. Myers was a disagreeable person, and the 
directors had many unpleasant affairs with him. He 



94 The Patowmach Company. 

obstinately refused to deliver to them Ms specifications 
and plans for the locks, he demanded an annual stipend 
of $4,000, he frequently absented himself for weeks 
from the works. Finally in May, 1797, this letter was 
addressed him: 

"Sir, For certain reasons, which may be made known when 
necessary, we consider you as discharged from the service of 
the Potowmack Company." 
(Signed by the president and directors.) 

There were in this year two more calls for ten per 
cent. each. Investigation revealed that £11,724 had 
been expended in 1796 at Great Falls. Eetrench- 
ment again became the order of the day. At a called 
meeting of the stockholders it was ordered that the 
work for the present be confined to the space between 
the basin and the two lower lock seats, that the acting 
directors take measures to carry on the work on this 
plan in the most economical manner, also that they 
have a platform or an inclined plane constructed to 
make it more convenient to take flour or other goods 
from the lower lock seats to the river. Later the di- 
rectory resolved to engage a supei'intendent of excava- 
tion of the lower lock seats, to have carts, horses, etc., 
to transport flour from the basin to the inclined plane, 
and for hauling of sand, etc. Lear's storehouse was 
secured for deposit of such flour as might be sent down 
the river to be put below in transit ; resolved to charge 
ten cents per barrel for storage and transport. Another 
change was made in the course of the locks. Leonard 
Harbaugh was employed to superintend construction 
of the locks. Ten per cent, again called for and another 
sale of delinquent stock ordered. A letter was re- 
ceived from Ferdinand Fairfax, a godson of General 
Washington, relative to opening the navigation of the 



The Patowmack Company. 95 

Shenandoah. In excavating for the lower locks a 
borer's work was estimated to be six feet; in case he 
did not complete that amount he was to be deprived of 
his daily quota of whiskey. 

At the general meeting in August, when 308 shares 
were represented, it was resolved to relinquish any ex- 
clusive rights the company held by acts of the legisla- 
ture to the improvement of the Shenandoah in favor of 
any local company that would be formed within nine 
months and render that river navigable to boats carry- 
ing fifty barrels of flour within three years. It was 
ordered to sell or mortgage all the shares belonging to 
the company. The directory was authorized to open 
books for thirty additional shares at £135 ster. Also 
to mortgage the tolls for the amount of $16,000, all 
monies to be applied to the works at G-reat Falls. Ap- 
plication was made to the legislature for authority to 
collect tolls at G-reat Falls on condition of delivering 
at the expenses of the company all articles subject to 
tolls into boats below the Falls. 

Funds being entirely exhausted all sorts of projects 
were considered for carrying on and completing the 
work at G-reat Falls. The German indented servants 
were sold, laborers were discharged. In distress a 
special meeting of the shareholders was held in Feb- 
ruary, 1798, of which Thos. Sim Lee was chairman and 
Benj. Stoddart secretary. The directors were then 
authorized to borrow not more than 100 shares from 
the proprietors to mortgage for loan, said stock to be 
returned on or before August, 1800. Washington at- 
tended this meeting and voted his 73 shares. The re- 
port of the president graphically gives the situation: 

"Gentlemen, Agreeably to the instructions and power given 
to us at your last annual meeting, -we have used our best 
endeavors to procure funds for carrying on and completing 



96 The Patowmack Company. 

the works of the Company at Great Falls; but all our exer- 
tions have been ineffectual, — Aid from individuals could not 
be expected upon any terms in our power to offer. — Applica- 
tion has been made to the Assemblies of Virginia and Mary- 
land for a grant of money, either upon loan, or to be vested 
in new shares as they might choose ; but without success. 

' ' That no opportunity of pushing on the works at the Great 
Falls might be lost, while the proper season continued, the 
president and directors have obtained, on their notes, for the 
use of the Potomac Company, from the Bank of Columbia, 
$4500, and from the Bank of Alexandria $1500. Beside 
which there is yet due for wages of workmen and other expenses 
incurred on account of the Company's work, about $4000, 
making in the whole the sum of $10,000. 

' ' To meet these engagements, which must be done in a very 
short time, there is only a balance of $1200 due from subscrip- 
tions to shares, that can be calculated upon ; and twenty-nine 
shares of the Company, which were bought in for the Com- 
pany at the public sales, as stated in our last report of August. 
To offer these shares in the market at the present moment, 
would not only cause a heavy sacrifice to the Company in the 
sale of them, but it would also greatly depress the value of 
the stock in the public estimation. 

"Under these circumstances we have thought it our duty, 
gentlemen, to call a general meeting of the stockholders, that 
they might take such measures relative to the affairs of the 
Company as in their wisdom should seem proper. But we 
cannot forbear to impress upon you the necessity there is for 
obtaining the means of meeting the present engagements of 
the Company without delay, as well as the expediency of pro- 
viding funds to continue the operations at Great Falls, if not 
with the activity that could be wished, at least to prevent their 
being stopped altogether. 

"From a draft of the works at the Great Falls, which will 
be laid before you, you will see the progress that has been 
made at that place. To complete the locks there from the 
present state of the work, will, from the best estimates we can 
make, cost $40,000. But so much will depend upon the rise 



The Patowmack Company. 97 

or fall of labor, provisions &e. in the prosecution of the work, 
that no certain estimate can be made. 

"We have obtained from the legislatures of Virginia and 
Maryland a law authorizing the collection of full tolls imme- 
diately at or near the mouth of Conococheague and at or near 
the Great Falls or Watt's Branch, on condition that the Com- 
pany shall receive at the Great Palls, transport across the 
lock seats, and put into boats below, such articles as may be 
brought there for transportation. Tolls are also granted at 
the Little Falls on all articles not passing the Great Falls. 
The legislatures have also extended the time for completing 
the navigation, to the ye'ar 1802. From these tolls a sum may 
be expected for the present season that will give some aid in 
carrying on the work, beside paying the expenses of collection 
&c. and its increase will be in proportion to the activity with 
which the works may be carried on. " 
"Signed, Tobias Lear, Pres., Jas. Keith, John Templeman, 

John Mason." 

In May, 1798, it was resolved that the sum of $6,000 
be reserved from the money arising from the sale of 
stock for the building of a warehouse and a new ma- 
chine for passing articles over the lock seats. The 
president was authorized to mortgage as many shares 
as could be obtained and to borrow as much stock as 
could be had, and to use as much thereof as would pro- 
duce $10,000. One of the "huts" at the. Falls was 
rented for $45 per annum. At the next meeting the 
president reported that a loan had been made by 
Daniel Carroll, of Duddington, of $2,500 of six per cent, 
stock of the United States, and by General Washington 
of $3,498 of the same. Another loan of $2,000 might 
be expected from Mr. Carroll. The superintendent 
and overseer were discharged, as funds would not per- 
mit more work. Instructions were given the clerk at 
Great Falls as to the manner of delivering flour to 
boats at foot of the inclined plane. 



pS The Patowmack Company. 

At the general meeting in August it was reported 
that tolls collected at Great Falls amounted to over 
$2,000, which was not at all discouraging for future 
prospects, if only the money could be raised for the 
completion of the locks. Some funds must have been 
obtained, for the following order was entered : 

' ' Mr. Panton, Sir, As soon as Mr. Loeffler brings hands from 
Seneca have a small guard put in the canal at some convenient 
place twenty or thirty yards below the bridge at the Forge to 
throw the water below off, then clear out the passage through 
the basin, next that the stumps and obstacles be cleared out of 
the way at the little basin below the lock and place so stopped 
as to let the water discharge itself over the top of the dam." 

It is interesting to locate these localities on the 
ground. The Maryland legislature was petitioned to 
take one hundred additional shares. Harbaugh exhib- 
ited the model of a machine for letting down and hoist- 
ing merchandise at Great Falls with estimate of its 
expense ; one was ordered and a shed built for its shel- 
ter. The horses and wagons were sold. 

General "Washington attended the general meeting 
on the fifth of August held in Georgetown. The affairs 
of the company were at the lowest ebb. The president 
reported that all efforts to obtain loans or aid from the 
Maryland legislature had failed. Work had in conse- 
quence been at a stand for the past two seasons. To 
save expense in the transport of merchandise at Great 
Falls a shed had been built at lower end of lock for 
warehouse and a new machine installed for hoisting, so 
all hauling had been saved. The tolls were less than 
the preceding year, owing to short crops and low water. 
An eloquent letter had been sent each shareholder and 
member of the legislatures representing the situation 
and soliciting relief.^ '^ It was 

" See broadside, appendix B. 



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The Patowmack Company. 99 

"Resolved, that there shall be paid upon each share an addi- 
tional sum of not less than one hundred dollars, the whole 
amount not to exceed $60,000 and that payment shall not be 
compelled until $40,000 has been subscribed and the legisla- 
tures pass laws to enforce the payments. That the President 
and Directors of the Potowmack Company for the time being 
be authorized and required to petition the legislatures of 
Maryland and Virginia at their next sessions for the farther 
payment of at least one hundred dollars upon each share held 
by the said states respectively, as well as for a law empowering 
the President and Directors to enforce payment of such sums 
as individuals may agree to pay upon the shares held by them, 
and also directing that each share shall receive dividends in 
proportion to the sum actually paid upon it. ' ' 

Eacli failed ; the $40,000 was not subscribed, although 
General Washington headed the list with his twenty- 
three individual shares; the state of Maryland was 
obdurate. 

The struggle was ended when the Maryland House 
of Delegates in July, 1799, 

"Eesolved, That the treasurer of the Western Shore be and 
he is hereby authorized and empowered to subscribe in behalf 
of this state for one hundred and thirty shares in the aug- 
mented capital stock of the Potowmack Company; vizt. the 
sum of £130 ster. for each share to be paid in six per cent, 
stock of the U. S. at par. 

"Eesolved, that the trustees of this state transfer the said 
amount of six per cent, stock to the president and directors 
of the Potowmack Company or their order on the Governor 
and Councils certifying to them that Bond with sufficient 
security has been lodged with them to complete the locks and 
navigation of said river at the Great Falls and not before. ' ' 

At the general meeting called for the 10th of Decem- 
ber Washington voted his shares by proxy. The presi- 
dent recited the efforts to raise money for the comple- 
tion of the locks, the proprietors resolved that one 



lOO The Patowmack Company. 

hundred and thirty shares of stock be created and sub- 
scription lists opened for £130 ster. ; also resolved that 
none of the funds advanced by Maryland be used before 
instructions from the next regular general meeting. 
At the called general meeting in January the president 
and directors were authorized and instructed to give a 
bond or bonds in their corporate capacity in the penalty 
of $150,000 to the persons who subscribed the bond 
given to the state of Maryland, dated December 10, 
1799, conditioned to relieve each and every one of them 
for all consequences which may result from said bond. 
This was carried by 288 votes; opposed were 88 cast 
by Cazenave for himself and the Hollanders. 

In January Hartshorne resigned as treasurer and 
thus the last of the original officers of the company 
passed out. He was succeeded by Joseph Carleton, 
who served until his death in 1812; he also acted as 
secretary, much to the discomfort of the reader of his 
minutes. 

The locks which had been originally planned to be 
one hundred by eighteen feet were by the legislatures 
reduced to eighty by fourteen; Weston had advised 
eighty by twelve. Boats were rarely more than seven 
or eight feet wide and sixty feet long ; none were more 
than ten by seventy ; the difficulty of ascent would never 
admit of greater size. Economy of water and time in 
the locks was a question, not to mention the excavation 
of solid rock for the lower locks, where 4,300 cubic 
yards of stone were to be removed. 

With money the works were pushed. Leonard Har- 
baugh was again placed in charge, an iron chest was 
ordered for the use of the clerk at Great Falls, which 
had evidently not previously been needed. The basia 
was crowded with boats, the hoisting machine was 
working night and day. The president reported suffi- 
cient funds on hand to complete the navigation from 



The Patowmack Company. loi 

tide water to George's Creek! Work on the Shenan- 
doah agitated. Probably one strong motive for under- 
taking this additional responsibility was the fact that 
the shareholders from Berkeley County were losing 
interest and sacrificing their stock. 

At a meeting in June, 1801, at Great Falls, the di- 
rectors ordered contracts made for timber for lock 
gates and decided that lock 1 should rise twenty-one 
feet instead of eighteen, lock 2 from fifteen feet to 
eighteen, 3 from twelve to ten feet eight inches, said 3 
to be widened to admit two boats of usual size, 4 to be 
completed as a canal to communicate between 3 and 5, 
5 to raise from twelve feet to sixteen and that 5 if nec- 
essary be enlarged or lengthened to contain enough 
water for the lower lock, that a reservoir be made east 
of 3 for supply of water. They authorized the super- 
intendent to engage a master and common workmen to 
push the work. A Mrs. Jane Myers appears to have 
been speculating in Matildaville realty, as the directors 
rented her five houses until Christmas for four dollars 
each, monthly. According to the account of John 
Davis, a travelling Englishman, she also kept a public 
house.^* 

"John Davis, "Personal Adventures and Travels of Pour and a Half 
Years in the United States &o.," London, 1817. "I beheld the course of 
a large river abruptly obstructed by rocks over which it was breaking 
with a tremendous roar while the foam of the waters seemed ascending 
to the clouds and the shores that confined it to tremble at the convolution. 
I gazed for some time in silent awe at this war of the elements, when 
having recovered from my admiration I could not help exclaiming to the 
Great Maker of Heaven and Earth 'Lord what is man that Thou art 
mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou regardest him?' A little 
below the Palls on the banks of the Potomac stand a few scattered 
buildings which form a kind of hamlet called ' Charlotteville ' (Matilda- 
ville?). The first settler in this savage wilderness was the lady of 
General Lee from whose christian name the place takes its appellation. 
In a house of entertainment kept by widow Myers I was accommodated 
with a supper and a bed. This buxom widow was a Methodist and pos- 
sessed of considerable property." 



I02 The Patowmach Company. 

The president's report for 1801 is pleasant reading 
after its pessimistic predecessors. 

"Since your last annual meeting we found no opportunity 
of having the locks at Great Falls undertaken by contract. 
. . . There remained therefore no alternative for the Com- 
pany but to continue to carry on the work by hired laborers 
as in the past year. In this way we have pushed forward the 
operations with all the expedition in our power. It appeared 
however to us that as this progressed and branched out of 
course into different kinds of work it would become absolutely 
necessary to have constantly on the spot a person of experience 
and judgment in whom we could confide in order to secure 
as effectually as possible the speedy and faithful execution of 
every part of the plan. Accordingly early in the season we 
entered into an agreement with Leonard Harbaugh for this 
purpose. In this agreement it was a material consideration 
with us to interest him essentially in having the locks finished 
in time for boats to pass with the water of spring 1802. . . . 
Expense of the works at Great Falls had been $21,000. . . . 
No debts (current) were due by the Company except for land 
condemned at Little Falls. . . . From this view of the Com- 
pany's affairs we have now laid before you we presume you 
will derive much satisfaction. It must appear evident that 
without some unforeseen accident the great object held out in 
our last report, that of a free navigation of the Potomac dur- 
ing a considerable portion of the year from the mouth of 
George's Creek to tide water will be accomplished by the end 
of the year in time for the ensuing spring water. ' ' 

Keith and the same directors were re-elected. 

There was a supplemental report of an accident to 
one of the workmen in consequence of which he had 
become blind. An appropriation was made for his 
support, and this was continued during the existence of 
the company. In fact the last entry in the minute books 
of the directory meetings is an order for the payment 
of his pension. 



The Patowmack Company. 103 

At this meeting an order was given for a complete 
map of tlie Potomac from Savage Eiver to tide water. 
No mention is now made of the contemplated road west 
from the North Branch, western settlers were evidently 
not in mind. 

In December, 1801, the directors made a report to the 
Assembly of Virginia that the locks were completed, 
slyly reminding them of the generosity of Maryland, 
and asking their assistance in making the Shenandoah 
navigable also, but the application was received too 
late for action at that session. 

The locks were opened for business in February, 
1802, and in continuous use until 1830. By the tables 
annexed you will see that the volume of trade was large 
and the receipts from tolls quite a respectable sum. 
These locks being the greatest engineering accom- 
plishment of the eighteenth century in America, were 
visited by all travellers, domestic and foreign. In 1796 
the British Minister with suite and a young lord who 
came from England for that express purpose spent a 
day at the Falls. Manaseh Cutler, who was interested 
in founding a colony on the Ohio for Eevolutionary 
soldiers, left an account of his inspection. 

"Washington, January 30, 1802. "Went early in the 
morning to Georgetown where Mr. Frank Dodge, Mr. Tenney 
and I took horses and went up to the Great Falls, about twelve 
miles. Visited on the way the cannon foundry, saw them 
boring the solid cast iron cannon. Viewed the locks at the 
lower Falls where the boats pass with ease. The canal is about 
two miles in length. Passed the great bridge which is a very 
handsome one and well built in the form of the bridge over 
the Merrimac above Newburyport. The river very narrow 
near and at the bridge, but said to be deep. Arrived at the 
Great Falls and put up at Mrs. Myers. The appearance of 
the river is singular; filled with rocks about three fourths of 



1 04 The Patowmack Company. 

a mile — no large cataracts but frequent falls and brought into 
a narrow bed with high rocky banks at the locks. At the lower 
locks appeared about forty feet wide; said to be thirty five 
feet deep. The work of the locks (six in number) very neat. 
The lower lock cut through a solid rock by blasting about 
forty seven feet deep and twelve feet wide. The water was 
to have passed this day but not being quite completed is to 
be opened for the passage of boats on Tuesday, February 
second. The canal is three fourths of a mile. It is a place 
capable of much business by water works, but indolence reigns 
and the country through which we passed the picture of lazi- 
ness, negligence and poverty. Old fields and woods." 

The Eev. Mr. Cutler was accustomed to the prim 
countryside about Boston. 

Had the company been content with the original in- 
tention of improving the navigation of the Potomac 
only all would have been well with them, but unfortu- 
nately they listened to the importunities of the business 
men on its tributaries and undertook the improvement 
of the Shenandoah, the Monocaey, the Antietam and 
the Conococheague. In 1802 the company declared its 
first and only dividend. In that year Chas. Simms, the 
ablest man ever associated with the company, became a 
director. He was an attorney of Alexandria, an origi- 
nal shareholder, with Jas. Keith the credential commit- 
tee of the meeting of organization. The membership 
of the company now embraced the most prominent men 
of the newly formed District of Columbia; Thos. Law 
and the CarroUs were very active and always gener- 
ous ; Greenleaf held twenty-four shares. 

At the solicitation of Washington an arsenal had 
been located at the mouth of the Shenandoah and a 
canal cut there for the convenience of the works, in 
consideration for its use the company offered the gov- 
ernment to render the Shenandoah navigable ; however 




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The Patowmach Company. 105 

for a time they were ixnable to secure any concessions 
they could accept from the state of Virginia. 

Work in the bed of the river was pushed, for which 
they had excellent facilities in the extraordinarily dry 
summer of 1802. Much trouble was caused by fish 
dams in the river and tributaries ; many suits were en- 
tered against the owners. 

In 1803 Virginia appointed commissioners to view 
the works on the Potomac, and as guests of the com- 
pany they were royally entertained. The treasurer 
was ordered to procure a common seal of an appro- 
priate design for the use of the company. Only two 
impressions of this beautiful seal are known to be in 
existence to-day. Funds were again becoming low, the 
directors were authorized to borrow from the banks 
for the work on the Shenandoah. Premiums were of- 
fered for good boats, as there seems to always have 
been a shortage.^ ^ Meetings of the directory were 
often held at Charles Town in 1804, work being pushed 
on the Shenandoah, where the locks were to be wooden. 
There was much difficulty in securing an amicable 
arrangement for the use of the government canal at 
the arsenal. 

The amiable gentlemen directors always appre- 
ciated faithful service ; at Christmas, 1803, 

"In consequence of the services of Leonard Harbaugh in 
opening the navigation of the Potomac River as superintendent 
of the works generally and more particularly on account of 
the useful improvement in the lock gates made by him, a silver 
cup to contain one quart be procured with suitable devices 
and inscriptions under the direction of Mr. Dorsey Mr. Mason 
and Mr. Laird and that the same with the approbation of the 
general meeting be presented him. ' ' 

^° See newspapers of corresponding date. 



io6 The Patowmack Company. 

In 1805 Harbaugh was authorized to secure subscrip- 
tions on the Shenandoah to a loan, all subscribers to 
be entitled to free tolls on the rivers. A premium of 
five per cent, was later offered. The president reported 
to the general meeting that 

' ' with pain we are under the necessity of informing the stock- 
holders that for some time past we have on account of the 
want of funds desisted from all operations of any importance 
upon the Shenandoah. We owe the banks and individuals 
$31,000. It is certainly an object of great importance to the 
Company to adopt the means of raising such sums as may be 
adeqiiate to finishing the navigation of the Shenandoah from 
its forks to Balls' Falls, if funds cannot be obtained to extend 
it into the Potomac. ' ' 

The collections of tolls for 1805 amounted to $5,213, 
while the expenses had been $19,447. 

Nicholas King, whom we recollect from his plans of 
Washington, joined Harbaugh in locating the junction 
of the Shenandoah with the Potomac navigation. Mill 
owners on the former were notified that the company 
had the legal right to compel them to open their dams. 

Wm. Hartshorne was the chairman of the general 
meeting in 1806. Four hundred and forty-two shares 
were represented. The board was ordered to render 
the Potomac navigable at low water at once. $20,000 
was required to complete the work in the Shenandoah. 
The president was authorized to borrow from the banks 
of Alexandria and Potomac. The president reported 
Shenandoah subscriptions from individuals to be 
$15,060, of which $5,570 had been collected, the locks at 
Lyttle's Falls and Wilson's upper mill complete with 
their canals, the lock at the lower mill nearly finished 
and considerable progress had been made on the re- 
maining locks at the same place; no doubt was enter- 
tained but the whole of the above locks which were the 



The Patowmack Company. 107 

only ones necessary on the river will be completed 
during the month of October, and all other obstructions 
removed early in the next year from the forks of the 
Shenandoah to the Potomac, about fifty miles. 

We learn from an order of the directors that the 
channels in the bed of the Potomac were improved by 
banking with saplings and brush loaded with stone. 
For some unexplained cause Harbaugh was discharged 
in November ; directors Foxall and Peter were expected 
to find a substitute. In the settlement of his accounts 
in February Mrs. Harbaugh was allowed $30 for at- 
tendance on sick men. Thomas Harbaugh was ap- 
pointed in his brother's place. 

The country was awakening to the value of improved 
roads and communications under the inspiration of the 
enlightened views of President Jefferson and Secretary 
Grallatin. In 1806 was issued the famous order for re- 
ports of all public works in use or in contemplation in 
the entire country ; this order was receivel by the share- 
holders at the general meeting in 1807, when Chas. 
Simms was elected president and served for eight 
years in that capacity. The president at that meeting 
reported : 

"the completion of the works on the Shenandoah, boats from 
Port Republic could reach tide water; the navigation might 
have gone higher if the residents had been more interested 
and generous. Business was hampered by lack of sufficient 
boats to carry produce, only about sixty five of the best class 
being employed few were provided with tarpaulins and hand 
pumps. Neither was the flour of the best quality, nor were 
the barrels what they should be." 

John Mason compiled the report of the Potowmack 
Company for the Secretary of the Treasury and it was 
a masterpiece in its way.^** 

^ See appendix C. 



io8 The Patowmack Company. 

At the meeting in August, Hartshorne was again 
chairman. A petition was ordered to Virginia and 
Maryland to form by-laws for the regulation of the 
company's business and for the protection of merchan- 
dise in transport ; also to render it easy for foreigners 
to transfer stock. The people on the Shenandoah were 
making much trouble with mill dams and fish pots. 
New gates were ordered for the locks at Great Falls 
and stone was to replace the wooden locks at Little 
Falls. 

Again the company was out of funds. Eather than 
appeal to the Maryland legislature or farther increase 
the stock a lottery was suggested. This was the popu- 
lar mode of raising money for all kinds of schemes, 
even churches were built with the proceeds and orphan 
asylums thus endowed. A special general meeting was 
called for the fourth of May, 1809, where 144 shares 
were represented. It was then resolved 

"That the president and directors of the Potomac Com- 
pany be authorized to make an appeal to the next session of 
Congress to pass an act to authorize the Company to raise by 
one or more lotteries the sum of $100,000 for completing the 
navigation of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, or to obtain 
from Congress such sum of money as they may be disposed to 
grant in any other mode for that purpose. ' ' 

Jos. Eiddle, David Wyley, Dan. Carroll, of Dudding- 
ton, Cuthbert Powell and John Fendall were appointed 
a committee to assist the directory. 

Philip B. Key was the chairman of the meeting in 
August, 1809, 382 shares represented. The president 
reported the directory considered it their duty explic- 
itly to state that unless money could be procured in 
some way or other the progress of the useful work in 
which the company has been so long engaged and have 
expended so much money must cease. 



The Patowmack Company. 109 

At the meeting in 1810 a lottery scheme under the 
laws of Maryland was adopted. The appeal to Con- 
gress had signally failed, as any proposition coming 
from a concern notoriously Federalist was bound to 
do. And just then, too, the national government was 
much engaged in solving riddles propounded by Napo- 
leon and Great Britain. As usual in such cases of dis- 
turbance capital sought secure hiding places and all 
enterprises suffered. 

The act of the state of Maryland secured at the 
solicitation of the directory authorized a lottery to 
raise $300,000 for the improvement of the navigation of 
the Potomac and its branches, of which the following is 
the authorized ticket : 

"Potowmaek and Shenandoah Navigation 

Lottery No 

"By authorization of the State of Maryland, 
"This ticket will entitle the Bearer to such prize as may 
be drawn to its number if demanded within twelve months 
after the drawing shall have been completed, subject to 15% 
deduction. 

"By order of the President & Directors of the Potow- 
maek Co. 

" (Signed) Treasurer." 

A special meeting was called for the 10th of May, 
1810, when it was resolved that the bond demanded by 
the state of Maryland for the correct conduct of the 
lottery should be given under seal of the corporation. 
The agents to be employed to also serve under bond. 
Later Joseph Carleton, the treasurer of the company, 
was appointed agent for the sale of tickets with a 
salary of $500 per annum with travelling expenses. 
Tickets were to be sold for $10 each with a discount for 
blocks of five hundred. Fortunately the honorable 
gentlemen could not foresee the disasters this would 
bring upon them. 



no The Patowmach Company. 

Thompson Mason was the chairman of the general 
meeting in August, 387 shares represented. The presi- 
dent reported: 

"$10,343 expended, $7915 received from tolls. The want 
of funds prevented progress in improving the beds of the 
Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. He recited the appeal to 
the Maryland legislature to authorize a lottery and they, 
influenced by a spirit of patriotism and liberality honourable 
to themselves, passed an act authorizing the Company to raise 
by lottery or lotteries, the sum of $300,000 for the purpose of 
the improvement of the navigation of the river Potomac and 
its tributary streams; a sum amply sufficient to accomplish 
that great and useful object in the most full and complete 
manner. Whether the benevolent and liberal views of the 
Assembly of Maryland in granting to the Company so im- 
portant a privilege will be realized, depends on the spirit and 
liberality of those interested in the agriculture and commerce 
and in the growth and prosperity of the towns in the fertile 
and extensive country adjacent to the Potomac and Shenan- 
doah rivers. If they should not justly appreciate the advan- 
tages which will result from making those rivers navigable 
and patronize the lottery with spirit and energy, no hope can 
be entertained that the lottery will succeed ; but it is believed 
that they will avail themselves of so fair an opportunity of 
promoting their own interest and prosperity." 

The directory then announced the scheme of the 
lottery to raise $20,000 with one of their number, 
Josiah Thompson, as special agent in charge. 

Tobias Thompson was in charge of all work on the 
rivers. 

A farther extension of five years was asked from 
1811 in which to render the Potomac navigable in the 
dryest seasons. "With Chas. Simms, a Virginian, presi- 
dent, the custom of holding alternate directory meetings 
in Alexandria was resumed, except when it was neces- 
sary to meet at some place on the upper river. 



The Patowmack Company. iii 

At the general meeting in 1811, Daniel Carroll, Esq., 
chairman, the president reported : 

"$21,505 expended, principally on debts, $22,542 on bank 
curtailments, interest and expense of the lottery. ■ Receipts 
from tolls $22,542. Impressed with the importance of draw- 
ing the first class of the lottery they were under the necessity 
of commencing the drawing of that class under circumstances 
unfavorable or of relinquishing the plan of raising money by 
lotteries and the prospect and advantages of rendering the 
Potomac and Shenandoah rivers navigable at all seasons 
within a reasonable time. Rather than the public and the 
Company should be deprived of these advantages they thought 
it better to encounter the risk of drawing the lottery with a 
large proportion of the tickets remaining unsold, and accord- 
ingly commenced the drawing on the 6 May last and have 
drawn 8000 tickets. In the course of the drawing the wheel 
has gained $21,060 and an unusual great proportion of the 
large prizes still remain in the wheel; a well grounded hope 
may be entertained of $10,000 or $15,000 being raised by the 
first class of the lottery, which they flatter themselves, has 
and will be so conducted as to give general satisfaction and to 
facilitate the drawing of subsequent classes." 

He also reported that private parties along the 
rivers occasionally assisted in the work by labor or 
funds. 

The laws on riparian rights were to be invoked 
against unpatriotic citizens of Virginia. 

Permission was secured from the Secretary of War 
to erect a warehouse on public ground at Harper's 
Ferry. 

Maryland citizens have always been public spirited. 
A subscription of $20,000 was raised for the improve- 
ment of the Antietam Eiver from the Pennsylvania 
line. It was offered to the company, who accepted it 
at six per cent, to be repaid in tolls. Work to be im- 
mediately commenced. John Eogan appointed super- 
intendent of the work at $50 per month. 



112 The PatowmacJc Company. 

Legal difficulties were accumulating at different 
points, so Upton Lawrence and Sam'l Hughes were 
retained as counsel for the company in 1812. In May 
the greatly esteemed treasurer, Jos. Carleton, died and 
Joseph Brewer was appointed, while Jonah Thompson 
took charge of the lottery business. New locks were 
ordered for Little Falls to be twelve feet wide. Land 
to be there condemned for change in direction. Much 
annoyance in regard to river frontage. At the ap- 
pointed directory meeting in July there was no quorum 
for the first time in the history of the company. At 
the general meeting in 1812, Jas. Keith, chairman, the 
president reported: 

"New locks of stone at Little Falls. Permanent low water 
navigation in the Potomac completed to Stuljblefield. Ex- 
penditures $32,257, $12,856 for bank curtailments, discounts 
and debts to Maryland for loans ; $2083 expended on Antietam, 
subscriptions $5708. Tolls collected $14,394. Principal mer- 
chandise flour, 75,235 barrels, 3,946 barrels of whiskey, 414 
tons iron." 

The president regretted that some lottery debts could 
not be collected without suit. In the present distracted 
state of the country he doubted if the second drawing 
would be successful. The debt of the company amounted 
to $48,801, resources $5,775. 

The Shenandoah people were becoming very impa- 
tient of the delays in the work and did not hesitate to 
so express themselves in most emphatic language, hence 
the company resolved : 

"That if a subscription can be made by them in loans of 
money and labor sufficient to improve the navigation of the 
North Branch so as to make it navigable at all seasons, or 
with a small rise of water, as soon as the Directors shall be 
informed thereof, that they will direct the superintendent of 




The First Lock at the Great Falls of the Potomac 
(Photograph by Miss Violet Bacon Foster) 



. The Patowmack Company. 113 

the Company in conjunction with a commissioner or com- 
missioners to be appointed by the said subscribers to lay out 
the said branch from its mouth to Mill Creek, in convenient 
districts and contract and agree with such commissioners for 
opening and improving the respective districts of said river 
for such sums of money as may be agreed on by said parties 
on any district of said river being made navigable according 
to contract, and loans and labor made and performed by indi- 
viduals, and a certificate thereof given by the commissioner 
of such district of the sum each subscriber is entitled to re- 
ceive for money or labor, that the Potomac Company will pay 
an interest of six per cent, per annum on the amount. . . . 
And the president and directors do promise and agree that 
the amount expressed in such certificate shall be refunded 
and paid to the legal holder of them in five, six and seven 
years in equal installments and the interest thereon shall be 
punctually paid annually." 

The next lottery drawing was ordered for Novem- 
ber 27. 

A very ugly dispute arose as to the ownership of 
tickets not paid for at the time of the drawing. It was 
submitted to arbitration and decided in favor of the 
company, but the opportunity was given the claimants 
to select others if they would give security. The ques- 
tion was not finally decided for several years. 

Eivals appeared in the field, undeterred by the trou- 
bles of the Patowmack Company. The directors there- 
fore employed Thompson Mason to present a memorial 
and remonstrance to the Assembly of Virginia against 
the passage of an act for incorporating a company for 
cutting a canal from Seneca Falls to Hunting Creek. 
He appears to have been successful, as we hear no more 
of the undertaking. 

The showing of the business done on the Potomac 
probably caused the Maryland Assembly to again assist 
the company by a loan of $30,000 in 1813. A special 



114 The Patowmack Company. 

meeting of the stockholders was held on February 22 
for consideration of the question of acceptance. In 
explanation of this we must remember the financial 
condition of the United States in that year and also 
that the political complexion of the company was Fed- 
eralist; this last was probably the cause of John 
Mason's leaving the directory, to return in two years 
however. 

About 1812 David Bailie Warden, consul general at 
Paris, now remembered as a collector of Americana, 
visited in the United States and was a guest in the 
beautiful home of John Mason on Analostan Island. 
In 1816 he published in Paris, " Chrorographical and 
Statistical Description of the District of Columbia,- 
&c.," in which he thus described the work at Great 
Falls then in the flush of success : 

"... The boats employed for the navigation of these 
rivers are 75 feet long, 5 feet wide, and draw 1 8 inches, carry 
20 tons. Two with more than 100 barrels of flour each, pass 
the locks at Great Falls in an hour, and it rarely happens that 
the boat or cargo is injured. The cost of carrying a barrel of 
flour from Cumberland to George Town was one-half less by 
water, including tolls, than by land. ' ' 

A loan of $10,000 at six per cent, was offered by 
Edward McCarty and others of the upper river for the 
improvement of the navigation of the Potomac from 
Coxes Falls to the mouth of New Creek, to be repaid 
out of tolls collected. It was accepted and the superin- 
tendent directed to make the necessary contracts. Mr. 
McCarty will be remembered as having been associated 
with Thos. Beall, of Sam'l, in his first contract. 

William Marbury was the chairman of the general 
meeting in 1813, when the president reported $32,437 
expended; $11,816 tolls collected. The want of funds 
prevented the progress of the works to the extent that 



The Patowmack Company. nS 

could be wished. The directory, impressed with the 
importance of obtaining funds if practicable, had made 
application to the legislature of Maryland for a loan 
of money and that honorable body with their usual 
liberality agreed to loan the company $30,000 in six 
per cent. U. S. bank stock on the security they required 
being given. Subsequent events rendering it highly 
probable that U. S. stock might greatly depreciate the 
directory did not think it advisable to accept of the 
loan without the approbation of the company. Work- 
men were employed in removing obstacles about Great 
Falls and in repairing locks. In consequence of the 
trouble with Gray and Milligan over contract and 
claim to a $20,000 prize and the difficulty in selling 
tickets in the present distressed state of the country 
the managers thought it most prudent to suspend 
the drawing of the lottery, at least until the dispute 
with Gray and Milligan be settled. Ordered, arbitra- 
tion with these obnoxious gentlemen. The pension to 
the blind laborer at Great Falls, as always, provided 
for. 

The Shenandoah proposition was not making much 
progress and the people along the stream were in a bad 
temper. In October President Simms with directors 
Thompson an(i Marbury ajjpointed a meeting at New 
Market for conference. After some pretty direct state- 
ments the gentlemen on the part of the Patowmack 
Company proposed that they should relinquish all 
rights to open the Shenandoah navigation and transfer 
them to a company to be established by Virginia, on 
consideration that such company reimburse the value 
of the locks and other work done that may be deemed 
useful to the new company, such to be ascertained by 
two or more experienced and disinterested persons to 
be chosen by the respective companies. If such com- 



ii6 The Patowmack Company. 

pany be not formed in six months and work com- 
menced in eighteen months after forming of the 
company the rights of the Patowmack Company to 
continue, and a farther term of five years shall be 
allowed them for completion of work. The proposition 
was accepted and was referred to annual meeting of 
the Patowmack Company for ratification; whicli was 
secured in a special meeting for November. 

Then attempts were made to arrange with Antietam 
and Monocacy subscribers. 

"1813 
"To THE Honorable Senate and House op Delegates op 
Virginia ; 
' ' The petition of the president and directors of the Potowmack 
Company respectfully represents that the Potowmack Com- 
pany have long since removed the great obstacles to the navi- 
gation of the Potomac river from tide water to about thirty 
miles above Cumberland so as to render the navigation safe 
and easy for boats with a moderate rise of water and for the 
last three years have used all the means within their power 
to increase the depth of the water in the bed of the river by 
making dams in the shallow parts of the river and although 
considerable progress has been made in effecting that object 
yet it is not so fully accomplished as they wish and the interest 
of the community requires ; your petitioners therefore humbly 
pray your Honors to allow the Potowmact: Company the 
farther time of five years to be computed from the expiration 
of the time already granted. Finding it was not practicable 
with the funds they possessed, or could procure to complete 
the navigation of the Shenandoah river within a reasonable 
time, although the principal obstacles have been removed at a 
great expense, and sundry inhabitants of the counties adjacent 
being desirous that it should be made navigable as soon as 
possible and believing that object would be more speedily 
effected by forming a new company, they entered into an 
agreement with them for that purpose. ' ' 



The Patowmach Company. 117 

A petition was made to the legislature of Maryland 
to modify the proffered loan so as to enable the com- 
pany to refund in same kind of stock and to accept as 
pledge the tolls of the company, which probably was 
granted. The stock was to be deposited in such bank 
as would advance cash on it to be expended solely on 
the improvement of navigation from tide water to Har- 
per 's Ferry and for completing the locks at Little Falls, 
until the navigation should be such as to admit of the 
free and safe passage of boats with eighty barrels of 
flour every day in the year. Directors to visit the work 
once every month. Josiah Thompson was appointed 
superintendent. A second drawing of the lottery com- 
menced in November. 

At the general meeting in 1814 the president reported 
$26,998 expended, tolls collected $9,109. Received from 
Maryland $30,000 in U. S. stock. Loans of $19,790 on 
$20,000 of the stock. McCarty's loan had been partly 
expended on the upper river. Work at Antietam sus- 
pended on account of non-payment of subscriptions. 
Locks at Little Falls nearly completed. 

In November another $5,000 was discounted. Chas. 
Simms transferred his stock and resigned as president 
to be succeeded temporarily by Elie Williams. Ap- 
plication was made to the District of Columbia, Mary- 
land and Virginia for a law empowering the company 
to protect its water rights. Gray instituted suit 
against Jonah Thompson on the lottery prize question 
and won; thereupon appeal was taken to the U. S. 
Supreme Court. 

This statement was issued in June, 1815 : 

"The directors find that the diminished intercourse on the 
river navigation during the war and the disbursements of the 
Company within that period on the new Locks at the Little 
Falls and other work, has so far depressed the funds of the 



ii8 The Patowmack Company. 

Company that with all the aid of accruing funds there will 
scarcely be a sufficiency to complete the new locks in time 
to pass boats and other craft before the old locks which are 
of wood and much decayed will be wholly unfit for use. The 
funds of the Company not being competent to the payment of 
discounts on the bank debts and continuing the work on 
the new locks, the alternative is left of discontinuing the work 
and paying the discounts, for a few months only, when the 
failure of the old locks will leave no means of paying debt or 
discount, or to suspend the payment of discount for a short 
period till the new locks are completed by which an ample 
revenue will be secured for the payment of both. . . . The 
directors do not hesitate to adopt the latter alternative, in 
full confidence that the measure will meet the concurrence of 
all concerned." 

At the general meeting in 1815 Elie Williams was 
elected president, Geo. Peter, Wm. Marbury, Jonah 
Thompson and Jno. C. Vowell directors. 

Thoroughly aroused the Shenandoah people pre- 
sented this communication : 

"A sufficient number of subscriptions have been obtained to 
constitute a company, but many, if not a majority, of them 
are conditional who will withdraw unless the directors of 
the Potomac Company will make the terms much more accom- 
modating than the law prescribes. The people in the country 
complain that the Potomac Company has not treated them 
well, they say they have for many years held out the idea of a 
speedy accomplishment of that work in which they felt them- 
selves so much interested, they say they were (many of them) 
induced to loan money to the Company and to purchase 
lottery tickets in order to promote so desirable an object, and 
nothing of any consequence has been done and when the Com- 
pany discover they cannot accomplish it, when the prospect 
of suspension of commerce presented itself, when turnpike 
roads are opening in every direction, whereby the tolls will 
be greatly curtailed, the Potomac Company are willing to 
relinquish their claims on being paid the value of their im- 



The Patowmack Company. 119 

provements. The feeling of the people has been excited 
and their resentment aroused, and it will require considerable 
concessions to reconcile them, indeed some of them are so 
exasperated that nothing but an immense advantage from the 
navigation of the river would induce them to use it were 
it now complete under the management of the Potomac 
Company. 

"I really think the Potomac Company ought in justice and 
in regard to their own interest, to bear a proportional part of 
the expenses of opening the Shenandoah river. If that river 
is opened there is no doubt but the tolls at Great Falls will 
increase more than 100%, I think 200%, whereas in its present 
situation it is a real expense to the Company. It is a maxim 
in justice that when two or more are materially benefited each 
should bear an equal share of the cost. ' ' 

Then the directors agreed to recommend to the stock- 
holders to change the terms proposed and acceded to 
by the directors of tlie Patowmack Company and the 
persons present at the New Market conference as 
follows, thus : 

' ' That instead of payment proposed to be made by the new 
company for the work done on the Shenandoah by the Potow- 
mack Company the amount of the valuation to be made as 
agreed on shall be subscribed by the Potowmack Company 
to the stock of the new company and divide in common with 
their stock holders in proportion to the stock subscribed." 

The president reported at the meeting in August : 

"The loan from Cumberland section has been expended on 
the North Branch. The contemplated improvement of the 
Antietam had been effected only in part from the refusal of a 
number of subscribers under an apprehension and belief (sanc- 
tioned by public opinion) that the estimate for the work was 
too low and some of the subscriptions too small. On an over- 
ture from the Shenandoah company a conditional proposition 
has been made to relinquish to them the tolls on the Shenan- 



120 The Patowmack Company. 

doah on condition they would complete its navigation within 
a given period. . . . 

"The drawing of the second class lottery had conunenced 
and progressed several days when it was interrupted and 
suspended by a dispute with a Certain Kobt. Gray respecting 
the property of a ticket which had come out of the wheel 
with a prize of $20,000, while in possession of the managers 
and before it had been bought by Gray or any other person. 
This dispute produced a suit by Gray which was tried in the 
District Court of Alexandria and a verdict given against the 
Company; but under circumstances which made it advisable 
to appeal to the Supreme Court of the U. S. where the case 
is now pending, this will suspend the drawing of the lottery 
until the event is known. In the trial of this cause it became 
inportant to the Company that Col. Chas. Simms' testimony 
should be used ; he therefore thought proper to resign his seat 
at this Board and dispose of his interest to render him a 
competent witness. ' ' 

"Eesolved; to aim at rendering the navigation of the Po- 
towmack river such that boats with one hundred barrels of 
flour may pass at any period of the year when not prevented 
by frost. 

' ' Resolved at the general meeting, ' In regard to the Shenan- 
doah Company as before given, that the Shenandoah com- 
pany shall have the right any time within ten years to pur- 
chase the stock as subscribed by the Potowmack Company. ' ' ' 

Jonah Thompson was appointed to meet members of 
the Shenandoah Company and to negotiate with them 
for transferring to them all the rights of the Patow- 
mack Company on snch terms as he may deem proper. 

He reported : 

"In consideration of the conveyance of the canals, cuts, 
locks and all and every of the rights, claims and interests of 
the Potowmack Company on the Shenandoah, the Shenandoah 
company do agree to pay to the Potowmack Company the sum 
of $15,000 to be taken in shares of $50 of stock of the new 




The Second Lock at the Great Falls of the Potomac 
(Photograph by Miss Violet Bacon Foster) 



The Patowmack Company. 121 

company ; and farther that the Potowmack Company do bind 
themselves to secure by indisputable title their rights to the 
said canals etc. clear of the adverse claims of the United 
States and individuals, especially of the U. S. Armory, Wil- 
son's, Graves' and Craighill's mills. Subject to the ratifica- 
tions of both companies at their general meetings. 

' ' Notwithstanding the sum is much less than that expended 
and below its value, yet in consideration of various circum- 
stances and the accommodation of extensive and fertile settle- 
ments remote from market the directors do agree. ' ' 

The treasurer was ordered to pay Jonah. Thompson 
$191.51 for services and expenses, and thus was closed 
a stormy episode in the history. 

In 1816 the president reported expenditures of 
$40,282, with receipts from tolls of $7,501. Payments 
had been made of pressing claims on old debts nnder 
judgments, for labor, for repairs to locks and for 
salaries. 

The suit brought by Gray was decided in his favor 
by the Supreme Court, although the company was rep- 
resented by such distinguished men as Mr. Walter 
Jones and Mr. Pinckney. This discomfiture so changed 
the aspect of the lottery as to render the tickets on 
hand in a measure unsalable and a prosecution of the 
scheme hopeless in benefit and almost certain as to loss; 
in this unpleasant predicament the managers had no 
alternative but to wait for the sale of the tickets or to 
proceed in the drawing with a certainty of consider- 
able loss. It was 

"Resolved to borrow if possible $26,000 for the new locks 
at Little Falls and payment of old claims. 

"Resolved to ratify agreement with the Shenandoah com- 
pany without guarantee against the United States or indi- 
viduals. ' ' 



122 The Patowmack Company. 

u 

In response the seven banks of tlie District loaned 
the company the $26,000, to be repaid from tolls after 
settlement of current expenses. ^^ 

As usual the blind Wiley was voted his pension. 

A special meeting was called in December, 1816, Geo. 
Peter, Esq., chairman, to consider another troublesome 
matter. Four hundred and thirty-eight shares repre- 
sented. One John K. Smith had purchased the land 
about Little Falls and wished to combine with the com- 
pany in control of the water rights in speculative in- 
terests. The company resolved : 

' ' That as many mill sites be laid off along the canal as may 
be conveniently embraced within fifty four acres from the 
lower end of it the said sites to extend from the canal to the 
river; that five of these sites be sold at auction and the pro- 
ceeds to be equally divided, the remainder of the sites to be 
alternately divided between the Company and Mr. Smith, — or 
he may hold option for ten days to pay for water rights 
$60,000, the navigation not to be interfered with;" 

which offer he declined. 

The company accepted a compromise with Gray on 
the lottery question and the drawing proceeded. 

A fine petition and statement of monies expended by 
the company wth a tabulated statement of the business 
done in the time between 1799 and 1816 was prepared 
to present to the Virginia legislature in opposition to 
another company asking a charter for a canal from 
Seneca to Alexandria. It was prepared by John Peter 
and supplemented by a letter from John Mason to 
Chas. Fenton Mercer, asking him to present both to the 
legislature. In a petition an extention of time for three 
years for the completion of the work in the bed of the 

=^ Columbia, $8,100, Union, $4,300, Farmers & Mechanics, $3,300, 
Metropolitan, $3,000, Patriotic, $2,000, Washington, $3,900, Central, 
$1,400. 



The Patowmack Company. 123 

river was asked. Another project was to construct a 
canal from Leesburg to Alexandria. Mason wrote 
Mercer to have consideration of this postponed. 

At the regular meeting in August, 1817, John Mason 
was elected president, which office he held for eleven 
years or during the farther existence of the Patowmack 
Company ; 508 shares were represented. J. K. Smith 
was once more before them with a petition, saying he 
had been two years trying to adjust matters at Little 
Falls, he would now offer $30,000 for water power on 
terms given Henry Lee at Great Falls, for which he 
paid nothing ; if declined he would bring suit to deter- 
mine his rights. He called on the stockholders to de- 
cide on the issue. 

The president reported collection of tolls $13,948. 
During the past season's unusual low water boats with 
fifty to sixty barrels of flour had continuously passed 
down from Harper's Ferry. From Mason's report to 
Virginia it appears that total expenses from 1785, had 
been $650,000, tolls from 1799, $162,380. 

In 1818 the treasurer of Maryland began asking about 
the debt and interest due the state. Jonah Thompson 
reported the final closing of the lottery with a profit of 
about $486 and many prizes still unpaid. 

At the general meeting the president reported the 
Little Falls locks open. $15,000 had been borrowed 
from District banks on the condition that no farther 
work would be commenced until debts to them were 
paid. New gates had been provided for the lower lock 
at Great Falls. No settlement had been made with 
Smith. The lottery had not proved a success and 
Maryland had forbidden any more drawings under the 
old permit. Jos. Brewer, treasurer, resigned, Jas. 
Moore, Jr., appointed. 



124 ^^^ Patowmack Company. 

At a meeting of the Patowmack Company held at 
Semmes' Tavern in G-eorge Town the 2d day of Au- 
gust, 1819 : 

"William Marbury, Esqr. was appointed chairman and 
John K. Smith and Lewis G. Davidson a committee to ex- 
amine the proxies wo reported in due manner. Shares 
voting ; — Maryland, 220, Virginia, 120, John Mason, 5, James 
Keith sr. 3, John C. Vowell, 6, Thos. Vowell, 6, William Mar- 
bury, 1, Wm. Campbell, 10, John Laird, 18, H. Foxall, 1, 
Jonah Thompson, 1, A. C. Casenove, 1, Amsterdam merchants, 
49, James Keith jr. 10, Lewis G. Davidson, 3, John K. Smith, 
1, 455 shares. 

"Then proceeded to the election of president and directors 
to manage the business of the Company for the ensuing year, 
when the following persons were unanimously elected; John 
Mason Esqr. president, John Laird, Henry Foxall, Jonah 
Thompson and John C. Vowell Esqrs. directors. 

"Kesolved; That the president and directors communicate 
to the Treasurer of Maryland a statement of the receipts and 
disbursements of the Company during the last year, and to 
inform him of the inability of the Company to comply with 
the Eesolution of the Legislature of that State in relation to 
the immediate payment of the interest which has accrued on 
the debt due it. That they express on the part of the stock- 
holders the hope that he may not consider himself under the 
late resolution of the State compelled to bring a suit against 
the Company, at least until they can have time to make farther 
representations to the Legislature on that subject.^^ 

"Eesolved; That the president and directors present a 
memorial to the Legislature of Maryland at their next session 
setting forth the deranged state of the funds of the Company, 
the state of the navigation and a view of the facilities afforded 
in transportation to a large district of that State, and praying 
for the forbearance of the State in relation to the present debt, 
and for such other aid as the State may have in its power to 
grant. 

^,See appendix D. 



The Patowmack Company. 125 

"Eesolved; That the subject of the letter this day received 
from Mr. John K. Smith in relation to the use of the surplus 
water at the Little Falls be referred to the President and 
Directors, who may call a meeting of the stockholders if they 
deem it necessary. 

"Ordered; That the President and Directors allow Mr. 
Foxall what compensation they may think right for his atten- 
tion to the locks at the Little Palls. 

"Resolved; That the President and Directors request the 
board of works of the State of Virginia to permit their prin- 
cipal Engineer to examine the works executed and to consider 
those proposed to be executed on the river Potomac above tide 
water, and to explore the country lying between the waters 
of the Potomac and the waters of the Ohio, with a \'iew to the 
best manner of improving the navigation of the river and of 
facilitating the communication, by way of the Potomac with 
the western waters, and for the purpose of reporting his 
observations and opinions on these points to the Board of 
Works and to the Potowmack Company. 

"Resolved; That the President and Directors apply to the 
Board of Works of Virginia, or to the Legislature of that 
State to authorize the Board of Works, in their discretion as 
may be the proper course to grant such aid from the general 
fund appropriated for such purposes, as has been customary 
in relation to similar undertakings and the interest of that 
State may appear. 

"(Signed,) Wm. Maebury." 

The president reported : 

"No material change in the year. From the state of funds 
the Board did not think themselves authorized to attempt any 
thing more than to keep the present works in repair. The 
new locks at Little Falls have been put in good order. The 
gates to the lower lock at Great Falls which gave way during 
the last summer have been entirely renewed and well secured, 
and it having been found that all the gates of the other locks 
there are decayed and liable to be broken down and interrupt 
navigation it was determined to replace them. . . . With some 



126 The Patowmach Company. 

little repairs to walls the whole lockage at the two places will 
be in good order and likely to last a long time. Maryland 
extended the time on her debt provided the interest was paid 
to July last. Unable to pay the interest and some other press- 
ing claims for making locks, deferred action to general meet- 
ing. Tolls colected $12,514. from 775 boats." 

In November the board agreed with J. K. Smith to 
use water power jointly at Little Falls, he furnishing 
land for mill sites, they surplus water for power; he 
agreed to erect a mill at once, they to guard against 
depletion of canal. There had previously been a large 
mill property at this point. 

By the House of Delegates, Maryland, December 13, 
1819: 

"Whereas the State of Maryland by a large investment in 
the stock of the Potowmack Company is deeply interested in 
its prosperity, both as an object highly beneficial to the com- 
munity and as a source of future revenue to the State, and 
as it is believed that by the consent of the State and of the 
stockholders generally, measures might be adopted to advance 
the improvement and completion of the said canal so as to 
render it profitable to the stockholders, and impart greater 
advantages to the State, therefore ; — 

' ' Eesolved, — That the president and directors of the Potow- 
mack Company be requested forth with to lay before the legis- 
lature such information relative to the situation of the Com- 
pany as they may deem important, and that they suggest such 
plans for the consideration of the legislature as they may con- 
sider calculated to promote the interest of said Company, 
and State. 

' ' Resolved, — That a copy of the above preamble and resolu- 
tion be forwarded to the president and directors of the Po- 
towmack Company." 

Reply : 



The Patowmack Company. 127 

"To THE Honorable President op the Senate and the 
Honorable Speaker op House op Delegates op the 
State op Maryland ; 
"Gentlemen; — 

"In obedience to the joint resolution of the two houses of 
the legislature of the State of Maryland passed on the 21st. 
of last month and by instructions from the Board of Directors 
of the Potowmack Company I have the honor to make the fol- 
lowing communication; — 

' ' On the one hand the situation of the Potowmack Company 
in its relation to the State of Maryland as a stockholder, as in 
its relation to all the other stockholders, is at present far from 
an agreeable one. Loaded with an heavy debt, it has not had 
it in its power to apply any of its large receipts in the way of 
dividends toward retributing them for the capital long ago 
invested, indeed it has been with difficulty, able to make the 
requisite repairs in its extensive works, pay indispensable cur- 
rent expenses, and provide in part for the interest of its 
debt. 

"On the other hand, the situation of the Company in rela- 
tion to that part of the State of Maryland which is contiguous 
to the waters of the upper Potomac and to all the community 
in any way concerned in the raising, transportation and sale 
of the produce of the extensive and fertile country bordering 
on the waters on either side, is highly favorable. 

"For a detail of those advantages, and disadvantages, as 
well as for a minute description of the nature and state of 
the works, and of the extent of the improvements on the river 
reference is respectfully prayed to the several communications 
made in behalf of the Board of Directors for the information 
of the Legislature on the 30th June 1818, and on the 15th 
November 1819 to the Treasurer of the Western Shore of 
Maryland. 

"An institution that shall be capable of facilitating the 
transportation of such vast masses of the products of agri- 
culture and manufactures and of the objects of commerce and 
which furnishes at this time the means of bearing annually 
from the interior of the country to tide water markets produce 



128 The Patowmack Company. 

of the value of more than half a million of dollars, and at a 
saving in the carriage of at least $50,000 in each year, can 
but merit the patronage and the assistance of the State whose 
country is pervaded by the navigation to which it has given 
rise. 

"And accordingly the Potowmack Company from its origin 
to this time has received from both the states of Maryland 
and Virginia repeated evidences of encouragement and favour. 

"The affairs of the Company may in a condensed view be 
presented thus; — 

"The capital or dividing stock is made up of 
701 shares of £100 ster. or $444.44 each $311,555.55 

of which the State of Maryland holds 220 shares 97,777.77 

"The State of Virginia 70 shares retained in 
its own right & 50 presented to Gen. Wash- 
ington 120 shares 53,333.33 

"Individuals 361 " 160,444.45 

"In round numbers the whole sum actually ex- 
pended on the works from the commencement 
of the operations of the Company in 1784 may 
be stated as $670,000.00 

"And the debt due from the Company including 
the $30,000 and interest due the State of Mary- 
land, at 150,000.00 

' ' The tolls received since the existence of the Com- 
pany and re-invested in carrying on the works, 
except the small sum of $3,890 once divided to 
the stockholders, — amount to 185,202.78 

' ' An average amount of tolls now received may be 
fairly put at rather more than less than 15,000.00 

"If then new subscriptions were opened and additional 
stock was taken to an amount sufficient to pay the debt of the 
Company at par, or at the rate at which the original stock- 
holders came in, the whole amount of the capital or of the 
dividing stock would be about $462,000, on which (all the 
expensive and important parts of the work being finished) 
the tolls received would now, or very soon, give, after paying 



The Patowmack Company. 129 

current expenses, a dividend of 3% with a prospect of increase 
proportional to the population and cultivation of the upper 
country; but however advantageous such a measure would be 
to the stockholders generally, by bringing their inactive 
capital into use, it is believed that such is the present extreme 
pressure in money matters, it would be impossible to induce 
individuals concerned to take additional stock, and if this 
should be deemed an eligible course it could only be pursued 
by means of additional subscriptions on the part of the States 
of Maryland and Virginia for the whole sum requisite. Or 
should by similar acts the two states permit the stockholders 
in general meeting to open subscriptions for new stock at such 
rate below par as they might with a view to inviting new 
subscriptions, and to the ultimate interest of the present 
stockholders determine on, and direct the respective agents 
of the stockholders to take a considerable portion of the stock 
so created, it is possible that the assent of the stockholders to 
a reduction in the price of such additional shares might be 
had, and that the sum necessary to effect the object might be 
raised. 

"But as it would be at a sacrifice, to a certain degree of the 
interests of those who originated the enterprise and advanced 
their money in its prosecution more than thirty years ago and 
since on former occasions when new subscriptions were opened 
the original stockholders on account of this advance had re- 
quired that the shares should be set at a rate considerably 
above par and they were so taken up. 

"This last plan is suggested with much diffidence. 

' ' With very great respect etc. etc. John Mason 

"Note; — The original subscriptions were for 500 shares of 
£100 ster. each, (of which twenty-nine were forfeited and sunk) 
there were two other subscriptions opened and filled, one in 
1796 for 100 shares, and one in 1798 for 130 shares, the last 
230 shares were taken at 30% above par — that is at £130 ster. 

"January 26, 1820." 

It was resolved in the general meeting of August, 
1820, that 



130 The Patowmach Company. 

"The thanks of the stock holders of the Potowmack Com- 
pany be presented to Mr. Thos, Moore for the trouble he has 
been pleased to take at their request with the permission of 
the Board of Works of Virginia in exploring the intermediate 
country with a view of connecting the waters of the Ohio and 
Potomac and of examining the navigation and the works on 
the Potomac and particularly for the able and important 
communication he has recently made to the Company on these 
subjects, and that the President and Directors express to 
Mr. Moore the high sense the stockholders entertain of his 
skill as an engineer and of the great worth of his general 
character. ' '^^ 

"6th of August, 1821. 

"The President and Directors of the Potomac Company 
beg leave to submit to the stockholders in general meeting con- 
vened the following report. 

"Since the last general meeting nothing material has oc- 
curred in the affairs of the Company, except the appointment 
by the States of Virginia and Maryland of a board of commis- 
sioners to perform certain duties in relation to the Company, 
which circumstance will be more particularly noticed before 
the conclusion of this report. 

"Everything in the power of the Directors has been done 
to preserve the works in good repair, and to keep the naviga- 
tion at least in as favorable a state as it has been of late years. 

"The pair of decayed lock gates at the Great Falls, which 
at the time of the last report, remained only to be replaced 
have been now completed and well hung. At the head of the 
canal at that place (mentioned by the engineer of the board 
of works of the State of Virginia on his examination of the 
summer of 1820) there was a deficiency of water, as compared 
with that usually in the river above, since then the wing dam 
at that place has been considerably raised and extended, the 
work has been done in a stable manner, and the canal cleansed, 
so that now the whole line of canaling and lockage of that 
important pass, is in complete order, and well capable of 

^ See appendix B. 



iii>ifnKms»<f'sw&^'ii^ 



It'. . V 







View of the Potomac River from the Fifth Lock at the Great Falls 
(Charcoal Drawing by Miss Milicent Strange) 



The Patowmack Company. 131 

receiving and delivering all boats that can navigate the river 
in its present state of improvement. On the Seneca canal 
some work has been done in clearing it of the collection of drift 
timber and of the stone and gravel that the freshes had 
deposited there. At the Little Falls the works are in good 
repair, the canal has for some time been gradually filling up 
by means of ordinary deposit and the wash from the hills, and 
though no material delays or injuries have as yet been experi- 
enced from this circumstance, it has become necessary to pro- 
vide against it ; to facilitate the cleansing of this and the canal 
at the Great Falls the Directors have determined to build a 
small mud-machine to be worked by manual labor, calculated to 
save both time and expense in an operation which must from 
the nature of the case be frequently repeated. This machine 
is now on hand, and it is expected will be at work during the 
low water of the present season. The navigation has been 
carried on during the last season as usual and without inter- 
ruption. 

"By the return of the Treasurer numbered one, and here- 
with submitted, will be shown the number of boats employed 
and the kinds and quantities of produce and merchandise 
transported, with their estimated value, and that the tolls 
collected thereon have amounted during the year ending on 
the first day of this month to $12,490.61. For the receipts 
and disbursements of the Company during the same period 
and for the present state of the debt of the Company, refer- 
ence is prayed to the statements numbered 2, 3 and 4 and filed 
as making part of this report. 

"The President and Directors can but call the particular 
attention of the Stockholders to the late step so important to 
their interests taken as before intimated by the States of Vir- 
ginia and Maryland; they have procured and herewith lay 
before the meeting for the better understanding of that sub- 
ject, the act of the Virginia Legislature passed the 27th of 
January last, and the corresponding resolutions passed by the 
Legislature of Maryland on the 16th of February following; 
and they have to add that it is known that in pursuance with 
these legislative provisions the executives of those states have 



132 The Patowmack Company. 

respectively appointed two commissioners, men of high stand- 
ing and residing in the vicinity of the waters of the Potomac. 

"No official communication has as yet been received from 
the commissioners, but it is presumed that it cannot be long 
before they will enter on the duties assigned them and that the 
Company will be called on for such information relative to its 
affairs as they may desire to possess. At the last general meet- 
ing the President and Directors made a full exposition of 
the then state of the differences existing between the Company 
and Mr. John Kelly Smith in relation to the Company's rights 
and privileges on the river at and near the* canal at the Little 
Falls, since then they have not heard any thing further from 
Mr. Smith or his agents upon the subject. 

"(Signed) J. Mason 

Jonah Thompson 
John Laied 
Jno. C. Vowell" 

"August 5, 1822. Annual Report. 

"To the Stockholders of the Potomac Company the Presi- 
dent and Directors respectfully report; — 

"That during the last year the works of the Company and 
the navigation of the river have under gone no material 
changes — As usual the transportation by this channel has 
been considerable and constant at all times but the driest 
seasons and during the hard frost. 

"On the works some repairs have become necessary. In 
two of the locks at the Great Falls the walls had partially 
given way, and the canal at the Little Falls had become so 
filled with sediment as to threaten an interruption to the 
navigation. The opportunity of the present dry season has 
been improved to rebuild the walls at the Great Falls, and to 
cleanse the canal and repair the sluice gates and wing dam 
at the Little Falls. Without accident the whole will be com- 
pleted during the present month in an effectual and perma- 
nent manner. 

"The annexed exhibits from the Treasurer will show in 
detail the present state of the affairs of the Company. 



The Patowmack Company. 133 

"The annual report of the state of the works and of the 
monied concerns of the Company as required by a law of the 
state of Virginia from all the incorporated companies in which 
that state has an interest, was made by order of the President 
and Directors on the 5th day of December last, a copy of which 
is herewith furnished. 

"Within the last few months communications have been 
received from the agent of the state of Maryland for the West- 
ern Shore respecting the debt due to it from the Company, 
and from the Treasurer of the new Shenandoah Company 
inviting the attention of the Potowmack Company, as a matter 
of policy, to the question of reducing the tolls, in conjunction 
with the Shenandoah Company, on articles shipped on the 
Shenandoah river. Both these subjects having been deemed 
by the Board of Directors as proper to be submitted to the 
consideration of the Stockholders, were laid over for their in- 
structions, and they are now accordingly submitted. 

' ' In the month of January last a letter was addressed to the 
President of the Potowmack Company by the chairman of a 
committee of the House of Delegates of the state of Maryland re- 
questing information on various points relative to the aif airs of 
the Company, and asking his opinion of a plan proposed to be 
submitted to the legislature of that state for the improvement 
of the navigation of Potomac river; to which letter an imme- 
diate reply was made, and the information required, fur- 
nished. Copies of these papers are annexed to this report. 

' ' The President of the Company on this occasion begs leave 
to remark, that in making up the opinion which he was called 
upon to give, as well from the tenor of the letter of the chair- 
man of the committee, as from a knowledge that the Legis- 
lature was about to rise, there being no time allowed to consult 
the stockholders or even to call a Board of Directors at that 
inclement season of the year, he was compelled to act on his 
own judgment, and he humbly trusts that the opinion he has 
thus given, and the plan he has ventured to suggest, may be 
received by the Stockholders, as arising from the proper 
motives and the best consideration he was able on such short 



134 ^^^ Patowmack Company. 

notice to give the subject. At any rate it will be perceived 
that in the manner these were given, they can in no way 
commit the Company. 

' ' The commissioners appointed by the states of Virginia and 
Maryland to perform certain duties having relation to the 
navigation of the Potomac and the affairs of the Company, 
as stated in the report made by the Board of Directors to the 
last general meeting of the Stockholders, did not convene 
during the last year owing as was understood to some infor- 
mality in the proceedings of one of the states, leading to their 
appointment. 

"They held their first meeting in the beginning of last 
month at Georgetown and after a session of a few days ad- 
journed to meet about the middle of that month at Cumber- 
land, for the purpose of entering on the examination of the 
state of navigation of the river, and of the works of the 
Company, in which examination, attended by the principal 
engineer of the Board of works of Virginia, it is believed 
they are now engaged. 

"During the late session of the commissioners in George 
Town, in compliance with the instructions of the Stockholders, 
documents and papers from the ofSce of the Company, were 
furnished them, giving information on all the points relative 
to which it was required ; which information is now preparing 
to be handed them in an official communication and particular 
form at their request. 

"The farther improvement of the Potomac river was 
brought to the view of Congress at the last session by several 
reports of committees, the most important of which was from 
the committee of the District of Columbia made on sundry 
memorials of the inhabitants of Pennsylvania, Maryland and 
Virginia praying the aid of the Federal Government toward 
that object. This lengthy and luminous document has been 
recently published. — The President and Directors think it 
proper to call the attention of the general meeting to it and 
particularly to that part of it, in which it is proposed to engraft, 
by means of the necessary alterations in the charter, a new 
Company on the present one, and to supercede the use of the 



The Patowmack Company. 135 

natural bed of the river, by a resort to a navigable canal 
from tide water to Cumberland. 

The President and Directors before concluding this report 
beg leave to congratulate the Stockholders on the many evi- 
dences lately given of the interest in the completion of this 
navigation which has been excited as well in the Legislatures 
of the states of Virginia and Maryland as in Congress and the 
neighboring community, and which they can but hope will 
lead to a favorable result. 

"(Signed) J. Mason 

Jonah Thompson 
Jno. C. Vowell" 

And here the records of the Patowmack Company 
end. Whether no board meetings were after held, or 
whether the records were not preserved may not now 
be known. The subsequent proceedings of the com- 
pany are given in the annual reports of the president 
and directors only. The last recorded order is for the 
payment of the usual pension to the blind laborer. 

Annual Report op 1823. 

"The President and Directors of the Potomac Company in 
this their annual report beg leave respectfully to state to the 
stockholders, That the works of the Company and the naviga- 
tion of the river are in quite as good a state as usual of late 
years. The repairs to the locks at Great Falls, mentioned as 
requisite in the last annual report have been completed. At 
the Little Falls, the canal has been cleansed, the banks re- 
paired and three pairs of new sluice gates inserted to great 
advantage, in preventing the accumulation of foreign matter 
in the canal. The canals at Seneca Falls and Harpers Ferry 
have also been rendered better capable of navigation by 
repairs and removing the loose stone from them. Some work 
has also been done in refitting the sluiceways and wing dams 
on different parts of the river. 

"The exhibits from the Treasurer herewith submitted give 
a detailed view of the affairs of the Company. . . . 



136 The Patowmacle Company. 

"The resolution of the stockholders passed at their last 
annual meeting in consequence of the application of the agent 
of the State of Maryland for payment of the debt due to that 
state, was communicated as directed to the agent; suit was it 
appears, notwithstanding, ordered by him, and the subject 
was about to be taken up by the legislature of Maryland, of 
which proceeding having been advised by a person then at- 
tending the legislature on the part of the Company and 
apprehending a course hostile to the interests of the Company, 
the President and Directors immediately forwarded a peti- 
tion to that legislature, which was fortunately presented in 
time, and was the means of obtaining the farther indulgence 
to the Company. As a sequel to the information submitted 
to the stockholders at their meetings in February last, in rela- 
tion to the proceedings of the legislatures of Virginia and 
Maryland, then in session, on the subject of the contemplated 
incorporation of a new company under certain stipulations 
with the existing company, for the purpose of cutting a canal 
to be supplied by the waters of the Potomac and its tributary 
streams from the highest practicable point in the North 
Branch to tide water, the President and Directors have to 
state, that in Virginia a law passed for the incorporation of 
a new company, the provisions of which will be seen by the 
printed act; and the circumstances of its connection with 
the existing company will be explained by the report of James 
M. Mason who attended the legislature of that state by 
appointment of the Board of Directors as agent of the 
Company. 

' ' In Maryland after several weeks ' discussion and the meas- 
ure having assumed in the committee of the whole of the 
House of Delegates the shape exhibited in the bill no. 57 after 
some of the provisions deemed by its friends most valuable 
had been stricken out by a vote of the House, the bill was 
withdrawn by the members in the Powtomack interest. 

' ' Great interest has been excited in both states on this ques- 
tion of the improvement of the navigation of the upper 
Potomac by means of an independent canal, and there can be 
no doubt that it will be renewed at the next session of the 



The Patowmack Company. 137 

Maryland legislature and possibly in some shape in the Vir- 
ginia legislature. It is plain from the communications had 
with the legislatures of those states at their last sessions, and 
from the nature of the case, that whenever it becomes a matter 
for legislation, the interests of this Company must be deeply 
involved. 

"It will be seen by the report of the commissioners ap- 
pointed by the two states to examine the affairs of the Patow- 
mack Company, the state of the navigation of the river, &c. 
made last winter that they strongly intimate that a new com- 
pany may be legally and equitably established by law to effect 
the proposed work, without any provision for, or remunera- 
tion to that Company or its creditors. Without undertaking 
here to combat this opinion which the President and Directors 
must regard as unfounded, they will only remark, that so far 
as the legislatures of the states concerned have acted, more 
liberal views of the subject have been taken. 

"The President and Directors beg leave to call particular 
attention of the stockholders to this point, they can but con- 
sider it of great importance under the peculiar circumstances 
of the case, as well to the community as to the Company and 
its creditors, that measures should be taken to determine and 
to make known thro ' some channel to the legislature of Mary- 
land and if necessary to that of Virginia, on what terms this 
Company will by agreement consent to surrender its charter, 
and inasmuch as its funds are exhausted and its debts pressing 
however it may have law and right on its side, the President 
and Directors beg leave to recommend that the conditions so 
proposed be of the most moderate and conciliatory nature. 
"All of which is respectfully submitted." 

The submitted copy of the following valuable report 
with its various enclosures is not to be found. This is 
from the original draft by John Mason. 

"August 2d, 1824. 

"The President and Directors, to the stockholders of the 
Potomac Company, in general meeting assembled, respect- 
fully report ; — 



138 The Patowmack Company. 

' ' That since the last annual meeting nothing material as to 
the condition of the works on the river has occurred, no change 
of any importance has been made in them, and they have been 
kept at a small expense, in the usual repair. 

"The documents furnished by the Treasurer of the Com- 
pany herewith exhibited, and numbered from one to four, 
show in detail the present state of its affairs. 

' ' No. 1 shows the number of boats and the tonnage that have 
been employed, the tolls received and the estimated value of 
the articles from which they were collected during the year 
ending on the first of Aug. 1824. 

' ' No. 2 is a statement of the quantity and kinds of produce 
and manufactures transported from the upper country within 
the same period. 

"No. 3 gives a particular account of the disbursements of 
money made in that year. 

' ' No. 4 is a table of the' debts of the Company in which is set 
forth the several sums due, to whom owing and the total 
amount as struck on the 1st. of Aug. 1824. 

"A copy of the report as required by law made by the 
President and Directors to the Board of Works of the State 
of Virginia is also submitted. 

"In their last annual report the President and Directors 
ventured to state an opinion that great interest had been 
excited in the neighboring community relative to the improve- 
ment of the navigation of the upper Potomac, by means of 
an independent canal. In this they have not been mistaken. 
In the month of November last, as no doubt is known to most 
of the stockholders, a number of highly respected citizens, 
regularly delegated from many of the counties of Virginia 
and Maryland, from Pennsylvania and from the District of' 
Columbia, convened in the city of AVashington; and being 
duly organized as a deliberative body, discussed for several 
days, with great zeal and ability, not only that branch of the 
subject but also the practicability and propriety of connecting 
the waters of the Ohio with those of the Potomac by a canal 
to be extended from the eastern base of the Alleghany across 
the mountain; the proceedings of this important convention 



The Patowmack Company. 139 

terminated in the passage of a number of appropriate resolu- 
tions, and the appointment of several standing committees to 
carry them into effect. A copy of these resolutions, together 
with the other proceedings of the convention, is now laid 
before this meeting. It will be observed that in more than one 
point of view they have an essential bearing on the interests 
of this Company. 

"In consequence of petitions from the committees of the 
convention, acts were passed during the past winter, by the 
legislatures of both Virginia and Maryland, for incorporating 
a new company to make a navigable canal from the tide water 
of the Potomac in the District of Columbia to the mouth of 
Savage Creek, on the north branch of said river, and extend- 
ing thence across the Alleghany mountains to some convenient 
point on the navigable waters of the Ohio or some of its 
tributary streams, nearly on the plan recommended by the 
convention. But as in as much as in the act of Maryland, 
certain qualifications were annexed to some of the provisions 
of that of Virginia which qualifications were not afterwards 
acted on by the legislature of Virginia, and since no assent 
(as required by the acts of Virginia and Maryland) has as 
yet been given by the legislature of Pennsylvania, or by the 
Congress of the United States to the provisions of these acts, 
both of them remain inoperative. By a reference to the said 
acts of Virginia and Maryland it will be found, that it is 
expressly provided, that they shall not take effect until the 
assent of the Potowmack Company shall have been formally 
signified, and it will be seen on what terms it is proposed that 
it shall surrender its rights to, and amalgamate its interests 
with, those of the new company; the stockholders will thus 
be enabled to determine how far it may be expedient at this 
time, to take order on the subject. The Board of Directors 
from all that has passed, can but believe that whatever course 
this matter may ultimately take, a fair and liberal provision 
will be made, as well for the direct interest of this Company, 
which has so long toiled for the good of the community, as for 
that of its creditors who have furnished money for the ad- 
vencement of the object. 



140 The Patowmach Company. 

"The President and Directors take particular pleasure in 
remarking, as a strong evidence of the impetus which has 
been given by public opinion on this subject, that the Presi- 
dent of the United States in his message to Congress at the 
commencement of last session, took occasion to mention, in 
approbatory terms, the convention of citizens which had then 
recently taken place to discuss the question of the Potomac 
and Ohio canals ; and to call the attention of Congress to this 
among other objects of internal improvements, that the result 
was, that Congress in April last passed an act, authorizing 
the President to employ skilful engineers, and such of the 
officers of the corps of engineers and others whom he might 
cause to be detailed on that duty, to make the necessary sur- 
veys, plans and estimates of the routes of such roads and 
canals, as he might deem of national importance, in a com- 
mercial or military point of view, and that soon after the 
President designated, as the first object to be attended to, 
under this act, the route of the canals recommended by the 
convention and adopted by the legislatures of Virginia and 
Maryland as before stated, and he appointed a most able and 
efficient body of engineers, civil and military, who are now 
actually employed in exploring the summit level between the 
head waters of the Potomac and Ohio, and in tracing and 
taking the levels of their several tributaries, from which it is 
expected the projected canals may be fed. 

' ' On all which, as leading to the consumation of the original 
views of this Company, the President and Directors beg leave 
to congratulate the stockholders, and to express a firm belief, 
that the day is not distant, when with the aid of the general 
government and of the government of the contiguous states, 
this great work will be undertaken. 

"(Signed) J. Mason 

Jonah Thompson 
Jno. C. Vowell" 

On the 27th day of January, 1824, the legislature of 
Virginia passed an act incorporating the Chesapeake 
and Ohio Canal Company which should become law 




Gen. John Mason, Last President of Patowmack Company 
(From Portrait in Possession of Mrs. V. C. Dawson) 



The Patowmack Company. 141 

when assent should be given to its terms by Maryland, 
the Congress of the United States and by the stock- 
holders of the Patowmack Company. Subscriptions to 
the new stock might be paid in Patowmack stock at par 
or in the duly authenticated claims of its creditors, 
provided that the certificates of stock shall not exceed 
in the whole amount the sum of $311,111.11, nor the 
claims the sum of $175,800.00. 

At a special meeting of the stockholders on the 16th 
of May, 1825, assent was given to the propositions of 
Virginia. 

* Annual Report of 1825. 

"To the Stockholders of the Potowmack Company, the 
President and Directors beg leave to report. 

"That the last year the navigation in the several parts of 
the river has been kept in nearly its usual state, with very 
little expense, that latterly however, it has become somewhat 
obstructed by the partial falling of the walls of some of the 
canals, and by deposit of mud in others, as well as from decay 
on some of the lock gates, to remedy which and to make the 
necessary repairs, preparations are now making in order to 
take advantage of the present low water. It is believed the 
disbursements required to effect all that is wanting will not 
be considerable. 

"The papers numbered one to five furnished by the Treas- 
urer and annexed to this report are respectfully referred to, 
for the state of the Company's affairs in detail. . . . 

"In compliance with one of the resolutions of the stock- 
holders passed at the general meeting held on the 16th of 
May last, as soon as the requisite papers could be prepared, 
the President of the Company transmitted to the Executives 
of Virginia and Maryland and Pennsylvania respectively and 
to the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States authen- 
ticated copies of so much of the proceedings of that meeting 
as went to declare the full and free assent of the Potowmack 
Company to the act of the state of Virginia passed at the 
December session in the year 1823 entitled 'An act incor- 



142 The PatowmacJc Company. 

porating the Chesapeake and Ohio Company' and as went 
toward providing for the surrender, at the proper time, of 
the charter of the Potowmack Company to the same Chesa- 
peake and Ohio Canal Company, as will be more particularly 
seen by reference to the recorded copies of the several letters 
addressed to the Governors of Virginia, Maryland and Penn- 
sylvania and to the Secretary of the Treasury. In Conse- 
quence of which communications on the part of the Company 
commissioners have been appointed by the President of the 
United States, by the executive of the state of Maryland and 
by the executive of the state of Virginia for causing books to 
be opened for receiving subscriptions to the capital stock of 
the company to be incorporated, as contemplated by the act 
of Virginia before recited and by the acts of Maryland and of 
the Congress of the United States connected therewith. From 
Pennsylvania nothing has been heard on the subject. . . . 

"The resolution of the general meeting which required the 
President should give notice to the creditors of the Company of 
its determination to surrender its charter, and of the alternative 
given them in relation to their debts, by the proposed charter 
of the new company, and that he should furnish the creditors 
Avith the actual state and prospects of the Company, in order 
to enable them the better to judge as to the option reserved to 
them, &c. has been so far complied with as that the whole 
proceedings bearing on the question, authenticated by the 
certificate of the treasurer and clerk of the Company have 
been published in the newspapers. The action on the last 
part of that resolution has been postponed until by the settle- 
ments made at the close of the year just ending, a more accu- 
rate view could be given, to the creditors, of the state of the 
affairs of the Company and of its prospects. 

"A copy of the last annual report made by the President 
and Directors (as required by law of the state of Virginia) 
to the Board of Works of that state, is annexed, for the infor- 
mation of the stockholders. 

' ' The President and Directors ought not to close this report 
without bringing to the view of the stockholders, a very 
extraordinary occurrence which has recently taken place in 



The Patowmach Company. 143 

relation to the disposable funds of the Company by which 
they have been completely deprived, for the present year at 
least, of every dollar they had in hand. The transaction 
alluded to is the actual seizing upon and withholding from 
the treasurer, the whole amount of his deposits in one of the 
banks of this town by the officers of that institution, not only 
against all custom and propriety on such occasions, but against 
a positive agreement on that subject, as will be shown. 

"In the month of March last a deposit was made in the 
Union Bank of this town under an express agreement with the 
officers of the bank which was from time to time increased 
until the sum was considerable. During the month of July 
a cheek was drawn for a part of the sum then there at his 
credit, by the treasurer, which having been refused, the case 
as it then stood was referred to Board of Directors, who di- 
rected that the entire balance lying in that bank belonging 
to the Company, should be withdrawn and deposited in the 
Farmers and Mechanics Bank of Georgetown. A check was 
accordingly drawn on the same day — to wit, the 13th July ult. 
and presented for said balance which being refused, it was 
put into the hands of a notary public and being again refused 
to him on formal presentation it was protested. Whereupon 
by order of the Board a letter was addressed on July 18 by 
the Treasurer to the Board of Directors of the Union Bank 
remonstrating against the transaction and claiming their in- 
terference. 

' ' No answer having been received from the Directors of that 
bank, and it having been understood that it had happened 
that a sufficient number of members had not since the date 
of that letter met to form a board, the President of the Com- 
pany by instruction from the Board addressed on the 29th 
July a letter to the president of the Union Bank requesting 
him to call a special board to act upon the subject. Nothing 
has since been heard from him, and it is understood that a 
board has not been called. 

"For a better understanding of the detail of this matter 
reference is prayed to the minute made by the treasurer on 



144 ^^^ Patowmack Company. 

the day book under date 31st March and 13th July and corre- 
spondence recorded. 

"All of which is respectfully submitted 

"(Signed) J. Mason, Prest. 
"Jno. C. Vowell, Jonah Thompson, C. O'Neil, J. Laird." 

"Annual Report of 1826. 

"The President and Directors beg leave respectfully to 
report : — 

' ' That in order to keep up the navigation on the lower part 
of the river it became indispensably necessary since the last 
annual meeting to effect considerable repairs to the works at 
the Little Falls, the canal which had not been cleaned out 
for several years was during the last season cleaned out for 
its whole length, the wall at its entrance has been repaired 
and heightened, the boat course at its mouth cleaned of the 
rocks which obstructed the passage of boats, one of the 
tumbling dams has been made good from its foundation, and 
other necessary repairs have been completed. Also contracts 
have been made for the immediate erection of a new pair of 
upper gates and for the framing of other gates to be in readi- 
ness in case of accident or sudden dis-repair. 

"At the Great Falls the lowermost pair of lock gates, the 
largest and most important of the works at that place have 
been replaced by a new pair of substantial materials and good 
workmanship. A new waste water sluice of stone masonry 
has been built, the entire canal cleaned out and the wing wall 
at the entrance has been repaired and heightened so as to 
afford eighteen inches more water in a low stage of the river 
than heretofore. 

"The sluices and dams between the Great Falls and Seneca 
canal were repaired and rebuilt so far as the season would 
admit and the passage through Seneca canal has been consid- 
erably improved. 

' ' The usual statements of the Treasurer of the Company are 
presented as part of this report and as exhibits of the affairs 
to the Company in detail, numberd 1 to 5. . . . 



The Patowmach Company. 145 

' ' In compliance with the resolution of the last annual meet- 
ing and under the advice of the counsel of the Company, meas- 
ures were taken by the President and Directors to recover 
possession of the funds improperly withheld by the Union 
Bank, and after having made a formal demand of the deposit 
and restoration being refused, a suit was brought for its re- 
covery and damages. About two months after this process 
was commenced intimations were indirectly made to the Board 
of Directors of the Company that if now applied for the Bank 
would restore the money. Whereupon the Treasurer was in- 
structed to present two checks on the Bank, one for the amount 
of the principal withheld, viz. $5989.79, and the other for the 
amount of the interest which had accrued as allowed by the 
act of Congress at the rate of 12% per annum, for the time 
that the money had been withheld ; the cheek for the principal 
sum was paid, and that for the interest was refused. The suit 
is now prosecuted to recover that interest; the reception of 
which entire sum will not indemnify the Company for the loss 
sustained by the withholding of this money from it ; which had 
been set apart for the purchase of the certificates of the Cum- 
berland Bank of Allegheny for the purpose of discharging a 
debt due in that bank by some of the Company's creditors, 
and which it was bound to reserve in virtue of a pledge made 
of certain tolls long ago received, the said certificates having 
so much appreciated in value before the Company could obtain 
the use of its money, as to require a much larger sum to effect 
the object in view. 

"In the month of June application was made by the Chief 
of the Ordnance Department of the United States for permis- 
sion to the superintendent of the Public Armory at Harpers 
Ferry to fix a lock gate in the canal of the Company, on the 
opposite side of the river, for the purpose of increasing in dry 
seasons the quantity of water in the canal leading to the 
Public works. This measure appearing to the Board to be 
one likely to prove beneficial to the United States without 
being injurious to the navigation if properly effected, permis- 
sion was cheerfully given, on condition that a person should 
be kept at the gate at the expense of the United States, to 



146 The Patowmack Company. 

insure a fr.ee passage to boats at such times as the gate was to 
be used for the object in view; and that in the events of its 
being found, notwithstanding, an obstruction to the naviga- 
tion, it should be removed. . . . 

"As required by the laws of Virginia, the usual annual 
report of the state of the Company's funds and of their works 
&c. was transmitted in December last to the Board of Public 
Works of that state. A copy of which is herewith presented. 

' ' In relation to the contemplated amalgamation of the affairs 
of the Potowmack Company with those of the projected 
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, nothing farther has 
been done, inasmuch as the commissioners, appointed under 
the several acts of Virginia, Maryland and of Congress for 
receiving subscriptions for stock in the last mentioned Com- 
pany, have not as yet thought it prudent, under the circum- 
stances of the case, to open books for that purpose. 

' ' It will, in order to preserve the navigation of the river in 
a tolerable state for the ensuing season, be indispensable that 
provision be made for renewing most of the other gates at the 
Little Falls locks, and to rebuild many of the dams, sluices 
and wing walls on the upper part of the river, and particu- 
larly between Seneca Falls and Harpers Ferry. These are 
estimated to cost from $1500 to $1700. After the reservation 
of a sum sufficient for this object and for ordinary expenses, 
it will be perceived by the exhibits of the Treasurer that there 
will remain a balance of a few thousand dollars from the re- 
ceipts of the last year, applicable to the claims of the creditors 
of the Company in such manner as the President and stock- 
holders may deem proper to appropriate it. 

"All of which is respectfully submitted by 

"(Signed) J. Mason, Prest. Po. Cy. 
Jonah Thompson 
Jno. C. Vowell 
C. O'Neil" 

"Annual Report for 1827. 

"The President and Directors of the Patowmack Company, 
to the stockholders in general meeting. 



The Patowmack Company. 147 

' ' Respectfully report : — 

' ' That, as anticipated by the Board of Directors in their last 
annual communication to the general meeting, it has been 
found that much work was required to be done for the then 
ensuing season, in order to preserve the navigation, in repair- 
ing the locks on the canals at the Great and Little Falls, in 
rebuilding the dams, sluices and wing walls in the upper part 
of the river and in amending the courses. 

"Advantage was taken of the low stage of the water in the 
latter part of last summer, and in the fall to execute these 
works to a considerable amount from Harpers Ferry to the 
head of Seneca and thence to tide water, but the approach of 
winter rendered the days too short to work with effect, and 
the rise in the waters rendered it necessary to desist from 
farther operations. A portion therefore was not finally com- 
pleted. What was done however has so far improved the 
navigation as to admit of the transport of ten barrels more of 
flour in the same stage of water. Some repairs were also done 
between the mouth of Opecon (?) and Williamsport, and be- 
tween the mouth of South Branch and Cumberland. Much 
however yet remains to be done, both on the river and at Great 
and Little Falls ; at the latter places, a competent force under 
the direction of skilful workmen and judicious superintendence 
is now in train of executing such repairs as are essential there. 
At the Great Falls careful examination of the works displayed 
the imperious necessity of replacing many of the timbers at- 
tached and forming part of the locks which were in a state 
of natural decay, and in pulling down and rebuilding from 
the foundation, the masonry of some of the locks which were 
in a state of dilapidation from the imperfection originally in 
the mode of facing them with hewn stone. At the Little Falls 
a pair of new gates (the upper ones) have been inserted, and 
skilful carpenters are employed in framing new gates for the 
remaining locks, for which the materials are principally pro- 
vided and are on the ground, in order for insertion whenever 
required. 

' ' The Treasurer of the Company has by order of the Board 
made two visits of inspection and examination to various parts 



148 The Patowmach Company. 

of the river above the Great Falls, and has ascertained the 
state of the Company's works, their condition and that of the 
navigation and has made on each occasion a separate and de- 
tailed report which are herewith submitted. After his first 
tour of inspection and upon his recommendation as to the 
mode of executing the work, permission has been granted by 
the Board to Isaac Mc.Pherson to erect a dam and mill on the 
Monocacy a few miles above its junction with the Patowmaek, 
and to Dr. Henry Boteler of Shepherdstown the same privi- 
lege has been granted for the building of a dam and mill on 
the Patowmaek upon conditions and stipulations which, when 
complied with, will afford sufficient security for the preserva- 
tion of the navigation and for its improvement, at the same 
time offering great prospect of an increase, to a considerable 
amount, of tolls. The mill on the Monocacy, so encouraged, 
has been completed and has already furnished a considerable 
addition to the produce which has passed through the locks 
from that part of the country. That near Shepherdstown is 
progressing rapidly to completion. 

"Within the last few years the supply of certain articles, 
particularly of coal, lumber and timber from the upper part 
of the Patowmaek to intermediate points on its banks above 
Great Falls, has been gradually increasing, and latterly, as 
was believed, became an object sufficient to merit the attention 
of the Board of Directors, and to authorize the expense of 
establishing collections of tolls at such places on the upper 
river as were designated by the laws of the two states from 
whom the Company derives its charter. Accordingly since 
the last general meeting of the stockholders, collectors have 
been appointed at Williamsport, Shepherdstown and Harpers 
Ferry, at which places considerable tolls have already been 
collected and when the requisite arrangements, as to these, 
shall have been completed, there is good reason to expect that 
a handsome increase of revenue may be derived from them. 

" The suit prosecuted against the Union Bank of George 
Town for damages because of its with-holding certain funds 
of the Company, as stated in the last annual report, has termi- 



The Patowmack Company. 149 

nated in a judgment in favor of the Company to the amount 
of the damages claimed by it. 

"The Cumberland loan, so called and more particularly 
mentioned in former reports, as having under a special pledge 
a claim on the Company to priority of payment, has been now 
fully discharged, both principal and interest, and all the sur- 
plus funds arising from the tolls of the year just closed have 
been appropriated for the purpose of extinguishing a part of 
the loan of twenty-six thousand dollars made by certain banks 
in the District who were next entitled by special pledge to 
priority of payment, as will be shown in detail in the reports 
of the Treasurer herewith submitted. 

"The commissioners appointed under the acts of Virginia, 
Maryland and of Congress for receiving subscriptions to stock 
in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, not having 
as yet opened their books, nothing farther has been done, as 
regards the corporate act of the Patowmack Company of the 
16th May 1825, assenting to the provisions of the above men- 
tioned acts incorporating that Company. 

"All of which is respectfully submitted. 
" (Signed) J. Mason, Jonah Thompson, C. O'Neil, Jno. C. 

VOWELL. ' ' 

Annual Report for 1828. 

' ' To the Stockholders of the Patowmack Company in 
General Annual Meeting assembled ; 

"The President and Directors Respectfully report; — 
' ' That in addition to the repairs and improvement stated in 
the last annual report to have been made on the different locks, 
canals and other works in various parts of the river, three of 
the locks at the Great Falls have of necessity and at consider- 
able expense undergone a thorough repair in the stone work, 
two of them having been rebuilt from the ground, and a large 
portion of no. 3 lock been replaced from the foundation. A 
considerable expenditure was also made in repairs of the 
gates and other works requiring carpenter's assistance. At 
the Little Falls a considerable portion of the canal has been 



150 The Patowmack Company. 

cleaned out, one of the tumbling dams has been rebuilt with 
stone from its foundation, and three pairs of new gates framed 
of first rate timber have been inserted to replace others which 
from long and the natural decay incident to works of that 
kind, had become unsafe longer to be trusted to. Timber for 
a fourth pair has been also provided and is on the spot and 
partly framed for the purpose. 

' ' On the Monocacy the navigation has been made good from 
its mouth to Mc.Pherson 's mill and store, particularly referred 
to in the last report, a distance of nearly five miles, and there 
is no doubt the tolls already received, and to be received from 
the produce manufactured at that establislunent will soon re- 
imburse the cost of this improvement. 

"At Paynes Falls below Harpers Ferry and at Stubbeville 
Falls below the Great Falls some permanent and advantageous 
improvements have been made. 

"The differences existing with the Union Bank of George- 
town have been terminated, the officers of that bank having at 
length consented to a settlement in the mode directed by the 
stockholders of this Company, by dismissing the suits and dis- 
charging the judgments which the bank had obtained against 
the Company, and by consenting to receive from it, on account 
of the loan of $26,000 of 1816 the same proportions with 
the other banks concerned in the loan; which has accordingly 
been carried into execution, and the judgment obtained by 
the Company against the said bank has been satisfied by it 
by a full payment of it with costs of suit, &c. 

' ' The usual annual statements of the Treasurer of the Com- 
pany displaying the monied and other concerns of the Com- 
pany in the exhibits No. 1 to 5 are herewith submitted; 
They are 1st, A statement of the quantity and estimated value 
of produce and other articles transported on the Patowmack 
in the year ending 31st July 1828, with the tonnage employed 
in conveying the same and the tolls which have accrued there- 
from. — ■ 

"2nd. — A general abstract showing the various kinds of 
produce and other articles transported during the said period. 



The Patowmack Company. 15^ 

"3rd. — A classified abstract of the disbursements made by 
the Treasurer for the year ending 31st July 1828. 

"4th. — An account for the attendance of the President and 
Directors respectively on the business of the Company during 
their term of service just completed. 

' ' 5th. — A statement of the debts of the Company and of the 
interest thereon to the date of its assent to the acts of the sev- 
eral sates and of the Congress of the United States incorpor- 
ating the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, and showing 
the farther interest to 31st July 1828. 

"It will be perceived that since the last annual exhibit of 
the accounts of the Company payments have been made of 

principal of debt to the amount of $7,322.83 

and of interest to the amount of 2,880.29 

10^3.12 
and that independent of the Lottery affairs, the debts of the 
Company now stand for principal and interest to 16th May 
1825, the date of the assent before mentioned, at the sum of 
very nearly $176,400. 

"The annual report has been made to the Board of Public 
Works of the State of Virginia, as required by the law of that 
state and the same will be found recorded in the Journal of 
Proceedings of the Company. 

"(Signed) J. Mason Prest. 
Jonah Thompson 
C. O'Nbil 
Jno. C. Yo-weiaj" 

On the 15tli of August, 1828, the conveyance to the 
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company was made, the 
deed being signed by J. Mason, Jonah Thompson, John 
Laird and Clement Smith, and the Patowmack Com- 
pany passed into oblivion with its memories of heroic 
struggles and high ideals. Work had been commenced 
on the new enterprise July 4, 1826, when President 
Adams threw out the first spade of soil at High Island, 



152 The Patowmack Company. 

but the old works were used until 1830, when the locks 
at Great Falls were dismantled and abandoned. The 
canal at Little Falls was long used in its original state. 

Only an occasional one of the many visitors to the 
beautiful Falls of the Potomac pauses to cast an inquir- 
ing glance at the remains of the long ditch-like excava- 
tion vanishing in the glade and the ruins of the stone 
laid sluice-way and mill as he passes. Earely a student 
seeks the obscure path that, correctly followed, leads to 
the old commodious basin, now a cultivated field, past 
the tottering ruins of the once handsome home of the 
superintendent to the five locks farther down the wood, 
three of them faced with dressed brown stone from the 
quarries at Seneca, two of them blasted through the 
solid rock of a cleft between two towering peaks that 
stand as gigantic guards to this portal to the rushing 
current below. Peering into this forbidding gorge one 
realizes the full import of the old chronicler who wrote, 
"rarely an accident happens to boat or cargo." 

Forest trees have pushed their roots down and the 
stone out, have insinuated themselves through from the 
inside and seemingly hang in midair from the walls 
and rise in groups and singly from the bed of the locks. 
Nature has full possession. Imagination fails to pic- 
ture the old time scene of life and activity. 

"With the exception of Mount Vernon this spot is 
more intimately associated with "Washington's every- 
day life than any other, yet there is nothing about the 
locality to call the attention of the tourist to the fact 
that the ground he treads has been hallowed by long 
and close association with the "Father of his Coun- 
try," and that these ruins represent the first corporate 
attempt at inland improvement of waterways and for 
communication with the western country. 



The Patowmack Company. 153 

Presidents and Membees of the Board op Dieectoes 
OF the Patowmack Company. 

Virginia. Maryland. 

Geo. Washin^on 4 years. Thos. Johnson 4 years. 

Jno. Fitzgerald 3 years. Tobias Lear 2 years. 

James Keith 9 years. Elie Williams 2 years. 

Chas. Simms 8 years. John Mason 11 years. 

Thos. Johnson, Thos. Sim Lee, Geo. Gilpin, Jas. 
Fitzgerald, Notley Young, David Stuart, Wm. Deakins, 
Jr., Thos. Beall of George, Jas. Keith, Jno. Templeton, 
Tobias Lear, Philip Fendall, John Mason, Josias Clap- 
ham, Isaac McPherson, Francis Deakins, H. Dorsey, 
John Laird, Geo. Peter, Henry Poxall, Wm. Steuart, 
Josiah Thompson, Elie Williams, Jonah Thompson, 
Wm. Marbury, Jno. Vowell, C. O'Neil, Clement Smith. 

Among the chairmen of the general annual meetings 
were Thos. Sim Lee, Jas. Fitzgerald, Gustavus Scott, 
Thompson Mason, Alex. White, Chas. Simms, Wm. 
Hartshorne, W. A. Worthington, Jno. Carroll, Philip 
B. Key, Dan. Carroll, Esq., Jas. Keith, Jno. Laird, Wm. 
Marbury, Benj. Stoddert, etc. 

The treasurers were Wm. Hartshorne, Jos. Carleton, 
Jos. Brewer, Jas. Moore, Jr., and Eobt. Barnard. 

Note. — Since the above was written the members of the Fairfax County 
(Va.) Chapter, Daughters of the American Eevolution have placed a 
handsome bronze tablet at Great Falls in honor of George Washington 
the Citizen and of the Patowmack Company. 



Appendix A. 

Geo. Washington to Benjamin Harrison, Governor of 

Virginia. 

"Mt. Vernon, 10 October, 1784. 

"Dear Sir, Upon my return from the western country a 
few days ago, I had the pleasure to receive your favor of the 
17th ultimo. It has always been my intention to pay my re- 
spects to you, before the chance of another early and hard 
winter should make a warm fireside too comfortable to be 
relinquished. And I shall feel an additional pleasure in 
offering this tribute to you, by having the company of the 
Marquis de Lafayette, when he shall have revisited this place 
from his eastern tour, now every day to be expected. 

"I shall take the liberty now, my dear Sir, to suggest a 
matter, which would (if I am not too short-sighted a politi- 
cian) mark your administration as an important era in the 
annals of this country, if it should be recommended by you 
and adopted by the Assembly. 

"It has long been my decided opinion, that the shortest, 
easiest, and least expensive communication with the invaluable 
and extensive country back of us would be by one or both of 
the rivers of this State, which have their sources in the 
Apalachian mountains. Nor am I singular in this opinion. 
Evans, in his Map and Analysis of the Middle Colonies, which, 
considering the early period at which they were given to the 
public, are done with amazing exactness, and Hutchins since, 
in his Topographical Description of the western country, (a 
good part of which is from actual surveys,) are decidedly of 
the same sentiments; as indeed are all others, who have had 
opportunities, and have been at the pains, to investigate and 
consider the subject. 

' ' But that this may not now stand as mere matter of opinion 
or assertion, unsupported by facts (such at least as the best 
maps now extant, compared with the oral testimony, which my 

154 



Appendix A. 155 

opportunities in the course of the war have enabled me to 
obtain), I shall give you the different routes and distances from 
Detroit, by which all the trade of the north-western parts of 
the united territory must pass ; unless the Spaniards, contrary 
to their present policy, should engage part of it, or the British 
should attempt to force nature, by carrying the trade of the 
upper Lakes by the River Otawas into Canada, which I scarcely 
think they will or could effect. Taking Detroit then (which 
is putting ourselves in as unfavorable a point of view as we 
can be well placed, because it is upon the line of the British 
territory) , as a point by which, as I have already observed, all 
that part of the trade must come, it appears from the state- 
ment enclosed, that the tide waters of this State are nearer to 
it by one hundred and sixty-eight miles than that of the River 
St. Lawrence ; or than that of the Hudson at Albany, by one 
hundred and seventy-six miles. 

"Maryland stands upon similar ground with Virginia. 
Pennsylvania, although the Susquehannah is an unfriendly 
water, much impeded, it is said, with rocks and rapids, and 
nowhere communicating with those, which lead to her capital, 
has it in contemplation to open a communication between 
Toby's creek, which empties into the Allegany river ninety- 
five miles above Fort Pitt, and the west branch of Susque- 
hannah, and to cut a canal between the waters of the latter 
and the Schuylkill; the expense of which is easier to be con- 
ceived, than estimated or described by me. A people how- 
ever, who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and 
who will pursue their advantages, may achieve almost any- 
thing. In the meantime, under the uncertainty of these un- 
dertakings, they are smoothing the roads and paving the ways 
for the trade of that western world. ■ That New York will do 
the same as soon as the Britist garrisons are removed, which 
are at present insurmountable obstacles in their way, no per- 
son, who knows the temper, genius and policy of those people 
as well as I do, can harbor the smallest doubt. 

"Thus much with respect to rival States. Let me now take 
a short view of our own; and, being aware of the objections 
which are in the way, I will, in order to contrast them, enum- 
erate them with the advantages. 



156 Appendix A. 

"The first and principal one is, the unfortunate jealousy, 
which ever has and it is to be feared ever will prevail, lest 
one part of the State should obtain an advantage over the 
other parts, (as if the benefits of trade were not diffusive and 
beneficial to all) . Then follows a train of difficulties, namely, 
that our people are already heavily taxed; that we have no 
money ; that the advantages of this trade are remote ; that the 
most direct route for it is through other States, over which 
we have no control ; that the routes over which we have control 
are as distant as either of those which lead to Philadelphia, 
Albany or Montreal; that a sufficient spirit of commerce does 
not pervade the citizens of this commonwealth; and that we 
are in fact doing for others, what they ought to do for them- 
selves. 

"Without going into the investigation of a question, which 
has employed the pens of able politicians, namely, whether 
trade with foreigners is an advantage or disadvantage to a 
country, this State, as a part of the confederated States, all 
of whom have the spirit of it very strongly working within 
them, must adopt it, or submit to the evils arising therefrom 
without receiving its benefits. Common policy, therefore, 
points clearly and strongly to the propriety of our enjoying 
all the advantages, which nature and our local situation afford 
us ; and evinces clearly, that, unless this spirit could be totally 
eradicated in other States as well as in this, and every man 
be made to become either a cultivator of the land or a manu- 
facturer of such articles as are prompted by necessity, such 
stimulus should be employed as will force this spirit, by show- 
ing to our countrymen the superior advantages we possess be- 
yond others, and the importance of being upon a footing with 
our neighbors. 

"If this is fair reasoning, it ought to follow as a conse- 
quence, that we should do our part towards opening the com- 
munication with the fur and peltry trade of the Lakes, and 
for the produce of the country which lies within, and which 
will, so soon as matters are settled with the Indians, and the 
terms on which Congress mean to dispose of the land, found 
to be favourable, are announced, be settled faster than any 



Appendix A. I57 

other ever did, or any one would imagine. This, then, when 
considered in an interested point of view, is alone sufScient to 
excite our endeavors. But in my opinion there is a political 
consideration for so doing, which is of still greater importance. 

"I need not remark to you. Sir, that the flanks and rear of 
the United States are possessed by other powers, and formid- 
able ones too ; nor how necessary it is to apply the cement of 
interest to bind all parts of the Union together by indissoluble 
bonds, especially that part of it, which lies immediately west 
of us, with the middle States. For what ties, let me ask, 
should we have upon those people ? How entirely unconnected 
with them shall we be, and what troubles may we not appre- 
hend, if the Spaniards on their right, and Great Britain on 
their left, instead of throwing stumbling-blocks in their way, 
as they now do, should hold out lures for their trade and 
alliance ? What, when they get strength, which will be sooner 
than most people conceive (from the emigration of foreigners, 
who will have no particular predilection towards us, as well 
as from the removal of our own citizens), will be the conse- 
quence of their having formed close connections with both or 
either of those powers, in a commercial way ? It needs not, in 
my opinion, the gift of prophecy to foretell. 

"The western settlers (I speak now from my own observa- 
tion) stand as it were upon a pivot. The touch of a feather 
would turn them anyway. They have looked down the Missis- 
sippi, until the Spaniards, very impoliticly I think for them- 
selves, threw difficulties in their way; and they looked that 
way for no other reason, than because they could glide gently 
down the stream ; without considering perhaps, the difficulties 
of the voyage back again, and the time necessary to perform 
it in; and because they have no other means of coming to us 
but by long land transportation and unimproved roads. 
These causes have hitherto checked the industry of the pres- 
ent settlers ; for except the demand for provisions, occasioned 
by the increase of population, and a little flour, which the 
necessities of the Spaniards compel them to buy, they have no 
incitements to labor. But smoothe the road, and make easy 
the way for them, and then see what an influx of articles will 



158 Appendix A. 

be poured upon us; how amazingly our exports will be in- 
creased by them, and how amply we shall be compensated for 
any trouble and expense we may encounter to effect it. 

"A combination of circumstances makes the present con- 
juncture more favorable for Virginia, than for any other State 
in the Union, to fix these matters. The jealous and untoward 
disposition of the Spaniards on one hand, and the private 
views of some individuals, coinciding with the general policy 
of the Court of Great Britain on the other, to retain as long 
as possible the posts of Detroit, Niagara, and Oswego, &e., 
(which though done under the letter of the treaty is certainly 
an infraction of the spirit of it, and injurious to the Union,) 
may be improved to the greatest advantage by this State, if 
she would open the avenues to the trade of that country, and 
enabrace the present moment to establish it. It only wants a 
beginning. The western inhabitants would do their part 
towards its execution. Weak as they are, they would meet 
us at least half way, rather than be driven into the arms of or 
be made dependent upon foreigners; which would eventually 
either bring on a separation of them from us, or a war be- 
tween the United States and one or the other of those powers, 
most probably with the Spaniards. 

"The preliminary steps to the attainment of this great ob- 
ject would be attended with very little expense, and might at 
the same time that it served to attract the attention of the 
western country, and to convince the wavering inhabitants of 
our disposition to connect ourselves with them, and to facili- 
tate their commerce with us, be a means of removing those 
jealousies, which otherwise might take place among ourselves. 

"These, in my opinion, are to appoint commissioners, who 
from their situation, integrity, and abilities, can be under no 
suspicion of prejudice or predilection to one part more than 
to another. Let these commissioners make actual surveys of 
James River and Potomac from tide water to their respective 
sources; note with great accuracy the kind of navigation and 
the obstructions in it, the difficulty and expense attending the 
removal of these obstructions, the distances from place to place 
through their whole extent, and the nearest and best portages 



Appendix A. 159 

between these waters and the streams capable of improvement 
which run into the Ohio ; traverse these in like manner to their 
junction with the Ohio, and with equal accuracy. The navi- 
gation of this river (i. e., the Ohio) being well known, they 
will have less to do in the examination of it ; but, nevertheless, 
let the courses and distances be taken to the mouth of the 
Muskingum, and up that river (notwithstanding it is in the 
ceded lands) to the carrying place to the Cayahoga; down the 
Cayahoga to Lake Erie ; and thence to Detroit. Let them do 
the same with Big Beaver Creek, although part of it is in the 
State of Pennsylvania; and with the Scioto also. In a word, 
let the waters east and west of the Ohio, which invite our 
notice by their proximity, and by the ease with which land 
transportation may be had between them and the Lakes on one 
side, and the Rivers Potomac and James on the other, be ex- 
plored, accurately delineated, and a correct and connected 
map of the whole be presented to the public. These things 
being done, I shall be mistaken if prejudice does not yield to 
facts, jealousy to candor, and, finally if reason and nature, 
thus aided, will not dictate what is right and proper to be 
done. 

"In the mean while, if it should be thought that the lapse 
of time, which is necessary to effect this work, may be attended 
with injurious consequences, could not there be a sum of money 
granted towards opening the best, or, if it should be deemed 
more eligible, two of the nearest communications (one to the 
northward and another to the southward) with the settle- 
ments to the westward; and an act be passed, if there should 
not appear a manifest disposition in the Assembly to make it 
a public undertaking, to incorporate and encourage private 
adventurers, if any should associate and solicit the same, for 
the purpose of extending the navigation of the Potomac or 
James River; and, in the former case, to request the concur- 
rence of Maryland in the measure ? It will appear from my 
statement of the different routes (and, as far as my means of 
information have extended, I have done it with the utmost 
candor), that all the produce of the settlements about Fort 
Pitt can be brought to Alexandria by the Youghiogheny in 



i6o Appendix A. 

three hundred and four miles, whereof only thirty-one is land 
transportation; and by the Monongahela and Cheat Eivers in 
three hundred and sixty miles, twenty of which only are land 
carriage. Whereas the common road from Fort Pitt to Phila- 
delphia is three hundred and twenty miles, all land transpor- 
tation; or four hundred and seventy-six miles, if the Ohio, 
Toby's Creek, Susquehannah, and Schuylkill are made use of 
for this purpose. How much of this is by land I know not; 
but, from the nature of the country, it must be very consid- 
erable. How much the interest and feelings of people thus 
circumstanced would be engaged to promote it, requires no 
illustration. 

"For my own part, I think it highly probable, that, upon 
the strictest scrutiny if the Falls of the Great Kanhawa can 
be made navigable, or a short portage be had there, it will be 
found of equal importance and convenience to improve the 
navigation of both the James and Potomac. The latter, I am 
fully persuaded, affords the nearest communication with the 
Lakes; but James River may be more convenient for all the 
settlers below the mouth of the Great Kanhawa, and for some 
distance perhaps above and west of it ; for I have no expecta- 
tion, that any part of the trade above the Falls of the Ohio 
will go down that river and the Mississippi, much less that the 
returns will ever come up them, unless our want of foresight 
and good management is the occasion of it. Or, upon trial, if 
it should be found that these rivers, from the before-mentioned 
Falls, will admit the descent of sea-vessels, in which case, and 
the navigations of the former's becoming free, it is probable 
that both vessels and cargoes will be carried to foreign markets 
and sold; but the returns for them will never in the natural 
course of things ascend the long and rapid current of that 
river, which with the Ohio to the Falls, in their meanderings, 
is little if any short of two thousand miles. Upon the whole, 
the object in my estimation is of vast commercial and political 
importance. In these lights I think posterity will consider it, 
and regret, (if our conduct should give them cause,) that the 
present favorable moment to secure so great a blessing for 
them was neglected. 



Appendix A. i6i 

"One thing more remains, which I had like to have forgot, 
and that is, the supposed difficulty of obtaining a passage 
through the State of Pennsylvania. How an application to 
its legislature would be relished, in the first instance, I will 
not undertake to decide ; but of one thing I am almost certain, 
such an application would place that body in a very delicate 
situation. There is in the State of Pennsylvania at least one 
hundred thousand souls west of Laurel Hill, who are groaning 
under the inconveniences of a long land transportation. They 
are wishing, indeed they are looking, for the improvement and 
extension of inland navigation; and if this cannot be made 
easy for them to Philadelphia (at any rate it must be lengthy) 
they will seek a mart elsewhere; the consequences of which 
would be, that the State, though contrary to the interests of 
its seaports, must submit to the loss of so much of its trade, 
or hazard not only the loss of the trade but the loss of the 
settlement also; for an opposition on the part of government 
to the extension of water transportation, so consonant with 
the essential interests of a large body of people, or any extra- 
ordinary impositions upon the exports or imports to or from 
another State, would ultimately bring on a separation between 
its eastern and western settlements; towards which there is 
not wanting a disposition at this moment in that part of it 
beyond the mountains. I consider Rumsey's discovery for 
working boats against stream, by mechanical powers (princi- 
pally) , as not only a very fortunate invention for these States 
in general, but as one of those circumstances, which have com- 
bined to render the present epoch favorable above all others 
for fixing, if we are disposed to avail ourselves of them, a 
large portion of the trade of the western country in the bosom 
of this State irrevocably. 

"Long as this letter is, I intended to have written a fuller 
and more digested one, upon this important subject ; but have 
met with so many interruptions since my return home, as to 
have almost precluded my writing at all. "What I now give 
is crude; but if you are in sentiment with me, I have said 
enough; if there is not an accordance of opinion, I have said 
too much; and all I pray in the latter case is, that you will 



1 62 Appendix A. 

do me the justice to believe my motives are pure, however 
erroneous my judgement may be in this matter, and that I 
am, with the most perfect esteem and friendship. Dear Sir, 
yours, &c. 

Eeply : 

Nov. 13th. 

"I was in great hopes of seeing you here before this, that 
I might acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 10th of 
last month in person, and tell you how much I approve of 
your plan for opening the navigation of the western waters. 
The letter was so much more explicit than I could be, that I 
took the liberty to lay it before the Assembly, who appear so 
impressed with the utility of the measure, that I dare say they 
will order the survey you propose immediately, and will at 
their next sitting proceed to carry the plan into execution. ' ' 

"5th January, 1785. 
' ' To Major-General Knox. 
"My dear Sir, 

" . . . In my last I informed you that I was endeavoring 
to stimulate my Countrymen to the extension of the inland 
navigation of our Rivers ; and to the opening of the best and 
easiest communication for Land transportation between them 
and the Western Waters. I am just returned from Annapolis 
to which place I was requested to go by our Assembly (with 
my bosom friend Genl. Gates, who being at Richmond con- 
trived to edge himself into the commission) for the purpose of 
arranging matters, and forming a Law which should be simi- 
lar in both States, so far as it respected the river Potomack, 
which separates them. I met the most perfect accordance in 
that legislature; and the matter is now reported to ours, for 
its concurrence." 

"To do this will be a great political work — may be im- 
mensely extensive in a commercial point ; and beyond all ques- 
tion, will be exceedingly beneficial for those who advance the 
money for the purpose of extending the Navigation of the 



Appendix A. 163 

river, as the tolls arising therefrom are to be held in per- 
petuity and will increase every year." 

"Charles County, Maryland 
' ' To George "Washington Esquire 

"Sir I hereby authorize and request you as President of 
the Potomac Company to subscribe for me two shares to the 
before mentioned Copartnery, or to consider me (if consistent 
with the regulations of the Company) as an adventurer to 
the amount of two shares. 

' ' I take the liberty to observe that I have long agoe earnestly 
desired the exhibition of the present Scheme, and would have 
subscribed forthwith, but that the Company's Books were kept 
at a considerable distance from my home, and I was not in- 
formed 'till lately that I could become a partner by letter 
signifying my consent. I hope I am not too late. And if I 
am considered as a Partner I hereby oblige myself, my heirs, 
executors and administrators to pay to the President and 
Directors of the Potomac Company, or to such persons as they 
shall authorize to receive the amount of two shares in the said 
Company in such manner as the President and Directors shall 
require. I am your Most Obedient. 

"M. I. Stone 
"June 3d, 1785." 

From Gailliard Hunt, Life and Writings of Jas, 
Madison, Vol. 3, p. 182. 

Madison to Jeffeeson, October 3, 1785. 

"On my journey I called at Mount Vernon and had the 
pleasure of finding the General in perfect health. He had 
just returned from a trip up the Potomac. He grows more 
and more sanguine as he examines further into the practica- 
bility of opening its navigation. The subscriptions are com- 
pleted within a few shares and the work is already begun at 
some of the lesser obstructions. It is overlooked by Rumsey, 
the inventor of the boats which I have in former letters men- 
tioned to you. He has not yet disclosed his secret. ' ' Etc., etc. 



164 Appendix A. 

"Mt. Vernon, 10 November, 1785. 
General Washington to George William Fairfax, 

"My Dear Sir; 

"... We have commenced our operations on the naviga- 
tion of this river; and I am happy to inform you, that the 
difficulties rather vanish than increase as we proceed. — James 
river is under similar circumstances; and a cut between the 
waters of Albemarle in No. Carolina, and Elizabeth river in 
this State, is also in contemplation — and if the whole is 
effected, and I see nothing to prevent it, it will give the great- 
est and most advantageous inland Navigation to this Country 
of any in the Union; or I believe, in the world; — for as the 
Shenandoah, the South branch, Monoeasy and Conogocheague 
are equally capable of great improvement, they will no doubt 
be immediately attempted ; and more than probable a commu- 
nication by good roads will be opened with the waters to the 
westward of us; by means of the No. Branch of Potomac, 
which interlocks with the Cheat river and Yohogany (branches 
of the Monongahela) that empty into the Ohio at Fort Pitt.— 
The same is equally practicable between James River and the 
Greenbrier, a branch of the Great Kanhawa, which empties, 
300 miles below that place ; by means whereof the whole trade 
of that Territory which is now unfolding to our view, may be 
drawn into this State — equally productive of political as com- 
mercial advantages." 

"22 August, 1785. 
To William Grayson (in Congress). 

"We have got the Potomac navigation in hand. Workmen 
are employed under the best manager and assistants we could 
obtain, at the Falls of the Shenandoah and Seneca; and I am 
happy to inform you, that, upon a critical examination of 
them by the Directors, the manager, and myself, we are unani- 
mously of opinion, that the difficulties at these two places do 
not exceed the expectations we had formed of them ; and that 
the navigation through them might be effected without the 
aid of locks. How far we may have been deceived with re- 
spect to the first (as the water though low may yet fall), I 



Appendix A. 165 

shall not decide ; but we are not mistaken, I think, in our con- 
jectures of the other." 



To Heney Lee in Congbess. 

"Mount Vernon, 18 June, 1786. 

"My Dear Sir; 

"... The advantages with which the inland navigation of 
the Rivers James and Potomac are pregnant, must strike every 
mind that reasons upon the subject; but there is, I perceive, 
a diversity of sentiment respecting the benefits and the conse- 
quences, which may flow from the free and immediate use of 
the Mississippi. My opinion of this matter has been uni- 
formly the same; and no light in which I have been able to 
consider the subject is likely to change it. It is, neither to 
relinquish nor to push our claim to this navigation, but in the 
mean while to open all the communications, which nature has 
afforded, between the Atlantic States and the western terri- 
tory, and to encourage the use of them to the utmost. In my 
judgment it is a matter of very serious concern to the well- 
being of the former to make it the interest of the latter to 
trade with them; without which, the ties of consanguinity, 
which are weakening every day, will soon be no bond, and we 
shall be no more a few years hence to the inhabitants of that 
country, than the British and Spaniards are at this day; not 
so much, indeed, because commercial connexions, it is well 
known, lead to others, and united are difficult to be broken, 
and these must take place with the Spaniards, if the naviga- 
tion of the Mississippi is opened. , 

' ' Clear I am, that it would be for the interest of the western 
settlers, as low down the Ohio as the Big Kanhawa, and back 
to the Lakes, to bring their produce through one of the chan- 
nels I have named; but the way must be cleared, and made 
easy and obvious to them, or else the ease with which people 
glide down stream will give a different bias to their thinking 
and acting. Whenever the new States become so populous 
and so extended to the westward, as really to need it, there 
will be no power which can deprive them of the use of the 



1 66 Appendix A. 

Mississippi. "Why then should we prematurely urge a matter, 
which is displeasing and may produce disagreeable conse- 
quences, if it is our interest to let it sleep? It may require 
some management to quiet the restless and impetuous spirits 
of Kentucky, of whose conduct I am more apprehensive in this 
business, than I am of all the opposition that will be given by 
the Spaniards." 

Thos. Jeffeeson to Gen. Washington. 

"Paris, May 10, 1788. 
"... I am now to acknowledge the honor of your two 
letters of Nov. 27 & Feb. 13, both of which have come to hand 
since my last to you of Dec. 4 & 5. The details you are so 
good as to give me on the subject of the navigation of the 
Potowmac & Ohio are very pleasing to me, as I consider the 
union of these two rivers as among the strongest links of con- 
nexion between the eastern & western sides of our confed- 
eracy. It will moreover add to the commerce of Virginia in 
particular all the upper parts of the Ohio & its waters. 
Another vast object & of much less difficulty is to add also all 
the country on the Lakes & their waters. ' ' 

Gen. Washington to Thos. Jeffeeson in Paeis. 

"Mount Vernon, 31 August, 1788. 
"Sir, 

"I was very much gratified a little time ago by the receipt 
of your letter dated the 2d of May. You have my best thanks 
for the political information contained in it, as well as for the 
satisfactory account of the canal of Languedoc. It gives me 
great pleasure to be made acquainted with the particulars of 
that stupendous work, though I do not expect to derive any 
but speculative advantages from it. 

"When America will be able to embark in projects of such 
pecuniary extent, I know not; probably not for very many 
years to come ; but it will be a good example, and not without 
its use, if we can carry our present undertakings happily into 
effect. Of this we have now the fairest prospect. Notwith- 



Appendix A. 167 

standing the real scarcity of money, and the difficulty of col- 
lecting it, the laborers employed by the Potomac Company 
have made very great progress in removing the obstructions 
at the Shanandoah, Seneca, and Great Falls; insomuch that, 
if this summer had not proved unusually rainy, and if we 
could have had a favorable autumn, the navigation might have 
been sufficiently opened (though not completed) for boats to 
have passed from Port Cumberland to within nine miles of 
a shipping port, by the first of January next. There remains 
now no doubt of the practicability of the plan, or that, upon 
the ulterior operations being performed, this will become the 
great avenue into the western country ; a country which is now 
settling in an extraordinarily rapid manner, under uncom- 
monly favorable circumstances, and which promises to afford 
a capacious asylum for the poor and persecuted of the earth." 

"13 February, 1789. 

"A desire of encouraging whatever is useful and economical 
seems now generally to prevail. Several capital artists in 
different branches have lately arrived in this country. A 
factory of glass is established upon a large scale on Monocacy 
Eiver near Frederick Town in Maryland. I am informed it 
will this year produce glass of various kinds nearly to the 
amount of ten thousand pounds' value. This factory will be 
essentially benefited by having the navigation of the Potomac 
completely opened. But the total benefits of that navigation 
will not be confined to narrower limits than the extent of the 
whole western territory of the United States. . . . But I have 
lately received a correct draft, executed principally from 
actual surveys, of the country between the sources of the 
Potomac and those navigable waters that fall into the Ohio. 
Of this I enclose you such a rough sketch as my avocations 
would permit me to make ; my principal object therein being 
to show, that the distance between the two waters is shorter, 
and that the means of communication are easier, than I had 
hitherto represented or imagined. I need not describe what 
and how extensive the rivers are, which will be thus in a 
wonderful manner connected, -as soon as the Potomac shall 



1 68 Appendix A. 

be rendered entirely passable. The passage would have been 
opened from Fort Cumberland to the Great Falls . . . before 
this time, . . . had it not been for the unfavorableness of the 
season. In spite of that untoward circumstance, I have the 
pleasure to inform you that two or three boats have actually 
arrived at the last named place. ' ' 

From tlie will of George Washington, dated in 1799. 

"Item; — I give and bequeath in perpetuity the fifty shares 
which J hold in the Potowmack Company (under the aforesaid 
acts of the legislature of Virginia) toward the endowment of a 
University to be established within the limits of the District 
of Columbia under the auspices of the general government, 
if that government should incline to extend a fostering hand 
towards it, — and until such seminary is established, and the 
funds arising on these shares shall be required for its support, 
my farther will and desire is that the profit accruing there- 
from shall whenever the dividends are made be laid out in 
purchasing stock in the Bank of Columbia, or some other 
Bank, at the discretion of my executors, or by the Treasurer 
of the United States for the time being under the direction of 
Congress, provided that Honorable body should patronize the 
measure. And the dividends proceeding from the purchase 
of said stock is to be vested in more stock and so on until a 
sum adequate to the accomplishment of the object is obtained 
of which I have not the smallest doubt before many years 
pass away, even if no aid or encouragement is given by legis- 
lative authority, or from any other source. ' ' 



Appendix B. 

Call from the Pr,esident and Directors of the Patow- 
mach Company, dated Great Falls, July 2, 1799. — ■ 

"Entrusted as we are with the interests of the Potowmack 
Company we deem it a duty incumbent on us, at this time, to 
give you, as a Stockholder, as general a view of those interests 
as the short compass of a letter will admit of. 

"It is known to you, that the Capital of the Company at 
first consisted of five hundred shares of the value of £100 
sterling each, since which an additional one hundred shares 
has been created by the Stock holders, rated at £130 sterling, 
the whole of which, except some inconsiderable balances owing 
by insolvent characters, has been collected. 

"These sums have been expended in improving the naviga- 
tion of the River from Georges Creek, twenty-eight miles 
above Fort Cumberland, and two hundred and eighteen above 
tide water, into tide water; which at this time, is in such a 
state, that at certain seasons, boats loaded with an hundred 
barrels of flour and upwards, can safely navigate that whole 
extent, except five hundred feet at the Great Falls. 

"The difficulty and expence have proved much greater 
than at first contemplated; at Shenandoah and Seneca Falls, 
extensive Canals have been formed by which boats are enabled 
to avoid the rocks and sudden descents in the bed of the river ; 
At the Great and Little Falls similar canals have been con- 
structed — but at those places, it has been found that Locks 
were indispensable ; At the Little Falls three have been made, 
through which boats from the foot of the Great Falls pass 
with the greatest ease and safety into tide water; At the 
Great Falls one lock has been formed — four more are requi- 
site; the seat of one of those is nearly excavated; To aid the 
intercourse till the work is completed at this place, a machine 
is constructed to pass articles from the waters above, to the 
waters below, which is found to answer extremely well; but 
the experience of two years has convinced us, that so long as 

169 



170 Appendix B. 

any obstacle remains to a free passage into tide water, the 
navigation will not prove so serviceable to the public, or 
beneficial to tlie proporietors, as has been generally expected 
and now certainly known it will prove to be, when those are 
wholly removed. 

' ' Independent of those four principal falls, comprizing alto- 
gether 224 feet, 9 inches, there is, from the head of the 
Shenandoah Falls, fifty five miles above tide water, to Georges 
Creek, a continued succession of smaller Falls and Ripples, 
forming in the aggregate, a fall of 874 feet 4 inches, these 
have been so far removed and improved upon, that boats safely 
pass them. 

"In the execution of these works, the whole stock of the 
Company has been expended, except twenty-nine shares. 

' ' From the best and most accurate estimates that have been 
formed, it is supposed that the cost of the remaining work at 
the Great Falls will not exceed $60,000, and that it may be 
effected in the course of twelve months from the time funds 
are provided. . . . 

"Having had recourse to every measure suggested to raise 
money by, without effect, fully informed of the heavy ad- 
vances made by the stock-holders, seeing those advances wholly 
unproductive, and knowing they will remain so until the work 
is wholly executed, (the absolute necessity of doing this must 
be apparent to every person interested), the Board of Di- 
rectors, to raise the necessary funds for that purpose, take the 
liberty of suggesting the only measure, which to them, seems 
to hold out a prospect of success, — that is for the stock-holders 
to make a further advance upon each share of the stock, sub- 
ject to the same regulations the original subscriptions were; 
$100 upon each share will raise the sum supposed sufficient 
for the purpose. As this advance must be a voluntary act, 
the assent of each stock-holder must be procured to carry the 
same into effect. Should a considerable majority of the Stock- 
holders approve of the measure, and others refuse to accede 
to it, provision will be applied for, and no doubt granted by 
the legislatures to make those stock-holders making additional 
advances to draw from the tolls in proportion to those ad- 
vances. 



^^^k^z^^ ^^Ci,?to^*w 


















Autographs of Stockholders in the Patowm.ack Company. 



Appendix B. i7^ 

" It is requested you will communicate your sentiments upon 
this proposition so as to be laid before the stock-holders at 
their annual meeting to be held at the Union Tavern in George- 
town on the first Monday in August next. — Also that you give 
your personal attendance at that time if convenient, if not, 
that you, without fail, appoint a proxy to represent you with 
full power to act upon this proposition. 

"(Signed). John Keith, Pt^es., John Mason, Josias 
Clapham, Isaac McPherson, Daniel Caekoll of Dudding- 
TON, Directors." 



Appendix C. 

Feom the Reply of the Potomac Company to Ques- 
tions Propounded by the Seceetaey oe the 
Tbeasuey. 

George Town, January 20, 1808. 

"1st. Points united by canal, and their distance; 
On the main Potomac in descending, — the first canal is con- 
ducted on the right bank of the river and unites the points 
immediately above and below Houses Falls (immediately 
above Harper's Ferry), 50 yards. 

"Second canal is conducted on the left bank round the 
Shenandoah Falls (immediately above Harper's), distance, 
1750 yards. — 

"Third canal on the right bank around Seneca Falls (eight 
miles above Great Falls), 1320 yards. 

"Fourth canal on the right bank unites the points imme- 
diately above and below the Great Falls, including a basin 
and five locks, 1200 yards. 

"Fifth canal on the left bank unites the point imme- 
diately above the Little Falls and tide water including three 
locks, 3814 yards. 

On the Shenandoah in descending; — 

"First canal on the left bank round Little's Falls (eight 
miles above junction with the Potomac), including a basin 
and one lock, 180 yards. 

"Second on the left bank around Wilson's upper falls in- 
cluding one lock, 730 yards. 

"Third canal on left bank around Bull's Falls, including 
a chute, 300 yards. 

"Fourth canal on left bank around Wilson's lower Falls 
including one lock, 600 yards. 

' ' Fifth canal on left bank around Saw Mill Falls, including 
two locks, 580 yards. 

172 



Appendix C. 173 

"There are a number of small canals and cuts which draw 
off the water of the river partially in different places not 
enumerated. 

' ' 2nd. Difference of levels in canals ; — 
"At Houses, 3 feet, at Shenandoah, 15 feet, — at Seneca, 
7 feet,— at Great Falls, 76^ feet,— at Little Falls, 37| feet,— 
on the Shenandoah, first 10^ feet, second, 12J feet, — third, 4 
feet, — fourth, 6J feet, — sixth, 7 feet. 

"3rd. Number and description of locks; — 

"On the Potomac and Shenandoah there are thirteen locks 
and one basin in use and in good repair. 

"The principal canals on the Potomac at Great and Little 
Falls are 6 feet deep, 25 feet broad at top and 20 feet at 
bottom, the others are from 16 to 20 feet broad and 4 to 5 feet 
deep. Burthen of the boats which navigate the rivers averages 
ten tons. Breadth of towing paths, where they are carried 
on walls, from 4 to 6 feet, when on the land from 8 to 10 feet. 

"... On all this vast extent of interior navigation, stretch- 
ing in different directions thro' a fertile and well cultivated 
country the greatest obstructions and difSculties have been 
surmounted — to wit — the conducting by canals and locking 
the water round the principal falls and reducing to a regularly 
inclined plane by canals the water round the lesser falls. 

"Much has been done from Savage River to tide water on 
the Potomac and for 60 miles on the Shenandoah, 40 miles 
on the Monocaey, and near the mouth of the Gonogocheague 
the stream has been cleared of obstacles. On all these the 
beds of the rivers remain to be improved, and it is proper to 
say, that in many places where much labor has already been 
expended to improve the bed of the river considerable work 
yet remains to be done to make it well capable of navigation 
in times of low water. The locking and canals are every 
where executed, unless it may be found at a future day that 
at the Shenandoah Falls on the Potomac one or two locks 
would be useful, as the fall in the canal at that place is con- 
siderable, and to ascending boats, presents some difficulty. 

"On the Shenandoah, a river remarkably well suited to 



174 Appendix C. 

navigation, as from its mouth to Port Republic (200 miles) 
it preserves nearly an equal width, and the fall for this whole 
extent is estimated to be not more than 455 feet. . . . 

' ' On the Potomac as the fall is more considerable, a perfect 
improvement of the bed of the river will be more difficult. 
By actual survey and admeasurement made in the year 1789 
by Col. Geo. Gilpin and Mr. Jas. Smith for the Potowmack 
Company from the mouth of Savage River to Cumberland (30 
miles) the fall was found to be 445 feet, and from Cumberland 
to tide water (187 miles) 715 feet. 

"Many errors of minor importance were no doubt made in 
the commencement and prosecution of this great work and 
not a little money was lost for the want of the necessary 
knowledge (practical) in its early stages as it was the first 
work of the kind undertaken in this part of the country- 
most of these however were gradually remedied by experience, 
and it is believed that no material defect remains to be cured, 
but in two instances — the first, in the construction of four of 
the locks — three of these were constructed of an improper 
material — wood, and all the four made larger than requisite, 
thereby, not only having gone to a greater expense in the 
construction than necessary, but being constantly taxed with 
a loss of time and water in filling them. The three locks at 
the Little Falls of the Potomac were the first constructed, 
they were made 18 feet wide and of wood, the next which was 
finished was the upper lock at the Great Falls — this was made 
14 feet wide. A little farther experience satisfied the Di- 
rectors of the Company that the width of 12 feet was sufiSeient 
for any vessels that would navigate the river, and so were 
formed all that followed. The remedy in this ease as to the 
upper lock at Great Falls, was soon applied, its greater capac- 
ity aided by an adjoining basin, was made to serve to fill more 
readily the lower locks, At Little Falls ... it is proposed 
when the wood decays to rebuild of granite (of which there 
is a quarry of excellent quality on the canal just above, be- 
longing to the Company, reserved for the purpose.) and then 
to contract them to 12 feet in width. 



Appendix C. 17S 

"In the next instance it is now thought that in the labor 
applied to the bed of the river too much has been done in 
removing rocks and that obstructions to the passing off of the 
water have sometimes been mistaken for obstructions to 
navigation. 

" It is proposed in such places as will admit of that mode of 
improvement to erect a series of small cheap dams across the 
river thereby to back the water from station to station and to 
leave such falls generally as a boat's crew will readily push, 
or haul up against, in ascending, and as will not be dangerous 
in descending. It is also believed that in the progress of the 
improvement of the bed of the river, it will be found best in 
many places to cut additional small canals on either side thro ' 
the land round the more considerable obstacles. 

"There are at this time navigating the Potomac and Shen- 
andoah boats equal in burthen to about 800 tons, but it is to 
be remarked that the last season having been the first that 
the Shenandoah was open there were then no boats on that 
river, a few only were built during that year, many are now 
preparing, and it is estimated that for the next season the 
tonnage will amount to at least 1200 tons. . . . 

"The expense of carriage by the river above tide water 
compared with land carriage rated on a barrel of flour and 
taken from three principal points; Cumberland, Williams- 
port and Harper's Ferry stand as nearly as may be, thus; — 
From Cumberland by land, $2.25, by water, including tolls, 
$1.30 — from Williamsport by land, $1.50, by water, including 
tolls, $1.00. from Harper's Ferry the same. It is to be ob- 
served however that the rates by water are too high at this 
time and that there are fewer boats now on the river than 
are requisite for the business, that when their number shall 
be increased and the bed of the river be farther improved, 
the carriage by water will be reduced from 33 to 50%. 

"In navigating from Savage River to tide water there are 
employed three to four days, from tide water to Savage River 
six to seven days — from Harper's Ferry one and a half days 
from tide water to Harper's Ferry three to three and a half 
days. 



176 Appendix C. 

"On the Potomac at the lower extremity of the canals at 
the Great Falls are five locks ; Dimensions — one, length 100 feet, 
width 14 feet, lift 10 feet, contents 18,200 cubic feet — con- 
struction, rectangular, walled with hewn free stone, sluice 
gates discharge thro' the larger gates, — one, length 100 feet, 
width 12 feet, lift 16 feet, contents 22,800 cubic feet, con- 
struction rectangular of hewn stone, sluice gates as before 
described, — one, length 100 feet, width 12 feet, lift 14 feet, 
contents 20,400 cubic feet, construction as the last, — two, 
length 100 feet, width 12 feet, lift 18 feet, contents 25,200 
cubic feet each, construction rectangular, blown out of the 
solid rock, the natural rock worked tolerably smooth forming 
the sides, some mason work being used where the fixtures are 
inserted for supporting the gates, the sluice gates in these 
locks as in several of the others that are deep, do not lift but 
are made of cast iron and turn on a pivot fixed in the center, 
so that when the sluice is open this little gate or stopper is 
turned edgewise to the stream, they work very easy and are 
managed in deep locks much more readily than those of the 
ordinary construction. 

"At tide water, at the canal at the Little Falls, three — 
dimensions — length 100 feet, width 18 feet, lift 11 feet, eon- 
tents 23,400 cubic feet each, construction of wood, rectangular 
— sluice gates discharge as described for those at Great Falls. 

"On the Shenandoah at Little Falls, one lock length 100 
feet, width 12 feet, lift 8 feet, contents 13,200 cubic feet, 
construction — walled with granite and free stone near the 
gates, rectangular, sluices discharged thro ' the principal gates, 
and one basin immediately above and adjoining the lock, 
eliptic, 130 feet from gate to gate, and 150 feet across, lift 
two feet, the upper gate serving as a guard gate, walled as 
the lock. 

"At Wilson's Upper Falls one lock length 100 feet, width 
12 feet, lift 12 feet, contents, 18,000 cubic feet — construction 
as the last. 

"At Wilson's Lower Falls, one, length 100 feet, width 12 
feet, lift 6 feet, contents 10,800 cubic feet, construction as 
the last. At Saw Mill Falls, two, one length 100 feet, width 



Appendix C. i77 

12 feet, lift 9 feet, contents 14,400 cubic feet, the other same 
length and width, lift 8 feet, contents 13,200 cubic feet, con- 
struction of these same as the last described. 

"The natural or improved bed of the main Potomac Eiver 
and of its branches, the Shenandoah, the Conogocheague, and 
the Monocacy are now used, except such parts of the Potomac 
and Shenandoah as are intersected by the canals already de- 
scribed, that is to say; — 

"Of the Potomac from Savage Eiver to tide water, from 
actual measurement, 218 miles 350 yards, Shenandoah 200 
miles, Monocacy 40 miles, Conogocheague, 14 miles. 

"The sum already expended in this work (commenced in 
1784) including interest on loans amounts at this time to 
$444,648.89 

' ' The capital stock is composed of 500 shares created by the 
original incorporating acts of Virginia and Maryland in 
1784 — 100 shares created in 1796 — 130 shares created in 1798 
— total 730, 29 of which have been bought in from delinquent 
subscribers, equal to $311,555 f. The state of Maryland 
holds 220 shares, Virginia 70, also 50 shares presented by the 
State to Gen. Washington and by him bequeathed towards the 
endowment of an university to be established within the limits 
of the District of Columbia. Individuals hold 361 shares 
of stock. 

"As to capital wanted for completing the work, it is esti- 
mated by the Board of Directors that the sum of $100,000 
may be required, in addition to what has been expended, 
effectually to render navigation possible in times of the lowest 
water from all the points enumerated to tide water. 

' ' The gross amount of tolls received has been, $49,274 since 
August 1800." 

(For the balance of the report see accounts of incor- 
poration of the Company.) 



Appendix D. 

"Tkeasuky Office, December 7th, 1818. 
"The Honorable the General Assembly op Maryland, 
"Gentlemen, 

' ' I Have The honor to transmit herewith, a communication, 
with the statements accompanying it, received from John 
Mason, Esquire, relative to the proceedings of the Potomac 
company, and the debt due to the state. 

"I also transmit a statement of the state's claim against said 
company, in consequence of a loan made to them, on the face 
of which it will be seen that the whole principal sum, with 
two years interest thereon, will be due on the first of Janu- 
ary next. It therefore remains with the legislature to de- 
termine, whether a further time for payment shall be given, 
or to direct such procedure as they in their wisdom shall 
devise, to enforce the collection of said claim. 
' ' Gentlemen, 

"I have the honor to be, 
"With great respect, 

"Your obedient servant, 

"B. Harwood, Tr. W. 8. M'd." 

"George-Town, July 30th, 1818. 
"Sir, 

' ' The Letter which was addressed by you on the 19th March 
last, to Mr. Brewer, Treasurer of the Potomac company, in 
relation to the debt due by the company to the state of Mary- 
land, was submitted to the first board of directors held after 
its reception, and would have been sooner replied to, but that 
I was desirous in compliance with the views of the board, of 
being able at the same time, to communicate the amount of 
the receipts of the present year ending on the first Monday 
of next month; the accounts for which are but just made up. 

"I have now the honor to transmit to you an order of the 

178 



Appendix D. 179 

board on the subject of your letter, together with the extracts 
from the communication made in December last to the board 
of public works in Virginia, directed by the order, and 
marked A, and B, and a paper marked C, being an appendix 
to the table B, in which last paper is shown, from the com- 
mencement of the operations of the company in 1799, to the 
1st of August 1817, the annual amount of tolls received, the 
tonnage employed, and the produce and merchandise trans- 
ported, and the estimated value of the same. The paper C, 
gives the same results for the year ending on the first of 
August, 1818. 

"You will perceive, Sir, by the last mentioned paper, that 
the tolls received that year have amounted to little more than 
ten thousand dollars ; more than half of which amount has 
been expended in addition to the last loan from the banks, 
in finishing the new set of stone locks at the little falls, (which 
by great exertion were put in operation at the commence- 
ment of the present season), and the necessary current ex- 
penses and repairs. The sum above mentioned taken up from 
the banks on a particular pledge, was fifteen thousand dollars ; 
and there had been previously borrowed of them for the same 
purpose, twenty six thousand dollars. For the sum first bor- 
rowed, however, it is hoped they would consent to wait longer 
for the reimbursement. 

"Under these peculiar circumstances, in consideration that 
the works of the company are now rendering essential benefits 
to all the country in the vicinity of the waters of the Potomac, 
and in the expectation that (this unlocked for and great ex- 
penditure in renewing the whole set of locks at the Little 
Falls being now made) the revenue of the company may 
enable it to discharge its debts within a reasonable time. The 
president and directors earnestly hope that the state of Mary- 
land will not insist upon the immediate payment of the in- 
stalments of the debt due it. 

"Very respectfully, 

"I have the honor to be, Sir, 

"Tour most obedient servant, 
"Benjamin Harwood, Esq. "J. Mason. 

' ' Treasurer of the state of Maryland. ' ' 



i8o Appendix D. 

"(A.) 
Extract from a communication made on the 6th December, 
1817, from the President and Directors of the Potomac 
Company, to the hoard of public works of the State of 
Virginia. 

"The Extent of the navigation of the Potomac river and 
its branches under the control of the company, already im- 
proved, completely or partially, is of about two hundred and 
seventy-five miles, that is to say, on the main river, two 
hundred and twenty, on the Conogoeheague, fifteen, and on 
the Monoeosy, forty miles. The navigation of the Shanan- 
doah Branch, is not noticed here, because the improvement 
of that river is now in the hands of another company. After 
expending a large sum of money, and having opened the navi- 
gation on it for a considerable extent, by means of canals, 
locks and other works, the Potomac company finding it not 
in their power to go on with its improvement for want of 
funds within any reasonable time, deemed it conducive to the 
interest of the community, and in all probability most to the 
ultimate advantage of the Potomac company, to dispose of 
these works at a considerable present sacrifice, that is, for 
greatly less than they cost, to a company associated for the 
purpose of improving that river, and which has been duly 
incorporated, and an agreement has been accordingly entered 
into to that effect, not yet finally ratified, but there is little 
doubt that it will be confirmed. 

"The improvement for the extent before stated, has been 
effected by means of large canals, taken out of the river and 
locked round the principal falls, and reduced to regular 
inclined planes round the lesser falls, as at the great falls, 
where the difference of level is seventy-six feet nine inches, 
by a canal six feet deep, ttventy-five feet wide at the top, and 
twenty at bottom, twelve hundred yards long, with five locks 
and a bason. 

"At the lower or 'Little Palls' so called, by a canal of the 
same depth and width, three thousand eight hundred and 
fourteen yards long, with four locks, and a difference of level 
of thirty seven feet, and at the falls opposite the mouth of the 



Appendix D. i8i 

Shenandoah, by one seventeen hundred and sixty yards long, 
difference of level fifteen feet. At the Seneca Falls, by one 
thirteen hundred and twenty yards long, difference of level 
seven feet, and at House's Falls, by one of fifty yards long, 
difference of level three feet; the three last mentioned canals 
being without locks, from sixteen to twenty feet wide, and 
from four to five feet deep. And moreover, by much work 
executed on the bed of the river, by blowing and removing 
masses of rocks, by running wing walls to collect the water, 
by making cuts on its sides to draw the water partially from the 
river into a more secure and better channel, and by erecting 
cradels and chutes to pass boats. A considerable expenditure 
has also been made on the Antietam, but without as yet, any 
beneficial result from that branch of the river. Nothing has 
yet been done on the upper part of the Conogocheague, on Pat- 
terson 's Creek, on the South Branch, on Cape Capeon, or on 
the Opecan; from all which branches there is no doubt con- 
siderable addition may be made to the general navigation of 
the river at a future day. 

"The principal obstructions having been removed through- 
out the whole distance before stated as improved, the com- 
pany had hoped that the calls on it for heavy expenditure 
were over, and that it might go on leisurely to ameliorate that 
part of the navigation, to open the remaining branches of the 
river, and to prepare for paying off existing debts without 
incurring new ones, when unfortunately about two years ago, 
the set of locks at the foot of the canal round the lower falls, 
which having been constructed of wood, gave way, and in such 
a manner that it became necessary to renew them entirely. 
It was determined as most conducive to the interest of the 
company, and most consistent with the object of the institu- 
tion, to occupy a different scite for the locking of this place, 
and to construct the locks and their appendages, wholly of 
stone and solid mason work. These locks, four in number, 
and locking a fall of thirty seven feet with their guard walls, 
&e. have cost a heavy sum of money, and their erection has 
forced the company into a large and unexpected expenditure, 
and obliged it to contract new debts to provide for it; they 



i82 Appendix D. 

are however nearly compleated, and will be ready to pass boats 
at the commencement of the spring navigation. 

"The total expenditure in improvements on this river made 
by the Potomac company, from the commencement of its 
operations in 1784 to this time, as nearly as can be ascer- 
tained, may be stated at six hundred and fifty thousand dol- 
lars. The aggregate amount of the debts due at this time by 
the company and admitted by it, including interest, is about 
140,000 dollars, of which 89,700 dollars to banks, and 30,000 
dollars to the State of Maryland, and about 20,500 dollars to 
individuals. There are moreover some claims disputed by the 
company, which if established may increase the sum to about 
150,000 dollars. It will further require a sum of 10 or 
12,000 dollars to be raised at the close of this season, to pay 
off the workmen and balances due for materials employed in 
constructing the locks at the Little Falls before described. 

' ' The debts due to and from the company on account of the 
lottery authorised by the State of Maryland, yet unsettled, 
are not taken into view, as they are intended to settle each 
other; the result is however doubtful. This lottery concern 
has been unfortunate, and has not afforded the expected aid 
to the company, and may produce an ultimate loss. 

' ' The only debt due to the company of any importance will 
be one from the Shenandoah company, for the purchase of 
the works on that river before mentioned, amounting to 
15,000 dollars, when the agreement shall be ratified. 

"The aggregate receipts from tolls commencing on the 
first of August 1799, to the first of August 1817, amounts to 
162,379 dollars, the portion of which received in each year, 
as well as the quantity and kinds of produce on which it is 
levied, and the number of boats and the quantum of tonnage 
used in the transportation, and the estimated value of the 
produce and merchandise so transported, is particularly 
shewn in the table which is herewith transmitted. 

"At the same time that the president and directors regret 
that the view which is here given of the monied concerns of 
the company is far from being agreeable, yet when the mag- 
nitude of the work in which it has been engaged is considered, 



Appendix D. 183 

and it is recollected that in spite of all that can be done in 
such cases, many errors of construction, for want of the requi- 
site practical knowledge, must have been committed, and 
many expenditures beyond ordinary calculations must have 
been made, in effecting a navigation on so extensive and 
rapid a stream presenting innumerable obstructions, in a dif- 
ference of level, (as is the fact from the upper point of im- 
provement to tide water,) of eleven hundred and sixty feet; 
in a country so new in undertakings of this nature, and par- 
ticularly on inspection of the table annexed, when it is seen 
to what a mass of produce and merchandize this navigation 
is affording a cheap and easy transportation, and the great 
resources in tolls which must ultimately grow out of the in- 
creased population and cultivation of the extensive and fertile 
country pervaded by these waters are estimated, they can 
but hope, that the day is not very distant, when the company 
will be enabled to discharge the demands against it, and to 
remunerate its stockholders for the inactivity of a capital, to 
them so long unproductive, by handsome dividends of annual 
profit. At any rate, it will be readily perceived by the exhibit 
here presented, that the community have, for many years, 
profited to a great extent by the facility and saving in the 
expense of transportation offered by this navigation, which 
cannot now be estimated at less than fifty thousand dollars 
per annum, for the difference between land and water car- 
riage on the articles conveyed to and from the upper country 
by way of the river, and that the company has constantly 
laboured to produce, in the first instance, these advantages 
to the community, since it has uniformly instructed the board 
of directors to apply the tolls received toward further im- 
provements, except in a single instance, when, in the year 
1802, a dividend at the rate of 5.55 dollars per share, amount- 
ing to the small sum of 3,890.55 dollars was made, and that 
it is the fact, that all the rest of the toll money received from 
time to time, amounting in the whole to 158,489.40 dollars 
has been so applied." 



184 Appendix D. 

AT A meeting of the President and Directors of the Potomac 
Company, held in Georg-e-Town, 6th April, 1818, a 
letter of 19th March last, from B. Harwood, Esq. treas- 
urer of the state of Maryland, in relation to the debts 
due hy the company to that state, was submitted. 
Ordered, That the president write to the treasurer, and 
inform him the present state of the companies ' funds and 
works, by transmitting him the substance of the communi- 
cation made last fall to the board of works of Virginia, and 
what may have since occurred; — that he inform him of the 
necessity under which the board found itself, from the decay, 
and finally the falling in of the locks at the Little Falls, for 
the good of the whole, as well of the stockholders as the 
creditors, to take up from the banks a considerable sum of 
money to rebuild the locks at that place, in order to secure a 
continuance of the revenue by tolls, and to pledge an imme- 
diate return of the same out of the first monies received after 
the completion of the locks, — and that he express a hope, on 
the part of the board, that under these particular circum- 
stances, the officers of the state will not insist that the di- 
rectors provide for the instalment of the principal and the 
interest on the debt now due, until they can refund the 
money so taken up for the special purpose just mentioned. 
[True copy,] Jos. Brewee, Tr. P. Co. 



Appendix D. 



185 



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Appendix D. 



187 



■« M 



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Dolls. 

5,400 
30,000 




o 
o 
■*- 

CO 






is 


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1,800 
1,800 






By cash for one 
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By ditto ditto 
By ditto ditto 

By new account 
due for princi- 
pal 




1815, January 
13 

1816, Febru- 
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1817, July 3 


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To exchange six per cent, stock of the United 
States of 1812, for thirty thousand dollars of 
said stock, transferred to them on the 22d 
February, 1814, pursuant to the resolutions 
of November session 1812, and December 
session 1813, for which they have pledged the 
funds of the said company, and given bond 
in their corporate capacity, for the reim- 
bursement of the principal in stock of the 
like nature with that loaned, by instalments 
of three, four and five years, with interest 
from the first day of January, 1814, upon the 
whole amount of principal remaining unpaid, 
such interest to be paid annually, and in 
money of the United States. 
To interest account for 1 year, to 1st instant. 
To ditto ditto to 1st Jan. 1816, 
To ditto ditto to 1st Jan. 1817, 

To old account due for principal. 
To interest on 30,000 dollars from 1st Januarj 
to 1st January, 1819, two years, at 6 per cen 






03 

■s 

Tin" 

00 

1-H 


1815, January 13 

1816, February 10 

1817, July 3 











sa 
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3 



Appendix E. 

"Travels through the United States of North Amer- 
ica, the Country of the Iroquois and Upper Canada, 
1795-6-7, by the Duke de la Eochef oucault-Liancourt, " 
London, 1799, page 334 : 

"An excursion that I made to the (Great) Falls gave me 
an opportunity of seeing the canals which are forming for the 
purpose of avoiding them (the falls) and are the undertaking 
of the Potowmack Company. The canal of the smaller falls 
is entirely finished; it is one and a half mile in length, four 
locks ten feet high placed at its upper extremity convey ves- 
sels down the river. The smaller falls are not strictly such, 
but the water is sufficiently checked and disturbed in its 
course to render the navigation impracticable and the noise 
it makes is considerable. Above the smaller falls at a place 
where the Potomac is confined to a narrow passage between 
mountains a bridge has been lately erected of the same kind 
(suspension) as the bridge of Merrymack near Newburyport 
in Massachusetts, the same architect was employed in both. 
The canal of the Great Palls is also finished excepting the 
locks which are to be ten in number. The height of the falls 
themselves is seventy-eight feet and the descent from the 
upper end of the canal to the lower end is about ninety feet. 
To make some use of the canal in its present state till the 
locks can be completed large masses of earth are left to check 
the rapidity of the water, vessels proceed to the places where 
these are and the barrels of floiir and hogsheads of tobacco 
which are the principal articles brought down the river are 
rolled down an inclined plane made of wood (for this tem- 
porary use) to vessels that wait for them below. The Great 
Pall of the Potowmack is beautiful and deserves to be visited 
by all who arrive in this neighborhood." 

Page 315 : 



Appendix E. 189 

"A company has been incorporated by the states of Va. 
and Md. in 1784 by the name of the Potowmack Company 
with a grant of tolls on different canals they had undertaken. 
The adoption of establishing the General Government on the 
banks of the Potowmack gave new activity to those under- 
takings which had begun to languish. In 1795 the shares 
of this company which at its establishment amounted to five 
hundred at $444 each were increased to six hundred and 
thus the company had the disposal of $270,400 to improve the 
navigation of the Potowmack. The states of Va. and Md. 
were moreover particularly interested in the success of the 
company by being proprietors of a great number of shares. 
"When the undertakings of this company shall be finished the 
produce of an immense extent of country which at present 
is conveyed by land to Philadelphia and Baltimore will find 
a more ample, ready and less expensive market through the 
means of this great river and Federal City will acquire new 
resources both for its consumption and commerce, adding 
greatly to the natural advantages of its situation." 

"Travels through the States of North America and 
the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, 1795-6-7," 
by Isaac Weld, Jr. London, 1799. Page 37 : 

"Thus it appears that the Federal City is possessed of 
essential qualifications for making it a place of importance — 
that is a good harbour (Eastern Branch) from which there is 
a ready passage to the ocean; it will also appear that it is 
well situated for trading with the interior parts of the coun- 
try. . . . The navigation of the Potowmack is safe to the 
Little Falls, six miles up, for river craft, here a canal which 
extends two and a half miles . . . has been cut and perfected 
which opens a fine passage of boats as far as Great Falls. . . . 
The descent of the river there is 76 feet in one and a quarter 
mile, but it is intended to make another canal here also; a 
part of it is already cut and every exertion is making to have 
the whole completed with expedition. From hence to Fort 
Cumberland, 191 miles above the Federal City there is a free 
navigation and boats are continually passing up and down. 



190 Appendix E. 

Beyond this the passage in the river is obstructed, but there 
is a possibility of opening it and as soon as the Company 
formed for the purpose have sufficient funds it will certainly 
be done. . . . Thence to Cheat Eiver is only 37 miles. . . . 
Things are only great or small by comparison and a portage 
of only 37 miles will be thought a very short one when found 
to be the only interruption to an inland navigation of up- 
wards of 2700 miles of which 2187 are down stream (Mr. 
Weld traces the routes to Detroit and even far Winnepeg via 
this route)." 

"General History of Inland Navigation, Foreign and 
Domestic." John Phillips. New edition. London, 1795. 
(Printed in 1793.) Page 352 : 

"Several improvements are carrying on in the States of 
Virginia. . . . The distance from the Capes of Virginia to the 
terminations of the tide-way in the river Potomak is about 
300 miles and the river is navigable for ships of the greatest 
burthen to that place ; from thence it is obstructed by four 
considerable falls and runs through a vast tract of inhabi- 
tated country towards its source. These falls are 1st, The 
little falls three miles above tide-water, — 2dny, The great 
falls, six miles higher, where is a fall of 76 feet in one and 
a quarter mile, — 3dly, The Seneca falls 6 miles above the 
former which form short irregular rapids with a fall of about 
ten feet, and 4thly, The Shenandoah falls 60 miles from the 
Seneca which is a fall of about 30 feet in three miles, from 
which last Fort Cumberland is about 120 miles distant. The 
obstructions which are opposed to the navigation above and 
between these falls are of little consequence. Early in the 
year 1785 the legislatures of Virginia and Maryland passed 
acts to encourage opening the navigation of this river. It 
was estimated that the expense of the canals and other works 
would amount to £50,000 sterling and ten years was allowed 
for their completion. At present the president and directors 
of the incorporated company suppose that £45.000 will be 
sufficient for the undertaking, and that it will be accomplished 
in a shorter time than was estimated. Their calculations are 




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Autographs of Stockholders in the Patowmack Company. 



Appendix E. 191 

founded on the progress already made and the summary mode 
lately adopted for enforcing the collection of the dividends 
as the money may become necessary. On each share of £100 
the payment of only £4 has yet been demanded. According 
to the opinion of the president and directors locks will be 
necessary at only two places, the great and the little falls; 
six at the former and three at the latter. At the latter place 
nothing has yet been attempted. At the great falls where the 
difSeulties were judged by many to be insurmountable the 
work is nearly completed, except sinking the lock seats and 
inserting the frames. At the Seneca falls the laborious part 
of the business is entirely accomplished by removing the 
obstacles and graduating the descent so that nothing remains 
but to finish the channel for the general current in a work- 
manlike manner. 

"At the Shenandoah where the river breaks through the 
Blue Eidge mountains though a prodigious quantity of labour 
has been bestowed yet much is still to be done before the pas- 
sage will be completed. Such a progress has been made how- 
ever that it was expected, if the summer had not proved un- 
commonly rainy and the river uncommonly high an avenue 
for a partial navigation would have been opened by the 1st. 
of January, 1789, from Fort Cumberland to the great falls 
which are within nine miles of a shipping port. As soon as 
the proprietors begin to receive toll they will doubtless find 
an ample compensation for their pecuniary advances. By an 
estimate made years ago, it was calculated that the amount in 
the commencement would be at the rate of £9,875 Virginia 
currency per annum. The toll must every year become more 
productive as the quantity of articles for exportation will be 
augmented in a rapid proportion with the increase of popu- 
lation and the extension of settlements. In the meantime the 
effect will be immediately seen in the agriculture of the inte- 
rior country, for the multitude of horses now employed in 
carrying its produce to market will then be used for the pur- 
pose of tillage. But in order to form just conceptions of the 
utility of this inland navigation it will be requisite to notice 
the long rivers which fall into the Patowmak and even the 



192 Appendix E. 

geographical position of the western waters. The Shenan- 
doah which disembogues just above the Blue Mountains may 
according to report, be made navigable at a trifling expense 
more than 150 miles from its confluence with the Patowmak 
and will receive and convey the produce of the richest part 
of the State. The South branch still higher is navigable in 
its present condition nearly, or quite, 100 miles through ex- 
tremely fertile lands. But there on the Virginia side are 
several small rivers that may with facility be improved so 
as to afford a passage for boats. On the Maryland side are 
the Monocacy, Antietam and Conogocheague, some of which 
pass through the State of Maryland and have their sources in 
Pennsylvania. 

"From Fort Cumberland (or "Wills Creek) one or two good 
waggon roads may be made, by which the distance will be 
about 35 miles to the Yohogany, a large and navigable branch 
of the Monongahela, which last forms a junction with the 
Allegany at Fort Pitt, from whence the river takes the name 
of the Ohio until that also loses its current and name in the 
Mississippi. . . . When we have arrived at either of these 
western waters the navigation through that immense country 
is opened in a thousand directions and to the lakes in several 
places by portage of less than ten miles and by one portage of 
one mile only. ' ' 

"Pictures of the City of Washington in the Past." 
Samuel C. Busey, M.D., LL.D. Wash, 1898. Page 297 : 

"In marked contrast with the unfavorable criticisms and 
maladie du pays of some of the honorable and ofScial croakers 
are Warden's delightful pictures of the salubrity of the climate, 
fertility of the soil, abundance and variety of the food supplies, 
vegetable and animal, game and fish, together with the products 
transported from a distance by water, especially from the inte- 
rior of Maryland and Virginia by the Potomac Canal Com- 
pany, chartered in 1784 by the Legislature of Maryland, and 
Shenandoah Navigation Company, chartered by the Legisla- 
ture of Va., through which was brought to the portage town of 



Appendix E. 193 

Georgetown in a single year (1811) '27 hogsheads of sugar, 
118,076 barrels of flour, 5718 barrels of whiskey, 465 bushels of 
wheat, 3600 bushels of maize, and, in addition, large quantities 
of pig-iron, eastings, ship-timber, rye, flax-seed, hemp, butter, 
oats, cloverseed, arms, and staves. ' The method of transporta- 
tion is described by Mr. Thomas W. Riley as follows: 'In my 
boyhood days there was a great deal of business done in what 
were known as arks by those who lived on the upper Potomac. 
They had no other way to bring their wheat, corn, oats, hay, 
and other produce to market. These arks were large wooden 
floats, put together in a substantial, though inexpensive man- 
ner with wooden bolts and pins. They carried a great deal. 
These arks were floated down the river, and helped with poles 
where they were not carried by the current. On their arrival 
in Georgetown, after their contents were sold, the arks were 
taken to pieces and the lumber sold. I have seen hundreds 
of them. This was before the opening of the Ches. and 0. 
Canal. People nowadays talk about push and enterprise, as 
if it were a new invention and they the only discoverers of it. 
Though I have always tried to keep up with the procession in 
a business way, I assure you I have seen evidences of a "get 
there" spirit among the grandfathers of some of the business 
men of today that surpassed much of their so-called push. 
These ark-owners had goods to sell, and, though they did not 
come with lightning speed, they got down to market just the 
same.' " 

From the National Intelligencer, "Washington, Aug. 
23, 1802. 

"Potomack Navigation. — At a meeting of the Potomaek 
Company held on Wednesday the second instant a dividend 
of the capital stock at the rate of three per cent per annum 
was declared for the time since the locks at the Great Palls 
have been opened and $5.55 per share, the amount thereof 
will be paid to the respective stock holders or to their legal 
representatives on demand, by the treasurer of the Company 
By order of the Board. James Carleton, Treasurer. 

"Georgetown, Aug. 11, 1802." 

14 



194 Appendix E. 

Baltimore (Americanl), Jan. 10, 1804: 

' ' So fully were we of the opinion that our legislature would 
have granted the respectfull and patriotic petition of so large 
and respectable a portion of their constituency for passing the 
necessary laws for erecting turnpike companies on the three 
principal roads leading from this city (Baltimore) that with- 
out adverting to the possibility that such might not be the 
case we took the liberty of pointing the public zeal to a quar- 
ter which appeared to be of primary importance to this city, 
to Frederick, Washington and Allegany counties. If any 
man who is capable of following its delineations will take the 
map of Maryland and view the circuitous route by which the 
productions of these counties and the neighboring districts of 
Pennsylvania have to reach this city; if he will take a chaise 
and travel the miry sloughs, the dreadful precipices, the 
often-times impassable streams which would every where 
freeze him with horror chills, he could not fail to be aston- 
ished at that perseverance in the farmer and waggoner which 
overcome all these difficulties and fill our warehouses with 
their various and burthensome productions. The other roads, 
though not so immediately important, are in a situation no 
better. The Baltimorean may solace himself in the idle 
dream that this city notwithstanding all these obstacles will 
continue to flourish and to be the emporium of this enriching 
commerce. Vain delusion ! In less than ten years (since the 
talents and wisdom of our legislators have suffered the present 
opportunity to slip) without having it in our power here- 
after to counteract its effects, a eapitol will be established at 
Washington, Georgetown and Alexandria, or at all three of 
them which will completely turn the current of that trade 
from our metropolis. A few years ago we inspected as much 
flour in one quarter as the above places did in four, but the 
last year but one, if our information is correct, or the year 
before that, two of them only inspected several thousand bar- 
rels more than we did. Other produce of the west, no doubt, 
kept equal pace and in a few years more, foreign orders for 
the shipment of tobacco, flour, etc., will be transferred from 
this to the Potomak." Etc., etc. 



Appendix E. 195 

From The Museum, George Town, Jan. 1, 1809. 
Editorial. 

"The inland navigation of the Potomak for 300 miles above 
through a country excelled by none in fertility, is a source 
from which George Town must derive immense commercial 
advantages. The valuable productions of that extensive re- 
gion rapidly increasing with the advancement of agriculture 
and the extension of population must be poured into her lap 
and deposited with her merchants. Already among other 
articles upwards of 100,000 barrels of flour in one season have 
been floated down the stream, . . . Cannon Foundry and 
paper mill. Mason's Island, Causeway to Virginia, Bridge at 
Little Falls (chain) Georgetown College, Columbian College 
Three Ladies' Academies. Thos. Corcoran Mayor." Etc. 

"July 19th, 1796, Georgetown. On Friday arrived here 
Eobert Listen Esquire, the British Minister with his lady 
accompanied by Edward Thornton, his secretary, Gabriel 
"Wood, British Consul for this State and Henry Murray Stew- 
art, second son of the Earl of Bute. Yesterday they made an 
excursion to the great falls of Potomac, to day they are to 
proceed to Mt. Vernon. ' ' 

From Baltimore Advertiser: 

"For Rent, Merchant Mill, Distillery and Brewery, also sun- 
dry stone quarries at Little Falls of Potomac, for any time 
not less than seven or more than eleven years. Mill House 
42x40 ft., three stories built of stone, 3 pair of French burr 
stones, 2 over-shot, 18 feet water wheels, Evans machinery 
complete with every other thing proper and necessary for 
carrying on the business with despatch and as little expense 
as possible; all in good order. From mill to my landing on 
the river about 4 yards and then to George Town and Wash- 
ington about three miles, to Alexandria eleven miles. Also 
on place a large stone cooper's shop, a stone granary and a 
commodious miller's house, — a brick building on river. Also 
a brewery and distillery of stone ; in them are three stills, six 
copper boilers, etc., all in good order. Quarries on this land 



196 Appendix E. 

on river — finest quality; on top of the hill, within 200 yards 
of the dwelling house with out-buildings and gardens. 

"Richard Fend all, 1796." 
"At Little Falls in 1801 flour mill with three stones — brew- 
ery, distillery — granary, etc."— July 14, 1801, Alexandria 
Advertiser. 

Taggart in "Old Georgetown": 

"During its existence the trade of Georgetown extended 
as far as Fort Osage on the Missouri to Lake Erie and to 
Mobile. The route to Fort Osage was first up the Potomac 
220 miles, then overland to Brownsville on the Monongahela, 
a branch of the Ohio, 25 miles, thence down the Ohio to its 
junction with the Mississippi, up the Mississippi to St. Louis 
and afterwards by the Missouri to the Fort. For Lake Erie 
the goods were sent over the same route to Cincinnati on the 
Ohio, thence up the Miami of the Ohio to its farthest point at 
Lorimer's Store, thence overland 35 miles to Fort "Wayne on 
the Miami of the Lakes, and down this river to Lake Erie. 
For Mobile the goods were sent from Georgetown to Browns- 
ville by the above route, then down the Monongahela and Ohio 
to the mouth of the Tennessee river, then up this river to the 
Mussel Shoals, or to Colbert's Ferry, thence overland to the 
Tombigbee at the junction of that river with a branch called 
the Yibby, 120 miles, thence down the Tombigbee to Mobile." 



Appendix F. 
Eepoet of Thos. Mooee, Engineee, of Virginia. 

"Beookville, Aug. 1, 1820. 

"Dear Friend; Agreeably to thy request I will endeavor 
to state some of the results derived from my late examination 
of the country between the Ohio and Potomac rivers, with the 
view to ascertain the practicability of uniting those rivers 
eiMier by a water communication the whole distance or by 
means of a short portage between the nearest practicable 
points of canal navigation, and also from the examination of 
the Potomac river in order to ascertain the present state of 
the navigation and the best means of improving the same. 

"With regard to the first — a little topographical knowledge 
of the country alluded to will clearly indicate that if such a 
connection is made with the western waters, it must be either 
with the waters of the Cheat or Youghiogheny river. On 
examining the former I found that part of it which passes 
what is called Dunkard's Bottom approaches about as near 
to the Potomac as any other point that could be selected for 
the purpose, and for about 5 miles downward the fall is not 
too great for a sluice navigation, but a fall then occurs of 
nearly 30 feet (by estimation) in one mile, the lower part of 
which is too abrupt to be improved by any other means than 
by a lock. From thence to the mouth of Sandy Creek, about 
8 or 9 miles, the fall is very considerable, particularly at one 
place where it is much greater than the one just described.— 
Thence to Henthorn's Quarry by estimation 10 miles from the 
part that I saw and a description of the remainder I should 
suppose the fall might average about 10 feet per mile and not 
too abrupt in any one place to be overcome by sluices. — 
Thence to the junction with the Monongahela, about 12 miles, 
it has been declared navigable by the laws of Virginia. 

"It appears therefore quite certain that if this river is used 
a considerable expense of lockage will be incurred on one sec- 

197 



198 Appendix F. 

tion of it, the remainder may be made a tolerable sluice navi- 
gation for about 8 months in the year except when interrupted 
by ice. From the Dunkard's Bottom to the mouth of Savage 
river on the north branch of the Potomac is 57 miles, but to 
Crab Tree run, a branch of Savage river at Swan's old mill, 
the highest point of practicable canal navigation, the distance 
is only 27 miles. The present road between these points is 
injudiciously located and is in many places very steep, I think 
however that a road may be had within 5% of aclivity and 
declivity without increasing the distance. 

"If the waters of the Youghiogheny should be preferred, 
then a branch called Deep creek will be the most eligible. 
There are several branches of this stream which form a junc- 
tion and compose a stream which may answer tolerably well 
to supply the summit level of a canal. This junction is about 
2 miles west of a low gap in the Alleghany ridge which has 
been long spoken of as a suitable point of connection between 
the eastern and western waters. From this gap the levels 
were taken both ways. It was found that the fall westward 
to the point mentioned on Deep creek was 204.03 feet. The 
fall eastward to the junction of the two branches of Crab Tree 
run just above Gen. Swan's old mill is 340.99 feet, the dis- 
tance rather less than two miles. The fall from the last men- 
tioned point to the mouth of Savage river is 1366.70 feet, the 
distance not measured, but believed to be about 13 miles. It 
appears then that the waters of Deep Creek is 136.87 feet 
higher than the waters of Crab Tree run at Swan's mill, and 
of course might be brought through by a tunnell and dis- 
charged into the Potomac, but in case of a canal navigation 
the tunnell would be on the summit level and the waters of 
Deep creek would supply locks both ways. This creek lies in 
the Glades and the ascent from it towards the ridge but small 
for a considerable distance. I think therefore that by driving 
up an open canal as far as the ground would permit, and then 
taking the shortest possible distance to the level on the other 
side that the canal would not exceed 2 miles in length. I be- 
lieve a road might be made across the ridge from one point to 
the other at 3 degrees that would not exceed 5 miles in dis- 
tance. 



Appendix F. 199 

"Deep creek continues to flow through the glades 10 to 12 
miles below the before mentioned point, and then with a rapid 
descent (as I am told) falls into the Youghiogheny. Prom 
this junction to the National road I have seen this river but 
partially, I know however from former surveys that at the 
crossing of the road the water is many hundred feet nearer 
to the level of tide water than the water of Deep creek. From 
the National road to the falls I am acquainted with the bed of 
the stream, in this section the fall is very great. The stream 
above Turkey Foot where three great branches unite and 
which is about 6 miles below the road, is too inconsiderable 
to be used as a river navigation, and below Turkey Foot it is 
too rapid and dangerous quite to the foot of falls on the west- 
ern side of Laurel hill, so that a canal and lock navigation 
must be adopted from the first mentioned point on Deep creek 
to the last mentioned on Youghiogheny. 

"On account of some blanks yet remaining between the 
several surveys from the tide water across to the western 
waters, I am not in possession of data to determine exactly 
the whole fall in this distance, but in round numbers it will 
not be probably much over or under 1700 feet to be overcome 
by lockage. On the eastern side, from the eastern end of the 
tunnell to Swan's mill, the fall will be 136.87 feet and from 
thence, as has been stated, to the mouth of Savage, 1366.71, 
making the whole to be overcome by lockage, 1503.58 feet. 

"From the mouth of Savage to the mouth of New creek, a 
distance of 8 miles, 33 perches the fall by the leveling of Col. 
G. Gilpin and J. Smith, is 190.8 feet which is rather more 
than 23 feet per mile. This may probably be made tolerably 
safe for descending boats 4 or 5 months in the year, but it will 
always be excessively laborious to ascend with any loading ; — 
so, that to make the navigation materially useful, the addition 
of 190 feet must be added to the lockage ; from the mouth of 
New creek to Cumberland 22 1/4 miles, the fall is 254 feet, the 
average per mile 11 1/2 feet. On this section some money 
has been very usefully expended and with a little more im- 
provement might be rendered navigable for keel boats carry- 
ing 100 barrels of flour 6 months in the year. 



200 Appendix F. 

"The examination of the river from Cumberland down- 
wards was commenced on the 10th of the 7th month, the water 
having fallen very rapidly for the last thre or four days pre- 
ceding, it was then believed to be lower than usual at the same 
time of the year. I think if the water had been all collected 
in a 20 foot sluice and falling with a velocity that would be 
acquired by a descent of 6 inches per 100 feet it would have 
given about 10 inches of water. The work that has been done 
for the first 9 or 10 miles is not in every part as well designed 
as I think it might have been, but much better than is usually 
seen. There has been however more money expended on some 
parts than necessary, and other parts left unfinished, which 
require the expenditure of a small sum to render the whole in 
the greatest degree useful. Thence down to the mouth of the 
south branch the river has been partially improved but for 
want of a little annual attention many of these improvements 
are gone out of repair, a moderate sum would place the river 
from Cumberland to south branch in a tolerable state for 
sluice navigation, when there is water, which perhaps cannot 
be counted on for more than about half the year. 

"Below the south branch there was a sufficient quantity of 
water to give at least 15 inches depth in. a well graduated 
sluice, the bed of the river below the junction of the two 
branches becomes wider, and of course improvements will 
generally be rather more expensive. Many of the worst places 
above Hancock Town have been a little improved, at the Tum- 
bling dam falls there is a good sluice, except that it requires a 
farther extension at the lower end to diminish the fall in that 
part which is very hard to ascend, but at the bare falls just 
below there has been a long sluice made some years ago, the 
location of which on a converse shore is so very injudicious 
that it is nearly filled with gravel and will probably soon be 
rendered entirely useless. There are several others that are 
of little service, some of them have been spoiled by the inter- 
ference of fish dams, several of these are a serious injury to 
the navigation. There are many shallow places which require 
improvement in this section, but none that need be expensive. 
I think the proper expenditure of $500 to 600 would now give 



Appendix F. 201 

water for keel boats with 100 barrels of flour at all times 
except in unusually dry seasons, from the south branch to 
Hancock Town. From Hancock to Williamsport very little 
has been done to improve the navigation, or at least there are 
at present but few visible remains of such efforts. The greater 
part of this distance requires but little. I think from $2000 
to 3000 would be quite sufBeient to effect all that is necessary 
to be done on this section. 

"From Williamsport to Sheppards Town it does not appear 
that any labor has been performed in the bed of the river, but 
little is necessary, yet there are a few places that might be 
improved. 

"Just below Sheppards Town a long shallow ripple (Pack 
Horse Ford) occurs in the river which is here wide, no con- 
nected channel either natural or artificial is to be found 
through the ripple, the water ought to be collected and a little 
swelled by wings in proper directions. $500 or 600 judi- 
ciously expended would probably render it permanently good. 
The navigation is then good to the head of the long canal at 
the beginning of the Shenandoah Falls; the entrance to this 
canal is somewhat difficult in high water, it may be rendered 
safer by extending an abutment into the river on the lower 
side to prevent the strong draft of water just without the 
present entrance. The current is very strong through the 
canal, but with care safe to descend. The ascent is very 
laborious, but is much facilitated by a substantial wall and 
tracking way where ropes can be used to great advantage. 
About half a mile below the Ferry are two short canals 
(called by the boatmen — the Bullring falls) taken together 
with a short sheet of smooth water between them, the distance 
may be one quarter of a mile, the fall is 6.6 feet. Opposite 
this point Mc.Pherson and Brien have proposed to erect iron 
works if a compromise can be made with the Potomac Com- 
pany. If such an arrangement was made, the canal above 
the works ought to be sufficiently capacious to admit water for 
the works and also for navigation and any other proposition 
which the Company may have occasion for at a point rather 
more than half mile lower down, where there should be a lock 



202 Appendix F. 

to descend into the river and where the fall will be 8.80 feet. 
The fall from the head of Shenandoah falls to the landing at 
Harpers Ferry is 26.75 feet. This was ascertained by finding 
the difference in the levels between the surface of the water 
in the U. S. canal when the gates were all shut and the water 
at the landing. 

"From the lower end of Bullring to Paynes falls the navi- 
gation is troublesome in low water, it requires swelling so as 
to give 6 or 8 inches more water and the course straightened. 
At these falls Bazil Deaver is now erecting a mill dam, I 
suppose without the permission of the Company, but if the 
sluice and some other works are completed agreeably to what 
he proposes the navigation will be rather improved than in- 
jured. The river below for some miles is wide and shallow, 
swelling the water will be the best remedy. From the Bull- 
ring for 6 miles downwards, I think the cost of improving 
may be estimated at $500 per mile, though I am well satisfied 
a less sum would answer the purpose if the best economy could 
be adopted in the expenditure. A little improvement is nec- 
essary in the low water course between the lower end of the 
long canal and Harpers Ferry. 

"From the head of the island at Noland's ferry to about one 
and a half mile below there are several very shallow places 
with but little fall. They ought to be improved by a few low 
dams of brush and stone. The expense would be little if man- 
aged to the best advantage; there is perhaps less depth of 
water on these shoals than is to be found at any other place 
below Harpers Ferry. 

"From these shoals to Seneca falls very little improvement 
is necessary, in a few places the removal of loose stones would 
be useful. The dam at Seneca requires repairing so as to 
turn more water into the canal, at present there is not enough 
to float our little skiff, we were under the necessity of going 
down through the falls. Boatmen who are acquainted with 
the outer course may pass down with safety, but it is very 
hard to ascend. There certainly ought to be at least as much 
water in the canal at all times as would float an ascending 
boat with a small load. Between Seneca and Great Falls 



Appendix F. 203 

there has been some work done to improve the bed of the river, 
generally to pretty good effect, but for want of timely atten- 
tion some of these works are gone out of repair, and do not 
answer the purpose intended. 

"The greatest obstruction to the navigation any where 
below Williamsport in the present state of the water is at 
Great Falls. The dam requires repairing and extending so 
as to give at least six or eight inches more water in the canal. 
At present boats with only 50 barrels are obliged to make 
double trips, and where there are several in company there is 
great detention for want of water to supply the locks. 

"The bed of the river from Great Falls to the head of the 
Little Falls canal is generally very rough, much labor has been 
bestowed on it for the improvement of the navigation which 
has in a considerable degree produced the intended effect, but 
something still remains to be done in order to give sufficient 
depth of water in all places, and also to render the falls more 
easy for ascending boats at all stages of the water. The most 
important part of the work appears to be to make the track- 
ing way over the rocks near Great Falls more perfect; the 
current in this part of the river is so rapid in high water that 
it renders useless the common means of ascending by setting 
poles, and the unevenness of the crags on the shore makes it 
extremely difficult and dangerous to carry a towing line over 
them, yet this expedient has been resorted to, it is very prob- 
able that where the rocks are smooth or at the turning of par- 
ticular points, a chain might be attached to the rock by ring 
bolts or pins, so as to be very useful, it might be light and 
would be a cheap improvement. 

At Stubblefield Falls the pass is safe for descending boats 
except that the rapidity of the current over the uneven bottom 
produces a roughness that causes them when fully laden to 
ship water, but the angle of ascent is so great and situated in 
the middle of the river where no advantage can be derived 
from towing that it is vain to think of ascending with any- 
thing like a full load with the usual number of hands until a 
new passage is procured or the present one better graduated. 
At the Crookes gap (as it is called) the location of the works 



204 Appendix F. 

is very unnatural and of course very injudicious, the passage 
is made tolerably safe and easy to ascend and descend at some 
stages of the water at others dangerous and difficult; but of 
such a form and occupying ground as will cause it to require 
an annual attention and perhaps oftener, to preserve at all 
times sufficient depth of water. 

"I think it may be relied on that from $18,000 to 20,000 
would now place the navigation in such a situation that boats 
carrying 100 barrels of flour might descend the river at all 
times from the mouth of the south branch to tide water, except 
in an unusually dry season, above Williamsport a short time, 
or when prevented by ice. But in this calculation I should 
certainly contemplate a more economical expenditure than 
has commonly been made in this description of improvement." 

"There are some sluices in the Potomac and also in other 
rivers which I have examined, that have been made in a proper 
direction, not one of which has ever filled with gravel or 
stone. ' ' 

"But when the powers of art have been exerted to the ut- 
most extent to procure an easy navigation in the bed of a 
stream, still it must hold a very inferior grade to that of an 
independent canal, because the natural fall of the river must 
be overcome by the labor of men, and if the whole fall of the 
river is great in proportion to its length it will require a great 
number and therefore in proportion to the length must be 
very expensive compared with a canal furnished with locks, 
where the loaded boats are drawn on level water, by the labor 
of horses, but this kind of improvement requires large funds 
for carrying it into effect, and should not be undertaken until 
the period arrives that gives a reasonable prospect of remun- 
eration from the trade that m&y be carried on through its 
channels. The transportation however on such a canal is so 
much cheaper than by any other means of internal communi- 
cation that it may happen and I believe sometimes does hap- 
pen that such a period arrives before those interested think 



Appendix P. 205 

of making a single calculation on the subject. Knowing the 
great superiority of this mode of improvement and believing 
that it may possibly be at some time adopted on the Potomac, 
I have so far made myself acquainted with the ground adja- 
cent to the river as to enable me to form an estimate of the 
expense of an independent canal from Cumberland to the 
Great Falls, I have on my notes such a description of these 
grounds as could be obtained from the river without a minute 
re-examination on shore. From these it does not appear that 
the excavation would be more expensive than the contem- 
plated canal on the James river, nor the walling greater in 
proportion to the distance. It was found from the prices 
given for removing earth and other work incident to the con- 
struction of a canal that the one just mentioned ought not to 
cost more than $4,300 per mile exclusive of the locks. From 
Cumberland to the Great Falls is 176 miles, which multiplied 
by 4,300 gives 756,800, the fall in that distance is 572 feet 
which multiplied by $65, the price per foot at which such 
lockage is estimated gives 357,500, amounting to the total of 
$1,114,300. This whole compared with the cost of some other 
canals appears to be a low estimate, but it is to be remem- 
bered that canals conducted on low levels along the ravine of 
a river have no deep valleys or ravines to cross as those must 
necessarily have on high levels in an uneven country, and 
therefore the great embankments and elevated aqueducts 
which constituted the largest items of expense in many canals 
are avoided, — the calculation is also made for a canal and 
locks of a moderate size. 

"On such a canal as this the actual cost of transportation 
for a barrel of flour from Cumberland to the Great Falls 
would not exceed 15 cents, nor a bushel of coal 6 cents, and 
other articles in proportion, provided the boats were supplied 
with a quarter back load of plaster of pai^is or anything else 
at the low price of $3 per ton. It is for those who are con- 
cerned and who are better acquainted with the present trade 
of the river and the future prospects to calculate whether such 
a toll can be added to these prices as will pay the interest on 
the capital above stated, and also the necessary capital for 



2o6 Appendix F. 

continuing the canal to tide water. Several considerations 
were presented relative to this lower section which I thought 
required more time to digest than I felt myself authorized to 
take, particularly as some of them were of such a nature as to 
place them without the line of my duty for decision. I did 
not therefore take any notes relative to the grounds for, or 
expense of, an independent canal below the Great Falls. 

"The section below Harpers Ferry would be the least ex- 
pensive for the distance. As the season is now too far ad- 
vanced to undertake any considerable works on the bed of the 
river this year, time will be given for consideration relative to 
the most proper mode of expending money in future on this 
most important river, and of obtaining more minute informa- 
tion with respect to the expense of improving the different 
sections on the best of all possible plans, for notwithstanding 
the cost may in the first instance appear discouraging, yet the 
object is a great one, even as it regards the legitimate trade 
of the country watered by the river and its branches, but it 
derives great additional importance from the circumstance 
of the National road being already made and offering the 
'means of connecting the trade of this river with the western 
country. 

"I am with great regard, thy friend 

"Thos. Moore. 

"To Gen. John Mason." 

Eepoet of the Boaed of Public Woeks to the Legis- 

LATXJEE of Vieginia, 1823. Eepoet on the Potomac, 

By Isaac Beiggs. 

"Pursuant to resolutions of the ex-officio members of your 
Board, dated Oct. 1822 empowering me to ask for and receive 
from the executors or heirs of Thos. Moore, the civil engineer 
lately deceased, all the rough notes of this year's work, as far 
as actually done, or begun by the said Moore, and directing 
me to make therefrom the necessary arrangements, calcula- 
tions and statements for the annual report to the Board of 
Public Works and to prepare and present to the said Board 



Appendix F. 207 

at the usual period the said report and recognizing me as the 
"Civil Engineer of Virginia," I proceeded forthwith to the 
residence of the deceased engineer to obtain his notes. I 
received them from his son Asa. They were in pencil writing 
and in that rough state in which they were first made at the 
places to which they relate. 

"The last sickness of this excellent man so suddenly ar- 
rested his career of usefulness, and from its first occurrence 
so entirely incapacitated him for any kind of business that 
it was not possible for him (as had been his custom) to review 
his notes, improve their arrangement, supply abbreviations 
and casual omissions, and write them with ink. 

"I had received letters from mostof the joint commissioners 
for the Potomac, earnestly requesting that I would undertake 
to finish the survey of the river from the point where it had 
been suspended, to arrange the notes left by the late engineer, 
to make the necessary calculations and form an estimate of the 
probable cost of an independent canal from Cumberland to 
tide water, and that I would proceed to the work without 
delay. 

"Having found that the survey of the Potomac could not 
be resumed until early in the 12th month I employed the 
interval preceeding that time in making the calculations and 
arrangements necessary for the estimate of expense as far as 
the work had proceeded. The late engineer had from the 
30th of the 7th to the middle of the 9th month brought the 
surveying and leveling about 157 miles. His own notes were 
continued no farther than to a point about 7 miles short of 
the terminating of the levelling, or 150 miles from Cumber- 
land. 

"In company with "Wm. Naylor, Moses T. Hunter and 
Athan. Fenwick, three of the commissioners (Asa Moore jr. 
being surveyor and leveler), I commenced on the 11th and 
terminated on the 18th of the 12th month just past^ the survey 
and examination of the remaining part of the route of the 
contemplated canal. I closed the survey and examination at 
the head of Little Falls canal. This canal is about two and 
one-half miles long. At its outlet the descent is 37 feet by 
three locks to tide water in the District of Columbia. 



2o8 Appendix F. 

' ' From every document I have seen, and everything I have 
heard, relating to the subject, it appears both the late engi- 
neer and the commissioners have completely abandoned the 
opinion that stream navigation, whether by sluices or dams 
and locks is in any degree eligible on the Potowmae above tide 
water. That opinion ought to be abandoned everywhere, and 
it will be abandoned ; for, the increasing light of science, shin- 
ing through the clear medium of experience will convincingly 
show that, above tide water stream navigation is eligible 
nowhere. 

"These gentlemen, in designating the kind of improvement 
most proper for the Potowmae have very wisely confined their 
views to an independent canal. The dimensions adopted and 
those on which the calculations are made, are the following; 
the water to be 30 feet wide on the surface, 20 feet at the bot- 
tom and 3 feet deep. 

"It has been deemed expedient to divide into sections, the 
proposed canal, for the purpose of facilitating its execution. 
The first section extends from Cumberland in Maryland to the 
mouth of Capon in Virginia, 54^ miles; the second from 
the mouth of Capon to the mouth of Great Conogoeheague, or 
Williamsport in Maryland, 33| miles; the third section, 
wholly in Maryland side from mouth of Conogoeheague to 
Harpers Ferry, opposite the mouth of the Shenandoah, 38| 
miles; the fourth section, still on the Maryland side, from 
Harpers Ferry to the head of Great Falls, 40| miles; and 
the fifth section, still on the Maryland side, from the head of 
Great Falls to tide water in the District of Columbia, 12 miles ; 
The whole amount is 185 miles of canal navigation from Cum- 
berland to tide water. 

"Between Cumberland and Williamsport it is proposed in 
order to avoid great difficulties and to take advantage of the 
best and cheapest ground that the navigation should cross 
the Potowmae four times, the two first crossings by means of 
dams, and the third and fourth by means of aqueducts. In 
every case where a dam is the means of crossing, a guard lock 



Appendix F. 209 

is indispensable at the entrance of the canal, where it proceeds 
again from the river on the opposite side. Aqueducts how- 
ever as the mode of crossing rivers with a canal are on account 
of the superior safety and convenience which they afford to 
navigation decidedly preferable to dams, although more ex- 
pensive in construction. Yet where we cannot avail ourselves 
of sufficient feeders from side streams to keep always a full 
and certain supply of water in our upper levels, dams across 
the main stream are adopted because by them we obtain an 
abundant supply without an additional cut for a feeder. 
This is precisely the case in the first crossing and in the second 
we have not a sufficient elevation for an aqueduct, to be safe 
from the effects of freshets. 

' ' The estimates of the probable cost necessary for construct- 
ing an independent canal along the valley of the Potowmac 
river from Cumberland to tide water — 185 miles. ' ' 

"Total with contingencies $2,000,000 

"A sum which will be quite as small as is generally ex- 
pended and affording $400,000 for a compromise with the 
Potowmac Company, sufficient it is believed to induce it to 
surrender its charter without a judiciary struggle which (to 
say the least of it) would probably for several years prevent 
every step toward the accomplishment of a plan to which 
thousands, beside Virginia and Maryland, are looking with 
ardent hope, and sufficient to remove every obstacle to a sub- 
scription of the whole stock of that Company to such new 
fund as may be authorized by law. . . . 

"Richmond, 1st Month 23d. 1823." 



15 



Appendix Gr. 

Acts of the Legislatures of Virginia, Maryland and 
Pennsylvania and of the Congress of the United 
States, in Relation to the Chesapeake and 
Ohio Canal Company ; also the Acts and 
Eesolutions of the States of Vir- 
ginia AND Maryland Concerning 
the Potomac Company. 

Washington, Printed by Gales and Seaton, 1828. 

"An Act foe Opening and Extending the Navigation of 

THE PoTOWMACK RiVEE. 

"I. Whereas the extension of the navigation of Potowmaek 
Eiver, from tide water to the highest place practicable on the 
North branch, will be of great public utility, and many per- 
sons are willing to subscribe large sums of money to effect so 
laudable and beneficial a work ; and it is just and proper that 
they, their heirs, and assigns, should be empowered to receive 
reasonable tolls forever, in satisfaction for the money advanced 
by them in carrying the work into execution, and the risk they 
run ; And whereas it may be necessary to cut canals and erect 
locks and other works on both sides of the river, and the legis- 
latures of Maryland and Virginia, impressed with the impor- 
tance of the object, are desirous of encouraging so useful an 
undertaking ; Therefore, 

"II. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia, 
That it shall and may be lawful to open books in the city of 
Eichmond, towns of Alexandria and Winchester in this state, 
for receiving and entering subscriptions for the said under- 
taking, under the managementof Jaquelin Ambler and John 
Beckley at the city of Eichmond, of John Fitzgerald and 
William Hartshorne at the town of Alexandria, and of Joseph 
Holmes and Edward Smith at the town of Winchester, and 
under the management of such persons and at such places in 
Maryland as have been appointed by the state of Maryland, 



Appendix G. 2 1 1 

which subscriptions shall be made personally or by power of 
attorney, and shall be paid in Spanish milled dollars, but may 
be paid in foreign silver or gold coin of the value; that the 
said books shall be opened for receiving subscriptions on the 
eighth day of February next, and continue open for this pur- 
pose until the tenth day of May next, inclusive; and on the 
seventeenth day of the said month of May, there shall be a 
general meeting of the subscribers at the town of Alexandria, 
of which meeting notice shall be given by the said managers, 
or any four of them, in the Virginia and Maryland Gazettes, 
at least one month next before the said meeting; and such 
meeting shall and may be continued from day to day until the 
business is finished ; and the acting managers at the time and 
place hereinafter mentioned, shall lay before such of the sub- 
scribers as shall meet according to said notice, the books by 
them respectively kept, containing the state of the said sub- 
scriptions ; and if one half of the capital sum hereinafter men- 
tioned, should; upon examination, appear not to have been 
subscribed, then the said managers at the said meeting, are 
empowered to take and receive subscriptions to make up the 
deficiency ; and a just and true list of all the subscribers, with 
the sums subscribed by each, shall be made out and returned 
by the said managers, or any four or more of them, under 
their hands, into the general court of each state, to be there 
recorded ; and in case more than two hundred and twenty- two 
thousand and two hundred and twenty-two hundred and 
twenty-two dollars and two-ninths of a dollar, shall be sub- 
scribed, then the same shall be reduced to that sum by the 
said managers, or a majority of them, by beginning at and 
striking off a share from the largest subscription or subscrip- 
tions, and continuing to strike off a share from all subscrip- 
tions under the largest, and above one share until the sum is 
reduced to the capital two hundred and twenty-two thousand 
two hundred and twenty-two dollars and two ninths of a dol- 
lar, or until a share is taken from all subscriptions above one 
share, and lots shall be drawn between the subscribers of 
equal sums, to determine the numbers in which such sub- 
scribers shall stand, on a list to be made for striking off as 



212 Appendix G. 

aforesaid; and if the sum subscribed still exceeds the capital 
aforesaid, or all the subscriptions are reduced to one share: 
and if there still be an excess, then lots to be drawn to deter- 
mine the subscribers who are to be excluded, to reduce the 
subscriptions to the capital aforesaid, which striking off shall 
be certified in the list aforesaid, and the said capital sum shall 
be reckoned and divided into five hundred shares of four hun- 
dred and forty-four dollars and four-ninths of a dollar each, 
of which every person subscribing may take and subscribe for 
one or more whole shares, and not otherwise. Provided, That 
unless one half of the said capital shall be subscribed as afore- 
said, all subscriptions made in consequence of this act, shall 
be void, and in case one half and less than the whole of the 
said capital shall be subscribed as aforesaid, then the presi- 
dent and directors are hereby empowered and directed to 
take and receive the subscriptions which shall first be offered 
in whole shares as aforesaid, until the deficiency shall be made 
up, a certificate of which additional subscriptions shall be 
made under the hands of the president and directors, or a 
majority of them for the time being, and returned to and 
recorded in the general courts, aforesaid. 

"III. And be it enacted, That in case one half of the said 
capital, or a greater sum, shall be subscribed as aforesaid, the 
said subscribers, and their heirs and assigns, from the time of 
the said first meeting, shall be, and are hereby declared to be 
incorporated into a company, by the name of the "Potow- 
mack Company," and may sue and be sued as such; and such 
of the said subscribers as shall be present at the said meeting, 
or a majority of them, are hereby empowered and required to 
elect a president and four directors, for conducting the said 
undertaking, and managing all the said company's business 
and concerns, for and during such time, not exceeding three 
years, as the said subscribers, or a majority of them, shall 
think fit. And in counting the votes of all general meetings 
of the said company, each member shall be allowed one vote 
for every share, as far as ten shares, and one vote for every 
five shares above ten, by him or her held at the time in the 
said company; and any proprietor, by writing under his or 



Appendix G. 213 

her hand, executed before two witnesses, may depute any other 
member or proprietor to vote and act as proxy for him or her, 
at any general meeting. 

"IV. And be it enacted, That the said president and 
directors so elected, and their successors, or a majority of 
them assembled, shall have full power and authority to 
agree with any person or persons on behalf of said com- 
pany, to cut such canals and erect such locks, and per- 
form such other works as they shall judge necessary for 
opening, improving, and extending the navigation of the 
said river above tidewater, to the highest part of the North 
Branch to which navigation can be extended, and carry- 
ing on the same, from place to place, and from time to time, 
and upon such terms and in such manner as they shall think 
fit ; and out of the money arising from the subscriptions and 
the tolls, and such other aids hereinafter given, to pay for 
the same, and to repair and keep in order the said locks and 
other works necessary therein, and to defray all incidental 
charges ; and also to appoint a treasurer, clerk, and such other 
officers, toll-gatherers, managers, and servants as they shall 
judge requisite, and to agree for and to settle their respective 
wages or allowances, and settle, pass, and sign their accounts,. 
and also to make and establish rules of proceeding, and to 
transact all the other business and concerns of the said com- 
pany, in and during the intervals between the general meet- 
ings of the same; and they shall be allowed as a satisfaction 
for their trouble therein, such sum of money as shall, by a 
general meeting of the subscribers, be determined. Provided,, 
always, that the treasurer shall give bond in such penalty and 
with such security as the said President and Directors, or a 
majority of them, shall direct, for the true and faithful dis- 
charge of the trust reposed in him, and that the allowance 
be made to him for his services shall not exceed three pounds 
in the hundred, for the disbursements by him made ; and that 
no officer in the said company shall have any vote in the settle- 
ment or passing of his own account. 

"V. And be it enacted. That the said President and Direc- 
tors and their successors, or a majority of them, shall have 



214 Appendix G. 

full power and authority, frojn time to time, as money shall 
be wanted, to make and sign orders for that purpose, and 
direct at what time, and in what proportion, the proprietors 
shall advance and pay off the sums subscribed, which orders 
shal be advertised at least one month in the Virginia and 
Maryland Gazettes; and they are hereby authorized and em- 
powered to demand and receive of the several proprietors, 
from time to time, the sums of money so ordered to be ad- 
vanced for carrying on and executing, or repairing and keep- 
ing in order the said works, until the sums deposited into the 
hands of the Treasurer, to be by him disbursed and paid out 
as the said President and Directors, or a majority of them, 
shall order and direct. And if any of the said proprietors 
shall refuse or neglect to pay their said proportions within 
one month after the same so ordered and advertised as afore- 
said, the said President and Directors, or a majority of them, 
may sell at auction and convey to the purchaser, the share or 
shares of such proprietor so refusing or neglecting payment, 
giving at least one month's notice of sale in the Virginia and 
Maryland Gazettes, and after retaining the sum due, and 
charges of sale out of the money produced thereby, they shall 
refund and pay the overplus, if any, to the former owner; 
and if such sale shall not produce the full sum ordered and 
directed to be advanced as aforesaid, with the incidental 
charges, the said President and Directors, or a majority of 
them, may in the name of the company, sue for and recover 
the balance by action of debt, or on the case ; and the said pur- 
chaser or purchasers shall be subject to the same rules and 
regulations, as if the said sale and conveyance had been made 
by the original proprietor, and to continue the succession of 
the said President and Directors, and to keep up the same 
number. 

"VI. Be it enacted. That, from time to time, upon the 
expiration of the said term for which the said president and 
directors were appointed, the proprietors of the said com- 
pany, at the next general meeting, shall either continue 
the said president and directors, or any of them, or shall 
chose others in their stead; and in case of the death, re- 



Appendix G. 215 

moval, resignation, or incapacity of the president, or any 
of the said directors, may and shall, in the manner afore- 
said, elect any other person or persons, to be president 
and directors, in the room of him or them so dying, re- 
moving or resigning; and may at any of their general meet- 
ings, remove the president, or any of the directors, and 
appoint others, for and during the remainder of the term for 
which such persons or persons were at first to have acted. 

"VII. And be it enacted. That every president and di- 
rector, before he acts as such, shall take an oath or affirma- 
tion, for the due execution of his office. 

"VIII. And be it enacted. That the presence of pro- 
prietors, having one hundred shares at least, shall be neces- 
sary to constitute a general meeting; and that there shall 
be a general meeting of proprietors on the first Monday 
in August in every year, at such convenient town as shall, 
from time to time, be appointed by the said general as- 
sembly; but if a sufficient number shall not attend on that 
day, the proprietors who do attend, may adjourn such meet- 
ing from day to day, till a general meeting of proprietors 
shall be had, which may be continued from day to day, 
until the business of the company is finished; to which 
meeting the president and directors shall make report, and 
render distinct and just accounts of all their proceedings, and 
on finding them fairly and justly stated, the proprietors then 
present, or a majority of them, shall give a certificate thereof, 
a duplicate of which shall be entered on the said company's 
books; and at such yearly general meetings, after leaving in 
the hands of the treasurer such sum as the proprietors, or a 
majority of them, shall judge necessary for repairs and con- 
tingent charges, an equal dividend of all the net profits, aris- 
ing from the tolls hereby granted, shall be ordered, and made 
to and among all the proprietors of the said company, in pro- 
portion to their several shares; and upon any emergency in 
the interval between the said yearly meetings, the said presi- 
dent, or a majority of the said directors, may appoint a gen- 
eral meeting of the proprietors of the said company, at any 
convenient town, giving at least one month's previous notice 



2i6 Appendix G. 

in the Maryland and Virginia Gazettes, which meeting may 
be adjourned and continued as aforesaid. 

"IX. And be it further enacted, That for and in con- 
sideration of the expenses the said proprietors will be at, 
not only in cutting the said canals, erecting locks and other 
works, for opening the different falls of the said river, and 
improving and extending the navigation thereof, but in 
maintaining and keeping the same in repair, the said canal 
and works, with all their profits, shall be, and the same 
are hereby vested in the said proprietors, their heirs and 
assigns, forever, as tenants in common, in proportion 
to their respective shares; and the same shall be deemed 
real estate, and be forever exempt from payment of any tax, 
imposition, or assessment whatsoever ; and it shall and may be 
lawful for the said president and directors at all times, for- 
ever hereafter, to demand and receive, at the nearest conve- 
nient place below the mouth of the South Branch, and at or 
near Payne's Falls, and at or above the Great Falls of the 
river Potomac, and every of these places separately, for all 
commodities, transported through either of them respectively, 
tolls, according to the following table and rates, to wit: — 



Appendix G. 



217 



Every pipe or hogshead of wine, containing 

more than 65 gallons 

Every hogshead of rum or other spirits 

Every hogshead of tobacco 

Every cask between 65 and 35 gallons, one 
half of a pipe or hogshead, barrels one- 
fourth part, and smaller casks or kegs in 
proportion, according to the quality and 
quantity of their contents of wine or 
spirits. 
For casks of linseed oil the same as spirits. 
Every bushel of wheat, peas, beans, or 

flaxseed, 

Every bushel of Indian corn, or other grain, 

or salt 

Every barrel of pork 

Every barrel of beef 

Every barrel of flour 

Every ton of hemp, flax, potash, bar or 

manufactured iron '. 

Every ton of pig-iron, or castings 

Every ton of copper, lead, or other ore, 

other than iron ore 

Every ton of stone, or iron ore 

Every hundred bushels of lime 

Every chaldron of. coals 

Every hundred pipe staves 

Every hundred hogshead staves or pipe or 

hogshead heading 

Every hundred barrel staves, or barrel 

heading 

Every hundred cubic feet of plank, or 

scantling 

Every hundred cubic feet of other timber, 
Every gross hundred weight of all other 

commodities and packages 

And every empty boat or vessel, which has 
not commodities on board, to yield so 
much, except an empty boat or vessel 
returning, whose load has already paid, 
at the respective places, the sums fixed 
at each, in which case she is to repass 
toll free 



Tolls. 



At the 

Mouth of the 

South 

Branch. 



At Payne's 
Falls. 



At the Great 
Falls. 



Sterling. 



£. s. d. 



0§ 



Oi 
6 
4 
3 



2 6 
10 



1* 



1 



10 
5i 



14 



2 6 



0* 



Oi 
6 
4 
3 



2 6 
10 



Ij 

1 

10 

5i 

1* 



2 26 5 



£. s. d. 

3 

2 6 

2 



1 



Oj 

10 

8 

6 



5 

18 

4 

10 

2 6 

10 

4* 



8 

2 

18 

11 

3 



Which tolls are rated in sterling money, and may be dis- 
charged in foreign gold or silver coin of the present fineness, 
at the following rates, to wit: 






5 


li 





5 


9 





5 





3 


12 





1 


16 





1 


7 





1 


1 





1 





10 


3 


6 








16 


6 





16 


4 





8 


6 





4 






2i8 Appendix G. 

Spanish milled piece of eight, or dollar, £0 4 6 

Other coined silver, of equal fineness, per ounce, 

English milled crowns, 

French silver crowns, 

Johannes weighing 18 pennyweight, 

Half Johannes weighing 9 pennyweight, 

Moidores weighing 6 pennyweight 18 grains, 

English guineas weighing 5 pennyweights 5 grains, 

French guineas weighing 5 pennyweights 5 grains. 

Doubloons weighing 17 pennyweights, 

>Spanish pistoles weighing 4 pennyweighs 6 grains, 

French milled pistoles weighing 4 penn3Tveights 4 grains, 

Arabian chequina weighing 2 pennyweights 3 grains. 

Other gold coin (German excepted) by the pennyweight. 

But if any of the coins aforesaid, should hereafter be ren- 
dered less valuable than they are at present, either by lessen- 
ing their weight, or therewith adding a greater quantity of 
alloy than is in them respectively at present, then so much of 
any of said coins, the value of which is so reduced, to be re- 
ceived for the tolls aforesaid, as is equal in value to the said 
coins in their present state of fineness and weight, shall be 
payable for the said tolls at their reduced value only. And 
in case of refusal or neglect to pay the tolls at the time of 
offering to pass through any of the said places, and previous 
to the vessel's passing through the same, the collectors of the 
said tolls may lawfully refuse passage to such vessels; and if 
any vessel shall pass without paying the said toll, then the 
said collectors may seize such vessel, whereever found, and 
sell the same at auction for ready money, which, so far as is 
necessary, shall be applied toward paying the said toll, and 
all expenses of sei2nare and sale, and the balance, if any, shall 
be paid to the owner, and the person having the direction of 
such vessel shall be liable for such toll, if the same is not paid 
by sale of such vessel, as aforesaid; Provided, That the said 
proprietors, or a majority of them, holding, at least, three 
hundred shares, shall have full power and authority, at any 
general meeting, to lessen the said tolls or any of them ; or to 
determine that any article may pass free of toll. 

"10. And be it enacted, That the said river, and the works 



Appendix G. 219 

to be erected thereon in virtue of this act, when completed, 
shall forever thereafter be esteemed and taken to be navigable 
as a public highway, free for the transportation of all goods, 
commodities, or produce, whatsoever, on payment of the tolls 
imposed by this act; and no other toll or tax whatever, for 
the use of the water of said river, and the works thereon 
erected, shall, at any time hereafter, be imposed, by both or 
either of the said States, subject, nevertheless, to such regula- 
tions as the Legislatures of the States may concur in, to pre- 
vent the importation of prohibited goods, or to prevent fraud 
in evading the payment of duties imposed in both or either 
of the said States, on goods imported into either of them. 
And whereas it is necessary for making the said canal, locks, 
and other works, that a provision should be made for con- 
demning a quantity of land for the purpose — 

' ' 11. Be it enacted. That it shall and may be lawful for the 
said president and directors, or a majority of them, to agree 
with the owners of any land, through which the said canal is 
intended to pass, for the purchase thereof, and in case of a 
disagreement, or in case the owner thereof shall be a feme- 
covert, under age, non compos, or out of the State, on appli- 
cation to any two justices of the county, in which such land 
may lie, the said justices shall issue their warrant under their 
hands, to the sheriff of their county, to summons a jury of 
twenty-four inhabitants of his county, of property and repu- 
tation, not related to the parties, nor in any manner inter- 
ested, to meet on the land to be valued, at a day to be ex- 
pressed in the warrant, nor less than ten, nor more than 
twenty days thereafter; and the sheriff upon receiving the 
said warrant, shall forthwith summon the said jury, and when 
met, provided that not less than twelve do appear, shall ad- 
minister an oath or affirmation to every juryman that shall 
appear; 'that he will faithfully, justly, and impartially value 
the land, (not exceeding in any case the width of one hundred 
and forty feet) and all damages the owner thereof shall sus- 
tain by the cutting the canal through such land, according 
to the best of his skill and judgment ; and that in such valua- 
tion, he will not spare any person through favor or affection, 



220 Appendix G. 

nor any persons grieve through malice, hatred, or ill-will.' 
And the inquisition thereupon taken, shall be signed by the 
sheriff, and some twelve or more of the jury, and returned by 
the sheriff to the clerk of his county, to be by him recorded; 

"And upon every such valuation, the jury is hereby di- 
rected to describe and ascertain the bounds of the land by 
them valued, and their valuation shall be conclusive on all 
persons, and shall be paid by the said president and directors 
to the owner of the land, or his legal representative; and on 
payment thereof, the said company shall be seized in fee of 
such land, as if conveyed by the owner to them, and their suc- 
cessors, by legal conveyance; Provided, nevertheless. That if 
any further damage shall arise to any proprietor of land, in 
consequence of opening said canal, or in erecting such works, 
than had been before considered and valued, it shall and may 
be lawful for such proprietor, as often as any new damage 
shall happen, by application to, and a warrant from, any two 
justices of the county where the lands lie, to have such further 
damage valued by a jury in like manner, and to receive and 
recover the same of the president and directors; but nothing 
herein shall be taken or construed to entitle the proprietor of 
any such land to recover compensation for any damages which 
may happen to any mills, forges, or other water works or im- 
provements, which shall be begun or erected by such pro- 
prietor, after such first valuation, unless the said damage is 
wilfully or maliciously done by the said president and direc- 
tors, or some person by their authority. 

"12. And be it enacted, That the said president and direc- 
tors, or a majority of them, are hereby authorized to agree 
with the proprietors for the purchase of a quantity of land, 
not exceeding one acre, at or near each of the said places of 
receipt of tolls aforesaid, for the purpose of erecting neces- 
sary buildings; and in case of disagreement, or any of the 
disabilities aforesaid, or the proprietor being out of the State, 
then such land may be valued, condemned, and paid for, as 
aforesaid, for the purpose aforesaid: And whereas some of 
the places through which it may be necessary to conduct the 
said canals may be convenient for erecting mills, forges, and 



Appendix G. 221 

other waterworks, and the persons, possessors of such situatibn 
may design to improve the same, and it is the intention of this 
act not to interfere with private property, but for the purpose 
of improving and perfecting the said navigation — 

"13. Be it enacted. That the water, or any part thereof, 
conveyed through any canal or cut made by the said com- 
pany, shall not be used for any purpose but navigation unless 
the consent of the proprietors of the land through which the 
same shall be led, be first had; and the said president and 
directors, or a majority of them, are hereby empowered and 
directed, if it can be conveniently done, to answer both the 
purposes of navigation and water works aforesaid, to enter 
into reasonable agreement with the proprietors of such situa- 
tions, concerning the just proportion of the expenses of making 
large canals or cuts capable of carrying such quantities of 
water as may be sufficient for the purposes of navigation, and 
also for any such water works as aforesaid. 

"14. And be it enacted. That it shall and may be lawful 
for every of the said proprietors to transfer his share or 
shares, by deed, executed before two witnesses, and registered 
after proof of the execution thereof, in the said company's 
books, and not otherwise, except by devise, which devise shall 
also be exhibited to the president and directors, and regis- 
tered in the company's books, before the devisee or devisees 
shall be entitled to draw any part of the profits from the said 
tolls: Provided, That no transfer whatsoever shall be made, 
except for one or more whole shares, and not for part of such 
shares, and that no share shall at any time be sold, conveyed, 
transferred, or held in trust, for the use and benefit, or in the 
name of another, whereby the said president and directors or 
proprietors of the said company, or any of them, shall or may 
be challenged or made to answer, concerning any such trust, 
but that every such person appearing as aforesaid, to be pro- 
prietor, shall, as to the others of the said company be to every 
intent taken absolutely as such; but as between any trustee and 
the person for whose benefit any trust shall be created, the 
common remedy may be pursued. And whereas it hath been 
represented to this General Assembly, that sundry persons are 



2 22 Appendix G. 

willing and desirous, on account of the great public advan- 
tages and improvement their estates may receive thereby to 
promote and contribute towards so useful an undertaking, 
and to subscribe sums of money to be paid on condition the 
said works are really completed and carried into execution, 
but do not care to run any risk, or desire to have any prop- 
erty therein — 

"15. Be it therefore enacted, That the said president and 
directors shall be, and are hereby empowered to receive and 
take in subscriptions, upon the said conditions, and upon the 
said works being completed and carried into execution, accord- 
ing to the true intent and meaning of this act, that it shall 
and may be lawful for the said president and directors or a 
majority of them, in case of refusal or neglect of payment, 
in the name of the company as aforesaid, to sue for and 
recover of the said subscribers, their heirs, executors or admin- 
istrators, the sums by them respectively subscribed, by action 
of debt, or upon the case, in any court of record within this 
State. 

"16. And be it enacted. That, if the said capital, and other 
aids already granted by this act, shall prove insufficient, it 
shall and may be lawful for the said company, from time to 
time, to increase the said capital by the addition of so many 
more whole shares, as shall be judged necessary by the said 
proprietors, or a majority of them, holding at least three 
hundred shares, present at any general meeting of the said 
company. And the said president and directors, or a major- 
ity of them, are hereby empowered, and required, after giving 
at least one month's notice thereof in the Maryland and Vir- 
ginia Gazettes, to open books in the aforementioned places, 
for receiving and entering such additional subscriptions, in 
which the proprietors of the said company for the time being, 
shall, and are hereby declared to have the preference of all 
others for the first thirty days after the said books shall be 
opened as aforesaid, of taking and subscribing for so many 
whole shares as any of them shall choose. And the said 
president and directors are hereby required to observe in all 
other respects the same rules therein, as are by this act pre- 



Appendiw G. 223 

scribed, for receiving and adjusting the first subscriptions, 
and in like manner to return, under the hands of any three 
or more of them, an exact list of such additional subscribers, 
with the sums by them respectively subscribed, into the gen- 
eral courts aforesaid, to be there recorded, and all proprietors 
of such additional sums, shall, and hereby are declared to be, 
from thenceforward, incorporated into the said company. 

"17. And it is hereby declared and enacted. That the tolls 
herein before allowed to be demanded and received at the 
nearest convenient place below the mouth of the South 
Branch, are granted, and shall be paid, on condition only. 
That the said Potomac Company shall make the river well 
capable of being navigated in dry seasons, by vessels drawing 
one foot of water from the place on the North Branch, at 
which a road shall set off to the Cheat river, agreeably to the 
determination of the Assemblies of Virginia and Maryland, 
to and through the place which may be fixed on, below the 
mouth of the South Branch, for receipt of the tolls afore- 
said; but if .the said river is only made navigable as afore- 
said, from Fort Cumberland, to and through the said place 
below the mouth of the South Branch, then only two thirds 
of the said tolls shall be there received. That the tolls herein 
before allowed, to be demanded and received at or near 
Payne's Falls, are granted and shall be payable on condition 
only, that the said Potomac Company shall make the river 
well 'capable of being navigated in dry seasons, by vessels 
drawing one foot water, from the said place of collection, 
near the mouth of South Branch to and through Payne's 
Falls as aforesaid. That the tolls herein before allowed to be 
demanded and received at the Great Falls, are granted and 
shall be payable on condition only, that the said Potomac Com- 
pany shall make the river well capable of being navigated in 
dry seasons, from Payne's Falls to the Great Falls, by vessels 
drawing one foot water, and from the Great Falls to tide 
water, and shall, at or near the Great Falls, make a cut or 
canal, twenty-five feet wide, and four feet deep, with suffi- 
cient locks, if necessary, each of eighty feet in length, sixteen 
feet in breadth, and capable of conveying vessels or rafts 



224 Appendix G. 

drawing four feet water at the least, and shall make, at or 
near the Little Falls, such canal and locks, if necessary, as 
will be sufficient and proper to let vessels and rafts afore- 
said, into tide water, or render the said river navigable in 
the natural course. 

"18. And it is hereby provided and enacted, That in case 
the said company shall not begin the said work within one 
year after the company shall be formed, or if the navigation 
shall not be made and improved between the Great Falls and 
Fort Cumberland, in the manner hereinbefore mentioned, 
within three years after the said company shall be formed, 
that then the said company shall not be entitled to any bene- 
fit, privilege, or advantage, under this act: And in case the 
said company shall not complete the navigation through and 
from the Great Falls to tide water as aforesaid, within ten 
years after the said company shall be formed, then shall all 
interest of the said company and all preference in their favor, 
as to the navigation and tolls, at, through, and from, the 
Great Falls to tide water, be forfeited, and cease. 

"19. And be it enacted. That all commodities of the pro- 
duce of either of the said States, or of the western country, 
which may be carried or transported through the said locks, 
canals, and rivers, may be landed, sold, or otherwise disposed 
of, free from any other duties, impositions, regulations, or 
restrictions, of any kind, than the like commodities of the 
produce of the State in which the same may happen to be 
so landed, sold, shipped, or disposed of. 

' ' 20. And be it further enacted. That the Treasurer of this 
Commonwealth shall be authorized and directed to subscribe 
to the amount of fifty shares in behalf of the same, and the 
money necessary in consequence of such subscription, shall 
be paid as the same shall be required. And the Treasurer 
for the time being shall have a right to vote according to 
such shares, in person, or by proxy, appointed by him, and 
shall receive the proportion of the tolls aforesaid, which shall 
from time to time become due to this State for the shares 
aforesaid. 

"21. And be it further enacted. That so much of every act 



Appendix G. 225 

and acts within the purview of this act, shall be, and the 
same is hereby, repealed." 

Passed by the Virginia Assembly October, 1784. 
Passed by the Maryland Assembly in the November 
session, 1784. 

In October, 1784, the Virginia Assembly passed an 
act to amend the above act, vesting in Greorge Wash- 
ington, Esq., fifty shares in the Potomac Company and 
one hundred shares in the James Eiver Company. 

Upon the General's declining to accept the shares 
personally, but accepting them in trust for educational 
purposes, the Assembly passed another amendatory 
act October, 1785, whereby, 

"2. Be it enacted, That the (above) said recited act, so 
far as it vests in Geo. "Washington, Esq. and his heirs, the 
shares therein directed to be subscribed in his name, shall be, 
and the same is hereby, repealed. 

"3. And be it further enacted, That the said shares, with 
the tolls and profits hereafter accruing therefrom, shall stand 
appropriated to such objects of a public nature, in such man- 
ner, and under such distributions, as the said George "Wash- 
ington, Esq. by deed during his life, or by his last will and 
testament, shall direct and appoint." 

In December, 1787, the Virginia Assembly passed an 
act "giving a more speedy remedy against delinquent 
subscribers to the Potomac and James Eiver Com- 
panies." 

Concurrent act passed by the Maryland Assembly, 
1787. 

An amended act was passed in Virginia, December, 
1790, allowing three additional years on the work above 
Great Falls, requiring new subscribers to pay the past 
calls, and that it might be lawful for persons not citi- 
zens to purchase and hold non-subscribed shares, pro- 
16 



226 Appendix G. 

vided that the persons so purchasing shall not thereby 
become citizens. (This was probably passed for the 
benefit of the Amsterdam investors.) 

Concurrent act in Maryland, 1790. 

An act passed in Virginia in 1791 required the com- 
pany to at once commence to open navigation on tribu- 
tary streams; also made it lawful for non-citizens to 
purchase shares from stockholders. To concur la 
an act of Maryland. 

In November, 1793, the time on the work above Great 
Falls was extended to January, 1795. Maryland ex- 
tended the time to 1798. 

In 1793 an act was passed requiring boatmen to pro- 
cure licenses, for which they were to pay one dollar, 
also, 

' ' Every boat intended to be employed as aforesaid shall be 
well ceiled with strong plank, and sufficiently high to prevent 
the water in the bottom from damaging any part of the cargo, 
and shall be furnished with a tarpaulin cover, stretched over 
hoops in the manner of wagon covers, sufficient for defend- 
ing the weather, and also with a hand pump, and shall have 
a plank footway upon each side of the boat, either on the 
outer or inside thereof, as the owner shall find most convenient, 
and shall be numbered ; and no license shall be granted in any 
case unless it shall be proven to the Court that the boat is 
ceiled, fitted, furnished and numbered," etc. 

In 1800 Virginia decreed all fish dams and other ob- 
structions to the navigation of the river and its 
branches to be nuisances and liable to destruction. 

The Shenandoah Company having failed to organize 
under the act of 1798 the Potomac Company was au- 
thorized to take the work in January, 1802. 

In 1803 an amendatory act was passed, allowing five 
years for completion of the work on the Shenandoah. 

Another act of Janxiary, 1803, permitted the con- 



Appendix G. 227 

struction of the locks to be twelve feet in width and 
provided — 

"That every lock which shall hereafter be repaired or 
erected, shall be repaired or erected of stone, or such materials 
as a general meeting of the proprietors shall deem most con- 
ducive to the public interest and convenience., . . . also That, 
by the words ' dry seasons, ' as used in the section referred to, 
were and are to be intended and understood, all seasons, so 
far as relates to the navigation of the said river from Fort 
Cumberland to tide water." 

Tobias Lear, Stevens Thompson Mason, Lawrence 
A. Washington, Hugh Holmes, Nicholas Fitzhugh, Os- 
borne Sprigg and Edward McCarty were appointed 
commissioners to explore and review the river before 
November and report to the Assembly the manner in 
which the work is done, the depth of water in the shal- 
lowest places where the boats pass, etc. An extension 
of three years given in the time for completion. The 
company authorized to employ slaves from Maryland. 

In 1811 an extension of three years was granted on 
the Shenandoah navigation. 

In 1817 a further extension of three years was 
granted the Potomac Company for completion of the 
Potomac navigation. 

January 8, 1820, it was resolved by the Assembly : 

"That the board of the public works be . . . requested to 
inquire into the expediency of directing their principal engi- 
neer to examine the waters of the Potomac, above the upper 
line of the District of Columbia, with a view to ascertain and 
report upon the most effectual means of improving the navi- 
gation of the same; and to explore the country between the 
Potomac and the Ohio, on the one side, and the Potomac and 
the Eappahannock on the other, with a view to ascertain and 
report upon the practicability of effecting a communication 
by canals between the three rivers." 



2 28 Appendix G. 

In January, 1821 : 

"Whereas it is represented to the General Assembly that 
the Potomac Company have failed to comply with the terms 
and conditions of the acts of the Legislatures of the States of 
Virginia and Maryland, incorporating the said Company, for 
the purpose of opening and extending the navigation of the 
river Potomac and its branches ; and whereas it is the interest 
of this commonwealth that such measures should be con- 
jointly adopted by the Legislatures of the said States as 
shall insure to the people thereof the attainment of the im- 
portant objects for which the charter of the said Company 
was granted: 

"... The Governor of this State . . . shall appoint two 
commissioners to meet such commissioners as may be appointed 
by the Governor of Maryland, whose duty it shall be to 
examine into and report the state of the navigation of the 
said river and its branches, and whether the same has been 
perfected and completed according to the terms and condi- 
tions of the acts of incorporation, etc. They are further 
directed to inquire into and report the situation and condition 
of the affairs of the said Company, Etc. Etc." Concurrent act 
of Maryland, Dec. 1820. 

In Maryland Assembly, November session, 1792, it 
was enacted that slaves might be employed on either 
side of the Potomac, either on the public buildings in 
the new city of Washington or by the Potomac Com- 
pany. In 1794 amended : 

"That every slave brought from Virginia to Maryland, by 
virtue of this act, shall be carried back to Virginia within 
twelve calendar months from the completion of the public 
works, . . . and every slave not carried back, as aforesaid, 
shall be entitled to freedom." 

November session, 1795, the treasurer of the State 
was authorized to subscribe for forty shares of the 
augmented stock of the Potomac Company, provided 
that the remaining sixty shares be subscribed. 



Appendix G. 229 

November, 1796, permitted to narrow the width of 
the locks at Great Falls. 

November, 1797, permitted to collect tolls at the canal 
at Great Falls, etc. 

November, 1809, a further extension of time for ten 
years. Also, to raise a sum of money by means of a 
lottery. 

November, 1811, an act relative to condemnation of 
land, etc., on tributary streams. 

State of Virginia ; An Act incorporating the Chesa- 
peake and Ohio Canal Company. Passed January 27, 
1824. 

' ' Whereas a navigable canal from the tide water of the river 
Potomac, in the District of Columbia, to the mouth of Savage 
Creek, on the north branch of said river, and extending 
thence, across the Allegany Mountains, to some convenient 
point of the navigable waters of the river Ohio, or some one of 
its tributary streams, to be fed through its course, on the 
east side of the mountain, by the river Potomac and the 
streams which empty therein, and on the western side of the 
mountain, and in passing over the same, by all such streams 
of water as may be beneficially drawn there to by feeders, 
dams, or any other practicable mode, will be a work of great 
profit and advantage to the people of this state, and of the 
neighboring states, and may ultimately tend to establish a 
connected navigation between the eastern and western waters, 
so as to extend and multiply the means and facilities of 
internal commerce and personal intercourse between the two 
great sections of the United States, and to interweave more 
closely all the mutual interests and affections that are calcu- 
lated to consolidate and perpetuate the vital principles of 
Union: and whereas it is represented to this General As- 
sembly, that the Potomac Company are willing and desirous 
that a charter shall be granted to a new company, upon the 
terms and conditions hereinafter expressed: and that the 
charter of the present company shall cease and determine : 



230 Appendix G. 

"Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly of Vir- 
ginia, That, so soon as the Legislatures of Maryland and Penn- 
sylvania, and the Congress of the United States, shall assent 
to the provisions of this act, and the Potomac Company shall 
have signified their assent to the same by their corporate act, 
a copy whereof shall be delivered to the Executives of the 
several States aforesaid, and to the Treasury of the United 
States, there shall be appointed by the said Executives and 
the President of the United States, three commissioners on 
the part of each State, and the Government of the United 
States, any one of whom shall be competent to act for his 
respective Government. . . . 

"... and the said capital stock of the company hereby 
incorporated, shall consist of six millions of dollars, divided 
into sixty thousand shares, of one hundred dollars each; of 
which every person subscribing may take and subscribe for 
one or more whole shares; and such subscriptions may be 
paid and discharged either in the legal currency of the United 
States, or in the certificates of stock of the present Potomac 
Company, at the par or nominal value of the same, or in the 
claims of the creditors of the said Company, certified by the 
acting President and Directors to have been due, for prin- 
cipal and debt, on the day on which the assent of the Com- 
pany shall have been signified by their corporate act, as herein 
before required; Provided, That the said certificates of stock 
shall not exceed, in the whole amount the sum of three 
hundred and eleven thousand one hundred and eleven dollars 
and eleven cents ; nor the said claims the sum of one hundred 
and seventy five thousand eight hundred dollars; Provided, 
also ; That the stock so paid for in certificates of the stock of 
the present Company, shall be entitled to dividend, only as 
hereinafter provided; and that no payment shall be received, 
in such certificate of stock, until the Potomac Company shall 
have executed the conveyance prescribed by the thirteenth 
section of this act; ... 

"Section 11; And be it enacted, That the President and 
directors shall, annually, or semi-annually, declare and make 
such dividends of the nett profits ... as they may deem 



Appendix G. 231 

advisable, after deducting therefrom the necessary current, 
and the probable contingent expenses, to be divided among 
the proprietors of the stock of the said company, in propor- 
tion to their respective shares., in manner following, that is 
to say; if such nett profits shall not exceed ten per cent, on 
the amount of shares, which shall have been paid for in cur- 
rent money of the United States, and expended on the eastern 
section of the said canal, then the whole thereof shall be 
divided among the holders of such shares, in proportion to 
their respective shares; but, if such nett profits shall exceed 
the rate of ten per cent per annum, in any year, on such 
amount of stock, then the surplus shall be divided among such 
stockholders as shall have paid for their shares in certificates 
of the debts of the Potomac Company, until they shall there- 
from have received a dividend of six per cent; and, if a sur- 
plus yet remain, the same shall be divided among the stock- 
holders who shall have paid for their shares in certificates of 
the stock of the Potomac Company, until they shall have 
received therefrom a dividend of six per cent per annum on 
such shares, etc. etc. . . . 

Section 12 ; And be it farther enacted ; That it shall be the 
duty of the President and Directors of the Chesapeake and 
Ohio Canal Company, so long as there shall be and remain 
any creditor of the Potomac Company, who shall not have 
vested his demand against the same in the stock of the Chesa- 
peake and Ohio Canal Company, to pay to such creditor or 
creditors, annually, such dividends, or proportion of the nett 
amount of the revenues of the Potomac Company, on an aver- 
age of the last five years preceeding the organization of the 
said proposed company, as the demand of the said creditor, 
or creditors at this time, may bear to the whole debt of one 
hundred and seventy five thousand eight hundred dollars. 

' ' Section 13 ; And be it farther enacted ; That, whenever the 
Potomac Company shall have declared its assent to the pro- 
visions of this act, in the manner hereinbefore provided, it 
shall be lawful for the said company to surrender its charter, 
and convey, in due form of law, to the Chesapeake and Ohio 
Canal Company, hereby incorporated, all the property, rights 



232 Appendix G. 

and priviliges, by them owned, possessed, and enjoyed, under 
the same ; and thei-eupon it shall be lawful to and for the said 
company, hereby proposed to be created, to accept such sur- 
render and transfer, and to hold, possess, use and occupy all 
the property, rights and privileges, in the same manner, and 
to the same effect, as the said Potomac Company now hold, 
possess and occupy the same by laAV; and thereupon the 
charter of the said Potomac Company shall be, and the same 
is hereby vacated and annulled, and all the rights and powers 
thereby granted to the Potomac Company, shall be vested in 
the company hereby incorporated; and it shall be the duty 
of the last mentioned company, until every section of the 
contemplated canal shall be completed, so as to be used and 
enjoyed for the purposes of navigation, to keep the corre- 
sponding part of the river, in a proper state for navigation, 
and in good order as the same now is ; and in default thereof, 
they shall be in all things responsible, in the same manner as 
the Potomac Company is now responsible." 

A similar act was passed by the Legislature of the 
State of Maryland in December, 1824. A confirmatory 
act was passed by the Congress of the United States 
and approved in March, 1825. 

A special meeting of the stockholders of the Potomac 
Company was called for the 16th May, 1825, at Greorge- 
town, and 

"Unanimously declared the full and free assent of the 
Potomac Company to the said act incorporating the said 
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, and to all the pro- 
visions thereof." 

Another special general meeting was called for the 
10th July, 1828, at Semmes Tavern, Georgetown, to 
take into consideration the acts amendatory of the acts 
incorporating the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Com- 
pany and it was unanimously resolved 



Appendix G. 233 

That the assent and approbation of the Potomac Company- 
is hereby given expressly to each and all of said acts, so far 
as the same may be deemed necessary to the validity or 
future operation of each and all of said acts, in as full and 
perfect manner as if each and all of said acts were herein 
specifically enumerated and recited." 

James Keith, Chairman. 

Still another, and the last, special general meeting 
of the stockholders was called for the 4th August, 1828, 
when it was resolved 

"That the President and Directors of the Potomac Com- 
pany be, and they are hereby, instructed to convey, without 
further delay, the rights and interests of the Potomac Com- 
pany to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, in con- 
formity with the charter of the latter company, and the past 
resolutions of the Potomac Company." 

Accordingly on the 15th August, 1828, the convey- 
ance was duly made and signed by John Mason, Presi- 
dent, Jonah Thompson, John Laird and Clement Smith. 
0. Vowell did not for some reason sign. 



PART III. 

LIFE AND LETTERS OF COLO. CHARLES 
SIMMS, GENTLEMAN, OF VIRGINIA. 




Colo. Charles Simms, Gentleman 
(Drawn hy Mrs. J. O. Estabrook from Miniature) 



LIFE AND LETTEES OF COLO. CHAELES 
SIMMS, GENTLEMAN, OF VIEGINIA. 

In Virginia before the War of tlie Eevolution an 
ambitious young man of gentle birth, found his choice 
of a career restricted to practically three pursuits ; he 
might manage his own plantation and represent his 
parish in the House of Burgesses, he might become a 
surveyor and speculate in western lands, or he might 
take up the newly popular practice of law; colonial 
military service was neither attractive nor remunera- 
tive. 

Charles Simms, gentleman, of Prince William 
County, who had acquired an unusually good educa- 
tion, probably at the College of William and Mary, 
with some fortune at his disposal, chose the law, fore- 
seeing in the political ferment of the time an opening 
for legal talent, and entered the law office of Mr. Mer- 
cer, of Fredericksburg, as a student. It was, however, 
as an astute man of affairs that he later became 
prominent. 

We read in the Virginia Gazette of May 29 of an 
early unfortunate business experience : 

"In May 1773, or near that time I gave my bond to John 
Eeid of Amherst Co. for 1251. currency payable in April 
1774. I forewarn any person from taking said bond of Reid 
as I will not pay any of the money till such time as the 
said Reid fulfils his bargain with me. Chas. Simms." 

It is not known how it came that he was in Col. Chas. 
Lewis 's regiment of militia, by order of Governor Dun- 

237 



238 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

more rendezvoused on the fields of Greenbrier for the 
advance on the hostile Indians on the Ohio; his study 
of law ended he may have followed the tide of emigra- 
tion into the west in search of a business location, or 
he may have joined Capt. James Woods' independent 
company on the Grovernor's call for the militia, but he 
appears to have been in the little force that made the 
heroic nineteen days' march over the trackless, forest- 
covered hills to the mouth of the Kanawha in Septem- 
ber, 1774, as it is recorded that Col. Charles Lewis died 
in his arms in the momentous engagement that freed 
Virginia from the terror of the savage foe on her 
frontier. 

With the aid of the collection of Simms' papers in 
the Library of Congress supplemented by outside data 
we are enabled to follow his career from Point Pleas- 
ant in 1774 through the Eevolutionary War — with his 
courtship of a lovely lady — sympathize with his 
troubles with western land titles, learn of his political 
and social friendships, his business successes and 
failures, to his participation in the War of 1812-14. 

With his command he joined Governor Dunmore north 
of the Ohio and proceeded to Pittsburgh, or as it was at 
the moment called "Fort Dunmore," and in possession 
of Virginia authorities as the capital of the newly 
formed district of West Augusta. With the keen busi- 
ness insight that was characteristic he at once per- 
ceived the importance of the situation of the rough 
little settlement and determined to locate permanently. 
A bright new sign was soon swinging above a door on 
the one street — "Chas. Simms Counselor and Atty-at- 
Law." Judging from the court reports of the district 
litigants were not long in appearing for advice. The 
place was overcrowded with all the motley throng 
ever to be found in the outposts of civilization in time 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 239 

of excitement — adventurers, hunters, traders, fugitives 
from settlements farther out, militia and camp fol- 
lowers. The life was rough, but Simms found con- 
genial companions among the officers and agents from 
Virginia and formed friendships that endured through- 
out life. Notable among these friends were Gen. John 
Neville whom Governor Dunmore had placed in mili- 
tary command of the territory he had seized from 
Pennsylvania, for many years the most prominent man 
west of the mountains and whose family still retains 
the old ascendancy; John Harvie, Commissioner to 
treat with the conquered Indian tribes, the organizer 
of the Virginia land office, member of the Virginia 
Eevolutionary conventions and of the Continental 
Congresses; and James Wood, Eevolutionary soldier 
and patriot, the intrepid young envoy to the Indians 
of the far west, a mission which rivaled that of Wash- 
ington twenty years earlier. One of the residents in 
this faraway settlement was Alex. Eoss, who was an 
Indian trader and land speculator, later in the pay of 
the British and a friend of Dr. Connolly. He had 
built for himself a pretty residence on the bank of the 
Alleghany Eiver ; this Simms bought and with Neville 
and Harvie occupied ' ' en garcon. ' ' The three invested 
in military land warrants, which were cheap, and lo- 
cated many advantageously. Several they located on 
a beautiful island a few miles below the Fort, buying 
the interest of the half-breed Indian, Montour, who 
was in possession. Simms also purchased through 
Eoss large tracts of land on Eaccoon Creek from one 
Dunbar who had title from George Croghan, the noted 
Indian trader. Croghan had availed himself of the 
opportunity offered at the meeting of the tribes at Fort 
Stanwix to acquire immense bodies of land on the 
Ohio. His titles were declared void by Virginia and 



240 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

Simms' efforts to perfect tliem occupied much of his 
attention for several years. 

In the spring of 1776 Simms and Harvie were dele- 
gates to the convention in "Williamsburg that adopted 
the constitution which was in force for fifty years. In 
November of the same year commissions were given 
to Wood, Neville and Simms in the Virginia line of the 
Continental Army. In March, 1777, Wood and Simms 
were commissioners for taking at Pittsburgh evidence 
in land trespass. Three regiments were recruited west 
of the mountains for the Revolutionary War; in the 
spi'ing of 1777 that under the command of the three 
friends joined the main army under General Wash- 
ington, then in headquarters near Morristown. It is 
worthy of note that the rough settlers on the border 
liberally provided for the families of the soldiers in the 
army; this is of record in the minutes of the court of 
West Augusta. 

While the general outlook was so gloomy for the 
revolted colonies in 1777 and 1778 the young officers in 
camp found gay entertainment in the homes of neigh- 
borhood families. Our young Virginia major in his 
handsome uniform of butf and blue must have been a 
brave figure ; not over tall, lithe and active, of the fre- 
quent blond type — it was not surprising that he should 
win the heart of the most beautiful and popular young 
lady in the county, Miss Nancy Douglass, whose father 
had been a major under General Schuyler in the old 
war. Some of the love letters written by Simms during 
the strenuous campaign in the Jerseys have been pre- 
served and are models in their way. 

"Brunswick, July 3d. 1778. 
"My Dearest Nancy, 

"The day after the action near Monmouth Court House, I 
wrote you by a Militia man who lives in or near Trenton, in 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Svmms. 241 

which I informed you of our success in that action. Since 
that time I have been able to collect a more particular account 
of the losses on both sides. 

"On our side the Killed wounded and Missing are Three 
hundred and Forty, on the Enemies upwards of One thou- 
sand. Two hundred and seventy of them we buried on the 
field, a considerable number were buried by themselves — The 
Grenadiers Guards and Light Infantry the Flower of the 
British Army were engaged and for the first time were de- 
feated by part of the American Army. The Enemy behaved 
with their usual cruelty and inhumanly Bayoneted several 
of our men who fell into their hands, among the rest a Capt. 
Homes a fine young fellow from Va. The Treatment they 
met with from us was very different. The Officers who fell 
into our hands speak highly of the Clemency of the Ameri- 
cans. How very different were my feelings while in action, 
as to what they were in viewing the Field the next morning, 
in the heat of action I beheld with pleasure the Slautered foe 
lay on the field weltering in their blood and even enjoyed the 
deadly groans, but the next morning when I beheld the horrid 
spectable, I could not suppress the feelings of nature; was 
shocked at the ghastly appearance of the dead, and lamented 
the Folly and Madness of men. 

"Gen'l Lee is arrested for misconduct in the action and 
by most of the Officers who were with him is greatly censured, 
thus you see how precarious the reputation of an Officer is, 
hard to be obtained, and in a moment may be lost. The 
Enemy are embarking at Sandy Hook. Colo Morgan had a 
skirmish with a party of them the day before yesterday, he 
killed eighteen and took Twelve without the loss of a man on 
his side. The Loss of the Enemy since they evacuated Phila- 
delphia, in killed prisoners & deserters is computed to Two 
thousand five hundred. 

"Our Army is this far on their March to the North River. 
We shall cross over to the State of New York, and when I 
shall again have the happiness of seeing my Dearest Girl 
heaven only knows, but this you may be assured of, that go 
where I will, I shall always entertain the same ardent affection 

17 



242 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

for you that I now do, and a firm belief that you have the 
same Tender passion for me, constitutes my greatest happi- 
ness and as nature has bestowed on you a great share of 
good sense your constancy will not admit of a Doubt. You 
have given the greatest proof of your affection in consenting 
to part from the fondest of Parents, kind relations and the 
most amiable Friends and Companions, to go with me into 
a strange and distant Country. This Sacrifice you have made 
to Love will forever call aloud on me to endeavour to make 
you happy, — and believe me that if I am capable of making 
you so I shall never want the inclination.- — • 

"I have always wish'd for an End to this unnatural War, 
but have now greater Reason to do so as it keeps me from 
possessing the Girl I prize more than life. 

"I am in daily expectation of receiving a Letter from you, 
if I do not soon I shall lose all Patience. My compliments 
to Sister Patty, tell her I keep a sharp lookout to find a man 
worthy to possess so charming a Girl. Remember me to Miss 
B. I am much prejudiced in her favor, she has a charming 
countenance that indicates a Heart susceptible of every tender 
passion, her Friendship for you endears her to me. I hope 
Mrs. Douglass is made happy by the return of her Husband. 

"My Compliments and best Wishes attend all Friends and 
am sincerely Yours 

"Ch. Simms" 

"White Plains, Aug. 6th. 1778. 
"My Dearest Life — I rec'd your Letter by Dr. Caypole a 
few Days since. I am glad to find my Dear Girl is not 
Punctilious, trifling Punctilios between us ought by no means 
to be regarded, you must be convinced that the receipt of a 
Letter from you affords me the highest Satisfaction and I 
have not a doubt but you are always anxious to hear from me, 
I shall therefore omit no opportunity of writing to you, and 
must entreat you to continue your Favors by every oppor- 
tunity. Should I by any fortuitous event be prevented from 
writing to you a greater length of time than usual, pray don 't 
construe it as a slight or neglect. Your Charms and my 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 243 

ardent Affection is a sufficient security against anything of 
that sort. I sincerely congratulate your Brother and Sister 
on the birth of their daughter and heartily Join with you 
in wishing that the dear little Pledge of their Love may live 
to be an Ornament to her sex and a Comfort to them in 
their old Age. . . . You desire I would return to you as soon 
as I can consistant with my Duty, you may rely on it I will, 
nothing but that shall keep me a moment from you, for 
nowhere else can I be happy. I still flatter myself that the 
Enemy will withdraw themselves from the Continent in a 
short time, and then my dear Nancy my whole time shall be 
devoted to you. 

' ' There is very little News in Camp worth telling, but such 
a it is you shall have. The French Fleet have block 'd up 
Rhode Island, the Enemy had not time to get all their Vessels 
off, they burnt the King Fisher and two Row Galleys, and a 
good many small Craft. The British Troops on the Island 
retired to Newport and we expect every day to hear of their 
being captured by Gen'l Sullivan who has a very considerable 
Army near them. Last Monday a fire broke out in the City 
of New York and it is said forty Houses were consumed. I 
was on the Enemy's lines with a detachment at the time and 
saw the fire very plain but did not know at that time it was in 
the City. 

"I am much obliged to your Brother George for his en- 
deavors to procure the articles I wrote for; I am glad he did 
not get them, as a considerable quantity of Goods are sent 
from the State of Virginia for their Officers, & I expect . . . 
on better terms than he could procure them for me. 

"Remember me to all Friends and believe me to be 
"Sincerely and Forever Yours, &c. 

"Ch. SIMMS." 

"P. S. Aug. 8th. 

"I expected the happiness of receiving a Letter from you 
by Major Hopkins but was disappointed, do let me have the 
pleasure of hearing from you by every opportunity. I am 
rejoiced to hear your Health is pretty well recovered. Adieu 
my Dear Girl." 



244 -^*f^ ^™^ Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

"White Plains, Aug. 9th. 1778. 
"My Dearest Naney, 

' ' I wrote you a few days since by Colo. Green which I hope 
you have received. I am afraid you will think me trouble- 
some in writing so often, believe me my Dear Girl it gives 
me the most sensible pleasure to write to you, and am sorry 
that I shall not have so frequent Opportunities of enjoying 
that pleasure, as I have heretofore had. A Light Infantry 
Corps is to be composed immediately, his Excellency has 
Honored me with a Command in that Corps, and of course 
shall be detached from the main Army, so that I shall not 
have such frequent opportunities of sending Letters to you, 
but be assured I shall with pleasure embrace every oppor- 
tunity that offers. I hope there is no necessity of begging 
you to write frequently to me, you will direct to me, in the 
Light Infantry Corps. 

"I am my Dearest Girl with unfeigned Affection, 
' ' Your devoted H 'ble Serv 't, 

"Ch. Simms." 

In a New Jersey newspaper of tlie 28th of December, 
1778, we can read this interesting announcement : 

"Married on Tuesday se'n-night in this place Charles 
Simms Esq. Lieutenant-Colonel of the 2nd. Virginia Regi- 
ment, to the truly amiable Miss Nancy Douglass, daughter of 
Mr. William Douglass, late of the City of New York." 

In the same paper three weeks later Simms advertised 
for sale land on the Ohio Eiver 15 miles below Pitts- 
burgh and warranted the titles. The young lady's 
dower seems to have been her father's Virginia mili- 
tary warrant for 5,000 acres of land. 

Eeports of the animosity of the Pennsylvania courts 
to Virginia land titles continually harrassed Simms; 
he had been obliged to relinquish the lovely island 
through Richard Butler's interpretation of the terms 
of the Stanwix treaty with the Indians, as being west 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 245 

of the OMo. We can surmise Ms grim satisfaction 
years after on learning of the scalping of the officious 
Indian agent. The added necessity for his personal 
supervision of the selection and surveying of the 5,000- 
acre warrant induced him to ask for a leave of absence. 

"Philadelphia, Aug. 6, 1779. 

' ' To THE HONBLE. THE PrESDT. OF CONGRESS ; 

"Sir; I am so cireiimstaiiced as to be under the necessity 
of retiring from the Army for some time and have therefore 
taken the liberty of addressing you on the subject. My prin- 
cipal reason for requesting leave of absence is this; The As- 
sembly of Virginia have opened a Land Office for granting the 
waste and unappropriated Lands within the State ; The 
greater part of the Property I Possess consists in Lands on 
the Waters of the Ohio, which I claim by improvements &c 
and which are unpatented ; there is a limited time allowed by 
the Assembly for ascertaining such claims. I must therefore 
request leave of absence to attend to that business, — ^what 
time it will take to transact it I cannot say; but I will join the 
Army again as soon as I possibly can with any degree of 
eonveniency. 

"I am Sir, Your Obdt. Hble. Servt. 

"Chas. Simms, Lt. Colo. 2nd. Va. Begt." 

This request was referred to the Commander-in- 
Chief of the Army. 

"Phila. Aug. 8th. 1779. 
"To Gen'l "Washington, 

"Sir; — Herewith enclosed is a copy of a letter from Colo. 
Simms respecting leave of absence. Congress refers this re- 
quest to your Excellency — The Colonel will be the bearer of 
this letter & will more fully explain the reasons of his apply- 
ing to Congress in the first instance. 

"*"I have the honour to be with Great Respect and Esteem, 
etc. "John Jay." 

. Simms continued on to Headquarters at "West Point 
and presented his letters to the Commander-in-Chief. 



246 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

This reminder of the ■unsatisfactory condition of his 
own western lands and of liis personal sacrifices tried 
the General's temper; he administered a sharp repri- 
mand to the young colonel and refused to grant a leave 
of absence or to accept a resignation of his commis- 
sion. He replied to Congress as follows: 

"West Point, Aug. 19, 1779. 
' ' To the President of Congress, 

"Sir — I had the honour to day to receive your Letter of 
the 8th. by Lieut. Colo. Simms of the 2d. Virginia Regiment 
with a copy of a Letter from him to your Excellency and of 
an order of Congress on the 7th. in consequence. The In- 
dulgence requested by Colo. Simms however interesting it may 
be to himself, appears to me so incompatible with the Public 
Service and to involve, and to lead to, so many disagreeable 
consequences, that I have thought it my duty to refuse it. 

"Were the point to rest with him, from the circumstances 
of his Regiment in respect to Field Officers, his request might 
be granted, without any material injury, but this cannot be 
expected, as there are many other Officers in the same line 
who have the same pretensions. And it is difficult if not im- 
possible, for me to determine with precision, where such ap- 
plications would stop, as they might be made upon the same 
principles and with as much propriety by every Officer and 
by every soldier in the Army. Those who have not already 
surveyed lands or done some act to acquire a title of owner- 
ship, may urge if they incline so to do, that it is time they 
should and insist that they will not neglect the opportunity 
longer. 

' ' I have very fully and explicitly pointed out to Colo. Simms 
the probable or at least the possible consequences which would 
flow from a compliance with his request ; but he says he cannot 
decline it and waits on Congress to resign his Commission 
which I refused to accept. 

"In justice to Lieut. Colo. Simms I must observe that he 
is a brave, intelligent and good Officer, and I am sorry that 
any circumstances should have arisen in his affairs to compel 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Svmms. 247 

him either to resign his Commission or to make a request so 
inconsistent with the Public interest. 
"I have the Honour to be 

"With the Greatest Esteem and Respect 
"Your Excellencys Most Obt. Servt. 

"Geo. "Washington." 

Simms was persistent and again addressed Congress : 

"Phila. Sept. 2d. 1779. 

"Sir; — On my application to Congress some time past for 
leave of absence they were pleased to refer me to his Excel- 
lency, Gen'l. Washington. — 

"The General for some particular reason did not think 
proper to grant the Indulgence I requested nor would he 
accept of my resignation, but referred me to Congress. — As 
the matter now stands wholy with them, I must beg leave to 
point out more particularly the necessity I am under of being 
absent from the Army than I did in my first Letter. 

"In the Year 1775 I became the purchaser under Colo. 
Croghan of between three and four thousand acres of Land 
in the neighborhood of Fort Pitt, being part of a Tract he 
purchased from the Indians upwards of thirty years ago. — It 
was my intention when I made the purchase to settle on and 
improve the Lands, which under the Laws of Virginia would 
have sav 'd them, but was prevented from doing so by entering 
into the Continental Service in 1776 — The Assembly of Vir- 
ginia at their last Session determined all titles to Lands 
derived from Indians to be void. — Yet Sir I have reason to 
think if I attend at their next Sitting, which is the first Mon- 
day in October next, I can obtain from them a confirmation of 
my title to the above mentioned Lands, for I can't suppose 
they will suffer me to lose so considerable a part of my prop- 
erty, by devoting my time and services to the Publick, when 
they have it in their power to redress me. 

' ' I would beg leave to suggest to you that there are a large 
porportion of Officers to the number of men in the Virginia 
line, and that they are now present with the Regt. I belong to 
as it stands — incorporated with others, one Colo, and two 



248 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Svmms. 

Majors, so that it is hardly probable the Reg't will suffer by 
my absence and I think it must appear pretty evident to 
every person that unless I attend to my own Business this 
Pall I must lose considerably, which consideration will I make 
no doubt, justify me in the opinion of all reasonable men for 
requesting Leave of Absence at this Juncture. 

"His Excellency conceiving a number of OiScers to be in 
the same predicament with myself was the Reason of his not 
granting me leave of absence — I can't help observing, that 
there are very few if any whose circumstances so urgently re- 
quire their immediate attention to their private Business as 
mine do ; and if there are any (if I may be allowed to judge 
from my own feelings) they will be reduced to the necessity 
of resigning their Commissions, unless they obtain Leave of 
Absence, and I leave you to determine, whether it is not better 
to part with Officers for a short time than altogether, — 

"Permit me to assure you Sir, that it is with the greatest 
reluctance I trouble the Honble. Congress with a matter that 
concerns me only as an individual, and that I shall cheerfully 
acquiesce in their determination respecting me. If I am re- 
duced to the disagreeable necessity of leaving the Army, I 
shall do it with the consciousness of having serv 'd my Country 
to the utmost of my abilities as long as I could possibly with- 
out involving myself and family in ruin and distress. 

" I am Sir, with the utmost sincere Esteen and Respect, 
"Your Obt Humle Servt, Chas. Simms." 

The letters from Gen. WasMngton and Simms were 
referred to a committee of three, who reported favor- 
ably, and Simms obtained leave until November. The 
following letter however was addressed to the Virginia 
Assembly, which probably had its influence in deter- 
mining Simms to leave the army. 

"In Congress, Sept. 4th. 1779. 
"The Committee to whom were referred the letter from 
Genl. Washington & Colo. Simms brought in a report, Where- 
upon, — 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 249 

Resolved;— That leave of absence from his Regiment be 
given Colo. Simms till the twentieth day of November next. 

"That copies of this application to Congress and Genl. 
Washington's letter be transmitted to the Governor of the 
State of Virginia and that it be Signified to him that as Lieut. 
Colo. Simms' application has been complied with at a time 
when his absence is with the greatest reluctance dispensed, it 
is the wish of Congress he may be enabled to rejoin his 
Regiment as speedily as possible ; and that such measures may 
be taken respecting claims similar to that of Colo. Simms' as 
may prevent other officers of the Virginia Line making ap- 
plications for the like indulgence of absence, which must in 
the midst of a Campaign, be utterly inadmissable and that a 
copy of this Resolution be transmitted to the Governor of 
Virginia. 

"Extract from the Minutes of Congress. 
"(Signed) Chas. Thompson, Sec'y." 

"Prince William Co. Virginia Novr. 8, 1779 
"To THE President of Congress; 

"Sir, I am extremely sorry that my Circumstances will not 
admit of my joining the Army again. I find by woeful ex- 
perience, if I pay that attention to my duty as an Officer which 
is necessary, that my family must inevitably be reduced to 
want, and although I have the warmest attachment to the 
Glorious Cause in which I have been long engaged, yet I 
cannot think of reducing those to distress who have a right to 
look up to me for comfort and support. 

"I must therefore begg leave to resign my Commission 
which you will find inclosed. 

"I hope I shall be believed when I assure you that nothing 
but the most pressing necessity should induce me to part with 
a Commission which I have held so long. 

"Perhaps it may be necessary to inform you that I settled 
my Accounts with the Auditors {for the money, erased) last 

Sept. 

"I am Sir with due Respect. &c. Ch. Simms." 



250 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Svmms. 

We find the following in the Journal of the House of 
Delegates of the Virginia Assembly for Oct. 16, 1779 : 

"A memorial of Chas. Simms was presented to the House 
and read setting forth that he hath a claim to 2,961 acres of 
land on the Ohio River and Raccoon Creek which proceeds 
by purchase from George Croghan whose title was founded 
on a purchase from the Six Nations ; — that the said lands have 
been improved, but he apprehended . . . (illegible) and 
settlements, and have it not in their power to ascertain their 
claims within the tinae limited by law; and praying that his 
claim aforesaid may be established, and that a law may pass 
to secure the rights to officers and soldiers of lands on the 
western waters, allowing them a reasonable time to prove and 
ascertain their claims after they are discharged from the 
service." 

Again, Oct. 19, 1779 : 

"The opinion of the committee is, That the memorial of 
Lieut. Colo. Chas. Simms praying that his title to 2,961 acres 
of land lying on the Ohio River which he Purchased from 
Alex, Ross and Wm. Dunbar may be confirmed, having been 
prevented from improving said lands as by law is required 
by being in the Continental Army ever since the year 1776 
and that he might obtain grants for the said lands upon 
paying the usual composition money under the former govern- 
ment, is reasonable." 

Leaving his amiable wife in the family home in 
Prince William County Simms again went to the west, 
where he probably remained for a year or more, sur- 
veying and locating lands. Another disagreeable 
surprise awaited him in the Pittsburgh courts — ^now in 
the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania — in a suit to enforce 
the payment of notes he had given Eoss for the lands 
he had yet to prove up in the Virginia land office, the 
state having seized all of the Eoss effects. A journey 
to Philadelphia was then necessary to seek justice 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 251 

from the Supreme Council; his petition can be read in 
the Colonial Eecords of the state. It must be remem- 
bered that these over-the-mountain journeys in the 
eighteenth century were no pleasure excursions of a 
few hours but long and tedious as well as perilous 
weeks in the saddle. After a long delay the Pennsyl- 
vania higher courts cancelled his "bonds." During 
the sojourn in the west at that time he located many 
thousand acres of fine land on the Ohio, in Kentucky 
and western Virginia ; nine hundred acres of the Doug- 
lass warrant he located on the island, covering what he 
had previously located and purchased in 1775. Again 
Harvie and Neville were his partners, through his 
generosity, for they had no claim in equity to the new 
title. 

Business interests indicated a permanent residence 
at Pittsburgh, but life in the frontier settlement would 
be rough and altogether unsuited to his refined and 
cultivated wife, so for their home he selected Alex- 
andria, a lively Virginia port on the Potomac. There 
by his ability and fortune he at once took a prominent 
position as a citizen, while the fair Nancy with her 
beauty, which is still a memory in Alexandria, and her 
tact won all hearts and led the fashion. 

But the titles to western lands never ceased to annoy. 
In 1783 the Pennsylvania Assembly granted to Greneral 
Irvine as a testimonial to his great military services 
a pre-emption right to the Island, later giving him a 
patent. General Irvine disregarded Simms 's protests 
and evicted the tenant in possession; and thus began 
one of the famous American land cases, which with one 
other quieted all the titles in dispute on account of the 
conflicting claims of Virginia and Pennsylvania pre- 
vious to the final location of boundaries. The story of 
this suit is one of the most romantic in all land litiga- 



252 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

tion and would itself furnisli material for an interest- 
ing volume and would include the names of all tlie 
famous Virginia lawyers of the time. It was finally 
decided in Simms' favor by the Supreme Court of the 
United States in 1800. 

Naturally John Harvie in the land office at Eich- 
mond was greatly interested. 

"Richmond, Feb'y 4th. 1784. 

"Dear Sir, The weather has been so severe as to prevent 
the Regular passing of the Post Rider which delay 'd your 
Letter of the 11th ultimo from reaching my hands till the last 
post day. As I understand Colo. Neville is of the Executive 
Council in Pennsylvania I hope he will pay proper attention 
to our Interest in Montour's Island. I am glad you sent to 
him the Entrys under which we claim it. I also wrote to him 
on the same Subject. 

"The Receipt I sent you was a sufficient voucher that the 
Land Office Warrants had been issued for the use of Mr. 
"Watson and the Register's fee not paid, but whether he or 
another satisfys them is Immaterial to me, Mr. Watson from 
his general character will take Early methods for their speedy 
adjustment. 

"Writs of Escheat do not issue from the Land Office and 
in no case within the District of the Northern Neck has this 
Office power or authority over their vacant or escheated 
Lands. Warrant from me cannot be located on them as 
. . . issue neither is there any mode existing in Law for ac- 
quiring (as I can perceive) vacant or Escheated Property 
within the Northern Neck. The Power and Authority of the 
late Lord Fairfax Land Office expired with him & it has not 
since been revived in any other person, therefore till some- 
thing is determined respecting his Charter by the Legislature 
all Lands I think must remain with yours in statu quo. 
" I am Dr. Sir Yr. Most'Obt Servt. 

"J. Harvie." 

It does not appear that Neville ever exerted himself 
to save the island for himself and friends, yet it has 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Svmms. 253 

ever since been known by Ms name — perhaps the deli- 
cacy of his official position deterred him from publicly 
assisting the Virginia claimants. 

"Richmond May 10, 1785. 

"Dear Sir — I am extremely glad to hear that you are a 
member of the Assembly and that you will attend at the next 
session, as this circumstance only I believe will ever allow 
us to enjoy a few weeks of that friendly Intercourse that once 
strongly subsisted between us and which I shall ever feel 
myself fond of cultivating, for the longer we live in the 
World the more certain we find it to be a fact that our early 
friendships are the most lasting and agreeable. 

"I really know not what to observe to you upon the extra- 
ordinary and unprecedented Law that has lately passed the 
Assembly of Pennsylvania respecting Montour's Island. I 
suppose they are at all events determined to wrest it from us 
in favour of Genl. Irvine and this being the case our only 
resort must be to the Interposition of our Legislatures and in 
order to lay the matter fully and properly before them I 
think you ought by all means to procure a survey upon the 
Warrants you located in the year 1780 and also a copy of the 
survey that was made for us by Colo. Crawford provided it 
can now be found upon his Books and if not there to be 
found a certificate of the Survey from those that attended 
him as chain carriers, perhaps it might not also be amiss to 
obtain from Philadelphia a Copy of Butler's Letter and an 
answer with the Depositions that were sent to the Com- 
mittee of Congress from Indian affairs on that subject. If 
these cannot readily be obtained the survey was of such 
notoriety in Pittsburg we surely cannot be at a loss to prove 
it having actually been made, I think a copy of the survey 
was delivered to me by Colo. Crawford but whether I returned 
it, gave it to you, or I mislaid it is a matter of doubt. Yet it 
may be well for both you and me to search over our old 
papers which on my part I will immediately do. But I am 
afraid if its found it will rather make against than in favor 
of our claim, as I think it will appear to be ... or Military 
18 



254 L^f^ ^''^^ Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

Warrant for only 50 acres, and if it should appear on tlie face 
of the survey we must not attempt to use it on the Tryal and 
general evidence that a survey was made for us will be much 
more to our advantage. 

"I am Sir, Yr most Obt Servt 

"J. Haevib. 
"Note. Is there no bringing about a composition with Genl. 
Irvine so as to Induce him to Relinquish his claim to this 
Island and ask for the Bounty of his State somewhere else. 
I think if I had a pleasant acquaintance with him I could 
bring it about." 

Among the Simms papers are many letters from 
John Marshall, with whom Simms evidently had much 
legal business ; some of these are of general interest. 

"Richmond, June 16, 1784. 

"Dear Sir; I received your two favors — the one on the 
subject of the petition and the other inclosing a bond. Mr. 
Henderson promised to write you immediately to let you 
know that by a standing order of the House no petition con- 
cerning private property could be received till it had been 
published in the County and in the Gazette. If this is done 
by the next session I flatter myself we may be able to carry 
it through the House. 

"I see no prospect of amending the mode of distributing 
justice in this Commonwealth. The Circuit Court system 
meets with too much opposition from selfish individuals to be 
adopted. Those Magistrates who are tenacious of authority 
will not assent to anything which may diminish their ideal 
dignity and put into the hands of others a power which they 
will not exercise themselves. Such of the County Courts' 
lawyers too as are suspicious that they do not possess abilities 
sufficient to enable them to stand before Judges of Law are 
opposed from motives of interest to any plan which may put 
the distribution of Justice into the hands of Judges. Every 
attempt to amend or alter the County Court Establishment 
has been alike ineffectual. Indeed there are many members 
who really appear to be determined against every measure 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 255 

which may expedite and facilitate the business of recovering 
debts and compelling a strict compliance with Contracts. 
These are sufficient to throw impediments in the way of any 
improvements in our Judisiary system though they are not so 
powerful as to shut up our Courts altogether. 

"A Bill is now pending under the consideration of the 
House which has employed its ablest Members and will I believe 
end in being printed for the consideration of the People ; 'tis 
to restrict vessels from foreign Nations to certain Ports. Nor- 
folk and Alexandria are the two which are now in considera- 
tion. 'Tis calculated to agrandize very much those two com- 
mercial Towns, and should it be adopted will I trust produce 
many happy effects. 

"We seem at length determined to hold but one Session in 
the year, a Bill for that purpose has gone through a Com- 
mittee of the "Whole House, it has not yet passed into a Law, 
but the greatest obstacles are I hope surmounted. 

"As soon as the Assembly rises I shall go up to Fauquier — 
my present plan is to pass my summers there and my winters 
here, I am uncertain whether or not 'twill hold in practice. 
Present my compliments to your Lady. 

' ' I am Dear Sir, with the greatest Esteem, Your &c. &c. 

"J. Marshall." 

Simms was a member of the Virginia Assembly in 
1786, 1793 and 1797. Mrs. Simms spent the winter of 
1786 in New York with her mother and sister; her 
letters then written are filled with innocent and inter- 
esting gossip. 

"New York, Feb.y 5th. 1786. 

"My Dearest Charleses Letter by Colo Lee was delivered to 
me by him yesterday he tells me Mrs Lee was prevented from 
coming with him by sickness — But that he expects her as soon 
as the weather and roads will permit — by that time I hope I 
shall be in Alexandria with my Dear Kitty, I have been quite 
uneasy since the receipt of a letter from Mrs Swan Dated 
Jany 23rd which contains an account of my lov'd girls 
having the fever and ague, Colo Lee tells me you have got 



256 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

home — this has made me more easy on my Kittys account 
since I cannot be with her myself, I think you the most proper 
person as your affection I am sure will induce you to take 
every possible Care of her dear precious health, your son is 
perfectly well and is such a Chatter box that I can scarcely 
write. . . . 

"You write that you had seen Mrs Mayo and that she was ■ 
gayest where all were gay — I am not surprised to hear it — 
for if I am not mistaken, External accomplishments were more 
attended to by Mrs Mayo than internal ones, this was the 
opinion I form'd of her on my first acquaintance and I never 
from her conduct had reason to alter that opinion — ^You will 
smile no Doubt when I tell you that she has wrote to her 
Mother to send her by the first vessel that sails from here to 
Virginia some Indian and Buckwheat meal — if she had only 
wrote for the Indian meal, I should have thought. Knowing 
her satirical turn, that she meant a reflexion on the Ancient 
Dominion, But as she has also wrote for Buckwheat I must 
confess I can no more understand what she could mean than 
when she talk'd french to me at Trenton. ..." 

Simms was tindoTibtedly a leader in every public 
enterprise of the bustling little city in wbicb lie bad Ms 
home. In 1786 tbe academy was founded with Wash- 
ington, Stuart, Chas. Lee, Simms and nine other trus- 
tees — the shares were 5 1. each annually; in 1789 
Simms and sixteen other citizens were empowered by 
the Assembly to raise 1500 I. by lottery for paving the 
principal streets — perhaps the ancient boulders on 
Washington St. date from that lottery; in 1792 he 
secured an act incorporating the Bank of Alexandria 
with a capital of $150,000; he was an original stock- 
holder in the Potomac Company, in the Marine Insur- 
ance Co., in several turnpike companies, etc. He seems 
to have been interested in all important state suits at 
law as counsel and on terms of pleasant intimacy with 
all prominent families in Virginia and Maryland. He 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 257 

was a Mason in good standing and a Vestryman of old 
Christ Church. In 1788 he was a delegate to the con- 
vention which adopted the national constitution and 
on the committee of amendments. His wife's letters 
give his position on the question of adoption. 

"Alexandria, June 16th 1788. 

"My Dear Charles, Your letter of the 12th. instant I rec'd 
friday— I fear you will not be at home by the end of this 
month, as you write that there is but little progress made 
in the business you are upon — our dear children are very 
well — I think John thrives as perceptibly as the "Scarcity 
Root" and that is saying much for him — for that grows 
astonishingly. . . . 

"I am much obliged to you for your goodness in offering 
to get me Elegant Bracelets — and I should certainly prefer 
those done with hair — if done with yours, and the Children's 
hair— but I think I will decline getting any of either kind, 
when I requested you to get them, I expected they would not 
be more than three dollars — if I had imagined they would 
cost more I should not have thought of them,- — if you will 
Bring yourself by the last of the month I will readily excuse 
your not getting me any kind of Bracelets. . . . 

"With my best wishes for your very precious health and 
speedy return — I remain Your grateful and affectionate wife 

"N. SIMMS." 

' Probably she received the bracelets made from the 
hair of her loved ones. 

"Alexandria, Sunday June 8th. 1788. 
" I rec 'd a letter from my dear Charles yesterday dated th 
4th of June — am happy to hear you are well, and must beg 
you will use every precaution to keep yourself so — I have 
always heard Richmond was an unhealthy situation and as 
you are subject to Bilious complaints I have my fears for 

you. . . . 

"I am no politician — But am pleased to hear the new Con- 
stitution is likely to be adopted, as I pay great deference to 



258 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

your opinion and judgment in weighty matters and as you 
think it will Conduce to the happiness and Prosperity of 
America — I have not a doubt but it will. . . . 

"I am very glad to hear Mr Hughes has arrived safe in 
Kentucky — from the alarming accounts of the Hostilities of 
the indians about the time I thought he must have gone I was 
afraid he would never have reached there. . . . 

' ' The most agreeable intelligence which your letter contains 
is that you expect to be at home before the end of this month 
- — that you may not be deceived in the (to me flattering ex- 
pectation) is the sincere wish of your affectionate "Wife — 

"Nancy Simms. 

"N. B. Please to make my compliments to the Ladies in 
Richmond with whom I am acquainted — Mrs Randolph Mrs 
Mayo and Miss Fairfax — Kitty and Douglass send their loves 
to you." 

These letters give us an insight into the admirable 
disposition of the beautiful lady and account for the 
always loverlike solicitude of her husband. 

Thus wrote Edmund Eandolph after the convention: 

"Dear Sir; Being now at liberty to resume a part of my 
former profession and finding it necessary for my convenience 
to go to the Court of Appeals under its new establishment I 
beg leave to inform you of this circumstance. I shall also be 
ready to give advice, to state cases for argument and occa- 
sionally but not constantly, to go to any of the District or 
Superior Court. In short I would undertake any business 
which might not require an absence from home. A letter 
directed to Mr. John Brown of Richmond will be forwarded 
to me in Williamsburg by the stage and an answer will be 
returned through an agent whom I shall appoint." — Etc. 

Eandolph was not permitted to remain long in the 
privacy of his Williamsburg home, being appointed 
Attorney-General for the United States by President 
Washington in 1789. 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 259 

With Charles Lee Simms had many business transac- 
tions and legal affairs. They were jointly interested 
in 200,000 acres of land in Randolph County ; as Attor- 
ney-General from 1795 Lee was of great service in the 
suit for the possession of Montour's Island at Pitts- 
burgh. This letter from Philadelphia dated Sept 9, 
1791, refers to the suit : 

"Dear Sir; I attended the Board of Property in your con- 
test with Mr. Sheen. He, or rather one Wright has sent 
down some papers which miscarried; I thought it better there- 
fore to assent to what the Board would have ordered of them- 
selves that the trial should be postponed to the first Monday 
in January when it is to be peremptorily had. . . . The 
temper of the Board with respect to Virginia rights is much 
changed by the discussion in Gist's case. I did not choose 
to leave such a subject to their memories only but I committed 
it at large to paper. They declared they had never before 
understood the Virginia rights and unanimously gave Gist all 
that he asked for. This is a conversion which bears a kind 
aspect on all the Virginia claimants, because every title which 
would be supported then will now be countenanced here, 
unless a prior title from Pennsylvania shall thwart it. . . . 

"P. S. Irvine is fumbling out an answer, and the co-ertion 
of law is too feeble to permit me to press him too close, lest he 
should fly the way and create greater delays. ' ' 

Wliich he did and the case was not finally disposed of 
until 1800. Descendants of the Simms and Neville 
families still retain holdings on the beautiful and valu- 
able island. 

With Charles Lee, Simms was chosen to authenticate 
and interpret the will of General Washington ; he had 
been one of the honorary pall bearers at the funeral 
and his name is first on the memorial in Christ Church 
in Alexandria. 

Thos. Swann wrote him from Richmond, Dec. 24, 
1799: 



26o Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

"Dear Sir; Your favor I received yesterday. We had 
heard of Gen'l Washington's death by Maj. West and I am 
happy to inform you that we have paid every respect to his 
memory that his great character demanded. The resolution 
of the House on the subject you have no doubt seen, it was 
drawn and presented by Mr. Madison; we also by another 
resolution walked in procession on Sunday last to attend 
divine service and a sermon prepared for the occasion." 

The following is a leaf from an almost forgotten 
period of our history : 

"I, George Doneal, clerk of Fairfax County, do hereby 
certify that the bearer here-of, Sarah, a yellow woman aged 
24 years, 5 feet, 5 inches high, slender made and her children 
was lately a slave belonging to Geo. Washington, Esq. who by 
his last will and testament devised her to Martha Washington 
during life, who by an instrument of writing duly proved and 
recorded in said court hath released the said Sarah from the 
service due her. Sarah's children, Lucy, 2 years old — Lewis, 
1 year old." 

Perhaps the most arduous public work done by Chas. 
Simms was with the "Patowmack Company" for im- 
proving the navigation of the river and opening an 
easy communication with the western country. This 
was the pioneer enterprise for securing the Ohio coun- 
try trade, its accomplishment Washington's life-long 
effort. The work of the Company at the Great Falls 
of the Potomac was the most important engineering 
feat of the eighteenth century. Simms had promptly 
responded to the request of General Washington in 
1785 and subscribed for stock; he punctually met the 
frequent assessments and always voted his own stock 
at the annual meetings, but he does not appear to have 
taken any active part in the management until he 
became a director in 1802; he remained on the board 
until 1807, when he was elected president, serving in 




to 

•A 

< 






O 
« 



<; 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 261 

that capacity until 1814 when in order to assist in the 
litigation of an important case, he sold his stock and 
left the Company. For twelve years he had guided its 
affairs through such financial stress as the country 
has not since experienced. 

His elder sons were educated at Princeton; a son 
and a daughter married into the family of his old 
friend, General Neville, a daughter married the son of 
Levin Powell, a Federalist congressman from Vir- 
ginia, who wrote Simms many political letters worthy 
of reproduction. Simms himself was a notable Feder- 
alist and had much distrust of Jefferson ; as a national 
elector in 1796 he favored the election of Patrick Henry 
"as the one safe man." 

Western lands were a continual annoyance; the 
brilliant Presley Neville writing from Pittsburgh in 
October, 1801 : 

"Regrets inability to remit a collection. . . . We have no 
news, money scarce as usual. I was at the Island two days 
ago and your part stands exactly where it did, without the 
least change. I will venture to say your tenant will do it no 
injury as he is too lazy to cut a stick unless from absolute 
necessity. My respects to Mrs. Simms. ' ' 

Philanthropic appeals did not pass him by : 

"Alexandria, Octo. the 18th. 1788. 
"Sir; — There is an orphan lad in town, an apprentice to 
one Ramsay, a Joyner, who I have reason to believe is not well 
used and whom his friends wish to have on that account taken 
away. His name is John Donaldson. I shall therefore be 
glad if you will apply to the Court next week in his behalf 
and on his making his ill treatment appear it is hoped that 
he will be removed and that it will not be again put off for 
further trial. I have enclosed 24s. and am Sir, etc. 

"Bryan Fairfax." 



262 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

This interesting letter is from the John Hughes, 
who with mother and sisters went from Alexandria 
to try his fortunes in Kentucky and who represented 
Simms in his land transactions there. 

"Danville, March 30th 1792. 

"Dear Sir, Enclosed is the copy of the bill 'Ash against 
you. ' Isaac Hite has been sick ever since I came home which 
has prevented me from seeing him. I think as you are un- 
acquainted with the nature of your claim it will be necessary 
to make J. H. a Defendant — therefore it will be best for you to 
send me a formal answer stating in what manner he is in- 
terested and that he has transacted the whole business. 

"Perhaps from the information I gave you when at your 
house you will expect me to say something about Mrs. Hughes 
— but alass, I have met with the fate not uncommon to absent 
Lovers — I mean, the being jilted. But however I endeavor to 
bear my fate with Christian Fortitude. 

"Our convention which is to meet ,on Monday next will I 
am afraid committ many blunders. County Committees com- 
posed of very many ignorant & some bad men have borne the 
sway in our Elections. The exclusion of Lawyers not from 
the Legislature only but from the barr, the abolition of 
Slavery, and low salaries to the officers of Government, and 
that to be paid in produce, the committees it is expected will 
insist much upon. It will be a new scene to see a Chief 
Judge at the end of a term, riding upon a bag of corn & driv- 
ing home the cows & calves he has received for this quarters 
Salary. And the Governor trudging home with a basket of 
Eggs upon his arm. One man has offered to serve for £25 
per annum, and to receive that in corn, and from the best 
authority, I mean his own, information, I am taught to believe 
he was a great man in a northern State. — 

"My mother & sister are well & much pleased with the 
Country. Etc. 

"P. S. I think it is probable as I am not now to be bound 
in the Silken bonds of love I shall cross the mountain again in 
the Pall." 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Svmms. 263 

Simms was the confidant of many of the dissatisfied 
Federalist politicians during the Democratic adminis- 
trations of Jefferson and Madison; J. Stratton evi- 
dently took the situation very seriously. 

"Washington, Feb'y 5—1803. 

"Dear Sir, Conformable to my promise I have procured for 
yourself and Mr Swann each a bed; one in my room & 
the other contiguous to it — On "Wednesday next I bid adieu 
to Washington and with it I take a final leave of politics; on 
that subject I shall endeavor never again to discourse or even 
think, when I look back at what is past the scene is humiliat- 
ing and disgusting, and when I look forward the prospect is 
hideous and disgraceful, that I think it the wisest plan to shut 
my eyes and close away if possible the dark night which is 
coming on. There was once a Constitution, there were 
formerly checks and balances to confine the different depart- 
ments of Government within their proper spheres, but these 
are past away as a tale that is told, — all power is now vested 
in the House of Representatives and if I may hazard a last 
political sentiment I will say the most pernicious and de- 
structive to the Happiness of Mankind is the Tyranny of a 
public body where responsibility being divided among many is 
felt by none. 

' ' I find I have wandered farther in politics than I intended, 
it is the effect of the meloncholy review I have just taken of 
our measures previous to writing my circular. 

"I will thank you to write by first mail when the Norfolk 
packet sails, I feel disposed to purchase a Horse but the 
state of my finances will not allow it without your aid, could 
you get the enclosed note discounted in your bank so that I 
could get the money by you on Monday without inconvenience 
to y'r self. 

"My best respects attend Mrs Simms and y'r family— 

y'r friend 

"J. Steatton 

"P. S. 

"The note will with great certainty be taken up before 

due." 



264 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

There was a warm friendsliip existing between 
Henry Lee (Light Horse Harry) and Simms; the 
latter frequently assisted the old warrior financially, 
he also took subscriptions for his "Memoirs." The 
following is from a letter dated Dec. 6, 1807 : 

"... I received your letter enclosing one from Col. 
Mercer and I thank you and him for the trouble you take to 
enlighten me with facts, though I am surprised you should 
have named me for my work being written with much free- 
dom will occasionally displease and I have no desire to engage 
in such in my last period of life. 

"Will you tell me to what regiment you belonged or com- 
manded when you went to reinforce Col. Smith at Mud Island ? 
In reviewing my work I find a blank left for this designation 
• — and also tell me to what state and regiment Col. Greene, 
the hero of Ft. Mercer belonged. 

"Also I wish you to see Gilpin and to negociate with him for 
my debts. I will give him good lands. At all events get the 
execution in your hands and the power to bargain with me, 
then I go and exert myself where I may be useful. Let me 
see you here after breakfast." 

From a later letter : 

' ' I fear you do not regard my injunction as to my name, the 
Memoirs of the Southern War are nearly finished and are 
written with too much freedom for the times. It will appear 
without my name. 

' ' I wish I was near two or three of my friends that I might 
get the good of their perusal and amendments. This is not 
practicable and I shall put the last touch to the performance 
in a few weeks. It will be published by subscription and I 
reckon upon your aid in your town as holder of the subscrip- 
tion paper, etc. Tell me whether you will take the trouble? 
Carrington in Richmond and some other such men elsewhere. ' ' 

Simms was early appointed collector of customs at 
Alexandria, which was a somewhat lucrative post until 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 265 

European warfare drove all commerce off the seas. 
He was mayor of tlie city during the British occupa- 
tion in 1814. He prudently sent his family into the 
country and wrote his wife daily accounts of the 
situation. 

"Alexandria, Aug. 28 — 1814. 

"My Dear Nancy — I have the pleasure to inform you that 
the enemy retreated last night from the City without paying 
Alexandria the Compliment of a visit — We have nothing now 
to apprehend but the approach of their vessels. I rec'd an 
express this morning informing me that Two Frigates, a 
Sloop of War and Two Tenders were off Maryland point at 
7 o'clock yesterday morning. I am not without hope that 
they may not come up as high as the Fort as their object 
has been effected by the destruction of the public buildings in 
the City." 

"Sept. 3d. 1814. 

' ' The British Squadron began to fall down the river yester- 
day morning and was not as low as the Fort this morning 
except one vessel which the day before yesterday went down 
in the neighborhood of the White House, and a pretty heavy 
firing has been kept up this morning in that neighborhood. 
Mr. Cook has gone into the vicinity of the White House and 
on his return will be able to give you a full account of the 
state of things there. Alexandria has so far had a most provi- 
dential escape. It is impossible that men could behave better 
than the British behaved while the town was in their power, 
not a single inhabitant was insulted or injured by them in 
their persons or homes. Your fear that something might 
occur to provoke them to fire the Town was not ill founded. 
The day before yesterday Capt. Porter, Lieut. Creighton and 
Lieut. Piatt naval officers rode into Town like furies and 
seized on a poor unarmed midshipman, a mere stripling and 
would have carried him off or killed him had not his neck- 
handkerchief broke and he escaped from them. This rash act 
excited the greatest alarm among the Inhabitants of the Town, 
women and children running and screaming through the 



266 Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 

streets and hundreds of them lay out all night without shelter. 

"I immediately prepared a message to the Commodore ex- 
plaining the manner and circumstances of the insult and sent 
it on board by Mr Swann and Edmund I. Lee, While I was 
paring the message one of the Captains entered into the 
parlour with the strongest expressions of rage in his counten- 
ance, bringing with him the midshipman who had been so 
valiantly assaulted by those gallant Naval Officers. I ex- 
plained to him by whom the outrage was committed, that the 
Town had no control over them and ought not to be held re- 
sponsible for their conduct and that I was at that time pre- 
paring a message of explanation to the Commodore. He said 
it was necessary it should be explained, after which his fury 
seemed to abate and he went off. Before Mr Swann and Mr 
Lee got on board the Signal of Battle was hoisted and as the 
vessels were prepared for action when Mr Swann and Mr Lee 
made their explanation the Commodore said he was satisfied 
and ordered the Signal of Battle to be lowered. Thus the 
Town was providentially preserved from destruction by the 
accidental circumstance of the midshipman's neck-handker- 
chief giving way, for had be been killed or carried off I do 
not believe the Town would have been saved from destruction. 

"I do not consider the Town perfectly safe yet. If the 
British vessels should be prevented from passing the White 
House they, or some of them may probably return here, and 
wait untill troops sufficient to drive of the militia, &c at the 
White House shall come to their relief from Patuxent and in 
that case this part of the country will become the seat of 
war. I cannot therefore wish your return untill we are in a 
more quiet state." 

Possibly the mayor's suave diplomacy saved Alex- 
andria from Washington's fate. 

An affectionate father, his children occasionally took 
advantage of his generosity; one of the younger sons 
frequently caused annoyance by his boyish pranks, 
and a son-in-law was chronically in need of financial 
assistance ; here is one of his eloquent appeals : 



Life and Letters of Colo. Charles Simms. 267 

"Dear Sir; — Upon my honour I have not language adequate 
to describe to you the pressing necessity I have for ten dollars ; 
nor the remorse I feel at being under the painful obligation 
of again soliciting your parental aid." 

Clias. Simms, Gent., passed on to a future life in 
1819, leaving a large family and a vporld the happier 
for his sojourn. 



INDEX. 

Appendix; "A." Letters — George Washington to Gov. Benjamin 

Harrison, and Reply 154 

George Washington to Maj. Gen. Knox 162 

M. I. Stone to George Washington 163 

Jas. Madison, Jr., to Thos. Jefferson 163 

George Washington to G. W. Fairfax 164 

George Washington to Wm. Grayson 164 

George Washington to Henry Lee 165 

Thos. Jefferson to George Washington 166 

George Washington to Thos. Jefferson 166 

Extract from Will of George Washington 168 

Appendix; "B. " Appeal to the Stockholders of the Patowmaek 

Company 169 

Appendix ; " C. " Eeport to the Secretary of the Treasury of the 

United States 172 

Appendix; "D." Statement of the Patowmaek Company in re- 
sponse to call from Legislature of Maryland 178 

Appendix ; " E. " Extracts Referring to the Work of the Patow- 
maek Company 188 

From Due de la Rochefoucault-Lianeourt, "Travels." 
From Isaac Weld, Jr., "Travels." 

From John Phillips, ' ' General History of Inland Navigation. ' ' 
From Rev. Sam'l C. Busey, "Pictures of old Washington." 
From National Intelligencer, Baltimore Sun, George Town Mu- 
seum, Baltimore Advertiser. 
From Hugh Taggart, "Old Georgetown." 
Appendix; "F." Eeport of Thos. Moore, Engineer of Virginia .. 197 

Report of Board of Public Works of Virginia. 
Appendix; "G." Acts of the Legislatures of Maryland and Vir- 
ginia Concerning the Patowmaek Company 210 

Assent of the Patowmaek Company 232 

Assent to Amendments 233 

Conveyance to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company 233 

Ballendine, John, of Fairfax County, Va 24 

Scheme for opening navigation of the Potomac River— Goes to 
London— Circulates his "Proposals"— Returns in 1774— Ad- 
vertises meetings, etc.— Subscription list— Rights protected in 
Virginia Act. 

Beall, Thos. of George, Director in Patowmaek Company 87 

269 



270 Index. 

Beall, Thos. of Sam'l., Secures contract for work on river 92 

Extension of contract, settlement 93 

Braddock Eoad, Appropriation by Virginia for improvement 12 

Brindlej, Jas., Visits Mount Vernon 76 

Brewer, Jos., Appointed Treasurer of Patowmack Company 112 

Carleton, Jos., Appointed Treasurer of Patowmack Company 100 

Deatli 112 

Carroll, Dan'l of Duddington, Makes loan to Patowmack Company . 97 

Director in Company 171 

Casanove, Louis, Agent for Amsterdam Stockholders 62 

Casts votes against re-imbursement 100 

Clapham, Josias, Given order for two boats 62 

Delayed by illness 71 

Director in Patowmack Company 153 

Cresap, Thomas 3 

Biography (note)— Settles on Upper Potomac— Hunts over the 
mountains, with Geo. Croghan— Land grant in Pennsylvania 
(note) — Hatred of Pennsylvanians — Visits Williamsburg — 
Manager of Ohio Company in the field — Authorized to open 
road over the mountains — Blazes Nemacolin Path. 

Makes Survey of western boundary of Maryland 13 

In London, 1770 22 

Visited by Washington 23 

Croghan, Geo., Agent of Philadelphia merchants 7 

Land investments 239 

Cutler, Eev. Manasseh, Visits Great Palls 103 

Davis, John, Description of Great Falls of the Potomac (note) . . . 101 

Deakins, Francis, Director in Patowmack Company 153 

Deakins, Wm., Jr., Director in Patowmack Company 87 

Dinwiddle, Gov., Member of the Ohio Company .....: 9 

Sends Washington to French camp 15 

Dorsey, H., Director in Patowmack Company 153 

Dunmore, Fort, In possession of Virginia authorities 238 

Erratum, For "Old City Hotel," read "Wise's Tavern" • 61 

Fairfax, Bryan, Befriends an apprentice lad 261 

Fairfax, George William, At Belvoir— Goes to western lands '13 

Fairfax, Lord, Meets Washington at Belvoir, Appoints him surveyor 14 

In Prince William County 20 

Fitzgerald, .John, Director of Patowmack Company 58 

President of Patowmack Company 87 

Fendall, Philip, Director of Patowmack Company 93 

Forbes, Gen., Selects Pennsylvania Eoute If 



Index. 271 

Fort Stanwix Treaty 22 

Frederick Town Adventurers I7 

Frederick Town Adventurers, Managers 21 

French Invasion 25 

Foxhall, Henry, Director of Patowmaek Company 124 

Gant and Fitzhugh, Attorneys for Patowmaek Company 85 

Gilpin, George, Elected director of Patowmaek Company 58 

Directed to employ laborers 62 

Value of services 7q 

Gist, Christopher 10 

Engaged to select lands for Ohio Company grant— reports- 
locates at Fort Red Stone— with Virginia Commissioners 
makes treaty with Indians— lays off a town at Chartier's 

Creek H 

Greenleaf, Jas., Holds 24 shares in Patowmaek Company 104 

Hanbury & Co. of London, Held shares of Ohio Company stock — 

goods for Indian trade ordered from 10 

Hartshorne, Wm., Treasurer of Patowmaek Company 61 

Resigns 100 

Harvie, John, Indian Commissioner in West Augusta District 239 

Letters to Chas. Simms 252, 253 

Hughes, John, Letter to Chas. Simms 262 

Hunter, Mr., Writes of visit to Mount Vernon — Potomac naviga- 
tion, etc 67 

Jefferson, Thos., Letter to George Washington, Potomac navigation 37 

Johnson Bros., At Frederick 17 

Johnson, Thos., At Belvoir 13 

Fails to secure navigation act in Maryland 24 

Promoter of Potomac navigation 39 

Elected director of Patowmaek Company 58 

Qualifies as President of Patowmaek Company 84 

Jones, Walter, Attorney for Patowmaek Company with Mr. Pinekney 121 

Keith, Jas., and Chas. Simms, Serve as Credential Committee 58 

Keith, Jas., Director of Patowmaek Company 87 

Keith, Jas., President of Patowmaek Company 102 

Laird, John, Director of Patowmaek Company 124 

Lancaster, Treaty of 8 

Lear, Tobias, Director of Patowmaek Company 88 

President of Patowmaek Company 93 

Store house at Matildaville used for depot 94, 

Lee, Chas., Clerk of Patowmaek Company organization 60 



272 Index. 

Letter to Chas. Simms 259 

Lee, Henry, Letters to Chas. Simms relative to his history 264 

Lee, Thos., President of the Ohio Company 9 

Lee, Thos. Sim, Director of the Patowmack Company 58 

Lewis, Capt. Chas., (note) Describes Cresap's location on the Potomac 6 

MeCarty, Ed., Makes a loan to Patowmack Company 114 

McPherson, Isaac, Director of Patowmack Company 153 

Madison, Jas., Jr., Member of Viriginia Legislature 41 

Letter to Thos. Jefferson 53 

Marbury, Wm., Director of Patowmack Company 118 

Marshall, John, Letter to Chas. Simms 254 

Maryland, Seeking easier communication with the west 33 

Maryland and Virginia, diversity of commercial laws 41 

Mason, Thompson, Attorney for Patowmack Company 113 

Mason, George, Treasurer of the Ohio Company 9 

Calls for meetings of stockholders 16 

Faith in Ohio Company rights 93 

Mason, Gen. John, Director of the Patowmack Company 93 

Eeport to U. S. Treasurer 107 

Elected President of the Patowmack Company 123 

Matildaville, Laid out 87 

Mercer, George, In London 22 

Mercer, John, Secretary of the Ohio Company 9 

Morris, Robert, Promoter of Canal schemes 21 

On inland waterways 76 

Montour, Half-Breed, Sells island to Simms & Co 239 

Mount Vernon Compact, Accepted by Legislatures 51 

Myers, Christ., Recommended for superintendent of works 90, 91 

Myers, Mrs. Jane, Keeper of public house at Matildaville .... 101, 104 

Nemacolin Road, Development of 15 

Popularity of 33 

Neville, Gen. John, In military command of West Augusta District 239 

With Wood and Simms commissioned to raise a regiment .... 240 

New Market, Conference at 119 

Ohio Company, Organized 8 

Secures grant of land— Engages Gist to select land— Storehouse 

built at Will's Creek — Goods ordered from Hanbury & Co. . . 10 

Three store-houses built — Use river in transportation 11 

Opposition of New York and Pennsylvania traders — French 

plans 12 

(Note) List of members — Popularity — Stores at Chartiers Creek 

destroyed— Colonists' distrust of the Company 15 

Last calls for meetings— Political influence 16 



Index. 273 

Eef use to confirm Geo. Mercer 's agreement 22 

O'Neill, C, Director of Patowmaek Company 144 

Patowmaek Company, Bill sent Gov. Harrison and Thos. Johnson, 

passed legislatures 44 

Mass meeting at Alexandria, Conference at Annapolis 45 

Report of conference 46 

Subscription books opened 53 

Account of incorporation 54 

Organization 56 

Popularity of the Company 60 

Plan of work— List of stockholders 59 

President and Board of Directors 61 

Advertise for superintendent— Difficulties 62 

Employ Eumsey and Stewart — Directors examine river 63 

Meeting at Shenandoah, Instructions to Rumsey 64 

Johnson and Lee at Seneca and Shenandoah 70 

Quality of free labor 71 

First annual report of President and Directors 74 • 

Work delayed by excessive rains, petition for extension of time 79 

Rumsey resigns, financial troubles 80 

Second annual report 81 

Acts secured for speedy collection of assessments, Richardson 

Stewart discharged, Jas. Smith appointed superintendent . . 82 

Third annual report 83 

Thos. Johnson qualifies as president 84 

Measures to be taken for speedy collections, work ordered on 

river between Cumberland and Williamsport 84 

Condemnation of land at Great and Little Falls 85 

Work to commence on the Shenandoah, contract for locks 85 

Annual report for 1792, Fitzgerald elected president 86 

Financial troubles 87 

Secure extension of time, 100 shares added to stock 88 

Weston requested to examine works 89 

Delinquent shares sold, tolls to be collected, 100 new shares ... 90 

Locks at Little Falls completed 90 

Christ. Myers employed as superintendent 91 

Buildings at Great Falls, Thos. Beall's contract 92 

Lear elected president with Keith, Templeton, Fendall and 

Mason, directors— Extension of time 93 

Myers dismissed— Inclined plane at Great Falls— Harbaugh 

engaged to build locks 94 

Exclusive rights on Shenandoah to be released— Thirty addi- 
tional shares 95 

General meeting authorizes borrowing stock— Report of President 95 

Machine for hauling merchandise at Great Falls 98 i' 



274 Index. 

Appeal of directors (Appendix B) — Belief from Maryland legis- 
lature 99 

Hartshorue resigns, Garleton appointed, work pushed 100 

Dimensions of locks changed 101 

Eeport for 1801 — Keith and board re-elected 102 

Locks opened at Great Falls— Visited by British Minister and 

Manasseh Cutler 103 

New undertakings— Chas. Simms becomes director 104 

Virginia Commissioners view works on river — Premiums offered 

for good boats 105 

Work on Shenandoah— Out of funds 106 

Eeport to U. S. Treasurer (Appendix C) — Simms elected 

president 107 

Eesort to a lottery scheme 108 

Secure extension of five years' time 110 

Fund raised for improvement of Antietam Ill 

Death of Garleton- Appointment of Jos. Brewer— Stone locks 

ordered for Little Falls— Shenandoah people impatient 112 

Dispute over lottery ticket sale, secure loan from Maryland . . 113 

Conference with Shenandoah people 115 

Appeal to Virginia legislature 116 

President Simms resigns 117 

Elie Williams becomes president, serious trouble with Shenan- 
doah people 118 

Agreement reached with Shenandoah people 119 

Lottery suit dreaded 121 

Loans secured from District banks — Land trouble at Little Falls 122 
John Mason elected president. Brewer resigns, Jas. Moore, Jr., 

appointed treasurer 123 

Eeport of 1819 124 

Appeal to Maryland legislature (Appendix D)— Engineer of 

Virginia to make examination of river and works 125 

Communication from Maryland legislature, reply 126 

Eeport for 1821 130 

Eeport for 1822 132 

End of records— Eeport for 1823 135 

Eeport of 1824 137 

Agitation for a new company 139 

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Co. incorporated by Virginia 140 

Assent of Patowmack Company— Eeport of 1825 '. . . 141 

Trouble with Union bank 143, 145, 150 

Eeport of 1826 144 

Eeport of 1827 147 

Eeport of 1828 149 

Conveyance made 151 

Works at Great Falls abandoned 152 



Index. 275 

Washington's association with the place 152 

Officers of I53 

Peter, George, Director of Patowmack Company 153 

Peter, Robert, Director of Patowmack Company 118 

Potomac Eiver, Inspection of, by Gov. Sharpe of Maryland 15 

Use of, by the Ohio Company 12 

Improvement of, by Frederick Town Company 17 

Improvement of, by John Ballendine 24 

Potts, John, Jr., Clerk of Board of Directors 61 

Goes to Philadelphia 82 

Builds forge at Matildaville 87 

Randolph, Edmund, Letter to Simms, appointed Attorney General . . 258 

Eoss, Alex, Makes sales of land to Simms 239 

Eumsey, James, Exhibits boat to Gen. Washington 43 

Employed by Patowmack Company 63 

Advertises run-a-way servants 72 

Letter to Hartshorne 73 

Eesigns, files charges against Stewart 79 

Sayre, Stephen, Proposes tontine 41 

Scott, Gustavus, Buys stock, of Patowmack Company 90 

Scots-Irish Presbyterians 13 

Shepherd, Abraham, Given order for two boats 62 

Simms, Charles, Becomes director of Patowmack Company 104 

Becomes president of Patowmack Company 107 

Leaves Patowmack Company 117 

A law student 237 

At Point Pleasant battle— At Pittsburgh 238 

Friends on the frontier— Land speculations 239 

Delegate from West Augusta — Receives major's commission. . . 239 

Commissioner of Virginia, in Morristown society 240 

Letters to Miss Douglass 241 

Advertises land in the west 244 

Antipathy of Pennsylvania courts to Virginia land titles 244 

Asks leave of absence 245 

Gen. Washington 's reply 246 

Second request for leave 247 

Letter from Congress to Virginia Assembly 248 

Eesigns Commission 249 

Memorial to Virginia legislature and reply 250 

In the west, suit on Eoss ' notes 2o0 

Journey to Philadelphia— Douglass warrant located on Montour 

Island— Title again assailed 251 

Locates in Alexandria 251 

Delegate to Virginia Assembly 255 



276 Index. 

Activities in Alexandria 256 

At funeral of Washington 259 

Connection with Patowmack Company 260 

Family— Polities 261 

Friendship of Henry Lee 264 

Collector of customs — Mayor — Account of British invasion . . . 265 

Death 267 

Simms, Mrs. Chas., Letters 255, 257 

Simms and Keith, Appointed credential committee 58 

Smith, Clement, Director of Patowmack Company 151 

Stewart, Richardson, Employed by Patowmack Company 63 

Dismissed 82 

Stratton, J., Letter to Simms 263 

Stuart, David, Director of Patowmack Company 85 

Swann, Thos., Letter to Simms 260 

Templeman, John, Director of Patowmack Company 88 

Thompson, Jonah, Director of Patowmack Company 118 

To negotiate with Shenandoah Company 120 

Thompson, Josiah, Special Lottery agent . ." 110 

Superintendent of work on river 117 

Thompson, Tobias, In charge of works 110 

Vandalia Company, Failure of 22 

Virginia, Military warrants 22 

Vowell, John C, Director of Patowmack Company 118 

Washington, Augustine and Lawrence, Members of Ohio Company . . 9 

Washington, George, At Belvoir 13 

Guest of Cresap— Appointed Surveyor— Military appointment . 14 

Envoy to treat with French commandant 15 

Agent of Virginia soldiers — Inspects lands on the Ohio 23 

Procures act for opening Potomac navigation 23 

Opinion of value of western trade 33 

Conferences at Annapolis 35 

Conference at Mount Vernon 37 

Policy of Maryland and Viriginia 39 

Sets out on western journey of inspection 42 

Meets Eumsey at Bath — Sees model of boat 43 

At Richmond with Lafayette 45 

Virginia votes him shares of Potomac and James River stock . . 56 

Elected president of the Patowmack Company 58 

At Frederick 63 

Enthusiasm— Opinion on advisability of opening Mississippi 

River 66 

Attends Convention at Philadelphia 80 



Index. 277 

Makes loan to Patowmack Company 97 

At general meeting of Patowmack Company 98 

Signs subscription for relief —Votes by proxy 99 

Arsenal for Harpers Ferry secured by 104 

Letters from, 

to Bouquet, 16; to Thos. Johnson, 18, 44; to Dr. Boucher, 
23; to Lafayette, 34, 36, 66; to Ohastellux, 34; to Maj. 
Gen. Knox, 36; to Thos. Jefferson, 38; to Jas. Madison, 
49 ; to E. H. Lee, 52, 67 ; to Thos. Johnson and Thos. Sim. 
Lee, 60; to Humphreys, 66; to Edmund Randolph, 67, 68; 
to ailpin and Fitzgerald, 77; to Tobias Lear, 88, 89, 90. 

See also Appendix " A " 154 

Western Settlements, Encouraged by Virginia 11, 12 

Williams, Elie, President of the Patowmack Company 117 

Wood, James, In West Augusta District 239 

Commissioner of Virginia 240 

Toung, Notley, Director of the Patowmack Co 84 



A New and Valuable Contribution to 
American History 



Early Chapters in the Development of the 
Potonnac Route to the West. 

In Three Parts. 

I. The Ohio Company and other Adventures; 1743 to 1774. Gleaned 
from Eare Contemporary Letters and Literature. 

II. The Patowmack Company; 1784 to 1828. From its own unpub- 
lished Eeoords and Documents. 

This the first incorporated enterprise to improve an inland waterway 
was organized by General George Washington and Governor Thomas Johnson 
of Maryland. The story of the heroic struggle of half a century to secure 
the western trade by a safe and easy navigation of the Potomac river has not 
before been fully told. 

III. A sketch of the life of Col. Charles Simms, Gentleman; a soldier 
in Lord Dunmore's War, an officer of the line in the Revolutionary Army, the 
Mayor of Alexandria during the British Occupation in 1814, a successful man 
of affairs of the 18th century. 

With portrait and many selections from a varied and extensive corre- 
spondence with eminent men of the period, including hitherto unpublished 
papers and letters of Washington, Johnson, Paca, Marshall, Henry Lee 
Randolph, Harvie, John Mason, Rumsey, Revolutionary love letters, Simms'> 
account of the British invasion, etc. 



By MRS. CORRA. BACON-FOSTER 

Historian, Office of Indian Affairs. 

Member of the Columbia Historical Society of Washington, D. C, 
National Historian of the Society of Daughters of Founders and 
Patriots of America, Member of the National Committee, D.A.E. 
for Preservation of Historic Spots, etc. 



250 pages. 8vo. Cloth. Illustrated with many reproductions of rare por- 
traits, prints, autographs, views of the river, first American canals, locks, etc. 
Very limited edition. Sold only by subscription. Price, $2.00. 



Subscriptions, payable on delivery, may be sent to 

Mrs. Corra Bacon-Foster, 
917 18th Street Washington, D.C. 




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