Front Page Titles (by Subject) JOURNAL OF A SURVEY, 1748. 1 - The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757)
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JOURNAL OF A SURVEY, 1748. 1 - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. I (1748-1757) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889-1893). Vol. I (1748-1757).
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JOURNAL OF A SURVEY, 1748.1
Fryday, March 11th, 1747/8. Began my Journey in company with George Fairfax, Esqr.; we travell’d this day 40 miles to Mr. George Neavels in Prince William County.
Saturday, March 12th. This Morning Mr. James Genn, ye surveyor, came to us; we travell’d over ye Blue Ridge to Capt. Ashbys on Shannandoah River. Nothing remarkable happen’d.
Sunday, March 13. Rode to his Lordship’s Quarter about 4 miles higher up ye river. We went through most beautiful Groves of Sugar Trees, & spent ye last part of ye Day in admiring ye Trees & richness of ye Land.
Monday 14th. We sent our baggage to Capt. Hites (near Frederick Town) went ourselves down ye River about 16 miles to Capt. Isaac Pennington’s (the Land exceeding rich and fertile all ye way—produces abundance of Grain, Hemp, Tobacco, &c.) in order to lay of[f] some Land on Cates Marsh & Long Marsh.
Tuesday 15th. We set out early with intent to run round ye sd. Land, but being taken in a rain, & it increasing very fast obliged us to return. It clearing about one o’clock & our time being too Precious to loose, we a second time ventured out & worked hard till night, then returnd to Penningtons. We got our suppers & was Lighted into a Room & I not being so good a woodsman as ye rest of my company, striped myself very orderly and went into ye Bed, as they calld it, when to my surprize, I found it to be nothing but a little straw matted together without sheets or any thing else, but only one thread bear blanket with double its weight of vermin, such as Lice, Fleas, &c. I was glad to get up (as soon as ye Light was carried from us.) I put on my cloths & lay as my companions. Had we not been very tired, I am sure we should not have slep’d much that night. I made a Promise not to sleep so from that time forward, chusing rather to sleep in ye open air before a fire, as will appear hereafter.
Wednesday 16th. We set out early & finish’d about one o’clock & then Travelled up to Frederick Town, where our Baggage came to us. We cleaned ourselves (to get Rid of ye Game we had catched ye night before). I took a Review of ye Town & then return’d to our Lodgings where we had a good Dinner prepared for us. Wine & Rum Punch in plenty, & a good Feather Bed with clean sheets, which was a very agreeable regale.
Thursday 17th. Rain’d till ten o’clock & then clearing we reached as far as Major Campbells, one of there Burgesses about 25 miles from Town. Nothing remarkable this day nor night, but that we had a Tolerable good Bed [to] lay on.
Friday 18th. We Travell’d up about 35 miles to Thomas Barnwickes, on Potowmack, where we found ye River so excessively high by reason of ye great Rains that had fallen up about ye Allegany Mountains, as they told us, which was then bringing down ye melted snow & that it would not be fordable for several Days. It was then about six foot higher than usual & was rising. We agreed to stay till Monday. We this day calld to see ye Fam’d Warm Springs. We camped out in ye field this night. Nothing remarkable happened till Sunday ye 20th.
Sunday 20th. Finding ye river not much abated we in ye evening swam our horses over and carried them to Charles Polks in Maryland, for pasturage till ye next Morning.
Monday 21st. We went over in a Canoe and Travelled up Maryland side all ye Day in a continued Rain to Col. Cresaps, right against ye mouth of ye South Branch, about 40 miles from Polks, I believe ye worst road than ever was trod by Man or Beast.
Tuesday 22d. Continued Rain and ye Freshes kept us at Cresaps.
Wednesday, 23d. Raind till about two o’clock & cleard, when we were agreeably surprized at ye sight of thirty odd Indians coming from war with only one scalp. We had some Liquor with Us of which we gave them Part, it elevating there spirits, put them in ye humor of Dauncing, of whom we had a War Daunce. There manner of Dauncing is as follows, viz.: They clear a Large Circle & make a great Fire in ye middle. Men seats themselves around it. Ye speaker makes a grand speech, telling them in what manner they are to daunce. After he has finishd ye best Dauncer jumps up as one awaked out of a sleep, & Runs & Jumps about ye Ring in a most comicle manner. He is followed by ye Rest. Then begins there musicians to Play. Ye musick is a Pot half full of water, with a Deerskin streched over it as tight as it can, & a goard with some shott in it to rattle & a Piece of an horse’s tail tied to it to make it look fine. Ye one keeps rattling & ye others drumming all ye while ye others is Dauncing.
Fryday, 25th, 1748. Nothing remarkable on thursday, but only being with ye Indians all day. So shall slip it. This day left Cresaps & went up to ye mouth of Paterson’s Creek, & there swum our horses over, got over ourselves in a canoe & travelled up ye following part of ye Day to Abram Johnstones, 15 miles from ye mouth, where we camped.
Saterday, 26. Travell’d up ye creek to Solomon Hedges, Esqr. one of his Majesty’s Justices of ye Peace for ye County of Frederick, where we camped. When we came to supper there was neither a Cloth upon ye Table nor a knife to eat with; but as good luck would have it, we had knives of our [own].
Sunday, 27th. Travell’d over to ye South Branch, attended with ye Esqr. to Henry Van Metriss, in order to go about Intended work of Lots.
Monday, 28th. Travell’d up ye Branch about 30 miles to Mr. James Rutlidges Horse Jockey, & about 70 miles from ye mouth.
Tuesday, 29th. This Morning went out & surveyd. five hundred acres of Land, and went down to one Michael Stumpe on ye So. Fork of ye Branch. On our way shot two wild Turkies.
Wednesday, 30th. This Morning began our Intended business of Laying of[f] Lots. We began at ye Boundary Line of ye Northern 10 miles above Stumps, & run of[f] two Lots, & return’d to Stumps.
Thursday, 31st. Early this Morning one of our men went out with ye gun, & soon returned with two wild Turkies. We then went to our business run of[f] three lots, & returned to our camping place at Stumps.
Fryday, April ye 1st, 1748. This Morning shot twice at wild Turkies, but killd none. Run of[f] three Lots & returnd to camp.
Saterday, April 2d. Last night was a blowing rainy night. Our straw catch’d a Fire, yt. we were laying upon. I was luckily preservd by one of our Men’s awaking when it was in a [NA1NA]. We run of[f] four lots this day which reached below Stumps.
Sunday, 3d. Last Night was a much more blustering night than ye former. We had our tent carried quite of[f] with ye wind, and was obliged to Lie ye Latter part of ye night without covering. There came several Persons to see us this day. One of our men shot a wild Turkie.
Monday, 4th. This Morning Mr. Fairfax left us with intent to go down by ye mouth of ye Branch. We did two Lots & was attended by a great Company of People, men Women, & children, that attended us through ye woods as we went, shewing there antick tricks. I really think they seem to be as ignorant a set of people as the Indians. They would never speak English but when spoken to, they speak all Dutch. This day our tent was blown down by ye violentness of ye wind.
Tuesday, 5th. We went out & did 4 Lots. We were attended by ye same Company of People, yt. we had ye day before.
Wednesday, 6th. Last night was so Intolerably smoky that we were obliged all hands to leave ye Tent to ye Mercy of ye wind & Fire. This day was attended by our afored. Company, up till about 12 o’clock. When we finished, we Travelld down ye Branch to Henry Van Metriss. On our journey was catchd in a very heavy rain. We got under a straw House until ye worst of it was over, & then continued our Journey.
Thursday, 7th. Raind successively all last night. This morning one of our men killd a wild Turkie that weight 20 Pounds. We went & surveyd 15 Hundred acres of Land & returnd to Van Metriss about 1 o’clock. About two I heard that Mr. Fairfax was come up & at 1 Peter Cassey’s, about 2 miles of[f] in ye same old field. I then took my horse & went up to see him. We eat our Dinners & walked down to Van Metris’s. We stayed about two hours & walked back again, and slept in Cassey’s House which was ye first night I had slept in a House since I came up to ye Branch.
Fryday, 8th. We breakfasted at Cassey’s & rode down to Van Metris’s to get all our Company together, which when we had accomplished, we rode down below ye Trough in order to lay of Lots there. We laid of [f] one this day. The Trough is couple of Ledges of Mountains, impassable, running side & side together for above 7 or 8 miles & ye River down between them. You must ride round ye back of ye Mountain for to get below them. We camped this Night in ye woods near a wild Meadow, where was a large stack of Hay. After we had Pitched our Tent & made a very large Fire, we pulled out our knapsack, in order to Recruit ourselves. Every [one] was his own cook. Our Spits was forked Sticks, our Plates was a large Chip; as for Dishes, we had none.
Saterday, 9th. Set ye Surveyors to work, whilst Mr. Fairfax & myself stayed at ye Tent. Our Provision being all exhausted & ye Person that was to bring us a Recruit disappointing us, we were obliged to go without untill we could get some from ye neighbors, which was not untill 4 or 5 o’clock in ye Evening. We then took leaves of ye Rest of our Company, road down to John Colins in order to set of [f] ye next Day homewards.
Sunday, 10th. We took our farewell of ye Branch & travelld over Hills and Mountains to Coddys, on Great Cacapehon, about 40 miles.
Monday, 11th. We travelld from Coddys down to Frederick Town, where we reached about 12 o’clock. We dined in Town and then went to Capt. Hites & lodged.
Tuesday, 12th.—We set of[f] from Capt. Hites in order to go over Wms. Gap, about 20 miles, and after riding about 20 miles we had 20 to go, for we had lost ourselves & got up as high as Ashby’s Bent. We did get over Wms. Gap that night, and as low as Wm. West in Fairfax County, 18 miles from ye Top of ye Ridge. This day see a Rattled snake, ye first we had seen in all our journey.
Wednesday, ye 13th of April, 1748. Mr. Fairfax got safe home and I myself safe to my Brothers, which concludes my journal.1
[1 ]This is the earliest manuscript of Washington’s that I have found, except his studies in surveying and summaries of his reading, and is printed from the original in the Department of State, Washington. It possesses little interest apart from its early date. Lord Fairfax claimed under a patent of James II. all of what is now the lower end of the Shenandoah Valley, and it was by his directions that Washington surveyed it. A copy of one of Lord Fairfax’s survey warrants, issued to Washington, is printed in the Historical Magazine, March, 1869.
[1 ]Word erased.
[1 ]In the same book are his survey notes, two short poems, and a few letters written at this time, two of which are here printed.