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JULY — 1786.
Saturday - 1* Mercury at 66 in the Morning, 72 at noon - and 72 at night. Calm all day, cool & pleasant in the morning, but warm afterwards.
Rid to the Ferry, Dogue run and Muddy hole Plantations. Finished (about noon) crossing the cut in which Barrys Houses stand, and went to crossing in the one adjoining next the woods the hoes by this evening will have got over all the forward corn. At Muddy hole the corn was got over with the Hoes this afternoon, but the Plows were not able to accomplish it. Compleated Hoeing corn in the Neck this afternoon, and also planting it the second time.
Preparing to begin my harvest generally, on Monday, & made the arrangemts accordingly. Planted 4 of the Ramnus Tree (an evergreen) one on each side of the garden gates, a peg with two notches drove down by them (Pegs N° 1 being by the Pyramidical Cypruus) — also planted 24 of the Phil lirea latifolia (an evergreen shrub) in the shrubberies by Pegs No. 3 — and 48 of the Cytin, a tree produced in a colder climate of quick growth, by pegs N° 4. All these plants were given to me by Mr. Michaux.
Walking into my orchard grass this evening I found the seed very ripe, and shedding at a small touch, tho' the stalk and under part appeared quite green (head brown) immediately set to cutting the heads with reap hooks, with such hands as I could pick up, least by delaying it till Monday the greater part might be lost.
Doct' La Moyeur who went from this on Wednesday last last to Alexandria returned this afternoon - and Major Gibbes went away after breakfast.
Sunday - 2 Mercury at 68 in the Morning, 78 at noon, and 76 night. Clear with but little, and that at South; very warm.
About noon I set out for the intended meeting (to be held tomorrow) at the Seneca Falls - Dined at Colo Gilpins; where meeting with Colo Fitzgerald we proceeded all three of us to Mr Bryan Fairfax's and lodged.
Monday - 80 After a very early breakfast (about sunrise,) we left Mr. Fairfax's, and arriving at the head of the Seneca Falls (where a vessel was to have met us) was detained till near ten O'clock before one arrived to pass us
over to our place of rendezvous at Mr. Goldsborough's. – Met Governor Johnson here; Gov' Lee was prevented by the situation of Mrs Lee from attending. A colo Francis Deakin 1 appointed on the part of Maryland to lay out the road which was to be opened between the Eastern and Western waters at the expense of that State & Virginia also attended, and made a verbal report of his & Colo Nevilles survey, to effect this purpose the result of which was that they had agreed that the best route for the said road was from the mouth of savage river, through the glades to cheat river, a little below the Dunker bottom; and from thence to the Monongahila (as they conceived the navigation of Cheat river thro' the Laurel hill very difficult) below the Tyger's valley;
distance about 50 miles He was of opinion that besides the difficulties in the N° branch between the mouths of savage & stony river, that little or nothing would be shortened in the road from the bearing, or trenching off, of the north branch between these two places. - To these matters however he did not speak with precission, or certainty, as his assistant who had his field notes & Survey, had not returned.
A heavy shower of rain a good deal of wind, and much thunder and lightning just abt and after dark. A house to appearance about 3 miles off was consumed by fire, occasioned as was supposed by lightening, but whether it was a dwelling house or Barn we did not hear, nor could we discover to whom it belonged.
The day was very warm, and without wind, till the gust arose.
Tuesday - 4 The Directors determined to prosecute their first plan for opening the navigation of the river in the bed of it, and as straight as it was practicable and ordered the Manager to proceed accordingly & to remove the hands from the works at the Great falls to the Seneca & other parts of the river as it was their wish having but 3 years from the commencem of the act to perfect the navigation above the falls. M Rumsey having signified his disinclination to serve the company any longer for the pay and emoluments which had been allowed him, and the Directors not inclining to increase them, they parted, and M' Stuart 2 (the first assistant) was appointed in his place. M' Smith 3 the other assistant had his wages raised to £200 Maryld Curry p. Ann.
These matters being settled, Gov. Johnson returned home — Colo Fitzgerald proceeded on to Berkeley & Frederick, and Colo Gilpin and
2 Richardson Stewart.
1 Col. Francis Deakins. 3 James Smith.
myself resolved to send our horses to the Great falls and go by water to that place ourselves; and were happy to find that the passage on the Virginia side of all the Islands was vastly the best; and might be made easy and good at little expence. — There being in short only 3 places where there was any difficulty, & these not great. Shallow water in a low state of the river, is all that is to be feared."
After dining with M- Rumsey at the Great falls Colo Gilpin and myself set out in order to reach our respective homes but a gust of wind & rain, with much lightning compelled me to take shelter, about dark at his house where, I was detained all night. This day was also exceedingly warm, there being but little wind.
Wednesday — 50 I set out about sun rising, & taking my harvest fields at Muddy hole & the ferry in my way, got home to breakfast.
Found that my harvest had commenced as I directed, at Muddy hole & in the Neck on Monday last — with 6 Cradlers at the first , to wit, Isaac, Cowper Tom, Ben overseer Will, Adam, & Dogue run Jack who tho' newly entered, made a very good hand; and gave hopes of being an excellent Cradler. — That Joe (Postilian) had taken the place of Sambo at the Ferry since Monday last, & the harvest there proceeded under the cutting of Cæsar, Boatswain, & him. That in the Neck 6 Cradles were constantly employed, & sometimes 7. viz: — James, (who having cut himself in the Meadow could not work constantly), Davy, overseer who having other matters to attend to could not stick to it, Sambo, Essex, George (blacksmith) Will, Ned; and Tom Davis who had never cut before, and made rather an awkward hand of it. Tom Nokes was also there, but he cut only now and then, at other times shocking, repairing rake &ca. That the gangs at Dogue Run & Muddy hole were invited, & were assisted by Anthony, Myrtilla & Dolshy from the home house. That besides Tom Davis, Ben from the Mill had gone into the Neck and that Sall brass (when not washing) & Maj- Washington's Tom were assisting the ferry people. That Cowpers Jack & Day with some small boys and girls (wch had never been taken out before) were assisting the farmer in making Hay after two white men who had been hired to cut grass, — and found that the state of the Mercury in the thermometer had during my absence, been as follows. — Viz:
1 For information in regard to the Potomac Company, see J. Pickell, New Chapter in the early Life of Washington (1856); and Corra Bacon-Foster, Early Chapters in the Development of the Patomac Route to the West (1912).
81 Wednesday 5
75 This day (Wednesday) clouded about noon and before dinner began to rain, tho' not much, & rained again at and in the night but not a great deal.
Thursday — Gene Mercury at 71 in the Morning, 77 at noon - and — at 76 at N. Morning hazy, with thunder & rain in the afternoon.
Rid to Muddy hole & into the neck; found that the Rye at the first had been cut down yesterday and that the wheat was entered upon, and that the grain being wet this morning it could not either be shocked, or bound. The rakers were therefore employed in succouring the drilled corn at Muddy, hole.
The Rye at the Ferry was also cut down yesterday about dinner time. The plows at this place 3 in number having finished crossing the corn, on the hill had begun to cross that cut below, adjoining the drilled corn. - In the Neck after the Plows had finished crossing the river cut, in the great field, 6 plows went into the drilled corn (on Tuesday) and were running a single furrow on each side of it, the Peas, Potatoes, & cabbages by way of giving them a hill.
Friday — gyen Mercury at 72 in the morning 80 at noon — and 75 at night. Clear in the forenoon but very sultry, with wind thunder, lightning & rain in the afternoon.
Rid to all the Plantations; The Plows at Muddy hole (where 3 were at work) had finished the east cut of Corn, and had begun to plow that cut by the bars adjoining the drilled corn the 3d time. Those at Morris's four in number, had got about half-over the Eastermost cut next the Overseers House, and the Farmer was stacking the grass which had been in cocks some time in the meadow adjoining it.
Brought in the remainder of the clover Hay, & Seed at Muddy to the stack at the barn there.
Washington Custis being sick I sent for Doctr Craik to visit him and a sick child in the neck, he arrived before dinner & after going into the neck & returning stayed all night.
M. Shaw went up to Alexandria to day on my business in the waggon also to bring sundries down.
Saturday - 8 Mercury at 74 in the Morning, 78 at noon - and 77 at night, clear & warm, with very little wind till about 2 O'clock, when a black & extensive cloud arose to the Westward out of which much wind issued with considerable thunder and lightning and a smart shower of Rain.
Rid to the Ferry, Muddy hole & Neck Plantations. Finished cutting the Rye about noon at the latter, and set into the Wheat adjoining immediately after. I should have finished cutting & securing in shocks the Wheat at Muddy hole this afternoon, had it not been for the interruption given by the rain.
The Rye at all the Plantations had been much beat down & tangled previous to the cutting any of it, and much loss will be sustained from this cause in addition to the defection in the head; but neither this grain nor the wheat have been so much layed by the late winds & rains, as might have been expected. of the latter indeed, tho' much was threatened, not a great deal fell.
Sunday — gia
Clear, calm & warm all day, Doct Stuart, Mrs Stuart, and Betsy & Patsy Custis ? came here to breakfast, and Doct Craik to Dinner - the last of whom went away in the evening.
Monday - 101 Mercury at — in the Morning, 82 at noon and 82 at night. Very warm all day, and calm till the evening, when a breeze from the Southward sprung up. -- More appearances of rain in the morning than in the evening but none fell.
Rid to the Neck, Muddy hole & Dogue Plantations - Began harvest at the latter this Morning with the people belonging to the place; the Muddy hole hands finished their's by breakfast, after wch (about half after eleven) the two gangs invited again. In the Neck the plows on Saturday finished running the furrow on each side the drilled corn, by way of hilling it; — and to day began to break or plow the intermediate spaces.
1 Stuart had married Eleanor (Calvert) Custis, the widow of John Parke Custis.
? Elizabeth Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis, daughters of John Parke Custis.