George Washington Surveys Mingo

In 1770, Colonel George Washington made a trip to Mingo for the purpose of inspecting the lands for locating claims. George Washington came through in October 1770 from Fort Pitt. According to his journal of October 22nd, his visit to the area was heralded with a steady snow. He surveyed the area from Brown's Island to Cross Creek in Mingo. He noted that Mingo was inhabited by seventy members of the Six Nations. He also noted the wild life in the area, which included wild geese, ducks and turkeys. While he was here one surveyer was killed 38 miles south of Mingo. This caused him hesitation as to proceeding with surveying the area. They did continue as two Indian guides led them further into the territory.

George returned in November 1770. The river was swollen and George noted about the commercial possibilities of the river. He noted that the river was being used by the Indians in their trading of furs during hunting season. They continued to Fort Pitt when their horses were brought to them. They camped near Potter's Spring.

Here is the text from his journal entries.

The Diaries of George Washington. Vol. 2. Donald Jackson, ed.; Dorothy Twohig, assoc. ed. The Papers of George Washington. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976. [October] October 22. Reachd the Mingo Town abt. 29 Miles by my Computation.Mingo Town (now Mingo Junction, Ohio) was an Indian village several miles below Steubenville, Ohio. This was the only Indian village in 1766 on the banks of the Ohio from that place to Fort Pitt; it contained at that time 60 families. It appears on Thomas Hutchins's 1778 map of the Ohio.

Monday 22d. As it began to Snow about Midnight, continued pretty steadily at it, it was about 1/2 after Seven before we left our Incampment. At the distance of about 8 Miles we came to the Mouth of Yellow Creek [1] (to the West) opposite to, or rather below which, appears to be a long bottom of very good Land, and the Assent to the Hills apparently gradual. There is another pretty large bottom of very good Land about two or 3 Miles above this. About 11 or 12 Miles from this, just above what is calld the long Island [2] (which tho so distinguishd is not very remarkable for length breadth or goodness) comes in on the East side the River, a small Creek [3] or Run the name of which I coud not learn; and a Mile or two below the Island, on the West Side, comes in big stony Creek (not larger in appearance than the other) on neither of which does there seem to be any large bottoms or body's of good Land. About 7 Miles from the last Mentiond Creek 28 from our last Incampment, and about 75 from Pittsburg, we came to the Mingo Town Situate on the West side the River a little above the Cross Creeks [4]. This place contains abt. Twenty Cabbins, 70 Inhabitants of the Six Nation. Had we set of early, kept pritty constantly at it, we might have reachd lower than this place today; as the Water in many places run pretty swift, in general more so than yesterday.

The River from Fort Pitt to the Logs Town has some ugly Rifts Shoals, which we found somewhat difficult to pass, whether from our inexperience of the Channel, or not, I cannot undertake to say. From the Logs Town to the Mouth of little Bever Creek is much the same kind of Water; that is, Rapid in some places--gliding gently along in others, and quite still in many. The Water from little Bever Creek to the Mingo Town, in general, is swifter than we found it the preceeding day, without any shallows, there being some one part or other always deep which is a natural consequence as the River in all the distance from Fort Pitt to this Town has not widend any at all nor doth the bottoms appear to be any larger. The Hills which come close to the River opposite to each bottom are steep; on the side in view, in many places, Rocky cragged; but said to abound in good land on the Top. These are not a range of Hills but broken, cut in two as if there were frequent water courses running through (which however we did not perceive to be the case consequently they must be small if any). The River along down abounds in Wild Geese, and severl. kinds of Ducks but in no great quantity.[5] We killd five wild Turkeys today.

Upon our arrival at the Mingo Town we receivd the disagreeable News of two Traders being killd at a Town calld the Grape Vine Town, 38 Miles below this; which causd us to hesitate whether we shoud proceed or not, wait for further Intelligence.

October 23. Stayd at this place till One Clock in the Afternoon padled abt. 12 Miles down the River Incamped. Tuesday 23. Several imperfect Accts. coming in agreeing that only one Person was killd, the Indians not supposing it to be done by their people, we resolvd to pursue our passage, till we coud get some more distinct Acct. of this Transaction. Accordingly abt. 2 Oclock we set out with the two Indians which was to accompany us, in our Canoe, and in about 4 Miles came to the Mouth of a Creek calld Seulf Creek, [6] on the East side; at the Mouth of which is a bottom of very good Land, as I am told there likewise is up it.

The Cross Creeks (as they are calld) are not large, that on the West side however is biggest. At the Mingo Town we found, and left 60 odd Warriors of the Six Nations going to the Cherokee Country to proceed to War against the Cuttawba's. About 10 Miles below the Town we came to two other cross Creeks [7] that on the West side largest, but not big; calld by Nicholson French Creek. About 3 Miles or a little better below this, at the lower point of some Islands [8] which stand contiguous to each other we were told by the Indians with us that three Men [9] from Virginia (by Virginians they mean all the People settled upon Redstone ca.) had markd the Land from hence all the way to Redstone--that there was a body of exceding fine Land lying about this place and up opposite to the Mingo Town--as also down to the Mouth of Fishing Creek. [10] At this Place we Incampd.

October 24 Wednesday 24th. We left our Incampment before Sunrise, and abt. Six Miles below it, we came to the Mouth of a pretty smart Creek comg. in to the Eastward calld by the Indians Split Island Greek,[11] from its running in against an Island. On this C[ree]k there is the appearance of good Land a distance up it. Six Miles below this again, we came to another Creek on the West side, calld by Nicholson Weeling [12] and abt. a Mile lower down appears to be another small Water coming in on the East side, [13] which I remark, because of the Scarcity of them; fie to shew how badly furnishd this Country is with Mill Seats. Two or three Miles below this again, is another Run on the West side; up which is a near way by Land to the Mingo Town; and about 4 Miles lower comes in another on the East at which place is a path leading to the settlement at Redstone. Abt. A Mile half below this again, comes in the Pipe Creek so calld by the Indians from a Stone which is found here out of which they make Pipes. Opposite to this (that is on the East side), is a bottom of exceeding Rich Land; but as it seems to lye low, I am apprehensive that it is subject to be overflowd. This Bottom ends where the effects of a hurricane appears by the destruction havock among the Trees.[14]

Two or three Miles below the Pipe Creek is a pretty large Creek on the West side calld by Nicholson Fox Grape Vine by others Captema Creek on which, 8 Miles up it, is the Town calld the Grape Vine Town; at the Mouth of it, is the place where it was said the Traders livd, the one was killd. To this place we came abt. 3 Oclock in the Afternoon, findg. no body there, we agreed to Camp; that Nicholson and one of the Indians might go up to the Town, enquire into the truth of the report concerning the Murder.

[1] Yellow Creek flows into the Ohio from the west, approximately 57 miles below Pittsburgh. [2] Probably Brown's Island, 9 miles below Yellow Creek.[3] This stream may be King Creek, flowing into the Ohio from the east (CLELAND, 250). [4] Creeks flowing into the Ohio from opposite shores appear at several points on the Ohio and on the early maps are designated as Cross Creeks. The two referred to by GW are about 3 1/4 miles below present-day Steubenville, Ohio. The creek on the Ohio side is Indian Cross Creek; that on the West Virginia side, Virginia Cross Creek (see CRAMER, 80). [5] The stretch of the river between Fort Pitt and Mingo Town was similarly described by Capt. Harry Gordon: The country between these two Places is broken, with many high ridges or hills; the vallies narrow, and the course of the river plunged from many high grounds which compose its banks. When the water is high, you go with moderate rowing from six to seven miles an hour (POWNALL, 158). [6] Probably Beech Bottom Run, near Wellsburg, W.Va. [7] GW is referring to a second set of cross creeks, Indian Short Greek on the Ohio side and Virginia Short Creek on the West Virginia side (CRAMER, 82). [8] These must be Pike Island and the Twin Islands (see CRAMER, 82). [9] These men were possibly Silas, Ebenezer, and Jonathan Zane, members of a prominent pioneer family, who had explored this area in 1769 and moved their families to the vicinity of present-day Wheeling, W.Va., about 1770. [10] Fishing Creek flows into the Ohio River near New Martinsville, W.Va., some 32 miles below Wheeling (CRAMER, 85). [11] Probably Wheeling Creek and Wheeling Island, site of Wheeling, W.Va. [12] This creek may be McMahon's Creek, 2 miles below Wheeling (CRAMER, 84). [13] McMahon Run enters the Ohio near McMechen, W.Va. (CLELAND, 253). [14] Pipe Creek enters the river from the Ohio side, about 7 miles above Captina Creek in Belmont County, Ohio. GW later acquired this bottomland. In advertising his Ohio lands for sale, 1 Feb. 1796, he described it as Round Bottom . . . about 15 miles below Wheeling, a little above Captenon, and opposite to Pipe-Creek; bounded by the river in a circular form for 2 miles and 120 poles containing 587 acres (WRITINGS, 34:438). Here are photographic copies of two entries in which Washington journaled his visit to the Mingo town.

George Washington's Diary Entries

Journal Entry 1
Journal Entry 2

Potter's Spring in Past

Potters Spring Past

Potter's Spring

Potters Spring
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