Western Lands and the American Revolution

By Thomas Perkins Abernethy | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
WEST AUGUSTA AND INDIANA

ON December 6, 1774, Governor Dunmore issued commissions for the organization of a court at Pittsburgh for the District of West Augusta. The justices, as members of the Augusta County court, had been appointed earlier in the year, but most of them had never qualified under their commissions, though Connolly had been administering a military régime for some time. It was planned that the court should assemble, by adjournment from Staunton, the chief county seat, on December 20, but it did not actually get down to business until February 21, 1775. On that day George Croghan assumed office as presiding justice of a panel which included John Campbell, John Connolly, John Gibson, Thomas Smallman, Dorsey Pentecost, David Shepherd, and William Crawford.1 Most of the justices were Croghan's friends and kinsmen, though a few could not be placed in that category. This was manifest when, on September 23, Croghan registered his Indian deed of 1768 for two hundred thousand acres. Gibson made formal protest, Pentecost absented himself, and while Crawford kept his seat, he had every reason to oppose Croghan's claim and probably did so. Dr. Thomas Walker and his son John were present to witness the deed.2

At about the time of the first assembling of the court the Virginia partisans in the District of West Augusta selected John Harvie, recently of Albemarle County, and John Neville, late of Winchester, land speculators both, to represent them in the Virginia convention. Though there was no previous authority for this action and apparently no machinery for a regular election, the delegates were duly seated by the convention when it assembled on March 20. Thus, the only practical respects in which the District of West Augusta differed from a separate county were that its court could meet only by adjournment from Staunton, that it

____________________
1
Boyd Crumrine, ed., Minute Book of the Virginia Court . . . for the District of West Augusta, Annals of the Carnegie Museum, I, 525-568; Crumrine, Washington County, p. 178; Lyman Chalkley, ed., Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia; Extracts from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1745- 1800 ( Rosslyn, Va., 1912) I, 177, 183.
2
Minute Book of Court of West Augusta, loc. cit., pp. 553-554.

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