George Washington: A Biography - Vol. 1

By Douglas Southall Freeman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
GEORGE'S PART IN NEW SPECULATION
(April, 1748-February, 1752)

THE STORY OF George's half-amusing, half-instructive experiences beyond the mountains was one, of course, that all his kinsmen wished to hear. After telling it at Mount Vernon to Lawrence and Nancy, the young gentleman who had been to the frontier had to repeat his narrative at Ferry Farm, probably at Pope's Creek and, in June, among the pleasant families of Chotank whom he was now of an age to appreciate.

The name Chotank or Jotank was that of a Washington plantation, of a creek and of a long stretch of quiet country along the south shore of the Potomac East and West of the creek. So friendly were most of the residents of this part of King George County that they never drew a rigid boundary of their neighborhood. Agriculturally it was rolling tobacco country with a stiff, rich soil;1 spiritually, its life centered around St. Paul's Church.2 Family history was the only history made or written in Chotank.3

Chotank plantation had come into Washington hands through the distaff line. The immigrant Lawrence, brother of George's greatgrandfather, had married as his second wife the widow Joyce Fleming, by whom he had a son, John. Of this John, a letter survives that summarized his career: "My mother married another man after my father died, who spent all, so that I had not the value of 20s of my father's estate, I being the youngest and therefore the weakest, which generally comes off short." He continued: "But I thank God my fortune has been pretty good since as I have got a good and kind and loving

____________________
1
2 Smyth, tour in U.S., 177. For later descriptions see 1 Southern Literary Messenger, 43, Landmarks, 108, and De Bow's Review, v. 1, n.s., pt. 4, p. 496.
2
Originally the church of Chotank Parish, formed in 1680 and also called the lower part of Potomac Parish ( Brydon, Parish Lines, 32; 2 Meade, 187). The church still ( 1948) stands. Its parish register is extant, but its vestry book is lost.
3
De Bow's Review, loc. cit.; cf. Va. Gazette, Oct 7, 1737.

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