Washington and Weiser American Patriots 2021

George Washington and Conrad Weiser both American patriots gave much more to the making of the United States of America than they ever received in the way of financial returns from the British government. These men of considerable character and integrity fought hard for peace towards the Declaration of Independence of 1776.

We are celebrating Washington’s early place in history(1750-1758) on his birthday, February 22nd, 1732. This post examines his life and contributions before the Revolutionary War and before his role as the first president of the United States of America. At age 17 Washington was making some of his own money surveying tracts of Virginian wilderness land. Later Washington had launched his military career by joining the Virginia Regiment where he advanced to the rank of major in the Virginia militia at the age of 20. These military experiences prepared George Washington for notable roles in the French and Indian War and much later the Revolutionary War.

In my Ancestry Journey, Conrad Weiser (1696-1760) is my sixth great uncle. Weiser established his reputation early in life as the go-to individual for making peace between the Indians and the settlers in America. Conrad Weiser had an early introduction to the ways of the Indians by spending the winter of 1712-13 with a Mohawk family in the colony of New York. His stay with the Mohawks immersed him into the language, customs, and the issues of the numerous other members of the Indian Nations. Additional titles assigned by Historians to Weiser include farmer, linguist, Indian interpreter, Justice of Peace, trader, and merchant.

American Patriots

American patriots George Washington and Conrad Weiser’s futures were shaped early as teenagers.  Washington at age 16 worked with land surveying parties in the wilderness of the Virginia colony.  One year later he was appointed surveyor of Culpeper County earning money to purchase the first tracts of his own land.

George at age 20 was appointed as a major in charge of training the local militia in military skills. Washington’s first assignment on October 31, 1753, from Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia, was to travel on horseback with a small party to Ft. LeBoeuf, near present-day Erie, Pennsylvania.  His mission was to deliver a written message to the French to remove themselves from forts and land claimed by the British namely the Upper Allegheny Valley. The French refused verbally and in writing which led to the start of the French and Indian War in May 1754. Washington and Weiser played major roles in this war.  George Washington leader of the Virginia military volunteers pressed into action against the French and their Indian allies.

Conrad Weiser speaking only German at age 16 had an early introduction to the ways of the Indians. He spends the winter of 1712-13 with a Mohawk family in the small village of Eskaharie, the colony of New York. This experience with the Mohawks immersed him into the language, customs, and issues of the Indians. Conrad was the Peacemaker among the numerous Indian Nations and the governments of all the colonies, except Georgia from 1730 to 1750.

American Patriots Washington and Weiser were likewise praised by historians for their integrity, honesty, transparency, and application of skills learned throughout the French and Indian Period 1730-1763. Both Patriots wrote their own journals of their thoughts and experiences for future generations to study. 

Both men became successful after their French and Indian period. Weiser went back to paying more attention to his family’s 900-acre homestead near Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania. Conrad with wife, Anna Eve Feg( my 6th great uncle and aunt) with family harvested wheat, corn, barley, oats, and rye.  This area was known as the breadbasket for its grain exports to the expanding Philadelphia area. He was a local Justice of the Peace and later appointed the first Chief Judge of Berks County Court in Pennsylvania. 

In 1758 at age 26 Washington resigned as commander of the Virginia Regiment returned to life at his Mount Vernon plantation to take full charge.  He was elected to the Virginia House Of Burgesses in the summer of 1758. George marries Martha Dandridge, a wealthy widow in January 1759. Their plantation at Mount Vernon increases to about 50,000 acres. He obtains political stature in colonial Virginia for the next 16 years. Washington enjoys managing Mount Vernon shipping tobacco and other products to Britain and Europe.

George Washington 1732-1758

Early Life

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732,  at Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County, Virginia. George was the first of six children of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington. This was Augustine’s second marriage in 1731. His first wife Jane Butler died in 1729. Augustine moved the family to another Washington family home in 1735. This estate was named Little Hunting Plantation, later the new name was Mount Vernon.

George’s father was a Justice of the Peace and a prominent public person. Augustine acquired land, slaves, built mills, and raised tobacco on his land.

Pope Creek Virginia
Washington Birthplace Location

In the British colonies, the Washington family could be traced to his great grandfather, John Washington, who migrated from England to Virginia. In 1657 Washington’s grandfather, Lawrence Washington migrated to Virginia from England.

In the early years, historians report that George Washinton’s education was homeschooling and later with a local church sexton. Next, a schoolmaster taught George geography, mathematics, Latin, and English classics. Historians indicate that George by early adulthood was writing with considerable force and precision, however, his writing lacked wit and humor.

Historian  James Thomas Flexner paints young Washington as very tall with reddish hair and grey-blue eyes. George’s physical features are described as massive-face, hands, and feet. When it came to mingling with women George was apparently on the awkward side in his younger years.

At age 17 Washington was making his own money surveying tracts of wilderness land in Virginia’s western area. In time he became a skilled draftsman and map maker. In 1749 Washington received a surveyor’s license from the College of William and Mary. He was appointed the official surveyor of Culpeper County, Virginia.

From an early age, Washington always had an agrarian feeling for the land. He would work with friends, woodsmen, and plantation foremen to learn about the growing of tobacco, other crops, and the raising of farm animals.

At 18 he made his first land purchase of 1,459 acres on Bullshin Creek, a tributary of the Shenandoah. After the 1752 death of his half-brother

 Lawrence and his daughter Sarah two months later, George became heir to the Washington family estate. This inheritance included the Plantation of Mount Vernon. Washington increased his landholdings to about 8,000 acres.

French and Indian Period 1730-1763

Washington and Weiser Patriot Actions

France and Britain were at peace during the early 1700s until the French military began occupying more of the land in the Ohio Valley and the wilderness of western Pennsylvania. This land was in the English King George’s interest in western expansion for the colonies of New York and Pennsylvania.

 Washington’s friend and Indian peace negotiator, Conrad Weiser, was making peace with the Iroquois Nation for the best interests of the Colonies and King. Indian tribes that were under the influence of the French were persuaded to become part of Weiser’s efforts to maintain peace between the British and French. Like Washington Weiser’s service in the militia was to protect the early settlers from the ravages of Indian raids.  Weiser’s successful treaty agreements are woven into the following discussion with Washington’s military commands in order to present this information chronologically.

Conrad Weiser had an early introduction to the ways of the Indians by spending the winter of 1712-13 with a Mohawk family in the small village of Eskaharie, the colony of New York.  His writings indicate that he was cold and hungry most of the time. Mohawk’s homes consisted of a rectangular structure built with poles and covered with tree bark. This longhouse was shared with several Indian families.

Indians gave Weiser the name Tarachawagon which translates “He who holds in his hands the reins of the universe.” Experience with the Mohawks immersed him into the language, customs, and the issues of the numerous other Indian Nations.

Conrad Weiser followed William Penn’s mandate for fair dealings with the native Indians- Lenape and Susquehanna in his letter of Friendship written in October 1681.

  • In 1731 Shikellimy, vice-regent of the Iroquois Nation introduced Weiser as an Interpreter to the colonial authorities in Philadelphia. This conference brought together three individuals that would change the direction of Pennsylvania Indian policy in the following decades.  The group members were James Logan hired by William Penn to be his Secretary, Shikellimy, and Conrad Weiser.
  • Weiser with James Logan and Shikellamy constructs Pennsylvania’s new Indian policy in 1732. Under this policy, the purchase of all lands from the Indian nations went exclusively through dealings with the Iroquois nation. They were deemed the most powerful in the North Atlantic region. Note: 1732 is the birth year of George Washington.
  • Tulpehocken Indian Treaty of 1736 was negotiated which allowed all the early settlers in the Tulpehocken valley to finally get indentured deeds to the land they occupied since 1723. This Treaty was extremely important for my 6th great-grandfather Johann Peter Feg (Feck) and family. The ownership of land in America as promised by Queen Anne in 1709 finally took place in the Province of Pennsylvania. Credit goes to the Indian negotiating skills of Conrad Weiser under the mandate of fair dealings established by William Penn in 1681. 
  • The Treaty of Lancaster in 1744 extended the area of Conrad Weiser’s influence to the colonies of Maryland and Virginia. Conrad as the lead negotiator for the three colonies successfully convinced the represented Indian Nations to sell land to the top of the Allegheny mountains. Colonel Thomas Lee from Virginia was so impressed with Weiser’s skills that he suggested the Indians train a replacement when he “will go into the other world.” The connection between George Washington and Conrad Weiser developed later when Lee was elected to the Council of State (1733-1750). Both Washington and Weiser corresponded with Lee during the French and Indian Period.
  • In 1743 Weiser was awarded the title of Pennsylvania’s “province interpreter” being the only official title received from the government for his translating and negotiating skills.
  • The Colony of Pennsylvania sent in 1748 Conrad Weiser, Pennsylvania’s Indian representative to the Six Nation meeting held at Logstown. The purpose was to get a count of the Six Nation members that were with Pennsylvania and the British in future conflicts with the French.

Alleghany and Ohio Valley Wilderness

The colony of Pennsylvania worked with the Indian Nations in claiming the area of Western Pennsylvania for British expansion. (depicted on the previous map as the Allegheny River Valley) Pennsylvania fur traders were doing business with numerous Indian tribes since the early 1740s in this wilderness area. Indians in this general area became part of the settlement of the Conrad Weiser negotiated Treaty of Lancaster in 1744. Under this agreement, the represented Indian Nations agreed to sell land from the Susquehanna River west to the top of the Allegheny Mountains.

western Pennsylvania in colonial 1700s
Upper Allegheny River Valley

Lt Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia joined with the wealthy Fairfaxes and London to form the Ohio Company. The main purpose of this venture was to secure a grant of half a million acres of wilderness land for development. George Washington’s half-brother Lawrence had a role in the company. Land was mostly located west of colonial Virginia and west of the Allegheny Mountains into the present-day area of Ohio.

Representatives of the Ohio Company in 1752 reached an agreement with the local Indians to construct a fort. This defense post was placed at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers (Present-day Pittsburgh). 

The French already staked out the headwaters of the Allegheny Valley with the construction of Fort LeBoeuf where Erie, Pa. is found today. They were planning to claim the entire valley by building additional forts south along the Allegheny River.

Washington received his early military training and command with the Virginia Regiment. Virginia’s Governor Robert Dinwiddie recognized Washington’s natural leadership ability by appointing him Adjutant with a rank of major in the Virginia militia.

Dinwiddie sent Washington at the age of 21 to travel to Fort LeBoeuf beginning his trip on October 31, 1753, (Today Waterford, near Erie, Pa.). This was Washington’s first assignment for the British where he traveled with a guide and four companions on a 500-mile one-way trip. The purpose of the trip was to warn the French to remove themselves from land claimed by Britain namely the upper Allegheny Valley. The mode of transportation was horseback or walking.

On November 24th, 1753 the party reached Logstown, Indian village  ( near present-day Pittsburgh International Airport). Here Washington and his party met Indian chiefs of the Iroquois Nation helping to strengthen their relationship with the French. Due to winter snow and temperatures, Washinton’s trip was delayed for days. His party arrived on December 11 at Fort LeBoeuf to demand The French abandon their forts. The French refused verbally and in writing to vacate their forts.

On the return trip back to Williamsburg Washington and his guide Gist had an almost life-ending accident. In the crossing of the Allegheny River in a crude raft, they fell into the icy waters managing to save themselves by hanging onto the side of the raft.  Then they were able to find a small island to spend the night. Overnight the river froze giving them a walking path to the eastern side to continue their return trip. Washington made the long and arduous winter trip back to Williamsburg returning on January 16, 1754.

He delivers the French reply to Governor Dinwiddie for additional guidance from the Virginia government. From Washington’s detailed journals of his trip, the Governor could assess the performance and military character of George Washington for future assignments.

Dinwiddie sent Lieutenant Colonel Washington with troops back to set up a post at Great Meadows (later named Fort Necessity). Washington in one of his first military attacks on May 28, 1754, where he was successful in killing the French Commander, Coulon de Jurnville at Fort Duquesne.

In addition, other French soldiers were eliminated and numerous prisoners captured.  Historians agree that this was the beginning of the French and Indian War.

French and Indian Period in Pennsylvania 1755-1763

In October 1755 Penn’s Creek Massacre was one of a series of random Lenape Indian attacks on early settlers in eastern Pennsylvania, mostly German and Swiss. At this point in time, the Lenape were allied with the French who were attempting to invade the Allegheny and Ohio River Valleys. These two large geographic areas were also claimed to be in the interests of Britain and their colonies of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for future expansion.

Over the next five months after Penn’s Creek, the Lenape conducted more raids killing and capturing about 200 settlers. The raids, mostly at night caused panic among the settlers and stirred action at the government level of the colonies.

Pennsylvania actions led by Assemblyman Beniamin Franklin included training an armed militia and constructing a group of forts to protect settlers. Franklin enlisted Conrad Weiser to supervise the construction of several forts along the Blue Mountains between the Susquehanna River and the Lehigh River near Reading Pa. 

The Lenape and other displaced Native Indians continued their attacks on German, Swiss, Scotch, and Irish settlers while the militia forces of Pennsylvania battled back against the raids. 

  • Battle of Great Meadows  July 4, 1754 ( Fort Necessity) Washington surrenders, to the overwhelming number of French and Native Americans. The shortage of supplies and ammunition plus lack of troops led to Washington’s first defeat of his military career. He returns to Virginia.
  • Battle of Monongahela July 9, 1755  Defeat of Braddock’s forces by the French and Native American allies. Washington was a volunteer aid to Braddock. His actions were responsible for saving the remaining troops from complete destruction by organizing a retreat. Washington’s brave efforts resulted in four bullet holes in his clothing and two horses killed while in battle. With other troops, he helps carry the seriously wounded Braddock from the battlefield. Virginia awarded Washington for his leadership with a promotion to the rank of colonel and commander in chief of all Virginia forces.
  • Penns Creek Massacre October 16, 1755, by the Lenape (Delaware) Indians who at Penn”s Creek settlement of 26 German and Swiss settlers- 14 were killed and 11 captured. The Lenapes were forced out of the Lehigh Valley about 17 years earlier. They were unhappy with recent land deals made by the Iroquois Nations. Pennsylvania Assemblyman Benjamin Franklin persuaded Governor Morris to train an armed military force and establish a chain of forts to protect settlements from Indian raids.  
  • 1756 British begin construction of forts Augusta (today Shamokin, Pa. ), Halifax,  and  Hunter (today Harrisburg, Pa.). Franklin assigned Conrad Weiser overall responsibility for the construction of these forts. 
  • Pennsylvania had about 900 paid colonial troops to stop the constant Indian raids. A law was passed to subject troops to military discipline. In 1757 a law was passed making military service compulsory for men in Pennsylvania.
  • In the 1758 Forbes Campaign Washington served as a Commander of one of the Virginia regiments assisting General Forbes. The British led by Brigadier General John Forbes assignment was to capture Fort Duquesne from the Fench and their Indian allies. This Fort was situated at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers ( present-day Pittsburgh). The British received a tip from prisoners that the French were at the fort, however, the French blew up the Fort before the British and Virginia troops arrived. 
  • The final Easton Treaty of 1758 helped end most of the fighting from the Lenape Indians. Under the guidance of Conrad Weiser and with support from the Iroquois nation Pennsylvania government made peace with Chief Teedyuscung. He was the leader of the displaced Native American Indians in Wyoming Valley.
  • Treaty of Paris February 10, 1763. The official end of the French and Indian War.

Indian War gave George Washington a resume of battle, training, supply, and logistics experiences. This would prove valuable for his future military leadership role in the war for independence from Britain about 20 years later.

Washington on November 25, 1758, resigned as commander of the Virginia Regiment at the age of 27.  In the French and Indian War George Washington and Conrad Weiser, both Patriots gave much more to developing America than they ever received in the way of financial returns from the British government. These men put their Country first.

Conrad Weiser Memorial Park

Conrad Weiser died on a visit to his farm in July of 1760 at the age of 63. About 20 years later his wife Anna Eve (Feg) died on June 11, 1781. Anna Eve and Conrad are buried on the old homestead (now Conrad Weiser Memorial Park) in a special grave setting.

George Washington’s Tribute to Weiser 1793

In  November 1793 George Washington the first President of the United States pays tribute to Conrad Weiser by visiting his gravesite. Historian Paul Wallace notes that Washington said, “This departed man rendered many services to his country, in a different period, and posterity will not forget him”.

Conrad Weiser Memorial
Conrad Weiser Gravesite

More information about Conrad’s peacekeeping efforts, business ventures, and how the community came together to deliver a memorial park to honor him is found in a previous post. Conrad Weiser The Peacemaker

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Ronald L. Fake

Pennsylvania native from York County. After graduating from Wrightsville High School enlisted in U.S. Navy. While in the Navy working in the field of Aviation Electronics decided to enroll in college. Selected San Diego State University with a focus on urban geography and environmental studies. After graduation in 1968 worked with county and state governments, and private industry on the environmental impacts of transportation projects. After retirement started my ancestry research and today I am writing that history as a blog at https://ancestryeuropetoamerica.com.