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Lindsay Surname DNA Project Group 2
George Washington and the Lindsey's

In early 1748, a sixteen-year-old George Washington set out on a surveying trip with George Fairfax to plot some lands owned by Fairfax's uncle, Thomas Lord Fairfax, the proprietor of the Northern Neck of Virginia.  Lord Fairfax wanted accurate surveys made of his numerous properties. One of the tracts that George Washington plotted for Fairfax was on the Long Marsh and Cate's Marsh in old Frederick County.  As part of the survey, Washington noted the names of the chain carriers, the marker, and the pilot.  The pilot was William Lindsey.  While we can't be certain that William Lindsey, the pilot, was a member of the Long Marsh Lindsey family, the facts suggest that he might have been one of ours.  According to Thomas Kemp Cartmell's book (page 26) on Shenandoah Valley pioneers, George Washington frequently chose adjoining landowners as members of the survey crew. Additionally, pilots were usually men who knew the area well, and it seems a Long Marsh Lindsey man would have been quite suitable for the job.  Records show that a man named William Lindsey lived in the area, and he seems to have been part of the Long Marsh family that has been identified as ancestral to the Group 2 Lindsey's. 

Young George Washington kept a diary of his survey trip.  The images to the right are from Washington's diary entry on March 15, 1748.  The first page details the tract boundaries on Cate's Marsh and Long Marsh, while the second page ends with the names of the chain carriers, marker, and pilot.  Two of the men named as part of the survey crew were Henry and Robert Ashby, sons of Captain Thomas Ashby of Frederick County.  Robert Taylor, a chain carrier on the survey, was listed in Cartmell's book (page 26) as a Frederick County resident who had been chosen by George Washington to join his survey crews. William Lindsey, named on the second page as the survey pilot, was also a likely resident of Frederick County.  Diary source: George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799: Series 1b. George Washington, Diary, March 11 - April 13, 1748.  

Click here for source site of the diary pages shown above.
Washington's diary (excerpted below) mentioned that they had spent the night at Isaac Pennington's before surveying the land on the Long Marsh and Cate's Marsh.  Coincidentally, it was William Lindsey who had gone to court in 1742 to record a deed for land that John Lindsey Sr. bought from Isaac Pennington.  Read more about William Lindsey, pilot, below.
A map (image is on the right) taken from William Thorndale's manuscript on the Long Marsh Lindsey's shows that Cate's Marsh was less than a mile from land owned by the Lindsey's on the Long Marsh.  So it seems quite likely that William Lindsey, the pilot for George Washington's survey trip, might have been one of our Group 2 Lindsey's.
It is exciting to think that our ancestor may have rubbed elbows with the father of our country.  After reading about George Washington's sleeping quarters as Pennington's guest (in the diary excerpt, below), I have wondered if the living conditions might have been similar at the nearby Lindsey's!

Below is more excerpted from Washington's diary:

The first entries in George Washington's Diaries follow :

  • Fryday March 11th 1747(8). Began my Journey in Company with George Fairfax, Esqr. [eight years older than George Washington], we travell'd this day 40 miles to Mr. George Neavels in Prince William County


  • Saturday March 12th This Morning Mr. James Genn ye, surveyer [he had previously surveyed Lord Fairfax's South Branch and Greenway Court Manors; this expedition was to subdivide some of those territories into lots to be leased to tennants] came to us we travell'd over ye. Blue Ridge to Capt. [John] Ashbys on Shennondoah River, Nothing remarkable happen'd


  • Sunday March 13 Rode to his Lordships Quarter [Greenway Court] about 4 Miles higher up y. River we went through most beautiful Groves of Sugar Trees and spent ye. best part of y. Day in admiring ye. Trees and richness of ye Land


  • Monday 14th We sent our Baggage to Capt. [Jost] Hites (near Frederick Town [Winchester] ) went ourselves down ye River about 16 miles to Capt. Isaac Penningtons (the Land exceeding Rich and Fertile all ye. way produces abundance of Grain Hemp Tobacco &ca.) in order to lay of some Lands on Cates Marsh and Long Marsh


  • Tuesday 15th We set out early with Intent to Run round ye sd. Land but being in a Rain and it Increasing very fast obliged us to return it clearing about one oClock and our time being too Precious to Loose we a second time ventur'd out and Worked hard till Night and then we returned to Penningtons we got our Supper and was lighted into a Room and I not being so good a Woodsman as ye rest of my Company striped myself very orderly and went in to ye Bed as they called it when to my Surprize I found it to be nothing but a Little Straw-Matted together without Sheets or anything else but only one thread Bear blanket with double its Weight of Vermin such as Lice Fleas &c I was glad to get up (as soon as y. Light was carried from us) I put on my cloths and Lay as my Companions. Had we not been very tired I am sure we should not have slep'd much that night I made a Promise not to Sleep so from that time forward chusing rather to sleep in y. open Air before a fire as will appear hereafter.


  • March y. 15th. Surved'd for George Fairfax Esqr. a Tract of Land lying on Cates Marsh and Long Marsh. [Henry Ashby and Robert Taylor were chainmen; Robert Ashby was the marker; William Lindsy was pilot] [Surveyor's notes and measurements omitted]


  • Wednesday 16th We set out early and finish'd about one oClock and then Travell'd up to Frederick Town where our Baggage came to us we cleaned ourselves (to get Rid of y. Game we had catched y. Night before) and took a Review of y. Town and thence return'd for us Wine and Rum Punch in Plenty and a good Feather Bed with clean Sheets which was a very agreeable regale

 To the left is an image of a 1750 survey that George Washington did for John Lindsey Sr., Long Marsh pioneer and ancestor to some of our Group 2 Lindsey's.  The tract of land was on the Great Cacapon River, which lay in Frederick Co., VA at the time, but is now in Hampshire Co., WV.

Here are links to more information:

Another reference to William Lindsey, the pilot states that the survey of Cate's Marsh and the Long Marsh was part of a more extensive survey trip.  It says that William led a survey party into the upper Potomac wilderness:

 ..."in 1747, he sent young George Washington, and his nephew, William Fairfax, to survey and locate these lands. The boy surveyors crossed the Blue ridge; William Lindsey piloted them into the Upper Potomac wilderness; Henry Ashby and Richard Taylor were chainmen, and Robert Ashby, marker. More than three hundred tracts were surveyed and thus it was that the leader of the American armies in the Revolution and the first President of the United States, surveyed the first farms in West Virginia..."  Click on the image to the left to read more, and also for source information.






 This page was updated on 5-14-2011

 Susan Grabek