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Jan
28

John Washington GW’s Great Grandfather

By
When:
September 16, 2017 @ 2:39 pm – 3:39 pm
2017-09-16T14:39:00-04:00
2017-09-16T15:39:00-04:00
Where:
Fort Susquehannock and Piscataway
Mockley Point
Accokeek, MD 20607
USA

Compiled by Jim Moyer in 2015, and the great grandfather section treated separately in 1/28/2018, updated 2/9/2018.

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Was John Washington ever called Conotocaurious?

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No source for it.

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fort susquehannock mockleymap

Picture map of the seige of the Susquehannock fort by Truman and John Washington . MARYLAND HISTORICAL MAGAZINE VOL. XXXVI MARCH, 1941 No. 1

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He could have earned it in the Susquehannock seige, but no evidence any  Indian Nation gave John Washington the nickname.

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Click on image to enlarge.

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The claim that George Washington inherited this Indian name from his great grandfather is cited in this footnote from the excellent Founders Online website:

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37GW inherited the Indian name given to his great-grandfather, John Washington. 

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The footnote goes on to say what the nickname means.

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The name signified “town taker” or “devourer of villages.” In his “Biographical Memoranda,” comments written in 1786 on a projected biography of him by David Humphreys.

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Then the footnote undoes the claim of its first sentence.

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The footnote cites George Washington saying the name was given to himself and remembered by the Nations of Indians ever since.

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We have GW’s say so that he George Washington received the nickname in 1753 and evidence from Cornstalk in 1790 many years later.  See link below.

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Conotocaurious

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But no where does GW claim that the nickname was given orginally to his great grandfather, John Washington.

 

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GW stated that during the 1753 journey to the French commandant he “was named by the half-King (as he was called) and the tribes of Nations with whom he treated, Caunotaucarius (in English) the Town taker; which name being registered in their Manner and communicated to other Nations of Indians, has been remembered by them ever since in all their transactions with him during the late War” (anonymous donor).

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George Washington tells his trusted aide de camp, his biographer, that he George was given this name, but not that he inherited it from his great grandfather.

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The claim this name was originally given to John Washington, great grandfather of George Washington,  is echoed all over the internet but no contemporary source is ever given.

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Found no reference to the name of Town Destroyer or Conotocarious or any of its various spellings in Douglas Southall Freeman’s research on John Washington.

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However,

Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence.

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There’s a huge story here, ending during the Nathaniel Bacon Rebellion.   And in there we have not yet found evidence of the name Town Destroyer applied – YET.

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Stay tuned.

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George Washington during 1791 to 1799 tries to discover his family tree

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Founders Online footnote:

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Sir Isaac Heard (1730–1822), Garter Principal King of Arms,

first wrote to GW on 7 Dec. 1791

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enclosing some excerpts regarding the Washington family in America and a genealogy which he had drawn up of the descendants of the two Washington brothers, John (1632–1677) and Lawrence (c.1635–1677), who had immigrated to Virginia in the midseventeenth century.         

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Heard asked GW to fill in the blank areas in the chart…”

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To George Washington from William Augustine Washington, 23 March 1798:

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“I then wrote to Mr Lawrance, & Robt Washington of Chotanck;

I got very little information from them,

they said that they always understood that

they were decended from Lawrence,

who came over with John, our Ancestor;

but Mr Robt Washington sent me word,

that he understood,

that Mr John Washington near Leeds,

had a Genealogical Table of the Family

from the first coming over of our Ancestors . . .

I immediately wrote to a Mr Balmain,

who married one of Mr J. Washingtons Daughters,

& who had administered upon the Estate;

requesting that he would examine

his Testators papers & if he could find such a paper…”

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William Augustine Washington , the writer of the above letter, was George Washington’s nephew,  son of George Washington’s half brother, Augustine Washington.

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Washingtonfamilytree3

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See a simple family tree diagram.

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Click on picture to enlarge.  Click on Source.

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And  now the John Washington Story

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Washingtonfamilytree3

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1629 or 1633. Year of birth?

See Page 142 Volume 1  of Charles A Hoppin, The Washington Ancestry and Records of the McClain, Johnson, and Forty Other Colonial American Families (Greenfield, Ohio, 1932) “This work, limited to three hundred copies, was printed for Edward Lee McClain, Greenfield, Ohio by the Yale university press, in January 1932, hereafter referred to as Hoppin.”

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We are skipping over an interesting passage of John Washington’s life in England.  This is a story of his Dad who did well with the Royals, but ran into the Puritan rebellion against the Royals and lost his position and in turn lost John Washington’s future. John Washington learns the Merchant Tobacco business before joining Prescott and 2nd in charge of the Ketch, Seahorse of London going to Virginia.

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December 1656 or early 1657

John Washington arrives in Virginia. He arrives on the ketch, Sea Horse of London. The ships   See Page 147 Volume 1, Hoppin.  or Page 15  of  Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington, a biography, volume 1: Young Washington, hereafter referred to as Freeman.

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28 February 1657

The Sea Horse of London on leaving, runs aground a shoal. A winter storm comes along, sinking it. The tobacco it holds is ruined. John Washington helps to raise the ketch.   See link claiming the date 28 February 1657.  And this interesting link.

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Meets Nathaniel Pope in Virginia

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Litigation.  No outcome found on this suit, See page 147 Hoppin.

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Prior to December 1658

John Washington marries Nathaniel Pope’s daughter, Ann. See pages 153-154 Hoppin.

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John Washington cannot get court to delay the trial of his former partner because the christening of his first child, George Washington’s grandfather, Lawrence is set for the same day.  John Washington elects to forego the trial and be at the christening.

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16 May 1659

The will of Nathaniel Pope.  Page 88, 115 Volume 1, Westmoreland Deeds and Wills.  This will cancels the 80 lbs. debt John Washington’s owed to Nathaniel Pope. Page 282 Hoppin.  Page 17 Freeman.

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Positions attained, Land purchases in this time period.

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Early 1661 

Coroner position attained.

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3 July 1661

Vestryman of Appomattox Parish. See Westmoreland Deeds 1661-1662, page 47.  See Hoppin, page 167.

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Burgess position. Lieutenant Colonel position. Justice of the County Court position.  See Westmoreland Deeds page 20, 23.  See Hoppin, page 167, 170-171. 173.

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October 1666

The Cessation Issue.

Held at James City The 23d day of October, 1666, by adjournment from the fifth of June 1666.  John Washington is one of the men appointed to get Maryland to cease (called the “Cessation”) planting tobacco so the price could return to higher levels and give incentive to merchants to trade.  See:  Journals of the House of burgesses of Virginia, …  1659-93, page 35

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….   future links

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Summer 1675

Thomas Mathew writes a report 30 years later July 13, 1705. He states his overseer is killed by the Indians. Here’s the account:

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“My dwelling was in Northumberland, the lowest county on  Potomack River, Stafford being the upmost, where having also a  plantation, servants, cattle, &c. my overseer had agreed with one  Rob’t Hen, to come thither, and be my herdsman, who then lived  ten miles above it ;

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but on a sabbath morning in the sumer anno  1675, people on their way to church, saw this Hen lying thwart his  threshold, and an Indian without the door, both chopt on their heads,  arms & other parts, as if done with Indian hatchetts, th’ Indian was dead, but Hen when asked who did that ? answered Doegs, Doegs, and soon died,

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then a boy who came out from under a bed where he had hid himself, and told them Indians at come at break of day &  done those murders.”

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July 1675 

Reports of murders attributed to the Susquehannock.

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31 August 1675

Letter from Green Spring, home of Gov Berkeley containing a copy of an order from Council.  See pages 189-190 Hoppin and page 22-23 Freeman. John Washington doesn’t receive this letter until early September. The order is for him and Major Isaac Allerton to obtain redress from the Doeg Indians accused of 3 murders and to raise a “fit number of men” if they deemed it “requisite and necessary” and to join the Maryland forces on the Maryland side of the Potomac where the Doegs are.

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John Washington is careful. He makes this order from Council a matter of public record. See Westmoreland Deeds and Patents, 1665-1677, pages 231-232.  See page 23, Freeman.

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September 1675  

From Maryland Historical Society,page 2 : “In September the Maryland Council received a letter from Col. John Washington asking for permission to follow the enemy into Maryland with a force of men and asking cooperation from Maryland.”

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21 September 1675

John Washington’s Will recorded, before going on this military mission. Page 23 Freeman.  See Hoppin, page 29.

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Sunday, September 25 or 26

Maryland’s Major Thomas Truman did not want to wait any longer for Virginia’s Colonel John Washington.

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Truman went to the Susquehanna Fort demanding a parley.

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The next day the Virginians arrived.

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Then it appeared by this account there was confusion on who ordered or caused the killing of the Susquehannock Chiefs who came out to parley peace.  The testimony quotes the impatience of Truman who didnt want to waiting anymore on John Washington’s fact finding questions.

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Aftermath of the massacre

Governor Berkeley rebukes John Washington.  See Thomas Mathew’s (TM) account:

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The next forenoon, th’ Assembly being met in a chamber over  the general court & our speaker chosen, the Govern’r sent for us  down, where his hon’r with a pathetic emphasis made a short abrupt  speech wherein where these words.

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‘ ‘ If they had killed my grandfather and my grandmother, my  father and mother and all my friends, yet if they had come to treat of peace, they ought to have gone in peace, ‘ ‘ and sat down.

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The two chief commanders at the aforementioned siege, who  slew the ffour Indian great men, being present and part of our  assembly.

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The Govern’ or stood up againe and said “if there be joy in the presence of the Angels over one sinner that repented, there is joy  ” now, for we have a penitent sinner come before us, call Mr. Bacon; …”

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And the testimony goes on telling us of Bacon on knee asking forgiveness for rebelling (but later raises an army and burns down Jamestown).

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And the testimony describes an Indian Queen.  Worth reading.

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Another Summary of the incident

from this link. :

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“John Washington, the great-grandfather of George Washington, headed a party of Virginians to the assistance of Maryland and the welfare on both sides was conducted with the utmost ferocity.

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When six of the Indians came to treat for peace, they were murdered by the Colonists and here again we see the spirit of the Cavalier in Berkeley’s rebuke, “If they had killed my father and my mother and all my friends, yet if they had come to treat of peace, they ought to have gone in peace.” 

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When the Indians, mad for revenge, started their awful reprisals, Berkeley refused the Colonists the right to arm themselves for defence.  Then it was that Nathaniel Bacon, disregarding orders, formed a “rebel army” which ultimately forced Berkeley to yield. “

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A report by T.M. — its provenance

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Provenance: A record of ownership of a work of art or an antique, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.

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This 1833 edition seems to have lost a few pages of a very interesting Introduction. This Introduction reproduces a story written by a Thomas Mathew.

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This is the story that shows how John Washington might have earned the name TOWN DESTROYER, but the story does not indicate any Indian bestowing on him the name.

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How was this report by T.M. found?

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This story was in

President Thomas Jefferson’s library collection

which he then donated to the Library of Congress.

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Thomas Jefferson explains he received this story

from a Mr. King, minister plenipotentiary

in the court of London in 1803,

who purchased it from a bookseller,

and somehow the bookseller got it from

Lord Oxford who desired a report from a Thomas Mathew,

a report he wrote 30 years after the incident,

 to unravel the details how this incident

led to the Indian Wars

which led in part to Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion of 1675-1676.

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See this report written by Thomas Mathew reproduced in the Introduction, pages xxi to xxx of    A History of the Valley of Virginia by Samuel Kercheval (1833; 3rd ed. 1902)

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Thomas Jefferson wondered over the initials T.M.

President Jefferson did not know that T.M., the author of the story was Thomas Mathew.

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Jefferson wrote:

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“It appears to have been written by a person 

intimately acquainted with its

origin, progress and conclusion,

thirty  years after it took place,

and when the passion of the day had  subsided,

and reason might take a cool

and deliberate review of the  transaction.

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It was written, too, not for public eye,

but to satisfy the  desire of minister Lord Oxford…

and  he subscribes

the initials of his name T. M.

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Whether the records  of the time, (if they still exist) ,

with the aid of these circumstances, 

will show what his name was,

remains for further inquiry.”

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Maryland Historical Magazine Volume 36, 1941 ,  indicates who T.M. was — Thomas Mathew, and the report discusses his story.

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T.M.’S WILD STORY ITSELF

This is the story that shows how John Washington might have earned the name TOWN DESTROYER, but the story does not indicate any Indian bestowing on him the name.

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The story told by T.M.  in his own words: Introduction, pages xxi to xxx from the book, A History of the Valley of Virginia by Samuel Kercheval (1833; 3rd ed. 1902)

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The source for who TM was and some analysis of the story : Maryland Historical Magazine Volume 36, 1941

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See Another link: “Mathew’s Narrative,” in Charles M. Andrews, ed., Narratives of the Insurrections, 1675-1690, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1915), 17.

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FORT SUSQUEHANNOCK  – an Indian Fort

The Susquehannock Fort at mouth of Piscataway Creek, eastern shore Maryland, sitting across the Potomac River from a future Mt Vernon.

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fort susquehannock mockleymap

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This fort went under seige for 6 weeks.

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By then the whites were exhausted

and not feeling so wonderful about what they did earlier.

What they did earlier

was to kill those 10 Indian Chiefs (other accounts state 6)

who came outside of the fort in peace to parley.

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Then the rest of the Indians

hunkered in their fort for a 6 week siege.

Finally at night the Susquehannocks escaped.

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The Whites had a motivated enemy.

John Washington got a rebuke from Gov Berkeley.

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And Trent of Maryland got a penalty

from the MD colony legislature.

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But the Indians? They weren’t done with this yet.

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Excellent Source:  Maryland Historical Magazine Volume 36, 1941 .

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Here is another  link  which is politically charged but it does reference some points and chronology of what happened. See link.

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A picture of this fort was drawn by contemporary eyes at the time. See the picture in:  Maryland Historical Magazine Volume 36, 1941    :

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“… in 1677 there was a Royal Commission of Investigation.  In 1910 Professor Wertenbaker found a map of the Susquehannock Fort (Fig. 1) in the British Public Record Office.

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Click on maps supplied by   Maryland Historical Magazine Volume 36, 1941  .

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fort susquehannock mockleymap fort susquehannock archeology diagram fort susquehannock overview

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To find Fort Susquehannock,

click on upper right corner square icon.

This will open a new tab window.

 

On top left corner

you will see a magnifying glass icon.

 

Click on that and type Fort Susquehannock

and press enter or return.

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Running Down a Footnote and Challenging it

When trying to find the source for the claim John Washington was called Conotocaurius (many spellings) aka “Town Destroyer,”  I was surprised the search ended with nothing.

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First, I began with David Preston’s book, Braddock’s Defeat, page 26, who writes:

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“He [George Washington] signed it with his Iroquoian moniker, “Connotaurcarious” (“town taker” or “devourer of villages”), which dated back to his great-grandfather John Washington, who had been involved in the brutal murders of five Susquehannock Indian emissaries in a 1675 war.”

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David Preston’s footnote sites  several sources.

One was George Washington’s papers.  And we checked those references here.

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Another was Fred Anderson’s, “George Washington Remembers: Reflections on the French and Indian War.”  Did GW himself say his great grandfather was given the nickname?  Anyone who has read this book, please let us know.

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The 3rd source listed in David Preston’s footnote, sites:

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Pages 115-155 in an anthology of essays, “George Washington and the Virginia Backcountry,” edited by Warren R Hofstra.

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That led me to J. Frederick Fauz, the contributing writer of those pages 115-155.

 

He wrote the essay, “Engaged in Enterprises Pregnant with Terror: George Washington’s Formative Years among the Indians. “

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The short bio provided at the back of the book, in part, states:

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“J. Frederick Fausz  is an ethno historian of Anglo-Indian relations in the 17th Century Chesapeake  and of fur trading in colonial America.  He received his Ph.D. in early American History from the College of William and Mary and served as assistant editor of The Complete Works of John Smith.”

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The footnote in Dr Fausz’ essay is at the end of each paragraph, so it is vague what the part of the paragraph the footnote proves.

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Dr Fauz’ footnote, sites Douglas Southall Freeman’s George Washington, volume 1, pages 22-25.

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No where does Freeman state that the Susquehannock called John Washington the nickname or its equivalent definition Town Destroyer.

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We end this search with no proof.

But then, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

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So we remain open to continue the search.

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LINKS about John Washington

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Page 28 about Lt Col John Washington,

Archaeological studies of the Susquehannock Indians of Pennsylvania by Cadzow, Donald A published 1936   Pa Historical Commission Volume III  Harrisburg

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Washington family tree http://www.archives.com/genealogy/president-washington.html

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page 414 start of info on John Washington

page 425 pictures of some descendents

Ancestral records and portraits : a compilation from the archives of Chapter I, the Colonial Dames of America, 1910

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RESEARCH

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Charles A Hoppin, The Washington Ancestry and Records of the McClain, Johnson, and Forty Other Colonial American Families (Greenfield, Ohio, 1932) “This work, limited to three hundred copies, was printed for Edward Lee McClain, Greenfield, Ohio by the Yale university press, in January 1932.”

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A speech from Half King addressing Lt Gov Dinwiddie does not mention Town Destroyer or any of its variant spellings.  See page 31 of book: MINUTES, PROVINCIAL COUNCIL PENNSYLVANIA, from the organization to the termination  of the proprietary government. published by the state. vol. vi. containing the proceedings of council from. April 2d, 1754, to January 29th, 1756, both days included. Harrisburg:  printed by Theo. Fenn & Co 1851, and Founders Online link mentions same letter, from George Washington to James Hamilton, 24 April 1754 

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Source: Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants, A History of Frederick County, Virginia (ILLUSTRATED) From its Formation in 1738 to 1908 Compiled Mainly from Original Records of Old Frederick County, now Hampshire, Berkeley, Shenandoah, Jefferson, Hardy, Clarke, Warren, Morgan and Frederick…..by  T. K. Cartmell Clerk of the Old County Court

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Susquehannock Fort at the mouth of Piscataway Creek, eastern shore Maryland

Source Maryland Historical Magazine Volume 36, 1941

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An ancestor of Robert E Lee and Zachary Taylor, Major Isaac Allerton in 1667 served under Colonel John Washington, great-grandfather of our first president George, in order to subdue Susquehannock and Doeg Indians…        See Source.

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ORIGINAL NARRATIVES OF EARLY AMERICAN HISTORY REPRODUCED UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE
AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION  General Editor, J. FRANKLIN JAMESON, Ph.D., LL.D., LlTT.D.  DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORICAL RESEARCH IN THE  CARNEGIE INSTITUTION OF WASHINGTON …..   NARRATIVES OF THE INSURRECTIONS 1675-1690 EDITED BY CHARLES M. ANDREWS, Ph.D., L.H.D. FAKNAM PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN HISTORY IN YALE UNIVERSITY WITH THREE FACSIMILES CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS NEW YORK  1915

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One of many historicals signs for the Sullivan Expedition started 18 June 1779

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From a Founders Online Editorial Note:

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David Humphreys wrote GW from France on 30 Sept. 1784 about the utility of having a biography of George Washington, particularly one written by GW himself. In early 1785 Humphreys began suggesting himself as a possible biographer, to which GW agreed (Humphreys to GW, 15 Jan. 1785GW to Humphreys, 25 July 1785). Humphreys apparently started work on the biography when he visited Mount Vernon in the late summer of 1786 (Zagarri, Humphreys’ Life, description begins Rosemarie Zagarri, ed. David Humphreys’ “Life of General Washington” with George Washington’s “Remarks.” Athens, Ga., 1991. description ends xix); but he must have written most of it after his return to Mount Vernon in November 1787, where he remained until GW traveled to New York in April 1789 to assume the presidency.

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More Humphrey links:

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http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/04-03-02-0123

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https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/04-01-02-0362#GEWN-04-01-02-0362-fn-0003

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https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/04-02-02-0074#GEWN-04-02-02-0074-fn-0001 .

 

REMARKS, 1787–1788

These are George Washington’s remarks on Humphrey’s biography draft from the Founders Online web site.

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Sulgrave Manor link

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George Washington National Monument’s page on John Washington

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