George William Washington Diary

Transcribed by Walter and Roberta McJilton and Mrs. Carol J. Guth; © February 1999

George W. Washington (1809-1876) was a farmer in Hampshire County, VA/WV from 1834 until 1876. His home, named Ridgedale, was located in a large meander of the South Branch of the Potomac River five miles north of the town of Romney. Mr. Washington kept a daily journal while living at Ridgedale. One year of his journal is transcribed here. Xerox copies of the original diaries for the years 1868 and 1869 were found in the Romney Library. You may wish to view a sample page of the diary.

We have endeavored to copy the diary verbatim, but have found it advisable to add obvious punctuation that was possibly lost in the duplication process. It is very probable that we have misread some words and phrases. The names of people might have been wrongly interpreted. The diaries were written by Mr. Washington as a daily account of his farm and social activities. The diaries contain an accounting of monies owed to him and by him, and were meant to be personal not public records. The reason for our interest in this record is that our ancestor Samuel Alexander McJilton was indentured through the House of Refuge, an orphanage in Baltimore City, to Mr. Washington during this period. Samuel is referred to as "Sam" and we believe is included in the term "Boys" throughout the diaries. The list of occupants of Ridgedale was taken from the 1870 census, and their ages are adjusted for 1868.

     Washington, George W. 60
          Sarah            58  also called Sally
          Ettie            24
          George           19
          Robert M.        16
          Sallie           14
     Williams, Clark       27
     McJilton, Samuel      15
     O'Connor, Patrick     15
     Norwood, James        12
     Mathews, Margaret     48  (black)  Cook
          James             8  (mulatto)
          Elizabeth         1  (mulatto)
     Woods, Ellen          36  (black)  Laundress
          Esther           11  (black) 
          Oscar             8  (black)
          Wilson       Infant  (black)
          Boyd         Infant  (black)

A second boy from the Baltimore House of Refuge living with G. W. Washington was August Lefner. August is referred to as Gus and is also included as one of the Boys. August arrived by train on 14 March 1868 but is not listed in the 1870 census. We believe that he ran away from the Washington farm in 1869.

At the end of the diaries we have made a list of the people mentioned by Mr. Washington throughout the year. Although the spelling of the names has been checked with the 1870 WV census, misspellings are quite possible. The number references following each name refer to the month and day that person was mentioned in the journals. We have added footnotes at the end of some entries to provide additional information, which are inserted at the end that day's entry.

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