South Branch Plat: 1769

by Terry Gruber

The following three images are portions making up a complete document taken from the Adam Stephen Papers, located at the Library of Congress on microfilm. They have been scanned from a photostatic copy made from the original microfilm. The film had numerous scratches, making it appear there are extra lines on the document. Fortunately, it is not too difficult to tell the lines of the document from the lines caused by the scratches.

The Images: click each to see enlarged view.

South Branch Plat (left)
South Branch Plat (right)
South Branch Plat (legend)

The images have been scanned so edges overlap, so that if one wanted to have a copy on paper, it could be easily done by aligning overlapping edges. An important feature that does not show clearly is, in the top right corner, a drawing of a house which is situated in the middle of the lot and is labeled "Dew's House"; Samuel Dew obtained the original grant. Also notable on the plat is the South Branch road (labeled "waggon road"), built around 1742 (see "Road Orders" article in this series).

From the wording on the plat, it appears that the owners were Messrs. Thomas and Joseph Wharton of Philadelphia. The brothers were owners of a large merchant business in Philadelphia; their extended family was involved in various business ventures stretching across the Atlantic. The Wharton brothers, during the early years of the 1760's, involved a part of their business transactions in subcontracting with the large Philadelphia firm of Plumstead and Franks. Plumstead and Franks were the supply contractors for the British army in Pennsylvania. The firm of Plumstead and Franks became familiar with Hampshire County because of their subcontracts with a few Virginians for supplies from the South Branch area. The Whartons may have learned of the land opportunities in Hampshire County through their own subcontracting efforts. Not only did the Whartons purchase land in the vicinity of Fort Pleasant (of which these plats are a part), but they owned land on Lunice Creek (digital images forthcoming on this site), on the lower Cacapon/North Rivers areas, and along Patterson Creek.

Adam Stephen, formerly a Lt. Col. in the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War, was involved in many speculative ventures, not only in land (especially in his home area around present Martinsburg, WV) but in selling wheat to the British army. At first, he was his own agent in selling the wheat, but later may have sold his crop to subcontractors of Plumstead and Franks, who may possibly have been the Whartons. It is not clear why Stephen had this plat. Two possibilities are that he was interested in purchasing the land or, which is more likely, he may have been acting as agent for the absentee owners.


The following is a transcription of the text which appears below the plat:


A[illegible, possibly some quantity] white oaks under the foot of a Mountain, one of them Marked SD. Being the Beginning corner to Lotts No 1&2.
Bfour white Oaks by the side of the Road & are at the foot of the Trough hill being the Beginning corner to Lotts No 3&4.
C[illegible] hickory two Red oak Saplings and a white Oak Sapling Being Beginning Corner to Lott No 5.
Dtwo Pines and two hickory Saplings on the side of the Trough hill being Beginning Corner to Lott No 6.
Etwo white Oaks Corner to Steenbergen standing in the upper part of a Rich Valley.

Lott No Acres
1182 Surveyed for Mr. Samuel Dew
2326 Do [ditto] for Do
382 1/2 Do for Messrs Thomas & Joseph Wharton
4272 Do for Mr. Samuel Dew
5344 Do for Messrs Thomas & Joseph Wharton
6402 Do for Do
total1608 1/2
The above are the plats of 6 tracts of Land Lying on the Waters of the Saw mill Run & Drains of the South Branch of Potowmack River in Hampshire County, Virginia Belonging to Messrs Thomas and Joseph Wharton of Philadelphia

Survey'd [illegible]

[signature illegible]
HC for Proprietor

Note No 5&6 Contains great Quantitys of timber Such as good Oak Blackwalnut & some large Pines hath good Meadow Land & Good upland [illegible]

The author welcomes your e-mail comments and questions: Terry Gruber

Copyright held by Rock Oak Historical Services. The author grants permission to individuals to copy or reprint this article for personal use only. Address requests for permission for mass distribution or publication to the author.

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