FORT SELLERS

This small stockade was situate near the junction of Patterson's Creek and the North Branch River in what is now Frankfort District, Mineral County, West Virginia. It has usually been called Fort Sellars, and that designation will be used here, but evidence that any person by the name of Sellars owned land or lived in the vicinity of the fort is lacking. It has been stated by many writers that George Washington surveyed land for Elias Sellars at the mouth of Patterson's Creek in 1748, but there seems to be nothing to show he ever surveyed any land at all at this place and if he did, it was not in 1748. Washington traveled up Patterson's Creek in the spring of that year with James Genn, Fairfax's surveyor, but no surveying was done at the mouth of the Creek at that time. Genn surveyed the Fairfax Creek lots later in 1748, but Washington was not with him. Washington was not qualified to conduct surveys in 1748, as he did not become a licensed surveyor until the next year. In July of 1749, he received appointment as the official surveyor for Culpeper County.
The confusion relative to the survey for Elias Sellars apparently arises from the fact that on April 1, 1748, Washington participated with Genn in a survey of Lot No. 7 on the South Fork River above present Moorefield. Washington's diary states that Harman Shoker and Elias Sellars (Cellers) were living on the lot at the time of the survey. Hence if in 1748 any survey work was done for Elias Sellars in which Washington participated, it was performed more that fifty miles from the mouth of Patterson's Creek.
In May, 1748, Lot No. 22 of the Fairfax Patterson's Creek survey was laid off by James Genn. This was the tract situate at the mouth of the Creek, bordering that stream on the east and the North Branch river on the north. Thomas Lord Fairfax conveyed this parcel of land to his nephew, Phillip Martin, by deed dated June nth of that year. Martin retained possession of the property until August 8, 1769, when he leased it to John Hartley. It was upon this lot that the fort was undoubtedly built.
The first intimation that the Virginia authorities contemplated building a fort at the mouth of the Creek is contained in a letter by Washington to Lieutenant Colonel Adam Stephen dated December 3, 1755. It was suggested to Stephen that he take a party of men from Fort Cumberland and examine the hill at the mouth of Patterson's Creek as Washington was of the notion it would be a very good place upon which to erect a fort. Stephen must have quickly attended to this order, for on December 21st, he reported without enthusiasm to Washington that he found the valley at the mouth of Patterson's Creek to be only eight hundred yards wide from hill to hill, and that he did not think the territory there or any place in the vicinity would make a good location for a fort.
But Washington was undeterred by Stephen's report. ON January 9, 1756, he odored Stephen, who was then at Winchester, to proceed to Fort Cumberland and when he reached Patterson's Creek, he was to carefully examine the ground around Ashby's fort and from there down to the mouth of the Creek to determine if he could find a convenient place to locate a fort. Colonel Stephen must have fixed upon a site near the mouth of the Creek, for by late March the fort had been built. On April 22nd, Washington advised Governor Dinwiddie that an officer and thirty men guarding stores at a "small fort which we have at the mouth of Patterson's Creek" had been attacked by a party of French and Indians and after a considerable skirmish, the enemy had been driven off. On May 18th, Paymaster Alexander Boyd was instructed by Washington to pay "the detachment at the Mouth of the Creek".
The dimensions of this fort is not known, but it was probably the same size of Fort Ashby, the stockade being ninety feet square. The place did not figure too prominently in Washington's plans for the defense of the frontier for on May 18th, he wrote Colonels Stephen stating he wished it were possible to remove the stores at the mouth of Patterson's Creek to Ashby's fort. Stephen was further told that if he found it impracticable to remove the supplies stored there, then the was to make the fort as strong as possible and to strengthen the garrison. He was also instructed to "put a more experienced officer than Mr. Brockenbrough (Lieut. Austin Brockenbrough, 10th Company, Virginia Regiment) at it, whose youth perhaps may be a means of his doing something inconsistent."
This stockade was one of the three defenses built along Patterson's Creek during the Indian War. When built, it was along or near the road leading from Winchester to Fort Cumberland, as troops and convoys traveled down the Creek to its mouth, then forded the North Branch so as to reach Cresap's road to Will's Creek. By the summers of 1756, the road leading from Fort Ashby up Turner's Run (formerly Cloverlick) to Kramer's at present Short Gap, following generally the course of West Virginia 28, and thence to Fort Cumberland, had been opened and the road down the Creek to its mouth had somewhat fallen into disuse as a route to the Maryland fort. There was thus a lessened need to maintain the fort at the mouth of the Creek. The date of its abandonment, however, is not known.
It has been said that Fort Sellars was located on the east side of the Creek, which would have placed it on the northern end of Creek Ridge. Such a location appears highly unlikely because of the steep climb which would have been required to reach it from the Creek and it would have removed the garrison from the vicinity of the ford across the North Branch which the place was designed to guard. The probability is that the fort was located about the center of the present village of Patterson Creek midway between Creek Ridge to the east and the high ground to the west, which would have placed it on Lot No. 22 of the Fairfax Patterson's Creek Survey.

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