Bell Anthology - Draper Manuscripts

The Raymond M. Bell Anthology

The Draper Manuscripts
           Of great interest to historians and genealogists of 
      Washington County, Pennsylvania are the Draper Manuscripts, 
      State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
           The 1983 464-page Guide by Josephine L. Harper has 
      made access to the manuscripts more easily available with 
      its index of places and persons. Lyman C. Draper (1815-1891) 
      for a fifty-year period, beginning in about 1836, traveled 
      through the central and eastern parts of the United States 
           (1) interviewing old-timers, 
           (2) collecting old papers, 
           (3) corresponding with many persons, and 
           (4) copying old records. 
      He gathered many data on the late 1700s. 
           This is of special interest to Washington Counties, for 
      he found sources not available to historians such as Boyd 
      Crumrine. For example, indexed under Washington County are 
      references to 6 notebooks, under Colonel David Williamson 11 
      and under Absalom Baird 5. 
           There are 491 notebooks in all, which have been microfilmed 
      on 123 reels. They are available on interlibrary loan. One of 
      the most important series is SS, 5 volumes, the papers of 
      Colonel David Shepherd (1734-1795), commander of Fort Henry 
      (Wheeling, West Virginia), later sheriff and Virginia legislator. 
      Draper was given his papers which included: 
           Ohio County tax list 1778, 
           Lists of militia 1779, 
           Men serving under Colonel Daniel Brodhead 1781, 
           Much correspondence and many land records. 
      These are valuable for before 1781 the southwestern portion of 
      present-day Washington County was considered a part of Ohio 
      County, Virginia. 
           There are many data on the early families of the Wheeling 
      region and accounts of the attacks on Fort Henry, as well as other 
      episodes of the Revolution. 
           Other series dealing with Washington County are: 
               E  Brady and Wetzel papers         16 volumes 
               H  Brodhead papers                  3 
               S  Draper notes                    33
               NN Pittsburgh & NW Virginia papers 10
               ZZ Virginia papers                 16 
      There are many pages of interviews and letters dealing with 
      the attack on Rice's fort (north Claysville) in September 1782. 
      Included is the account of Jacob Leffler, Jr., one of the 
      defenders. This was written for Joseph Doddridge who used it 
      in his Notes. 
           There is a map of Rice's fort. Other maps in the papers 
      are the Wheeling area about 1800, Pennsylvania about 1750. 
           Draper copied Revolutionary pension applications, family 
      Bible records and some family histories. When interviewing an 
      old-timer, he asked for the place and date of birth, and the 
      names of the parents. 
           To go through the six series listed above takes many hours. 
      Much is given on the family of Colonel David Williamson (1752-
      1809). His daughter, Jane, was interviewed. There is material 
      on Samuel Mason (Washington County judge and Mississippi desperado), 
      Samuel Brady, Simon Girty and Daniel Boon (whose sister lived near 
      Brownsville). These persons from Washington made statements to 
      Draper: Thomas H. Baird, John Marshel, William McCluney, Jonathan 
      Leet and Isaac Bane. 
           The Manuscripts tell how the men dressed in the Revolution 
      and how to navigate the Ohio and Mississippi. There is also a song 
      of many stanzas sung after the 1782 Crawford defeat. 
           One of the interesting accounts is the story of George 
      Carpenter, who found an Indian asleep and spared his life. It 
      turned out that he was Ellinipisco (son of a chief) who later 
      saved Carpenter's life on two different occasions. Draper wrote: 
           Here is a lesson, from an untutored savage, of true nobility, 
           of profound generosity, of ss and worthy the imitation of men, 
           raised in civilized life. 
      This gold mine of history nuggets need careful study. 
                                             Raymond M. Bell 

This article was transcribed by Chris Purple of Bolingbrook, IL in February 1998.

Raymond M. Bell Anthology     Genealogy in Washington Co., PA

Published with permission of Raymond M. Bell.