|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: Series 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.