Ohio History Journal








On October 5, 1770, George Washington set out

on his historic journey to the Ohio country. This jour-

ney was made in the interest of the Virginia soldiers

who had fought in the Indian wars, and had been

promised western lands as a reward for their services.

He arrived at Fort Pitt on October 17th. Here he ob-

tained two boats: a large one for himself and seven com-

panions, and a canoe for the two Indians. On October

20th all was ready and the sturdy boatmen began their

journey down the beautiful Ohio to the mouth of the

great Kanawha.

February 22, 1932, was the bicentennial anniver-

sary of the birth of George Washington. From this

date and continuing till Thanksgiving day of 1932 there

was a series of celebrations all over the country in honor

of this great American. The major and final celebra-

tion of the States of Ohio and West Virginia was the

reenacting of this journey down the Ohio. As Pennsyl-

* In the preceding contribution an attempt has been made to present the

George Washington Bicentennial River Pageant from the viewpoint of

those who witnessed it and the various local celebrations on the Ohio and

Virginia shores. Fortunately one of the actors in the crew of the larger

boat, E. S. Sindlinger, representing Captain William Crawford, kept on

the entire voyage an account of the experiences of the voyagers and the

celebration as witnessed by him. We take great pleasure in presenting this

in full. Ed.


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vania did not share in this event it was impossible to

start the journey in Pittsburgh, and for this reason it

began two miles above East Liverpoool on October

21, 1932.

Characters were selected to represent the ten mem-

bers of Washington's party. They were not arrayed in

brilliant uniforms, but were comfortably clothed in the

pioneer costume of that day. The Indians were properly

costumed and bedecked with war-bonnets of eagle

feathers. A boat was procured for the party and a

canoe for the Indians. One of the boys who portrayed

an Indian character had his own canoe painted and

striped so that it made a striking appearance. The boat,

a twenty-eight-foot motor launch, was obtained at

Steubenville, Ohio. It was painted, equipped with large

sweeps, and as nearly as possible made like the craft

used by Washington. Of course Washington did not

use a motor launch nor were there any locks crossing

the river in those days. Therefore, not having the cur-

rent, other means were necessary in order to follow the

schedule made by Washington. The men were provided

with guns, powder-horns, tents and camping equipment.

Every care was taken by those who planned this

journey that the stops and camps made by Washington

one hundred and sixty-two years ago should be made on

the corresponding date of this trip. Every act and deed

of the Washington party of 1770 was to be made by this

Washington party of 1932 and would form a part of the

program presented at their relative camps.

Friday, October 21, 1932. The river trip began at

2:15 p. m. two miles above East Liverpool, Ohio, as the

ten men impersonating the characters of Washington

Washington and the Ohio in 1770 59

Washington and the Ohio in 1770      59

and his party left the Ohio shore in their twenty-eight-

foot launch. Led by the Indian guides in their canoe,

the party first landed on the West Virginia side to scout

around and seek out a camp site. The Indians had then

gone to the Ohio side and, by the Indian sign language,

beckoned us to cross over, where suitable place was to

be had on that shore. On our way over the guides met

us and we gave them a barrel of biscuit which they

buried on the upper end of a little island above East

Liverpool, in order to lessen the weight of the boat. We

went ashore and set up camp where there awaited

several thousand people who had come out for this initial

stop in spite of the cold winds that were blowing. After

making our camp we cooked a meal of steak, potatoes

and bread.   Our camp activities were considerably

hindered by several hundred school children who, in their

excitement, pressed close about us.

That evening we were the guests of the Daughters

of the American Revolution at a banquet in honor of

this event. A wonderful program had been prepared

and the speakers were noted men and women of the

State who were much concerned with the success of this

journey. The people of East Liverpool deserve great

credit for the successful start to this river pageant.

Saturday, October 22, 1932. At 9 o'clock on the

morning of October 22nd, we left East Liverpool for

Mingo Junction, Ohio, where we were due at 2:30 in

the' afternoon to take part in what proved to be one of

the largest and most colorful programs of the entire

trip. An enthusiastic greeting was sent out to us by

the people of Wellsville, who lined the banks as we went

by. An Indian in a canoe came out and presented us

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with letters from organizations of the city and the

mayor wishing us a pleasant voyage. We were greeted

by hundreds along the shore at Empire, Toronto, New

Cumberland and Steubenville. In going by Brown's

Island we scraped a sand-bar and slightly damaged the

rear of the boat, which was repaired in the evening after

the program. We arrived at Mingo Junction a little

early and tied up to some barges to await the signal to

approach. The weather was perfect, warm and bright

and a finer day could not be had. As we approached the

landing the Indian chiefs came down to the shore and

invited us to come and eat broth with them. We went

ashore and they took us to their village a short distance

back from the river. Here we found an Indian village

of twenty tepees erected in a semi-circle and in front of

each was a kettle suspended by a tripod over the fire. In

the center was a larger camp-fire for the use of the tribe.

There were over two hundred young braves and maidens

in this village and all were in Indian costume which

made a very impressive sight. This required quite a bit

of space which was roped off for the occasion. On all

sides of this enclosure, except the path which led from

the river, were packed some ten thousand interested

people to witness this historic pageant.  Temporary

stands were erected to the rear and on one side to ac-

commodate a part of this crowd. This pageant at Mingo

Junction consisted of two parts, the first was that of

Washington's trip down the river and the second was

that of his return trip. There had been much speaking

and singing before our arrival, a part of which we could

hear on the river through the loud speakers which were

installed. After greetings by the Chiefs Half King,

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Washington and the Ohio in 1770     61

Thunder Cloud and Logan, Chief Half King told his

people of our trip down the Ohio and they wished us a

safe return. The young braves and maidens gave the

friendship dance and as we were about to leave a runner

came in from the south with a message that two white

traders had been killed in the Grape Vine village on

Captina Creek. The Indians feared for our safety but

Washington said we must go on. The Indians sang the

farewell song as we returned to our boat.

They resumed their village life and in a short time

we came Back to their village to present the second part

of the pageant. In this second part the Indian Sorceress

warned her people against being so friendly with the

white man, saying that he wished only to steal their

land. The Chiefs said her ravings were foolish, that

the White Chief bought the land and was their friend.

Then followed the sacred dance and the peace-pipe cere-

mony and our party left for the West Virginia side

where we mounted horses for the return trip to Fort


Sunday, October 23, 1932. At 10:30 a. m. we left

Mingo Junction for Wheeling, West Virginia. The site

as shown by Washington in his diary for this date was

a short distance above Wheeling but we asked to con-

tinue on to Wheeling to take part in the program they

had prepared. The weather on this day was not so

favorable as it rained until noon but by 2 p. m. it had

cleared considerably. We erected a temporary shelter on

the boat by using the tents and poles. Many people were

gathered at Brilliant, Tiltonville, Yorkville and Martin's

Ferry even though the weather was bad. As we neared

U. S. Dam No. 12, just above Wheeling, we were met

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by a gayly decorated cruiser which acted as escort to the

Wheeling wharf. As we left the dam, whistles in all

directions, from boats and factories on both sides of the

river, seemed to break loose in a contest of noise. We

landed just below the wharf promptly at 2:30, set our

tents and made a fire by which we again cooked a little

food. We were then taken to the speaking platform in

a park nearby where a short program of speeches took

place. The enthusiasm and spirit with which we were

received in Wheeling was a source of joy to the en-

tire party.

Monday, October 24, 1932. At 10:30 a. m. we left

Wheeling, West Virginia, for Powhatan, Ohio, situated

at the mouth of Captina Creek. We enjoyed more per-

fect weather, bright and warm all day long. Again we

greeted the crowds who were gathered at Bellaire, Ben-

wood, Shadyside and McMechen. At Moundsville we

stopped, ate our lunch and waited for the school children

to come, as it was just noon and we had but eight miles

to go. We rounded the bend and arrived at Powhatan

at 2:15 p. m., going first to the West Virginia shore

while the Indians explored the Ohio side. By their signs

they told us to come to that side where we could put up

our tents. After we made our camp Washington dis-

patched one Indian and a scout up the creek to investi-

gate the rumor we had received at Mingo Junction of

the killing of two white traders. They returned in the

company of an Indian Chief and reported the death of

only one white man who had been accidentally drowned.

The Chief came into our camp and there followed a short

pageant in which he and his tribe offered peace to

Washington and his party and wished them a safe re-

Washington and the Ohio in 1770 63

Washington and the Ohio in 1770      63

turn. Following this were several interesting and noted

speakers. A short time previous to our landing the

ladies of the D. A. R. had unveiled a marker near this

site in honor of Washington.

The part of the Indian Chief was played by Robert

Brown of Powhatan, who is widely known for his great

collection of Indian pieces and relics. That evening our

entire party visited his home and he delighted in show-

ing us this remarkable collection.

Tuesday, October 25, 1932. We left Powhatan at

9:10 a. m. for Fly, Ohio. This was another beautiful

day. Probably one of the prettiest spots on the Ohio is

just above Clarington where those hills just seem to

make a cradle for that river and what a scene they pre-

sent! There was quite a crowd at Clarington and we

tarried there a short time. When we neared Hannibal

Mills there developed a slight defect in the universal of

the motor and we stopped to have it repaired. While

there they asked that we come up to the Post-Office,

and as we walked up the one street probably fifty people

gathered and Washington responded with a short talk.

To me it was these small but interested groups who con-

tributed much toward the success of the trip. Our boat

repaired, we then crossed over to New Martinsville

about two miles below where a large crowd waited. We

ate our dinner in New Martinsville and stayed there for

a few minutes as it was a good crowd. Next, at Paden

City, West Virginia, we were treated to a most striking

reception. As we neared the landing where six people

were waiting, we pulled in close and just as we were

about to leave there came from seemingly nowhere about

300 school children with a large picture of Washington

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and the American flag. We landed and this time I am

sure it was we who paid tribute to this fine patriotic

group. We landed at Fly at 2:45 p. m. A great crowd

had gathered, having come chiefly in machines and 'buses

which were parked 100 strong near at hand. We set

our tents, started a camp-fire and stayed by our camp

while we enjoyed a program of speeches and songs by

the school children who were there in a great number.

After the program we scouted around, went over to

Sistersville and then came back to our camp to end the

day's activities.

Wednesday, October 26, 1932. We left Sistersville

at 9:15 a. m. for Marietta, Ohio. This was our longest

hop of the trip, about thirty-four miles. About five

miles below we stopped at New Matamoras where some

five hundred people had gathered. The American Legion

of that place were on hand and greeted us with a gun

salute as we rowed in to the landing. A few speeches,

and here ended another of those enthusiastic receptions.

Small crowds were on hand at Ben's Run, U. S. Dam

No. 16 and at various other places along the way. We

arrived at St. Mary's at noon and as we were a little

ahead of schedule we stopped and ate our dinner. About

two thousand people were gathered here and they surely

gave us a royal welcome. The Marietta pageant was to

be presented at U. S. Lock No. 17, about five miles above

Marietta. We arrived there at 2 p. m. and when we

were given the signal we approached and landed at the

upper end of the wall. The Indian Chiefs led us to

their village and pointed out a site where we could make

camp. Temporary stands were erected in a V shape and

the stage was set at the open end of the V. I say stage

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Washington and the Ohio in 1770     65

because such it really was; they had tables, chairs, cur-

tains (which were used as screens), and pine branches

scattered about. The program comprised seven differ-

ent scenes representing the period 1758-1788 in the life

of Washington. The parts were taken by over 200 per-

sons who, in their costly Indian, pioneer and colonial

costumes, made up one of the most elaborate and color-

ful pageants of the entire journey. Some of these people

were sixty and seventy years of age, and how they did

show up in those flashy costumes! The closing number

of this program was a parade of all characters, led by

our party, down by the stands and back which certainly

made an impressive sight. Just as the program closed

an awful storm came up and the four of us who took the

boat to Marietta were drenched. That five miles to

Marietta was rough, wet and windy and we had to

pump water all the way, but I was glad to be one of the

four as it helped us to appreciate the good fortune ex-

perienced through the rest of the trip.

Thursday, October 27, 1932. We left Marietta at

11 a. m. for Parkersburg, West Virginia, a distance of

only fourteen miles. This jaunt was uneventful except

for a rough and windy ride. The weather threatened

all day but it did not rain until 2 p. m. as we neared

Parkersburg. We stopped at Belpre just opposite Park-

ersburg for lunch. Just as we started over to Parkers-

burg it rained, but it cleared quickly; the sun came out

and we had another fine day for the program. We landed

below the wharf and were greeted by the Indian Chiefs

whose village was erected on the bank. After greetings

and dances by the Indians, our part was mainly to stand

by and enjoy the program which was made up of vari-

Vol. XLII--5

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ous important events in the life of Washington. A high

platform which was nicely decorated, and a loud-speak-

ing system brought every act within sight and hearing

of the great crowd which had gathered for this event.

Following the introduction of all characters from the

platform we were transferred to the city park where

ground was broken for the erection of a marker in honor

of George Washington. I might say that this marker

was a stone taken from Washington Bottom, a tract of

land which had been owned by Washington, just south

of Parkersburg.

There were no dull moments in Parkersburg, as it

was their chief aim to see that our stay there was a

pleasant one. Not just that day but on to the next and

until we were out of their reach they made it truly


Friday, October 28, 1932. We left Parkersburg at

8 a. m. for Long Bottom but there were a few stops to

be made enroute, hence the early start. At 8:30 a. m.

we landed on the Ohio side just opposite Blennerhasset

Island where Mrs. Hannah of Parkersburg had invited

us to stop and have breakfast. She owns a summer

cottage at that point and had gone there at 6:30 in

the morning, with her help, to prepare our breakfast.

That certainly was a treat and much did we appreciate

the trouble she went to for our party. We then left

for Hockingport where we arrived at 11:15 and were

met by quite a crowd who had come from the surround-

ing country. Several noted speakers made up a short

program at this point and the patriotic spirit displayed,

left nothing to be desired. We were then invited to the

home of Mrs. Humphrey, who had prepared a lunch for

Washington and the Ohio in 1770 67

Washington and the Ohio in 1770     67

us, before continuing on to Long Bottom. We arrived

at Long Bottom at 2 p. m. A short distance up stream

we were met by the Indians who came out in their canoes

to escort us to the landing, which had been prepared,

leading to a space roped off for our camp. There fol-

lowed a short pageant between the Indians and our

party, which ended with the friendship dance and the

smoking of the peace pipe by the Chiefs and Wash-

ington. About fifty yards back from our camp there

was a high cliff of rock upon which was printed in bold

yellow letters "Washington and Kiashuta Camp Sites."

This will be seen there for many years to come. Imme-

diately in front of this cliff were assembled the speakers

and a band who presented a very interesting program.

Here also the members of the D. A. R. unveiled a marker

in honor of Washington's visit to the Ohio country.

Following the program at this point we went about ten

miles further down the river to Ravenswood, where we

were quartered for the night.

Saturday, October 29, 1932. We did not have to

travel any on this day as our schedule for Saturday and

Sunday had been changed a little to permit us to take

part in the programs prepared by Ravenswood and

Pomeroy. As we had come to Ravenswood the evening

before, we spent the morning walking about the town

and dressed in civilian clothes for a change. At 1:30

p. m. we took our boat and went a short distance up

the river then turned and came back to the landing

where the people of Ravenswood were gathered for the

program. We landed and set up our camp after which

a few in Indian costume came and extended a welcome.

Following our camp activities we formed a parade, led

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by the band, and marched through the town to the Grace

Episcopal Church where an elaborate program had been

prepared. This was the first of the programs to be held

in a church and the speaking and songs made a very

effective service. This program was concluded by un-

veiling a tablet on the church lawn by the Ravenswood

Chapter of the D. A. R. We then marched to the high

school where another marker was unveiled by the State

in honor of this great American.

Since circumstances necessitated our being in Ravens-

wood two nights we were made to feel that we were

well acquainted with the town and the people. We left

certain that we would remember their town for years

to come.

Sunday, October 30, 1932. We left Ravenswood at

9 a. m. for Pomeroy, Ohio. The weather was fine, clear

and crisp and those bends in the river presented more

beauty. There were many people to meet us at U. S.

Dams Nos. 22, 23 and 24 and also at Antiquity and

Racine. About two miles above Pomeroy we stopped

for a few minutes on the West Virginia side as we were

ahead of schedule. While there a boat went by and two

of the boys started out to take the rollers in the canoe.

They only started, however, because they turned it over

in three feet of water to take a good soaking and also

bring about our first mishap of the trip. Immediately

upon landing at Pomeroy the two Indians went to

change clothes. Although there was no scheduled pro-

gram at Pomeroy it seemed that the entire town was

there on the bank. An Indian Chief came down to meet

us then we proceeded up the landing where the mayor

of the city made a short talk and some lively music was

Washington and the Ohio in 1770 69

Washington and the Ohio in 1770     69

presented by the High School Band. After dinner we

were taken to Point Pleasant by machine to watch the

rehearsal and mark out a landing-place to be used on

the morrow. This was the first automobile ride we had

enjoyed during the trip and we certainly appreciated the

kindness of these gentlemen, namely, Mr. Compton and

Mr. Reed.

Monday, October 31, 1932. We left Pomeroy at

10:45 in the morning for Point Pleasant, West Virginia,

a distance of fifteen miles. The day was very warm

and bright but clouded up some as we neared the point.

This last hop was somewhat quiet as there were no river

towns between these two places. We arrived at U. S.

Dam No. 25 at 12 noon and as we had only four miles

to go we waited there until 1 o'clock. We went down

along the Ohio side and then pulled over in front of the

point and landed at 2 p. m. We unloaded our camping

equipment and went up to Tu-Endie-Wei park where

several thousand waited to witness this final celebration.

Temporary stands were erected and facing the log

house which was very nicely decorated for the event.

In between was a large space marked off for the pro-

gram and at the south side of this space we made our

camp. In front of the log house was the speakers' stand

and on one side was erected a stockade used as a screen

for the characters of the pageant. The Indians came

out from their tepee village, talked with our Indian

guides, then received Washington in their camp. They

presented a number of dances and offered peace cere-

monies. We then went to our tents and watched the

rest of the program, which consisted of "The Battle of

Point Pleasant," "Death of Chiefs Cornstalk and Red

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Hawk," "The Arrival of Daniel Boone and Ann

Bailey," and other events which were of particular in-

terest to the people of that locality. Then followed some

fine speakers, our introduction from the platform and

the program transferred to the Shadle farm (Mount

Vernon on Kanawha) where the Daughters of the

American Revolution unveiled a state marker to of-

ficially close this Washington Bicentennial River Pag-

eant. Just as the program ended at the point it com-

menced to rain and as we had to take our tents and

camping equipment to the boat we were unable to go to

the Shadle farm, much to our regret, as we understand

it is a beautiful place. As this was Hallowe'en we had

a great evening, and the spirit of these Point Pleasant

people provided a fitting close for this remarkable and

historic journey. On the morning of November 1st, the

boys prepared to leave for their homes up the river. I

stayed with Mr. Loy and helped him back up the river

with the boat, as it was necessary that he have help in

locking through the dams and taking care of the canoe.

The three and one-half days required for our return

trip is another very interesting story to me. We stopped

at new places and met many more people. One of these

stops, our first one, was a little place named Apple

Grove, Ohio, where we stayed with some people that I

had heard of back home. They certainly made us feel

at home and the welcome given us would equal any of

the others through the entire trip.

As for myself, upon landing at home at Brilliant,

Ohio, there ended one of the most thrilling yet educa-

tional and pleasant trips I had ever been privileged to

make. The hospitality accorded us everywhere, the

Washington and the Ohio in 1770 71

Washington and the Ohio in 1770              71

friendships and the experience gained, will long be re-


In closing this narrative it is fitting that we voice

our appreciation of those who are responsible in the

states of Ohio and West Virginia for making this trip

possible, for those sincere and patriotic persons who fol-

lowed the trip from point to point and served its every

need and also to those countless persons who served on

committees in their respective towns for the success of

their program.

Name                     Address           Representing

L. R. Webb ......... Steubenville, Ohio

Roy W. Lewis ...... St. Clairsville, Ohio  George Washington

DeMar Erskine...... Steubenville, Ohio

L. C. Banner........ Steubenville, Ohio.. Dr. James Craik

E. S. Sindlinger ..... Brilliant, Ohio ..... Capt. William


Frank Claig ......... Mingo Junction, O.

George McClister .... Mingo Junction, O. Joseph Nicholson

A. Abels............ Mingo Junction, O.

Hiram Eathorn...... Mingo Junction, O. William Harrison

DeMar Erskine...... Steubenville, Ohio

A. Abels............ Mingo Junction, O. Robert Bell

George McClister .... Mingo Junction, O.

Victor Pekruhn...... Steubenville, Ohio. Charles Morgan

Turner Loy......... Steubenville, Ohio.. Daniel Reardon

Thomas Kincaid..... Steubenville, Ohio.. Indian called The


Mont Parr.......... Mingo Junction, O. Unnamed Indian



NOTE: L. R. Webb impersonated Washington from East Liverpool

to Mingo Junction. Roy Lewis, Esquire, took this part at Wheeling and

Powhatan Point. DeMar Erskine took the part from Sistersville to Point

Pleasant. George McClister took the place of Frank Claig from Wheeling

through the remainder of the voyage. Frank Claig represented Nicholson

from East Liverpool to Wheeling. Hiram Eathorn took the part of William

Harrison from Fly to Point Pleasant. DeMar Erskine took the part of

Harrison from East Liverpool to Fly. Frank Claig represented Joseph

Nicholson from East Liverpool to Mingo Junction. McClister and Abels

changed characters on leaving Mingo Junction.