LONG BOTTOM — A ceremony commemorating the 250th Anniversary of George Washington’s journey to the Ohio Valley and encampment on the bank of the Shade River was held on Saturday in Long Bottom, Ohio. The event was hosted by members of the Return Jonathan Meigs Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at the site of a marker the group is credited with installing in 1932.
DAR members were joined by representatives of the Sons of the American Revolution from Meigs County, Ohio, and Point Pleasant, W.Va., and reenactors in a presentation highlighting the overnight stay of 38 year old George Washington on Oct. 28, 1770.
Washington’s trip from Virginia took him down the Ohio River. The journey lasted about nine weeks, and he meticulously recorded his travels in his diary. He and his party were there to explore the “western territory” when they encountered a native hunting party that included Seneca Chief Kiashuta of the Iroquois Nation. Washington and Chief Kiashuta were acquainted from Washinton’s previous trip to the area in 1753. The Chief invited them to camp with them that night on the bank of the Shade River in what is now Long Bottom, Ohio.
Return Jonathan Meigs DAR Regent Gina Tillis presented the history of the marker, saying “This visit of George Washington to the area of Long Bottom in Meigs County was first commemorated in October 1932, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington. A local celebration coincided with the state bicentennial celebration commemorating Washington’s voyage on the Ohio River in 1770.”
Tillis included newspaper accounts of the establishment of the site, including one from The Tribune Telegraph of Pomeroy, Ohio that described the upcoming 1932 ceremonies:
“Probably the most unique of all the celebrations at the various camp sites of George Washington and his aides when he made a tour of the Ohio River territory in 1770 will be the unveiling of the camp site marker at Shade River (Long Bottom), Friday. The site is about fifteen miles from Pomeroy by highway and forty by the Ohio River.
This marker preserving the camp site of Washington’s visit to Meigs County will be unveiled by two lateral descendants of George Washington, both residents of Middleport. They are Miss Anna Washington Parks, descendant of Samuel Washington, and Mrs. Nannie Washington Moore, descendant of Charles Washington.
The location of the campsite to be marked is one of scenic beauty, a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Ray Pullins. Vine-clad rocks form a pleasing background for a natural stage and on the rocks are painted the words: ‘George Washington and Kiashuta Camp Site, October 28, 1770, Meigs County.’ The letters were painted on the rocks by Hoadley Swisher and L. E. Caruthers, who donated their services.”
Following the ceremony, the Pomeroy Tribune recorded:
“On the spot where Washington, the engineer, and Kiashuta, the Indian chief, camped on October 28th, 1770, a pageant was enacted dramatizing the landing of Washington on Ohio and Meigs County soil.
Kiashuta and warriors journeyed by canoe up the river, met Washington and his aides and escorted them to the campsite, along low bottom just below the mouth of Shade River. A pageant followed depicting the greeting of Washington and Kiashuta, who had met before; then the pipe of peace was smoked around the campfire.
Following the enactment of the little drama, a program was rendered in charge of the Return Jonathan Meigs chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, dedicating the marker of the camp site. Mrs. C. F. Rathburn, director of the Daughters of the American Revolution of South Eastern Ohio, presided and introduced the speakers.”
According to DAR records, the marker erected by the Return Jonathan Meigs Chapter, DAR during the 1932 ceremony was presented by Mrs. O.D. Dailey, director in charge of making state historic sites for the Daughters of the American Revolution in Ohio. It was accepted at the ceremony with remarks by Mrs. Alfred Elberfeld, then chapter regent. As the marker was unveiled, Mrs. Rathburn read the inscription on the marker.
“It is our privilege to gather today to commemorate Washington’s historic voyage and exploration of the wilderness along the Ohio River and his stop in what would later become known as Meigs county, Ohio,” Tillis concluded, and followed with the introduction of Kathy Dixon, Ohio DAR State Regent.
Dixon congratulated the group on the preservation of the site, and emphasized the importance of keeping history for future generations.
“This is a beautiful site for the marker,” Dixon said. “There are many parts of our history that need to be preserved, sites like this as well as stories that will be lost if they aren’t collected. We need to make an effort to preserve as much as we can for our children and grandchildren.”
She thanked the ceremony’s participants and those in attendance for coming to the commemoration, and encouraged everyone to continue their interest in history.
Regent Tillis recognized French Colony DAR of Gallipolis Regent Gwen McGuire, thanking her for her attendance.
The DAR extended a special thank you to Ken Appell, Long Bottom resident and neighbor of the marker site for his help in maintaining the marker.
Wesley Thoene as G. Washington closed the program with “Washington’s Prayer for our Nation,” taken from his Circular Letter to the Governors of the United States:
“ALMIGHTY GOD, I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have the United States in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation. Amen.”
The story of Washington’s 1770 visit to the Ohio wilderness, and his previous visit of 1753 will be presented in a later article.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Lorna Hart can be reached at L.Faudree.Hart@gmail.com.