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I am always interested in how well-known people in history may have had an impact on West Virginia. Here are three short stories about George Washington from the book, “West Virginia, That’s the Story,” compiled by the Pleasants County Library Board in 1995:

 

After the French and Indian War, Washington was given 30,000 acres of land in what is now the Mountain State. It was sort of a veteran’s bonus. Realizing the agricultural potential of his land, Washington leased parcels of it to settlers, with the stipulation that they plant certain crops. In 1774, William Bartlett leased 125 acres in what is now Berkeley County. In the lease, it was stated that Bartlett should plant 100 apple trees, and keep them well pruned and fenced from animals.

 

A few years before the Civil War, a farmer named Miller planted 16 acres of apples and peaches, also in Berkeley. By the time the war ended, he had over 6,000 mature trees, and the state’s first commercial orchard. Miller shipped most of his fruits to markets in the east, but much of it was baked into pies by Quaker women in the neighborhood, who gained such a reputation that the area was dubbed “Apple Pie Ridge,” a nickname it still holds today. This region is named in the history of some Calhoun families. The cherry tree story is most likely a myth, but as for me, apple pie will now become a part of celebrating Washington’s birthday.

 

Another story began as a young man stepped nimbly across a brook and fought through underbrush as he climbed up a high wooded mountain. When he reached the top, he breathed deeply--and then gazed about in wonder at fertile valleys twined by fresh streams and at lofty mountains and unbroken green forests. He also knew that beneath this incredible land were rich mineral deposits. He organized his surveying tools and began to work. As he worked, a dream was born, a dream of wealth and greatness for this virgin land. He resolved to be a part of it. It was during the mid-1700’s and the young man had no way of knowing that this most western part of his native state would one day be called--West Virginia.

 

This young dreamer went on to become the guiding hand of his country and his qualities were such that his countrymen would call him the “Father of his Country.” The young surveyor was George Washington. As he aged, he invested heavily in West Virginia and was a prime force in its later development.

 

On Feb. 2, 1885, a stone measuring two by four feet was received in Washington, D.C., from West Virginia. It was cut from a quarry in Summers County and prepared under the supervision of William K. Pendleton of Bethany College. It was inscribed with the West Virginia coat of arms and the words, “Tuum Nos Sumus Monumentum,” we are thy monument. This became a small part   of what is probably the most famous shrine in America--The Washington Monument.

 

In his retirement years, Washington wrote, “It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity, but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.”

 

This call to his fellow citizens was meant for each of us.

 

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