Negotiating Peace with the Indians Virginia Historic Society


Indians Galore!

Swiss immigrant Louis Michel traveled along the west bank of the Potomac River searching for land for a Swiss colony. He reported that Indians covered the area.

Peters Hole Harpers FerryNHP

Circa 1732

Peters Hole

Peter Stephens, a trader from Germany, settles on the “point” of present day Harpers Ferry, gaining “squatters rights” to the property. The property is nicknamed “the hole” and “Peter’s hole” due to the low elevation of the area, which is only 247 feet above sea level. Stephens builds a log cabin home. Other pioneers begin to arrive and settle in the surrounding areas as well.

Further Reading

May 10 1742

Vestal’s Bloomery

Thomas Mayburry constructs the first Iron Furnace west of the Blue Ridge Mountains on William Vestal's plantation. The furnace is referred to as Vestal's Bloomery. An interesting discussion on ironworks in Jefferson County, including Vestal's Bloomery, can be read online here. The original contract between Mayburry and Vestal has been transcribed here.

hferryhorse e1533775591307

April 25 1751

Harper Secures Land

Harper, a Quaker colonist who was both a builder and a millwright, secures a patent for 125 acres in "The Hole" at the mouth of the Shenandoah River (present day Harpers Ferry), purchasing Peter Stephen's squatters rights.

Harper was on his way to construct a meeting house for fellow Quakers near present day Winchester when he first traveled through "The Hole", and was attracted to the area because of its ample water supply and strategic location. You can view the original land grant online here.

ferryboat e1533292980834


Harper’s Ferry

Established by settler Robert Harper, Harper's Ferry begins boating passengers back and forth across the Shenandoah River, making his town a starting point for settlers traveling westward. Not much information has been uncovered about ferrys used during this time period, however a model of what they probably looked like has been built and is on display at the The Prizery in South Boston, Virginia.

harpersferry1838 e1533775676697


A Town at “The Hole”

The town of "Shenandoah Falls at Mr. Harper's Ferry" is incorporated by the Virginia General Assembly.

oct 10 VAlegislature

January 4 1784

Proposal For Canals and Locks

George Washington, under his company the Patomack Company, submitted another proposal for a series of canals and locks along the Potomac River between Georgetown and Harpers Ferry. His proposal gained the support of both Maryland and Virginia.

Further Reading



James Rumsey Appointed

George Washington appointed James Rumsey the superintendent of fieldwork in the Patomack Company. However, Rumsey quickly resigned after one year, in part due to the problems plaguing the company and quarrels between management.

Further Reading


Government Purchases Land

In 1796, the U.S. Government purchased a 176 acre parcel of land from the heirs of Robert Harper.

Further Reading


Circa 1798

Armory Construction Begins

While sources vary on when construction actually began for the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry, construction began sometime between the years of 1797 and 1799, with 1798 being the most likely year for the ground breaking.

Further Reading

Timeline Help

A chronological listing of historical events which may have affected the lives of residents in eastern Jefferson County and surrounding areas.
1Where is this information from?
The vast majority of these accounts are taken from newspaper articles of local papers of the time period.
2How can I apply this information to my own research?

We use this timeline to help us understand the events that may have affected or shaped a person's life. Here are some ideas as to how this timeline may help your further your own research:

  • View events that may have affected a particular ancestor or their family members.
  • Uncover events which an ancestor may have participated in, leading to more sources of information.
  • Discover more about the history and culture of the area in which an ancestor lived.
  • Evaluate possible concerns and popular pastimes of an ancestor.
3I want to view a timeline of events in a specific area.
Click on "Location" in the "Filter by" bar. This will drop down a list of locations which currently have happenings in the timeline. Clicking on a location will show only events related to that specific area. Note that clicking on a county or state will show all happenings related to any location within that county (and any county within a state).
4I want to see timeline items between two years.
Click on "Years" in the "Filter by" bar. This will drop down a form which accepts a starting year and an ending year. Filling out both fields will display timeline items which took place in and between the two years. Filling out only one field will display all timeline items beginning at or ending on the years inputted.