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After about two years of work we have completed a major upgrade to New River Notes. On January 21, 2014 we switched in the last of the updated files and final page revisions.

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Colonial Monetary History

Thanks to those who responded to my 6/25/98 post, same subject as above, (Fayette Co. PA History) concerning author James Veech. He must have been a remarkable man, who recorded for posterity not only historical facts but a feeling for the early days of Fayette County. (Pennsylvania.) Can you imagine the means necessary for researching, writing, editing and publishing a voluminous and detailed book of the past in the 1850's? It's no wonder a few typographical errors occurred.

Veech's The Monongahela of Old...; includes a "List of Settlers in Fayette County, and in Contiguous Parts of Greene, Washington & Westmoreland Counties in 1772: Copied from the Official Assessment Rolls of Bedford county for 1773." Recall that present Fayette was part of Bedford for awhile at that time. Listed for MCDANIEL - MCDONALD were: Pitt Township: John M'DANIEL; Springhill Twnshp: Alexander M'DONALD, Inmate (Boarder, not head of family); David M'DONALD, Single Freeman.

Nobody has responded to my question about how to research the old State of VA land-purchase Certificates for Southwestern PA during the time of the land dispute between PA and VA (1752-1780.) I found the answer when unboxing some old files from 1985 and found much info from "Annals of the Carnegie Museum," Vol. I., 1901-1902; Vol. II; and Vol. III, dated 1905-1906; W.J. Holland, Editor; J. S. Hatacher, Assoc. Editor. I had forgotten I researched these. Included is the "Index to Virginia Court Records In Pennsylvania (District of West Augusta) — Index to the minute books of the Virginia Courts held within the limits of southwestern Pennsylvania, 1775-1780, including records of deeds for West Augusta, Virginia, 1775-1776, and abstracts of old Virginia wills proved before the Yohoganis County Court, 1776-1781." (This index is apparently by the lady who wrote the following, or by an associated genealogical group.)" "Preface (to the Index) by Inez Raney Waldenmaier, Editor of Genealogical Newsletter, 4724 Fifth Street, NW, Washington 11, D.C. (remember, this was written years ago.) : This is an index to an excellent source of genealogical information. These records were reprinted by the Carnegie Museum at Pittsburgh from the original minute books. The minute books were for the District of West Augusta, Yohogania and Ohio Counties, during the period when Virginia claimed and excercized jurisdiction over what is now Washington, Greene, Fayette, Westmoreland and Alleghany Counties, Pennsylvania. The boundary controversy between Virginia and Pennsylvania began as early as 1748 when it was still unknown how far the province of Pennsylvania extended westward. But it was not until the signing of the Ft. Stanwix Treaty in 1768, which removed the last obstacle to expansion, and sent settlers rushing into this territory, did the controversy become complicated. Virginia, claiming much of the West under its 1609 charter, took the initiative in the settlement of the whole region south and west of the Ohio River. Land was easily obtainable and soon Pennsylvania asserted her claim here and began selling territory freely to homemakers and small speculators. (NMcD note: Recall that VA sold land for as low as 10 shillings per 100 acres while PA sold for about 5 pounds sterling — from Veech's writings.)

Then followed a long series of arrests and counter-arrests, resulting in fights and riots. Anyone holding office under the laws of Pennsylvania, attempting any official act, was likely to be arrested and jailed by persons claiming to hold office under the government of Virginia. Likewise, were Virginia officials liable to arrest and imprisonment by the Pennsylvania partisans.

However, the Pennsylvania and Virginia partisans ceased to fight each other during the War of the Revolution and joined to fight side by side under the flag of a new union. The settlers sent more than two regiments of fighting men to join the continentals in the battles in the east. The following index contains reference to at least 256 militia officers and soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Meanwhile the double land-titles from Pennsylvania and Virginia continued to exist to confuse the settlers. In 1783, the authorities of each state appointed four commissioners to mark off the permanent boundary, and in 1785 the meridian line itself was finally run and marked (Mason-Dixon Line.) Had not the resultant decision placed this area definitely under the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania it would have been annexed to the Union probably as a new state.

The rush of settlers into this region continued. The 1790 census reported 75,000 people inhabited southwestern Pennsylvania." (End of Preface and quote.)

Included in this index are: Christopher McDaniel, John McDaniel, Patrick McDaniel, Chrisopher McDonald, Hugh McDonald, John McDonald and Patrick McDonald. My assessment of recorded entries in the minutes indicate that the John McDaniel/McDonald was one and the same person, just spelled differently in different years by court recorders. Likewise for Christopher and Patrick. (There are many page listings for many people of the time.)

"Annals of Carnegie Museum" includes very interesting writings by Boyd Crumrine, then of Washington, PA. Several maps are also included to better explain the areas under contest by VA and PA. The State of VA's identified Counties, within their District of West Augusta, were Ohio (western part along the Ohio River), Yohogania (northern part) and Monongahelia (southern part.) Present Fayette Co. PA fell under both of the latter two counties.

My research of books in early-mid 1980's was via postal rental from Hoenstine Rental Library, Hollidaysburgh, PA. In the mid-1980's the following was available from Hoenstine Library, for example: "Pennsylvania Archives," Third Series, Printed under direction of David Martin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Edited by William Henry Egle, MD, Vol. XXII, Harrisburg: Wm. Stanley Tay, State Printer, 1897." This includes Provincial Papers: Returns of Taxables for the Counties of Bedford (1772 to 1784), Huntingdon (1788), Westmoreland (1783, 1786), Fayette (1785, 1786), Allegheny (1791), Washington (1786), and Census of Bedford (1784) and Westmoreland (1783), printed as above, 1898. (The binding of this book was in sad condition at the time - 1985.) Following is data for McD-'s of the times to show what valuable info can be found:

Included for MCDANIEL - MCDONALD spelling variants were:&nbsp Bedford Co. 1773: Pitt Twnshp: John McDaniel, 1 .6 (Amount of Tax.); Mount Pleasant Twnshp: George McDonnel, 2 .0; Martin McDonald, 1 .2 .6 (Uncultivated Land); Springhill Twnshp: Alexander McDonald, 1 .0; David McDonnal (Single Freeman), 15 .0.

From above, Westmoreland County - 1783:

Pitt Township
Name Acres Horses Cattle Sheep
McDonold, Jn'o 200 1 2 -
McDonold, Dan'l. - 1 - -1
McDonold, Hugh. - 2 1 -
McDonold, Pat'k. 200 3 2 2
Springhill Township
Name Acres Horses Cattle Sheep
McDonold, Isaac - 2 4 3
McDonold, Jn'o. 40 4 3 2
McDonnold, Da'd, single. - 2 - -
McDonold, Alex'r 30 3 4 7
Mount Pleasant Township
Name Acres Horses Cattle Sheep
McDonold, Geo. 200 2 1 -
McDonold, Jn'o, d'o - 1 - -

Menallen Twnshp
Inhabitants (names only)

Menallen Twnshp
Inhabitants (names only)
McDonold, Jn'o
McDonold, Mary.

Fayette County - 1785 - Return of State Tax

Union Twnshp
McDonnald, Arthur 2 (Amount of Tax)
McDonnald, Joseph 7-1/2
McDonald, Abraham 3.

Menallen Twnshp
McDonnald, Basset And'w 1 .0
McDonnald, John 10 .2
McDonald, James 10 .8
McDonnald, Charles 2 .0

George Twnshp
McDonnald, John 15 .7-1/2
McDonnald, Isaac 14 .5
McDonnald, Alexander 9 .6
McDonnald, Jeremiah 11-3/4
McDonnald, David 10 .9-3/4

Fayette County
1786-Return of State Tax:

Union Twnshp:
McDanold, Valentine 10 .0
McDanold, Abraham 1 .0
McDanold, Joseph 9
McDanold, Arthur 3 .2

Menallen Twnshp
McDanold, James 1 .0.11
McDanold, Charles 1 .9
McDanold, John 10 .8

George's Twnshp
McDanold, John 1 .1 .3
McDanold, David, single man 10 .0
McDanold, William 10 .8
McDanold, Rachel 8
McDanold, Alexander 9 .2
McDanold, Jeremiah 9
McDanold, Isaac 18 .8

1790 Census (from other records to provide a timeline of various McD-'s):

Georges Twnshp
David McDonald 1-0-0 (Last two digits omitted unless significant)
Alex'r McDonnald 2-3-3
Joseph McDonnald 1-0-2
Jerimiah McDonald 1-2-2
Mary McDonnald 0-0-3
Isaac McDonnald 1-3-4

Menallen Twnshp
James McDonald 1-0-1
Valentine McDonnald 1-1-1

Union Twnshp:
Abraham McDonnald 4-1-5
Joseph McDonnald 1-1-3
Mary McDonald 0-0-1

German Twnshp
Kinnet McDonald 1-2-3
Kienard McDonald 1-0-3

Luzerne Twnshp
John McDaniels 1-1-6

1800 Census Index:

George's Twnshp
David McDonal
Jane McDonal
Joseph McDonal
Zadoch McDonal

Menallen Twnshp
James McDonnal
Abraham McDonal

German Twnshp
Marey McDonald
Kinketh McDonald

Luzerne Twnshp
John McDonald

Tyrone Twnshp
Mordica McDonald

Wharton Twnshp
Jerimiah McDonald

Concerning early Tax Lists for Westmoreland and Fayette County, I wondered what the digits (Amount of Tax) to the side of the person's name mean. I believe I found the answer in above "Annals of Carnegie Museum," as part of Boyd Crumrine's writings. The following is from Vol. III, Section VII, pp 208-209, "The Early Currency;" by Crumrine, in regard to VA Court Proceedings — but which would apply for taxes as well, I assume:

Crumrine writes that "the currency of the early days was in Pounds, Shillings, and Pence. Before and during the Articles of Confederation of 1776, and until the adoption of the Constitution of the United States in 1787, there was no supreme national authority, and therefore no national currency based upon a recognized unit." In every state there were two units of value, the State Pound and the Spanish Milled Dollar. "Our people having been under the English government adopted the English pound, shilling, and penney, as the 'name' of its currency..., yet the trade with the Spanish colonies in America and the West Indies brought into the country as its only coined money the Spanish dollar and its subdivisions. Thus, the dollar of the early day was not the 'Dollar of our Daddies,' but the 'Spanish Milled Dollar.' "

To confuse the matter further, the value of the "pound" within the 13 states varied. In PA, MD, DL & NJ it contained (in silver) 1031-1/4 grains while the value varied from 996 grains (NY & NC) to a high of 1547 grains in GA, with a value of 1289 grains in VA, MA, RI, CN and NH. These State pounds, and their divisions, had no actual existence; they were used only for keeping financial accounts. When a debt was to be paid the debt amount in pounds, shillings and pence was converted into dollars (Spanish Milled) and its divisions of halves, quarters, eighths, and sixteenths each of which was represented by a Spanish coin. Due to the difference in value of the pound within the various states, to pay off a debt of 7 shillings and 6 pence in PA you would pay one Spanish Milled Dollar (coin.) Conversely, in VA, you paid a "dollar" coin for a debt of only 6 shillings. To pursue this with Crumrine, "if 7s, 6d. in PA made one dollar (Spanish) then 20 shillings (one PA pound) would be worth $2.66-2/3 (Spanish), a little more than 1/2 the English pound sterling. But if 6s in VA currency made a dollar, then the VA pound was worth $3.33 (Spanish.)—(roughly, about 2/3 of an English pound from Veech's approximation.)

Crumrine goes on to say the two most common Spanish milled dollar coins were the eighth and sixteenth. Due to the difference in valuation amongst the states the coins were named differently depending on the state. For example, in NY and NC, where 8 shillings = one dollar (Spanish), the "eighth" was a "shilling" (12 pence) and went by that name. But in PA ,where the "eighth" = 11 pence, this coin was called an "eleven-penney bit" or "levy." Likewise, in NY the Spanish "sixteenth" coin was called a "six-pence" where in PA it was a "five-penney bit," or "fip."

Back to the Pennsylvania State tax lists: The amount of tax is apparently (my speculation) the amount of the financial account in pounds, shillings and pence, i.e. "1 .1 .3" being one pound, 1/10 shilling, 3/10 pence — or is this one pound, one shilling and 3 pence, I wonder? Possibly the latter makes more sense? (Yes.) This would need to actually be paid in equivalent Spanish coins (I won't attempt the conversion here.) Another matter of note concerning the above tax lists: For tax accounts of less than one pound, only two columns were apparently shown, i.e. "10 .0" for 10 shillings even; and for less than one shilling, only one column was shown, i.e. "10-1/2" being 10-1/2 pence. Crumrine refers us to McMaster's "History of the People of the U. S.," Vol. I., p. 23 for further study.

Those with more knowledge on this subject are requested to post better information. A remaining question in my mind is whether a taxed person in Fayette Co. PA in 1786, for example, definitely meant that they owned land — or whether personal property was also taxed (like a horse, saddle, cattle or other personally owned items.) Can someone post the answer?? At least for Westmoreland Co. PA in 1783 (see list above) it appears that horses, cattle and sheep were taxed even if a person owned no land. If both personal property and land were indeed tax-assessed in all of the years listed, I'm wondering what tax-amount would roughly indicate that the person indeed owned land? This assumes that land was of much greater value than horses and cattle. (?)

To belabor this even more, with Veech's info: Even if a person purchased land (in the present Fayette Co. PA area) from the state of VA, at lesser purchase price than from PA, the state and counties of PA would have undoubtedly assessed all land the same, possibly based on the approximate PA valuation of about five pounds (English sterling) per 100 acres, per Veech. Therefore, if Valentine McDaniel/McDonald owned 20 acres, let's say, in 1786 it would have been valued at something like one pound English sterling. The equivalent "book-value" (in PA equivalents for the tax listing) would then be about 40 shillings (from 4th paragraph next above.) But since Valentine McD-'s tax amount was 10 .0 (apparently 10 shillings even), this would indicate that Valentine McD owned much more than 20 acres — assuming the PA state tax rate was much less than 25%. Does anyone know roughly what percentage the tax rate was in terms of the property value in 1786? Also, what was the value of a horse or cow in those days to allow us to consider personal property items in this equation? This exercise may be academic, if not futile, since I know nothing about money-market up's and down's of the times, for the English pound or the Spanish dollar.

Per McMaster's History, Vol. I., p 189: While Congress of the United Colonies "issued" paper currency prior to 1776, and throughout the Rev. War period, "it had no value in its own coin for it had none" — until adoption of The Constitution of the United States in 1787. These prior "paper" dollars were "irredeemable according to its own terms." The Confederacy, as well as some of the Colonies and States, did sometimes issue notes or bills of credit in "dollars" but these were in terms of the Spanish dollar and its equivalents. Confidence in this prior paper currency fluctuated (it depreciated for the most part) to the extent that no new issues were made after 1780. The Congress, in 1780, recognized its dollar depreciation and tried to bolster it by offering a new issue to replace the old at the rate of 40 for one. "The old sunk in one day to nothing, and the new shared the same fate" per Crumrine.

Boyd Crumrine concludes: "These observations will explain many entries in the records now following (State of VA Court Minutes for their District of Augusta in PA) that would otherwise be somewhat unintelligible." (Now you may consider yourself prepared to read the Court Minutes. Boyd must have been an engineer as well, otherwise how could I think that I maybe understand him?)

Keeping track of your finances in those days must have been tough — an accountant's nightmare and with no computer.

Neil McDonald
McDonold, Jn'o
McDonold, Mary.

Fayette County - 1785 - Return of State Tax

Union Twnshp
McDonnald, Arthur 2 (Amount of Tax)
McDonnald, Joseph 7-1/2
McDonald, Abraham 3.

Menallen Twnshp
McDonnald, Basset And'w 1 .0
McDonnald, John 10 .2
McDonald, James 10 .8
McDonnald, Charles 2 .0

George Twnshp
McDonnald, John 15 .7-1/2
McDonnald, Isaac 14 .5
McDonnald, Alexander 9 .6
McDonnald, Jeremiah 11-3/4 McDonnald, David 10 .9-3/4

Fayette County
1786, Return of State Tax: Union Twnshp: McDanold, Valentine 10 .0
McDanold, Abraham 1 .0
McDanold, Joseph 9
McDanold, Arthur 3 .2

Menallen Twnshp
McDanold, James 1 .0.11
McDanold, Charles 1 .9
McDanold, John 10 .8

George's Twnshp
McDanold, John 1 .1 .3
McDanold, David, single man 10 .0
McDanold, William 10 .8
McDanold, Rachel 8
McDanold, Alexander 9 .2
McDanold, Jeremiah 9
McDanold, Isaac 18 .8

1790 Census (from other records to provide a timeline of various McD-'s):

Georges Twnshp
David McDonald 1-0-0 (Last two digits omitted unless significant) Alex'r McDonnald 2-3-3 Joseph McDonnald 1-0-2 Jerimiah McDonald 1-2-2 Mary McDonnald 0-0-3 Isaac McDonnald 1-3-4

Menallen Twnshp
James McDonald 1-0-1
Valentine McDonnald 1-1-1

Union Twnshp: Abraham McDonnald 4-1-5
Joseph McDonnald 1-1-3
Mary McDonald 0-0-1

German Twnshp
Kinnet McDonald 1-2-3
Kienard McDonald 1-0-3

Luzerne Twnshp
John McDaniels&nbs p; 1-1-6

1800 Census Index:

George's Twnshp
David McDonal
Jane McDonal
Joseph McDonal
Zadoch McDonal

Menallen Twnshp
James McDonnal
Abraham McDonal

German Twnshp
Marey McDonald
Kinketh McDonald

Luzerne Twnshp
John McDonald

Tyrone Twnshp
Mordica McDonald

Wharton Twnshp
Jerimiah McDonald

Concerning early Tax Lists for Westmoreland and Fayette County, I wondered what the digits (Amount of Tax) to the side of the person's name mean. I believe I found the answer in above "Annals of Carnegie Museum," as part of Boyd Crumrine's writings. The following is from Vol. III, Section VII, pp 208-209, "The Early Currency;" by Crumrine, in regard to VA Court Proceedings — but which would apply for taxes as well, I assume:

Crumrine writes that "the currency of the early days was in Pounds, Shillings, and Pence. Before and during the Articles of Confederation of 1776, and until the adoption of the Constitution of the United States in 1787, there was no supreme national authority, and therefore no national currency based upon a recognized unit." In every state there were two units of value, the State Pound and the Spanish Milled Dollar. "Our people having been under the English government adopted the English pound, shilling, and penney, as the 'name' of its currency..., yet the trade with the Spanish colonies in America and the West Indies brought into the country as its only coined money the Spanish dollar and its subdivisions. Thus, the dollar of the early day was not the 'Dollar of our Daddies,' but the 'Spanish Milled Dollar.' "

To confuse the matter further, the value of the "pound" within the 13 states varied. In PA, MD, DL & NJ it contained (in silver) 1031-1/4 grains while the value varied from 996 grains (NY & NC) to a high of 1547 grains in GA, with a value of 1289 grains in VA, MA, RI, CN and NH. These State pounds, and their divisions, had no actual existence; they were used only for keeping financial accounts. When a debt was to be paid the debt amount in pounds, shillings and pence was converted into dollars (Spanish Milled) and its divisions of halves, quarters, eighths, and sixteenths each of which was represented by a Spanish coin. Due to the difference in value of the pound within the various states, to pay off a debt of 7 shillings and 6 pence in PA you would pay one Spanish Milled Dollar (coin.) Conversely, in VA, you paid a "dollar" coin for a debt of only 6 shillings. To pursue this with Crumrine, "if 7s, 6d. in PA made one dollar (Spanish) then 20 shillings (one PA pound) would be worth $2.66-2/3 (Spanish), a little more than 1/2 the English pound sterling. But if 6s in VA currency made a dollar, then the VA pound was worth $3.33 (Spanish.)" <&mdash;(roughly, about 2/3 of an English pound from Veech's approximation.)

Crumrine goes on to say the two most common Spanish milled dollar coins were the eighth and sixteenth. Due to the difference in valuation amongst the states the coins were named differently depending on the state. For example, in NY and NC, where 8 shillings = one dollar (Spanish), the "eighth" was a "shilling" (12 pence) and went by that name. But in PA ,where the "eighth" = 11 pence, this coin was called an "eleven-penney bit" or "levy." Likewise, in NY the Spanish "sixteenth" coin was called a "six-pence" where in PA it was a "five-penney bit," or "fip."

Back to the Pennsylvania State tax lists: The amount of tax is apparently (my speculation) the amount of the financial account in pounds, shillings and pence, i.e. "1 .1 .3" being one pound, 1/10 shilling, 3/10 pence &mdash; or is this one pound, one shilling and 3 pence, I wonder? Possibly the latter makes more sense? (Yes.) This would need to actually be paid in equivalent Spanish coins (I won't attempt the conversion here.) Another matter of note concerning the above tax lists: For tax accounts of less than one pound, only two columns were apparently shown, i.e. "10 .0" for 10 shillings even; and for less than one shilling, only one column was shown, i.e. "10-1/2" being 10-1/2 pence. Crumrine refers us to McMaster's "History of the People of the U. S.," Vol. I., p. 23 for further study.

Those with more knowledge on this subject are requested to post better information. A remaining question in my mind is whether a taxed person in Fayette Co. PA in 1786, for example, definitely meant that they owned land &mdash; or whether personal property was also taxed (like a horse, saddle, cattle or other personally owned items.) Can someone post the answer?? At least for Westmoreland Co. PA in 1783 (see list above) it appears that horses, cattle and sheep were taxed even if a person owned no land. If both personal property and land were indeed tax-assessed in all of the years listed, I'm wondering what tax-amount would roughly indicate that the person indeed owned land? This assumes that land was of much greater value than horses and cattle. (?)

To belabor this even more, with Veech's info: Even if a person purchased land (in the present Fayette Co. PA area) from the state of VA, at lesser purchase price than from PA, the state and counties of PA would have undoubtedly assessed all land the same, possibly based on the approximate PA valuation of about five pounds (English sterling) per 100 acres, per Veech. Therefore, if Valentine McDaniel/McDonald owned 20 acres, let's say, in 1786 it would have been valued at something like one pound English sterling. The equivalent "book-value" (in PA equivalents for the tax listing) would then be about 40 shillings (from 4th paragraph next above.) But since Valentine McD-'s tax amount was 10 .0 (apparently 10 shillings even), this would indicate that Valentine McD owned much more than 20 acres &mdash; assuming the PA state tax rate was much less than 25%. Does anyone know roughly what percentage the tax rate was in terms of the property value in 1786? Also, what was the value of a horse or cow in those days to allow us to consider personal property items in this equation? This exercise may be academic, if not futile, since I know nothing about money-market up's and down's of the times, for the English pound or the Spanish dollar.

Per McMaster's History, Vol. I., p 189: While Congress of the United Colonies "issued" paper currency prior to 1776, and throughout the Rev. War period, "it had no value in its own coin for it had none" &mdash; until adoption of The Constitution of the United States in 1787. These prior "paper" dollars were "irredeemable according to its own terms." The Confederacy, as well as some of the Colonies and States, did sometimes issue notes or bills of credit in "dollars" but these were in terms of the Spanish dollar and its equivalents. Confidence in this prior paper currency fluctuated (it depreciated for the most part) to the extent that no new issues were made after 1780. The Congress, in 1780, recognized its dollar depreciation and tried to bolster it by offering a new issue to replace the old at the rate of 40 for one. "The old sunk in one day to nothing, and the new shared the same fate" per Crumrine.

Boyd Crumrine concludes: "These observations will explain many entries in the records now following (State of VA Court Minutes for their District of Augusta in PA) that would otherwise be somewhat unintelligible." (Now you may consider yourself prepared to read the Court Minutes. Boyd must have been an engineer as well, otherwise how could I think that I maybe understand him?)

Keeping track of your finances in those days must have been tough &mdash; an accountant's nightmare and with no computer.

Neil McDonald