Most Erieites know that George Washington came through to Fort LeBoeuf. But do you know why he did? The Fort LeBoeuf Museum has the answers why this Presidents Day.
“We’ll have to step back to the year 1753. And both the French and the British empires they weren’t at war at the time, tensions were rising. They were both getting close to encroaching on the Ohio Valley, which this was at the time was considered part of the the Ohio Valley,” said Patrick Jenks, tour guide an assistant director at the Fort LeBoeuf Museum.
The French were building forts in the area. The British soon found out.
“The Lt. Governor of Virginia Robert Dinwiddie sends a 21-year-old George Washington up from Williamsburg, Virginia up to deliver to the French basically an eviction notice because they consider this British territory,” said Jenks.
Washington leaves Virginia in late fall and arrives at Fort LeBoeuf in December of 1753. There were several times when he could have perished along the way.
“[He] almost dies on several occasions. He almost drowns in the Allegheny. He’s almost shot by a native guide that turns on them,” said Jenks.
The French were surprisingly pleasant to young Washington when he arrived.
“He’s treated very nicely. He has dinner here. He camps outside the fort. He’s inside the fort a bit. And he’s here for a couple days while the French kinda figure out how to respond to him. And they eventually send him back with a letter basically saying no. It’s a letter from the French commander. And he basically says ‘I’ve been ordered to build these forts and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,’ “said Jenks.
Washington returned to Virginia with the French’s answer. This was a big moment in young Washington’s life.
“This is first kind of act as public service. So this area we hold, this great event in history as Washington’s first act of public service,” said Jenks.
To celebrate Washington’s birthday, the museum is holding a special event.
“We are having a George Washington Cherry Pie Walk,” said Jim Edwards, director of the musuem.
Why cherry pie you might ask?
“Well because George was at one time in his youth was accused of cutting down the cherry tree,” said Edwards.