Crawford’s Farm: Spring Garden

crawford-cabinWilliam Crawford had seen the lands in southwestern Pennsylvania as a soldier during both the disastrous Braddock expedition in 1755 and again with General Forbes during his campaign against Fort Duquesne in 1757. Apparently, he liked what he saw because, in the fall of 1765, he and his  half-brother, Hugh Stephenson, made the trek over the mountains from the Shenandoah Valley on the Braddock Road to a place then called Stewart’s Crossing on the Youghiogheny River.

The two men surveyed a tract of 376 acres and proceeded to build a log cabin near the river. It measured about eleven feet by sixteen feet and had two small openings in the logs that served as windows, one beside the door overlooking the river, and the other facing the hills. Rather than the typical dirt floors, they laid down split logs and dressed them with an axe so they were as smooth as possible, making Crawford’s new home somewhat luxurious for a frontier cabin. he then christened his new farm, calling it “Spring Garden.”

After they had cleared some of the land for planting the following spring, the two men returned to the Shenandoah, where Crawford began packing up his family to move to their new home. Packhorses would be needed for the journey because many places on the Braddock Road had grown too narrow for wagons. William and Hannah carefully packed the horses as they could only take the necessities to start their new life at Spring Garden. They left all of their furniture behind but packed as much bedding, clothing, cooking utensils, and farming tools as possible. In addition to the family and the packhorses, the family dogs and several cows would also make the journey. In the spring of 1766, William and his family left the Shenandoah Valley for the final time.

Their little caravan moved slowly over the rough terrain, making only a few miles each day. Spring rains and melting snows had swollen the creeks, forcing the Crawfords to take special care with their crossings to ensure that they not lose a single packhorse or cow. Finally, after more than a month on the Braddock Road, they reached Spring Garden.



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