Monday, April 11, 2011

In The Freshes


To understand terms used in land patents, it is often necessary to get a grip on certain words that often have a different meaning than we would think. In early Virginia settlement, the rivers and streams played an important part in the establishment of boundaries and patent landmarks. A term used frequently was "the freshes". The drawing to the right tries to show this concept using the map already presented in a previous post. The orange color outlines the "ridge path" that separated the watershed that formed two patterns of water flow. Now if you were a rain drop that fell along this path, you have to go down on either side. The flow toward the major rivers[the blue lines]; in this case ,the Rappahannock River, would then flow into the Potomac River. This water would then flow into the Atlantic. The water drainage would be "the freshes". Thus, in early land patents there would be the statement "Coll. Nicholas Spence, 500 acs. in Potomack freshes, 6 Nov. 1666,...N.E. upon a cr. above Coll. Speaks land..." In effect, this would mean that Spence's 500 acres would be within the bounds of the ridge that formed the water runoff to the river that was the road to his patent. Of course you would then need to find out where "Coll. Speaks" land was located. You also know that 640 acres would be a square mile, thus this 500 acres would roughly one square mile [.78 mile square] from the river's edge to the ridge that drained the water. The blue lines in the figure about place you in the freshes.

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