George Washington Slept Here

Washington's Southern Tour Historical Marker
(Click Above for Larger Image)
  • Historical Marker on NC 86 Just South of Virginia Line
  • Host Was Dudley Gatewood
  • Local Community Now Called Gatewood

Historical Sketch

George Washington spent the night of June 3-4, 1791, in Caswell County at the home of Dudley Gatewood. The house stood approximately one mile northeast of the present historical marker. That marker is found on the east side of NC 86 near the intersection with the Walters Mill Road (very near North Elementary School).

Note the following from When the Past Refused to Die--A History of Caswell County, North Carolina 1777-1977, William S. Powell (1977) at 104-106:

In the year that Caswell County was divided an event that should have been of considerable interest occurred although no local observation seems to have survived. George Washington had been on a tour of the South in the spring of 1791 for the purpose of becoming better acquainted with the character of the states and their problems and to gather information from well-informed persons who might provide information and advice on political matters. He went down the seaboard and returned through the backcountry. The morning of June 3 at 4 o'clock, as was his custom, he set out from Guilford Court House on the way home. He had breakfast at Troublesome Ironworks in that part of Guilford County which is now Rockingham County. Washington's journal indicates that he was not well informed concerning the route he was to follow and he was obliged to ride twelve miles farther than he had intended. It must have been late in the day when he arrived at "one Gatewoods within two miles of Dix' ferry over the Dan at least 30 Miles from the Ironworks." He observed that "the Lands over which I passed this day were of various qualities and as I approached the Dan, were a good deal covered with pine."

One of the reasons for Washington's tour was to try to unite the country behind the young and struggling Federal government. Washington's personal charm and his acceptance as a national hero contributed greatly toward this end. . . .

Having spent the night of June 3-4, 1791, in Caswell County, the north-western corner of which he had crossed, Washington noted that he "left Mr. Gatewoods about half after Six oclock--and between his house & the Ferry passed the line which divides the States of Virginia and No. Carolina." Safely across the line in his native state, the President dined at Nathaniel Wilson's and then went on to Halifax to spend the night.

Note the following from The Heritage of Caswell County North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 225:

In his Revolutionary War application for pension, Dudley Gatewood said he was born in Dec., 1747, in Essex County, Va., and remained there until 1768 when he moved to Pittsylvania County, Va., where he stayed until 1771, when he settled in Caswell County, N.C. He remained there until his death, July 9, 1836.

Dudley Gatewood's first wife and mother of all his children was Elizabeth Dix, daughter of James Dix, whose will was probated in Pittsylvania Co., May 17, 1790. Dudley married second a Mrs. Rebecca Wynn, a widow with six children who survived him.

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