George Washington’s Famous Hatchet Found: 1906

A souvenir hatchet commemorating the 100th anniversary of Washington's inauguration.

A souvenir hatchet commemorating the 100th anniversary of Washington’s inauguration.


Virginia Honey Hunters Discover Supposed Relic of George Washington

Richmond, Va. Feb. 24 The little hatchet with which George Washington hacked the cherry tree just before he made his famous refusal to tell a lie is reported to have been discovered in a bee tree near Morrisville, which, in addition to containing the relic, had tons of fine honey in it, which will bring a small fortune to the lucky finder.

The tree, one of the largest in the state, stands on the line between Fauquier and Stafford counties, known as the Washington line because George Washington made the original survey. George Sitteval discovered that it was full of honey and took Henry Sattonstall into his confidence. The two men went to the place at dusk, but were appalled by the immense labor of cutting down the forest giant. At this juncture, Arkliskizwi Sabanowski, a recent settler of immense size and strength appeared and was induced to undertake the labor of felling the tree for a third of the honey it contained.

It took four hours of chopping to fell the tree. Then it was discovered that an unheard-of amount of honey was in the great hollow truck and the original discoverers declared the foreigner could only have two tubs of it. He went away, but reappeared the next morning with a number of armed relatives, nine yoke of oxen and some heavy wheels. The two men who had cheated him retreated, and after two days of hard labor Sabanowski and his relatives managed to haul the great trunk to their home.

Then it was that the little hand-made hatchet, with “G.W., 1738,” carved in the handle, was found. With it were several old letters, with only a few words, written in a feminine hand legible. Sabanowski has been offered $500 for the hatchet, but declares he will insist on having as much money as he gets for the honey, which probably will be double that sum.

Los Angeles [CA] Herald 25 February 1906: p. 5

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil understands that Monday is a holiday called “Presidents’ Day,” or “Washington’s Birthday.” While she appreciates the reverence Americans have for General Washington, Mrs Daffodil cannot entirely approve of his conduct in rebelling against his King. However, since so many of her readers are located across the Atlantic, she will endeavour to present here (and on her “Face-book” page) some items of interest relating to that gentleman.The legend of George Washington damaging his father’s cherry tree and, when taxed with the deed, admitting, “I did it with my little hatchet,” is, of course, a charming historical fiction published by Parson Weems in his early biography. Thousands of keepsake hatchets commemorating this apocryphal event were made in all materials. Mrs Daffodil cannot tell a lie: she suspects that someone “planted” one of them in this tree. General Washington was born in 1732 so the date of 1738 corresponds precisely to Parson Weems’s story of the hatchet-proud six-year-old.

There was formerly quite a cult of Washington and his relics, as witness this account of a prized, if macabre, Washington memento:

An Odd Breastpin

Mrs. Helen S. Dunn, of Philadelphia, claims to be the owner of the owner relic from George Washington’s coffin. It is a piece of redwood, highly polished and set in a gold breastpin. When the remains of Washington were removed to Mount Vernon from their first resting place this bit of wood was chipped off the coffin accidentally. Mrs. Dunn received the relic from her father, John Struthers, who gave the United States the marble sarcophagus in which Washington’s body now rests. John Lawrence, the then only surviving member of Washington’s family, gave the bit of wood to Mr. Struthers. It now rests beside the trowel that was used in cementing the sarcophagus, in a treasured case which also contains a small lock of Washington’s hair. Republican News Item [Laport, PA] 14 February 1901: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes.


2 thoughts on “George Washington’s Famous Hatchet Found: 1906

  1. Yesterday Unhinged

    Finding out that George Washington didn’t chop down the cherry tree was one of the events that obliterated any trust I had in teachers or authority. Sounds like hyperbole, but I was seriously shaken by the lie and coverup. I vowed not to trust adults.


    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      Good gracious! But you used your experience for Good and now you write about the flotsam and jetsam of history. Mrs Daffodil applauds you for rising above your youthful disenchantment!



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