Joshua Fry had a keen interest in Western adventures. Like Rev. James Maury, Fry was an active reader of exploration literature and the two read many of the same books. He transcribed the accounts of John Peter Salley, a German immigrant who traveled along the New River and Mississippi River, and read the journal of Henri Joutel, a companion of La Salle's during his expedition up the Mississippi River. These personal accounts of danger and excitement could spark a colonist's interest in the possibilities the west beheld. Fry also owned more academic books about the trans-Allegheny west, such as Cadwallader Colden's History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada (Frye, 12). Like Fry, Colden made his fortune as a surveyor, making himself an expert in Iroquois affairs in the course of his work. Unlike many British contemporaries, Colden believed the Five Nations comprising the Iroquois were influential enough to play a key diplomatic role as the colonies inched westward. He understood the value of the Iroquois trade and knowledge of the region, and the threat of an Iroquois alliance with the French, Britain's traditional enemy (Colden, XI), lessons Fry would take with him in his own diplomatic experiences. (Picture from History from the Five Indian Nations of Canada)
Fry could finally apply his reading once he was selected to represent
Virginia at the Logstown Treaty in 1752 along with Lunsford Lomax and James Patton. This
small town near present day Pittsburgh became the focal point for contention between
English and French expansionist interests. Here, the Virginians and Charles Gist from the
newly incorporated Ohio Company met with the Iroquois, Shawnee and Delaware. The object
was to reconfirm the sanctions of the Lancaster Treaty of 1744 which placed Virginia's
boundary at the banks of the Ohio River. The English were nervous about the French who had
recently started building forts along the Ohio River. Just as Lewis and Clark would 50
years later, Fry and his fellow commissioners had to prepare friendly presents, and find
an interpreter for negotiations. In the end, the colonists got what they wanted.
Virginia's territory stretched to the Ohio River, and the British were granted permission
to build a fort along the river (Frye, 29). The treaty explicitly spoke of the British
intention to use any means possible for protecting colonists in the territory (Walker
Papers). With the British military in place to protect its subjects, the road was open to
further trade and settlement west of the Alleghenies.