Betty Washington Lewis

Betty Washington Lewis
Betty Washington Lewis - Source: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens on loan to The George Washington Foundation

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Birthday Tribute to George Washington born 22 February 1732

This blog to increase awareness of Betty Washington Lewis was initiated with intentions to post on a regular basis. However, with visiting research institutions and gathering documents to unravel the lives of the Lewis and Washington family, the good intentions fell to the side.
Today, a family member posted a lovely account of how their family celebrated George Washington’s birthday (22 February 1732). The post provided motivation to embellish upon tributes honoring George Washington.
George Washington’s nephew, Lawrence Lewis (and a son of Betty), and his adopted daughter Eleanor Parke Custis requested permission to marry at Mount Vernon on 22 February 1799. The family could not anticipate the celebration would be Washington’s last, as Washington wrote of living into the year 1800. Washington fell eighteen days short of that goal.
The strong ties of the Washington family and the dedication of family members to the patriarch George Washington, resulted in family members honoring his memory with not only extended family but close friends. It was George Washington Parke Custis, adopted son of George Washington and father-in-law of Robert Edward Lee, who first recognized the significance and necessity for preserving the birthplace of George (and Betty Washington Lewis), and placed the first stone marker identifying the remnants of the foundation to the Washington home that burned in 1779. Today, the National Park Service maintains the Pope’s Creek birthplace located in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
Both George Washington Parke Custis and his sister Eleanor Parke Custis held such regard for their adopted parents that they were honored to distribute Washington relics to friends of George and Martha Washington. Their homes in their adulthood were shrines to their adopted parents. It was Eleanor Parke Custis who eventually sold many of the relics that now comprise the Washington collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
Lafayette was a close friend of the family who made tribute to Washington. Lafayette’s visit to the United States in 1824 included time spent in the homes of several Lewis and Washington family members including George Washington Parke Custis, Lawrence Lewis and his wife Eleanor Parke Custis, Robert Lewis (younger brother of Lawrence Lewis and Mayor of Fredericksburg, Virginia) and Bushrod Washington (the owner of Mount Vernon at the time of the 1824 visit). Several of the family members including Lawrence Lewis and George Washington Parke Custis travelled with Lafayette as he visited friends and participated in dedications and tributes at locations such as the birthplace of George Washington and the tomb at Mount Vernon.

George Washington as patriarch of his family provided support to extended family as well as friends and the impact is evident by the tributes from those dear to him.

Interpretation of the marriage of Eleanor Parke Custis to Lawrence Lewis 22 February 1799

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lewis Family Reunion Scheduled for 13-15 June 2014 in Fredericksburg, Virginia

The Lewis Family Descendants will meet for our fourth “Heritage Weekend” this upcoming year in Fredericksburg, Virginia, 13-15 June 2014. Our first reunion was held in Fredericksburg in 2010 and allowed us to exchange family stories and visit ancestral homes to include the site of Washington farm, the Lewis plantation (Kenmore) and the home of Mary Ball Washington. Our second heritage weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia, focused on the early years of Fielding Lewis. In 2012, the family gathered in Alexandria, Virginia, and visited Mount Vernon (including the mill and distillery), Arlington House (where Lawrence Lewis died while visiting George Washington Parke Custis (his brother-in-law) as well as Woodlawn, the home of Lawrence and Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis, where we had a colonial dining experience. We attended services at Pohick Church before concluding our reunion weekend at Mount Vernon where we honored our ancestor George Washington with the placement of a wreath at his tomb…the tomb where Lawrence Lewis is also buried. This upcoming Heritage Weekend promises to include the fellowship of other Lewis descendants and an opportunity to visit places special to the Lewis family.
We will again celebrate Betty Washington Lewis’ birthday (20 June 1733) as we visit her home (Lewis plantation – Kenmore as well her grave (located at the site of the home of her daughter Betty Lewis and son-in-law Charles Carter known as Western View in Culpeper, Virginia).
Plans are in the works for a special tour and dinner at Kenmore for Friday evening with a return the following evening for a Shakespearian play on the lawns of Kenmore. The plays were initially selected from those it is known George Washington attended while in Fredericksburg and became increasingly popular that the plays continue. We will also view the site of the Fredericksburg Armory (later converted to the Fredericksburg Academy) and the Mary Ball Washington House as well as Mediation Rock (where Mary Ball Washington is buried). On Sunday, we will conclude our Heritage Weekend with the opportunity to attend services at St. George’s Episcopal Chuch as a family followed by lunch.
 We look forward to you joining us! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Children of Betty Washington and Fielding Lewis Who Survived to Adulthood

Betty Washington Lewis married Fielding Lewis, a widower with three children, on 7 May 1750. The couple had eleven children with six surviving to adulthood and the family included:

Step-son John Lewis born 22 June 1747 in Fredericksburg, Virginia and died 23 November 1825 in Russellville, Logan County, Kentucky. He married five times. During his lifetime, he spent time in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He also lived and had land holdings in Spotsylvania County, Culpeper County, and Loudoun County, Virginia, as well as Logan County, Kentucky. He served as land agent for his Uncle George Washington. He was a revolutionary war patriot.

Step-daughter Frances Lewis, of whom very little is known. She was godmother to Betty Lewis.

Fielding Lewis, the eldest son of Betty Washington and Fielding Lewis, was born 14 February 1751 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and died 5 July 1803 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. During his lifetime, he spent time in Fairfax County, Virginia, where his wife Ann Alexander had family connections. He also lived and had land holdings in Frederick County, Clarke County, and Fauquier County, Virginia. He was a revolutionary war patriot. Current research indicates that Fielding Lewis Sr. may have died at the home of his son Fielding Lewis Jr. in Frederick County, Virginia.

George Lewis was born 14 March 1757 in Fredericksburg, Virginia and died 13 November 1821 in King George County, Virginia. He married Catherine Daingerfield. During his lifetime, he lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He also lived and had land holdings in Spotsylvania County, Frederick County, Clarke County, and King George County, Virginia. There are indications he and his step-brother John Lewis ran a distillery in 1792 in addition to growing crops. He was a revolutionary war patriot. George Lewis served as aide-de-camp to George Washington until his marriage.

Betty Lewis, the only daughter to survive, was born 23 February 1765 in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and died 9 April 1830 in Clarke County, Virginia. She married Charles Carter on the anniversary of her parents 7 May 1781. During her lifetime, she and her husband lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The couple also lived and had land holdings in Spotsylvania County, Albemarle County, Stafford County, Frederick County, Clarke County, and Culpeper County, Virginia. Family accounts indicate Betty Washington Lewis died in the home of her daughter and son-in-law known as Western View in Culpeper County, Virginia.

Lawrence Lewis was born 4 April 1767 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia and died 20 November 1839 in Fairfax County, Virginia, at the home of his brother-in-law George Washington Parke Custis. During his lifetime, he lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He married first Susannah Edmondson who had family connections in Essex County, Virginia. Upon her death he lived and had land holdings in Spotsylvania County, Fredrick County, and Clarke County, Virginia. When he married Eleanor Parke Custis, his uncle George Washington gave the couple jointly the land in Fairfax County, Virginia, upon which their home Woodlawn is built. The couple also spent time at Audley in Clarke County, Virginia. Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis died at Audley where she lived after the death of Lawrence Lewis. Woodlawn was sold out of the Lewis family ownership in 1846. Upon George Washington’s return to Mount Vernon when retiring from public service, Lawrence Lewis assisted his uncle with correspondence and entertaining. Lawrence Lewis was also one of five nephews identified as executors of George Washington’s estate. He was the last surviving executor directly related to George Washington.

Robert Lewis was born 25 June 1769 in Fredericksburg, Virginia and died 1 January 1829 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He married Judith Walker Browne. During his lifetime, he lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He also lived and had land holdings in Spotsylvania County, Stafford County, Fauquier County, and Frederick County, Virginia. Robert Lewis served as personal secretary to his uncle George Washington while President in New York until his marriage when he assumed duties as land agent for his uncle. Robert Lewis also served as Mayor of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and welcomed the Marquis de Lafayette during his 1824 visit.

Howell Lewis was born 23 December 1771 in Culpeper County, Virginia, and died 26 December 1822 in West Virginia. During his lifetime, he lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He also lived and had land holdings in Culpeper County and Clarke County, Virginia. He married Ellen Hackley Pollard. Prior to his marriage, Howell Lewis served as personal secretary to his uncle George Washington while President in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and later as temporary manager at Mount Vernon.

Betty Washington Lewis welcomed her brother Samuel Washington’s orphaned daughter Harriot Washington into her home during the years 1792 until 1796 when she married Andrew Parks, a merchant in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Harriot Washington was born 2 August 1776 in Berkeley County, Virginia, and died 3 January 1822 in Kanawha County, Virginia. George Washington was her guardian upon the death of her father.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Farewell Observations by George Washington Impact Those Closest to Him

As our government quickly approaches the time to swear-in newly elected federal representatives, it seems fitting to reflect upon writings of our founding fathers and specifically George Washington. In his farewell address of 17 September 1796 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, George Washington took the opportunity to share observations and make recommendations to government leaders/decision-makers. One may observe that the statements and recommendations of George Washington transcend time:

“…Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more that any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together. The independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes….

The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any time exists until changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community, and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion….

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish – that they will control the usual current of the passions or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations, but if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good – that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the impostures of pretended patriotism – this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which they have been dictated….”

The excerpts reveal George Washington’s insight and anticipation of challenges facing a new nation. This was the political, economic, and social environment that he and his family encountered and which impacts the story that begs to be told regarding his sibling, nieces and nephews…all of whom he significantly impacted through his values and leadership.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Researching the Lewis and Washington Families

Everyone has a story to tell…but what makes it worth the time for someone else to read? If genealogy is void of details surrounding events it becomes sterile. Family history is lost unless someone makes the commitment to share the history with existing and future generations.

A resource often used as a starting point for persons with possible ties to the Lewis and Washington families is a book by Merrow Egerton Sorley entitled Lewis of Warner Hall: The History of a Family Including the Genealogy of Descendants in Both the Male and Female Lines, Biographical Sketches of Its Members, and Their Descent from Other Early Virginia Families, published by Genealogical Publishing Company. Merrow Egerton Sorley’s research is respected within the genealogical community. His research provides a foundation to verify genealogical information.

In our electronic age, reliable resources including birth, marriage, and death records as well as census and military records are just a few items available on the web site for a fee. However, the fee is worth the investment to discover more about one’s family heritage. Caution should be used to insure the information obtained from the internet is verified with supporting primary documentation.

Most family genealogists are willing to share and especially exchange information regarding family lines as often the motivation is to keep the family members connected.

As Merrow Egerton Sorley states in the introduction to his book “…many migrating branches of the family lost all contact with their original home and their relatives; and not only did the later generations of these relatives grow up in ignorance of their distant cousins, but in many cases the migratory group which had settled in Texas or Missouri lost all knowledge of its early ancestry; there are today, no doubt scores of Lewis descendants who do not know that they are connected with the family.” This was the case with part of the Texas branch and thus resulted in my conducting detailed research on the various branches of the family directly descended from Betty Washington Lewis. Every effort was made to link original and supporting documentation to the correct individual. Should you be interested in exchanging information, contact can be established by clicking this link.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Lewis Plantation: Yes! George Washington slept here!

Letters and diaries of George Washington document his visits to Fredericksburg, Virginia, as he notes “dining at my Sister Lewis’s” and “lodging with Col. Lewis.”

On 7 May 1750, Betty Washington married Fielding Lewis (born 7 July 1725 and died 10 December 1781) as his second wife. He was previously married on 18 October 1746 to his cousin Catherine Washington (born 11 February 1723/4 and died 19 February 1750) with whom he had three children:

            John Lewis (born 22 June 1747 and died 23 November 1825)
Francis Lewis - Little is known about this daughter that could have married and lived to approximate thirty years of age. (born 26 November 1748 and died between 1765 and 1781)
            Warner Lewis (born 27 November 1749 and died 5 December 1749)

Eleven children were born to Betty Washington (born 20 June 1733 and died 31 March 1797) and Fielding Lewis with six surviving to adulthood:

            Fielding Lewis Jr. (born 14 February 1751 and died 5 July 1803)
            George Lewis (born 14 March 1757 and died 13 November 1821)
            Betty Lewis (born 23 February 1765 and died 9 April 1830)
            Lawrence Lewis (4 April 1767 and died 20 November 1839)
            Robert Lewis (born 25 June 1769 and died 1 January 1829)
            Howell Lewis (born 20 December 1771 and died 26 December 1822)

On 26 February 1752, two years following the marriage of Betty Washington and Fielding Lewis, George Washington surveyed land consisting of 861 acres that was purchased by Fielding Lewis and prior to the American Revolution, Colonel Fielding Lewis, began construction of a home situated on this parcel of land that in combination with land he inherited as well as purchased consisted of almost 1,300 acres.

Letters between Fielding Lewis and George Washington indicate artisans including a stucco man and painter were shared between the Lewis Plantation and Mount Vernon. The stucco man created three decorative ceilings at the Lewis Plantation in the Drawing Room, the Dining Room, and the Chamber, as well as a chimney piece in the Dining Room with “The Aesop’s Fable.” It is believed that George Washington suggested the legend of the Fox and the Crow as a reminder to his nephews and niece to beware of flattery.

The Lewis’ grew tobacco that was shipped to England. Such an effort did include the use of slaves and indentured servants.

Fielding Lewis died in December 1781. As a widow with four minor children, Betty Washington Lewis maintained the estate. Her step-son, John Lewis, was tasked with executing the estate of his father as well as settling the debts that remained. It was a struggle to settle debts of her husband. Prior to her death, Betty Washington removed from the Lewis Plantation and shortly after her death in March 1797 the property was sold.

The property changed ownership several times. It was the Samuel Gordon family who purchased the property in 1819 that was responsible for the name “Kenmore.” In 1922, concern regarding the fate of the home resulted in the purchase of the property by the Kenmore Association, now known as The George Washington Foundation, 1201 Washington Avenue, Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401; telephone (540) 373-3381.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The National Society of the Washington Family Descendants

George Washington Had A Sister?

Not only did George Washington have a sister, he was the fifth child of Augustine Washington (born 1694 and died 12 April 1743). Augustine Washington’s first marriage to Jane Butler (born 24 December 1699 and died 24 November 1729) produced four children: 
            Butler Washington (born 1716 and died before 1739)
            Lawrence Washington (born 1718 and died 22 July 1752/3)
            Augustine Washington (born 1720 and died 1762)
            Jane Washington (born 1722 and died 17 January 1754/5)
Lawrence Washington as oldest surviving son inherited the property that he later name Mount Vernon. It was half-brother Lawrence Washington who mentored George Washington after the death of their father. George Washington was barely twelve years old when Mary Ball became a single parent of five. The bond between George Washington and his older half-brother resulted in George Washington inheriting Mount Vernon when Lawrence Washington’s widow died without heirs.

The second marriage of Augustine Washington to Mary Ball (born November 1708 and died 25 August 1789) after the death of his first wife produced six children. Thus, George Washington not only had a sister, Betty Washington, sixteen months his junior, but he had five additional siblings. Augustine Washington and Mary Ball were the parents of:
            George Washington (born 11 February 1731/2 and died 14 December 1799)
            Betty Washington (born 20 June 1733 and died 31 March 1797)
            Samuel Washington (born 16 November 1734 and died 26 September 1781)
            John Augustine Washington (born 13 January 1735/6 and died 17 February 1787)
            Charles Washington (born 2 May 1738 and died 16 September 1799)
            Mildred Washington (born 21 June 1739 and died 23 October 1740)
Although George Washington had no children of his own, those individuals who can trace their lineage to Washington family members are eligible to apply for membership in a family organization called The National Society of the Washington Family Descendants. The members gather once a year for fellowship and a weekend focused on activities to gain a better understanding of the family heritage.