Betty Washington Lewis

Betty Washington Lewis
Portrait belongs to Mount Vernon Ladies Association

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mary Ball Washington's Battle with Cancer

A current slogan of the American Cancer Society is I Can Fight Cancer. But the reality is some cannot. The aggressiveness of the disease and a person’s physical as well as mental ability to put up a fight is critical.
            With advances in medicine and technology, it is a wonder there is not a less invasive but compassionate way to provide relief.
            I also wonder how doctors during the colonial times were able to accurately identify that both George Washington and his mother Mary Ball Washington had cancer.

As early as 1781, Mary complained of health issues and expressed concern that she would not survive another journey from Fredericksburg to the Lewis and Washington farms over the mountains where their land bordered the Shenandoah River. Yet, she survived an additional eight years with her children involved in caring and providing for her.
Prior to his 1789 departure for New York to assume his duties as President, George made a trip to visit his mother and sister. Both women lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia, across the Rappahannock River from the Washington childhood home.
Mary’s home in the town of Fredericksburg was constructed on two lots her son had purchased in 1772. The prior year, George had surveyed the site of the childhood home and surrounding land in anticipation of selling the property he had inherited from his father’s estate. The move to the town lots allowed Mary to be closer to her daughter whose plantation home located two blocks away was completed in 1775 before the onset of the Revolutionary War. When Mary moved to Fredericksburg, her sons Samuel and Charles also lived in the vicinity.
Washington expressed in letters to his peers an understanding that he would not see his mother again…that his departure visit was truly farewell. Thus, it was George’s sister Betty who was the primary caregiver for their mother in her final months. Betty was assisted by her siblings who lived elsewhere. John Augustine lived a day’s ride from Fredericksburg at his home of Bushfield in Westmoreland County, while both Samuel and Charles had moved to the Shenandoah Valley also a day’s ride away.
Although Washington duties required him to be in New York, he remained involved in the activities at his home of Mount Vernon and in the lives of those closest to him. He maintained contact with his sister.
Letters between Betty and George provide evidence that hemlock was used to ease the pain of cancer. One of the surviving letters includes a request for George to obtain the hemlock in New York, as none could be found in Fredericksburg. Charles Urquhart, a family friend from Fredericksburg, had traveled to New York and it was hoped his presence would expedite the procurement of the hemlock needed to relieve Mary’s pain.
Yet on August 30th Urquhart was still in New York and the hemlock remained undelivered. It was Betty’s son Robert who noted in his journal Urquhart’s attendance at church. Washington had employed his nephew who lived in the Presidential household. Robert received a salary of $300 per year for his service as a junior secretary to his uncle.
Departing Virginia after Washington, Robert served as escort to Martha Washington. They arrived in New York just after the inaugural festivities that occurred in April 1789. Also in traveling with them were Martha’s grandchildren, Eleanor Parke Custis and her brother George Washington Parke Custis.
Upon arriving in New York, Robert received a letter from his mother and sister noting his grandmother was exceedingly ill and not likely to recover.
            Mary died at age eighty-two on August 27th 1789 after fifteen days of not talking and five days in a coma. Her death occurred five months after Washington’s inauguration. News of her death was conveyed to the Presidential household in a letter from a relative, Burgess Ball. The letter reached the President on September 1st. It was on that day Urquhart departed New York for Fredericksburg carrying a letter written by Robert to his mother. The letter concerned his grandmother’s health and caused Robert to lament the time of his dispatch. Washington’s niece Betty Lewis in response to a request from her mother also conveyed news of her grandmother’s death.
            At a favorite resting place located beneath the trees overhanging Meditation Rock and within view of her daughter’s home, Mary was laid to rest on August 28th.
Washington, in observance of his mother’s death, ordered black cockades and ribbons for the household staff. Government officials wore black crepe on their arms. The Presidential levees were cancelled for three weeks. Washington is noted to have worn the mourning badges for at least five months following the death of his mother. During this mourning period the family sealed their letters using black wax instead of red.

            On September 13th, George wrote to Betty noting that at the advanced age of eighty-two their mother had full enjoyment of her mental faculties and as much bodily strength as usually falls to the lot of four score. George also directed his sister to seek the advice of attorney and friend James Mercer as because of the distance and circumstance he was unable to give the smallest attention to the execution of their mother’s will. Mary had prepared for her demise as her will was written on May 20th 1788, more than a year prior to her death. Washington specifically requested his sister to oversee the details of the will, the remaining harvest, the resolution of debts and conducting a sell of personal property. He further requested his sister to inform him if tending to the business is too troublesome. Betty is also instructed to obtain the aid of her sons as well as son-in-law Charles Carter and Burgess Ball.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Do You Know Where George Washington Was Born?

     Two hundred years ago, the Alexandria Gazette published an account of George Washington Parke Custis’ trip down the Potomac River to Westmoreland County, Virginia. The purpose of the trip was to place a marker identifying the birthplace of George Washington.
Source Alexandria Gazette courtesy of Arlington Public Library
George Washington Parke Custis
Adopted Son of George Washington
On June 4th 1816, Custis traveled approximately sixty miles down the Potomac River on his ninety-ton topsail schooner called the Lady of the Lake. The journey began near his home of Arlington House located on a hill across the Potomac River from the City of Washington.[i]
Arlington House
Arlington House
View of Arlington House
He was accompanied by Samuel Lewis, the son of George Lewis a nephew of Washington, and William Grymes, son of Benjamin Grymes an officer in Washington’s Life Guard. The trip down the Potomac River took them past Washington’s Mount Vernon estate toward the Westmoreland County birthplace of Popes Creek.
A View of Mount Vernon
Upon arriving at Popes Creek, the boat was anchored and the passengers took smaller boats to shore. Custis’ own account of the event indicated the schooner anchored in eight feet of water some distance from the land. Smaller boats were taken to the mouth of the creek where the group proceeded upwards to the site of the Washington home.

The group was then escorted to a spot where brick remnants marked the foundation of the Popes Creek home. The house was destroyed by a fire that occurred December 24th 1779. The location subsequently became known by the name “Burnt House Plantation.”[ii]
Map of Birthplace along Popes Creek in Westmoreland County

Ariel view of Birthplace of Popes Creek in Westmoreland County
The bricks that previously formed a chimney were gathered and used to construct a pedestal on which to place the marker. Accounts indicate the freestone marker while transported was wrapped the in the Star Spangled Banner. The first stone marker was unwrapped and positioned on the pedestal. The historic marking occurred more than eighty years after Washington’s birth. The event concluded with the group firing a cannon in salute to Washington.
Source: Harper’s Weekly dated 24 February 1866; George Washington Parke Custis’ Recollections
Sixteen years later, the Alexandria Gazette in an article of March 6th 1832 reported passengers in steamboats still passed the birthplace unaware of the significance and proximity describing the location – remote but a mile over the water’s surface; and hid from his view by a fringe of wild shrubbery.[iii]
In 1851, Custis wrote the Editor of the Alexandria Gazette. His letter published April 16th described his recollections of the trip he took with descendants of four Revolutionary patriots to place the first historic marker at the birthplace.[iv]
The Popes Creek property remained in the Washington family until after the Civil War.[v]
Interpretation of the birthplace at Popes Creek

Custis was the first to recognize the significance and necessity for identifying and preserving the location Washington’s birthplace.
The George Washington Birthplace National Monument was originally settled by Washington’s grandfather John. It is managed by the United States Department of Interior’s National Park Service. To visit the birthplace one travels to the Northern Neck of Virginia by vehicle to 1732 Popes Creek Road in Colonial Beach. From Washington’s boyhood home of Fredericksburg, visitors travel thirty-eight miles down Route 3 East until approaching Route 204 on the left side of the road. After turning onto Route 204, the entrance to the park is located two miles down the road with the visitor center to the right.
The ancestral burial ground is also on the property not far from the Potomac River. Washington’s father Augustine Washington is buried in the cemetery along with George’s grandparents.

Custis and his sister Eleanor Parke were adopted by Washington after the death of Martha’s son John Parke Custis who died of camp fever in December 1781 following Charles Cornwallis’ surrender after the Battle of Yorktown. The children were part of Washington’s family during his terms as President in New York and Philadelphia. Eleanor affectionately called Nelly was ten and Custis was eight when they arrived in New York for Washington’s first term.
Eleanor Parke Custis "Nelly" who married
George Washington's Nephew Lawrence Lewis
In later years, both Custis and his sister were custodians of Washington relics and took pride in distributing Washington relics to friends of George and Martha Washington. The homes of Custis and his sister, 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.[vi] 

On July 4th 1848, Custis attended the ceremony and laying of the cornerstone of the Washington Monument. He also wrote a series of essays that first appeared in the National Intelligencer and after his death were compiled and published in 1859 and 1860 in a book entitled Recollections and Private Memories of Washington.

[i] With the marriage of his daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis, George Washington Parke Custis became the father-in-law of Robert Edward Lee. The home of George Washington Parke Custis is now the Robert E. Lee Memorial with the remainder of the plantation land part of Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Myer (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall).
[ii] Page 116 of Harper’s Weekly dated February 24, 1866, notes “George Washington’s birthplace was destroyed before the Revolution. Upon its site George W.P. Custis, Esq., Washington’s Aid-de-camp [sic], places a slab of free-stone, represented in the above engraving. The house was precisely the same in appearance as the Residence of the Washington Family, shown in the engraving opposite. It was a plain homestead of one story and attic, situated on the ‘Wakefield Estate’, ….The stone which marks the site was deposited in its place in June, 181[6]. It was enveloped in the Star-Spangled Banner, and laid upon the spot by four Revolutionary patriots and soldiers. The pedestal was constructed of bricks from the old chimney that once formed the hearth about which Washington played in his infancy. This was the first monumental stone ever erected to the memory of Washington…” In 1858, the state of Virginia purchased the Popes Creek property. However, in 1882, the federal government purchased the property maintained by the National Parks Service.
[iii] The Alexandria Gazette, dated 6 March 1832 (transcript at Arlington House – National Park Service) reports:
“Washington’s Birth Place. At a time when all that relates to Washington attracts so much attention, and when his tomb is made the subject of a nation’s anxiety, a notice of the Birthplace of the Father of his Country will not be deemed in appropriate. We have a note from Mr. [George Washington Parke] Custis, of Arlington, which contains the memoranda of some incidents relative to the subject which have not before been published.
Gen. Washington was born on a plantation called Wakefield [called Popes Creek during the childhood of the Washington children and later named Wakefield by future generations], now the property of John Gray, Esq., of Travellers Rest lying on Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County (Virginia) The House which he first saw the light was about 300 yards from the Creek, ½ a mile from its entrance into the Potomac. The mansion has long since fallen into ruins. [no mention of fire] some of the trees of ‘olden day’s, are yet standing around it. There is nothing there at present to interest, except the recollections which must crowd upon the mind, while contemplating the birthplace of Washington.
In 181[6], immediately after the ratification of the treaty of peace, Mr. Custis repaired in his own vessel to the birth place, having prepared a stone with a suitable inscription to be deposited on the ruins of the Mansion. Mr. Custis was accompanied in the execution of this pious duty by Samuel Lewis, Esq., great nephew of Washington and the late Wm. Grymes, Esq., the son of an officer of the revolution who held a command in the body guard. The party landed at Wakefield, bearing in their arms the stone, encircled by the star spangled banner and having gathered together as much materials from the remains of the ancient mansion, as would serve for a rude pedestal, they deposited the stone thereon, with the inscription: - ‘Here on the 22d of February 1732,” Washington was born. The duty performed, the Party re-embarked, and, hoisting their colors, fired a salute from the vessel, thus completing the interesting and surely not unimpressive ceremonial, of placing the first stone of the monument.
A late writer, speaking of this interesting place remarks: -‘…It is surprising that it [Wakefield or more appropriately Popes Creek] should be so little known and visited. Not one in a thousand of the passengers in Steamboats has any knowledge that this ‘solum natale, of him whom the whole world honors, is remote but a mile over the waters surface; and hid from his view only by a fringe of wild shrubbery.’
Will not Wakefield [Popes Creek] like Mt. Vernon, in after time, be the resort of Patriotic Pilgrims?”
[iv] George Washington Parke Custis wrote to the Editor of the Alexandria Gazette and on 16 April 1851 (transcript at Arlington House – National Park Service) the following was published:

Arlington House, April 14th 1851.
To the editor of the Alexandria Gazette:
            Observing in your valuable journal, of a late date, the notice of a STONE placed on the ruins of the House in which the beloved Washington first saw the light, permit me to offer you a brief account of that interesting event, as it occurred six and thirty years ago.
            In June 1815, I sailed in my own vessel, the ‘Lady of the Lake,’ a fine topsail schooner of ninety tons, accompanied by two gentlemen, Messrs LEWIS and GRYMES, bound to Pope’s Creek, in the county of Westmoreland, carrying with us a slab of free-stone, having the following inscription:
The 11th of February, 1732 (Old Style,)
Was Born.
            Our pilot approached the Westmoreland shore cautiously, as our vessel drew nearly eight feet water, and the pilot was but indifferently acquainted with so unfrequented a navigation.
            We anchored at some distance from the land, and taking to our boats, we soon reached the mouth of Pope’s or Brydge’s Creek, and proceeding upwards, we fell in with MCKENZIE BEVERLY, Esq., and several gentlemen on a fishing party, and also with the overseer of the property that formed the object of our visit. We were kindly received by these individuals, and escorted to the spot where a few scattered bricks alone marked the birth place of the Chief.
            Desirous of making the ceremonial of depositing the Stone, as imposing as circumstances would permit, we enveloped it in the ‘STAR SPANGLED BANNER’ of our country, and it was borne to its resting place in the arms of the descendants of four revolutionary patriots and soldiers – SAMUEL LEWIS, the son of GEO. LEWIS, a captain in Baylor’s Regiment of Horse, and nephew of Washington; WILLIAM GRYMES, the son of BENJAMIN GRYMES, a gallant and distinguished officer of the Life Guard; the Captain of the vessel, the son of a brave soldier wounded in the battle of Guilford; and GEORGE W.P. CUSTIS, the son of JOHN PARKE CSTIS, aid-de-camp to the Commander-in-Chief, before Cambridge and Yorktown.
            We gathered together the bricks of the ancient chimney, that once formed the hearth around which WASHINGTON, in his infancy had played, and constructed a rude kind of pedestal, on which we reverently placed the FIRST STONE, commending it to the respect and protection of the American people in general, and the citizens of Westmoreland in particular.
            Bidding adieu to those who had received us so kindly, we re-embarked and hosited our colours, and being provided with a piece of Cannon and suitable ammunition, we fired a salute, awakening the echoes that had slept for ages around the hallowed spot; and while the smoke of our martial tribute to the birth place of the Pater Patriae still lingered on the bosom of the Potomac, we spread or sails to a favoring breeze, and speeded joyously to our homes.
            Such was an act of filial love and gratitude performed more than a third of a century ago- such is the history of the FIRST STONE to the memory of WASHINGTON.
            Health and respect, my dear sir,
                                                                        George W.P. Custis”
[v] Eaton’s “Historical Atlas of Westmoreland County, Virginia” Page 49
[vi] Charles Moore notes in The Stepfatherhood of George Washington, V. George Washington Parke Custis, Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, Volume LIX, Number 11, November 1925: “Arlington House (as Mr. Custis called the mansion) became a repository of a large and most interesting collection of relics of the Washingtons, that were either given to him by his doting grandmother, or that fell to his lot in the final division of the household goods, or that were purchased from less affluent possessors. First and foremost of these treasures was the capacious bed on which the General and Mrs. Washington talked and slept, and on which he died. That bed is now in the room they occupied at Mount Vernon. The tent that sheltered the General during the Revolution in after years was often pitched on the Arlington lawn for the awed admiration of Washingtonians and old residents of Georgetown, who were ferried across the Potomac to attend annual sheep-shearing festivals…”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Historic Weekend Adventure December 9-11, 2016 in New Orleans! Reserve your spot!

David Plater, a descendant and researcher of the Lewis and Butler family, recently published The Butlers of Iberville Parish, Louisiana: Dunboyne Plantation in the 1800’s. His research focuses upon the generation of Frances Parke Lewis, who grew up at Woodlawn in Fairfax County, Virginia. She was the daughter of Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis and Lawrence Lewis (a son of Betty Washington and Fielding Lewis). Frances married Edward George Washington Butler and the couple moved from Virginia to Louisiana and established their home along the banks of the Mississippi River, a plantation known as Dunboyne. David Plater’s connection to the family provides a unique insight that allows him to capture the struggles the Lewis and Butler family experienced as sugar planters.

To learn more about the Lewis and Butler family and their connection to Louisiana, join the Washington and Lewis Heritage weekend in New Orleans December 9-11, 2016. We will visit sites connected to the Lewis and Butler family history as well as offer a chance to meet author David Plater.

The weekend will kick-off Friday with a city tour, time for shopping in the French Quarter, and a jazz dinner cruise on the paddlewheel steamboat Natchez. Saturday we travel to Destrehan Plantation for hands on exploring of a sugar and indigo plantation then return to the city to enjoy the New Orleans nightlife. Our weekend will conclude with services at one of the historic churches and enjoy a brunch at one of the many acclaimed restaurants.

Your spot will be reserved upon receipt of a registration fee. In addition, we have reserved a block of rooms at the Courtyard New Orleans Downtown Near the French Quarter. Should you be interested in joining us, you may email Monica Pesek at for additional details.

Friday, June 19, 2015

View of Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Washington farm managed by
The George Washington Foundation

View of the Washington farm property

The Washington family settled three properties: Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County; Little Hunting Creek in Prince William County; and Washington farm in King George County.
At age forty-nine, Augustine Washington died at Washington farm on 12 April 1743. His death left Mary, at age thirty-five, a widow responsible for raising five minor children – George, eleven; Betty, ten; Samuel, nine; John Augustine, seven; and Charles, five. Mary managed the property until George reached the legal age to own property.
In 1748, at age sixteen, George departed Washington farm to spend time at Mount Vernon with Lawrence. It is through his brother’s connection with Lord Fairfax that George joined a surveying party to western Virginia.
Betty was the first of the Washington siblings to marry. Just prior to her seventeenth birthday, Betty became the second wife of Fielding Lewis. The couple married 7 May 1750.[i] Betty and Fielding occupied a home on eight town lots in Fredericksburg while their mansion was constructed. Letters and restoration experts indicate the Lewis family did not occupy their plantation home until 1775. Located on Washington Avenue and Lewis Street, their mansion home is restored and open to the public.
George was allowed to claim the land inherited from his father in 1753. Although he was legal owner of the land, his mother maintained her home on his property until 1772. George rented Mount Vernon from his half-brother Lawrence’s widow, Anne Fairfax. Upon her death he became legal owner of Mount Vernon.
In 1771, George surveyed Washington farm. A year later, his mother moved to a home within walking distance of Betty’s home in Fredericksburg.[ii] Mary’s departure from Washington farm allowed George to advertise the sale of lands inherited from his father. The advertisement from Purdie and Dixon’s Virginia Gazette read as follows:

To be SOLD, RENTED, or EXCHANGED, for back Lands, in any of the northern Counties in this Colony, A TRACT of six Hundred ACRES, including about two Hundred of cleared Land on the north Side of Rappahannock River, opposite to the lower End of Fredericksburg. On this Tract (a little above the Road) is one of the most agreeable Situations for a House that is to be found upon the whole River, having a clear and distinct View of almost every House in the Town, and every Vessel that passes to and from it. Long Credit (if desired) will be given, the Purchaser paying Interest from the Sale; and an indisputable Title will be made. For further particulars inquire of Colonel [Fielding] Lewis in Fredericksburg, or the subscriber in Fairfax.
George Washington.

Fielding was tasked with renting the farm until a suitable buyer could be identified. The rental of the land delayed the conveyance to Hugh Mercer. In 1774, George sold Washington farm to Hugh Mercer.[iii]

[i] Fielding Lewis was the second son of Frances Fielding and Colonel John Lewis II of “Warner Hall” Gloucester County. His birth was recorded in the Abingdon Parish Register "Fielding, the son of Captain John Lewis and Mrs. Frances, his wife, was born July ye 7th, and baptized July ye 16th, 1725." (Source Archives Division, Virginia State Library) Fielding was six when his mother died 27 October 1731. (Source William and Mary Quarterly, Series 1, Volume 10, Page 49) His father married secondly, Priscilla Churchill, widow of Robert Carter of Nomini Hall in Westmoreland County. Fielding grew up at “Warner Hall.” His great-grandfather was Augustine Warner, Speaker of the House of Burgesses.
[ii] Mary Ball Washington remained at Washington farm for approximately twenty years subsequent to George reaching legal age to possess the land he inherited from his father. She departed from the property in 1772. Thus, she resided on the land for approximately 34 years. Charles Washington and Fielding Lewis conducted an inventory of livestock following George Washington’s survey of Washington farm in 1771.
[iii] Several letters detail the negotiations to transfer Washington farm from George Washington to Hugh Mercer. Mercer was fatally wounded at the Battle of Princeton. His will dated 20 March 1776 transfers his property to his sons George and James.

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.