Betty Washington Lewis

Betty Washington Lewis
Portrait belongs to Mount Vernon Ladies Association

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment