Select Washington Miscellany

Here are some Washington stories and accounts over the years:

The 1537 Will and Inventory of Edmund Washington of Leek

Edmund's inventory is that of a prosperous yeoman farmer.  He willed about 7,000 in today's money to the church to pray for his and his family's souls.  His was the first of a long line of Washington wills in Staffordshire.  As he was the first recorded Washington in Staffordshire, it raises the question as to where his parents came from. 

John Washington Arrives in America

John Washington was about 19 when his father died.  Two years later his mother died and he went to London, probably taking his brother Lawrence with him.  The brothers saw the new opportunities in trade with the American colonies and John, already married, sailed for Virginia in 1656 as mate and voyage partner of Edward Prescott, the owner of the Sea Horse.  His first wife died and he remarried the daughter of an American planter, Nathaniel Pope.  Their wedding present was a 700 acre estate at Mattox Creek where their eldest son, Lawrence, was born in 1659.     

George Washington and His Lineage

In a letter written near the end of his life to an English genealogist, Washington claimed that he knew little and cared little about his English ancestry.  He may not have; but he had sufficient family pride to have a Washington coat of arms imprinted on his bookplate in 1771, displayed next to a similar bookplate, of slightly earlier date, for a distant English cousin.  He employed a seal bearing his family coat of arms on many of his personal letters and he had a large wooden carving of the crest on the wall at Mount Vernon.  

Thomas Pratt Washington

In the fall of 1845, Thomas Pratt Washington brought his family and slaves from Alabama to Texas and improved a 2,000 acre farm at the mouth of Onion Creek on the Colorado river.  The plantation house was completed in 1848 and the plantation itself had a gin and a press.  Mrs Washington taught the neighbors' children as well as her own.  But the property and its 106 slaves were lost as a result of the Civil War. Reconstruction difficulties caused further setbacks.  After the Colorado river flood in the summer of 1869, Washington moved to Austin where he died in 1873.

Booker T. Washington Recalling Emancipation

"As the great day grew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters than usual.  It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night.  And most of the verses of the plantation songs had some reference to freedom.    

Some man who seemed to be a stranger made a little speech and then read a long paper, the Emancipation Proclamation, I think.  After the reading we were told that we were all free and could go when and where we pleased.  My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks.  She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had so long been praying but fearing that she would never live to see."

John and Ruth Washington

Ruth Washington had no idea that her grandfather, John Washington, was a slave.  That truth came to light in a new book by the Yale historian David Blight.  The book tells the story of two slaves, Washington and Wallace Turnage of North Carolina, who wrote about their ordeals after the Civil War.

Eighty nine year old Florida resident Ruth Washington made a recent trip to Virginia to pay her respects to a man she is just beginning to know.  She saw John Washington's world at Fredericksburg which has been preserved.  It includes the slave living quarters where he spent much of his life and the site on the Rapahannock where he went across in 1862.    

She said her grandfather died the year she was born, so she never knew him.  Her father never talked about that dark chapter in the family history.  

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