Tea Party winners: Elaine Marie Cooper's novel goes to both Ashley Penn and Mary Ann Hake:, Carrie Fancett Pagels' and Gina Welborn's Blue Ribbon Brides collection goes to: Melanie Backus Carrie's O' Little Christmas Town Collection goes to: Cherrilynn Bisbano

Friday, February 17, 2012

WAKEFIELD - GEORGE WASHINGTON’S BIRTHPLACE

By Janet Grunst


As we celebrate George Washington’s 280th birthday, what better opportunity to explore the place he was born. Wakefield is located in Westmoreland County, part of the Northern Neck of Virginia, just 38 miles east of Fredericksburg. It is situated on the Potomac River, between Mattox Creek and Popes Creek.

In 1657 John Washington came to Virginia from England aboard the merchant ship Seahorse of London as its second officer. When the ship attempted to sail away with its full cargo of tobacco into the Potomac, it ran aground on a shoal in Mattox Creek. While waiting for the ship being readied to sail, John Washington formed a friendship with a local planter, Colonial Nathaniel Pope, and more particularly an attachment with his daughter Anne. A 700 acre parcel of land was Colonel Pope’s wedding gift in 1658 when John Washington married Anne Pope. John became a planter and increased his land holdings to 10,000 acres. In 1664 he moved his family into a new home on Bridges Creek, 4 miles east of Mattox Creek. His son, John later received the Bridges Creek property.

Pope’s Creek 
John and Anne Washington had three children; Lawrence, John and Anne.  Their son, Lawrence, who was born at Bridges Creek, married Mildred Warner of Warner Hall in Gloucester in 1686 and their family settled west of Bridges Creek.  Lawrence and Mildred Washington also had three children; John, Augustine and Mildred.                              

Augustine married Jane Butler in 1715. He inherited some of his father’s property, and in 1717 & 1718 also purchased 200 acres on the west side of Popes Creek. Between 1722 & 1726 Augustine completed the home on Popes Creek that he and his family would live in until 1735.  Augustine and Jane had four children, before she died in 1729.

In 1731 Augustine married Mary Ball. They had six children. George, their oldest, was born in 1732 in their Popes Creek home (later known as Wakefield). With additional purchases and trades Augustine Washington combined the Bridges Creek property with that of Popes Creek, including the family graveyard.

Augustine also increased his land holdings to include an iron furnace near Fredericksburg and another property further up the Potomac in Little Hunting Creek. These two locations would later become George Washington’s homes.
                    
George lived he first three and a half years at the Popes Creek Plantation until the family moved to the Hunting Creek Plantation (later known as Mount Vernon). The Popes Creek plantation, a vibrant farm was inherited by George’s half brother, Augustine Jr.

Reproduction of Wakefield Mansion
On Christmas day 1799, the home accidentally caught fire and burned. The owner at that time was General Washington’s nephew William Augustine Washington, who then moved his family several miles away.

It is uncertain when the house was named Wakefield but it is believed that it was called that around 1773. The property was also sometimes referred to as Burnt House Plantation. The house was never rebuilt though the land continued to be farmed. The State of Virginia eventually acquired the land to preserve the site of the birthplace. In 1923, Mrs. Josephine Wheelwright Rust, a distant relative of the former President, organized the Wakefield National Memorial Association to rebuild a replica of the first home of George Washington.

If you visit Wakefield you will find it a lovely setting, complete with main house, outbuildings, cemetery, herb and flower garden, walking trail and picnic area. The George Washington Birthplace National Park is administered by the National Park Service.

In future posts I’ll share something of George Washington’s other early homes. 

6 comments:

  1. Such an interesting article, Janet. I knew nothing of George's family history. I look forward to hearing more about his family homes.

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  2. One tends to think that George Washington sprung from the waters of the New World. Good to remember he had a family tree just like the rest of us. :)

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  3. I enjoy reading these great posts about our history. Thank you.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

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  4. Thanks for the comments, ladies. George Washington's ancestors were landholders in northern England, mostly around Durham.

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  5. Really enjoyed this post, Janet, and I'm looking forward to more.

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