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Tea Party Winners: Carla Gade's winner is Becky Dempsey, Andrea Boeshaar's winner Caryl Kane, Gina Welborn's winner Jasmine A., Carrie Fancett Pagels' winners book copy -- Lynda Edwards, teacup and saucer -- Wendy Shoults

Friday, April 20, 2012

FERRY FARM


FERRY FARM
(The third in a series of George Washington’s childhood homes)
In 1738, when George Washington was six years old, Augustus Washington moved his growing second family of five children about forty miles southwest of Mount Vernon to a 260 acre tract of land that would later be known as Ferry Farm. This property, on the north bank of the Rappahannock River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, was situated directly across the river from Fredericksburg, which gave George his first experience of living near a city.
Young Washington received his six to eight years of formal education in Fredericksburg, and with a home tutor. He received additional education from his father and his half-brother, Lawrence. Throughout his life he would be sensitive about his lack of the more formal education his father and half brother’s received in England. Along with his many farm duties at Ferry Farm, George studied arithmetic, geometry, trigonometry, geography, climatology, astronomy, history, and surveying. He wrote extensively, and he copied The Rules of Civility, a guide to gentlemanly behavior in polite society, which played a meaningful role in developing his character.
In 1743, when George was eleven years old, his father “Gus” Washington died. Mary, a stern and demanding woman required much of George even into his adulthood. As the eldest son, he would inherit Ferry Farm when he turned twenty-one, though his mother would manage the farm until that time. Lawrence inherited the Hunting Creek property, which he renamed Mount Vernon, and married Anne Fairfax that same year. George maintained a close relationship with Lawrence and visited Mount Vernon often. By 1746 George was already six feet tall and eager to embark on a career. Lawrence offered to assist him in getting an appointment as a midshipman with the Royal Navy, but due to his mother objections, the plan fell through.

Ferry Farm Surveying House
George Washington developed an interest and skill in surveying by the time he was fifteen. In 1748, armed with his father’s surveying tools, sixteen year old Washington joined Lord Fairfax’s surveying expedition to northwest Virginia. By 1749 George was spending more time surveying and at Mount Vernon and less time at Ferry Farm. Mary Ball Washington and George’s younger siblings continued to farm and live at Ferry Farm.

In 1772 Mary moved to Fredericksburg to live closer her only living daughter, Betty. In 1774 Ferry Farm was sold to Dr. Hugh Mercer, whose plans to live there changed with the advent of the Revolutionary War which later took his life. After his death, Ferry Farm changed hands several times. The property was even used as a staging ground and winter camp for the Union Army during the Civil War. In the early twentieth century, plans were made to purchase a portion of the original property to preserve it as a memorial to our first President. Eventually it was designated a National Historical Landmark.

Ferry Farm is open to the public for a fee.  While the original home is no longer there, the site can be seen where the original Washington home was situated.   

Below is my rendition of a map with the locations of the three boyhood homes of George Washington.


7 comments:

  1. I have been to Mount Vernon, but had not heard of the other two. Thanks for posting! I love learning little facts of history :)
    Also, I love your map! Especially the caption at the bottom lol. I would not have done nearly as well as you!

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  2. Six feet tall by 14? Wow, no wonder he was considered tall for his day!!
    I did not realize that he had step-siblings. It sounds like he had a good relationship with them though.

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  3. Thanks Sarah. I just thought that folks who are not familiar with the area might appreciate a "rough" perspective of where Washington's early homes were located in relation to each other. All of them are beautiful locations.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this history, Janet! I couldn't resist reading and commenting when I saw the "Ferry Farm" subject--I grew up 20 miles south of Ferry Farm and I pass the property every time I drive into "town", which is Fredericksburg. We live in a good location because we're close to Mt. Vernon, Wakefield, Stratford Hall, and more. Though it's been a while since I appreciated any of them in person...thank you for the reminder! :-)

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  5. I've always loved the history behind Ferry Farm, Janet. Even love the simplicity of the name. It's so neat to see the surveying house! The Lord really had a hand on Washington from an early age. Thanks so much for bringing all this to life.

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  6. Thank you, Janet. Really interesting stuff! Washington is my favorite President but I don't know much about his early life.

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  7. Great map of my old stomping grounds. Love the caption! :) I grew up across the river from Mt. Vernon. I'd been to Mt. V a few times, but not to Washington's other homes, so I'm glad to learn more about them.

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