Thursday, February 16, 2012
MARTHA WASHINGTON, 1899
March 26, 1899. "In 1758 George Washington met Mrs. Custis, who was then but 26, seven months a widow, and the richest woman in Virginia. In January 1759, they married, Col. Washington dressed in blue, the coat lined with red silk and ornamented with silver trimmings; his waistcoat was embroidered white satin, knee buckles of gold. The bride was dressed in a white satin quilted petticoat, a heavily corded white silk over-skirt, diamond buckles and pearl ornaments. The bride was driven to her home behind six horses, Washington and cavalcade riding beside the coach. With her two children, she soon went to Mt. Vernon, Washington's home, and when revolution was in the air, she wrote in 1774; "My heart is in the cause, George is right, he always is. God has promised to protect the righteous and I will trust him." To Patrick Henry she said, "I hope you will stand firm; I know George will." Her daughter, Nellie Custis, died at 17, and her son, George Custis, joined Washington's staff; her husband visited Mt. Vernon only twice during the long war. But Martha, affectionately called 'Patsey' by Washington, joined him at Cambridge in his headquarters at what is now known as Longfellow's house, and she was also with him at Valley Forge, suffering all the privations, and "busy from morning to night providing comforts for the sick soldiers". While her husband was president, an English visitor recorded in 1794 that "she was extremely simple in dress, and wore her gray hair turned up under a very plain cap". Her son died shortly after Yorktown, but left a daughter, Eleanor Parke Custis, and a son, George Washington Parke Custis, the latter marrying Mary Lee Fitzhugh, going to live at Arlington, opposite the city of Washington, and leaving a daughter who became the wife of Gen. Robert E. Lee. After the death of Washington, Martha moved to the only chamber which overlooked his tomb, and which was in the attic. There she passed the remaining two and a half years of her life, her constant companion being a favorite cat, for which a hole was cut in the door that it might go and come freely. In 1802 she died, after burning all the letters she had received from her husband, desiring to keep them sacred from the world."