Seeing How Washingtons Lived at Home at Mount Vernon

While you can learn about things through the use of electronic devices, probably the best way to check something out is in person.

Such was the case recently when I was visiting my daughter’s family. During the week, I had the opportunity to tour the home of George and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon in Fairfax County, Va.

The residence, which started out as a one and a half story farmhouse, is the most popular historic home in America in terms of number of visitors going there to see

This estate is privately owned and operated, as it has been since 1858, by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

Admissions and purchases, together with private donations, alone support the education and preservation mission. No government funding is accepted to assist with the work at Mount Vernon.

This was the first time that I had been to this historic site.

While touring the mansion, there were guides explaining the history of particular rooms in the house. Visitors view the other structures at your own pace to learn the lifestyle of Washington and his family on this 18th century plantation.

The mansion, which was acquired by the Washington family in 1735, is still detailed to look as it did in 1799, the year George Washington died. Some rooms feature original furnishings, period pieces and reproductions.

On the grounds of the mansion there are some 40 buildings, both original and reconstructed. In early days these buildings had the atmosphere of a small city.

In addition to the mansion and its surroundings, there is the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center. In the museum there are archaeological artifacts, original objects, and manuscripts, and other very interesting displays.

The educational center areas of the Revolutionary War are outlined, and if you happen to go there you don’t want to miss seeing Washington’s Dentures, the most famous in American history, which were made from different materials such as ivory, human and animal teeth, and at least one pair made from metal.

You will also be able to see Washington at three different ages: 19, 45 and 57, through life-sized forensic models based on thorough research. You will learn about 18th century plantation life, which included business and farming and the people who worked to make it possible.

Washington’s distillery and gristmill used technologies that were cutting edge in the late 1700s.

Some of the key moments in the life of George Washington were:

In 1732, Washington was born on Feb. 22 near Pope’s Creek, Va. In 1735, his parents moved to Little Creek Plantation, which was later renamed Mount Vernon; his family moved to Ferry Farm outside of Fredericksburg, Va. in 1738. Washington in 1753 traveled to the Ohio Valley on a mission in which he demanded French military forces leave. In 1759 he married Martha Dandridge Custis and then, in 1758, Washington was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.

In 1761, Washington gained full ownership of Mount Vernon; in 1775 he was appointed by Congress as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army; in 1776 he crossed the Delaware on Christmas night to attack Hessian troops at the battle of Trenton the following day.

In 1781 he claimed victory over the British army at Yorktown, Va.; in 1783 he resigned his military commission in Annapolis, Md.

Washington was sworn in as first president of the United States under the U.S. Constitution in New York, N.Y., in 1789. He retired from the presidency in 1797, and returned to Mount Vernon where he died on Dec. 14, 1799, apparently from a severe throat infection.

∫∫∫

While in the Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., area, I came across the newspaper, “Pentagram,” with one of the headlines proclaiming that, “Purple Heart Day Commemorates Anniversary.”

The story reads in part that there had been recently an anniversary of Purple Heart Day, and that event had taken place at Mount Vernon. Doug Bradburn, the president of the CEO of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, stated, “It’s fitting having had the commemoration at Mount Vernon because Gen. George Washington had created the Purple Heart on Aug. 7, 1782 when he was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and was the first general in the American Army.”

Bradburn added, “Mount Vernon was the beginning of the Purple Heart trail in Virginia. The trail has sites all over the country. These trails are associated with the Purple Heart and sacrifice, and this site is the beginning — mile marker zero.”

Bradburn pointed out that Mount Vernon is the place of great importance to the American people, stating that it’s a place that helps individuals understand who they are as a people, and a lot of different dimensions.

∫∫∫

Another site which I visited was that of Fort Belvoir, a United States Army installation and a census-designated place (CDP) in Fairfax County, Va. It was developed on the site of the former Belvoir plantation, seat of the prominent Fairfax family for whom the county was named.

Today, Fort Belvoir is home to a number of important United States military organizations. With nearly twice as many workers as the Pentagon (23,000 plus), Belvoir is the largest employer in Fairfax County.

The main military base at Fort Belvoir was founded during World War I as Camp A. A. Humphreys, named for Union Civil War general Andrew A. Humphreys, who was also chief of engineers. The post was renamed as Fort Belvoir in the 1930s, in recognition of the Belvoir plantation that once occupied the site. The adjacent United States Army Corps of Engineers, Humphreys Engineer Center retains part of the original name.

For Belvoir was initially the home of the Army Engineer School. In 1987, the Engineer School relocated to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

As a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, a substantial number of personnel were transferred to Fort Belvoir, and others were civilians employed there.

One observation: Fort Belvoir has to have the largest military exchange, along with an adjacent commissary just as large.

∫∫∫

While on the subject of the military, that same newspaper had a story about the Marines. One particular story dealt with the Marines celebrating 100 years of Women in Corps.

The first woman to enlist in the United States Marine Corps was Opha May Johnson.

The legacy she began with her service 100 years ago was celebrated with the grand opening of an exhibit at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery.

“Anniversaries like this are perfect moments to reflect on how women have contributed and continue to contribute to our freedoms,” said retired Maj. Gen. Jan Edmunds, chair of the board for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation. “It is also a perfect opportunity to create a new educational exhibit to help the visiting public understand the long history that women have in military service — a story that sadly, many folks don’t know.

“It is fitting to honor these first women not just because it has been 100 years, but because they exemplify the idea that women have been volunteering to serve every time an opportunity was made available to them — particularly when the country had its most urgent needs,” she stated in the article..

∫∫∫

The annual Marshall-Wetzel-Tyler Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Steak Fry will be held on Sept. 15 at St. Jude Hall, Glen Dale. The event will begin at 6 p.m.

The steak fry is open to the public.

Tickets are $20 per person, with tickets or more information available by phoning 304-639-6318 or via email to marshallcoump@yahoo.com.

Those attending are to bring their own place setting.

∫∫∫

Hosts for Thursday’s Marshall County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours will be the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce and Heller’s Flowers.

The event will take place at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex from 5-7 p.m.

The Vue Bar and Grill at Grand Vue Park will cater the food.

The event will have a tailgate theme and those in attendance are encouraged to wear their favorite team shirt, hat, jersey and etc.

Reservations are to be made by contacting the Chamber office, 304-845-2773.

∫∫∫

The Marshall County Community Educational Outreach Service will sponsor a Quarter Auction on Sept. 8 at the Chevron Building on the grounds of the Marshall County Fairgrounds in Moundsville.

Doors will open at noon with the auction to begin at 1 p.m.

In addition to the auction there will be a Chinese auction, a 50/50 drawing, special door prize of a handmade basket donated by the Mound Weavers CEO Club, and a concession stand with homemade food, the latter to open at noon.

Tickets to the event are available at the Marshall County/WVU Extension Office. Proceeds will benefit the CASA and Marshall County CEOs.

∫∫∫

The Moundsville Lions Club will be holding a special meeting on Sept. 4. The club currently meets at noon on every Tuesday.

However, for this particular meeting, the Lions will gather in the evening (6 p.m.) at the First Presbyterian Church.

The main reason for the evening meeting is to give members who over the years have not been able to attend meetings for different reasons an opportunity to do so.

The upcoming night meeting will determine whether the club should have at least one night meeting a month.

∫∫∫

Members of the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce honored administration assistant Patty Morris on Friday, as it happened to be her last day on the job.

Morris, a retired school teacher, has been a member of the Chamber staff for the past seven years.

∫∫∫

The Marshall County Commission this past week approved $3,000 toward the annual Hands on Ag program, through which fifth grade students in the county learn about animals. The event is held yearly at the county Fairgrounds.

Also, the commissioners authorized to County Clerk Jan Pest to make an expenditure for 12 new computers in her office. Pest said she has the money in her budget.

COMMENTS