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WASHINGTON FAMILY TOMB at MOUNT VERNON
(Fairfax County)
On the grounds of Mount Vernon, home of George Washington
South Alexandria, Virginia USA
Original Information from Volume 5 of the Gravestone Books
 
The Washington Family Tomb is located on the grounds of the estate “Mount Vernon,” home of George Washington, the first president of the United States of America.  Mount Vernon is located at the end of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, along the Potomac River, south of the City of Alexandria.  The house and grounds are open to the public.
 
John Washington, George Washington’s great grandfather, acquired the land along Little Hunting Creek where Mount Vernon stands today in 1674, according to a brochure about the estate.  John Washington left the land to his son Lawrence, who devised it to his daughter Mildred.  In 1726, Mildred sold Mount Vernon to her brother Augustine, George Washington’s father.
 
George Washington, the first child of Augustine Washington and Mary Ball, was born at the family home, Popes Creek Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in 1732.  Augustine Washington and his family lived at Mount Vernon from 1735 to 1739, according to the brochure.  In 1740, Augustine deeded Mount Vernon to George’s elder half brother, Lawrence Washington.  It was Lawrence who named the estate “Mount Vernon,” reports John W. Wayland in The Washingtons and Their Homes, “in honor of Admiral Vernon, under whom he had served in the West Indies.”  Augustine Washington died in 1743.  That same year, Lawrence Washington married and brought his wife to live at Mount Vernon.
 
After the age of 16, George Washington lived at Mount Vernon with his half brother Lawrence and his wife Ann Fairfax.  Before his death in 1743, Wayland says, Lawrence directed in his will that a “proper vault” be constructed for himself and his family.  George Washington leased Mount Vernon from Ann Fairfax Washington in 1754, and inherited the property upon her death in 1761, according to the brochure.
 
In January 1759, George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, widow of Daniel Parke Custis.  She came to Mount Vernon with her two children, John (“Jackie”) Parke Custis and Martha (“Patsy”) Parke Custis.  After Jackie’s death in 1781, George and Martha Washington reared his two youngest children, Eleanor (“Nelly”) Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis.
 
George Washington worked as a surveyor as a young man and served in the French and Indian War for five years.  He was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1775, and was appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.  He did not return to Mount Vernon until the fall of 1781, when he stopped briefly on his way to Yorktown, according to the Mount Vernon brochure.  During the years of his absence, the estate was managed by his cousin, Lund Washington.  A 1969 Historic American Buildings Survey Inventory of Mount Vernon credits “their voluminous correspondence” with providing much information about the mansion and plantation.
 
In 1783, Washington resigned his army commission and retired to Mount Vernon.  He returned to public life in 1787 to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.  During his tenure as President of the United States from 1789 to 1797, Washington was able to return to Mount Vernon only fifteen times.  He retired to his estate at the end of his second term.
 
George Washington died in the master bedroom at Mount Vernon on 14 December 1799.  In his will, which was published with related documents by Fairfax County in 1957, Washington requested that he be buried at Mount Vernon and set out directions for the construction of a new family tomb to replace the one built for his half brother:
 
The family Vault at Mount Vernon requiring repairs and being improperly situated besides, I desire that a new one of Brick, and upon a larger scale, may be built, at the foot of what is commonly called the Vineyard Inclosure,--on the ground which is marked out.--In which my remains, with those of my deceased relatives (now in the old Vault) and such others of my family as may chuse (sic) to be entombed there, may be deposited.--And it is my express desire that my Corpse may be interred in a private manner, without parade, or funeral oration.--
 
Shortly after Washington’s death, Congress made plans to erect a marble monument to his memory and entomb his remains beneath it in the new Capitol building in the District of Columbia.  Martha Washington agreed to this proposal and a crypt was begun under the Capitol dome, according to Mount Vernon, Virginia:  An Illustrated Handbook by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.  The project was never finished.  Washington’s executors, in the meantime, proceeded with Washington’s wishes for a new family tomb.  It was completed in 1831, and George and Martha Washington (who died in 1802), along with other family members, were removed from the old vault to the new tomb, according to the Handbook.
 
In his will, George Washington devised the Mount Vernon estate to his nephew Bushrod Washington, son of John Augustine Washington.  When Bushrod Washington died in 1829, the Handbook states that he left the Mansion House and 1200 acres of the estate to his nephew John Augustine Washington who survived Bushrod by just three years.  His widow Jane conveyed Mount Vernon to their son John Augustine Washington, Jr. in 1850, according to Washington and His Neighbors by Charles W. Stetson.
 
By the time John A. Washington, Jr. had acquired his ancestor’s estate, the property had fallen into decline.  Stetson reports that he turned down private offers to purchase Mount Vernon which was still a “Mecca” for visitors stopping to honor the “Father of Our Country.”  But these early tourists brought the need for preservation and protection to the attention of the public.  Ann Pamela Cunningham of South Carolina, described by Stetson as “an invalid of dauntless spirit,” rallied the public to purchase Mount Vernon and was instrumental in forming The Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union, the oldest national preservation organization in America, which was chartered by the State of Virginia in 1856.  The Ladies took possession of Mount Vernon in 1858, and Miss Cunningham served as the first Regent.
 
The new Washington Family Tomb and surrounding area was surveyed in 1923 and 1997.  The tomb stands southwest of the Mansion House.  Two white marble sarcophagi stand behind an iron gate in the brick vault.  A sign at the site reads:
 
Tomb of Washington
Erected 1830-31
Site & material specified
in Washington’s will
 
 
A stone tablet mounted over the gate to the tomb interior is inscribed:
 
Within this Enclosure
Rest
the remains of
Genl George Washington.
 
 
George Washington’s sarcophagus lies to the right within the vestibule.  The arms and insignia of the United States are carved onto the top of the sarcophagus with his name inscribed at the foot of the sarcophagus:
 
George Washington
 
 
Martha Washington’s sarcophagus lies to the left.  On the top are the words:
Martha
Consort of
Washington
 
And at foot of her sarcophagus:
 
Died May 22 1802.
Aged 70 years.
 
According to a docent at the Washington Family Tomb in the fall of 1997, 25 other family members in regular-style coffins are entombed in the new vault.  The old tomb, a short distance to the east, has been restored and visitors can stop to visit it on the way to the new family tomb.  Information from the library at Mount Vernon obtained by the Virginia Room of the Fairfax City Regional Library lists the following entombments which were moved from the old tomb to the new vault in 1831:
 
Name                                   Birth        Death
Jane Washington                            1744          1745
   daughter of Lawrence & Ann Washington
Fairfax Washington                         1746          1747
   son of Lawrence & Ann Washington
Mildred Washington                         1748          1749
   daughter of Lawrence & Ann Washington
Lawrence Washington                    ca. 1718          1752
   George Washington’s elder half brother
Sarah Washington                           1750      ca. 1754
   daughter of Lawrence & Ann Washington
Martha Parke Custis                    ca. 1757          1773
   “Patsy”
   daughter of Martha Washington
George Fayette Washington                  1787          1787
   son of George Augustine &
   Frances Bassett Washington
George Augustine Washington            ca. 1758          1793
   George Washington’s nephew
Frances Bassett Washington Lear            1767          1796
   Martha Washington’s niece
   widow of George Augustine Washington,
   who later married Tobias Lear
_____ Peter                            ca. 1795          1800
   daughter of Thomas &
   Martha Parke Custis Peter[1]
Martha Betty Lewis                         1801          1802
   daughter of Lawrence &
   Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis[2]
Ann Aylette Washington Robinson            1783          1804
   daughter of William Augustine &
   Jane Washington
   wife of William Robinson
William Augustine Washington               1757          1810
   son of Augustine[3] &
   Ann Aylette Washington
Mary Lee Washington Herbert            ca. 1795          1827
   daughter of Corbin[4] &
   Hannah Lee Washington
   wife of Noblet Herbert
Noblet Herbert                                  ca. 1821-1826
Jane Herbert                                    ca. 1821-1826
   daughter of Noblet &
   Mary Lee Washington Herbert
Robert Herbert                                  ca. 1821-1826
   son of Noblet &
   Mary Lee Washington Herbert
Bushrod Washington                         1762          1829
   George Washington’s nephew
   and heir to Mount Vernon
Julia Ann Blackburn Washington             1768          1829
   wife of Bushrod Washington
Bushrod Washington                         1785          1831
   fourth child of William Augustine &
   Jane Washington
   husband of Henrietta Bryan Spotswood
 
Information from the library at Mount Vernon lists the following entombments in the new Washington Family Tomb after 1831:
 
John Augustine Washington II               1789          1832
   son of Corbin & Hannah Lee Washington
   husband of Jane Charlotte Blackburn
   inherited Mount Vernon from Bushrod Washington
Eliza Parke Custis Law                     1776          1832
   granddaughter of Martha Washington
Lawrence Lewis                             1767          1839
   son of Fielding &
   Betty Washington Lewis[5]
   husband of Eleanor Parke Custis
_____ Johnson                                            1842
   child of the Reverend W. Philando
   Chase & Eliza Washington Johnson
Jane Charlotte Blackburn Washington        1786          1855
   wife of John Augustine Washington II
 
Two large marble obelisks which stand in front of the new vault were erected as memorials to the private owners of Mount Vernon after George Washington’s death.  Both shafts were carved by “A. Gaddis Fecit. Balto”:
 
Within the vault Lie buried
the mortal remains of
Bushrod Washington,
An associate Justice,
of the Supreme Court of the U. S.
He died in Philadelphia,
Nov’r 26th 1829;
Aged 68
By his side is interred
his devoted Wife
Anna Blackburn,
Who survived her beloved
Husband but two days.
Aged 60.
Judge Washington.
Was the Son of
John Augustine Washington
and the Nephew of
Genl George Washington,
Who appointed him
one of his Executors.
And bequeathed him Mount Vernon.
As a Judge he was Wise and Just.
“A man of Truth, hating covetousness.”
Firm in every honourable purpose and pursuit,
Yet gentle humane and condescending.
A sincere Christian, Doing in all things the will of his Master,
And resting his hope of eternal happiness, []ove on the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
This humble Monument to the memory of the
venerated Judge and his beloved Wife
Is placed here by her Niece the
Widow of his nephew.  John A. Washington.
Sacred To the memory of
John Augustine,
son of
Corbin & Hannah Lee
Washington,
& Nephew of
Judge Bushrod Washington
Who appointed him one
of his Executors,
And bequeathed him Mount Vernon,
where he died June 16 1832,
aged 43.
His strength of mind
His firm integrity,
and pure Republican principles were known
to all who were familiar with him.
His mortal remains
are interred within the Vault.
And this humble monument to his worth.
His purity and unostentatious Excellence in all
the relations of Life is
Erected by his widow.  (sic)
Sacred To the memory of
Jane Charlotte Blackburn,
Devoted wife of
John Augustine Washington.
Born Aug. 23rd 1786.
Died Sept. 6th 1855.
Whose remains are interred in this vault.
“The beloved Persis who
labored much in the Lord.”
In memory
of
John Augustine
Washington
Lt. Col.  C. S. A.
1820-1861
and his wife
Eleanor Love Selden
1824-1860
Last private owners of
Mount Vernon.
Buried at
Charlestown West Virginia.
 
 
The memorial to Lt. Col. John Augustine Washington and his wife was not recorded by the 1923 surveyor, nor was it mentioned in the 1958 Handbook.  It is possible that this part of the inscription was added more recently.
 
According to the information from the library at Mount Vernon, there are three burials to the east of the new Washington Family Tomb.  Two obelisks which stand at this spot within a tall wrought iron fence are inscribed:
 
Sacred to the memory of
Eleanor Parke Lewis,
Granddaughter of Mrs & adopted daughter of General Washington
Reared under the roof of the
Father of his County,
this Lady was not more remarkable
for the beauty of her person
than for the superiority of her mind.
She lived to be admired, and died
to be regretted on the 15th of July 1852
in the 74th year of her age.
 
 
Sacred To the memory of
Mrs M. E. A. Conrad
Wife of Chs M. Conrad
of New Orleans.
Daughter of
Lawc & Eleanor P. Lewis
and Grand Niece of
Genl George Washington
Born April 1st 1813
at Woodlawn Fairfax Co Va,
and died Sept. 21st 1839
at Pass Christian Missi
in the 27th Year of her age.
Erected to the Memory of
a beloved Wife
by her Husband.
If the possession of every
Virtue that adorns or dignifies
her sex could have warded off
the stroke of death she would
have been immortal & those
who mourn her untimely end
are consoled by the reflection
that those Virtues seemed better
to fit her for the abode to which
her Spirit has fled than for
that which it has abandoned.
To the memory of
Charles M. Conrad.[6]
Died in New Orleans.
Feb. 11 1878
Aged 73 years
 
The list from the Mount Vernon library indicates that M. E. Angela Lewis Conrad was moved to this site in 1842.  It includes a third burial east of the Washington Family Tomb:
 
Angela Lewis Conrad                        1836          1837
   daughter of M. E. Angela Lewis &
   Charles M. Conrad
When the site was surveyed in 1923, the following inscriptions were recorded, but they were not found in 1997, nor are they included on the library’s list:
 
To the memory of
Charles Anjelo
Eldest son of
Charles M. & M. E. A. Conrad
Died in New Orleans
Sept. 23 1892
aged 55 years.
Lawrence Lewis
second son of
Charles M. & M. E. A. Conrad
Died in Baltimore Co. Md.
Aug. 1883
aged 44 years.
 
No Updates from Volume 6 of the Gravestone Books
 
 
[1] Martha Parke Custis Peter was Martha Washington’s granddaughter.
[2] Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis was Martha Washington’s granddaughter.
[3] George Washington’s half brother.
[4] George Washington’s nephew.
[5] George Washington’s sister.
[6] The information from the Mount Vernon library does not list Charles M. Conrad as a burial or entombment at this site.