Martha Washington ScStr - History

Martha Washington ScStr - History

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Martha Washington

A merchant name retained.

(ScStr.; dp. 12,700; 1. 460'; b. 56'; dr. 24'9"; s. 17.2 k.;
cpl. 949 (trp. 3,380) ; a. 4 5", 2 1-pdr.)

Martha Washington (SP-W19) was launched in 1908 by Russell & Co., Port Glasgow, Scotland; owned by Unione Austriaca di Navigazione; interned at Hoboken, N.J., in 1914; taken over by U.S. Army Quartermaster Department, 6 April 1917; acquired by the Navy November 1917; and commissioned 2 January 1918, Comdr. Chauncey Shackford in command.

A former Austrian passenger liner sailing between Trieste and New York, Martha Washington was interned at Hoboken, N.J., at the outbreak of World War 1. Entrance of the United States into the war 6 April 1917 brought seizure by the Army and 7 months later acquisition by the Navy.

Two months of round-the-clock effort restored the ship to seaworthiness and modified her as a troop transport. On 10 February she sailed in convoy with other transports on the first of eight wartime voyages carrying troops to France. Departing either New York or Newport News, Va., and arriving Brest, or ports on the Gironde River, she embarked a total of 24,005 passengers.

After the Armistice eight additional voyages, 26 November 1918 to 11 November 1919, returned 19,687 troops and passengers from foreign ports. The seventh voyage she also disembarked 945 interned German aliens at Rotterdam, Netherlands. On her final voyage she arrived Brest, 14 August, and received new orders to transport an American relief mission to Turkey and Russia. Under the leadership of Major General Harbord, USN, the mission spent the first 2 weeks in September at Constantinople and 3 weeks following arrival 18 September at Batum, Russia. In this period of civil turmoil, Martha Washington brought 324 Armenian and Polish refugees to Constantinople. Sailing for the United States 15 October, she called at Malta, Marseilles, and Brest before arriving New York on the first anniversary of the Armistice signing.

She decommissioned IS November 1919 and was turned over to the War Department. Three years later in November 1922 she was sold back to her former owner, Unione Austriaca di Navigazione.

Martha Washington is born

On this day in history, June 2, 1731, Martha Washington is born at her father’s estate in New Kent, County, Virginia. Martha Dandridge was the firstborn child of wealthy planter John Dandridge. As a child, Martha received a basic education, which was unusual for girls in that era. She was married at the age of 18 to Daniel Parke Custis, an even wealthier planter than her father, who was 20 years older than she.

Martha and Daniel lived at Daniel’s plantation, which was ironically called The White House. They had four children over the next few years, two of whom live past toddlerhood. Unfortunately, Daniel died in 1757, when Martha was only 26, leaving her in charge of a vast network of plantations covering over 17,000 acres in 5 counties and 285 slaves. With the assistance of her late husband’s business manager, however, Martha learned the intricacies of planning, managing and harvesting the tobacco crop and selling it to London merchants.

Martha was also now responsible for her two children, John Parke Custis, known as Jacky, and Martha Parke Custis, known as Patsy, who were only 2 years and 1 year when their father died. Years later, Martha would be stricken with grief because both children would die young. Patsy died at the age of 17 from an epileptic seizure and Jacky died at the age of 21 from "camp fever" contracted at the Battle of Yorktown.

Martha met and married George Washington in 1759. It is believed they knew each other for only a matter of weeks before he proposed and she accepted marriage. The two moved to Mount Vernon with Martha’s young children and began an idyllic life that by all accounts was loving and harmonious.

When the American Revolution broke out, Martha spent much of the next 8 years home alone at Mount Vernon, but she did travel to Washington’s encampments several times in the winters where she comforted her husband and entertained the officers and their wives. She was also known for rallying women, especially the wealthy, to give money to the Revolutionary cause and make supplies, such as blankets and clothing for the soldiers.

Toward the end of the Revolution, when young Jacky died, he left four children as well. Two of them ended up living permanently with George and Martha. Eleanor Parke Custis, called Nelly, was only 2 when her father died and George Washington Parke Custis, called Wash or Tub, was only 6 months. Since Martha’s children were all now dead and since George and Martha had no children of their own, they raised Nelly and Wash as their own.

Martha was a very private person and did not enjoy the public attention when her husband became President. She lived with him in New York and Philadelphia, where the capital was then located. She entertained guests and dignitaries with lavish dinner parties, but this was a duty to her and not necessarily an enjoyment.

After Washington’s presidency ended, Martha hoped to return to the quiet life at Mount Vernon, but a steady string of guests constantly arrived to visit her husband. When Washington passed away in 1799, Martha was grief stricken and was known to frequently say how much she missed him. When her own death neared less than 3 years later, Martha burned all the letters ever written between herself and her husband. Only two letters between them have survived. For this reason, very little is known about the personal relationship of the first President of the United States and his wife, and this is exactly how the very private Martha Washington intended it.

National Society Sons of the American Revolution

“It was by one Union that we achieved our independence and liberties, and by it alone can they be maintained.”
James Monroe

Martha Washington ScStr - History

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was the first First Lady of the United States. Washington is not only remembered as the nation’s first lady who set an example for her future first ladies, but also as a wife, mother, and property owner. She is an example of strength during the Revolutionary War, and as the first lady of a new nation.

Martha Dandridge was born at Virginia’s Chestnut Grove Plantation located in New Kent County, Virginia on June 2, 1731. She was the eldest of eight children born to John and Frances Dandridge and enjoyed a life of wealth as a child. Martha learned how to read and write, which was uncommon for women in Virginia during the time period. She read the Bible as well as novels and magazines, and she wrote letters, several of which survive today.

On May 15, 1750, Martha Dandridge married 38-year-old Daniel Parke Custis. Together they had four children. However, only two, John (called Jack) and Martha (called Patsy), survived past childhood. When her husband died in 1757, he left a large inheritance to Martha, making her wealthy—something that was less likely to be true a century later. This inheritance included 17,500 acres of land and 300 enslaved people.

Martha met George Washington in 1758. Washington owned Mount Vernon plantation and was the commander of the Virginia forces during the French and Indian War. Ten months after meeting, they married and she and her two surviving children moved into Mount Vernon. Her new husband took an active role in the children’s lives, but tragedy struck again when Patsy died from a seizure at age 17.

Because her husband was often travelling on military and business matters, Martha Washington was the effective manager of the household. She spent every winter in military encampments with General Washington during the Revolutionary War, making socks for the soldiers and raising money for other supplies.

Martha Washington lost her last living child during the Revolution. Jack died of “camp fever” at age 26. Two of his children, Nellie Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis, moved into Mount Vernon and were raised by their grandparents.

The Revolutionary War ended in 1783 and General Washington returned to Mount Vernon. Both George and Martha were looking forward to a quiet retirement at their beloved home. The country, however, had other plans and George Washington became the new nation’s first president in 1789. “Lady Washington” moved with her husband to New York City, the nation’s first capital city. In an attempt to be accessible to the public, she held Friday evening receptions called “levees.” These levees were open to both men and women and followed European traditions of holding court while also serving as an example of social etiquette for every first lady to follow. The following year, the Washington’s moved to the new capital city: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

While in New York and Philadelphia, Martha brought an enslaved girl named Ona (Oney) Judge to act as an attendant. Shortly before returning to Mount Vernon, Judge escaped from enslavement with the help of the Philadelphia free African American community. Although the Washington’s urged Judge to return, she refused. Judge gained a life of freedom in New Hampshire, where she became literate, converted to Christianity, married and had her own family.

The Washington’s finally returned to Mount Vernon in 1797, after the inauguration of John Adams as president. George Washington died just two years later in 1799. After her husband’s death, Washington moved out of their shared bedroom and into a room on the mansion’s third floor. She chose to burn the letters between her and her husband, so there is very little record of their correspondences. In the President’s will, he stated that his 160 enslaved people be freed upon Martha’s death. However, Martha became fearful for her safety, so she freed her late husband’s enslaved people about a year after his death.

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington died May 22, 1802. In her will, she gave away her land, cash, and treasured items including silver and portraits—but never mentioned slaves. As was typical of the times, Martha also provided money for the education of her nephews, but not nieces. The enslaved people that remained under the Washington’s control were called “dower slaves,” and after Martha’s passing, they remained enslaved, and were split up among the Custis grandchildren and relatives.

For more than two decades, Martha Washington shared her husband with America, while she took on hosting duties, as well as the couple’s private property and business management. She set the example for future first ladies, and is recognized for the bravery with which she met the deaths of all of her children. Martha Dandridge Custis Washington served as an example of personal courage in the harsh days of revolution and in a fragile new nation.

Brady, Patricia. Martha Washington: An American Life. Penguin, 2006.

Ten Facts About Martha Washington

From mother to First Lady, Martha Washington had many important roles throughout her life.

1. Martha was born on June 2, 1731, making her 8 months older than George Washington

Martha Dandridge was born on June 2, 1731, at Chestnut Grove plantation in New Kent County, Virginia, which is roughly 35 miles from the colonial capital of Williamsburg. Martha was the first of eight children born to John Dandridge and Frances Jones.

2. Unlike most women in Virginia in the early 1700s, Martha learned to read and write

Unlike the majority of women in Virginia at this time who were not literate, Martha learned both to read and write at an early age. Throughout her entire life, Martha found pleasure and solace in reading. She read the Bible and other devotional literature for religious edification and novels and magazines for entertainment and instruction. Martha was also known as a regular and active letter writer, and a collection of her surviving letters are housed in the collections of the Mount Vernon library.

3. Martha grew to be about 5 feet tall

The average height for European women in early Colonial America was around 5&rsquo2&rdquo. Martha was described as a lovely and attractive woman with a lively personality. She was generally strong-willed, though also charming, sincere, warm, and socially adept. These characteristics allowed her to overcome obstacles and forge her own path in the world.

4. Martha married Daniel Parke Custis on May 15, 1750

In colonial Virginia, most women of Martha&rsquos social class met their potential mates through friends and family, or at church, court day, or a ball held at a neighbor&rsquos house. Tradition holds that Martha met her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis, at their local Anglican church.

Daniel Parke Custis began courting Martha Dandridge when he was in his late thirties. He lived on his own plantation, White House, situated four miles downstream from the Dandridge home on the Pamunkey River. Custis&rsquos imperious father had quashed a number of Daniel&rsquos previous efforts to wed. When word of his son&rsquos interest in Martha surfaced, John Custis IV initially opposed the match. He insisted that the Dandridges lacked sufficient wealth and status to marry into his family and threatened to disinherit his son.

At 38, Daniel Parke Custis was nearly twenty years older than his new wife, who was 18. He was also significantly older than the average Virginia man who married for the first time at age 27. Yet by waiting until he found a woman of whom his father approved, Custis guaranteed his own financial future as well as that of his future heirs--and of Martha herself.

Martha&rsquos marriage to Daniel Parke Custis, who died on July 8, 1757, lasted just over seven years.

5. Martha gave birth to four children, all of whom she outlived

Martha&rsquos first child was a son, named Daniel Parke Custis, born on November 19, 1751, followed in April 1753 by a daughter, Frances Parke Custis. Although the first names were traditional family names, the children&rsquos great-grandfather had imposed a strict condition on inheritance: only children bearing the name &ldquoParke&rdquo as part of their given name would receive a portion of the family estate.

Despite their socially and economically privileged lives, neither Daniel nor Frances would reach the age of five. In the colonial era, childhood was the period of greatest vulnerability to death and disease. Only about 60% of children born at this time lived to the age of 20. In 1754 Daniel died, probably of malaria Frances died in 1757.

Martha had two other children with Daniel Parke Custis, who would become the center of her own life: John Parke Custis (&ldquoJacky&rdquo), who was born in 1754, and Martha Parke Custis (&ldquoPatsy&rdquo), born in 1756. Patsy suffered from repeated seizures, which grew worse over time. After a particularly violent episode on June 19, 1773, Patsy died at age seventeen.

On November 5, 1781, just weeks before he turned twenty-seven, John Parke Custis, Martha&rsquos sole remaining child, contracted a virulent illness and died.

6. Martha and George Washington Were Married on January 6, 1759

As a young, attractive, wealthy widow, Martha Dandridge Custis probably enjoyed more freedom to choose her own destiny than at any other point in her life. At the time they were married, she was only twenty-seven years old, owned nearly 300 enslaved people and had more than 17,500 acres of land&mdash worth more than £40,000.

The attraction between George and Martha was mutual, powerful, and immediate. Martha was charming, attractive, and wealthy. George had his own appeal, standing over six feet two inches tall, he was an imposing figure with a formidable reputation as a military leader.

At the end of 1758, Washington resigned his military commission. On January 6, 1759, Martha Dandridge Custis married George Washington at her home, White House, in New Kent County.

7. Martha stayed at George Washington&rsquos winter encampments throughout much of the Revolutionary War

After Washington left Mount Vernon in 1775, he would not return again for over six years. Every year, during the long winter months when the fighting was at a standstill, the General asked Martha to join him at his winter encampment.

Every year she made the arduous journey to his camp, whether it was at Cambridge, Valley Forge, Philadelphia, Morristown, Newburgh, or elsewhere. She stayed with him for months at a time. In fact, during the period from April 1775 until December 1783 Martha was able to be with her husband for almost half the time he was away. The General regarded his wife&rsquos presence as so essential to the cause that he sought reimbursement from Congress for her traveling expenses.

Before she could make the first trip, however, Martha had to undergo her own ordeal. She had to be inoculated for smallpox, one of the most deadly enemies soldiers faced during wartime. After successfully weathering the inoculation, Martha could then travel to the soldiers&rsquo camp without fear of contracting the disease or transmitting it to others.

8. Martha was the Nation&rsquos first First Lady

Just as her husband realized that his actions would set a precedent for future presidents, so Martha, too, was aware that her behavior as first lady would become the template for the wives of future chief executives. One of her most important steps was to initiate a weekly reception, held on Friday evenings, for anyone who would like to attend.

At these gatherings, members of Congress, visiting dignitaries, and men and women from the local community were received at the presidential mansion. After being presented to Mrs. Washington, they enjoyed refreshments, talked with each other, and mingled. Although most guests addressed Martha as &ldquoLady Washington,&rdquo some referred to her as &ldquoour Lady Presidentess.&rdquo

9. Martha freed George Washington&rsquos enslaved people

Under the provisions of his will, George Washington declared that the 123 slaves that he owned outright (separate from the dower slaves that would be distributed among the Custis heirs) were to gain their freedom after his wife&rsquos death. There was a fear that these slaves could revolt and kill Martha in order to gain their freedom. Rumors circulated about a suspicious fire at Mount Vernon that may have been set by slaves.

Fearing for her life, Martha, at the urging of relatives, decided to free her deceased husband&rsquos slaves early. On January 1, 1801, a bit more than a year after George&rsquos death, Washington&rsquos slaves gained their liberty.

10. Martha died on May 22, 1802 and lies in rest next to her husband

Martha&rsquos health, always somewhat precarious, declined precipitously after the passing of George Washington. Just two and a half years after her husband and to the dismay of her extended family, Martha Washington died on May 22, 1802.

Martha&rsquos death brought the Custis heirs even greater riches. Each of Martha&rsquos four grandchildren received substantial amounts of land and money that been held in trust for them for years. Moreover, each received a share of the so-called &ldquodower slaves,&rdquo the descendants of the enslaved people once owned by Martha&rsquos first husband, Daniel Parke Custis.

In 1831, after being moved from Mount Vernon&rsquos old tomb to the new tomb, Martha&rsquos remains were placed into a marble sarcophagus that stands near her husband&rsquos at Mount Vernon to this day.

Martha Washington

Martha on the $1 Bill

Did you know that Martha Washington is the first and only real woman to grace the primary portrait of U.S. paper currency?


Martha Washington

Learn even more about the remarkable life of Martha Washington. From her life at Mount Vernon to her Revolutionary War and Presidential roles.

Celebrating the FIRST, First Lady, Martha Washington, and Other Marthas During Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month. An oxymoron if we ever heard one. Just a month? But there’s no complaining here. We’re going to be like our honored FIRST, First Lady, Martha Washington, and just continue on with the work at hand. And, in her case, some of the most important work in our history. Little did she know that after marrying the eligible bachelor George in 1759, this wealthy widow would have a life like no other before, or since. Lady Washington (the title “first lady” would not be coined until the mid-1850’s) went about her day, as she writes, “steady as a clock, busy as a bee, and cheerful as a cricket.”

Portrait of Martha Washington by Asher B Durand

It was in 1775 that she heard her husband had been named Commander of the Continental Army, and spent half the war with him, either in nearby homesteads or at the General’s camp. During that time, she was his sounding board and confidant she copied letters, represented him at functions comforted the sick and wounded soldiers raised funds and “brightened the darkness of the long winter days.” Her presence boosted the morale of the weary army, and its leader.

Sue Gardner (Photo by MJ Hanley-Goff)

No wonder then, that at one of the more notable places where they worked side by side – his stone-house headquarters in Newburgh, New York – that Martha is honored every March. But it’s not all about Martha, but rather the tireless women who have come since, making a difference in the field of history and keeping Hudson Valley’s glorious past alive. The Martha Washington Woman of History Award has been bestowed upon 20 women since its inception in 2003, and this year, it goes to Warwick, New York resident, Sue Gardner, historian, author, and librarian.

MJ Hanley-Goff, Sue Gardner, and Elyse B. Goldberg (Photo by Jerry Kuntz)

Earlier this month, the Historic Site Manager of Washington’s Headquarters, Elyse B. Goldberg, presented the golden disc award in a small gathering of five, a much smaller audience than in past events due to Covid restrictions, and beneath a towering portrait of George. With her name added to the illustrious list of past “Marthas” — an affectionate term for the growing roster — another life’s work dedicated to a worthy cause was recognized. Along with authoring two successful books on Orange County history, Gardner has been digitizing documents organizing annual community re-enactments fundraising and saving a historic Warwick home researching and making accessible documents on key women in Hudson Valley history creating local history curriculum and as Deputy Town Historian for Warwick and Reference Librarian at the Albert Wisner Library, continues to assist those researching their own family history. And, as they say in the movies, “she ain’t done yet.”

Gardner responded with humility, much like Martha would herself. In her remarks earlier this month, she deemed it an “honor to be included in the group of dedicated women,” and thanked those who have helped her along the way. “I’m a firm believer,” Gardner shares, “that listening to the voices of those who have gone before us is a path to better understanding our own time…moving ahead, by looking back. For me, one of the most meaningful things is to know something of the lives of ordinary people who inhabited the landscape I travel today.”

We congratulate Sue Gardner, and all the “Marthas” around the State and around the Country who carry on similar work, mostly unseen, but if left undone, how much poorer our world would be.

MJ Hanley-Goff, WAT writer and former assistant to the Orange County Historian, nominated Sue Gardner for this award and was present at the March 3rd ceremony. In lieu of a public event, the presentation was video recorded for airing beginning March 21st at 2 p.m. as part ofThe Generals Lady” program which pays tribute to Martha as well as recognizing the impact of noteworthy historical and contemporary women making a difference in the field of history and preservation in the Hudson Valley.

“Washington’s Headquarters SHS Staff”

The free online event can be accessed by searching YouTube forPalisades Interstate Park Commission Television” on and after Sunday, March 21 st at 2pm. For further details please call the site at 845-562-1195.

For more information on Washingtons Headquarters in Newburgh, New York, visit the state’s site for parks, recreation and historic preservation.

Top photo of Sue Gardner by Jerry Kuntz

Photo of Martha Washington’s portrait, Sue Gardner’s headshot, and flyer provided The George Washington National Historic Site

Martha Washington’s Winter Vacation 1779-1780

Martha Washington is greeted by George Washington upon her arrival at the Ford Mansion.

When you think of a winter vacation spot, Morristown, N.J. during the worst winter in United States history, is probably not high on your list. But that is exactly where Martha Washington wanted to spend her time in 1780.

Her husband General Washington was too busy to return home. In fact, during the 8 years of the American Revolution, General Washington only returned home for a few days before and after the victory at Yorktown in 1781. As a result, every winter of the 8 year war Martha traveled from Virginia to visit her husband.

Martha Washington’s 1779 trip to Morristown wasn’t easy. She started her trip late in the season with snow already on the ground. When she reached Philadelphia on December 21st, the snow was too deep for her horse-drawn coach to proceed to Morristown. General Washington had to send an officer with a horse-drawn sleigh to bring her from Philadelphia to Morristown. She finally arrived at the Ford Mansion on December 31, 1779.

George and Martha's home, Mount Vernon, located in Virginia.

Once she had settled in, Mrs. Washington took up the job of overseeing the work of the servants and cooks of the general’s household. She visited or entertained other women who were visiting their families in camp. One visitor, Elizabeth Schuyler described Mrs. Washington that winter: “She was then almost fifty years old, but was still handsome. She was quite short, a plump little woman with dark brown eyes, her hair a little frosty and very plainly dressed for such a grand lady, as I considered her. She wore a plain brown gown of homespun stuff, a large white neckerchief, a neat cap, and her plain gold wedding ring which she had worn more than twenty years. Her graces and cheerful manner delighted us.” Mrs. Washington’s camp visit also included social functions with her husband including dances, dinners and military reviews for visiting ambassadors and congressmen. When the visiting Spanish Ambassador became ill, Martha became his nurse.

General Washington left the Ford Mansion on June 7, 1780 to deal with a British invasion that had advanced as far as Springfield. But he returned briefly on June 15 th to say farewell to his wife as she began her month-long trip back to Virginia. A very fatigued Martha Washington finally arrived home on July 14 th . She described her Morristown winter vacation: “there was not much pleasure thar the distress of the army and other difficultys th’o I did not know the cause, the pore General was so unhappy that it distressed me exceedingly….” And after all her travel problems she swore: “I suffered so much last winter by going late that I have determined to go early in the fall before the Frost set in.”

Local Historian Sue Gardner Named Martha Washington Woman of History

Local historian Sue Gardner has been named the 2021 Martha Washington Woman of History by Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh. This award is given annually to a woman who has made a contribution to the history of the Hudson Valley through education, promotion, or preservation. The honor was inspired by Martha Washington, who resided in the Hudson Valley with her husband during the last days of the Revolutionary War.

Ms. Gardner is the Deputy Historian for the Town of Warwick and Local History Librarian for the Albert Wisner Public Library. She is author of, “Pure Necessity: Revolution at Warwick”, which won the Greater Hudson Heritage Network’s Award for Excellence last year.

Gardner has also coordinated the Friends of Hathorn historical society since its founding in 2014. She notes that, “This is truly an honor, and is humbling because many women work very hard over many years to preserve and promote our region’s historical heritage. I would never have been able to succeed in my efforts without all those who have helped me over the years to research and honor Warwick’s Founding Veterans and their wives and families.”

An award ceremony is being planned and will take place in March during Women’s History Month in accordance with current pandemic restrictions. For more information about the award, contact Washington’s Headquarters Historic Site manager Elyse B. Goldberg, email [email protected] , or phone 845-562-1195.

Local historian, Sue Gardner, has been named the 2021 Martha Washington Woman of History by Washington Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh, NY.

From 1900 to 1971, the Martha Washington School for Girls provided resident supervision for delinquent girls, first on Queen Anne Hill, then on Mercer Island, and finally on property at Brighton Beach on Lake Washington originally owned by Juvenile Court Judge Everett T. Smith (1862-1933). The state of Washington assumed control of the school in 1957 and operated it until 1971, when it closed. The site is now the Martha Washington Park.

The school site was originally the home of Judge Smith who built "Morningside" on five acres he had purchased from John Wilson in 1889. Wilson received the property from Asa Mercer (1839-1917) in 1867 as payment for a $1500 loan that Wilson made to Mercer in 1863 when Mercer was stranded in San Francisco with his cargo of Mercer Girls. Smith built a home with a nursery and a boat house. He also built a hollow stairway to an enormous Madrona tree on the property.

In 1900, Maj. Cicero Newell, his wife Emma Cicero (d.1916), and the Woman's Century Club founded the Parental School for Boys and Girls in the Queen Anne area. The institution served as a reform school. The school moved to Mercer Island in 1903, then back to Seattle in 1914.

Judge Smith sold the property to the Seattle School District in 1920 for the Martha Washington School for girls. Smith had been active on and off the bench as an advocate for troubled youth. The school built a classroom and dorm building in 1921 and added a dorm and a gymnasium in 1930. The school kept the Morningside greenhouse, boathouse, and caretaker's residence.

In 1957, the state of Washington assumed control of the school and operated it until 1971, when it closed. The property was sold to the City of Seattle in 1972. Seattle maintains the site as the Martha Washington Park. It is located at 6612 57th Avenue S.

The SCHOONER Project:
The Hon. Jan Drago
Seattle City Council
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

Martha Washington School for girls, 1966

Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (30562)

Judge Everett Smith's Madrona tree, Martha Washington School for girls, 1975

The Makeover

First, I gave her a good cleaning with vinegar and water solution. I use two parts water and one part vinegar for small jobs. The Hubs glued the broken leg back into place and also added a screw.

I decided to go out of my comfort zone and use color. The color I chose was Dixie Belle’s Chalk Paint in the color Kudzu. The green was a bit too bright. I added a touch of Dixie Belle Bunker Hill (blue) and Rebel Yellow to darken up the green. This would darken up the green and give it a farmhouse look. I gave the entire piece, except the top, one coat.

The top is naturally worn and I LOVE the way it looks. Therefore, I did not want to paint over it. I gave it a nice rub down with Bees Wax.

After allowing my paint to dry for about 4 hours, I heavily distressed the cabinet with 220 grit sandpaper. Update: I received many emails asking why I painted this cabinet. This cabinet had severe scratches and dents that were not feasible to repair. Sometimes paint is our only option.

I found these cute wooden knobs on Ebay for $3.00 each.

I sealed this piece with one coat of Dixie Belle’s Best Dang Wax. See some of the original wood peeking through. It gives it such character. I hope Mrs. Washington would approve!

Supply List for the Martha Washington Sewing Cabinet Makeover

Looking for more furniture makeovers ideas? Here are other projects you may like!

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it will be.

Martha Washington's Cookbook

Within the first three days starting my job at HSP, I was told of our major treasures. These include: the first four drafts of the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation proclamation signed by President Lincoln. And as an aside, someone mentioned that we also own Martha Washington’s cookbook. Since my first introduction to it, this book has become one of my favorite documents in our collections. I am a foodie and I love to cook. I enjoy the challenge of a unique recipe, especially one 400 years old.

Martha Washington inherited this book from her first mother-in-law, Mrs. Custis. A book such as this would have been written for a daughter so that she could take the family recipes with her when she married. Mrs. Washington kept the book in her possession for fifty years before giving it to her granddaughter Nelly Parke Custis. When the book came up for sale in 1892, HSP purchased the book.

According to Karen Hess who transcribed and annotated the manuscript, (Columbia University Press, 1981), the cookbook was most likely written in England at the beginning of the 17 th Century. It begins from both ends with one side of the book containing The Booke of Cookery, and the other Sweet Meats. The Booke of Cookery is primarily recipes for savory dishes. The Sweet Meats refers to desserts and cakes. Ms. Hess was able to date the book by the ingredients from the recipes themselves. Characteristic of its time, the recipes are strongly influenced by French cooking and contain none of the ingredients from the new colonies in the Americas. There no mention of potatoes, tomatoes, corn or squash. Instead the book shows how much French and English cooking was influenced by food items from the near east. Almonds, rosewater, and Damascus Prunes, were all ingredients brought back by the Crusaders and became standard in recipes of the wealthy.

By my second year working at HSP we decided we wanted to have a potluck from the book. The surprise, prize winning recipe that afternoon was “To make a Lettis Tart”. Yes, I know, this doesn’t sound appetizing, but bear with me. Lettis was used to refer to many different leafy greens including spinach, chard and in this case probably cabbage. This recipe has become my standard for Thanksgiving potlucks as I always have an empty dish at the end of the evening. You will be pleasantly surprised how delicious and easy this recipe is – try it!

When you have raised ye crust, lay in all over the bottom some butter, & strow in some sugar, cinnamon, & a little boyle yr cabbage lettis in a little water & salt, & when ye water is drayned from it, lay it in yr coffin with some dammask pruens stoned then lay on ye top some marrow & such seasoning as you layd on ye bottom. Yn close it up and bake it.

  • ½ medium cabbage (about 2-3cups after blanching)
  • 1c prunes chopped
  • 1T sugar
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 1/2t powdered ginger or 1 good grating of fresh ginger
  • 2 pie crusts, enough for base and lid

Preheat oven to 350F and set a large pot of salted water to boil.

Prepare the pie crust in a pie pan according to your favorite recipe. My favorite recipe is go to Trader Joes and purchase one from the frozen section, follow the directions on the box.

In the bottom of the pie pan spread out the chopped prunes. Sprinkle sugar cinnamon, and ginger over the top of the prunes.

Chop the cabbage and blanch quickly in boiling water. Allow to drain completely before placing this on top of the prunes and spices.

Cover the pie with remaining pie crust.

Bake at 350 for 30 – 40 minutes.

Up next week, join me for a cup of Hannah Penn's coffee. You've never had coffee like this before.

If you would like your own adventure of cooking directly from original historic recipes, you can purchase a facsimile of Ellen Emlen’s Cookbook here.

Watch the video: Martha Washington Biography - History of Martha Washington in Timeline (September 2022).


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