Martha Washington’s Speckled Apron 

Presidential History Blog

Mrs. Washington had a big house to manage.

Mistress Custis, Mistress Washington

Martha Dandridge (1731-1802) was not born to wealth per se. She was born, very much like George Washington, to a family of gentry. Her father, John Dandridge, owned several hundred acres. This entitled him to a comfortable living, respect from his neighbors, and a seat in the House of Burgesses.

It was not even close to the wealth of Daniel Parke Custis, the man Martha married when she was eighteen. Twice her age, Custis was the heir to nearly 18,000 acres across five separate plantations, fine houses and all the accoutrements of gracious living.

Daniel Parke Custis

Their marriage was a happy one for seven years. They had four children, two died in early childhood. Then Daniel died. At 26, Martha was one of the wealthiest young widows in Virginia, with not only land and a workforce…

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