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 George Washington Parke Custis

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George Washington Parke Custis

Historical figure. Born at Mount Airy, Maryland, to John Parke Custis and Eleanor Calvert Custis. He was the grandson of Martha Washington by her first marriage to Daniel Parke Custis. After his natural father John Parke Custis died in 1781, he and his sister Eleanor were unofficially adopted by General and Mrs. Washington and raised at Mt. Vernon. Known by the childhood nickname Tub, Custis became very attached to his step-grandfather, George Washington. Under Washington’s counsel he pursued studies at St. John's College and Princeton. Upon Washington’s death he devoted himself to literary and agricultural pursuits. In 1799 Custis was commissioned as a colonel in the Army and aide-de-camp to General Charles Pickney. Custis also volunteered in the defense of Washington, D.C. during the the War of 1812. In 1802, he began the construction of Arlington House on land he had inherited from his natural father. He married Mary Lee Fitzhugh in 1804, and they had four children, but only one, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, survived. His income derived from his inherited estates though he was a generally a poor manager and his properties were not very profitable. He devoted most of his time to painting, playwriting, music, oratory, and promoting the improvement of American agriculture. None of his endeavors were marked by great or lasting success. Regarding himself as the heir to the Washington tradition, Custis collected and displayed a large number of Mt. Vernon relics at Arlington House. He began writing a series of 'Recollections of Washington' in the ‘U.S. Gazette’ in 1826, and they were published in book form in 1860. His first play, ‘The Indian Prophecy’, was performed in the Chestnut Street Theater, Philadelphia, in 1830. He also wrote: ‘The Railroad’ and ‘Pocahontas’ in 1830; ‘North Point of Baltimore Defended’ in 1833; and ‘Eighth of January’ in 1834. Custis gave his daughter away at her wedding to Lt. Robert E. Lee, Sr. at Arlington House in 1831. Custis increasingly relied on his son-in-law, to handle his tangled business affairs. Until his death, Custis retained his rooms in the north wing of Arlington House which had also become home to his daughter’s family. He died there after a short illness in October 1857.

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2281
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for George Washington Parke Custis (30 Apr 1781–10 Oct 1857), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2281, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .