A to Z – C is for Captain Charles Windham

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A to Z

C is for Captain Charles Windham,

His Majesty’s Commander

 

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Seeman the younger, Enoch, c.1694-1745; Captain Charles Windham of Earsham (d.1747)Birth 1709 Virginia

Death 20 Aug 1771 South Carolina

My 6th great grandfather

Photo credit: National Trust

The Windham family is on my father’s side. A female Windham married a Mercer, and a granddaughter from that union married a Crane.

 

 

 

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wymondham signCharles’s Windham /Wymondham /Wyndham line is traced back to Sir John De Wymondham in 1320 Wymondham, Norfolk, England.

Three hundred years later, in the early 1600s, Charles’s great grandfather was also born in Norfolk. Apparently the family didn’t get around much. Grandpa  was a judge and military advisor. He migrated to America in 1634 on the ship “John and Dorothy.” After hundreds of years in the same town, I wonder what the family thought of him going to America. I would imagine they weren’t very pleased.

The family settled in Virginia for a couple generations, then Charles moved south to South Carolina. Charles married Mary around 1730 and had at least five children in South Carolina before her death around 1750, including my 5th great grandfather Major Amos Windham who served in the American Revolution in South Carolina.

From Virginia Colonial Records:

Public Record Office, London

Book of Letters Vol. 5

4 Feb 1737. Encloses report of threatened attack by Spanish on Georgia and South Carolina. Has asked Capt. Windham for help. Windham was send to Virginia.

29 Mar 1737. Capt. Windham has ordered Capt. Compton at Virginia to join him quickly.

In the early 1730s, King George II established Georgia as a colony. His main reasoning was to keep the Spanish who were occupying Florida and the Native Indians from attacking South Carolina. Georgia was nothing but a buffer, but King George dumped time, money, and settlers into the colony, helping it to grow and prosper. Wonder where he got the name from? 🙂

The best part of the story is while the King was sending over settlers to build up the colony and munitions to fight off invaders, the Princess of Wales gave birth to a son who would later become King George III. This is the same King the colonists would declare their independence from in 1776. They would never have been able to do so if George II hadn’t supplied them with weapons. Hmmm.

 

A to Z – Mount Vernon

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m blogging about history.

M is for Mount Vernon.

 

 

 

map_small-3Mount Vernon was the home of our first president, George Washington. It sits in Fairfax County, Virginia on the banks of the Potomac River.

The first to own the property was George’s great-grandfather, John Washington, and John’s friend Nicholas Spencer in 1674. The land was successfully acquired due to Nicholas working for Thomas Colepepper (my cousin). Colepepper was the English lord who controlled that part of Virginia for the Crown and no one bought property without his permission.

When John Washington died in 1677, his son Lawrence inherited his father’s part of the land. In 1690, Lawrence agreed to divide the 5,000 acres with the heirs of Nicholas Spencer, who had died the year before.

When Lawrence died in 1698, he left the property to his daughter Mildred. She leased the property to her brother Augustine (George’s dad) and he later bought it from her. He built a house on the site between 1726 and 1735 and called it Little Hunting Creek. The original foundation of that home is still visible in the present house’s cellar.

In 1739, Augustine’s eldest son Lawrence (George’s brother), who was twenty one years of age now, began buying up neighboring tracts of land from the Spencer family, enlarging the farm. When their father died, Lawrence inherited the property and changed the name to Mount Vernon. Lawrence died in 1752 and left some of the estate to his widow and the rest to his brother, George. Once the widow remarried and eventually died in 1761, George became the sole owner of the property.

large_mount-vernon-bowling-greenIn 1758, George began renovations on the house, raising it to two and a half stories. In the 1770s, just before the Revolution, he added even more, the final expansion rendering a twenty-one-room home with an area of 11,028 square feet! A majority of the work was completed by slaves. You can tell he wanted the home to be symmetrical, but if you look at the center door, you will see how far off it is. That probably drove George nuts every time he pulled up in front of the house.

Following George’s death in 1799, the home was passed down through several generations, but the estate progressively declined.

In 1858, the Mount Vernon Ladies Association saw the historical importance of the home and saved it from ruin. They paid the residents over $5 million in today’s money to purchase the home and they restored it. It is still owned and maintained by them and is opened every day of the year for the viewing public. The remains of George and Martha Washington are still on the property in a crypt behind the house.

georgewashingtonburialtomb

A to Z – Arlington National Cemetery

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z blog challenge. I’m participating by writing blogs about history.

A is for Arlington National Cemetery.

 

Everyone is familiar with Arlington National Cemetery, but the story behind it is pretty strange.

 

 

220px-GeoWPCustisThe property was originally owned by George Washington’s step-grandson, George Washington Parke Custis (photo), who built the Arlington House on the property in 1802. George Custis spent a sizable portion of his inheritance to build the palatial home. He married Mary Lee Fitzhugh and had only one child who survived to adulthood –  a daughter named Mary Anna Custis.

 

 

 

 

 

Mary_Custis_Lee_and_Robert_E._Lee_Jr_1845In 1831, Mary Anna married none other than Robert E. Lee. Here is a photo of Mary Anna and her son Robert E. Lee Jr., who looks like a little girl if you ask me. The couple moved into the Arlington House with her family.

In 1857, George Custis died, leaving the house to Mary Anna’s son, George Washington Lee. Robert E. Lee was the executor of George Custis’s will, and took a three-year leave of absence from the army to make needed repairs to the property. Strangely, the will also dictated that all slaves should be freed within five years of George Custis’s death. Robert E Lee did so, setting the slaves free in December of 1862.

 

For thirty years, the Lees made their home at Arlington, and here’s where the story takes a sour turn.

As everyone knows, the American Civil War began in 1861. Robert E. Lee resigned his position in the army and joined the Confederate forces. He went away to serve the Confederacy and Mary Anna moved in with family on May 14, confident that federal forces would soon take over her beloved home. She was correct. They occupied Arlington on May 24.

In 1863, the government passed a law that property taxes needed to be paid in person. I doubt Lee could walk into a federal office and not be arrested, besides, he was a little busy at the time. The government seize the property for non-payment of taxes. By the end of the war, the government decided to turn the property into a federal cemetery, assuring that Lee would never return to it.

He didn’t. He died in 1870 without ever returning to Arlington. Mary Anna only returned to the home once before her death in 1873, but she refused to enter the house, too upset at its condition. Their son eventually sued the federal government for his property, and after going all the way to the Supreme Court, he won compensation in the amount of $150,000, about $3.5 million in today’s money.

In 1955, the government finally recognized Robert E. Lee, designating Arlington House as a permanent memorial.

Arlington_House_pre-1861 (all photos are from Wikipedia)

 

Governor Samuel Stephens from “John Culpepper, Esquire”

JC Esquire (1)In place of my usual Saturday Snippet for the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about the people and places from the third book in the Culpepper Saga, “John Culpepper, Esquire,” which will be released July 2015. If you missed the first or second books, you can see them HERE and HERE.

 

In the book, due to unforeseen circumstances, John finds himself as patriarch of the Culpepper family, suddenly with two young nieces to watch out for. He marries twenty-year-old Anna off to Christopher Dansby and eighteen-year-old Frances off to an up-and-coming politician named Samuel Stephens (photo).

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Samuel Stephens was born in Jamestown, Virginia in 1629. He lived on a 1350-acre plantation called Boldrup in Newport News, Warwick County, Virginia.

Upon Stephens and Frances’s marriage in 1652, she had only been in America for two years. She had been raised in great splendor in England as the Culpepper family were wealthy aristocrats, but following the English Civil War (1642-49) the family needed to escape from the country before they were beheaded. Her uncle John rescued them and brought them to Virginia. Needless to say, the amenities in Virginia were not quite the lands and manors Frances was accustomed to. Upon marrying Samuel Stephens, she surely reverted back to her rich comforts.

Stephens served as the Commander of Southern Plantation (later northeastern North Carolina) 1662-1664, and later became the governor of Albemarle (later North Carolina) from 1667-1669. He was the first native born governor in America. He died in office at the age of forty. They had no children. Frances inherited all of his wealth.

After his untimely death, Frances married Sir William Berkeley in 1670. Berkeley was the governor of Virginia and a childhood friend of her uncle John’s. He was nearly twice her age, but the two made a likely political team. In 1671, the Berkeleys sold Boldrup to William Cole, a member of the Virginia Council.

Today, Boldrup Plantation is a 42-acre historic archeological site and on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. The site includes the graves of William Cole and two of his wives.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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It’s Monday! What are you reading?

 

 

I just finished “Roanoke: The Lost Colony” by Angela Hunt.

 

 

 

910gx90keKL._SL1500_Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this book. As you can see, the cover is absolutely stunning, but it has nothing to do with the story, not even a little bit. As the title indicates, the story is about the missing colonists of Roanoke, and I always enjoy seeing personalities put to historical figures. While I sincerely appreciate the time and energy that went into researching the documents and the history, the characters in this story weren’t very likeable. Reverend Thomas Colman was pretty much a jerk, and his wife Jocelyn starts as a sassy woman who speaks her mind but becomes weak and spineless as the story progresses. The book is touted as a romance, and the two finally get together in the last pages of the book, but it was too little too late and completely out of character for him, seeing as he had been a jerk for the first 98% of the book. The other characters were hit or miss, most disappearing before you even got a chance to know them. The one thing that kept me reading was to find out the author’s impression of what happened to the colonists, but nope, we didn’t. Not even a theory. Nothing. The book just ended.

There were a couple things that drove me to drink. There were no upholstered chairs in the 1500s and certainly no tea in the colonies. Historical inaccuracies like that make me wonder how true the rest of the history-part of the story was. Also, I understand the characters speaking with ‘twas and ‘tis, but it really didn’t need to be ongoing ad nauseum throughout the narrative. ‘Twould be better if it ‘twas written without all the ‘tis and ‘twas. ‘Twouldn’t it?

In general, I wanted to like it, but I really, really wanted an ending.

Amazon link

Ms. Hunt’s website