The Patriarch and Matriarch
George Washington Parke Custis and Mary Fitzhugh Custis were the family’s patriarch and matriarch. They married in 1804 and had four children. Only Mary survived infancy. Their seven grandchildren brought them great joy. Mr. Custis entertained the children with stories, while Mrs. Custis fostered their religious upbringing. Mr. and Mrs. Custis both died in this room in the 1850s. The enslaved knew Mr. Custis’ will contained provisions to free them. His death brought them one step closer to freedom.
“We miss him more & more every moment. Everything around us reminds us so forcibly of him who has left it forever. Even his cat wanders around the hearth as if it misses the familiar figure in the arm chair.”–Agnes Lee, October 11, 1857
George Washington Parke Custis loved spending time with his grandchildren. Both Mr. and Mrs. Custis were buried at Arlington, making leaving the home in 1861 even harder for the Lees.