Abbildungen der Seite

projecting eaves, with a broad piazza in front, a great chimney at either end, and just such a big, delightful attic as boys and girls love to play in, on days when the wind blows and whistles without, or the rain pours and patters on the roof.

It was to this old Virginia farm-house that Augustine Washington, in the year 1730, brought home his second wife, Mary Ball, of Lancaster County, Virginia; but whom, so it is said, he met and married in England. In the old house were two boys of seven and nine years; they were Lawrence and Augustine; their mother, their father's first wife, had been dead nearly two years, but their new mother became almost like an own mother to them.

In this old farmhouse at Bridge's Creek, the eldest son of Augustine and Mary Washington was born on the twentysecond of February, 1732. They named him George. What with his two half-brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, and his own brothers and sisters who were born after him, George Washington had plenty of company in his home. He never remembered the house in which he was born, however; for in 1735 some sparks from a bonfire set it in flames and it was burned to the ground.

Not a stick nor a stone of that old house remains to-day; but it has been a famous spot for many a year. In 1815, a memorial stone was placed on the spot where the house once stood, and on the stone were these words:

Here, on the eleventh of February, 1732, George Washington was born.

What is called the “old style ” of reckoning time was used in those days, and the eleventh of February was in 1732, the same as the twenty-second of February to us; therefore, under our modern way of reckoning time the birthday of George Washington was the twenty-second of February — the day that we celebrate as a National holiday.

When his house at Bridge's Creek was thus destroyed, Augustine Washington moved into another farmhouse that belonged to him on another plantation, further up the Potomac. This plantation was in Stafford County, and did not border on the Potomac River, but was on the banks of the Rappahannock, nearly opposite the little town of Fredericksburg: This house was very much in

Pateina ir T. like the one that was burned. It stood back from the river, on a ridge or bluff that overlooked the Rappahannock, and between the house and the river was a stretch of meadow that was the playground of the Washington children. For in this pleasant old Virginia




TON'S BIRTHPLACE. (By permission of John Crawford & Son,


country home George Washington lived until he was sixteen years old. As with the birthplace of Washington, so it was with the home of his boyhood. It was long since destroyed, and nothing marks the spot where, as a boy, he who was to be the “ Father of his Country "lived and played and dreamed and thought and grew. It would be pleasant to know more about his boyhood days, for it is always interesting to know what sort of a “ bringing up "a great man had when a boy. But there is, really, very little known about the boyhood of George Washington.

His father was what we should call a “well-to-do” farmer. He owned several large farms, or plantations, as they were then called, in the colony of Virginia, along the Potomac River. He never had much money, for money was not plentiful in those “old colony days.” Planters and farmers were rich in land and in the crops they raised, but these crops were not always sold for money; they were exchanged for the things that were needed on the farm or in the home. The Virginia farmers, as I have told you, raised more tobacco than anything else; for a great many folks in Europe had learned to smoke tobacco since the time when Sir Walter Raleigh (who introduced into England the practice of smoking tobacco) was drenched from head to foot by his terrified servant who, seeing the tobacco smoke, thought his master was on fire. So the rich Virginia farmlands were planted with tobacco, and the ships that came from England took away the tobacco,



[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

and left in exchange things to eat and things to wear, and things to make home comfortable.

And a very comfortable home the son of this Virginia planter had. It was not a great nor a grand house, as were a few of the houses of the very richest Virginians; it was not, perhaps, what the boys and girls of today, with to-day's idea of comfort, would call comfortable. It was a story and a half house, with a low sloping roof, with great chimneys and fireplaces at either end, and with half a dozen “ roomy ” rooms, one of which had its fireplace bordered with the funny Dutch tiles and was called the “best room.” There were no carpets on the floors, no gas, nor oil, nor coal, nor stoves for light and heat; the furniture was neither elaborate nor plenty ; the books were but few, and the household games and toys made for girls and boys to-day were then

unknown. No bicycles, no postage stamp albums, no tennis nor croquet, nor baseball — what could the “sons of gentlemen ”find to do when Washington was a boy?

Well — they had plenty to eat and drink; there were horses to ride and guns to shoot with and dogs to hunt with; there were fish to be caught and out-of-door games to be played, and the boys were just as full of fun and just as ready to play as they are to-day.

The Washingtons, as I have told you, were considered“ well off,” although they had

not much money to spend and did not live in Boy. a grand house; so the sons of the smaller planters, the boy who belonged to what was known as the “poor white families,” and the little black and white servantboys — for there were both kinds in Virginia then – looked upon George Washington as a good deal of a boy, and followed him as their leader in their out-of-door sports and games.

When he was a little fellow, eight or nine years old, he had a pony named Hero, that “Uncle Ben,” one of his



« ZurückWeiter »