Uncles and Aunts

Uncle Rick talking with Nephew Sam

Linda Burton posting from Edmonds, Washington while traveling between Juneau, Alaska and Helena, Montana – This post is a bit of a stretch, capital-city wise. But I am in Washington state and it is the only state named after a president (although we know for sure George Washington never slept here!). I was thinking about George’s relatives today, because I spent the afternoon with some of mine. With all the stories I have heard about our first president, I never learned about his relatives. Did he have any kids? Or nieces and nephews? A little research tonight led me to the answer; turns out George has often been referred to as “First Uncle.” George didn’t have any children of his own, but he was step-father to Martha Dandridge Custis’ two children, Jacky and Patsy, only four and two when George and Martha married. George had two half-brothers, three brothers, and a sister; he wound up with a number of nieces and nephews too. And since George outlived all his siblings, it follows that he wound up with responsibilities towards their children.

Uncle Scott with Niece Kayla and Nephew Matt

Martha had two brothers and two sisters; resulting in more nieces and nephews; in fact, one of Martha’s nieces married one of George’s nephews!

Nieces and nephews, and eventually great-nieces and nephews, visited Mount Vernon, often for extended periods of time. When the Revolutionary War took George away for almost eight years, it was his relatives who managed his plantation. Bushrod Washington, brother John’s son, is one nephew who helped with plantation affairs; he also became a member of the Virginia Assembly. “Uncle George” was generous with good advice for this young legislator – “speak seldom, but…make yourself perfect master of the subject.”

Cousins Sam and Andrew

George arranged for brother Samuel’s sons, George Steptoe and Lawrence, to be placed in school and kept close check on their progress – “it is my earnest request that they…be kept close to studies.” Sister Betty’s children were also looked after by “Uncle George;” her son Robert Lewis became one of his secretaries. Robert Lewis escorted his Aunt Martha to New York, shortly after Washington’s inauguration.

Aunt Tami and her Aunt Maureen

Uncles and aunts, a part of the family backbone. I had six wonderful uncles and aunts that were a major influence on my life. Aunt Verla always fixed mint tea for me; Aunt Clara could be counted on for chocolate cake. Uncle Jim went out of his way to visit me, not too long ago. It was pleasant in the backyard today; family gathered for a while, life just a little fuller, thanks to uncles, and aunts.

The photos are of my family, generations down. I’m counting on them to be there for each other, just like George.

Read about George Washington’s family @ http://www.mountvernon.org/