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Mary Ball Washington

The stories of George Washington's youth are well documented. The stories of Mary Washington's life are less so. Mary Ball was born in 1708 to Joseph Ball and Mary Johnson. Her father died only a few years after his daughter was born. Soon after, Mary Johnson Ball married Richard Hewes. Mary Ball grew up learning those lessons every lady should know--sewing, knitting, and cooking. Her mother also instilled in her the lessions of the Church. By the time Mary Ball was 13, both of her parents had died.

Mary spent the next nine years dividing her time between the homes of Elizabeth Bonum, her half sister from a previous marriage, and Colonel Eskridge, her guardian. Little is know of these years, but Mary Ball may have been tutored in some studies with the other children on the Eskridge plantation.

Family tradition holds that Mary Ball travelled to Stratford-by-Bow just outside of London when she was about twenty years old. During her visit with her half brother, Joseph Ball, she became better acquainted with Augustine Washington. Washington lived in the same county and was visiting London at the same time. The two were married in 1730 in Virginia.

The Washingtons made their home at Pope's Creek Plantation on the Potomac River. The new Mrs. Washington undertook to raise her husband's three children from a previous marriage. On February 22, 1732 Mary gave birth to a son who she named George after her guardian. Mary and Augustine Washington had five other children: Betty, Samuel, John Augustine, Charles and Mildred.

In 1738, Augustine Washington purchased Ferry Farm on the banks of the Rappahannock River, south of Fredericksburg. Four years later Augustine Washington died leaving Mary to raise the children.

The relationship between mother and son was often tempestuous, but Washington did care for his mother in her later years. In 1772, he purchased the house in Fredericksburg and moved Mary Ball there to be closer to her daughter Betty. Mary Washington was sixty-four years old and a house in town meant her needs could be looked after. Because of its location on the Post Road, communications were easy to maintain in Fredericksburg.

Mary Ball Washington lived to see her son elected President. He is said to have visited her prior to his inauguration in 1789. Mary Ball Washington died later that same year.