Land for Sale: Inquire Within

George Washington’s ties to the land — to Mount Vernon and his other farms and his extensive knowledge of Lord Fairfax’s vast Virginia properties — are widely known. But far less has been written about the details of his land speculation far to the west, in the Ohio River valley extending into modern-day West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. In his will, Washington left vast tracts of what was then western Virginia to Martha Washington’s granddaughter and future owner of Tudor Place, Martha Peter. Even less has been recorded about the disposition of these inheritances.

In this deeply researched essay, Archivist Wendy Kail tracks dealings by Washington, his executors and heirs, and their agents to find the answer to a long-standing mystery about the origins of Tudor Place: What was the land sale that paid for it? Specifically, to what property did Thomas Peter refer when he said he bought Tudor Place in 1805 with a “… sum of money received by me upon the Sale of certain real property belonging to my Wife Martha Peter devised to her by her deceased relative Genl. George Washington”?

Read Wendy Kail’s full essay on the Tudor Place website here.

2 thoughts on “Land for Sale: Inquire Within

  1. Great question, and Associate Editor William M. Ferraro has provided the answer. He writes:

    “Taken from a strictly legal point of view, there are no land parcels owned by GW still in his estate because to settle that estate after his death the executors were required to carry out all bequests in his will. Those actions either transferred land to heirs or sold land so the proceeds could be distributed to heirs. The many bequests that GW made in his will and the land that he owned at the time of his death can be seen in any of the many reprints of that document (most notably, Papers of GW, Retirement Series, 4:477-542). It is, however, interesting to note that there apparently has been no final settlement of GW’s estate, see note 41, at Retirement 4:511.
     
    “More generally, some of the land that GW owned at the time of his death still may be owned by descendants of his heirs. It would take considerable effort to sort this out in any precise manner. Of course, though, there is Mount Vernon, which passed in a direct line from Bushrod Washington, named as its recipient in GW’s will, to Bushrod’s descendant, to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association.”

    For more information about GW’s will, you can read it on Founders Online.

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