04 Jul 2008

Ferry Farm, Washington’s Boyhood Home, Found by Archaelogists

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Ferry Farm site

Washington Post:

On a bluff overlooking the Rappahannock River, 50 miles south of the capital city that bears his name, archaeologists have unearthed a site that provides what they call the most detailed view into George Washington’s formative years: his childhood home and, likely, the objects of his youth. ..

Washington’s family moved to the property in 1738, when he was 6, and he is believed to have lived in a clapboard-covered wooden home until his 20s. ..

There are marbles and wig curlers, utensils and dinnerware. A pipe, blackened inside, carries a Masonic crest and dates to when he joined the Fredericksburg Masonic Lodge.

The announcement of the long-sought discovery came yesterday, after seven years of digging and several disappointments.

From a concentration of charred plaster, they can tell that a fire thought to have destroyed the house on Christmas Eve in 1740 was much smaller and less destructive. An expensive tea set dating to the last decade that the Washingtons lived in the house tells them that the family’s financial strain suffered after Augustine Washington’s death probably eased. And from the layout of the house, with the front door overlooking the river, they described a “literal crossroads” in Washington’s life. Ships at that time could traverse the river to the Atlantic Ocean, and the area’s roads were opening up a world to the West, Levy said. …

Part of the difficulty with the dig arose because the land was far from untouched. Within the footprint of the house, 20th-century sewer pipes peek through the dirt, and a large area where the soil changes color reveals where Civil War troops dug a trench. In 1994, Wal-Mart proposed building a store on the property but encountered opposition from Stafford residents.

“It’s sort of a miracle that as much as the building is left, considering all the bad things that happened to it,” Muraca said.

Before finding Washington’s home, the team spent four years unearthing two other structures, only to find that one was too old and the other too new. The last one, which dated to about 1850, a century too late, became nicknamed among the crew as “Daddy’s little disappointment.”

Three years ago, team members homed in on the site where they would discover the house. They found two stone-walled cellars, two root cellars and the remains of two fireplaces. They also unearthed 500,000 artifacts, many domestic in nature and dating to the period Washington’s family would have lived there: sewing scissors, a brass wick trimmer, figurines that might have once sat on a mantel. A carnelian bead, which originated in India and made its way to Africa, was also discovered and is believed to have hung from the necklace of a slave. …

The project, headed by the George Washington Foundation and funded by National Geographic and the Dominion Foundation, will eventually include reconstruction. The archaeologists also are hoping to find structures that accompanied the house, such as barns and slave quarters. They believe they have found a kitchen.


Ferry Farm website

Pipe bowl with Masonic symbol

One Feedback on "Ferry Farm, Washington’s Boyhood Home, Found by Archaelogists"

Meredith DeBuse

I am related to the Washingtons thru the Ball family so am naturally interested in any future developments.


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