I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.— George Washington
Over a year ago, while researching a familial grandfather, Henry Enochs, I discovered that he was an acquaintance of George Washington. In fact, George Washington surveyed Henry Enoch’s land. With this land information and the map, drawn by Washington, a teacher turned the information into a math lesson that I uncovered online. What a find! I shared the news with my daughter who homeschools her children, and since she likes to keep my genealogy discoveries in the loop when she teaches, she added the math lesson to her curriculum and shared with her children that one of our ancestors actually knew George Washington.
The 388-acre tract that Washington surveyed for Henry Enoch at the fork of the Cacapon and North rivers on 23 April 1750 became the site of Enoch’s fort during the French and Indian War.
Since I love history, I continued with my research on George Washington. One site even had his family tree. As I reviewed his ancestry, I discovered two familiar names, Lawrence Townley and Margaret Hartley. As I glanced at the names, my heart began to beat a little faster. Could it be true? Was I related to the first president of the United States? Well, as I retraced our family trees, I realized that George Washington and I shared the same ancestral grandparents! I learned the first president and I are 5th cousins.
What a great discovery! Without a doubt, it was an exciting revelation, for George Washington (1732-1799) was such a remarkable and honorable man. His father was a successful planter in colonial Virginia. In his younger years, he worked as a surveyor, and he fought in the French and Indian War. During the American Revolution, he was Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, and this man and his troops defeated the British armies. After this victory, he became a national hero. In 1787, as president of the convention, he helped write the US Constitution. Two years later, he was elected as the first president of the United States. He refused to serve a third term, and on December 14, 1799, our first president died at his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. When Congressman Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee heard of the passing of this great leader, he addressed the House and the Senate, and he remarked, “First in war—first in peace—and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
Painting: Jean Keib Gerome Ferris, Washington’s March Through the Jerseys, ca.1906
Oil on canvas. Private Collection
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- Washington Family Genealogy. The George Washington Foundation.