Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
Most Americans know of Martha Washington as the first First Lady of America. What few know is of her childhood. It was her childhood that helped to mold her into the lady everyone has admired for all of American history.
Martha Dandridge was born in Virginia on June 2, 1731 to John and Frances Dandridge. John Dandridge immigrated to America from England and married Francis Jones. Settling down as a farmer, it was not long before Dandridge had created a sizeable and successful plantation. Martha was the first of nine children born to the Dandridge couple with the majority surviving to adulthood.
Martha was raised with a traditional education for daughters of well-off gentry families. She would not have been schooled in the sciences or mathematics. Her education would have focused more on domestic duties as well as having her mother to teach her to read and write. She would have learned needlework, how to run a household, and how to entertain.
Not much is left about Martha’s childhood as she never left letters or wrote of her life. Anything that was written has either been lost or destroyed. It is said that Martha herself destroyed all correspondence between herself and George Washington after his death.
The little that is known about her has come from friends and family who called her a calm girl that tended to be tomboy who enjoyed the outdoors. She spent her time outside riding horses. In addition to that, she loved dancing.
Called Patsy by her family, Martha grew up to be a well-mannered woman who caught the eye of Daniel Parke Custis at the age of 18 and became a married woman. Little did she know that her first husband would be taken from her and she would find love with a young military commander who was to be the first President of the United States of America. During her childhood, she was a loyal subject of the King and the dutiful daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner.