Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2001 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."

Parke family linked to George Washington

WOOD--Need information concerning the Rev. William B. Wood family,
which lived in the Enfield area in the 1880s. Does anyone have a death
date for the Rev. Mr. Wood? Any data concerning his family? Contact
Glenna Wood Black, 218 Village Drive, Elizabethtown, KY 42701


One of the ancestral lines in which I've been most unsuccessful is
PARKE. My g-g-grandfather was John Parke, and until I started searching,
I had no idea Parke, Park or Parks was such a common name.
One of the Parke clan which I find most about had a connection to Martha
Washington. I found something interesting about this group recently.
This line came from William Parke, who arrived in Virginia in 1633 but
returned to England later. Daniel Parke came to Virginia around 1650,
and in his will he specified any descendant must have the name Parke to
inherit. Thus the "Parke" middle name made a big difference. (Middle
names were unknown until around 1800. I should do a column on middle
names some of these days.)

A descendant, Daniel Parke Custis, married Martha Dandridge in 1749.
Daniel Parke Custis was 38 and his new wife, Martha, was 15. They had
four children during the next eight years before the father died. Only
two of the children survived: John and Martha.

When Daniel Parke Custis died in 1757, his widow was still only 23 and
the wealthiest widow in Virginia. She owned over 15,000 acres of land
and 30,000 pounds sterling, plus money which was left to her children.
Needless to say, Martha Dandridge Custis was one of the most
sought-after ladies of her day. You may recognize her name and realize
George Washington was the lucky suitor. George was 26 and Martha 24 when
they were married.

Since George Washington was not the eldest son, his older brother,
Lawrence, would inherit the bulk of the Washington estate. So George
Washington did very well to gain the hand of Virginia's wealthiest

George immediately adopted Martha's two children: John (4) and his
sister (2)
Although George and Martha Washington were married 40 years, they did
not get to spend a great deal of time together because George was away
surveying, fighting in the Revolution and serving in governmental
capacities. Although Martha did accompany her husband around in the
Revolutionary battles, she stayed home much of the time to run the huge
Mt. Vernon plantation.

She was considered an efficient administrator, a wonderful hostess, and
a kind and loving wife. And while it appeared hugely convenient for
George Washington to marry into such wealth, there is every indication
they had a happy marriage.


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