George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 27 January 1785]

Thursday 27th. Mercury at 32 in the Morning—the same at Noon & 37 at Sunsetting.

Wind at No. West & clear all day—air pretty sharp in the forenoon.

Made Mr. & Mrs. Lund Washington a mornings visit—from thence I went to Belvoir and viewed the ruined Buildings of that place. In doing this I passed along the side of Dogue Creek & the river to the white Ho[use] in search of Elm & other Trees for my Shrubberies &ca. Found none of the former but discovered one fringe Tree and a few Crabtrees in the first field beyond my line and in returning home (which I did to Dinner) by the way of Accatinck Creek I found several young Holly trees growing near Lawson Parkers.

In 1779 Lund Washington married his cousin Elizabeth Foote, daughter of Richard Foote of Prince William County. The couple lived at Mount Vernon until 1784 when they moved into their newly built home, Hayfield, located on the Alexandria Road five miles south of Alexandria. Lund’s property consisted of about 450 acres, comprising most of the three parcels of land GW had acquired from Simon Pearson and George and John Ashford in 1761–63 and a small piece of wasteland obtained in 1771. This land was not formally deeded to Lund by GW until 25 Feb. 1785. However, there seems to have been an earlier lease on at least a part of the land, probably with GW’s promise to deed the land to Lund at a later date. GW specified in the deed that the land was in repayment of £5,304 Lund had earlier paid to Thomas Hanson Marshall for land on GW’s behalf (Fairfax County Deeds, Book P–1, 415–17, Vi Microfilm; see entry for 15 Feb. 1785).

ruined buildings: Belvoir had been badly damaged by fire in 1783. GW wrote George William Fairfax of this visit to his home: “I took a ride there the other day to visit the ruins—& ruins indeed they are. The dwelling house & the two brick buildings in front, under went the ravages of the fire; The walls of which are very much injured: the other Houses are sinking under the depredation of time & inattention, & I believe are now scarcely worth repairing. In a word, the whole are, or very soon will be a heap of ruin. When I viewed them—when I considered that the happiest moments of my life had been spent there—when I could not trace a room in the house (now all rubbish) that did not bring to my mind the recollection of pleasing scenes; I was obliged to fly from them; & came home with painful sensations, & sorrowing for the contrast” (27 Feb. 1785, DLC:GW). In 1814 the remaining walls of Belvoir were leveled by shells from British ships (MUIR description begins Dorothy Troth Muir. Potomac Interlude: The Story of Woodlawn Mansion and the Mount Vernon Neighborhood, 1846–1943. Washington, D.C., 1943. description ends , 23). holly: Ilex opaca, American holly.

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