ferry farm


Ferry Farm

Location: Fairfax Co., VA
Constructed: ----

History: Ferry Farm was the principal home of Washington's formative years. The Washington family moved to Ferry Farm in 1738, when George was six years old. He lived there until he reached young manhood and moved to Mount Vernon (The Mansion Farm), which he inherited from his brother Lawrence.

At the age of eleven (1743), he inherited ten slaves and 500 acres of land. When he began farming Mount Vernon eleven years later, at the age of 22, he had a work force of about 36 slaves. With his marriage to Martha Custis in 1759, 20 of her slaves came to Mount Vernon. After their marriage, Washington purchased even more slaves. The slave population also increased because the slaves were marrying and raising their own families. By 1799, when George Washington died, there were 316 slaves living on the estate.

The skilled and manual labor needed to run Mount Vernon was largely provided by slaves. Many of the working slaves were trained in crafts such as milling, coopering, blacksmithing, carpentry, and shoemaking. The others worked as house servants, boatmen, coachmen or field hands. Some female slaves were also taught skills, particularly spinning, weaving and sewing, while others worked as house servants or in the laundry, the dairy, or the kitchen. Many female slaves also worked in the fields. Almost three-quarters of the 184 working slaves at Mount Vernon worked in the fields, and of those, about 60% were women.

Over the years, Washington enlarged the residence and built up the property from 2,000 to nearly 8,000 acres. He divided the acreage into five working farms: Dogue Run, Muddy Hole, River, Union and Mansion House Farm (where he lived with his family).

In his will, George Washington arranged for all of the slaves he owned to be freed after the death of his wife, Martha. He also left instructions for the continued care and education of some of his former slaves, support and training for all of the children until they came of age, and continuing support for the elderly.

Associated surnames: Custis, Washington

Associated Plantations: Dogue Run Farm (Fairfax Co., VA); Mansion House Farm (Fairfax Co., VA); Muddy Hole Farm (Fairfax Co., VA); River Farm (Farifax Co., VA); Union Farm (Fairfax Co., VA)

Associated Free White Names

Associated Black Slave Names

1786: Slaves at Ferry Farm
From George Washington's Diaries, 18 February 1786; http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/diaries/list/ferry.html


Description of Associated Architecture

Other People Researching This Plantation