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The Disastrous Fire

George's elder half brother, Augustine Washington, Jr., the second owner of the Popes Creek home, died in 1762. The plantation passed to his son, William Augustine Washington, George's eldest nephew. William Augustine took title in full in 1774 when his mother, Ann Washington (who had a dower life interest in the estate), died. About this time the Popes Creek plantation, for the first time, was called "Wakefield," a name said to have been inspired by Oliver Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield, and which has endured.

During the latter part of the American Revolution, when General Washington was leading the Continental Army in the north, his birth home in faraway Virginia caught fire and burned to the ground. Indirect evidence and tradition indicate that the house was destroyed Christmas Day, 1779. At the time of the fire the structure was owned by its third and last owner, William Augustine Washington. According to his daughter, Sarah Tayloe Washington, her father noticed the roof burning while returning from a ride. It is believed that a spark from the chimney blew through the small garret window and set fire to the house. The home which had sheltered three generations of Washingtons for half a century was never rebuilt by them.


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Last Modified: Mon, Jan 20 2003 10:00:00 pm PDT

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