The History of the Wessynton Land

(Adapted from the original 1968 sales brochure)

Wessynton once was part of the hunting grounds of the Doeg Indians, a tribe of the Algonquin. But the colonization of Virginia by the English involved a transfer of title to this hunting paradise on the Potomac. The land was granted by Lord Culpepper jointly to Nicholas Spencer and to the offspring of an old English family variously known as de Wessynton, Wassington and finally Washington. Present-day Wessynton was part of the land contained in the grant to the Washingtons.

On this grant Augustine Washington built Mt. Vernon, later inherited by George Washington from his half-brother Lawrence.

The 500 acres surrounding Mt. Vernon, including Wessynton, were developed by Washington into the Mansion House Farm—a new world version of the English gentleman’s countryseat.

An overlay of Wessynton on a 1793 map drafted by George Washington of

his farms and surrounding area.

When young George was 17, he surveyed the Mansion Farm and listed the Wessynton portion as “heavily wooded” which it is today. No doubt it supplied fine hickory, oak and poplar logs for the multitude of fireplaces at the Mt. Vernon Mansion. Washington also resumed the Doeg Indian tradition and used the land for his hunting grounds.

After George Washington’s death in 1799, the Wessynton property passed to his direct descendants. Anne Maria Washington Tucker, one of the last children born at Mt. Vernon, inherited the Wessynton portion of the Mansion Farm. It remained in the hands of the Tuckers until 1952—the last of the 8,000 acres assembled by George Washington to remain in the hands of his direct descendants.

Shortly before the Civil War, Miss Ann Pamela Cunningham, attractive young daughter of a wealthy South Carolina family, was traveling in the vicinity of Mt. Vernon. She was shocked to find the mansion in complete disrepair and made the restoration and preservation of this historic place her personal cause. She formed the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association of the Union, whose property borders Wessynton, and whose responsibility it is to maintain the home of George Washington for posterity.

A very small portion of Wessynton was owned for a time by Edward Gibbs, Quaker and independent thinker. The Quakers established a small settlement in the Mt. Vernon area in the late 1800’s. Gibbs, a member of the settlement, ran off and got married without consulting the elders. Returning from his honeymoon he was asked by the elders for a full explanation. He announced: “I’ll be damned if I’ll explain to anyone why I married my wife!” Mr. & Mrs. Gibbs were Presbyterians from that day forward. They lived “happily ever after” in the imposing white frame home which still stands across the street from Wessynton.

Each of the foregoing events and the people involved had a part in the history of Wessynton, and their importance is commemorated in the street names of the Wessynton community. Washington always enjoyed the coach ride down to the Federal City. You, too, will find it a pleasant trip along the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, sometimes referred to as the Four Seasons Drive due to the distinct changes in the colors of the vegetation during the course of the year. If you live on Sevor Lane you may hear, on a day when the air is clear and the wind is right, the ceremony of the ship’s bell honoring George Washington as it passes Mt. Vernon. Wessynton Way is a daily reminder of the first English family who owned this land, and Doeg Indian Court is a tribute to the first “Americans”. If you live on Mansion Farm Place you will be conscious of the fact that your property may have provided firewood for the comfort of the illustrious owners and guests of the Mt. Vernon mansion. Anne Tucker Lane recalls one of the last members of the Washington family to have been born in that mansion. Edward Gibbs Court salutes the memory of the independent Quaker, and Cunningham Drive is named as a grateful tribute to the lovely lady whose efforts have preserved Mt. Vernon for posterity.