Martha Dandridge Custis was the richest widow in Virginia. She was an attractive woman with hazel eyes, curly brown hair, a wide forehead, strong nose, and an enormous amount of self-confidence. She and her deceased husband, Daniel Parker Custis, were frequent participants in the elite Virginia social scene. It was at social events that she and George Washington first met. Prior to the death of her husband she had danced with George Washington at more than one fancy ball in Williamsburg. After the death of her husband, Martha and her two children inherited a beautiful 17,438 acre estate. The estate, was enormous as it comprised all of the prime land within a 40 mile radius of Williamsburg.
One day Colonel George Washington, now a famous soldier, rode from Willamette to the Custis estate, which was called The White House, to call on Martha. At the time, Martha was looking for a husband to run her estate, and she was seeing a series of eligible suitors. Her first husband had been 15 years older than she. Among the suitors were some of the wealthiest bachelors in Virginia. George was a little nervous as he pulled in front of the large house, and he was completely surprised when Martha greeted him so warmly, even inviting him to spend the night. George passed much of the evening playing with her two children, John (Jack), who was four, and Patsy, who was 2. When he departed George gave all of her servants large tips so that they would talk highly about him. Soon, to his liking, George Washington was a regular at the house, and before long they were engaged. Then after just a short engagement they were married. They were both dressed exquisitely for the wedding. George was a very handsome sight dressed in a suit of very fine blue cloth, that had been made in England just for the occasion. When they married, Martha's estate became George's, and at the same time he became administrator over her children's estate. George Washington had now ascended to the top of Virginia's upper class.
They spent the first months of their married life between Martha's plantation, and the Custis house in Williamsburg. Before long, Martha started remodeling George Washington's modest estate of Mount Vernon. Martha bought the best of everything, she was determined to turn it into a showplace. Then, when Patsy was just 12 years old she began having 1 or 2 epileptic seizures a day, and then one day she had one so bad that she died.
In 1773, America's relationship with Britain soured, as the Thirteen Colonies demanded independence. Soon after George participated in the first Continental Congress. Then in Boston, Massachusetts, he began meeting dignitaries while attempting to create the first Continental Army. Martha had no choice but to leave Mount Vernon and join George who missed her terribly. George would not return to Mount Vernon for more than eight years as the war dragged on. Over and over, after he became Commander-in-Chief, Martha took trips to the battlefield to be at his side. Before long, her son Jack also joined George on the battlefield where he would die of typhus from the filthy conditions.
When George became president, Martha took charge of the kitchen, launched her own receptions, and made friends with the wives of the cabinet members. Before long she developed the name “Lady Washington”. At the time people had already begun to call George Washington the “Father of Our Country.”