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               Nelly Custis Chapter
                                  Mount Vernon, Virginia

                             Chapter History

NellyCustis_color_oval1.jpgThe Nelly Custis Chapter was organized as the Irvine-Welles Chapter on February 22, 1928.  On October 15, 1994, the chapter was renamed the Nelly Custis Chapter in honor of Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis,  Martha Washington’s granddaughter through her first husband.

     Nelly was born March 31, 1779, at Abingdon Plantation, Virginia, where now stands Ronald Reagan National Airport.  Daughter of John Parke Custis, George Washington's adopted stepson, she lived with the Washingtons in New York and Mount Vernon from an early age.  Her love of country and ideas of patriotism and service were formed by her close association with the Washingtons and visiting influential statesmen.

     Nelly Custis married George Washington’s nephew, Lawrence Lewis, on February 22, 1799.  They left Mount Vernon for Woodlawn Plantation where Nelly supervised her household and reared a large family.  Woodlawn Plantation is now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

    Nelly was noted for her beauty and grace as well as her intelligence and her many talents.  She had an accurate knowledge of politics and enjoyed discussions with her many visitors.  She was skilled in music, poetry, painting and needlework.  Today, Woodlawn’s internationally renowned annual needlework exhibition is a testament to her talents.  Some of our chapter meetings are held here.

     In 1841, two years after the death of her husband Lawrence, Nelly went to live with her son Lorenzo and his family in Clarke County, Virginia, where she spent her last years.  She died on July 15, 1852, and was buried at Mount Vernon.  A collection of Nelly's papers and letters are maintained at Mount Vernon's Library. 

     Every March, the Nelly Custis Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, conducts an annual wreathlaying ceremony at Nelly's Mount Vernon gravesite in honor of her birthday. 


Site Last Updated: August 1, 2017

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