Thursday, April 29, 2010

American History: Martha Dandridge Custis Washington

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (1731-1802), lovingly nicknamed "Lady Washington" by George's troops, was a major force during the American Revolution.  This petite (only five-foot-even), Virginia-born lady brought cheer to her husband's troops FOUR(!) times during the Revolutionary War:
  • Winter of 1775 -- Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Spring of 1776 -- New York
  • Spring of 1777 -- Morristown, New Jersey (where she spent the time nursing George Washington back to health)
  • Winter of 1778 -- Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
She would travel days (up to two weeks) to winter-camp with the American Army ... spending the 3-6 months darning socks, knitting new ones, mending clothes, and bringing light and joy to the dispirited boys.  Because of her presence, other officers' wives came to camp ... and she had them knitting and mending and darning right alongside her.

Martha Washington had her share of grief and sadness -- her first husband died when she was just 26; all of her children predeceased her as well as some of her grandchildren; George Washington, sacrificing for our fledgling country, was gone from Mount Vernon seven years with the Army and then just as he was home to retire, they asked him to become President.  Martha went right along with him.

String Bean did a presentation for her co-op class on Martha's role in the American Revolution.  In her research for this project, she found this quote (which String Bean made into bookmarks for her class):

String Bean also found a cookbook, Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats (edited by Karen Hess), and made Martha's Sugar Cakes (a shortbread-like cookie that is really delicious):
Sugar Cakes –
Take 2 pound of flower, & one pound of sugar, & ye youlks of 2 eggs, & a spoonfull of sack, & a spoonfull of rosewater, & make it up into a paste with melted butter. & roule it out pritty thin, & cut them with a beer glass, & put them on plates & set them in an oueun meanly hot ye stone downe.

Our translation (for half a batch of cookies):
2 cups unbleached flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tbls vanilla or other flavoring, 3/4 cup melted butter, 1 egg, 1 tbsp milk. Mix together, chill for about an hour, then roll out thin; cut into circles (using a glass or biscuit cutter). Place on cookie sheet and place in a 375 oven till golden brown (about 10-15 minutes).
String Bean had such fun with this project, dressing like Martha chatting with the troops (her class) and knitting away on a pair of "socks for the boys".

Here are some of the books she used for researching this project:


1 comment:

  1. Cool! I love that quote! Tell that String Bean I do indeed miss her from 4H! She always always smiles and is way so ever sweet. Good job!