Charles Town ready to finally celebrate founder

April 22, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Charles Washington's birthday is finally being celebrated by the town he founded.

The 259th anniversary of Washington's birth is May 2 and "we're finally getting around to celebrating it," said Nan Furioso, one of the organizers of the celebration.

"We feel there's not been enough emphasis on the Washington family here," said Betsy Wells, another organizer.

Little is known of Charles Washington, who was the half-brother of the nation's first president.

George Washington surveyed the land around what became Jefferson County when he worked for Thomas, the Sixth Lord Fairfax, Furioso said.

He liked the land so much that he encouraged his half-brother, Lawrence Washington, who owned Mount Vernon, to purchase land in the area, Furioso said.


George Washington also bought about 2,300 acres of land near Charles Town.

When Lawrence Washington died in 1752, he left Mount Vernon to George Washington and the land that later became Charles Town to 14-year-old Charles Washington, Furioso said.

Charles Washington, a colonel in the Virginia militia, laid out the town in 1786, naming it after himself and the streets after some close relatives.

Charles Washington died in 1799 and was buried in Charles Town.

Among the events for the Charles Washington celebration is a parade of horses, Wells said. Charles Washington was known to have been a horse racing fan, so the parade will be appropriate, she said.

The parade is open to individual horses and riders, groups, stables and clubs, Well said. It also will feature horse-drawn vehicles. Those interested in being in the parade should call Wells at 1-304-725-6598.

The first Charles Washington Birthday Celebration's activities include:

  • Friday, May 2, at 7 p.m.: Tour of the Jefferson County Court House followed by a celebration of Charles Washington's birthday with cake and beverages.
  • Saturday, May 3, at 2 p.m.: Parade of horses. The parade begins in front of the Charles Town Race Track and continues along business and residential streets of Charles Town. At 5 p.m. a memorial plaque to Charles Washington will be dedicated at the site of his one-room office on Lawrence Street.
  • Sunday, May 4, at 11 a.m.: Church service and cemetery tour. A special church service will be held at Zion Episcopal Church, followed by a tour of Washington family grave sites in the church's cemetery. From 1-4 p.m. there will be tours of the grounds of Charles Washington's home, Happy Retreat.
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