An 1889 newspaper advertisement offered a chance to own a bit of history, the neglected burial site of George Washington's mother.
The idea of auctioning Mary Washington's grave so outraged history buffs that they rallied to buy the site, and 100 years ago this month they erected a miniature version of the Washington Monument."It was a marvelous rescue," said John Washington, a descendant of one of the first president's brothers. George Washington had no children.
On Tuesday, John Washington was one of several descendants at the centennial rededication of the monument to Washington's mother.
Two 5-year-old great-great-great-great-great-great-grea t-great-grandchildren of Mary Washington placed wreaths at the 50-foot granite obelisk.
At her death at age 81 in 1789, Mary Washington was buried near Kenmore, the grand home built by her daughter, Betty Washington Lewis.
The grave sits atop a cliff where Mary Washington wrote that she liked to come to think. Her home several blocks away in Fredericksburg is a museum, as is Kenmore.
"The grave of the mother of George Washington, the father of our country. Think of the symbolism inherent in that idea," said Vernon Edenfield, director of Kenmore.
George Washington's home, Mount Vernon, is 50 miles away at Alexandria.
The 1889 advertisement offered 12 acres of land, including the grave and the weathered remains of an incomplete monument.
The ad spurred a group of women from Fredericksburg and elsewhere to raise money to buy the land and complete or replace the monument.
On May 10, 1894, the National Mary Washington Memorial Association erected the obelisk engraved "Mary the Mother of Washington."
The monument is again a subject of preservation efforts. The land around it is often strewn with trash and the grass is uncut.
The private foundation that runs Kenmore hopes to take over the property from the city, which does not have the resources to care for it, Edenfield said.