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September 16, 1799: George Washington's Youngest Brother Dies in Charles Town

Charles Washington began construction of his home, Happy Retreat, near the future site of Charles Town, in 1780 but did not live to see its completion.
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The Humanities Council
Charles Washington began construction of his home, Happy Retreat, near the future site of Charles Town, in 1780 but did not live to see its completion.

Charles Washington, the youngest full brother of George Washington, died in Charles Town on September 16, 1799, at age 61. Charles Washington first came to present Jefferson County in 1780 and began constructing his home, Happy Retreat, on land he’d inherited from his half-brother. In 1786, Charles Washington laid out plans for Charles Town on 80 acres. The town square, where the courthouse now stands, was deeded by Washington as a gift to the town. Charles Town was incorporated the following year, and Charles Washington is buried nearby in the family plot at Happy Retreat.

He was one of many Washingtons who owned land in present Jefferson County. George Washington acquired his first tract there in 1750, when he was 18 years old. George’s half-brother Samuel built a house known as Harewood in 1770. And Samuel’s grandson, John Augustine Washington, later built Cedar Lawn. All of these homes are still standing and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

One other Washington family member entered Jefferson County history in 1859, when Lewis Washington was captured at his home and taken hostage by John Brown’s raiders.


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