CS Lee, Mary Anna Randolph Custis

Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee
From A to Z
- Women


Born: October 1, 1808

Birthplace: Arlington House, Arlington, Virginia

Father: George Washington Parke Custis 1781 – 1857
(Buried: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia)​

Mother: Mary Lee Fitzhugh 1788 – 1853
(Buried: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia)​

Husband: Robert Edward Lee 1807 – 1870
(Buried: Lee Chapel Museum, Lexington, Virginia)​

Married: June 30, 1831 in Arlington, Virginia

Lee 2.jpg

(Buried: Lee Chapel Museum, Lexington, Virginia)​
Mary Custis Lee 1835 – 1918​
(Buried: Lee Chapel Museum, Lexington, Virginia)​
(Buried: Lee Chapel Museum, Lexington, Virginia)​
(Buried: Lee Chapel Museum, Lexington, Virginia)​
Eleanor Agnes Lee 1841 – 1873​
(Buried: Lee Chapel Museum, Lexington, Virginia)​
(Buried: Lee Chapel Museum, Lexington, Virginia)​
Mildred Childe Lee 1845 – 1905​
(Buried: Lee Chapel Museum, Lexington, Virginia)​


Well Educated learning both Latin and Greek​

Life Events:

1857: Became the owner of Arlington House in Arlington, Virginia​
1859: Published Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington by his adopted Son George Washington Parke Custis with a memoir of the author by his daughter
Taught female Slaves to read and write believing in eventual emancipation​
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Attended Episcopal religious service at Christ Church in Alexandria​
She enjoyed painting many landscapes​
She enjoyed roses growing different varieties of roses and trees​
1861: Forced to evacuate her home at Arlington, Virginia​
Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis​
1861 – 1873: Wheelchair bound due to arthritis​
1861 – 1862: Lived at the several family plantations houses​
1862: Allowed passage to Richmond by Major General McClellan​
1862 – 1865: Lived at 707 East Franklin Street, Richmond, Virginia​
1865: Lived at Cooke family plantation at Bremo Bluff​
1865 – 1873: Lived at Washington & Lee University President House​
1870: Husband Robert Edward Lee died​
1873: Visited Arlington House for the last time before her death​

Died: November 5, 1873

Place of Death: Lexington, Virginia

Age at time of Death: 66 years old

Burial Place: Lee Chapel Museum, Lexington, Virginia
Lee 1.jpg

In 1759, 27-year-old George Washington married rich widow Martha Parke Custis, who had two children, six-year-old John Parke Custis and four-year-old Martha Parke Custis. John died while serving as an aide to his stepfather during the Revolutionary War, leaving four young children. General Washington adopted two of the children, and they lived with him and their grandmother at Mount Vernon, their plantation in Virginia. Washington, childless himself, signed his letters to his adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis, as "your papa."

Custis lived at Mount Vernon for 20 years and was close to Washington in his old age. Washington died in 1799; upon the 1802 death of Custis's grandmother, Mount Vernon reverted to the Washington family, and Custis built Arlington on the Potomac River's southern shore as his residence. Of the four children he had with his wife, Mary Lee Fitzhugh, the only one to survive infancy was Mary Anne Randolph Custis.

Mary Custis, a frail, blonde girl with aristocratic features , found herself being courted in the summer of 1830 by a distant relative and lifelong friend, Lt. Robert E. Lee. She succumbed to the charms of the intelligent and handsome young officer, and the two were wed at Arlington on June 30, 1831.

Despite almost chronic ill health, Mary Lee bore seven children in 14 years. Robert was completely devoted to her, and even though he delighted in the company of pretty women, he was never led astray or involved in any scandal.

Mary referred to her husband as Mr. Lee, and even after the Civil War, when the South regarded him as a demigod, she would order Lee about and not hesitate to offer fiery opinions that differed from his. Yet she had a deep love and respect for her husband, and utter devotion bound the two together through the tragedies of her invalidism due to arthritis and his ultimately disastrous misfortune as the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

Though Mary Lee was a warm, gentle person, she was known as an untidy housekeeper and was generally unconcerned with her personal appearance. Once, after recovering from an illness, she found her hair so tangled that she took scissors and cut it off.
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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
Very nice synopsis, thank you! Her mother taught her to ensure enslaved were prepared for a life of freedom. I can't find a lot on her mother- it wasn't a popular sentiment.

If anything could be added it'd be that Mary Custis was not pro-North in being pro-Union. She was a Southern woman to the core- she was just sincerely heartbroken our nation was to be divided. You know how sometimes phrases or symbols get adopted by one ' side ' or agenda? Our union was an ideal, she witnessed what it cost and what it meant. Heck, she lived it through her family. It gets misinterpreted which means she does.

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She slams Northern politicians too. It was her father's and grandparent's legacy she writes of. Our legacy, as Americans.