Charles Washington is not as well known as his older brother George but, of course, we know him as the founder of Charles Town. He would be considered a real estate developer today, but what else has he done? The Bee Line Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) will answer that question at a reception and dedication of a new historic marker on September 15 at Happy Retreat (600 Mordington Ave., Charles Town), Charles Washington’s historic home.
The national DAR doesn’t approve the placement of a historic marker until a historian reviews and verifies the information. Searching for information on Charles’ contributions to the American Revolution, Bee Line Historian Darla Courtney found a surprising lack of readily available information on his life and achievements. She spent three years talking to people and digging through every source she could find to fill in the details.
“Although he was not a national leader like George, he was a local leader,” she explained. “Locals back home made the Revolution possible by translating national ideals to the local level.”
Courtney learned that Charles was a signer of the 1776 Leedstown Resolutions, denouncing the attempt by the British Crown (the Stamp Act) to tax American colonists without representation in parliament. In addition, Charles served as commissary (quartermaster) to local militia units and was commissioned in 1781 as Lt. Colonel in the militia.
The dedication on September 15 will be free and open to the public, with a reception from 1-3pm. Additionally, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice will proclaim September 15 as Charles Washington Day. Walter Washington, a direct descendant of Charles’ brother Samuel, will open the ceremony, and Kenneth Washington, Charles’ fourth great-grandson, will send a greeting.
The pastor of Zion Episcopal church, where Charles and other Washington family members are buried, will give the invocation. Alice McCarthy, Regent of Bee Line Chapter of DAR, will speak and present a photo of the plaque, which will be installed at the gravesite. Following the speakers, there will be a wreath laying.
There will also be color guards from Virginia and West Virginia in Revolutionary War attire. Dal Mallory, President of Friends of Happy Retreat, will appear in character as Charles Washington, welcoming and mingling with visitors, and docents will be on hand. On display will also be a copy of the Leedstown Declaration against the Stamp Act, signed by Charles. There will be additional displays on the U.S. Constitution, as the beginning of Constitution Week will also be celebrated. Light refreshments true to the Revolutionary War era will be served.
The DAR is a national non-profit women’s service organization dedicated to education, patriotism, and historic preservation—open to women of any race, religion, or ethnicity who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution.
“We are a service organization,” stressed Courtney, “no white gloves at meetings!” She added that DAR is changing and growing and reaching out to Native Americans and African Americans, both of whom were represented in the Revolution.
McCarthy reported that the Bee Line Chapter’s biggest service area is their work with the VA Hospital in Martinsburg in support of programs for veterans, especially women veterans. They also work with local schools, offering scholarships, Junior ROTC awards, and Youth Citizenship awards.