AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
GEORGE WASHINGTONS DESCENDANTS AND THE BOWDENS
After many years of research I found my ancestors, Mary and Patty Bowden. Mary was born in 1730, and Patty in 1750, and both were Indentured Servants to George Washingtons family at Popes' Creek Plantation. The National Park Services runs what is now called George Washington Birthplace, and calls it a "WORKING" Plantation. In 1999, the National Park Service, and Superintendent John Donahue, allowed my family and I to host an event commemorating my ancestors.
The National Park Services had final authority over any other part to the celebration. In other words, they could have included all of the Indentured Servants, and the slaves, which they did not. I believe they did not do that because they want the slaves, and free blacks seperated. But Mary and Patty Bowden spent a total of 75 years in an Indenture. The life span for slaves was about forty five years in those days.
Now, The National Park Services has a man named Martinez, and he is not nearly as friendly as Superintendent Donahue. He had a Ranger contact me about an exhibit featuring Mary and Patty Bowden in 2002, only to pull them from the Exhibit. That was after I spent time and money traveling back east to the exihibit. When I complained to him, and the director, nothing was done.
One of the reasons I believe there is a problem is that one of the Washington descendants has an unmarked grave on his property. It is a slave graveyard, and I have been trying to get access to it. My ancestor Patty' Bowdens father, was more than likely one of the Washington slaves. When I told the Washintgton descendant about wanting to do DNA test on the remains, he hit the ceiling, and told me I could not touch the graves. In actuality I believe he has a fear of what I will find in that graveyard, and that is why he cut off all contact with me.
The National Park Services has put Martinez up as the person who can stir things up, and take my focus off of the Washington family. To this end Mr. Martinez is having a celebration for the slaves of the Washington family in August of 2003. That is wonderful, but I have not been contacted, nor has any other member of Mary and Patty Bowdens family. The celebration held in October of 1999 was the first of any of the black servants or slaves at George Washington Birthplace. Yet, now they are seperating the slaves and servants, and it seems to be a political decision. If I complain then I am thought to be insensitive to the slaves at Popes Creek.
That is far from the truth, as I mentioned that Patty's Bowdens father was probably a slave on that Plantation. That would have been the only reason Mary and he were not allowed to Marry. So my interest is on the slaves, and those serving the long thirty year Indentures. I feel that my ancestors who are in the Washington graveyard, are still slaves. The Master has say over who can have access to their remains. Nothing has really changed, George Washington, and his family are still controlling the lives of their slaves, and the descendants.
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