Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Lewis W. Washington


The great-grandson of Augustine Washington, who was the half-brother of George Washington, Lewis W. Washington (November 30, 1812-October 1, 1871) was born in Georgetown, Virginia. He lived at Beall-Air, in Jefferson County, a home built by his grandfather, Thomas Beall. Washington was visited in September 1859 by John Edwin Cook, who was scouting the countryside for abolitionist John Brown, noting the residences of slave owners and resources that would be useful in the upcoming raid on Harpers Ferry. During this visit, Washington showed Cook a sword presented by Frederick the Great to George Washington and a set of pistols given to General Washington by Lafayette.

Early on the morning after his October 16, 1859, raid on Harpers Ferry, John Brown sent a detachment into the country to collect prominent slaveholders as hostages. Washington, some of his slaves, his pistols, and sword were captured and brought to the engine house at Harpers Ferry along with other hostages. Brown carried the George Washington sword during the ensuing battle. When the engine house was taken by U.S. Marines under the command of Col. Robert E. Lee, Washington pointed out Brown to the storming party. He testified to his experiences at John Brown’s trial and at the Senate subcommittee investigating the John Brown raid.

Lewis Washington was buried in the Zion Episcopal Church Graveyard in Charles Town. Beall-Air was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Read the National Register nomination for Beall-Air.

Written by William D. Theriault


  1. Bushong, Millard K. A History of Jefferson County, West Virginia. Charles Town: Jefferson Pub. Co., 1941.