Arlington House, Arlington County, Virginia

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Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: Lee Custis Slavery
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Arlington House was once the home of Confederate Army General Robert Edward Lee. It was built by George Washington Parke Custis, the adoptive son of George Washington, in 1802. It overlooks the Potomac River and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. During the American Civil War, the grounds of the mansion were selected as the site of Arlington National Cemetery, in part to ensure that Lee would never again be able to return to his home. The United States has since designated the mansion as a National Memorial. Although the United States Department of the Army controls Arlington National Cemetery, the National Park Service, a component of the United States Department of the Interior, administers Arlington House.[1] See also: Slaves of Robert E. Lee

Maria Carter Syphax

Maria Carter Syphax, born in 1803 to Ariana "Airy" Carter (1776-1880) was an African American slave maid at Arlington House. According to family lore, George Washington Parke Custis was her father. She was once a slave to Martha Washington at Mount Vernon. Maria lived and worked at Arlington until 1826, when she "married" Charles Syphax (1791-1869), a slave who oversaw the diningroom at Arlington House. Soon after her marriage, Custis freed her and gave her a 17-acre plot of land in the southwest corner of the Arlington Estate. "Charles Siphax" is listed in the 1858 Inventory of Slaves at Arlington.[2]He is also on the 1862 Deed of manumitted slaves below.[3]She and Charles raised 10 children, many of whom became leaders in the local community. Their son William Syphax served as Chief Messenger for the U.S. Department of the Interior. Through William’s efforts, his mother was able to retain the rights to her Arlington property when the U.S. government confiscated Custis’s estate after the Civil War.[4]


In 1853 some members of the Burke family, William Burke, Rosabella Burke, his wife, Cornelia Burke, daughter, Grandison Burke, son, Alexander Burke, son, William Burke, son, formerly enslaved at Arlington Plantation, set sail for Liberia on the Ship Banshee. The Burkes traveled with help from the American Colonization Society, founded to remove and resettle former slaves and free people of color back to Africa. George Washington Parke Custis supported the society. Although the Burkes prospered in Liberia, many colonists fell ill and died shortly after arrival. After more than 50 days at sea, six members of the Burke family arrived in Monrovia. They built a farm in the countryside, dubbed “Mount Rest” by William Burke.[5]

1858 Inventory of Slaves at Arlington House

An Inventory of the slaves at Arlington belonging to the Estate of George Washington Parke Custis was made on 1 Jan 1858. The following names are taken from the original. It is unclear where their surname comes from, nor is it clear how they are related. The only clue is they share a surname.

  1. Austin Bingham, manumitted in 1862
  2. Louisa Bingham, manumitted in 1862
  3. Harrison Bingham, manumitted in 1862
  4. Reuban Bingham, manumitted in 1862
  5. Parks Bingham, manumitted in 1862
  6. Edward Bingham, manumitted in 1862
  7. Henry Bingham, manumitted in 1862
  8. Austin Bingham (son of Austin?), manumitted in 1862
  9. Leanthe Bingham, manumitted in 1862
  10. Lucius Bingham, manumitted in 1862
  11. Caroline Bingham, manumitted in 1862
  12. Jem (her child -Caroline's?), manumitted in 1862
  13. Louisa Bingham (her child), manumitted in 1862
  14. Baby Bingham (her child), manumitted in 1862
  15. Len Norris, manumitted in 1862
  16. Sally Norris (his wife), manumitted in 1862
  17. Wesley Norris, manumitted in 1862
  18. Mary Norris, manumitted in 1862
  19. Sally Norris (child), manumitted in 1862
  20. Thornton Gray, manumitted in 1862
  21. Selena (Norris) Gray (his wife), manumitted in 1862
  22. Emma Gray manumitted in 1862
  23. Sarah Grey, manumitted in 1862
  24. Harry Grey, manumitted in 1862
  25. Anniel Grey aka Anise?, manumitted in 1862
  26. Ada Grey, manumitted in 1862
  27. Selena Gray (child), manumitted in 1862
  28. Julia Ann Check, manumitted in 1862
  29. Catherine Check, manumitted in 1862
  30. Louis Check, manumitted in 1862
  31. Henry Check, manumitted in 1862
  32. Catherine Burke, manumitted in 1862
  33. Fanny Burke (her child), manumitted in 1862
  34. Mary Ann Burke aka Marianne, manumitted in 1862
  35. Agnes Burke, manumitted in 1862
  36. Obadiah Grey, manumitted in 1862
  37. Gideon Lancaster
  38. Shack Check, manumitted in 1862
  39. Michael Meredith aka Michael Merrily in 1862, manumitted in 1862
  40. Laurence Parks, manumitted in 1862
  41. Patsey Parks
  42. George Parks, manumitted in 1862
  43. Amanda Parks, manumitted in 1862
  44. Perry Parks, manumitted in 1862
  45. Robert
  46. Martha
  47. Laurence
  48. James
  49. Magdalena
  50. Leanna
  51. Matilda
  52. William
  53. Margaret Taylor, manumitted in 1862
  54. Dandridge Richardson in 1858 aka Dandridge Taylor in 1862, manumitted in 1862
  55. John Richardson in 1858 aka John Taylor in 1862, manumitted in 1862
  56. Betty Taylor
  57. Quincy Taylor, manumitted in 1862
  58. Austin Grey
  59. Austin Brunham aka Austin Banham in 1862, manumitted in 1862
  60. Charles Siphax
  61. George Clark aka Clarke, manumitted in 1862
  62. Daniel Dotson
  63. Ephraim Derricks aka Ephram Demicks in 1862, manumitted in 1862

I certify the forgoing to be a true Inventory of the slaves at Arlington - R E Lee Ex. of G W P Custis Alexandria County Court September 11th 1858 [6]

1862 Deed of Manumission

The following enslaved are named in the 29 Dec 1862 Robert E Lee, Arlington, New Kent and King William County Virginia Deed of Manumission, in his role as executor of his father-in-law George W P Custis's estate, delivered in Spotsylvania, Virginia; Hustings Court in Richmond, Virginia.[7][8]

1862 Manumitted Slaves at Arlington House

Enslaved persons named in the Deed of Manumission, above-described:[7]

  1. Eleanor Harris
  2. Ephraim Demicks
  3. George Clarke
  4. Charles Syphax (1791-1869)
  5. Selena (Norris) Gray (abt.1823-abt.1907)
  6. Thornton Gray (abt.1824-) (following are six Grey children of Selina and Thornton)
  7. Emma, (matched on WikiTree to: Emma (Gray) Syphax (abt.1859-1939) - her husband, Ennis Syphax (abt.1842-), was the son of the above Charles Syphax)
  8. Sarah Gray
  9. Harry Gray
  10. Anise Gray
  11. Ada Gray
  12. Thornton Gray
  13. Margaret Taylor
  14. Dandridge Taylor
  15. [John] Taylor
  16. Billy Taylor
  17. Quincy [Taylor]
  18. Lawrence Parks (following are nine Parks children of Lawrence)
  19. Perry Parks
  20. George Parks
  21. Amanda Parks
  22. Martha Parks
  23. Lawrence Parks
  24. James Parks
  25. Magdalena Parks
  26. Leno Parks
  27. William Parks
  28. Julia Ann Check (following are four Check children of Julia Ann)
  29. Catharine Check
  30. Louis Check
  31. Henry Check
  32. infant Check of the said Catharine
  33. Old Shaack Check
  34. Sally Norris [and]
  35. Len Norris (following are three Norris children)
  36. Mary Norris (possibly the same Norris in the earlier, detail entry)
  37. Sally Norris
  38. Wesley Norris (possibly the same Norris in the earlier, detail entry)
  39. Austin Bingham, and
  40. Louisa Bingham (following are 12 Bingham children)
  41. Harrison Bingham
  42. Parks Bingham
  43. Reuben Bingham
  44. Henry Bingham
  45. Edward Bingham
  46. Austin Bingham
  47. Lucius Bingham
  48. Leanthe Bingham
  49. Louisa Bingham
  50. Caroline Bingham
  51. Jem Bingham
  52. infant Bingham
  53. Obadiah Grey
  54. Austin Banham
  55. Michael Merriday
  56. Catharine Burk and her child (un-named) [9]
  57. Marianne Burke
  58. Agnes Burke


  1. Wikipedia:,_The_Robert_E._Lee_Memorial
  7. 7.0 7.1 Wetzel, Annette E, transcriber. Robert Edward Lee Papers. Museum of the Confederacy. Richmond, Virginia. Deed of Manumission: Arlington, New Kent, King William Counties. USGENWEB Archives. Accessed 29 Sep 2021. See also partial reproduction: Robert E Lee and the Custis Slaves. Citing Lee, Robert E. 2 Jan 1863. The Museum of the Confederacy Richmond, Virginia.
  8. See also uncredited transcription: Lee. Manumission of 29 Dec 1862. Transcription on yumpu via Magazine Recommendation. Accessed 1 Oct 2021.

See also: Descendants of Robert E. Lee's slaves at Arlington House

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Arlington House
Arlington House

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posted by Gina (Pocock) Jarvi