William Custis Costin, freed slave of Custis family (1780 - 1842) MP

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Death: Died in Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Managed by: Linda Kathleen Thompson, (c)
Last Updated:

About William Custis Costin, freed slave of Custis family

This Costin family came from Mount Vernon immediately after the death of Martha Washington, in 1802. The father, William Costin, who died suddenly in his bed, May 31, 1842, was for twenty-four years messenger for the Bank of Washington in this city. His death was noticed at length in the columns of the "National Intelligencer" in more than one communication at the time. The obituary notice, written under the suggestions of the bank officers who had previously passed a resolution expressing their respect for his memory, and appropriating fifty dollars toward the funeral expenses, says: "It is due to the deceased to say that his colored skin covered a benevolent heart"; concluding with this language:

"The deceased raised respectably a large family of children of his own, and, in the exercise of the purest benevolence, took into his family and supported four orphan children. The tears of the orphan will moisten his grave, and his memory will be dear to all those--a numerous class--who have experienced his kindness"; and adding these lines:

   "Honor and shame from _no condition_ rise;
   Act well your part--there all the honor lies."

John Quincy Adams, also, a few days afterward, in a discussion of the wrongs of slavery, alluded to the deceased in these words, "The late William Costin, though he was not white, was as much respected as any man in the district, and the large concourse of citizens that attended his remains to the grave, as well white as black, was an evidence of the manner in which he was estimated by the citizens of Washington." His portrait, taken by the direction of the bank authorities, still hangs in the directors' room, and it may also be seen in the houses of more than one of the old and prominent residents of the city.

William Costin's mother, Ann Dandridge, was the daughter of a half-breed (Indian and Colored), her grandfather being a Cherokee chief, and her reputed father was the father of Martha Dandridge, afterward Mrs. Custis, who, in 1759, was married to General Washington. These daughters, Ann and Martha, grew up together on the ancestral plantations. William Costin's reputed father was white, and belonged to a prominent family in Virginia, but the mother, after his birth, married one of the Mount Vernon slaves by the name of Costin, and the son took the name of William Costin. His mother, being of Indian descent made him, under the laws of Virginia, a free-born man. In 1800 he married Philadelphia Judge (his cousin), one of Martha Washington's slaves, at Mount Vernon, where both were born in 1780. The wife was given by Martha Washington at her decease to her granddaughter, Eliza Parke Custis, who was the wife of Thomas Law, of Washington. Soon after William Costin and his wife came to Washington, the wife's freedom was secured on kind and easy terms, and the children were all born free. This is the account which William Costin and his wife and his mother, Ann Dandridge, always gave of their ancestry, and they were persons of great precision in all matters of family history, as well as of the most marked scrupulousness in their statements. Their seven children, five daughters and two sons, went to school with the white children on Capitol Hill, to Mrs. Maria Haley and other teachers. The two younger daughters, Martha and Frances, finished their education at the Colored convent in Baltimore. Louisa Parke and Ann had passed their school days before the convent was founded. Louisa Parke Costin opened her school at nineteen years of age, continuing it with much success till her sudden death in 1831, the year in which her mother also died. When Martha returned from the convent seminary, a year or so later, she reopened the school, continuing it till about 1839. This school, which was maintained some fifteen years, was always very full. The three surviving sister own and reside in the house which their father built about 1812. One of these sisters married Richard Henry Fisk, a Colored man of good education, who died in California, and she now has charge of the Senate ladies' reception-room. Ann Costin was for several years in the family of Major Lewis (at Woodlawn, Mount Vernon), the nephew of Washington. Mrs. Lewis (Eleanor Custis) was the granddaughter of Martha Washington. This school was not molested by the mob of 1835, and it was always under the care of a well-bred and well-educated teacher.

source: http://archive.org/stream/historyofthenegr21851gut/pg21851.txt

http://quilt1812warandpiecing.blogspot.com/2012/07/delphy-costin-free-blacks-and-slaves-in.html

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William Custis Costin, freed slave of Custis family's Timeline

1780
1780
1804
1804
Age 24
1808
1808
Age 28
Washington, District of Columbia, USA
1820
1820
Age 40
Washington, District of Columbia, USA
1829
1829
Age 49
Washington, District of Columbia, USA
1842
May 31, 1842
Age 62
Washington, District of Columbia, USA
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