c 1840

Description: Earthenware, incised and applied annular decoration.

This pitcher belonged to Maria Carter Syphax and was donated to Arlington House by one of her descendents. Maria Carter was reported to be the daughter of a Mount Vernon slave (Airy Carter). It is widely believed that George Washington Parke Custis was her father. She lived and worked at Arlington as a slave and married Charles Syphax. In 1826, she received her freedom and a 17-acre tract of land adjoining Arlington.

In 1864, when the government seized Arlington, the Syphaxes’ ownership of the land was thrown into doubt. William Syphax petitioned the government on behalf of his mother’s estate stating that “we have a claim to this estate.” Although the family had no official documentation to support their claim, Maria Syphax’s thirty-year occupancy of her land was accepted by Congress as grounds for legal title to their land. She and her husband continued to live on their Arlington property for the rest of their lives.

. H 17, D [bowl] 62.2 cm
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, ARHO 6694