Chris and Stetson Hoffman of Franklin, Tennessee, had a special reason to bring their friends Sam and Teddy to Williamsburg. They took a charter sail on the York River in the shadow of Yorktown, where Stetson is kin to George Washington. He won the Battle of Yorktown that sealed America’s independence.

“I go back twelve generations to Nicholas Martiau, whose descendants include George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Martiau was a Huguenot who fled religious persecution in France. It is the daring bravery of the Huguenots that Washington is said to have inherited. Martiau arrived in Jamestown in 1620 and eventually died in Yorktown. He is said to be the Father of Yorktown. A street is named for him here.”

Stetson found more on the family in a church at Yorktown, where a plaque commemorates George Read, who married Martiau’s daughter. It cites that Martiau settled in Yorktown during the early 1630s, sixty years before it became a town. He was an engineer who oversaw the first fort to protect settlers from the Native Americans. The book “The Kin Patch: A Path to the Past,” by the Williamsburg historian Page Laubach Warden, herself a Martiau descendant, recounts the family in great detail.

Another Martiau descendent was Col. Augustine Warner, whose subsequent kin went on to found the famed Warner Hall of Gloucester, Virginia. It’s now a B&B, and the Hoffmans and friends stayed there while visiting. It lies on the Severn River, around the corner from the York River and off the Mobjack Bay.

Consider the irony of Washington’s ancestor landing in Jamestown in 1620 at the height of the settlement, and then dying in 1657 in the very town where Washington went on to win the Revolutionary War more than 100 years later.

I encouraged them to visit the DeWitt Wallace Gallery at the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg to view one of the foundation’s most valued pieces, the Charles Wilson Peale life-size portrait of George Washington. He is posed mocking King George III with his hand inside his vest.


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