• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



Washington Memorial Chapel Valley Forge

August 30, 1909

My dear Miss Lee:

                On the 19th of August I went to Washington for the tent and met Mr. Burke[1] at the National Museum. Only one half of the side could be found, and some relic hunter had cut a large piece out of the top. I think some effort should be made to trace the thirty-two feet of side. I suppose the vandal who cut the tent will never be discovered.

                The inner curtain is also missing.

                I paid Mr. Burke the first $500 according to the agreement and gave him a policy for $5000 against loss by fire or theft.

                The following day I set up the tent so as to show the only side we have at present,and around it I have had built a room of sheet iron with glass windows so as to further protect the tent against fire or damage from relic hunters. I am trying now to secure the funds with which to erect a special room for its exhibition.

                To-morrow Mr. Burke will receive the first proceeds from the exhibition, $7.47. This is only a beginning, and represents only a few days, as the room was closed while the work was going on. Then, too, few know that it is in place.

                I am indeed glad the Tent has begun to earn the money for which you have such a noble use, and you may be sure I will do my utmost to hasten the completion of the while[sic]amount.

                Have you any other Washington relics you would be willing to devote to the same charity? It might be possible for me to acquire them also, as the interest in this work is steadily increasing.

                Thanking you for the courtesies you have shown me in this patriotic work, I am,

Faithfully yours,

W. Herbert Burk




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 g 48-50, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Katie Gibson, 2017 August 8


[1] In 1909 Reverend W. Herbert Burk purchased Washington’s tent from Mary Custis Lee (1835-1918).

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