Saturday, November 05, 2016

Society Saturday - Spies at Mount Vernon

The National Project of the Daughters of American Colonists is to fund the production of a smartphone app for visitors to Mount Vernon. At our fall board meeting, we were able to try it out.

I have been to Mount Vernon several times, but this trip was a little different.  First, we had a guided tour of the mansion plus a visit to the cellars (not normally included).  We saw where Martha Washington kept her food supplies and learned about the various beverages enjoyed by their guests.  Unfortunately, there were no photos allowed inside, so all I have is an exterior view.

And a view of the river from the mansion.

During lunch we were entertained by Nelly Parke Custis, step-granddaughter of George Washington.  She told us about her life on the plantation.

Then we set off to try our hand at spying.  While George Washington's spies operated primarily in New York, and Connecticut, we were able to learn some of their techniques.  The smartphone app starts by giving us our assignment by Agent 711 (Washington himself).  To complete it, we had to travel to various locations on the estate, find secret messages, use invisible ink, eavesdrop on British troops, encode secret messages, and signal for message pickup.  All without being caught!  Since we were operating in secret (and it was pouring rain at the time) I don't have any pictures of us on our mission.

I can show you that I completed the mission and am ranked in the top 10 spy list.

We concluded our visit with a tour of the mill and distillery on one of Washington's adjacent farms.  He operated the mill to make a profit with wheat flour, and to provide corn meal to the slaves and farm animals.

The distillery was recently restored and is fully operational.  They even sell the peach and apple brandy in the gift shop.

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