Skip to main content

Tracing the History of the Syphax Family with Steve Hammond and Brenda Parker

The Syphax Family has deep historic ties to Mount Vernon and other sites of enslavement in Virginia.

In 1821, Charles Syphax, an enslaved man at Arlington House in Northern Virginia, married Maria Carter, the daughter of a woman enslaved at Mount Vernon. Charles was the inherited property of George Washington Parke Custis, Martha Washington’s grandson. And there is very strong evidence that the woman that Charles married, Maria, was Custis’s daughter.

On today’s episode, you’ll learn more about the fascinating history of the Syphax Family and its connections to Mount Vernon from Steve Hammond.

Hammond is a Genealogist, Family Historian, and Syphax descendent who has spent decades reconstructing the Syphax family’s history. He recently joined Brenda Parker, Mount Vernon’s African American Interpretation and Special Projects Coordinator, on a live stream to discuss his family’s story.  We’re happy to bring her conversation with Hammond to the podcast.

Be sure to check out the documents Hammond and Parker discuss during the program.

About Our Guest:

Steve Hammond is a descendent of the Syphax Family. He retired from the United States Department of Interior after many years of service. A genealogist and family historian, Hammond has spent decades researching, writing, and lecturing about the Syphax Family and their place in Virginia history. 

About Our Guest Host:

Brenda Parker is Mount Vernon's African American Interpretation and Special Projects Coordinator. Trained in performative arts, Parker interprets some of the women enslaved at Mount Vernon during George Washington's era, including Caroline Branham.