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Liberty Lake man has familial stake in Washington’s birthday

Tue., Feb. 22, 2011

Bob Asbury has a special reason for honoring George Washington today, the first president’s birthday.

Asbury is a descendant of Washington’s brother and a member of an extended family of Washington descendants in the Spokane area.

The 60-year-old Liberty Lake man said he is a great-great-great-great- nephew in the seventh generation of descendants from Samuel Washington.

In the past decade, Asbury has researched the family lineage and read numerous biographies on Washington.

He’s a member of the National Society of Washington Family Descendants, an organization that requires rigorous documentation before granting memberships, he said.

Asbury and his wife, Barb, have traveled to several society reunions in recent years and visited the ancestral home of Samuel Washington in West Virginia, which is still occupied by a member of the Washington family and is known as Harewood.

The Asburys’ home features portraits and photos of George and Samuel Washington as well as photos of the ancestral home.

“What I am most impressed about is his character,” Asbury said of his ancestor. “I just feel it’s a tremendous honor to be related to somebody of that stature.”

George Washington’s strength and perseverance allowed him to maintain the Continental Army, which he led with strong moves such as the risky Christmas crossing of the Delaware River in 1776, Asbury said.

“Obviously, he wasn’t afraid of a bold stroke,” he said.

Charles Horace Asbury, Bob Asbury’s grandfather, moved to Coeur d’Alene in the early 1900s, and hand-wrote a family history of Washington, which is now in Bob Asbury’s possession.

Asbury and his family members gather frequently around the time of Washington’s birthday, including a party last Saturday.

Asbury has a son, Ben, daughter, Amanda, and grandson, Brody. His nine cousins also are related to Washington, and there’s another family in the region with similar ties to the first president, he said.

As a child, he and his family joked about being descendants. But as he grew older, the East Valley High School graduate said he became more curious about his lineage.

It’s a myth that Washington chopped down a cherry tree, Asbury said, and he did not have wooden teeth; Washington’s dentures were fashioned from bone or other materials.

As a young man, Washington was renowned for his riding skills and ability as a surveyor. He gained acclaim in the Colonies by leading a mission to the Ohio Valley at age 21 to confront French settlements on behalf of the British, Asbury said.

“It’s through his perseverance that this country is here today,” he said.

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