Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was our first First Lady. Unlike most girls in colonial times, her father made sure she was educated in basic math, reading and writing. Widowed at the age of 26 when her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis, died following a brief illness, Martha was essentially a single -- yet wealthy -- mother. Two years later, Martha married George Washington, taking him from a small-time planter to a wealthy landowner. She followed him to the battlefield in Valley Forge and to temporary homes as first lady in New York and Philadelphia, where she planned and arranged formal dinners and receptions. Upon George's death, he freed half the slaves at their home, Mount Vernon. In 1800, Martha freed the rest.