Charles Syphax was born 1791 to an enslaved woman at Mount Vernon estate in Virginia and a free black preacher. He was a dower slave, owned by Martha Washington as part of the Custis estate. In 1802 George Washington Parke Custis inherited ownership of Syphax, and Syphax was moved to Arlington House in Virginia. In 1821, Charles Syphax married Maria Carter, the daughter of a enslaved woman named Arianna from the Mount Vernon estate.
In 1826 Custis freed Maria Carter Syphax and her children, and gave her a seventeen-acre plot within the Arlington plantation. Charles Syphax passed away 1869.