THE LIBRARY OF THE
AT CHAPEL HILL
THE COLLECTION OF
Durham County Public Library
UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL
FOR USE ONLY IN
THE NORTH CAROLINA COLLECTION
,Vo, A -368
18 8 9-1915
ANNALS, HISTORY, AND STORIES
TKe Acquisition, Restoration,
and Care of tKe Home of Gen-
eral Andrew Jackson hy tKe
Ladies' Hermitage Association
for over a Quarter of a Century
MRS. MARY C. DORRIS
By Mrs. Mary C. Dorris
The Memory of
MRS. MARY L BAXTER. Regent
MRS. ALBERT S. MARKS, Acting Regent
i MRS. J. BERRIEN LINDSLET. Regent
<W» This Lttle Volume Is Affection-
"^ ately De<jicate<i
Ladies of the Hermitage Association: The
home of Gen. Andrew Jackson has been in-
trusted to your care and management by the
Legislature of the great State of Tennessee.
As long as you hold to this trust you are se-
cure in your possession. See to it that no mod-
ern enterprise breaks in upon the hallowed spot
and changes it. Let no vandal hand desecrate
it in the name of progress or commercialism.
As the home of Gen. Andrew Jackson, in
which he lived and died, future generations
will desire to see it as it was when he lived and
lingered there. Let there be one spot in all
our State dedicated to patriotism. This is
your trust, and upon you rests this duty.
Mrs. Mary C. Dorris.
It was a conscientious principle with Andrew
Jackson that caused him to build the log house
at the Hermitage, a spot destined to become
historic and where he spent forty-one years of
his eventful life.
While serving as senator at Philadelphia,
then the seat of government, he sold some of
his wild acres of Tennessee land to one David
AlHson. Notes instead of currency were paid
for the land ; and Andrew Jackson bought a
stock of merchandise suitable for the needs of
the frontier and gave the notes in payment.
David Allison failed in the panic of 1793, and
the merchant of whom Andrew Jackson bought
the goods came back to him for the money.
When Jackson was notified that he was to
meet an indebtedness of nearly seven thousand
dollars it staggered him, for there was nothing
so scarce at that time in Tennessee as currency,
barter taking its place.
Andrew Jackson owned at that time more
than fifty thousand acres of wild Tennessee
land and a comfortable home, much better
than anv of his neighbors, at Hunter's Hill,
8 Presentation of the Hermitage.
some three miles distan" from the present Her-
mitage. The Hunter's Hill home was his most
available asset, and it had to be sacrificed to
aid in meeting the obligation. He sold more
of his wild acres and paid the entire debt,
principal and interest, as it fell due, but it
required an effort and great sacrifice.
Nothing daunted, he built the log house and,
in the year 1804, moved once again into the
wilderness. The log house was a two-story
building, one large room below and two above,
with several other log houses surrounding it,
making a comfortable, if not a very preten-
The brick house on the present site was
built in 1 8 19, the brick being manufactured on
the place. It was burned in 1834 and rebuilt
the following year on the same site and in very
nearly the same style.
General Jackson died in 1845, willing the
entire estate to his adopted son, Andrew Jack-
In 1856 the adopted son sold five hundred
acres of the farm to the State of Tennessee
for forty-eight thousand dollars and moved
to a plantation in Mississippi. The Civil War
came on; and at the invitation and solicitation
of Gov. Isham G. Harris, Andrew Jackson, Jr.,
returned to the Hermitage to become its cus-
todian. He died there in 1865, and his widow,
Mrs. Sarah Yorke Jackson, and her widowed
sister, Mrs. Marion Adams, were permitted by
the State authorities to retain their residence
there until death claimed them, Mrs. Adams
preceding her sister to the grave several years.
Mrs. Sarah Yorke Jackson died in 1887, and
in 1889 the Ladies' Hermitage Association was
Of this organization, its founding, and the
preservation of the Hermitage, I have endeav-
ored to give a true, unprejudiced, and impartial
Necessarily in writing these annals and this
history I have, from the very facts in the case,
been compelled to make much use of the pro-
noun "I," but it was unavoidable. The state-
ments, the histor}^ the stories are all my own
personal experiences. The entei*prise has been
a life work with me, and T have liked it from
Could it have been possible, I would have
preferred that another and not the author
lo Preservation of the Hermitage.
had written these annals; but there is no one
who has had such close contact with the very
first movement as has the author, who knows
of all its struggles and efforts in those first
uncertain and formative days. After the first
election Mrs. Mary L. Baxter, who was chosen
Regent, was my constant coworker, and her
enthusiasm was equal to my own. We worked
together, directing and almost sustaining the
work for the first six years.
Noble women, with energy and enterprise,
have built up this organization until it ranks
now with the greatest and best in the State.
The author has enjoyed the friendly inter-
course with these ladies who have from time
to time constituted the Board of Directors of
the Ladies' Hermitage Association.
The writer has for years contemplated this
publication and now presents it to the public,
hoping that it may interest, even entertain, all
who read the pages of this little volume and
that all may redound to the glory of Gen.
Andrew Jackson. The Author.
Chapter I. pj^^^
The Work of Founding 13
Newspaper Reports 21
The Charter Taken Out 33
The By-Laws Are Made 48
The Option on the Relics — Active Work Begun.... 62
Mrs. Mary L. Baxter 71
The Regents 86
Uncle Alfred and Gracey Ii6
Uncle Alfred's Story 129
12 Preseri^aiion of the Hermitage.
Chapter X. Pao».
The Ghost at the Hermitage . 15X
Brides at the Hermitage .....,,.,.. 162
The Hermitage Church 176
The Artist at the Hermitage 193
The Hermitage Garden 198
The Work of Founding.
Twenty-five years ago an inspiration came
to Mrs. Andrew Jackson III., wife of General
Jackson's grandson, that there be a memorial
association organized to preserve and care for
the Hermitage after the manner of Mount Ver-
Mrs. Jackson had come as a bride to the
Hermitage a few years prior to the death of
Mrs. Sarah Yorke Jackson, her husband's
mother, and was vitally interested in the fate of
the old historic homestead ; and she, like others,
knew that the property, which had so long been
owned by the State, would now be taken in
charge and probably a permanent disposition
made of it. There were many enterprises sug-
gested, and several parties were trying to get
possession of the property, the most formi-
dable of which was the Confederate Soldiers'
It was then that the idea occurred to Mrs.
Jackson of the formation of a memorial asso-
14 Presentation of the Hermitage.
elation, and the successful efforts of the Mount
Vernon Ladies' Association encouraged her to
beheve that a similar effort might be made on
behalf of the Hermitage. Of this inspiration
Mrs. Jackson says:
I remember the exact conditions at the Hermitage
when I broached the idea of a memorial association to
Colonel Jackson, who was in deep distress as to the
disposal of the Hermitage collection should the Sol-
diers' Home be established there. Suddenly, while en-
gaged in some household work, it flashed into my mind :
"Why not have a memorial like Mount Vernon estab-
lished here?" The idea appealed to Colonel Jackson;
so we took that long, bitter-cold ride from the Hermit-
age to the home of Mrs. Aaron V. Brown, Tennessee
Vice Regent of Mount Vernon, eighteen miles or more,
in a driving wind-and-dust storm, leaving the bugg>'
but once from nine o'clock in the morning to eleven
o'clock that night. We had as a result of the day's
work the promise of Miss Narcissa Saunders, Mrs.
Brown's daughter, to mail to Mrs. D. R. Dorris the
memoranda of the Mount Vernon by-laws, etc
On the first day of January, 1889, Mrs. Jack-
son came to see me at my home, and we talked
about the Hermitage affairs. According to
my recollection, Mrs. Jackson did not speak
of the memorial association at the first meet-
ing, but rather of the value of the relics and
their probable sale in a New York market. At
I'he Work of Founding, 15
that time my husband, the late Duncan R.
Dorris, Sn, was a newspaper man and a cor-
respondent of the New York Herald and other
Northern and Eastern journals, and Mrs. Jack-
son had an idea that his newspaper influence
might enable her to put the relics upon the
market in one of those cities, where such things
In a day or two Mrs. Jackson came to see
me again, and this time she spoke of forming
a memorial association. The idea at once ap-
pealed to me. I grasped the situation, and it
was my opinion that it was practicable. My
enthusiasm was aroused, and I saw the possi-
bilities of the enterprise. I had known the
Hermitage from early childhood. My mother
was reared within a mile of the historic home-
stead, at the pretty old Clifton farm, on the
banks of the Cumberland River. Much of my
childhood was spent at the old home place, and
a visit to the Hermitage was a charming and
I remembered the lovely garden with its
odor of lilac and hyacinth, its other pretty
blossoms, its graveled walks, and the air of
mvsterv. For was it not the home of Gen-
1 6 Preservation of the Hermitage.
eral Jackson ? I remembered the pretty things
in the house, the beautiful Httle children of
Dr. and Mrs. Lawrence, granddaughters of
Mrs. Sarah Yorke Jackson, and the many
pigeons that came at their call. And, more-
over, I was connected by ties of blood with the
family. As Mrs. Jackson's idea took posses-
sion of me I grew at once deeply interested in
anything that proposed to keep sacred the hal-
lowed spot that I had always known, loved, and
Of later years it was not an imusual thing
for my husband to receive a commission from
some of his Northern journals to write a good
story of the Hermitage. In a buggy we would
take the long drive to see Mrs. Sarah Yorke
Jackson, \vho was living at an advanced age
at the Hermitage, and he would obtain from
her an interesting interview.
I had seen the Hermitage in its palmy days
of beauty and plenty, and I had seen it when
a joyous family lived there. I saw it again in
its desolation, after the horrors of war had left
its imprint, after the splendid fortune left by
General Jackson had all been swept away, when
its fences were all down, the beautiful lawn
By permission of the Army and Xavy Magazine, from the White House liaUery.
The Work of Founding, 17
grown up in sprouts as high as a man's head,
the garden overgrown like a wilderness, and
the evidence of decay everywhere present.
I had seen very little of Mrs. Andrew
(Amy) Jackson then and knew her but slight-
ly; but as the idea of a memorial association
developed we soon became very intimately and
harmoniously associated and worked together
to a great end.
On January 8, 1889, the State Legislature
assembled, and plans were to be made and ideas
formulated, to be prepared to launch the enter-
prise before the General x\ssembly. Mr. W.
A. (Alex) Donelson, a kinsman and near
neighbor of Colonel Jackson, was much inter-
ested and soon joined in the councils and helped
form plans for the great memorial association
that was to be. We knew that there was hard
work before us; for there was opposition, and
many other enterprises were on foot to obtain
possession of the Herm.itage property.
But we had resolved to make the effort ; for
we knew that the name of Jackson was a
mighty one to conjure with, and the respect
and veneration always shown his memory ar-
gued full success for our undertaking.
i8 Preservation of the Hermitage.
There were four persons, and only four,
who had faith in an association, and these four
were Colonel and Mrs. Jackson, the writer of
this histor\% and Mr. Alex Donelson. The
four met together frequently in the author's
home ; and it was in her home that all the plans
were made, all the ideas discussed, the name
given, and the charter prepared for registra-
How often we met, I do not now remember;
but the meetings were many, almost every day,
for a while, and of the same four at the
same place (my home). Mrs. Jackson re-
mained in the city at one time for about two
weeks, and then we talked together every day.
While preparing this history I called upon Mrs.
Jackson for her recollections concerning the
organization and the first steps, and she wrote :
You know I did not attend nearly all of the meet-
ings. After the week or two while I stayed at Mrs.
Lawrence's [then living in Nashville], I returned to
the Hermitage and took no active part in the proceed-
ings until after we gave the four years' option to the
We began to watch the legislative proceed-
ings, to note everything said and done on the
The Work of Founding. 19
streets, in the newspapers, and in legislative
halls concerning the Hermitage. On Sunday
morning, January 2y, 1889, there appeared in
the Nashville American an article over a col-
umn long which I had written, as we thought
it about time to begin to advertise the enter-
prise, and my husband had put it in as a local
story. The article began as follows :
What will be done about the Hermitage? This
question has been a fruitful topic of debate and was
yesterday the subject of a new suggestion from one who
for years has taken an active interest in this matter.
Said this person : "One General Assembly after another
has convened and retired without being able to dispose
of the question in a manner at once satisfactory and
creditable to the State and at the same time with re-
spect to the memory of the old hero who sleeps there."
Then it goes on to suggest a memorial asso-
ciation and says that there was a probability
of such an association's being formed, and that
the idea of this association was to purchase
three hundred acres of the Hermitage farm
for the establishment of an Andrew Jackson
This was the initial bow to the public of what
was afterwards to be the Ladies' Hermitage
Association. It was the very first hint in the
20 Preservation of the Hermitage.
public press that such a movement was con-
templated. The hope seemed to be so forlorn
and so visionary that no one then could ever
have conceived to what strength and dignity
this little seed could grow. The suggestions
were merely in the nature of possibilities, for
all was then so shadowy and uncertain that
nothing could be stated positively. The Leg-
islature was in session, and the ordinary rou-
tine of legislative work was progressing; but
it was not until January 2^ that Gov. Robert
L. Taylor was inaugurated and the Legislature
was fully organized for business.
Ik order that this history of the organi-
zation of the Ladies' Hermitage Association
might be absolutely correct and perfect in all
particulars, the writer visited Carnegie Library
recently and examined the files of the Nashville
American to get correct dates, reports, and all
the published data there obtainable. The news-
paper articles herein made use of are copied
from the files of 1889.
On February 2 the Legislature took a recess
to last until February 12 at noon.
On Saturday morning, February 2, an article
appeared in the American, saying:
Senator Crews has introduced a bill of much interest
to the people of the State. It contemplates turning over
for twenty-five years the Hermitage property to a Con-
federate association of the State, to be used as a home
for indigent Confederate soldiers and their families. It
also contemplates an appropriation of ten thousand
dollars to equip it and put it in good condition.
Senator Crews thought that after the first
year it would be self-sustaining by letting the
old soldiers farm the land.
2Z Preservation of the Hermitage.
On Thursday, February 7, an article ap-
peared in the American, saying:
The bill introduced into the General Assembly by
Senator Crews to convert the Hermitage property into
a Confederate home, to be further equipped for that
purpose with an appropriation of ten thousand dollars,
is meeting with hearty favor in many quarters.
On Saturday, February 9, in an article over
a column long in the American, many citizens
expressed themselves heartily in favor of a
Confederate soldiers' home at the Hermitage.
This article was in the nature of interviews
with a large number of our most prominent
citizens, and it presented formidable opposition
to our cherished plans.
In the meantime we were not idle. We had
meetings nearly every day while the Legisla-
ture was taking a recess, and in that interim
we laid out most of the plans. Great interest
was manifested, and there was much talk on
all sides. It was not long before the public
learned that there was a movement on foot,
and a very vigorous one, to establish a Hermit-
age Memorial Association.
The four founders and coworkers decided
to call a mass meeting of citizens at the
Newspaper Reports. 23
Maxwell House to see if they could awaken
some interest in the work they were proposing
to do. The movement to establish a Confed-
erate soldiers* home was a very popular one
and presented formidable op-position. Colonel
Jackson was a Confederate soldier, and we
were all, except Mrs. Jackson herself, Confed-
erates; but the idea of preserving Andrew
Jackson's home had taken possession of us,
and we could not turn aside from that enter-
The legislative recess was nearly over, and
the mass meeting was to be held before the
reassembling. We sent out postal cards to
about twenty-five ladies and gentlemen whom
we thought might be interested and called the
meeting for Monday, February 1 1, at the Max-
well House, at three o'clock in the afternoon.
An able chairman was needed to preside, as
much depended upon the success of the meet-
ing. On Sunday afternoon my husband went
with me to call upon Dr. Thomas A. Atchison
at his office and asked him to preside at the
meeting we had called. He accepted the invi-
tation readily. After discussing the plans with
24 Presewation of the Hermitage.
him, he heartily indorsed the idea and gave
The Tuesday morning (February' 12, 1889)
Ainerican had a report of the meeting nearly
two columns in length, which was as follows:
The meeting called for the purpose of organizing a
Hermitage Association met yesterday afternoon at three
o'clock in the parlors of the Maxwell House. There
was a representative assemblage present, most of whom
were in favor of establishing a memorial association
and others who had in hand the plan for the Soldiers*
The latter were invited to be present to listen to
such suggestions and remarks as might be made with
the hope of harmonizing the two movements.
Dr. T. A. Atchison was called to the chair and in
one of his smoothest and most eloquent addresses placed
before the meeting the objects and aims in view.*
They were there to organize a Hermitage Associa-
tion for the preservation of the home of Jackson. Dr.
Atchison said :
"This is a most praiseworthy object, and it is meet
that Tennessee and Nashville take the initiatory steps
toward the formation of such an association. Tennes-
see has not the exclusive right to claim the great
man whose mortal remains lie within her border.
"As I understand it, this movement is to be a national
association, not to be confined by any geographical limit,
•I remember that Dr. Atchison prefaced his talk with the remark: "I
am glad to preside over so large and respectable a meeting. I am large,
and Dr. Witherspoon is respectable."
as his great name knew no such boundaries. I have
no antagonism to anything looking to an ex-Confeder-
ates' home. On the contrary, I wish to say that I
heartily approve of that measure.
"The Hermitage ought to be kept in perpetuity to the
honor of General Jackson. This is an organization not
to ask favors, but to purchase them. It will be devel-
oped upon the plans of Mount Vernon, than which there
has not been a greater success. That was originated
by a lady in South Carolina, and this is to be a ladies'
"Women are the first to appreciate true heroism, and
whenever they undertake a charge they are apt to make
of it a success. This proposed organization can raise
all the necessary funds to compass their ends, and they
certainly will do it."
Dr. C. D. Elliott moved that reporters present be
requested to act as secretaries, and the motion carried.
Dr. Elliott said that he understood that the association
proposed to purchase the Hermitage and keep it in
Mrs. D. R. (Mary C.) Dorris here stated that it was
proposed to organize an association operated and con-
ducted upon the plan of the Mount Vernon Association
and m this connection read the following letter:
"Gro\ttown, Ga., January 5, 1889.
"Col. Andrew Jackson, the Hermitage, Tenn.
"Dear Sir: Mrs. Philodea E. Eve, Vice Regent of the
Mount Vernon Association for the State of Georgia,
mentioned to me having received a letter from her
sister-in-law, Mrs. Paul F. Eve, asking in your behalf
about the original organization of the Ladies' Mount
26 Preservation of the Hermitage,
Vernon Association. As she does not feel equal to the
effort of writing, having been quite out of health for
several months, she requests me to make the following
"In 1853 there was some talk of the possibility of
arrangements being made between John A. Washington
and a manufacturing company to transfer Mount Ver-
non into the hands of the latter. There had been an
idea suggested that the ladies of the South purchase
Mount Vernon and make of it an American Mecca.
This proposition startled some of the ladies interested
in this project, and it was made the basis of several of
their appeals. Subscriptions were sought and in some
instances generously responded to. It was proposed
that the subscriptions be one dollar each, but larger ones
of any amount would be acceptable. This continued in
the Southern States three fiv four years. Enthusiasm
on this subject having greatly subsided, our Northern
sisters being desirous to join us, it was made a Na-
tional Ladies' Association in 1856. The money was all
procured by subscriptions, many quite large, by en-
tertainments, fairs, etc., and by the efforts of Edward
Everett. It was there that the money was gained, and
Mr. Washington was paid two hundred and sixty-eight
"The peculiarity of this Association is that it was sug-
gested and founded by women and has been legislated
for and governed by women, and no defalcation has
ever been known among any of the ladies who had any-
thing to do with it. I rather think that our organiza-
tion will not suit the case of the Hermitage, as the
State of Tennessee stands ready to do honor to her
noble son and perhaps needs no outside assistance.
Newspaper Reports. ^7
"Hoping that you may succeed in making it what it
should be to do justice to our Southern hero, I am,
"Yours respectfully, Philodea E. Eve.
By Julia B. Culver."
Mrs. Dorris stated that Jay Gould had recently given
to the Mount Vernon Association two thousand five
hundred dollars with which to purchase an additional
thirty-three and one-half acres adjacent to Mount Ver-
non which they desired. She also stated that the ladies
now proposed to purchase from the State the three
hundred acres immediately surrounding the Hermitage,
for which they proposed to pay full value. With the
funds accruing from the sale of this three hundred
acres the State could found the Confederate Soldiers*
Home in a locality much better suited to their wants
than the Hermitage property.
The chairman recommended that a committee be
appointed to procure a charter, which was done. Mrs.
J. B. Lindsley, Mrs. George W. Fall, and Mrs. E. H.
East were appointed. A Committee on Permanent
Organization was appointed, consisting of Mrs. An-
drew Jackson, Mrs. W. A. Donelson, and Mrs. D. R.
Mr. C A. R. Thompson suggested that two hundred
acres detached would make desirable summer homes in
the event the Hermitage was made a permanent memo-
Rev. Jerry Witherspoon said that he had a deep
interest in the movement for the Confederate home and
that it was not proposed to antagonize that movement
in this organization. He wished to see both proposi-
tions harmonized and felt that they did not conflict and
28 Preservation of the Hermitage.
that one proposition could aid the other. In this re-
spect he called upon Mr. George B. Guild, Dr. Roth-
rock, and Judge Frank T. Reid, who were present, to
make remarks on their side of the question.
Dr. C D. Elliott then made a very good talk upon
the subject. He said that it had once been proposed
that the Grand Army of the Republic have a home at
the Hermitage. This idea gave exasperation to the
other side, and the proposal to have a home for ex-
Confederate soldiers would produce the same feeling in
certain quarters. All felt a national interest in Jack-
son, and nothing should be done that would disturb
the national character of his home.
Judge Frank T. Reid said that he and the gentlemen
with him had expected to take no part in the meeting;
but as he had been invited, he would make a few re-
marks. He did so in favor of the State's making pro-
vision for her disabled and .indigent soldiers.
Mr. George B. Guild followed, making his remarks
at some length, favoring a soldiers' home, making a
stirring appeal for those unfortunate survivors of the
war that were now in poverty. They asked only for
the loan of the place for twenty-five years.
Mrs. Dorris then stated that at the end of twenty-
five years the entire aspect of the Hermitage will have
been changed. New buildings will have been erected
and the old one so altered as not to be the same; but
the greatest change would be in the interior of the
building. There, after a lapse of forty-five years, ev-
erything remained the same; but what would it be
after the lapse of twenty-five more years? There were
the beautiful parlors, the walls covered with the por-
traits of Jackson and his family. There was the cabinet
of curiosities which the hand of the dead General ac-
Newspaper Reports, 29
cumulated. There on the folding door was the por-
trait of him on his war horse. In the hall was the
chair of General Washington; and, above all, there
was the room in which "Old Hickory" died, the bed-
stead on which he rested, the washstand, the bureau-
all were there. Over the mantel was the portrait of his
beloved wife, of whom he said, "Heaven would be no
heaven to me were she not there," and on which his
dying gaze rested. All these things would be taken
away from the place; there would be great changes. At
the end of twenty-five years how could all these things,
once removed, be restored?
Dr. J. B. Lindsley then said that he could not see
why this should not be a powerful organization. Sixty
million people felt an interest in General Jackson, and
it would not be long before two hundred million would
feel an interest. There are only four places upon which
the gaze of the world rests. Two of these are Mount
Vernon and the Hermitage. The Hermitage, only ten
miles from Nashville, is an unusual object of interest to
the people of Tennessee. The General Assembly pur-
chased this historic spot, to be perpetuated in the mem-
ory of Andrew Jackson, to their great glory. He died
on the 8th of June, 1845.* "When I first heard of the
Confederate movement I thought it was a splendid idea,
but then the idea of an association had not presented
itself to me. Now I think that by all means an asso-
ciation ought to be formed. I recognize the fact that
with the lapse of time the Hermitage, unless perpetu-
ated by such an association, will be changed and the
relics all swept away. The whole American people have
an interest in this Association without regar d to any
•Dr. Lindsley was present at the deathbed scene.
30 Preservation of the Hermitage.
section whatever. It was not Grant at the head of his
enormous columns, nor Lincoln in his chair at Washr
ington ; it was the soul of Jackson, who said, 'The Fed-
eral Union must and shall be preserved,' that defeated
us in the War of the States. I say it is a shame, a
damnable shame, that the Confederate soldiers have not
been taken care of. They fought for four long years
and laid down their lives and ought to have had the
care of this State. But twenty-five years after the war
Tennessee is just now beginning to think of her Confed-
erate veterans. She has simply been idle and done
nothing for them. She should have taken care of the
veterans long before the funded debt was paid, but the
Hermitage should be preserved forever."
C. D. Elliott said that perfect harmony should exist in
the two propositions already submitted. He thought that
the Legislature would take favorable action on both.
Dr. Rothrock said that* he came not expecting to
say anything. The property had been in the hands of
the State for twenty-two years, and why had not this
proposition been made before? It was only when they
proposed to make a Confederate home that any propo-
sition of this kind had been advanced. He said that
the proposed association wanted to get possession of
three hundred acres, leaving them the two hundred
acres detached in which to build their home. He said
that one of the objections they had to combat in the
Legislature was that so many soldiers as would be
cared for there could not get a living out of the home,
and the Legislature would have to make continual ap-
propriations to support the home. If they could not
live on the five hundred acres, how could they make the
home self-supporting on the two hundred acres of in-
Newspaper Reports, 31
ferior quality? He spoke of the suffering and poverty
of the uncared-for and impoverished soldiers.
Dr. Atchison suggested that a conference be held
between committees favoring each subject, and he had
not a doubt that the two propositions — the one about
selling the Hermitage and three hundred acres to the
Association and the other with the funds thus realized
to found a soldiers' home— could both be carried before
the Legislature by storm, and everybody would be sat-
A Committee of Conference was appointed, as fol-
lows: Dr. J. B. Lindsley, Rev. Jerry Witherspoon, W.
A. Donelson, Mrs. L. F. Benson, Mrs. Andrew Mar-
shall, Mrs. W. C. Dake, Mrs. Andrew Jackson, Mrs.
W. A. Donelson, and Mrs. D. R. Dorris.
This committee will meet the Committee on the Sol-
diers* Home this morning at ten o'clock in the office of
Dr. J. B. Lindsley at the Capitol.
D. R. Dorris moved to adjourn, and the motion car-
Pursuant to the foregoing, the committee
met in the office of Dr. Lindsley at the State
Capitol, as proposed. The daily American of
Wednesday, February 13, made the following
report of this meeting, with headlines as fol-
a proposition made to the iviemorial association and
A committee from the proposed Hermitage Memorial
Association, consisting of Dr. J. B. Lindsley, Rev,
32 Preservation of the Hermitage,
Jerry Witherspoon, W. A. Donelson, Mrs. L. F. Ben-
son, Mrs. W. C. Dake, Mrs. D. R. Dorris, Mrs. W. A.
Donelson, and Mrs. Andrew Jackson, met yesterday
morning according to appointment in the office of Dr.
Lindsley at the Capitol. For some time no other par-
ties appeared, and the interim was spent in making
preparations for getting out a charter and otherwise
perfecting the organization. After some delay Mr.
Hickman, reflecting the views of the committee he
represented, proposed to compromise by giving to the
Association the building and twenty-five acres imme-
diately surrounding it, which they proposed to add as
an amendment to the Crews bill.
This announcement for a time created great excite-
ment with the ladies, who had based their hopes upon
a much greater area. They thought that fully two
hundred and fifty acres would be necessary to develop
their plan and to aid in making the Memorial Associa-
tion self-sustaining. It will deprive them, they argued,
of the use of any of the farm land wherewith to sup-
port the superintendent and other employees necessary
to conduct it and of the woodland, which would be the
part most capable of being beautified.
Therefore the proposition was not accepted, but it
is believed that there can yet be a harmonious adjust-
ment of the two projects. Another conference will be
held this morning in the library rooms at 9 a.m.
This later conference, it seems, never ma-
terialized, for there is no report of one in the
American, nor do I remember any such meet-
ing, and matters rested as they were.
The Charter Taken Out.
The mass meeting had been called, an in-
terested few had attended, committees were
appointed, and all done that could be done at
such a meeting*.
Was there a widespread interest awakened?
Did our citizens hasten to the support of the
Memorial Association? Not so. After the
meeting the world moved on much as usual,
and only the faithful four who had done all
the preliminary work continued to remember
and work for the memorial that was to be
established to the memory of Andrew Jackson.
The average citizen is coldly indifferent
to the building of monuments, and it is "every-
thing for charity, nothing for monuments."
As the soldiers* home was a very popular
charity and the other enterprise merely a mon-
ument and a sentiment, naturally sympathy was
largely against the latter. Only a slight inter-
est had been awakened. Some were indiffer-
ent, some bitterly opposed, and some scoffed,
34 Preservation of the Hermitage,
ridiculing the idea as utterly impracticable and
impossible. But, after all, a germ was planted,
and it was destined to grow,
Mrs. Jackson, being so far away, could not
come very frequently for consultation. Mr.
Donelson and the writer talked together nearly
tvery day. One day, when all four were pres-
ent, we decided on a name. Here, again, we
used the Mount Vernon precedent and decided
upon the euphonious name, Ladies' Hermitage
Association, and the organization is so called.
Then the charter was discussed. A com-
mittee was appointed at the ]\laxwell House
meeting, but it was prepared by the four.
Of this Mrs. Jackson says: "I certainly recall
the meeting when the taking out of a charter
was discussed, for no one present seemed to
be quite certain how to go about it." A blank
printed charter, such as is used for all organi-
zations and clubs not intended for issuing stock
or making money, was obtained, probably by
Mr. Donelson, who brought this paper to me
and asked me to write a suitable introduction
conforming to the objects and desires of our
new Association, which I did, writing as fol-
The Charter Taken Out. 35
State of Tennessee — Charter of Incorporation.
We, the undersigned parties, apply for a charter of
incorporation of the Ladies' Hermitage Association, the
object of which corporation is to purchase from the
State of Tennessee two hundred and fifty acres of land,
including the residence and tomb of Andrew Jackson,
and to beautify, preserve, and adorn the same through-
out all coming years in a manner most befitting the
memory of that great man and commensurate with
the gratitude of his countrymen.
This intrcxluction Mr. Donelson copied upon
the blank, and afterwards I was told that he
submitted it to Judge E. H. East for advice
and approval, and he was told by Judge East
that it was all right and needed nothing more.
The next step was to get the necessary sig-
natures. Five names were needed; and as it
was to be a woman's organization, these should
be the names of women. It was the opinion
of Col. A. S. Colyar, who was taking great
interest in the proposed memorial association,
that only femme soles were eligible to sign the
charter. This cut out some of our best helpers
and forced us to get signatures of unmarried
ladies, whether they proposed entering in the
work or not.
Very soon after this, one cold afternoon in
36 Preservation of the Hermitage.
February, Mr. Donelson had his buggy at the
door, and together we started out to secure
the necessary signatures. Our first thought
was of !^.Irs. Rachel Jackson Lawrence, who
was then living in the city. She was the first
to sign the document that was to make the
Ladies' Hermitage Association a regularly
chartered institution. Our next visit was to
Miss Mary White May, who was with Mrs.
R. B. Lea, at the corner of Vine Street (now
Seventh Avenue) and Union Street. It was
late when we started on our important errand
and was now nearly dark; but we continued
our work, going next' to see Mrs. Mary Hadley
Clare, who was living then on the west front
of the Capitol. It was now so late that the
gas was lighted on the streets and in the homes.
On entering, we found Gen. G. P. Thruston
with Mrs. Clare. He pointed out to her that
she could "sue and be sued," but assured her
that there was no personal risk to her proper-
ty, and she thereupon signed the document.
We now had only three signatures. Mr. Don-
elson had to drive twelve miles to his home
near the Hermitage that night, and he left the
charter with me.
The Charter Taken Out. 37
The next day the writer procured the signa-
tures of Mrs. E. L. Nicholson, her neighbor, at
the Nicholson House, and that of Miss Louise
Grundy Lindsley, who was also a neighbor,
living only a few doors from her home. That
completed the necessary five signatures. Re-
membering her friend, Mrs. Henry Heiss, and
her sympathy with the movement, her signature
also was secured.
Armed with the charter and these signatures,
the writer went alone to the County Court
Clerk's office to take out the charter of incor-
poration, and on February 19, 1889, the char-
ter was duly entered.
When I reached the County Court Clerk's
office I found that I would have to swear to
the signatures and that my name would have
to go in as a charter member. I also learned
that it would have been perfectly legitimate
for the other interested married ladies to have
signed the charter, but it was then too late to
remedy the matter.
The County Court Clerk, W. T. Smith, who
knew my husband well, was so interested in
the enterprise that he charged me only two
dollars for registration, which I paid. Later
38 Preservation of the Hermitage.
Mrs. Jackson returned to me the two dollars,
saying that she wished to pay for it herself.
Afterwards we took the charter to the State
Capitol, and it was there duly registered, and
the Ladies' Hermitage Association became a
The following are the papers of registra-
We, the undersigned, apply to the State of Tennessee,
by virtue of the laws of the land, for a charter of in-
corporation for the purposes and with the powers, etc.,
declared in the foregoing instrument.
This 19th day of February, 1889.
Mrs. Rachel J. Lawrence,
Mrs. Mary Hadley Clare,
Mrs. E. L. Nicholson,
Miss Louise Grundy Lindsley,
Mrs. Henry Heiss.
Mrs. Mary C. Dorris,
Witness to the above signatures.
State of Tennessee,
Personally appeared before me, W. T. Smith, Clerk
of the County Court of said county, Mrs. Mary C.
Dorris, subscribing witness to the attached instrument,
who, being first duly sworn, deposes and says that
she is personally acquainted with the within-named Mrs.
Rachel J. Lawrence, I^.Iary W. May, Mrs. M. H. Clare,
Mrs. E. L. Nicholson, Miss L. G. Lindsley, Mrs. Henry
The Charter Taken Out. 39
Heiss, the bargainers, and that they acknowledged the
same in her presence to be their act and deed, for the
purposes therein contained.
Witness my hand at office, this 19th day of February,
1889. W. T. Smith, Clerk.
By D. KuHN, D. C.
State of Tennessee,
Register's Office, February 20, 1889.
I, T. S. Lusty, Deputy Register for said county, do
certify that the foregoing instrument and certificate are
registered in said office, in book No. 76, page 123; that
they were received February 20, 1889, at 10 o'clock A.M.,
and were entered in Note Book 10, page 149.
T. S. Lusty, Deputy Register, Davidson County.
I, Charles A. Miller, Secretary of the State of Ten-
nessee, do certify that the foregoing instrument, with
certificates of acknowledgment of probate and regis-
tration, was filed in my office for registration on the
19th day of February, 1889, and recorded on the 20th
day of February, 1889, in Corporation Record Book
"O," in said office, page 104 et seq.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto sub-
scribed my official signature and, by the or-
[seal.] der of the Governor, affixed the great seal of
the State of Tennessee, at the department,
in the city of Nashville, this 20th day of
February, A.D. 1889.
C. A. Miller, Secretary of State.
So much done and yet so far from the goal I
The next step was to get a bill drawn up and
40 Preservation of the Hermitage.
presented in both houses of the General As-
sembly. Mr. Donelson and I succeeded in
getting the bill introduced, but only "by re-
quest.*' The solons, having before them a bill
for the establishment of the soldiers' home, did
not care to antagonize this interest and hesi-
tated to introduce a bill for the Association
and would do so only "by request," which
meant that they would not support it before
Mr. Donelson and I continued to frequent
the legislative halls — almost daily — and as we
entered we heard such comment as, "Here
comes the Ladies' Hermitage Association.*'
In our bill we insisted on the purchase of two
hundred and fifty acres. On February 14,
1889, an interesting card from Dr. C. D. Elliott
appeared in the American, as follows :
Allow me space, at least as a personal favor, to define
my position as to the Hermitage, not correctly reported
and perhaps at the most not given with sufficient dis-
tinctness. The Hermitage is a natural Mecca, a shrine
where only "I am an American citizen" gives the right
to worship. No sign, no name, no inscription to sug-
gest to worshipers antagonism in sentiment and action
among American citizens should appear there. To
illustrate: "The Federal Union — it must be preserved."
The Charter Taken Out. 41
Yet I say as a Confederate that he meant the consti-
tutional Union for which we Confederates fought, and
at once Confederates and Federals are fighting at the
tomb of Jackson. It is right and proper that the guard-
ianship of this natural shrine should be committed to
women. They need Confederate and Federal soldiers to
see to it that the charter and all official preliminary
actions are "national." My honor, they will be faithful
wardens of that tomb to the end of time. To my mind
there is not the slightest obstacle in the way of perfect
harmony of all personal interests involved ; and, this
secured, this General Assembly will agree, nemine
contradicente, to the proposition submitted. Let the
bill now before the Assembly halt and see what can
be done. C. D. Elliott.
On February 15 N. E. Alloway had a card
in the American relative to the estate of Gen-
eral Jackson. He said :
The Hermitage farm at the time of General Jack-
son's death consisted of twelve hundred acres, and
there were one hundred negroes, besides stock of all
kinds. The property sold to the State was worth fifty
thousand dollars, but two thousand dollars was held
as a rental for the two years before Andrew Jackson,
Jr., moved from the place. The estate when Jackson
died was worth somewhere near one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars, and General Jackson was not in debt
when he died.
This was in answer to a communication
saying that General Jackson was in debt when
42 P-reserz'ation of the Hermitage.
Another communication from W. E. Travis,
on February i8, gives the circumstances of its
purchase by the State. Another communica-
tion signed "G" was in lighter vein and inclined
to hold the Association Vi'r> to ridicule, speaking
of the inaccessibility of the Hermitage and
advocating a dummy line, then so popular.
On February i6, 1889, the writer addressed
another communication to the daily American
over a column in length, telling of having called
upon a number of gentlemen in the interest of
the work. Continuing, the article reads:
If such an Association is not formed now, it will
never be, for this seems to* be a crisis in the fate of the
Hermitage. It may seem a little thing now and even
a noble one to pervert it to other uses; but when the
twent>'-five years have rolled away and it is too late,
the generation of that day will say: "What a pity it
was that Jackson's home was not preser\'ed !" We need
some good orator to champion our cause before the
Legislature, some one who knows all the facts and who
will work for us fearlessly. Then we may feel as-
sured that from such a small beginning has arisen a
memorial association that will survive the ages.
The article also argued further :
Twenty-five acres, or even seventy-five, in the country
is very little ground. If we establish the memorial, we
wish it to be a national affair. . . , That Jackson's
The Charter Taken Out, 43
home should have remained so nearly as it was at the
time of his death, forty-four years ago, is something
remarkable and owing to the fact that the State al-
lowed Andrew Jackson, Jr., and his son subsequently
to occupy the premises.
This was signed by Mrs. D. R. Dorris.
A strong article signed "A'* also appeared,
urging the Legislature to "sell" to the Associa-
tion "such portion of the estate as may be nec-
essary to fulfill the obligation we as a body
propose to assume." I do not recall who "A"
was. I reproduce these communications to
show the desire of the Association at its very
inception to possess a larger portion of Andrew
Jackson's farm for the memorial and also the
original desire that it be national in character.
The arguments used are almost identical with
those that members of the Association brought
forward when they made contention for more
land before the General Assembly of 1913.
On February 25 the writer had another arti-
cle in the paper urging the Legislature to sell
to the Ladies* Hermitage Association, and this
article was signed "Mrs. D. R. Dorris, Secre-
tary of the Ladies' Hermitage Association,*'
using that title for the first time.
Dr. C. D. Elliott, who was taking a great
44 Preservation of the Hermitage.
deal of interest in the matter and who strongly
favored the woman's Association, said in a
communication on February 20, 'The State of
Tennessee can never in honor part with its
right to the Hermitage" ; but he thought it all
right for the Legislature to convey it "in trust"
to the woman's Association.
The bill for the Confederate soldiers' home
had right of way before the Legislature, and
the sentiment ever^'where was strongly in fa-
vor of it, and when it came up it passed prac-
tically without opposition. The soldiers' home
bill had been amended so as to exempt the
house, tomb, and twenty-five surrounding acres.
Matters looked blue for the memorial associa-
tion. Col. J. M. Crews, who had introduced
the soldiers' home bill, had become a stanch
friend to the memorial enterprise; and he it
was who formulated a new bill for the Ladies'
Hermitage Association and introduced it into
the Legislature. It was Senate Bill No. 461
and "conditionally" conveyed to the "Ladies*
Hermitage Association twenty-five acres of the
Hermitage tract, including the mansion and
tomb of General Andrew Jackson."
The very last day of the session of 1889,
The Charter Taken Out. 45
April 5, had arrived, and even this act had not
passed. It seemed as if the **house, tomb, and
twenty-five acres" and the Ladies' Hermitage
Association would be left out in the cold.
The act had passed the necessar>^ three read-
ings in the Senate and needed only to pass the
third reading in the lower house. All who
were in any way interested in the passage of
the bill were there to urge it on the members.
The writer, Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Donelson,
Mrs. J. Berrien Lindsley, Mrs. Benson, Mrs.
W. C. Dake, and probably others were present
in the House of Representatives on that day.
Dr. J. B. Lindsley, who had become the stanch
friend and counselor of the author in all she
was doing, entertained grave fears and advised
Mrs. Lindsley to be on the floor of the House
and urge the passage of the bill. It was she
who influenced Col. John H. Savage, the "old
man of the mountain," as he was called, who
had opposed the act, to vote for the bill and
withdraw his opposition. When it came to a
vote the bill passed, and the workers were so
overjoyed at the happy consummation that it
was never thought whether the act was passed
by a great or a small majority. It did not
46 Preservation of the Hermitage.
matter, since the Ladies' Hermitage Associa-
tion was given possession of the property.
The responsibility was taken without one
dollar of appropriation from the State or
any source of revenue whatever. But this
handful of earnest, devoted women left the
State Capitol with the determination to redeem
their trust and cause the State of Tennessee to
rejoice at the hour when it gave the beautiful
Hermitage into the care and keeping of the
Ladies' Hermitage Association.
The act passed on April 5, 1889, and was
approved by Gov. Robert L. Taylor on April
6, and the Ladies' Heimitage Association was
ready to enter upon its trust.
The act of conveyance called for nine trus-
tees — 'two from East Tennessee, two from
West Tennessee, and five from Middle Tennes-
see. These were to be commissioned by the
Governor upon "recommendation of the La-
dies' Hermitage Association." My husband,
being a newspaper man, was well acquainted
with prominent men all over the State, and I
had him select the names of nine gentlemen for
me to nominate as trustees to the Governor.
Very soon after the Legislature adjourned my
The Charter Taken Out, 47
husband went with me to Governor Taylor's
office at the State Capitol. Then and there the
first nine trustees were nominated before the
Governor, and he had the necessary commis-
sions sent to them. Governor Taylor's only
choice was Adolph S. Ochs, of Chattanooga.
These trustees were : Ex-Gov. James D. Porter,
Paris, Tenn. ; Dr. J. Berrien Lindsley, Nash-
ville, Tenn. ; Gen. W. H. Jackson, Nashville,
Tenn. ; Ex-Gov. John C. Brown, Nashville,
Tenn. ; L. F. Benson, Nashville, Tenn. ; W.
R. French, Tullahoma, Tenn.; E. S. Mallory,
Jackson, Tenn. ; Adolph S. Ochs, Chattanooga,
Tenn. ; and H. H. Ingersoll, Knoxville, Tenn.
Before selecting these gentlemen I had
talked with L. F. Benson, Dr. Lindsley, and
probably others who were interested. Mr.
Benson suggested W. R. French, and Governor
Taylor himself selected Adolph S. Ochs. Then
the writer, as Secretary, called a meeting of the
Board of Tnistees, and the first meeting was
held in the office of Dr. J. B. Lindsley at the
Capitol. Ex-Governor Porter was elected
President and Dr. Lindsley Secretary.
The By-Laws Are Made.
One of the provisions of the act of convey-
ance of the twenty-five acres from the Legis-
lature was that the trustees be empowered to
**make and enforce such by-laws as may be
necessary to put into operation and continual
execution the objects and purposes for which
this trust is created." That w^as more than
twenty-five years ago. Women had not dem-
onstrated their abihty to do things as at pres-
ent, and the wise solons no doubt thought that
the women would never be able to "make and
enforce by-laws." Even so the provisions of
the act remain to this present day, and the
Association must work under the by-laws as
given by the Board of Trustees.
The by-laws have been amended several
times at the request and suggestion of the
Board of Directors as the needs and require-
ments of the Association developed, but the
making of them still rests with the trustees.
It may be added that thev have been ver>' satis-
The By-Laws Are Made, 49
factor}'; and it is very well that the matter
stands as it does, for it saves complications.
After the first meeting of the Board of
Trustees and the appointment of a By-Law
Committee, on that same day that committee
made the by-laws. The committee appointed
consisted of Dr. J. Berrien Lindsley, of Nash-
ville, Tenn., E. S. Mallory, of Jackson, Tenn.,
and W. R. French, of Tullahoma, Tenn.
These three gentlemen met at the residence of
Mrs. Mar}^ L. Baxter, that lady and the writer
of these annals being present.
In these by-laws paragraph 2 reads: "The
first biennial meeting of the Association shall
be held on the third Wednesday in May, 1889,
and every two years thereafter at such place in
Nashville, Tenn., as may be designated in the
call." This by-law^ is as unalterable as the law
of the Medes and Persians and must never be
The first biennial election was held at the
residence of Mrs. J. B. Lindsley. Again it
was my privilege to select the first Board of
Directors. Dr. Lindsley and l^.Ir. Benson were
the advisers of the writer. Tlie following
Board was elected and the other offices filled as
50 Preservation of the Hermitage.
follows: Mrs. Nathaniel Baxter, Sr., Regent;
IMrs. A. S. Colyar, First Vice Regent; Mrs. J.
M. Dickinson, Second Vice Regent ; Mrs. D. R.
Dorris, Secretary; Mrs. William Morrow, Mrs.
John Ruhm, Mrs. W. A. Donelson, directors;
L. F. Benson, Treasurer; Mrs. Nathaniel Bax-
ter, Sr., Mrs. J. M. Dickinson, and Mrs. W. A.
Donelson, Executive Committee; Col. J. M.
Crews, Memphis, Tenn., General Agent. Nine
ladies were elected directors, but two took no
interest and were soon dropped.
And now the Ladies' Hermitage Association
must begin the work of putting money into its
purse to carry out the obligations of its trust.
It had accepted a great work and a difficult one
without one dollar of appropriation from the
State or any resource whatever. The Associa-
tion hoped to raise the money by private sub-
scriptions and by giving such entertainments
as might be possible.
Knowing that funds would be needed before
anything at all could be done, the writer, as-
sisted by Miss Will Allen Dromgoole, on April
10, II, and 12, 1889, produced the beautiful lit-
tle operetta "Birds of Tennessee" at the Ven-
dome Theater for the benefit of the Ladies'
The By-Laws Are Made, 51
Hermitage Association. The operetta was
Miss Dromgoole's own composition. It was a
most pleasing musical extravaganza and was
well patronized. Miss Dromgoole personally
superintended the production, while the writer
gathered seventy-five or one hundred children
and grown people to participate, rented the the-
ater, and was advertising agent, business mana-
ger, and general utility man. We had wonder-
ful success and cleared about $125, which was
put in a bank for the needs of the Association
at its first call.
Aside from the money spent for the charter,
there were a number of incidental expenses,
which were personally paid by the writer.
Mrs. W. A. Donelson contributed ten dollars
from her "Old Folks' Concert" receipts, and
afterwards she gave an "Old Folks' Concert"
for the benefit of the Association, turning over
to the Association forty dollars as the result
of her efforts.
■ This small sum of money represented the en-
tire assets of a great enterprise that was to in-
terest the whole nation and build up a suitable
memorial to our great hero, Andrew Jackson.
At the meeting of the Board of Trustees Gen.
52 Preservation of the Hermitage.
William H. Jackson, who had had much experi-
ence in such matters, advised that I get out ter
thousand booklets to send broadcast over the
land for advertising purposes. Acting under
this advice, I prepared a booklet, containing
an address to the public, the names of the trus-
tees and directors, the charter of incorporation,
the act of the Legislature, and the by-laws,
making sixteen pages. The address to the
public in this booklet is even now good matter
and may interest the present-day reader. It is
An Appem. to the Public.
The General Assembly of the State of Tennessee has
assigned to the care of the Ladies' Hermitage Associa-
tion the house and tomb of General Jackson and twenty-
five surrounding acres to improve, beautify, and keep
forever in perpetual memory of the great hero.
The Association proposes to do its work thoroughly —
to purchase the relics, to renovate the house, to beautify
the grounds, and to make the Hermitage the most beau-
tiful spot, as it has been the most interesting spot, in all
the Southland. It will be a national museum, inviting
pilgrims from the North, the South, the East, and the
West, who will delight to honor the memory of him
who said : "The Federal Union must and shall be pre-
The Association proposes to keep in continual repair
the house and tomb and ground^. For many years
The By-Laws Are Made. 53
nothing has been done in this regard. There is conse-
quently great need for a repairing fund, and the first
money collected into the treasury will be devoted to
restoring to its original beauty the grand old historic
mansion, the tomb, and to adorning the grounds.
The Association also wishes to purchase the relics
and furniture now at the Hermitage and owned by Col.
Andrew Jackson and which have been pledged to said
Association. These relics are both valuable and inter-
esting, and a large sum of money will be required to
purchase them. It will readily be seen that to put the
homestead in thorough repair, to purchase the relics,
and to create an endov/ment fund by which the Asso-
ciation is to become self-sustaining, a large sum of
money will be required.
The Association is national in its character, as An-
drew Jackson was national in reputation. He belonged
to the people, and to them the Association now appeals
for assistance in this great work.
The by-laws require a membership fee of one dollar.
By this means the Association hopes to realize at least
one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, as it is the belief
that there are fully that many citizens in the United
States who would gladly give that sum to the restora-
tion of "Old Hickory's" home. Contributions of any
sum from one dollar or less to any great sum a munifi-
cent benefactor may be willing to give are solicited.
Any contribution may be sent to the Treasurer, L. F.
Benson, Nashville, Tenn., and will be receipted by him
and placed to the credit of the Association. We hope
that this appeal will strike the keynote of patriotism
and that in a very few years the home of Andrew
Jackson, the beautiful Hermitage, will be the Mecca of
54 Presentation of the Hermitage.
all true patriots in the United States and of historic
interest to the touring stranger.
Mrs. Nathaxiel Baxter, Sr., Regent;
Mrs. a. S. Colyar, First Vice Regent;
Mrs. J. M. Dickinson, Second Vice Regent;
Mrs. D. R. Dorris, Secretary.
Ten thousand of these booklets were printed,
costing about one hundred dollars of the little
fund. At that time the writer had not an
idea how great a bulk ten thousand booklets
would make, and her house w^as entirely over-
run with them. They were in every closet and
on every available shelf. It was too many to
get out at one time; but they have served a
good purpose, and to. this day, after twenty-
five years, they are still doing duty as a matter
If the writer was going to be the Secretary,
she knew^ that she would need a minute book;
so she invited Mrs. Lindsley to go with her
to purchase one. This book showed her faith
in the Ladies' Hermitage Association, for she
purchased a leather-bound "cap-size" record
book of seven hundred pages. This book did
duty for sixteen years, from the organization,
May 1 6, 1889, to May, 1905. It is a complete
record of all the transactions of the Associa-
The By-Laws Are Made. 55
tion during that time. All of its struggles, all
of its enterprises, all of its successes are here
recorded and may be preserved forever.
When the Ladies' Hermitage Association
took possession of the Hermitage it found the
property in a state of extreme dilapidation.
The fences were down, and the lawn had
grown up in sprouts as high as a man's head.
The house v\^as in bad shape. The roof leaked,
shutters were off, glass panes were out of the
windows, and the old historic cabin was a tum-
During the Civil War Gen. George H.
Thomas, commandant of the post at Nashville,
had placed an armed guard at the Hermitage
to protect it during the internecine strife.
While this prevented the house from being
pillaged and the outhouses from being burned,
it did not check the ravages of time.
The adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Jr.,
after selling the place to the State of Tennes-
see in 1856, moved from there in 1858 to a
Mississippi plantation. At the invitation and
solicitation of Gov. Isham G. Harris he re-
turned to the Hermitage at the breaking out
of the Civil War, probably in 186 1. He died
56 Preservation of the Hermitage.
there in 1865, and his widow remained as cus-
todian until her death, in 1887. Col. Andrew
Jackson III. lived at the Hermitage, his moth-
er's support and protector. They knew not
what day they would be asked to surrender
possession of the property, therefore they
did not make repairs, nor did they have the
means to sustain so large a place. The State
did nothing, with the exception of putting an
iron rail around the tomb, which was done
during the administration of Gov. William B.
Bate, when he was the State's chief executive,
in 1882. There was ever}'thing to do and no
money to do it with, and the very first problem
was to determine how to gatlier money to carry
on the work.
Edward Everett had gone out over the en-
tire nation and lectured for the benefit of the
Mount Vernon Association. He was the finest
orator in the United States, and he turned
over to that Association the munificent sum of
$69,964, but not until they too had struggled
and almost failed. The Ladies' Hermitage
Association had no such champion; but its
promoters thought that by solicitation alone
monev in sufficient sums would flow into its
The By-Lardjs Are Made. 57
coffers and that $150,000 would soon be raised.
But not so. The money came in slowly and
by the most strenuous efforts. Y.\tvy kind of
entertainment was given here in the city of
its founding, from a ten-cent mirror show to
the Theodore Thomas Orchestra concerts.
The mirror show proved the best money-
maker. The Theodore Thomas Orchestra
proved a disastrous venture, and the Associa-
tion had to pay a large deficit. It was the only
losing proposition ever entered into. There
were four concerts, costing fifteen hundred
dollars each. The Mendelssohn Quintet Club
netted to the Association two hundred dollars.
It was managed by the Secretary and Mrs.
Maggie L. Hicks, a director, who sold one
hundred dollars' worth of tickets. Blind Tom
played under the auspices of the Association
twice, the first time netting two hundred dol-
lars and the second seventy-five dollars. Miss
Louise Baxter, daughter of the first Regent,
brought in many contributions.
Mrs. John G. Carlisle gave a concert in
Washington City for the benefit of the Asso-
ciation and sent as a net result six hundred
dollars on May i, 1894. Emma Abbott, the
58 Preservation of the Hermitage.
prima donna, presented to the Association one
hundred dollars, and the Nashville Hibernian
Society made a donation of twenty-five dol-
lars. Gen. Andrew Jackson became a mem-
ber of the Hibernian Society of Philadelphia in
18 19. Other friends in Washington City
helped gather funds, notably Mrs. Joseph E.
Washington, wife of the Congressman from
the Hermitage District, Hon. James L. Norris,
and Miss Mary E. Wilcox, whose mother was
born at the White House during Jackson's
The Andrew Jackson Club in Chicago sent
substantial assistance; and our sister city of
Memphis gave two splendid Jackson Day balls,
which netted six hundred and seventy dollars
to the Association. A number of individuals
contributed as much as one hundred dollars,
some fifty, others twenty-five, ten, and on
down to the one dollar membership fee — all
helping to swell the fund for the patriotic
work. Little by little the funds were accumu-
lated, and little by little the work of repairing
No salaries have ever been paid to any
member of the Association. At one time a
The By-Lcnvs Are Made. 59
very capable lady, Mrs. C. P. Wright, who was
called the Secretary at Large, was engaged.
By a \'igorous canvass she brought in a con-
siderable amount and was given twenty per
cent of all moneys collected.
As pointed out in the letter of Mrs. Philodea
Eve, the Mount Vernon precedent and organ-
ization did not exactly suit that of the Ladies'
Hermitage Association. The very fact that
the property was owned by the State prevented
contributions in many instances. A notable
one was that of Daniel E. Sickles, who was
solicited for a contribution. He said : "I do
not see how it is possible that the State of
Tennessee could allow any one to aid in pre-
serving Andrew Jackson's home." And yet
was not Andrew Jackson a national hero?
In this connection it is well to make a state-
ment in regard to a matter which has caused
much misunderstanding and will continue to
do so unless explained. When the by-laws
were made. Dr. J. Berrien Lindsley, a warm
friend and constant adviser of the writer in all
the work she was doing, had inserted in the
by-laws the clause "and receive for her service
a salary of twenty-five dollars per month."
6o Preservation of the Hermitage.
Dr. Lindsle}' had said to the writer before
the by-laws were made: "Now, you must be
the Secretary, for you know that the Secre-
Ury is the drudge worker." Dr. Lindsley
himself was the Secretary of the State Board
of Health and appreciated the duties of secre-
tary. At a general meeting of all the mem-
bers on March 24, 1897, there was a large
attendance. In the minutes of that day, on
page 300 of the minute book, there is the
following self-explanatory entr}':
Mrs. Mary L, Baxter, Regent, and Mrs. Albert S.
Marks, Acting Regent :
This is to certify that I hereby donate to the Ladies'
Hermitage Association any 'and all amounts due me as
Secretary of the Association for the past eight years.
This receipt is given inasmuch as at the last meeting of
the Board of Trustees it was at my request that by-
law No. 5 was amended by striking out the words "and
receive for her service a salary of twenty-five dollars
per month." This salary I have never drawn, knowing
full well the inability of the Association to pay such
a salary and believing that the service should be gra-
In Ma5% 1^2, I managed the May Musical Festival
of Theodore Thomas for the benefit of the Association.
There was a deficit of $336.70, which the Association
paid and which was accredited to me as back salary,
but from which I received no personal benefit.
I make these statements and present this receipt that
The By-Laws Are Made. 6i
there may be no future legal complications arising and
that the gift of this salary, to which I was legally en-
titled, be full and free to this Association and not sub-
ject to the claims of either myself, my heirs, or assigns.
I hereby give my receipt in full.
Mrs. Mary C. Dorris^ Secretary.
March 24, 1897.
The Option on the Relics — Active Work
Closely following upon the first biennial
election a meeting was called by Mrs. Mary L.
Baxter at her home June i8, 1889, which was
the very first meeting of the new organization.
It is worth while to note the names of those
present, representing almost the entire strength
of the Association at that time. These were
Mesdames Nathaniel 'Baxter, William Mor-
row, J. M. Dickinson, A. S. Colyar, John
Ruhm, W. A. Donelson, and D. R. Dorris.
To carry out the national idea the effort
was made to appoint vice regents in every State
of the Union, and the following ladies were
appointed: Mrs. Grover Geveland, of New
York; Mrs. Potter Palmer, of Illinois; Mrs.
A. K. McClure, of Pennsylvania; Mrs. Judge
Grant, of Iowa; Mrs. William Mack, of In-
diana; Mrs. Lee, of Virginia; Mrs. Merrick,
of Louisiana; ]\Irs. William E. Eakin, of Con-
necticut; Mrs. W. C. P. Breckenridge, of Ken-
option on Relics — Active Work Begun. 63
tucky; Mrs. Henry W. Grady, of Georgia; and
Mrs. Ellen Call Long, of Florida. They were
notified by the Secretary, but none of them
took up the work nor did anything, with the
single exception of Mrs. Ellen Call Long, of
Florida, whose father, General Call, was one
of Jackson's aids. Later others were selected.
The immediate business of the meeting was
to arrange all the details of an excursion to the
Hermitage and of the concerts to be given dur-
ing the meeting of the National Educational
Association in Nashville in July.
This was the very first effort of the new
Association after organization was effected.
The Hermitage w^as then thrown open for the
first time in its history as a public institution.
The date was from July 17 to 20, 1889. It
was a difilicult matter to handle owing to the
great inaccessibility of the place. Boats were
chartered, landing on the Cum_berland River
three miles distant from the Hermitage. It
was the landing from which General Jackson
shipped his cotton to New Orleans and received
from there sugar, molasses, and other supplies
for the plantation, and often furniture and
household articles not to be procured in Nash-
64 Preservation of the Hermitage.
ville. Trips were made by rail, the station
also being three miles from the Hermitage.
Either vray there was a three-mile drive to be
made ere the Hermitage was reached. Wag-
ons were engaged, and after meeting the train
they had the trip to m.ake to the river over
a rough and unused road. About one thou-
sand persons visited the Hermitage during the
four days, and a great advertisement was given
the enterprise, but very little money was left
in the treasur}^ after all the expenses were paid.
An interesting event of the occasion was the
arrival at the Hermitage, just one hour before
the first pleasure wa^n of excursionists got
there, of a little stranger, the last one of the
Jackson name ever to be born at the Hermitage.
The visitors were much interested in the new
arrival ; and a committee of the educators pre-
sented the little boy with an up-to-date primer,
laying the baby hands upon it when he was but
a few hours old. The President of the Na-
tional Educational Association was Albert
Prescott ]Marble, a most worthy gentleman
from New England, and the little fellow was
named Albert Marble Jackson in his honor.
On June 25, 1889, another meeting was
option on Relics — Active Work Begun, 65
held by the Board of Directors to take action
upon an option given by Col. Andrew Jackson
on the relics. At the time the Ladies' Hermit-
age Association was organized the relics, fur-
niture, and belongings were all in the house,
just as they had been in General Jackson's life-
time. There were beautiful and costly things
there, for General Ja,ckson's house was a per-
fect and handsome* type of the old Southern
homestead, and all the furnishings were not
only pretty but elegant.
The house is a large two-story brick, with
a spacious central hall and rooms opening into
it from each side. These rooms, four down-
stairs and four upstairs, are twenty feet square.
The two wings give eleven rooms in the main
building; and while there are not so many
rooms, it is a large and commodious house.
Large porticoes on the front and rear, sup-
ported by fluted columns, give a grand and
imposing appearance to the mansion.
All of these rooms were elegantly furnished
with solid mahogany, plain but handsome. All
of this furniture was the property of Col. An-
drew Jackson, having been willed to him by his
mother. One of the first thoughts of the
66 Preservation of the Hermitage.
Association was to secure these relics and this
furniture, for they were the actual belongings
of Gen. Andrew Jackson and were owned and
used by him. There were the bed he died upon
and his room just as it was the day he died,
June 8, 1845. There were mirrors, portraits,
tables, chairs, bedsteads, sofas, and, in fact,
all the belongings of a well-to-do Southern
On these relics Colonel and Mrs. Jackson
gave an option for $17,500 and four years'
time for all that was in the house, including
silver, cut glass, souvenirs, bric-a-brac, etc., to
the number of five 'hundred articles, w'hich
were catalogued and given in the option.
Colonel and Mrs. Jackson continued to reside
at the Hermitage as its custodians, awaiting
the result of the efforts of the Association to
raise the fund for the purchase of the relics.
The Association not having possession of
the Hermitage farm. Colonel Jackson was left
entirely without resource; and as there was
not a superabundance of money coming in, it
was difficult to make suitable arrangements
for his necessary expenses. A plan was made
by which lie was to receive three per cent on
option on Relics — Active Work Begun. 6y
the value tied up in the relics. This was paid
part of the time; but all arrangements proved
more or less unsatisfactory, for the needs of
his family were not sufficiently provided for.
To redeem the Association's trust to the
State it was necessary that the bulk of the
funds accumulated be devoted to the work of
repairing and improving. The very first work
done was on the old historic cabin, which was
the first home of Andrew Jackson on the Her-
mitage farm. This old log house, at once a re-
minder of pioneer days as well as a reminder of
Andrew Jackson, was at one time a two-story
building, with other log houses around it, and
was erected in 1804. Aaron Burr was enter-
tained there in 1805. The little baby boy, An-
drew Jackson, Jr., the son of his adoption,
was taken there in 1809, and in 1815 Gen.
Andrew Jackson returned to its humble doors
a conquering hero and the idol of the nation.
In this block house hospitality reigned su-
preme, and it is said that in his home "the
humblest peddler was as welcome as the Presi-
dent of the United States" and that Andrew
Jackson was the "prince of hospitality."
68 Preservation of the Hermitage.
From the minutes of the Association is taken
the following :
Shortly after the National Educational Association
excursions in July  the precarious condition of
the old historic cabin was pointed out to the Secretary;
and, although limited in funds, the order was given and
a contract made for its proper restoration. The chim-
ney had fallen, the sills on one side were rotted away,
and its downfall seemed imminent. Several visits were
made to the Hermitage during its renovation by the
Regent and Secretary, that its historic character might
not be lost, and the cabin was restored as near to its
original character as possible. The chimney was re-
built of the same fallen brick and in the same style.
Six new sills were added. A new board roof was put
in the place of the one that had been lost by decay and
a new floor put in.
The old pieces of wood not decayed were
used to make souvenirs— -dainty match safes
and toothpick holders — and all sold well to
visitors going to the Hermitage.
When the work of renovation was going on,
the carpenters doing the work called the atten-
tion of the Regent and Secretary to the beaded
joists forming the ceiling of the first floor
room, but w^hich are now supporting the
ground floor and which can be seen only by
looking up under the house as it now stands.
Cornelius Hankins, then a vouno: artist, vis-
option on Relics — Active Work Begun. 69
ited the Hermitage the day after the Associa-
tion was given possession and asked permis-
sion of Col. Andrew Jackson to paint a picture
of the cabin and was referred to the Regent.
The artist came back to the city, and that night
a heavy windstorm blew down the chimney
and careened the whole cabin, making it all
the more picturesque for the artist's purpose,
but causing dismay to the Association. A
copy of the picture was presented to the Asso-
ciation by the artist, and it may now be seen
at the Hermitage in the relic collection of in-
teresting articles and shows one of the things
that the Association had to contend with.
The old block house was changed by Gen-
eral Jackson himself from the two-story to a
one-story house and was used for years as one
of the cabins for the habitation of his negro
slaves. The brick house on the present site
was built in 18 19. General Jackson said that
he built it for his wife, that she might have
the comforts of a suitable home after his
death. His health was much broken by his
arduous campaigns, and his thought was that
the woman he loved would long survive him.
But such was not the case; for his beloved
70 Preservation of the Hermitage.
Rachel died at the Hermitage December 22,
1828, just before the President elect left his
home for Washington City to be inaugurated
President of the United States. She did not
live to share his triumphs nor to sustain him in
his greater work to the nation.
The brick house was burned in 1834 while
Jackson was absent at Washington, when the
adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Jr., and his
family were sojourning there. It was rebuilt
in 1835 upon the same site and in very much
the same style.
Mrs. Mary L. Baxter.
It seems that the Association, through all
its vicissitudes, had moments of inspiration;
and it was some such moment as this which
prompted the writer, after the Association was
founded and chartered, to ask ^Mrs. Mary L.
Baxter, w4fe of Judge Nathaniel Baxter, to
become its Regent. Mrs. Baxter was a woman
of much culture, fine intellect, and great experi-
ence in organized work. She entered upon the
duties of Regent of the Ladies' Hermitage
Association with a faithfulness and zeal which
was characteristic of her and which argued
well for the Association. From the time she
accepted the position until laid upon a bed
of illness, during a period of eight years, she
showed an untiring zeal and energy that many
a younger woman might have envied, giving
almost her entire time and thought to the work.
She was prominent in social circles and had
a broad acquaintance not only in this city and
State but all over the Union. This wide ac-
72 Preservation of the Hermitage.
quaintance was of great value to the Associa-
tion and enabled her to bring to her support
many influential people. After the first elec-
tion, when i\Irs. Baxter Avas made Regent, the
Secretar>% who lived only two blocks away,
often ran up to see her on business of the Asso-
ciation or talked with her over the telephone,
until it was laughingly said : "The Ladies' Her-
mitage Association is always in session."
In these early days efforts were made to
interest as many persons as possible. Meetings
were held whenever necessary, but it was some
time before a regular, definite day was settled
upon. All the meetings were held at Mrs.
The Association had taken the trust, as has
been said before in these pages, without one
dollar of appropriation from the State and
conducted the work, repairing and improving,
without the State's aid for six years. Those
first months were truly busy ones, and every-
body or organization that came to the city was
solicited for funds. While a great deal came
from outside the State, the continued, persistent
efforts were sustained by the citizens of Nash-
Mrs. Mary L. Baxter, 73
The National Prison Association, of which
Ex-President Rutherford B. Hayes was Pres-
ident, met in this city, and from it Mrs.
Maggie L. Hicks, a most heroic worker, se-
cured forty members. The Prison Association
was taken on an excursion to the Hermitage.
Of it I find in the minutes, under the date of
November 12, 1889, the following: "The
Association finds a greater gain in these excur-
sions than in almost any other form of adver-
tising, the beautiful Hermitage and its inter-
esting relics speaking for themselves."
Another fine source of revenue, and one of
the best-patronized events, was, and is, the an-
nual celebration of Jackson Day, January 8,
the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans.
The custom is to give a brilliant ball, as that
was the mode of entertainment in Jackson's
time. An effort has always been made to give
the ball a historic feature, and many pretty
ideas have developed as each Regent put her
best thought into it.
The first celebration of Jackson Day after
organization was such a beautiful affair that
it is even now remembered with pleasure. It
was a historic costume reception, and Andrew
74 Preservation of the Hermitage.
Jackson, Mrs. Rachel Jackson, the Cabinet, and
diplomatic corps were personated by ladies and
gentlemen of the city. Handsome engraved
cards of invitation were issued, fifteen hundred
in number. An admission card was inclosed,
for which three dollars was charged for two
Copying from the minutes of January 13,
we find the following :
The day was a grand success. The citizens entered
heartily into the enthusiasm of the day, and the city
was elaborately decorated with bunting for the occasion.
It was a general holiday, and the streets were thronged
with people. Col. Jere Baxter called out the militia;
and the day, which was bright, beautiful, and balmy, the
sunshine glorious, began with a grand military pageant
through the streets, in which prominent citizens acted
as marshals, Governor Taylor and his staff also par-
ticipating. The troops passed in review before Governor
Taylor and staff and the Ladies' Hermitage Association
on the south side of the State Capitol. Entering the
Capitol, speeches were made by prominent citizens, and
the Jackson Club was formed, with Col. A. K. McClure
as President. The Jackson flower, the hyacinth, was
largely worn. Beautiful floral tributes from President
Harrison and from the Governors of Connecticut, New
Jersey, Maryland, Arkansas, Florida, and Wisconsin
were placed on the Jackson statue and afterwards
taken to the Hermitage. The floral tributes were pho-
tographed. . . .
Mrs, Mary L. Baxter, 75
The Andrew Jackson Historic Costume Reception
was a brilliant success. Andrew Jackson and his wife,
Mrs. Rachel Jackson, the entire Cabinet, and diplomatic
corps were personated by handsomely dressed ladies and
gentlemen, the most prominent people of the city. An
interesting feature was the lighting of the historic can-
dle found in Lord Cornwallis's tent at Yorktown. It
was held aloft by Col. Jeremiah George Harris (at one
time purser of the navy and who represented General
Jackson) and allowed to burn only one minute.
This candle was presented to General Jack-
son with the suggestion that he light it on every
8th day of January, which custom he always
observed. The candle was one of the relic
collection owned by Colonel Jackson. The
gross receipts from this reception were four
hundred and eighty dollars ; but the net receipts
were rather small, for the expenses were heavy.
On March 30, 1890, the Association tried to
lease seventy-five acres of the woodland from
the soldiers* home trustees, to pay therefor five
dollars per acre. The proposition was not ac-
cepted. I find from the minutes that in April,
1890, a new roof had been put on the main
building and all of the outhouses covered with
the old tin which was removed. The latter, of
an extraordinarily good quality, was probably
put on when the house was rebuilt after the
76 Preservation of the Hermitage.
fire in 1835. The roof was in very bad condi-
tion, leaking badly, causing the plastering to
fall in upstairs bedrooms and on the porticoes.
The pictorial wall paper, representing the
"Legend of Telemachus," was hanging in
shreds and threatened with destruction. An
expert wall paper man was sent out and spent
two weeks putting the paper back on the wall.
As Mrs. Baxter aptly remarked, "It was like
so much darning'' ; but it was rescued from de-
struction and is now in a very fair state of
preservation. A general utility man was sent
there and spent days repairing locks, insert-
ing lost screws, putting in window panes,
and doing like odd jobs that hardly showed
for the work put ujxin them, yet it was much
needed and added to the general renovation. A
new fence was put around the entire twenty-
About this time Mrs. Baxter and her co-
workers made great efforts to get a railroad to
the Hermitage, its inaccessibility making 'it
very difficult to handle anything out there. All
repair work cost more, workmen were hard to
get, material difficult to deliver, and, in fact,
into every enterprise this inaccessibility inter-
Mrs, Mary L. Baxter. ^y
jected itself disagreeably. Therefore one of
the very first efforts was to get a railroad.
Mrs. Maggie L. Hicks and Mrs. Isabella
M. Clark had been added to the Board of
Directors and were made a Railroad Com-
mittee. They reported that the probable cost
would be ten thousand dollars for four miles
of track, but a regular railroad would cost
at least thirty thousand dollars and would be
a constant expense. However, the Nashville,
Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway made the
proposition, through IMaj. J. W. Thomas, to
build and equip a road from the station to the
Hermitage if the Association would secure the
right of way and raise five thousand dollars.
It was this sum that Mrs. Baxter was working
for. She succeeded in getting three thousand
dollars subscribed, but could never attain to the
greater sum, and the plan was finally aban-
doned. To this day the crying need for the
successful operation of the work of the Asso-
ciation is a railroad or a trolley line to the old
On May 20, 1 891, was held the second bi-
ennial election. In the reports It was found
that three thousand five hundred dollars had
78 Preservation of the Hermitage.
been raised and expended in the two years.
The election resulted as follows : Mrs. Mary L.
Baxter, Regent; Mrs. Albert S. Marks, First
Vice Regent; I\Irs. J. B. Lindsley, Second Vice
Regent; Mrs. D. R. Dorris, Secretary; Mrs.
William Morrow, Mrs. John Ruhm, Mrs. W.
A. Donelson, Mrs. John M. Gaut, Mrs. Mag-
gie L. Hicks, directors; Dr. William Morrow,
Treasurer. While the reports did not show a
very large business, yet it was still progressive
and in a fair way to do more and better things.
One of the most successful of the enter-
prises of the Association was a grand ball given
at the Ponce de Leon Hotel, in St. Augustine,
Fla., on February 4, 1892. The hotel was
given the Association free of charge by Mr.
Henry M. Flagler, the New York millionaire.
Mrs. Baxter and Mrs. C. P. Wright visited
St. Augustine and made all the arrangements,
and the latter put it through. The net result
was $2,082, and it was the best enterprise the
Association had ever managed. A large dele-
gation went from the city of Nashville. This
money was put in the bank as a "nest tgg^' for
the purchase of the relics.
Acting under the advice of Dr. Lindsley and
Mrs. Mary L. Baxter. 79
Gen. W. H. Jackson, the Legislature was asked
to appropriate fifteen thousand dollars for the
purchase of the relics, but not then nor ever
afterwards did such effort succeed.
The option on the relics expired in July,
1893; and still, not having secured the pur-
chase money, there was no alternative but to
allow the valuable collection to be removed by
their owner. Colonel and Mrs. Jackson moved
away from the Hermitage, taking with them
everything in the house, leaving bare walls and
naked rooms, in which there was but a memory.
It became necessary to engage a caretaker
to superintend the premises and protect it from
all dangers. A suitable man, one who under-
stood horticulture, for there was great need
in that direction, was engaged. It was very
necessary, with the limited income of the Asso-
ciation, that the caretaker be also a man who
could give a good day's work on the grounds
or house if needed. The new caretaker did
good work in the garden, which was a perfect
wilderness and overgrown with weeds, and im-
proved its appearance not a little. He trans-
planted bulbs, moved shrubs, cut down trees
which had voluntarily sprung up, dug up
So Preservation of the Hermitage.
sprouts, and otherwise brought order out of
chaos. He remained at the Hermitage two
years and performed a wonderful amount of
very much needed work.
Then a stalwart young farmer from the
neighborhood was engaged. He happened to
be not only a good farmer but a good carpen-
ter, a fair painter, and, in fact, an ingenious,
industrious man, ready to turn his hand to any-
thing that was needed. He had not been long
married; and his wife, a comely little matron,
was equally adapted to the work. Both fitted
into the place m.ost admirably and have proved
to be the right persons in the right place. The
fact that they have continued in the service of
the Association for twenty years and at this
writing are still there proves their eminent fit-
ness for the position. Their only child was
born there. They have grown up, so to speak,
with the Association. They understand its
needs and know its wishes as well as do the
members of the Board themselves. They are
Mr. and Mrs. T. L. Baker and may still be
found rendering faithful and efificient service
at the Hermitage.
In 1895 Mrs. Albert S. Marks, wife of Ex-
Mrs. Mary L. Baxter, 8l
Governor Marks and First Vice Regent of the
Association, after consultation with the Board
of Directors and free discussion of the subject,
went before the State Legislature and secured
an appropriation of fifty dollars per month
from that body, the first that had ever been
appropriated by them for the benefit of the
Association. This enabled the Board to pay
their caretaker without exertion on their part.
On May 2;^, 1895, an admission fee at the
door was first charged; and as there was then
very little to be seen inside the building, this
fee was put at ten cents. As the minutes state,
this was to "ser\^e as a restraint to large visit-
ing bodies, who were apt to overstep the bounds
of privilege while there, rather than as a source
In 1896-97 Mrs. Baxter's health, always del-
icate, began to fail. For eight years she had
stood bravely to the forefront, working with a
zeal and a will to see the Association put upon
a firm foundation. She had seen a measure of
success in the improved appearance of the Her-
mitage house and grounds, though it was far
from being as she most desired it. She saw
an Association still determined, still indefati-
82 Preservation of the Hermitage.
gable, working to carry out its trusts ; and now
she must leave it to other hands and minds to
carry on the work she so loved and could only
look on for many more months from her bed
Into the hands of ]\Irs. Albert S. Marks,
First Vice Regent, the work was intrusted, and
she took up the burdens of administration.
Mrs. Baxter had been so efficient, so loyal,
so brave, and had carried on the work so suc-
cessfully, even when physically unable to take
upon herself any burden, that it was hard for
any one to take her place. In Mrs. Marks she
found a worthy coworker, though Mrs. Marks
herself was of fragile health.
Mrs. j\Iarks conducted the affairs of the As-
sociation whenever Mrs. Baxter was unable to
preside, taking the chair first at a meeting May
13, 1896. It was during Mrs. Mark's admin-
istration as Acting Regent that the Tennessee
Centennial Exposition was held in Nashville,
and she carried to a successful issue the repre-
sentation of the Ladies' Hermitajre Association
at the exposition. It was while this exposition
v/as going on and during the administration
of Mrs. ]\larks that the first purchase of the
MRS. MARY C. DORRIS.
Mrs, Mary L, Baxter. 83
valuable and interesting relics owned by Colo-
nel Jackson was made and the return of the
relics to their old home in the Hermitage was
While the exposition was going on Colonel
Jackson wrote to the Association, offering the
old historic State coach used while Andrew
Jackson was President and in which he made
several trips to and from Washington City
during his administration, the journey requir-
ing thirty days. The price asked was one hun-
dred dollars, and the Association immediately
became the purchaser of this most interesting
and quaint old carriage, and it was put in the
transportation building at the exposition as one
of its most interesting exhibits, where it at-
tracted a great deal of attention.
The next acquisition was the bedroom fur-
niture of Gen. Andrew Jackson which he used
during his life, consisting of a bed, a dresser,
a washstand, a couch or sofa, a table, chairs,
fender and andirons, all the portraits, and a
scrap of carpet. The price asked was one thou-
sand dollars. This the Association gave, and
the furniture was shipped by Colonel Jackson
from Cincinnati. From this time on the relic
84 Presentation of the Hermitage.
furniture began to flow back to its old home.
The hah furniture came next; and from time
to time, as the Association accumulated the
money, some coveted article was secured, and
the good work went on.
^Mrs. Marks continued to administer the af-
fairs of the Association from 1896, relieved at
times by Mrs. Baxter, whenever able, and oc-
casionally by Mrs. J. Berrien Lindsley, at whose
home a great many of the meetings w^ere held.
On April 5, 1898, Mrs. Albert S. Marks,
having failed in health, requiring tlie attend-
ance of trained nurses and physicians, resigned
the acting regency and from the Board.
Now and then Mrs. Baxter was able to pre-
side; but the burden of administration fell upon
Mrs. J. Berrien Lindsley, assisted sometimes
by Mrs. P. H. Manlove, who had been elected
Treasurer, the first woman to hold that office.
Mrs. Baxter was Regent for ten years, but for
at least three years of that time she was too ill
to manage the affairs of the Association. In
1897 the by-laws were revised, and a limit of
four years, or two terms of two years each,
was put upon the office.
On May 9, 1902, Mrs. Mar\^ L. Baxter died
Mrs. Mary L. Baxter. 85
after years of illness. The regular meeting of
the Board of Directors, which was in session
when her death was announced, adjourned out
of respect to her memory. A beautiful floral
tribute was sent, and the Association attended
the funeral in a body. Resolutions of respect
to her memory were passed.
In 1899, at the regular biennial election in
May, Mrs. J. Berrien Lindsley was elected Re-
gent, another happy choice in the selection of
Mrs. Lindsley had been connected with the
Association from its very first organization
and always had its every interest at heart. Her
husband, Dr. Lindsley, was one of the first
trustees, and her daughter. Miss Louise Grundy
Lindsley, was a charter member. She had been
a lifelong friend of the Jackson family; and
in girlhood she had often been a welcome guest
at the Hermitage house parties with the fair
young Rachel Jackson, the granddaughter of
the old hero. During her administration many
relics were added to the collection, and the old
home began to look as it did when Jackson's
tall form was reflected in the long mirrors.
The relic collection had grown to such an ex-
tent that it became necessary to place iron
guards at the doors to protect the furnishings.
The Regents. ^7
Mrs. Lindsley's house became the home of ilie
Association; and all the meetings were held
there, her spacious parlors affording- ample ac-
commodations for any number of guests.
During Mrs. Lindsley's administration the
admission fee was raised from ten cents to
twenty-five cents. The, sale of flowers was in-
augurated, by which much money was made.
The colors of green and white were selected
for the Association, and a badge designed by
Miss Louise Lindsley was adopted. The badge
is a wreath of hickory leaves of green enamel
with the intitials *'L. H. A." in white enamel.
Some distinguished visitors were entertained
at the Hermitage during Mrs. Lindsley's ad-
ministration—Admiral and Mrs. Dewey and
Admiral and Mrs. Schley. Admiral Dewey
and his wife came in the summer time, when
the garden was a glorious flower bed. A bar-
becue was given him, and the tables were laid
beneath the beautiful spreading maples of the
rear yard. Hundreds of guests were present.
Admiral and Mrs. Schley came in the winter
season, in the very coldest weather.
During Mrs. Lindsley's administration in-
surance was taken out on the house and fur-
88 Preservation of the Hermitage.
niture and has since been carried in reasonable
but not large amounts. If destroyed, articles
in the house could never be replaced, and every
precaution is being taken to prevent fire. Just
after the Tennessee Centennial Exposition
eight fire extinguishers were purchased and put
in the building.
It was also during Mrs. Lindsley's regency
that an appropriation of one thousand dollars
was made by the State for needed improve-
ments and repairs. Previous to this five hun-
dred dollars had been appropriated by the State
for the same purpose.
On June 4, 1903, the Board of Directors
met with the Regent, Mrs. J. Berrien Lindsley,
and much important business was transacted.
It was the last time those present ever had an
opportunity of meeting with the beloved and
honored Regent. By the next meeting, July
3, the angel of death was hovering near; and
two days later, July 5, 1903, she passed away,
her life having been a benediction to all around
The Hermitage and its works in the twelve
years that Mrs. Lindsley was connected with
it had been the one thing in life that interested
The Regents, 89
her. She was ever gracious and tactful and
gentle in her rulings, and the Association pros-
pered in every way under her administration.
On August 5, 1903, the vacancy caused by
Mrs. Lindsley's death was filled by electing her
daughter, Miss Louise Lindsley, on the Board
of Directors, and Mrs. A. M. Shook was elect-
During Mrs. Shook's regency there was
much done. At a meeting on September 2,
1903, the Treasurer, Mrs. Walter Allen, re-
ported that Mr. A. P. Foster had turned over
to her $276.03 as a result of the canvass made
by Col. Jere Baxter, son of Mrs. Mary L.
Baxter, through the Nashville News, to apply
on the purchase of the relics. The effort was
made to raise ten thousand dollars with which
to purchase those relics still owned by Mrs.
Andrew Jackson; but less than three hundred
dollars w^as raised, though the utmost efforts
were put forth by the News Company to se-
cure the necessary amount. All of which goes
to prove that it was only by continued efforts
that the relics have been purchased, and not by
any easy or whirlwind methods.
The State of Tennessee, through private
90 Preservation of the Hermitage.
committees of citizens, reproduced the Hermit-
age as the State building at the World's Uni-
versal Exposition, held at St. Louis in 1904.
Andrew Jackson's bedroom was reproduced, an
exact replica of his room at the Hermitage, the
Association using some of the historic furniture
for the purpose, which added much to the in-
terest of the exhibit. Another interesting fea-
ture of the World's Fair Hermitage w^as the
presence of Mrs. Rachel Jackson Lawrence,
granddaughter of General Jackson, as the host-
ess of the Tennessee building on the exposition
The writer was' appointed by Mrs. Shook
and the Board to represent the Association at
this same exposition and remained in St. Louis
for seven months, or during the entire time
it was being held, Mrs. W. J. McMurray serv-
ing as Secretary during the regular Secretary's
absence. The writer was also a commissioner
of the State and lived in the W^orld's Fair
Hermitage, which was the State's building.
Maj. E. B. Stahlman and Maj. E. C. Lewis
were the promoters of the work of replicating
the Hermitage; and they carried out the fur-
nishings in ever\' detail, creating a most beau-
The Regents. 91
tiful replica of the historic Hermitage, which
made a grand appearance with the other histor-
ic State buildings on the exposition grounds.
The pictorial wall paper of "Telemachus'* was
reproduced by hand-painting on canvas, the
young lady artist sitting in the halls of the
Hermitage for three months to make the copy.
After the exposition closed this hand-painted
copy was presented to the Ladies* Hermitage
Association; and it is now on the walls of the
upper hall, all the papering there having been
lost by the damp and the depredations of relic
The Hermitage building, being an old brick
one and not having had fire in any of the cham-
bers for many years, was dreadfully affected
by the dampness. Whenever there was a
change in the weather it caused a dense fog in
the rooms, which gathered into water on the
walls and trickled down to the floor. Mrs.
Shook caused to be installed an up-to-date hot-
air furnace, which corrected all the dampness,
has made the building warm and comfortable
through the severest weather, and is one of
the most needed and best improvements ever
made there. Mrs. Shook also caused a tele-
92 Presentation of the Hermitage.
phone to be placed there, which had ahva}s
been a necessity; but up to that time the Asso--
ciation had never felt able to afford such an
On May 17, 1905, the writer of this history
was elected Regent, having served continuously
as Secretary during the entire life of the Asso-
ciation, sixteen years. One of the first works
of this administration was to build a two-room
cottage for a dining room and kitchen for the
caretaker, which gave to the family a home
privacy and allowed the old historic kitchen,
always interesting, to be fitted up as a part of
of the exhibit.
In 1907 President Roosevelt, then the chief
executive of the nation, visited the Hermitage,
and it was the privilege of the writer as Regent
to receive him. The venerable Mrs. Rachel
Jackson Lawrence, granddaughter of General
Jackson, the Board of Directors, and the mem-
bership generally, assisted. The President was
so pleased with his visit and so enthusiastic with
the work that he pledged himself to secure
from Congress an appropriation for the benefit
of the Association. The President urged the
matter in his message to Congress; and Sena-
The Regents. 93
tor James B. Frazier and Congressman John
W. Gaines secured an appropriation of five
thousand dollars, which enabled the Regent to
carry out some long-cherished plans.
A system of waterworks was installed, bring-
ing water from the spring to the garden and
the house. The spring has a capacity of from
fifty thousand to sixty thousand gallons daily.
The spring itself was greatly improved, and a
stone wall was put around the pool in a sub-
stantial and permanent manner. The interior
woodwork was painted for the first time since
the State became its owner, in 1856. The
woodwork was in very bad condition and need-
ed numerous coats of paint to whiten it, the
mantelpieces requiring no less than seven coats
of paint to bring them to the desired condition.
The wall paper in the upper chambers is the
same that was put on when Andrew Jackson
lived, and the house was rebuilt in 1835. This
paper is very quaint and old-fashioned. In
a guest room at the head of the stairway
the pattern is in huge bunches of roses, each
design being in a block of paper not more
than three feet long and not in a continuous
roll, as is done at present. Owing to the damp
94 Preservation of the Hermitage.
and the falling off of the plastering in this
room, when the plaster was renewed some
years previously there was a large section in
the northwest corner that showed only the
white finish on the wall. This white corner,
extending almost halfway on each side, was
deftly and beautifully frescoed in by an artist,
who reproduced the huge bunches of roses so
perfectly that even the closest inspection fails
to note any difference between the frescoing
and the old wall pajDer.
Each of the Regents after 1897 has added
to the relic collection; and some very valuable
articles were purchased during the administra-
tion of the writer, including the very valuable
and historic portrait of Jackson known as the
Healy portrait. There are only two of Healy's
paintings of Jackson extant. One hangs at the
Hermitage and the other in the Louvre, at
Paris. There are many duplicates, for it is a
favorite subject of copy ; but there are only two
The story of the painting at the Hermitage
is very interesting. The artist, Healy, had
been commissioned by Louis Philippe to paint
the portraits of prominent Americans for the
The Regents. 95
French gallery. Healy was at the home of
Henry Clay, in Kentucky, when he learned that
Andrew Jackson was in a low state of health
and liable to pass away any day. He hastened
to the Hermitage, having to travel by private
conveyance, and arrived there while Mrs. Sarah
Yorke Jackson, the General's daughter-in-law,
had gone to the city for the day.
The old hero was placidly awaiting his final
summons in his bedchamber when the artist
arrived at the door. Dick, the house man, an-
swered the artist's ring and told him that Gen-
eral Jackson was very ill. The artist presented
his card and sent it into the sick chamber.
Dick returned and said that General Jackson
was too feeble to meet him. But the artist did
not give up and sent the man back, following
him into General Jackson's bedchamber.
The old General was seated in front of a
small wood fire, for the day was a cool one in
early June. The artist rushed past the serving
man and threw himself upon his knees at the
feet of the sick man. Startled and astonished,
the old General, retaining his poise, said : "Rise,
sir; rise! Kneel to no one but your Maker!"
Reassured, the artist sprang to his feet, reached
96 Preservation of the Hermitage.
in his pocket for his papers, and presented the
commission from Louis PhiHppe. The old
General read them and slowly and feebly said :
"Young man, never forget your credentials."
This was just eight days before the old hero's
The artist began his sittings and made two
portraits, one for the gallery of the Louvre and
the other for the Hermitage. He was domi-
ciled as a member of the family during the sit-
tings and remained there for some time, mak-
ing a third portrait, which he copied from a
painting there. This he presented to Mrs.
Marion Adams, the widowed sister of Mrs.
Sarah Yorke Jackson, who was a member of
her household. This latter portrait was after-
wards sold in New York City.
The price paid by the Association for the
Healy portrait was seven hundred and fifty
dollars. Other valuable and interesting relics
were purchased during the administration of
the writer. The home of the Regent became
the home of the Association, and all the meet-
ings were held there. At each general meeting
light refreshments were served and a social
hotu* enjoyed. The membership increased
GEN. ANDREW JACKSON — THE HEALY PORTRAIT.
The Regents, 97
largely during this administration, growing
from seventy-five accredited voters in 1905 to
two hundred and thirty-eight in 1909. At the
close of the regency, which expired by limita-
tion after four years* incumbency, the retiring
Regent again took the office of Secretary,
which office had been ably filled by Mrs. Walter
Allen during the writer's administration as
In 1909 Miss Louise G. Lindsley, a charter
member and daughter of one of the first trus-
tees and the second Regent, Dr. and Mrs. J.
B. Lindsley, was elected to the regency and
entered upon the work with ability and enthu-
siasm. Her familiarity with the work qualified
her in no small way for the requirements of the
position. The former administration had left
in the treasury two thousand five hundred dol-
lars of the congressional appropriation, and
she had this fund to continue to apply to the
work of improvement.
The writer might here state that no moneys
ever appropriated by the State or given by Con-
gress has ever been applied to the purchase of
relics. All the moneys, a total at this writing
98 Preservation of the Hermitage.
of fifteen thousand dollars, has been raised by
the Ladies' Hermitage Association.
At this writing the Hermitage is beautifully
and completely furnished with the genuine rel-
ics and furniture, the actual belongings and
mementos of General Jackson. All these rel-
ics and this beautiful furniture have been pur-
chased by the Ladies' Hermitage Association.
The Association alone is the sole owner, not
even the State of Tennessee having the slight-
est claim upon them.
From the first founding of the Association
there has been no retrograde movement. The
progress has been slow but sure. The improve-
ments are of the most substantial and perma-
nent character. The Association has always
been conducted upon a high plane, and year by
year it has grown in power and influence and
has always ranked as one of the finest organi-
zations in the State. By clever management
the Association has almost made one dollar
do the work of two, and with the assistance
of the caretaker himself it has accomplished
wonders with a minimum outlay.
The ladies have proved good financiers, and
thev have never had a debt which was not well
The Regents. 99
in hand. In buying relics an obligation was
usually made, but the obligation was amply
provided for and paid when it fell due. From
1899 to 1 90 1 Mrs. A. M. Shook served as
Treasurer. From 1901 to 1904 Mrs. Walter
Allen held the ofifice. Then, at the special re-
quest of the Board, Mrs. P. H. Manlove again
took the books and has managed the finances
to the present writing, her ability and judg-
ment and her correct and conscientious han-
dling of the funds making her a valuable mem-
ber of the Board.
The new Regent, Miss Lindsley, entered ac-
tively into the work and carried on the improve-
ments to a higher degree. The cottage, con-
sisting of just two rooms and a pantry, was
moved farther to the north and the rear. Sev-
eral rooms were added, with a bathroom and
all conveniences, hot and cold water, and an
altogether livable, habitable place of abode was
fitted up for the caretaker and his family, giv-
ing them the privacy of their own home.
At the same time this arrangement allowed
the entire main building to be thrown open as
an exhibit. The two rooms (the bedrooms of
Mrs. Sarah Yorke Jackson) formerlv ncmpied
loo Preservation of the Hermitage.
by the caretaker were fitted up with some of
the genuine furniture. The former nursery
adjoining was fitted up as a museum, none of
the nurser}^ furniture being available.
The purchase of relics continued. Colonel
Andrew Jackson died in Knoxville, Tenn., in
December, 1906; but his widow, Mrs. Amy
Jackson, continues to sell the relics, holding
them until such time as the Association is
able to purchase. Miss Lindsley inaugurated
the system of regular monthly payments upon
the purchases, which not only made it easy for
the Association to meet the obligations, but
gave a regular income to Mrs. Jackson.
One of the most important purchases was
that of Hiram Powers's bust of Jackson,
which was not only a historic relic, but a
work of art as well. The price paid for it was
three thousand dollars, the highest-priced and
most valuable single article ever purchased by
Another very important work of Miss Linds-
ley's administration was that of the "tree doc-
tor" on the splendid old monarchs of the forest
on the front lawn. Eight hundred dollars was
piit into this work, repultinjr ven^ benefici^llv to
The Regents, loi
the grand old trees which were threatened with
Miss Lindsley's administration brought in
more money than any previous administration ;
for she managed successfully several very large
outings and barbecues for various organiza-
tions. One of the most brilliant affairs was
the entertainment of the Secretary of War in
President Taft's Cabinet, Hon. Jacob McGav-
ock Dickinson, who was in Nashville during a
grand military encampment in July, 19 lo.
Under Secretary Dickinson's direction all the
United States soldiers of the encampment were
ordered to the Hermitage, and a President's
salute of twenty-one guns was fired over Jack-
Many distinguished bodies and many distin-
guished men have visited the Hermitage during
the twenty-five years of the Association's life;
and it has become the one spot that all visitors
to the city are shown by their hosts, whether
individually or as guests of our commercial
organizations. These visits always result in
financial benefit to the Association, for an ad-
mission fee of twenty-five cents is charged at
the door. The automobile has greatly helped
102 Presewation of the Hermitage,
the attendance at the Hermitage. Every effort
to secure a trolley line has failed, and yet many
thousands of visitors go there annually.
Another feature of Miss Lindsley's adminis-
tration was the increase in 191 1 in the State's
appropriation from six hundred dollars to
twelve hundred dollars annually.
Among the painful experiences of the La-
dies* Hermitage Association are the dangers
which have threatened the Hermitage. Had it
not been for the effort in the beginning, there
would to-day be no Hermitage, no attractive
historic place for tourists to visit and admire.
Were it not for the vigilance of the Associa-
tion, other things would have come in and
hemmed the memorial in on all sides with a
boundary of only twenty-five acres.
A few years ago it was suggested that the
reform prison be placed on the Hermitage
farm, and the proposition was warmly advo-
cated in certain quarters; but the Ladies* Her-
mitage Association, ever vigilant and jealous
of any infringement upon their rights to the
beloved Hermitage, were soon up in arms and
defeated the project. From the very inception
of the memorial it has been the desire of the
The Regents. 103
Association to possess more ground and to de-
vote, not a small plot of twenty-five acres, but
a glorious farm of three hundred or even the
whole five hundred acres to the memory of the
great Andrew Jackson. It had always been the
thought of the ladies that when the Confeder-
ate Soldiers' Home Association ceased to use
it as a home the memorial association would
be given possession of the entire tract, and to
that end it has always worked.
In 191 3, during the regency of Miss Linds-
ley, the most formidable of all rivals appeared
upon the scene. The Seaman A. Knapp School
of Country Life entered a petition before the
State Legislature for the entire four hundred
and seventy-five acres of the Hermitage farm.
The idea came as a surprise to the Association ;
but the Regent, Miss Lindsley, immediately
took alarm and, summoning her workers
around her, v/ent before the Legislature and
called their attention to the fact that they were
about to part with the title to Andrew Jack-
son's home, which the State had so long owned.
The Knapp School is a most laudable and
worthy enterprise; but the Association con-
tended that there were other smiling acres in
I04 Preservation of the Hermitage.
Tennessee for the establishment of a memorial,
and, as the Rev. C. D. Elliott said twenty-five
years ago, "The State can never in honor part
with the title to the Hermitage." The result
was that the Hermitage remained as it had
been for the past twenty-five years, and the
State gave to the Seaman A. Knapp Memorial
School twenty-five thousand dollars in lieu of
the Hermitage farm.
The time limit of four years having expired,
Miss Louise Grundy Lindsley retired from the
regency, and IMrs. B. F. Wilson was elected.
The election was in May, 1913, and Mrs. Wil-
son was traveling in .the Riviera. She was
cabled the news of her election, and she ac-
cepted. Miss Lindsley, who became First Vice
Regent, acted until the new Regent came home.
Upon Mrs. Wilson's return she took up the
reins of government with an earnest determi-
nation that argued well for her administration
and undertook the w^ork with enthusiasm and
ability. She is a social leader with a great deal
of taste and tact and with an unlimited gener-
osity tow^ard the work that causes her to help
out many an enterprise that would otherwise
fail. She has effected the purchase of many a
The Regents. 105
relic that might not have been procured but for
The membership now boasts four hundred
persons, most of whom are in Nashville; but
there are members all over the Union, and such
sustaining members are always desired. There
are a good many life members, who have paid
twenty-five dollars for membership and who
continue to take an interest in the work.
For years the Association had looked for-
ward to the one hundredth anniversary of the
battle of New Orleans with a resolve to make
it a memorable and brilliant occasion and to
celebrate it with all the pomp and ceremony
that such a great event demanded.
The attention of the Regent, Mrs. Wilson,
was early given to the work; and to insure
full and complete cooperation, such as was de-
sired, she called upon the Andrew Jackson Me-
morial Association, of which Maj. E. B. Stahl-
man is President, to join in and assist with the
celebration. At a joint meeting held with the
before-mentioned organization Mrs. Wilson
fired tliem with her enthusiasm and spirit and
kindled within them the desire to observe the
day properly ; and to that end work was begun,
io6 Preservation of the Hermitage.
and all planned together to celebrate the one
hundredth anniversary of Andrew Jackson's
great victory and the one hundred years of
peace between the United States and Great
Britain which began with the close of the battle
of New Orleans.
At the request of Mrs. Wilson the day had
been declared a holiday both by the Governor
of the State and the Mayor of Nashville. Dur-
ing the time of the passing of the parade the
stores were closed, and the streets were
thronged with spectators. In fact, Nashville
responded enthusiastically, with patriotic unity,
in her observance of the anniversary ; and thou-
sands of her citizens left their homes and their
places of business to take part in the elaborate
program which had been arranged to honor the
memory of Andrew Jackson, Tennessee's great
soldier and statesman. The members of the
General Assembly, which was just convening,
took a recess and left the legislative halls to
join with the citizens of Nashville in doing
honor to "Old Hickory."
The events of the day were begun with a
mammoth procession, in which the various de-
partments of the city government, military
The Regents, 107
organizations, business associations, and other
bodies joined in making a demonstration un-
surpassed in the history of the city.
Mrs. Wilson was particularly happy in the
selection of a grand marshal; and when she
invited Mr. Thomas W. Wrenne to plan for
the day and arrange the demonstration, she
made success doubly assured. Mr. Wrenne
immediately began to marshal his forces and
had in line a detail of police, the uniformed
Confederate companies, under Gen. John P.
Hickman, and two companies of the National
Guard, under Maj. J. H. Samuel, each with
its staff of officers, and every available body
to make more imposing the parade. Reduced
railroad rates brought a large contingent from
the neighboring tov/ns, including some of their
military bands, of which there were six in line.
The entire procession passed in review be-
fore Chief Marshal Thomas W. Wrenne and
staff. Gov. B. W. Hooper and officials, and
prominent citizens. On Capitol Boulevard,
fronting our beautiful State Capitol, a sham
battle, replicating the battle of New Orleans,
was had, cotton bales being used as they were
one hundred years ago.
io8 Preservation of the Hermitage.
The sham battle over, speeches were in or-
der, and fine addresses were made by Gov. B.
W. Hooper, Judge S. F. Wilson, and Maj.
E. B. Stahlman. Members of the Ladies*
Hermitage Association were seated on the
speakers' stand ; and !Mrs. Wilson made a beau-
tiful address preceding the flight of white
doves, the messengers of peace between the
two countries, the United States and Great
Britain. Three little girls, granddaughters of
the principal participants, released the white
doves, which sped over the city.
The ceremonies on Capitol Boulevard over,
the Ladies' Hermitage Association adjourned
immediately to the bronze statue of Andrew
Jackson on the Capitol grounds, followed by a
large crowd, in which were the State legislators,
for the crowning of "Old Hickory." The
statue had been beautifully decorated for the
occasion with flags and bunting. Upon the
head had been placed a laurel wreath ; and with
appropriate sentiment Mrs. Wilson placed on
the statue an immense wreath made from the
evergreens around the tomb at the Hermitage,
tied with the national colors. On one of the
ribbons were the words, 'The hero of New
The Regents. 109
Orleans/' The head of each patriotic society
present placed a bunch of evergreens on the
base of the statue, forming a garland entirely
around it, each expressing some sentiment as
the token was placed. The company generally
and the school children present all paid this
same tribute and placed a bunch of evergreens
on the statute, thus completing the beautiful
In the afternoon at three o'clock the Andrew
Jackson Memorial Association, in the presence
of a large audience, planted a hickory tree at
Centennial Park. Superintendent Keyes, of the
Nashville public schools, brought his high
school trained chorus, and there were patriotic
songs and speeches.
At 6 P.M. the Andrew Jackson Memorial
Association had a grand banquet at the Max-
well House, where there was more brilliant
oratory, and mingled with the grand tributes
paid to the old hero himself were warm words
of commendation of the great work the Ladies'
Hermitage Association was doing in preserv-
ing his home and keeping his memory green.
The day closed with the usual brilliant ball
at the Hermitasre Hotel, in which the vouth
no Preservation of the Hermitage.
and the beauty of the city participated. The
ballroom was decorated with Jackson vine
and beautifully made cotton bolls and many
United States flags. The portrait of the old
hero looked down in approval upon the scene,
surrounded with flags used in the centennial
celebration of the battle of the Horseshoe,
which forever broke the power of the red man
in America. The loggia, where refreshments
were served, was elaborately decorated with the
colors of the Association, Jackson vine, and
white snowballs. The important battles were
noted in the different stations, Talladega,
Emuckfau, Horseshoe,* Mobile, leading up to
New Orleans. A pretty feature of the ball
was the eighteen States of the Union at the
time the battle of New Orleans was fought,
represented by eighteen young ladies suitably
attired with sashes in the national colors, who
danced a special dance, with flags for the oc-
On Saturday, January 9, the United States
Daughters of 18 12 made a pilgrimage to the
Hermitage and held beautiful exercises there.
The State President, Mrs. William G. Spen-
cer, spoke of the great good fortune of the
The Regents. 1 1 1
Ladies' Hermitage Association in having the
home of Jackson, the tomb, and his venerable
granddaughter, Mrs. Rachel Jackson Law-
rence, to inspire them, which the Tennessee
organization of the United States Daughters
of 1812 could also enjoy with them.
The Ladies' Hermitage Association, in ap-
preciation of the grand three days' celebration
held at New Orleans, sent two handsome
wreaths made of evergreens growing about
Jackson's tomb, tied with ribbons in the na-
tional colors and bearing the words, "181 5 —
Greetings, Ladies' Hermitage Association—
191 5." One of the wreaths was placed by the
United States Daughters of 1 812 on the mon-
ument erected on the field of Chalmette, the
other on the equestrian statue of General
Jackson, in Jackson Square at New Orleans,
by the Louisiana Historical Society.
The general observance of the day by the
Andrew Jackson Clubs, Tennessee societies,
and other patriotic organizations all over the
United States, the grand three days' celebra-
tion at New Orleans, made most im.posing and
impressive, and, above all, the very elaborate
and distinctive pageant and ceremonies in
112 Preservation of the Hermitage,
Nashville were very gratifying to the Ladies'
Hermitage Association, which had worked so
long and so faithfully to that end.
And now to continue this great work there
is the present Board of Directors, consisting
of the following: Mrs. B. F. Wilson, Regent;
Miss Louise G. Lindsley, First Vice Regent;
Mrs. A. M. Shook, Second Vice Regent ; Mrs.
Mary C. Dorris, Secretary; Mrs. P. H. Man-
love Treasurer; Mrs. Bettie M. Donelson, Mrs.
Maggie L. Hicks, Mrs. R. A. Henr\', Miss
Carrie Sims. Two meetings each month are
held — the directors' meeting, when all the busi-
ness is transacted, and the general meeting,
which is largely social.
The present Board of Trustees are: Gen.
J. W. Lewis, Paris, Tenn., President; Mr.
Percy Warner, Nashville, Tenn., Secretary;
Col. A. M. Shook, Nashville, Tenn. ; Hon.
John W. Gaines, Nashville, Tenn. ; Gen. John
A. Fite, Lebanon, Tenn. ; Ex-Senator James B.
Frazier, Chattanooga, Tenn. : Hon. Samuel G.
Heiskell, Knoxville, Tenn. ; Mr. Lewis R.
Donelson, Memphis, Tenn.; Mr. John M.
Gray, Nashville, Tenn.
It will alwavs seem a most wonderful and
The Regents, 113
marvelous thing that the Legislature of a great
State should have seen so much of promise, a
long time ago, in the efforts of a few patriotic
women organized, it is true, but at best a very
small band to put into their hands so great a
trust. It was well that the act was hedged
about with provisos and regulations in case
the Ladies' Hemiitage Association "failed" or
"refused" to carry out the trust. It would
seem that the Providence that overrules all
things had exercised a special care over the
Hermitage. Circumstances strange and in-
scrutable had preserved it through a long
stretch of years until the memorial association
idea had time to be conceived and to grow and
become a possibility. Another decade such as
had passed, and rescue would have been almost
impossible, for the relics would have been
scattered and the old Hermitage destroyed, ut-
terly obliterated. It seemed as if all the cir-
cumstances of years had worked together for
good to the home of Andrew Jackson, preserv-
ing it so that it might ever be a monument to
him and an object lesson to the rising genera-
Was all this work accomplished in a day
114 Preservation of the Hermitage,
or in a year ? Not so. Untiring has been the
zeal, devoted the fidelity that has clung to the
one idea. Andrew Jackson himself could not
have shown more tenacity of purpose nor more-
heroic fortitude than these women banded to-
gether under the name of the Ladies' Hermit-
age Association. Perhaps it is its continuity
that explains the secret of its success.
The organization now has four hundred
local members and others over the Union and
occupies a dignified and exalted position among
the women's organizations of the State. It
has done the State a great serv^ice in preserv-
ing this interesting memorial, which is appre-
ciated more and more by our State govern-
ment, by its legislative body, and by our com-
mercial organizations as the years go by.
Regularly a biennial meeting of the trustees
is held and a report made to the Legislature,
and never once has either the Governor or the
General Assembly . said to the Association,
*Thou shalt" or "Thou shalt not" do this or
that, but has looked on apparently with sat-
isfaction and seen the work progress and the
place grow in beauty.
Day by day and step by step the work of
The Regents, 115
repairing and improving has gone on, here a
little, there a little, and all the time the valu-
able relics were drifting back to their old home,
adding a renewed interest as each piece was
returned to its accustomed spot in the building.
The slender means of the Association were
made to accomplish a great deal, and, woman-
like, the managing board has held fast to its
dollar until it was quite sure that it had se-
cured a full dollar's worth of material or serv-
ice. Many of the experiences were truly grat-
ifying, some were ludicrous, some very disap-
pointing, and some even disastrous; but all
were interesting. But there was always a for-
ward movement, and the Association has made
its way to the heart and interest of the people.
And now, after the grand celebration of the
one hundredth anniversary of the battle of
New Orleans and of peace between the Eng-
lish-speaking people, the Ladies' Hermitage
Association is better prepared than ever to
continue its work and keep in perpetual remem-
brance the hom.e of Gen. Andrew Jackson.
Uncle Alfred and Gracey.
When the Ladies' Hermitage Association
was given possession of the Hermitage, it was
also given a ward in the person of Uncle
Alfred, the old colored man who for so long
told the story to visitors. He was one of the
most unique and interesting characters in all
Born a slave on the Hermitage farm, in the
smaller of the two' cabins forming the kitchen
of General Jackson's frontier house, Uncle Al-
fred had never lived anywhere but at the Her-
mitage. His life was bounded by its horizon.
He was born there, lived there, died there, and
was buried there by the Association. He was
with the family of the Hermitage through all
their joy and prosperity and remained with
them through all their sorrows and vicissi-
tudes. He witnessed the changes through
nearly a century of time, for he was ninety-
eight years old when he died.
The death of Uncle Alfred was the break-
Uncle Alfred and Gracey, 117
ing of another link that bound the present day
with the old slave times of long ago. The
class to which Uncle Alfred belonged is fast
passing, and soon a genuine specimen of the
old plantation slave of long ago will have en-
tirely disappeared. Uncle Alfred was a thor-
ough type of the plantation negro. He pos-
sessed all of his characteristics, cherished all of
his superstitions, and, despite constant associa-
tion with educated white people, spoke his lan-
guage and used his dialect.
In his way Uncle Alfred was a haughty aris-
tocrat. He had always been a faithful and
trusted servant in a wealthy and prominent
family, which, coupled with the fact that "old
marster'' was President of the United States,
warranted him in thinking "a powerful sight
o' hisself,*' as he expressed it. There were
grades and classes among slaves in those
days as well as among their owners. The
slave of a rich and powerful citizen felt that
part of the family distinction fell upon him
and that he was really better than the slaves on
the adjoining plantation whose owner had not
near so many acres, raised smaller and more
insignificant crops, and owned fewer negroes.
1 18 Preservation of the Hermitage.
On the plantation itself there were grades in
station. The housemaids, nurses, seamstresses,
coachmen, and house men felt themselves su-
perior to their fellows and the ordinary ''corn-
field nigger," whom they spoke of contemp-
Indeed, they did have an advantage ; for con-
stant association and close contact with master
and man, mistress and maid produced a meas-
ure of culture from which the better class of
the negro race come to-day. The old planta-
tion families in those days were surrounded
with maids and servants who anticipated their
slightest wish, did their bidding, and deftly
and neatly waited upon and served them.
Uncle Alfred was very chivalrous and cour-
teous in his own individual, characteristic way,
which served him well when he became the
guide at the Hennitage after it was made a
public place. He had an unerring instinct in
meeting genuine ladies and gentlemen, or those
whom he quaintly designated as "de fust class,"
and every attention was paid them. But he
was apt to be impertinent sometimes to those
whom he discovered to be "de second class."
His judgment of those with whom he came in
Uncle Alfred and Gracey. 1 19
contact was entirely with themselves and
founded upon the conduct of the individual
while he was guiding him over the Hermitage.
To him Gen. Andrew Jackson was the em-
bodiment and concentration of all human
grandness and nobility of character. No man
who had ever lived approached him in attain-
ments. No general had ever achieved such
victories. No President had ever equaled his
hero. He had facts to support his beliefs, and
his memory was stored with incidents of Jack-
son's career. His loyaUy to General Jackson,
his exaltation of his fame, and his devotion to
his memory approached the sublime and made
of Uncle Alfred a great man in his own way
and an invaluable as well as interesting guide at
the Hermitage. Any want of appreciation of
Gen. Andrew Jackson, his ideal and hero, any
slur on his memory, or any lack of respect to
the place, was sure to bring forth a tart remark
about ''de fust class" and "de second class."
In fact, he held visitors on their honor not to
deface, mutilate, or destroy anything on the
place or surreptitiously appropriate a souvenir
by saying with all due reverence and respect :
"Now, when de fust class comes here I doesn't
I20 Preservation of the Hermitage.
have any trouble, but when de second class
gits in I has to watch 'em." Then he would
say: "De ladies had to put dese guards [pro-
nounced by him gyuards] here to keep out de
Uncle Alfred was very intelligent. He was
a full-blooded negro and, had he chosen, could
have been a leader among his people. But he
never seemed to care for latter-day politics nor
to take any very active interest in the rise or
fall of the political parties. Possibly he would
have been a Democrat because General Jack-
son was, but he was probably a Republican
He had a marvelously retentive memory and
could tell by the hour stories of the history of
the Hermitage, of the early Indian wars, and
of the crowning victory at New Orleans. He
remembered the names of the generals and
officers with whom Jackson was associated,
knew the names of statesmen and politicians,
was particularly apt with dates, and he had
woven it all into an eloquent story, which he
repeated again and again to visitors until he
became one of the most interesting features of
a visit to the Hermitage. When it was known
Uncle Alfred and Gracey. 121
that a party was going there or a visitor was
to come from a distant city, the injunction
always was : **Be sure to see Uncle Alfred.'*
He had an excellent judgment and a com-
prehensive grasp of ideas really wonderful.
He was a natural orator, rising to a climax
in his story and winning applause from his
listeners. After a particularly good story,
hands would go down into pocketbooks, and
the coin would jingle in his palm. If visitors
forgot or neglected this important part, he
would say pleadingly, "Yer ain't a-gwine ter
fergit de old man, is yer?" which produced
the desired effect. He was apt in rejoinder
and frequently paid a delicate compliment, sur-
prising even to those who knew him best.
Uncle Alfred came from a very long-lived
family and nearly attained his century mark.
So did his mother and his grandmother. The
latter lived so long and was so shriveled and
mummy-like that all the children on the place,
black and white, and not a few of the elders,
believed that she was a w^tch. The grand-
mother had cooked for General Jackson, but
had resigned the work to the hands of her
daughter. Betty, Alfred's mother, even before
122 Preservation of the Hermitage.
they moved to the Hermitage farm, prior to
Bettie was a skillful cook, a thorough adept
in the requirements of a frontiersman's kitchen.
She desired nothing better than the great
yawning, cavernous fireplace, with its spits
and cranes, its pots and skillets, and its roar-
ing log fire, to prepare a most delicious meal.
The spring, nature's cool, abundant foun-
tain from which the family drew its water
supply, was not less than a quarter of a mile
av/ay; and this, with other duties, required the
services of several little dusky satellites, who
churned, "toted" water, or kept a brisk fire
with fresh wood from the woodpile.
These same little satellites, with but one
coarse long garment to cover them, were pic-
turesque figures of the farm life in those days.
The bare brown feet v/ere nimble and quick,
and never a drop was spilled of the clear crys-
tal water in the cedar pail balanced deftly upon
the woolly heads as they ran nimbly with it
from the spring. One of these same dusky
pickaninnies was employed to wield the fanci-
ful fly brush, made of peacock feathers, while
the family were at meals.
Uncle Alfred and Gracey, 123
Betty cooked at the Hermitage until her
death, in 1852, having been for more than
fifty years the cook in General Jackson's fam-
Those old plantation days were not so bad.
Oftentimes there was genuine affection and
esteem between owner and slave, and this
was the case with Uncle Alfred. He was
very expert with horses and was sometimes a
teamster on the farm. He frequently rode
General Jackson's horses in the races and was
a good carriage driver. He had a favorite
team which he called Dicey and Sugar Stick,
and when hauling, his stentorian tones could
be heard afar off, before he neared the house.
He was faithful in the performance of every
duty, and the utmost confidence was placed in
him by the family. When he was driving the
carriage, the ladies always felt safe.
Uncle Alfred was constantly in attendance
upon General Jackson or his son. The latter
sometimes took pleasure trips with Alfred as
his valet, who always managed to get the very
best there was for his young master. Once
they were traveling on a steamboat, and the
accommodations were very poor. All the pas-
124 Preservation of the Hermitage.
sengers washed their faces in the same basin
on the deck. One morning young Andrew
heard loud voices and a contention in which
he recognized Alfred's tones. Quickly dress-
ing, the young man went out and found Alfred
with the basin under one arm and the towels
under the other, vowing that no one should use
them until his young master had bathed.
While living in Washington during Presi-
dent Jackson's administration Mrs. Sarah
Jackson met a Colonel Hebb, an excellent and
once wealthy gentleman of Virginia and own-
er of many slaves. He became financially in-
volved and felt compelled to sell his negroes.
He was a kind and considerate master, and he
was much concerned and troubled at the neces-
sity that forced him to part with them. Hop-
ing to avoid separating families, he gave them
permission to select homes and purchasers for
From one of the families a grown woman
named Gracey was sent for by a sister, a f reed-
woman living in Washington City. The latter
had been employed as pastry cook at the White
House and knew Mrs. Sarah Jackson. This
sister sent Gracey to Mrs. Jackson, who was
Uncle Alfred and Gracey, 125
so favorably impressed with her and interested
in the situation that she took her in to see the
President and laid the matter before him.
Without a moment's hesitation he purchased
the whole family, consisting of the old mother,
three daughters, and one son.
The mother, one daughter, and the son were
sent on to the Hermitage; but Gracey and her
sister Louisa remained at the White House as
nurses to Mrs. Sarah Jackson's two children,
Rachel and Andrew. General Jackson gave
Gracey to his daughter as her own maid, and
a warm friendship sprung up between them
which lasted until death, both living to an
advanced age at the Hermitage.
When the family returned to the Hermitage,
Alfred for the first time met Gracey. He soon
desired to marry her and did so in the fall of
1837. Mrs, Sarah Jackson took the greatest
interest in the affair. She had the couple
stand in the large hall while they were mar-
ried and gave them a fine wedding supper.
These two favorite servants were given a cabin
very near the house. They reared a family
and lived an exemplary married life for over
126 Preservation of the Hermitage.
Since Uncle Alfred's death a curious rem-
iniscence of the Emancipation Proclamation
was found among his papers. After Lincoln's
proclamation all of the newly freed slaves were
told to legalize their marriages made as slaves,
remarrying by license according to the law of
the State where it was to be solemnized. Un-
cle Alfred and Gracey, who had lived together,
faithful and true, for twenty-nine years, feel-
ing the new command or injunction to be ob-
ligator}% were remarried April 29, 1866.
Gracey did not disappoint the expectation of
her mistress, for she relieved her of most of
the household cares, supervised the other serv-
ants, nursed the children, and was an expert
seamstress. She was invaluable in illness, and
nothing could soothe the mistress as did the
ministrations of Gracey. Her needlework was
unexcelled. In those days, when every stitch
had to be put in by hand, a good seamstress
was a very necessary adjunct and a valuable
acquisition to every family. One of the beau-
tifully made ruffled shirts of General Jackson,
made by Gracey 's deft fingers, is now preserved
at the Hermitage. The ruffles are of thread
cambric and the shirt of linen. Gracey made
Uncle Alfred and Gracey, 127
them in sets of one dozen at a time, and the one
now owned is one of a dozen made while Jack-
son was yet an active man.
This excellent servant won not only the
esteem but the affection of the family, and
even now she is spoken of gratefully. She
had no superiors, few equals, and her life was
a chapter in the old slave days full of beauty
Gracey joined the Hermitage Church^ and
lived a consistent communing member until her
death. Her children were taken there when in-
fants and baptized. Alfred joined this Church
after Gracey's death, but later moved his mem-
bership to a Church of his own people in the
Alfred and Gracey were the witnesses and
participants in all that happened to the family
at the Hermitage, in their greatest joy, their
heaviest sorrow. After the beginning of the
Civil War, when the effects of it began to be
felt more and more at the Hermitage, the
qualities of Alfred and Gracey showed the
After the Emancipation Proclamation all
the former slaves took advantage of their new-
128 Preservation of the Hermitage.
found freedom and left for other homes.
Some came to the city, and others took posses-
sion of little cabins and set up housekeeping
for themselves in the country. But Alfred
and Gracey elected to remain in their log cab-
in on the old farm. In a measure they re-
versed the old order of things, particularly
after the death of the adopted son, and became
the protectors of Mrs. Sarah Jackson and her
sister, Mrs. Adams, all that were left of the
once sunny household. It was Gracey who
prepared the now frugal meals, and it was Al-
fred who did the man's work of the household.
The business of farming no longer went on,
and the Hermitage household was conducted
upon very simple and economical plans indeed.
When the war was over and a new order of
things was instituted, Alfred and Gracey still
lived at the old home, from which at last death
removed them, Gracey preceding her mistress
to the grave but a few months.
Uncle Alfred's Story.
After the Ladies' Hermitage Association
was organized, Uncle Alfred, by a sort of nat-
ural arrangement, drifted into the position of
guide to show visitors over the place. All the
fireside stories of General Jackson's exploits,
the history of the Indian wars, the battle of
New Orleans, and the incidents of family life,
were now Uncle Alfred's stock in trade. He
delighted visitors with his quaint way of tell-
ing the story and won the plaudits of his
The old man was rugged and highly pictur-
esque in his personal appearance. His hair and
stubby beard were iron-gray, his form was bent,
his sight was defective (one eye had a cata-
ract), one hand was twisted by the ravages of
rheumatism, making him appear like a gnarled
and knotted oak that had withstood the stomis
of many winters, as indeed he had.
After the Hermitage became a public insti-
tution, visitors were more numerous and Uncle
Alfred more interesting. He had his own way
130 preservation of the Hermitage,
of telling the story, was systematic, taking a
certain round, and sometimes arbitrary; but
he was so quaint, so original, and so pro-
nounced a type that visitors, as well as the
Association of ladies, overlooked his short-
comings and regarded his story as a product
of the old plantation days, of which Uncle
Alfred was a most interesting exponent.
When visitors arrived he would invite them
to register by saying: "Jes' write yo* name in
dat book over dar. De ladies put dat book
dar, an* dey wants ever}'body to write down
dey name." His strong suit was his dates.
He would give dates for ever3^thing, remem-
bering marvelously, and was generally correct.
He would begin his story thus: **Dis here is de
wall paper General Jackson put on in 1835.
It was fetched from Paris an* cum up de river
on a steamboat from New Orleans an' was
bought for General Jackson's house. Dar is
de umberel stan', an* dat*s de hatrack, an*
dis here is de sofa General Jackson always lied
upon after he done et dinner. Dis here is one
o* de pier tables, an* de bust is Lewis Cass.
He was in de President*s Cabinet. An* dat's
de portrait of Christopher Columbus."
Uncle Alfred's Story. 131
Opening the parlor doors with great cere-
mony, he would say: "Dese is General Jack-
son's parlors; an' many's de time I've seed him
take Mis' Sarah (dat's de 'dopted son's wife)
an' dance up an' down dese floors when de
parlor was full o' company. General Jackson
bought dat sofa right dar in de year 1825, an'
up over it is de picture of de battle of New
Orleans an' de death o' Pakenham. Dat's
him right down dar in de front o' de picture.
Dis is one o' de pier tables; t'other one's over
dar. We got four o' dese, all General Jack-
son ever had. Dis is de bust o' Levi Wood-
bury. He was in General Jackson's Cabinet.
Dat's de letter what he writ when he sont it
to him. Dese is de damask curtains dat was
bought in 1837, when dey all come back from
Washington. Dis is de portrait o' Mis' Ra-
chel Jackson an' was give as a present to Gen-
eral Call, who stole his bride an' was married
right over dar in dis parlor in 1825. Mis'
Jackson stood right dar while Colonel Earl
drawed her, [Uncle Alfred had the modern
photography slightly mixed with the old-time
portrait-painting.] General Call's daughter
give it back to de ladies arter de things was
132 Preservation of the Hermitage.
all tuk away. Dis here is de H'ltalian mantel-
piece put here in 1835, an' dese andirons was
bought in 1836. Dis center table was present-
ed to General Jackson an' Mis' Jackson in
181 5 by de citizens of New Orleans. It is one
o' de things saved when de house got burned
down in 1834. Dis mantelpiece is jes' like
t'other one, an' hit's made o' Tennessee mar-
Uncle Alfred's memory was of great assist-
ance to the Ladies' Hermitage Association in
replacing the furniture in the house as it was
purchased from time to time. He was fre-
quently called upon to say where certain arti-
cles belonged. Among other purchases were
three pairs of brass andirons.
"Uncle Alfred," said one of the managers,
"these andirons that you say belong to the
bedroom upstairs are handsomer than those
in General Jackson's room."
"Course dey is ! course dey is ! Dey's bought
fur Miss Rachel; an' didn't Marse Andrew
an' Mis' Sarah think dat Miss Rachel was er
angel jes' cum down from heaven? 'Twarn't
nothin' too good fur Miss Rachel."
Uncle Alfred's Story. 133
A lace cap worn by Mrs. Rachel Jackson
when the beautiful pearl miniature was painted
is one of the articles secured by the patriotic
Association. It has been mounted upon a
stand and placed in a mirrored glass case, lined
with blue satin, in the museum.
Uncle Alfred's sight was very poor, and he
could but dimly see the outline of articles he
was pointing out. His story was told more
by memory than by sight. He had a great
scare once about the lace cap. "Now, ladies
an' gentlemen, dis here's Mis' Jackson's cap,"
said he as he stood in front of the case.
"Where, Uncle Alfred?" chorused the
crowd, looking into the case and seeing noth-
"Dat's hit right dar in dis case."
"There's no cap there. Uncle Alfred."
Thrusting his hand into the space, he found
it vacant; then he was seized with a panic.
"Tore Gawd, somebody's done tuk Mis'
Jackson's cap !"
"Miss Ulsey ! Miss Ulsey !" he called to the
curator's wife. "Whar's dat cap o' Mis' Jack-
She had removed it until the case could be
134 Preservation of the Henn'Uage.
made more secure, for she, as well as Uncle
Alfred, knew that the relic hunter would **think
it no harm" to cut off just a little piece of lace
for a souvenir. This is what has happened
to the fringe of the silk curtain at the window.
One tassel after another disappeared, no one
knew when or how. Some of the historic man-
tel of hickory has been taken, piece by piece,
and even the historic wall paper has not been
sacred from the petty pilferer.
Uncle Alfred was fretted, nevertheless, about
the cap and returned to his party grumbling,
"Wish folks would *tend to dey own business,"
and it was some tinae before he regained his
*'Dese mahogany cheers was here in 1824.
Dese four portraits yo* see roun* here is Gen-
eral Jackson's staff. *His military family,' he
called 'em. Dis one behin' de door is Lieuten-
ant Eastland, dat one over dar is Colonel
Gadsden, dis one is Dr. Bronagh, an' dis one
is General Coffee. Dese is General Jackson's
candlesticks, an' dat lookin'-glass was carried
off by one o' de servants. De ladies bought it
an' put it back here."
Uncle Alfred would nev^er tell that the look-
U^icle Alfred's Story. 135
ing-glass was bought from Hannah, also a
valued and esteemed servant at the Hermitage
and a rival to Uncle Alfred in longevity and
reminiscences. He never mentioned Hannah,
for there was a feud between them and a riv-
alry as to which would live the longest and tell
the best story of their recollections.
"Uncle Alfred, we want to see the tomb,"
an impatient visitor once remarked. "We'se
coming to dat bime-by, madam. You jes*
wait till we gits dar." He didn't mean to be
impertinent, but took privileges and was al-
lowed some that belonged to no other.
A lady visitor expressed doubt one day
concerning some piece of furniture, saying:
"This never belonged to Jackson." "Ef you
knows more about it den I does, madam, den
you jes' go on an' tell it."
A French clock that was in the house during
Mrs. Rachel Jackson's lifetime was purchased.
It is a beautiful clock, but its days of useful-
ness were over long years ago. The idea of
setting the hands at the hour the old hero died
suggested itself, and investigation was made
as to the correct hour. Accepting Uncle Al-
fred's recollection, the hands were set at twen-
136 Preservation of the Hermitage.
ty minutes past two. A further investigation
and consultation with Mrs. Lawrence proved
the hour to have been twenty minutes past six.
The next time one of the directors went to
the Hermitage the hands of the clock were
changed to the correct hour.
"Uncle Alfred," she said, "we had this
clock wrong. General Jackson died at twenty
minutes past six."
"Who sez so?" he asked quickly.
"Mis' Lawrence fergits."
"Well, history says so too."
"Dat's all right den* jes' suit your own self
*bout it. I ain't gwine to 'spute 'bout it."
He was afterwards heard to give the cor-
rect hour in his narrative. He tacitly admit-
ted that he was wrong, though he did not often
yield a point.
Some young girls rushed up to him one day
and exclaimed : "Uncle Alfred, did you tell us
that General Jackson was born in this house
or in that log cabin over yonder?" pointing to
the historic log cabin some distance away.
"Huh!" said Uncle Alfred contemptuously.
"Yo's got yo' hist'ry mixed. He wam't
Uncle Alfred's Story. 137
borned dar, an* he warn't borned here; he's
horned in South CaroHna."
Uncle Alfred always reached his climax
when he told the story of the ''eighth of Jan-
uary" mantelpiece in the large State dining
room, where Uncle Alfred was fond of telling,
and truly, that seven Presidents had dined.
Gathering his listeners around him in front
of the mantelpiece, he would say: "Now, la-
dies an' gentlemen, dis here is de *eighth day
o' January mantelpiece/ Dey warn't nair bit
o' work done on it 'ceptin' on de eighth day
o' January, an' den it was give to General
Jackson on de eighth day o' January. An' de
pieces o' hickoi-y what yer see dar was cut of-
fen de fort w^har de battle was fought, down
dar at New Orleans, at de mouf o' de Missis-
sippi River. You-all knows whar 'tis."
*Tell us about it, Uncle Alfred," chorused
"Well, den. On de mornin' de battle was
foug:ht General Pakenham — he's de British
general — sont General Jackson word he gwine
ter eat his breakfas' in New Orleans; an' Gen-
eral Jackson sont him back word ef he et his
breakfas' anywhar he gwine ter make him eat
138 Preservation of the Hermitage.
it in hell. Den he drawed his sw-word an* say :
'Come on, my brave boys, de day is cum/
He's ridin' Juke [Duke] dat day; he warn't
ridin' Sam Patch, dat 'ar white horse hangin'
dar in de parlor what Ise already done tol' yer
about. He's ridin' Juke. An' Juke he dance
Yankee Doodle on three legs; an' he dance it
so plain dat de ban' struck up and play :
'Jackson, Jackson, yer's de man for me;
Jackson, Jackson, yer set us all free.*
Den General Jackson say :
*De star-spangled banner, long may she wave
O'er de Ian' o' de free .an* de home says de brave.*"
This was Uncle Alfred's masterpiece, and it
brought forth showers of silver coin by way
of appreciation. He would rise to real elo-
quence and in his ow^n quaint negro dialect
give the story. With his rugged form and
his own peculiar characteristics he was an ob-
ject of the greatest interest, especially to vis-
itors from the North, to whom his type and
reminiscences of old slave days were a novelty.
From the dining room Uncle Alfred took the
visitors to the General's bedroom, and here he
would tell his story of the deathbed scene. The
Uncle Alfred's Story, 139
chamber is as it was the day the old hero died,
all the furniture and belongings having been
secured by the Ladies' Hermitage Association
and restored to their places. Iron guards pre-
vent the visitor from entering, which Uncle
Alfred explained was to keep "de second class*'
from taking things. He continued his story of
the deathbed scene :
"Early dat morning Mis' Sarah sont me to
Nashville arter Dr. Esselman an' Major Lewis
an' fer some medicine an' things. When I
cum back Mis' Sarah say: 'Alfred, you got
to go back.' An' I got me a fresh horse an'
went back to Nashville an' fetched out some
more things. When I got back to de Her-
mitage all de servants was standin' 'roun' de
front window, an' I knowed General Jackson
was wusser. I tuk de things an' went in de
room an' stood a roun' an' waited on him.
Den me an' George an' Dick hilt him up. De
servants was at de window, an' some of 'em
was in de room. Major Lewis say, 'Hadn't
we better send 'em away?' but General Jack-
son say, *No.' Dey'd been faithful servants,
an' he wanted 'em to stay right whar dey wuz.
When he see 'em all a-cryin' he say : 'Weep not
140 Preservation of the Hermitage.
fer me; weep fer yo'selves.' Den he say:
*Dere'll be no mo' reunion 'less everybody be
"Dat's de picture o* Mis' Jackson over de
mantelpiece dar. Dat was de las' thing he
looked at 'fore he died. Dis picture over here
is de 'dopted son, and t'other one is Miss
Rachel, de 'dopted son's daughter. Dat little
picture over de do' was tuk by a young man
dat come here from de East. General Jack-
son 'lowed he didn't want to be pestered wid
havin' his picture tuk, but de young man say
he was a poor man an' wanted to make a hon-
es' livin'. Den General Jackson say: *Ef it's
anything to yo', go 'long an' take it.' De
picture's got writ on it — let me see — I fergits
— ^jes' wait a minute. *No free country can
exist widout virtue among its people,' dat's
hit, an' it's writ 'roun' on the picture.
"Dis is de office. You-all calls it de library,
but 'tain't no library ; hit's de office, an' here's
whar General Jackson seed all de great men
dat come here to ax him something or to jes'
For thirty years, or from the great victory
at New Orleans in 181 5 until the death of
Uncle Alfred's Story. 141
General Jackson in 1845, the Hermitage was
the political center of the United States, and
all the countr}^ paid deference to the old hero
passing away there. The library, or office, ad-
joins the bedroom of General Jackson; and
the old General received all visitors in this li-
brary and transacted all business there, holding
council with all the great men of the country,
who came and stayed for days and sometimes
for weeks, seeking advice and inspiration from
The library is a beautiful room now. It
was one of the most abused in all the house
when the Ladies' Hermitage Association took
possession. It contains General Jackson's five
bookcases, filled with his books, four hundred
and fifty volumes; the old walnut secretary
used by Jackson when he was a practicing at-
torney; a chair presented to Jackson by Chief
Justice Taney; and a chair presented to the
Ladies' Hennitage Association by Miss Ellen
DeQ. Woodbury, daughter of Levi Woodbury,
whose bust is in the house.
Showing the visitors the carriage drive one
day, Uncle Alfred said : "Yo' sees dat o-it-dar,"
waving his hand toward the front.
142 Preservation of the Hermitage.
*'0 yes, Uncle Alfred, you rot there all
*'l means de git-dar."
*'Yes, we understand," and they laughed.
**Pretty clever. You always get there. Uncle
"That's not what he's telling you," said one
of the informed ones. ''Don't you see the
drive is shaped like a guitar."
"O, to be sure !" and the guests had the laugh
turned on them and ever afterwards told it as
one of Uncle Alfred's best.
Uncle Alfred never approached the tomb
without reverence, and* he exacted the same
reverence from others. A member of the As-
sociation upon one occasion thoughtlessly
stepped upon the slab immediately above Gen-
eral JacksoiVs remains bearing the inscription.
He rebuked her respectfully but in such a man-
ner that the lesson w^as never forgotten.
Uncle Alfred could neither read nor write,
but when he reached the tomb he was always
asked to "read" the beautiful inscription upon
the tablet above Mrs. Jackson's remains. With
uncovered head he stepped to the foot of the
slab, looked at it as if he were seeing every
Uncle Alfred's Story. 143
word, and from memory **read," without an
error from beginning to end, the beautiful
tribute. He would pronounce the words in
his own way, in the plantation dialect, giving
an added charm.
His stories had nothing set and stilted, but,
while following the main facts, were varied
according to questions asked him, the inspira-
tion of the moment, or as memory called up
new facts long hidden in her secret storehouse.
His life had been lived at the Hermitage, and
he viewed everything from this point of view.
The visitors w^ho came there were the only
strangers he ever saw, but all his life he had
been thrown more with white people than with
those of his own race. When large conven-
tions or organizations visited there. Uncle Al-
fred was introduced as the most interesting
relic on the place.
Admiral and Mrs. Dewey, with a large as-
semblage of Nashville people, visited the Her-
mitage IMay II, 1900. They were permitted
to enter General Jackson's bedchamber. The
party stood within General Jackson's room, and
Uncle Alfred was telling the story. Pointing
to the portrait of Mrs. Rachel Jackson over
144 Preservation of the Hermitage >
the mantel, he said to Mrs. Dewey: *'I hope
you'll have better luck den she did, madam."
Many a Beau Brummel might have failed of
as pretty and delicate a compliment. It was
understood at that time that Admiral Dewey
would be a candidate for the presidency. Mrs.
Rachel Jackson had died after her husband's
election and before his inauguration.
Uncle Alfred could never be induced to ad-
mit that any man had ever been or ever could
be as great as General Jackson. Members of
the Ladies' Hermitage Association were much
mortified on one occasion at the old man's
bluntness. Ex-President Rutherford B. Hayes,
while attending the National Convention of
the Prison Association which met in Nashville,
was extended the courtesies of the Hermitage
and was taken there by some members of the
Ladies' Hermitage Association. Calling Uncle
Alfred forward, he was introduced with the
remark: "Uncle Alfred, this is President
Hayes. Come and shake hands with him."
He grasped the ex-President's hand and said:
**Ef you'd been as great a man as General
Jackson was, I could a'most er shook yer han'
Uncle Alfred's Story. 145
One time a prominent judge visited the
Hermitag-e before Uncle Alfred began to show
the feebleness of age, although he was past
eighty years old. He was vigorous and stal-
wart and proud of his great age. ''Now,
Judge, how old does yer think I is?" he asked
after a conversation. **Well, I should say
about fifty," replied the Judge, thinking to
please him. "O, Judge!" whispered a lady
who overheard the remark. "You break the
old man all up. Tell him a hundred." "Well,
sir, Ise eighty-nine years old."
Another time he was asked what he thought
of a distinguished visitor. He thought it over
and said : "Folks has got a right to think what
dey please, but when dey tells what dey think
dey gets 'emselves in trouble."
A lady visitor, having very indistinct ideas
about the old institution of slavery and very
wanting in tact, asked him: "Uncle Alfred,
did General Jackson ever try to sell you?"
The question irritated him, and he replied
tartly, "Did any of your folks ever try to sell
you, madam ?" which closed the query box.
Another of the same kind asked him one
day: "Uncle Alfred, how do you like being
146 preservation of the Hermitage,
free?" "What does yer call being free?" he
replied. " 'Tain't nobody free as I know on.
But if yo* means go whar yo' please an* when
yo' please, I always is done dat."
The old man's delight at seeing each article
of relic furniture, a portrait, or a chair re-
turned knew no bounds. Every article was
recognized by him as an old friend. He told
the story of its purchase, some interesting fact
connected with it, and designated its place in
the house. He longed to see the work of res-
toration complete, but that pleasure was denied
There was one pair of articles that he de-
sired above all things to see in the old house.
"Can't you-all get dem ar Mexican leggin's?"
he would ask time and again. He must have
thought they were pretty. They were present-
ed to General Jackson by Sam Houston, and
in Uncle Alfred's eyes they were of inesti-
mable value. The Association has never yet
procured the leggings.
The directors of the Association visited the
Hermitage frequently to supervise its affairs,
rearrange its furniture, or restore some new
acquisition to its place. On one of these visits
Uncle Alfred's Story, 147
the office was being arranged. Two steel en-
gravings were removed from the hall and
transferred to the office. As soon as Uncle
Alfred entered the hall he missed the pictures.
To his defective vision they were nothing more
than dark blurs upon the wall, but he had
missed the blur. He had incorporated them in
his story and did not approve of their change
of position. "What's you-all done wid dem
pictures o' George Washington an' William de
IV.?" he asked. "We have put them in the
office, Uncle Alfred." "Good God-a-mighty !
You-all's ruinin' dis here place."
Uncle Alfred understood thoroughly the
value of a relic and the preservation of the
memorial place, and he assisted the Association
in keeping the entire premises just as General
The time came when it was apparent that
Uncle Alfred would one day be missed at the
Hermitage and a new-made grave be all that
was left of him. The idea suggested itself of
preserving his voice and story by having him
repeat it in a graphophone. An operator and
an instrument were taken to the Hermitage and
148 Preservation of the Hermitage.
an effort made to get the story. He had never
seen and probably had never heard of a graph-
ophone, and yet when he had received instruc-
tions he seated himself before the instrument
and told his story as if pointing out and ex-
hibiting each article. But the experiment was
not a success. His voice was then too feeble
and too guttural to reproduce in the instrument.
It was not many months before Uncle Al-
fred was confined to his cabin, the same in
which he had lived when he married. He was
never confined to his bed — "jest porely/' he
expressed it. He C9ntinued ill nearly a year,
and during that time visitors went to see him
in his own cabin. He would try to tell the
old stories and throw some of the old-time fire
into them. His mind never seemed to fail nor
his miem.ory to be less active, and to the very
last he retained his faculties. When asked
how he felt, he would always say, "I'm mend-
in' a bit," and then add: "Ise gwine ter try
ter git ter de house an' see dem t'other things
you-all bought since I bin down here."
Uncle Alfred w^as given every comfort and
was grateful. When he died, the Association
Uncle Alfred's Story, 149
superintended his funeral and interment, bury-
ing him in the garden near the "old marster"
he had loved so loyally — a last longing desire
with him. His funeral was characteristic and
in keeping w^ith the long life he had lived. His
- body was brought from his cabin and the casket
set in the hall where, sixty-four years before,
he had been married.
More white people attended his funeral than
colored ones, and the services were conducted
by both white and colored preachers. The
colored people sang *'0n Jordan's stormy
banks I stand," a favorite with the old man.
The singing was indescribable. The song was
lined out in a sort of chant or monotone, then
caught up and carried with a wail and a hang-
ing on to the tones, now up, now down, quaint
and peculiar, impossible to describe and never
to be forgotten by those who heard it. It was
a song that would lose by any attempt to
imitate or put it in written form, such a song
as only the plantation negroes of long ago
knew and sang and which is now sung only in
the rural districts far away from the educa-
150 Preservation of the Hermitage.
A neat stone marks Uncle Alfred's resting
A Faithful Servant.
It is located just north of the tomb of Gen.
The Ghost at the Hermitage.
After Col. Andrew Jackson, the third of
that name, and his family moved away from
the Hermitage, in 1893, and had taken with
them all the relics, furniture, and entire house-
hold belongings, there was left behind only a
memory of things that had been. Not a single
piece of furniture was left in the house. All
belonged to Colonel Jackson, and all had been
The grand old homestead, shorn of its
adornings that for three-quarters of a century
had been a part and parcel of the place, looked
most pathetic and desolate. The mirrors that
had reflected the tall, commanding form of the
old General were missed from their accustomed
places over the mantels. The portraits that
had looked down upon him as he walked
through the rooms, the chairs he sat in, the
table over which he presided when hospitality
reigned supreme, the sideboard laden with cut
glass and silver, with its decanters and wine
152 Preservation of the Hermitage.
glasses, no longer fitted up the beautiful Her-
mitage. The great empty rooms seemed to
gain an immensity of space for want of a chair
or a curtain to break the outline. The bare
halls echoed to ever}^ footstep. Not a scrap of
paper, not a broken chair, not a battered picture
was left of all that had once belonged to the
The walls that had once been adorned with
portraits of the family and friends were now
bare and but added to the forlorn desolateness.
The vast chimney places that had glowed with
roaring log fires, around which gathered merry
and happy groups in the long ago, when joy
reigned supreme, were now dark and cold.
They had become the home of hundreds of
chimney swallows, whose burrings and flutter-
ings and tv/itterings made unearthly sounds as
their restless wings beat against the sides, loos-
ening bits of mortar and soot, which fell to
the open space below.
While the parlors, hallways, and living
rooms downstairs were desolate and pathetic,
the upper chambers were truly ghostly, the bare
and vacant halls echoing to every footstep.
There was something uncanny about it even in
The Ghost at the Hermitage, 153
broad daylight, with the bright July sun driv-
ing away the vapors and dispelling all ghostly
Isolation, desolation, death characterized the
once famous Hermitage. Some divine hand
seemed to have written "Ichabod" on the walls.
Walking through the hall and upper chambers,
deep in meditation and memory, one could well
"I feel like one who treads alone
Some banquet hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled, whose garlands dead.
And all but he departed."
Outside, the lawn was green and beautiful
and the trees full-leaved; but the soughing
winds, now soft and tender, now rustling gen-
tly, now whispering mysteriously, but added to
the melancholy that brooded over the place.
Beautiful flowers were abloom in the garden,
and. the birds sang as sweetly and joyously as
of yore ; but the house itself was a bare, empty
shell. The beings who had peopled it with life
were all gone. The General and his beloved
Rachel had long slumbered in the garden. The
little babe who was adopted into their heart,
their home, and their name had lived, loved,
154 Preservation of the Hermitage,
and died, and in time his wife had followed
him to the tomb. Two little infant children,
whose brief span was soon over, had two little
mounds and a stone to their memory near their
illustrious grandsire. Other graves were in the
burial plat, and kindred dust crumbled together
in the garden.
Memories, memories, memories everywhere !
The house that had been so full of bustling
life and illustrious history, with all of its
achievements, ambitions, hopes, loves, and suf-
fering, was now but a memory. Devoted
women were there to revive anew the memory
of Jackson, to summon back his spirit, and to
show to all the world the house of the illus-
trious man, preserved, restored, that no icon-
oclastic hand might m.utilatc or destroy it.
The spirit of "Old Hickory" lived in the
hearts of these patriotic women, and they said :
"The Hermitage must and shall be preserved.**
Into the hands of women, organized into an
Association, the State Legislature had intrust-
ed the preservation of Andrew Jackson^s home.
Two of these patriotic women arrived at the
Hermitage early one Saturday morning in
July, soon after Col. Andrew Jackson moved
The Ghost at the Hermitage, 155
away, prepared to spend as many days and
nights as were necessary in the protection of
the historic homestead until a permanent care-
taker could be installed on the premises. Some
small necessary articles for a temporary resi-
dence had been purchased — a few chairs, two
small tables, a mattress, and several cooking
vessels. A young negro girl was employed
from a neighboring farm to come each day and
prepare the simple, necessary meals, but at
night she returned to her home.
Through the long, hot July days the Her-
mitage was a most pleasant place — in fact, an
ideal resort. The cool halls and spacious
rooms were grateful retreats from the July
sun. The day was spent by the two ladies,
the Regent and Secretary, in making a thor-
ough examination of the house and grounds,
in forming plans for the future, in writing
letters, and in devising ways and means for
sustaining the enterprise. When nightfall
came, a frugal supper was served in the old
historic kitchen, having been prepared in the
open, yawning fireplace by the colored maid
with a few simple cooking vessels. Assisted
by the colored maid, a careful inspection was
IS6 Preservation of the Hermitage.
made of the house, the windows closed, the
doors locked, the mattress spread as a pallet
on the floor of the front parlor, and the self-
constituted guardians prepared to spend their
first night alone in Gen. Andrew Jackson's
Old Uncle Alfred, it was true, was in his
cabin some distance from the house; but he
was old, nearly deaf, nearly blind, and not to
be left in charge of so important a trust nor
depended upon in case of danger.
The two custodians brought two of their
newly purchased chairs, stiff-backed, uncom-
fortable things that they were, to the front
portico and sat with the quiet of nature all
about them. The dusky form of the tempo-
rary cook as she left for her home was the last
living thing that enlivened the landscape or
gave to the self-constituted guardians a glimpse
of the life to which they were accustomed.
A kerosene lamp, one of the purchases, was
lighted and placed upon one of the tables in
the vast, quaint hallway. Its dim light fell
but faintly upon the pictorial wall paper, the
"Legend of Telemachus," that adorns the
walls, the only familiar thing in all the house.
The Ghost at the Hermitage, 157
As it burned faintly it was of itself ghostly,
and ghostly shadows lurked in the recesses of
the hallway. The darkness deepened, and the
avenue of cedars seemed a vast tunneled arch
in which the shadows played and lingered. The
moon arose and cast poetic shadows all around
the old house, peeping under the trees, silver-
ing the woodland.
A mocking bird, stimulated by what prom-
ised to be a glorious night, poured out a joy-
ous song from the magnolia tree that kept
sentinel watch over the sleeping dead at the
tomb in the garden.
A tree, said to be the shittim wood, the
sam.e of which Noah's ark was built, stood to
the v/est of the house. As the two talked over
their plans the quaint, weird, plaintive cry of
a screech owl rang out from this old tree. It
w^as hollow, and the birds had nested there.
The shrill call to its mate had more of the
sound of warning and alarm than of joy.
The effect was mournful and piercing.
Time dragged on, and it seemed to be grow-
ing late ; but when they consulted their watches
really at an earlier hour than was customary
with them in their city homes, they sought
158 Preservation of the Hermitage.
their pallet on the floor in the front parlor and
were soon wrapped in a profound slumber.
Did General Jackson's spirit hover over that
empty, ghostly room and the memories of the
sweet-faced daughter-in-law, Sarah, come up
before him while they danced again the Vir-
ginia reel in the spacious rooms?
Hours passed, and the two ladies slept calm-
ly. Suddenly there arose through the house
the most terrific noises. The pantry, which
was near, seemed to have tossed all of its pans
and dishes in a confused heap upon the floor,
chains were heard clanking over the porticoes,
and a confusion of sounds made a most deaf-
ening clatter. It was as if General Jackson
had mounted his war charger and was riding
with a victorious shout at the head of his mili-
tary forces through the hall and corridor.
In a moment both ladies were thoroughly
awake; and if fear possessed them, each was
too brave to let the other know it. Both sat
up on the pallet. The elder said to the
younger, speaking calmly: **Light the lamp.
You will find the matches on the floor near
your head." The lamp was lighted, and as
suddenly as the noises came they ceased en-
The Ghost at the Hermitage. 159
tirely. The ladies looked at each other in-
quiringly. "Do you think any one was trying
to break in?" said one. "It might have been
the rats," said the other. The lamp was left
lighted. The two talked together a little
while, then dropped off to sleep again and
heard nothing more.
The next day was Sunday, a beautiful, calm
July Sabbath day in the country. The maid
came and prepared breakfast. The ladies did
not discuss to a great extent the occurrences
of the night before, and the noises were still
unaccounted for. There was no sound of
Sunday service, no bells ringing, no throng
wending its way to church, and none of the
characteristics of a Sabbath day in the city.
There was no service in the historic Hermit-
age church, but a half mile distant.
The younger woman, without consulting the
older, inspected the house thoroughly from
one end to the other, spied into closets, peered
up chimneys, examined the cellar, and investi-
gated every possible nook and cranny that
could by any means have harbored a ghost, to
ascertain if the noises could be explained by
any natural causes. A baffling sphinxlike con-
i6o Preservation of the Hermitage.
dition met her at every turn, and there was
discovered absolutely nothing to account for
Sunday was passed as the other days, in
walking over the place, meditating in the gar-
den, and enjoying the cool quiet of the place.
Literature had been brought from the city to
while away the time. No visitor or stranger
came to break the monotony of a long summer
Again nightfall came, and again the care-
takers seated themselves on the front portico.
The moon was later in rising, and a few clouds
flecked the sky. Ov^r to the west a long, low
phosphorescent light showed where lay the
city, with its teeming life and its busy people,
the thought of which made more lonely and
isolated the work of the caretakers. The owl
again set up his plaintive cry, and the mocking
bird's song sounded away over in the distant
At about the same time as the evening be-
fore the two ladies retired to their pallet. This
night the lamp was not extinguished, and both
soon fell into a sound slumber. As nearly as
the ladies could judge, at the same time the
The Ghost at the Hermitage » i6i
same sounds were heard, unmistakable and
ghostly — ^the same dishes falHng down in the
pantry, the same sound of chains, the same
war horse tread, the same arousing out of
sleep, wondering what it could all mean, and
the same willingness to leave it all to conjec-
ture. Although very brave, two city ladies
did not care to investigate mysterious noises
in a large, empty country house at the mid-
It was a long time afterwards before these
two ladies could discuss, even together, the
ghost at the Hermitage and laugh at their un-
canny experience. But they never learned
what caused the sounds and finally concluded
that they had had an actual experience with
Brides at the Hermitage.
For all his stern military qualities, Gen. An-
drew Jackson had a most romantic side to his
nature, which needed nothing stronger to prove
it than his own chivalrous marriage to Rachel
Donelson. His was an unusually happy mar-
riage and carried with it a beautiful home life.
His devotion to his wife was not lessened even
after her death. Nothing had so softened and
subdued him as the loss of this beloved com-
panion. He became so patient and so gentle
that all wondered at the change in him, and
it was said that he never uttered an angry
word and scarcely ever an impatient one after
Long years ago Amos Kendall, who was in
the Cabinet, wrote for the Democratic Review,
a paper published in Washington during the
Jackson administration, the following inter-
esting article on the man himself and also paid
a graceful tribute to Mrs. Jackson, Said he:
The practice of reading or listening to a chapter of
Holy Writ and sending up fervent aspirations to heaven
Brides at the Hermitage, 163
every night before he retired to rest General Jackson
brought with him into the presidency. No man had a
deeper sense of dependence on the Giver of all good
or a more sincere and earnest desire to avail himself
of the wisdom which comes from on high in the dis-
charge of his arduous duties. But it cannot be doubted
that in his devotional fervor there was mingled a holy
and never-dying affection for his departed wife, whose
presence was in his susceptible imagination as neces-
sary an incident of heaven as that of the angels.
A portrait of this dearest object of his earthly af-
fection hung in his chamber. "Is that a good like-
ness?" said a lady to him in my presence. "Pretty
good," said he, "but not so good as this," taking a
miniature from his bosom.
On another occasion, calling upon him on some
urgent business, I was invited into his bedchamber.
I found him too ill to sit up. The curtains in front
of his bed were open, and he lay with his head some-
what elevated on a full pillow. Opposite the foot of
his bed, nearly touching the post, stood a little table,
and on it was the miniature of Mrs. Jackson leaning
against a small Bible and a prayer book which had
been hers. It was evidently so placed that he might,
as he lay, gaze upon the shadow of those loved fea-
tures which had enraptured his youthful heart and
contemplate those virtues which in old age, even in
death, rendered them dear to the bosom of the hero
and statesman beyond any other earthly object.
I was not then so thoroughly acquainted with Gen-
eral Jackson as I afterwards became; but in witnessing
this scene I said to myself: "This must be a good
man." None other could entertain so deep, so abiding
an afifection for a departed companion* however cher-
164 Preservation of the Hermitage.
ished while living. Love like this is all good, all
heavenly, all divine, as nearly as anything on earth
possibly can be. It cannot dwell in a bad heart; it can-
not assimilate with a perverted mind.
I had never seen Mrs. Jackson, but from that mo-
ment I pronounced her a superior woman. None but
a woman of surpassing virtues could so fix the affec-
tions of such a man. None other could maintain such
a hold on such a mind amidst the enjoyment of glory,
the gratification of ambition, the cares of State, and
the never-ceasing excitements sufficient to overpower
and swallow up the kindly affections of ordinary men.
None other could occupy in life and in death so broad
a space in the remembrance and affections of one who
in devotion to his country never had a superior. And
I could not but regret that she had not lived, not so
much to enjoy a signal, triumph over her own and her
husband's traducers, but to comfort, advise, and sustain
her devoted companion in the midst of never-ceasing
evils and vexations, the heartlessness of false friends,
and the assaults of unrelenting enemies.
History has not been as kind to the memory
of Mrs. Jackson as might be — in fact, very
unkind — ^but she was indeed a superior woman,
a beautiful housekeeper, a kind mistress to her
slaves, an affectionate and generous sister, a
devoted wife, and a pious Christian woman.
The little Hermitage church was built that she
might have Church privileges.
While on one of his Eastern trips Andrew
Brides at the Hermitage. 165
Jackson purchased for her a piano, on which
she played all the tunes of that day, *'Money
Musk," *'Fisher*s Hornpipe," and others.
One of their favorite evening pastimes was
performing duets for piano and flute, she play-
ing sweetly all his favorite tunes and singing
his favorite songs.
It was a home where love sat at the fire-
side, presided over the abundantly provided
board, glowed in every corner of the dwelling,
hovered with wings of peace over the house-
hold, and dwelt contentedly in the hearts of its
General Jackson mourned his wife's death
inconsolably, and this is the tribute he paid
her memory :
We lived together, happy husband, loving wife, for
nearly forty years. In all those many years, whenever
I entered my home it seemed hallowed by a divine
presence. I never heard her say a word that could
sully an angel's lips, nor knew her to commit an act her
Maker could have condemned. What I have accom-
plished I owe to her. Had I always taken her advice,
deeds I now regret would have never been committed.
She made earth a paradise for me. Without her there
could be no heaven.
The romantic vein in his own composition
i66 Preservation of the Hermitage,
made Andrew Jackson sympathize heartily
with the loves of young people, and the Her-
mitage became the Gretna Green of more than
one romantic marriage. One of the most ro-
mantic affairs he was ever connected with oc-
curred before he built the log house at the
Hermitage and while he was still a resident
at Hunter's Hill.
Samuel Donelson, the brother of Mrs. Ra-
chel Jackson, was the law partner of Andrew
Jackson and was a gay, dashing young fellow.
He fell in love with Mary Smith, the only
daughter of Gen. Daniel Smith, of Revolu-
tionary fame. In Sumner County, Tennessee,
still stands a comfortable dwelling, erected in
the early years of the last century, called Rock
Castle, built entirely of stone, in which General
Smith and his family lived.
Mary Smith was a piquant beauty and had
suitors by the score; but none pleased her as
did this same Samuel Donelson, but he did not
meet with her father's approval. The saucy
lady had a head of her own and a due appre-
ciation of her charms. In a frolicsome mood
she chose the family Bible in which to pour
out her thoughts and therein inscribed:
Brides at the Hermitage. 167
Mary Ann Mickey is my name,
And happy is my life.
Happy will the young man be
Who gets me for his wife.
The Bible is an heirloom in the family now
and is known and treasured as the Mary Smith
Encountering parental opposition, the lover
proposed an elopement, which at once appealed
to her romantic nature. The elopement was
planned, and the day arrived, but she gave no
sign of the approaching event. Her listening
ear ever and anon caught the sound of a wood-
man cutting timbers in the forest. The sound
was not unusual in those days, and she alone
of all the household knew that a grapevine
ladder was being constructed for the escapade
that night and that the future President of the
United States was assisting her husband that
was to be.
Night came, and the two drew near. The
watchdog gave a sharp, questioning bark; but
as the dog was acquainted with both visitors,
a pat upon the head converted into a friend
what might have been a frustrating enemy.
The window of the fair one was on the oppo-
1 68 Preservation of the Hermitage.
site side of the hallway from that of her fa-
ther, and she listened to his deep, stertorous
breathing before she gave the signal for her
lover to advance.
Stealthily the grapevine ladder was thrust
up to the window. Two dainty white hands
grasped it and, with the ropes already attached,
made it fast within. Unhesitatingly she clam-
bered down and was received into the arms of
the expectant bridegroom. The latter and his
friend each caught her by the hand, helping
her over rough places and tangled brush until
they reached the spot where two horses and a
preacher with a marriage license awaited them.
In the dim light of the rising moon the two
were made one, wnth Andrew Jackson for a
W'itness. General Jackson w^as often heard to
aver that the only man in the world he was
afraid of was General Smith. The honeymoon
was spent beneath the roof of Andrew Jackson
at Hunter's Hill.
The Gretna Green proclivity has clung to
the posterity of Mary Smith through four
generations, nearly every family having a run-
After moving once more to the wilderness
MRS. RACHEL JACKSON.
Brides at the Hermitage, 169
and taking possession- of the log house at the
Hermitage, Andrew Jackson and his good wife
were surprised one morning, before their early
breakfast was served, by the arrival of Robert
Armstrong and Miss Margaret Nichol, daugh-
ter of Josiah Nichol, one of General Jackson's
best friends. The parents of the young lady
had chosen a husband for her other than the
one she most desired, who possessed more
money, but, in her opinion, was not the equal
of the gallant Robert Armstrong. They had
come on horseback, brought the preacher with
them, and presented themselves to be married.
Andrew Jackson's "God bless you, my chil-
dren," carried with it a benediction, for the
marriage proved a most happy one. The
young girl's confidence was not misplaced, for
her husband became not only wealthy but dis-
tinguished. A long line of prominent citizens
live to-day to tell the romantic story of the
marriage of their grandparents at the Her-
After General Jackson built the large brick
mansion General Call, one of his favorite staff
officers of the Florida war, stole his bride,
Miss Mary Kirkman, hastened to the Hermit-
i/o Preservation of the Hermitage.
age, and was married beneath its roof. There
were no automobiles in those days. The surest
and swiftest mode of travel was on horseback,
and the young couple that morning rode two
fine horses that were sure and swift. General
Jackson gave them as a bridal present por-
traits of himself and wife executed by Earl.
The portrait of Mrs. Jackson was presented
to the Ladies' Hermitage Association by Mrs.
Ellen Call Long, Vice Regent for Florida.
She was a daughter of General Call and was
herself an elderly woman at the time the As-
sociation was organized.
When Andrew Jackson went to Washington
to be inaugurated, his adopted son was just
twenty-two years of age. He was one of the
handsomest men in all the country and of
courtly, polished manners. He was a great
favorite in Washington society and, being the
son of the President, was much sought after.
While visiting Philadelphia with a friend,
Captain McCauley, of the United States army,
he met one day the most beautiful lady he had
ever seen. The young lady was accompanied
by an elder lady, and both knew Captain Mc-
Caulev. The latter raised his hat, as did also
Brides at the Hermitage, 171
the young Andrew Jackson, the ladies ac-
knowledging the salutation with a bow. As
they passed, Andrew Jackson, Jr., turned to
look back for another glimpse of the beauty.
At the same moment she too turned, and a
saucy, piquant face flashed a smile at him.
Both had fallen in love at first sight. Intro-
ductions soon followed, and the young Andrew
Jackson at once began an ardent wooing of
the beautiful Miss Sarah Yorke. An engage-
ment followed and in a short time a marriage.
The adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Jr., took
his bride to the White House, where she pre-
sided as lady of the White House during the
latter part of the Jackson administration, Mrs.
Emily Donelson occupying that exalted posi-
tion in the earlier years of the administration.
Later Andrew Jackson, Jr., took his bride to
the Hermitage. The President sent to his
prospective daughter-in-law a cluster pearl
ring with a lock of his hair beneath the set-
ting, which was used as a wedding ring.
This lovely young woman entwined herself
around the old General's heartstrings, and he
loved her with a fervent devotion. Her chil-
dren filled the declining years of the old hero's
172 Preservation of the Hermitage.
life with sunshine and happiness. After his
return to the Hermitage from the two admin-
istrations, it is said of him : "He grew so quiet
and so tender that one never heard him utter
an Singry word and scarcely ever an impatient
one." The little granddaughter Rachel was
his pet and fireside companion, and upon her
he showered all the wealth of his affection.
This granddaughter still lives near the Hermit-
age, and her reminiscences of ^'Grandpa" are
Not until this little Rachel was grown to
womanhood was there another bride at the
Hermitage. In those romantic days many
suitors had paid court to the fair Rachel ; and
in time she married Dr. John M. Lawrence,
who was a most worthy mate for the beautiful
daughter of the Hermitage. The wedding was
one of the grandest affairs ever witnessed in
this part of the countr}^ and occurred on Jan-
uary 25, 1853. Great preparations were made
for the event, new furniture for the bridal
chamber was brought from Philadelphia, and
more beautiful articles purchased for the al-
ready beautifully furnished house. Prominent
MRS. W. D. BRADFIELD.
i^Nee Miss Carrie I^awrence.)
Brides at the Hermitage. 173
citizens, friends from all over the State, were
invited, and the house was filled with guests.
The auspicious beginning of their marriage
was but an earnest of the long, happy years
when children, little olive branches, sprang up
around their table. The many vicissitudes that
befell the Hermitage did not affect their hap-
piness; and twenty-five years afterwards the
couple celebrated their silver wedding in the
same parlors, with the same surroundings,
grown sons and daughters standing by their
Time leaps forward, and the bright-eyed
tots of to-day are the brides of to-morrow.
Miss Sazie Lawrence, the eldest daughter of
Dr. and Mrs. Lawrence, was the next whose
marriage was to be witnessed by the long mir-
rors in the Hermitage parlors. Two other
daughters were married in the city and were
given receptions at the Hermitage. Miss An-
nie Lawrence married Joshua Smith, and Miss
Marion Lawrence married J. Cleves Symmes.
The last daughter of the household, Miss
Carrie Lawrence, was married to Rev. W. D.
Bradfield in the parlors of the Hermitage.
Her bridal paraphernalia was that worn by
174 Preservation of the Hermitage.
her grandmother, Mrs. Sarah Yorke Jackson,
when she married the adopted son in Phila-
delphia in 1 83 1. The bridal gown was an
imported French embroidered tissue (chiffon
we would call it now), very rich and elegant
and beautiful even now. The bridal veil was
of pointe aplique lace. A necklace, bracelet,
and brooch of the richest cluster pearls were
the bridal jewels.
The same pearl ring sent by the President
of the United States to his son's bride was
worn by Mrs. Rachel Jackson Lawrence when
she was married and by her four beautiful
daughters, and it was. always used as a wed-
ding ring. The entire bridal outfit is pre-
served in the family as a priceless heirloom
and will doubtless be worn by another genera-
tion of brides.
The marriage of Miss Carrie Lawrence in
the spring of 1892 was the last one to take
place at the old Hermitage of any member of
the family which had so long been identified
•with the place. Even then it was under the
control of the Ladies' Hermitage Association.
In 1885 Col. Andrew Jackson, son of An-
drew Jackson, Jr., brought his bride to the old
Brides at the Hermitage. 175
homestead. He was already becoming an
elderly bachelor when he met Miss Amy Rich,
of Hamilton, Ohio. He was soon attracted
by her brilliance, her vivacity, and her beauty.
He laid siege to her heart and had the joy of
bringing to the Hermitage his own bride ere
he should surrender possession of it forever.
They had two fine sons, one of whom bears
the name of Andrew Jackson, the fourth in
line of the name.
The Hermitage Church.
Hardly less historic than the Hermitage
itself is the Hermitage church, built by General
Jackson upon his own farm in 1823. Mrs.
Rachel Jackson was a most pious Christian
woman, but had long been denied Church
privileges with any degree of regularity.
The neighborhood had grown populous, and
a house of worship was needed. As soon as
this was built it wgs incorporated into the
Presbytery of Nashville and supplied with a
minister. The leading denomination then in
Tennessee was the Presbyterian, and it was
the boast of many of the citizens of that day
that they had been Presbyterians for more than
two hundred years.
Mrs. Rachel Jackson's grandmother, the
first American Mrs. John Donelson (originally
spelled Donaldson), was a sister of Rev.
Samuel Davies, D.D., one of the early presi-
dents of Princeton College. Her Presbyteri-
anism was inherited from a long line of dis-
The Hermitage Church. 177
tinguished ancestors, just as her husband had
his from the old Scotch-Irish ancestry.
There were strong, sturdy Christians in
those days, who, once committed to Church
membership, would not for worlds be guilty of
an act not countenanced by the Westminster
Confession of Faith. They were stanch and
stolid in their beliefs and had a faith that made
devout women and strong men.
General Jackson gave the ground for the
church edifice on his own farm, then headed
a subscription list with his own name and in-
vited his neighbors and kinsmen to assist in
erecting a house of worship. He did not be-
lieve in committees, he said, and superintended
the work himself.
Shortly after the church was built Mrs.
Jackson became a communing member and
urged her husband to do the same, but he
pointed out to her that if he did so then he
would be accused of taking the step for polit-
ical effect; but he promised her that as soon
as he was "out of politics" he would join the
The building is fifty feet long by thirty feet
broad and is substantially built. Four win-
178 Preservation of the Hermitage.
dows were originally in the building (one on
each side has been closed) ; the floor was of
brick, afterwards covered with flooring, except
the aisle, which is still of brick. Two huge
fireplaces, one at each end, warmed the church
to a comfortable degree. Later a change
was made in the entrance. One fireplace
was closed up, and the pulpit was placed
at that end. The pulpit was once an anti-
quated box affair, shaped like a half hexagon,
and approached by a short stairway. The
pews were substantial but somewhat heavy.
A door of entrance was made on each side of
the other fireplace afid continues there to this
day. Some of the most distinguished Presby-
terian divines of Tennessee have held services
in the Hermitage church, among them being
Revs. Dr. Scott, Carr, Hume, John Todd Ed-
gar, J. Berrien Lindsley, and later J. W.
Hoyte, E. D. Finney, and others of a still later
The pastors of the distant city Churches
fostered the work and delighted in discoursing
to the cultured congregations assembled there
to hear them. As long as Mrs. Rachel Jack-
son lived the Church flourished : but after her
The Hermitage Church. 179
death and during General Jackson's absence in
Washington the Church languished until the
family returned to the Hermitage in 1837,
when it was reorganized and again used regu-
It was under the ministrations of Rev. John
Todd Edgar, D.D., then pastor of the First
Presbyterian Church at Nashville, that Gen-
eral Jackson made public profession of the
faith he had always held and which had sus-
tained him through many a trying hour. As
soon as he became a communing Church mem-
ber he was elected unanimously a ruling elder,
but he declined, saying: "No; the Bible says,
'B?e not hasty in laying on of hands.' I am
too young in the Church for such an office.
My countrymen have given me high honors,
but I should esteem the office of ruling elder
in the Church of Christ a far higher honor
than any I have ever received."
He needed no argument to win him to a
belief in his God; for he had always had a
strong and abiding faith, the foundation stones
of which were laid by his sturdy mother and
had rooted and grounded his beliefs. But with
him to publicly stand up before the man of
i8o Preservation of the Hermitage,
God and a waiting congregation was a mo-
ment of due solemnity and vast import. He
was fully alive to the obligations and the defi-
niteness of his action.
After the service at the church and partici-
pation for the first time in the holy communion
of the Lord's Supper, he returned to the Her-
mitage silent and full of thought. His son
and daughter, Andrew and Sarah Yorke Jack-
son, were with him, but scarcely a word was
spoken. Reaching his own front door, he
took his daughter by the arm, conducted her
to his own bedchamber, then knelt and poured
out his soul in prayer. This man, who was
so gifted in oratory, so powerful in inspiring
address, so magnetic before the masses, was
not abashed when talking to his God. His
acquaintance with and constant reliance upon
the God of his mother, the God of his wife,
and his own God was so great and strong that
he could and did pray often in the inner circle
of home as long as he lived.
From that hour General Jackson was a con-
stant attendant at church, always using the
same pew, which is now marked with a silver
plate. The sermons then were the good old
7' he Hermitage Church, i8i
doctrinal Calvinistic discourses once so cus-
tomary and acknoAvledged as the orthodox
quality in all the Churches, and the songs were
those grand old hymns that followed the
psalm-singing of the earlier Christian Church
and that even now hold their own, a perpetual
classic in Church hymnology — **How firm a
foundation!" "How tedious and tasteless the
hours!" "Come, thou Fount," "When I can
read my title clear," and others that linger in
the heart and well up in the memory of those
who have ever once made them their own.
There was only congregational singing in
those days. Some good old tuneful brother
would "raise" the tune, and every voice would
blend in the harmony of the religious refrain
and feel a spiritual comfort as it rose and fell.
The communion season was particularly re-
freshing and soul-stirring. There in that little
house of worship a solemn hush would fall
over the congregation, broken only by the
words of the preacher as he read, "This do in
remembrance of me." Outside the bright
sunshine and balmy air would all seem in ac-
cord; and there is no doubt that in these sea-
sons the souls of the waiting congregation
i82 Preservation of the Hermitage,
were lifted into a higher atmosphere, and all
would drive away to their homes more
thoughtful, more subdued, nearer to their God.
Even the children were impressed. Chil-
dren in those days were told that they were to
be "seen and not heard," and their young souls
were left each to find out for itself the mys-
teries of life. Among the congregation were
two little girls, aged, respectively, ten and
twelve years, who lived in the neighborhood
and were brought regularly to church by older
sisters, their mother being dead. Their im-
pressionable minds had imbibed the ideas in-
culcated at the church and delighted in the
songs. A deep religious impression pervaded
A valued old slave belonging to their fa-
ther, named Uncle Claiborne, died on their
plantation. They had scarcely heard of death,
and the mysterious awe that clung around it
was to them distressing. They were mother-
less children, but their mother's death had
faded from their minds even if they were
not too young when it occurred for it to
impress them. Their minds were filled with
the superstitions of the negroes; and many
The Hermitage Church. 183
of their ideas had been gathered from the old
black "mammy" who had ministered to them
and nursed them and from the little ebony-
hued playmates with whom they were thrown
When they knew that Uncle Claiborne was
dead and went to the cabin, none forbidding,
to see his stiff, stark form, sheet-covered, they
were overwhelmed with a nameless dread, a
haunting fear, they knew not of what. All
day, frightened and silent, they went around
the house and yard or through the cabin where
the dead slave lay. No one noticed the chil-
dren; and if they questioned their elders, they
were put off with an impatient word of rebuke.
Night came on, and with it their fear in-
creased, but all unnoticed. They were sent
off to bed in a distant upper chamber. Sleep
would not come to their eyelids; and they
clung to each other, not daring to whisper
what they felt, but clinging, each helpless,
frightened little one, to the other.
Uncle Claiborne had been a noted negro
with his race. He had that force of intellect
sometimes found in the cabin of the Southern
slave and was esteemed by his master and re-
184 Preservation of the Hermitage.
spected by every one of his race. That night
from other plantations near and remote the
dusky forms began to come from ever}' direc-
tion, to gather at the humble cabin where the
mortal remains of the dead slave lay. The
children could hear the arrivals and, connect-
ing the sounds of footsteps with their fears,
grew more and more terror-stricken. The
night was intensely still, and the silence was
oppressive. It was in midsummer, and the
summer moon cast ghostly shadows in the
nursery chamber. Hours had perhaps passed,
and the little girls had reached the tenseness
of suffering and fear .that was almost unen-
Suddenly on the still night air there arose
a sound. It was the negroes singing. The
musical rhythm and cadence of their voices,
mingled with the voice of the katydid and
cricket, rising and falling in the still night
air, the words of the song reaching the ears
of the little listeners, "How firm a founda-
tion, ye saints of the Lord!" the beautiful
words of the old, old song sung to the old
familiar tune, quaint and plaintive, sung by
negro voices, brought comfort and peace and
The Hermitage Church. 185
banished all fear. Never in a long lifetime did
those two forget the feeling of relief that the
grand old song brought to their souls. Tears
sprang to their eyes, and, sobbing but comfort-
ed and clinging to each other, the little ones fell
One of the characteristic spectacles at the
church was the assembling of the vehicles on
the church lawn. The congregation came
from far and near and comprised the well-to-
do farmers from all the country around.
From the fact that the leader of the Church
was Mrs. Emily Donelson, the lady of the
White House, and one of its members the
President of the United States, great elegance
and even extravagance was displayed in the
dress of the congregation, quite unusual with
a country Church at that time. A glance at
the pew of General Jackson or of Maj. Andrew
J. Donelson aroused in the bosoms of many
admiration and possibly the envy of more than
one who worshiped there.
As was natural, the church became a kind
of social tryst; and after the congregation was
dismissed the people lingered to discuss af-
fairs of mutual interest — ^the crops, the latest
1 86 Preservation of the Hermitage.
news, and, it must be admitted, gossip. To
go to church was as good as reading a weekly
Upon one occasion a distinguished State
geologist visited the neighborhood for a week's
stay. He was connected by marriage with
some of the families ; and as everybody in the
neighborhood was more or less connected
either by blood or marriage to ever}'body else,
the visitor was something of a kinsman to the
entire neighborhood. The hospitality of that
day w^as : **Come early, bring your knitting or
your patchwork, and stay all day." The good
doctor was invited the rounds, one day at the
Hermitage, one day at Tulip Grove, one day
at Clifton, and so on. He was a whole-souled,
genial man, happy anywhere and under any
circumstances, and enjoyed nothing better than
his occasional visits to the good people around
General Jackson's home.
The Sunday following the doctor's visit was
a fine, bright day, very conducive to piety, and
a full congregation was present at the service.
At the after meeting the week's guest was the
prominent subject of conversation. The
housewives present began, as housewives will,
The Hermitage Church. 187
to tell what each one gave the distinguished
guest for dinner, the good old-fashioned noon-
"What did you have for dessert?"
"The nicest fritters I ever made."
"La, did you have fritters ? So did I."
"And so did I."
"And so did I," chorused each hostess in
Fritters! Don't you know what they are?
Visit the Southland and ask any old "Aunt
Hannah" to make some for you. But, after
all, the good doctor was very fond of fritters,
and that was before indigestion was invented.
The church was a favorite meeting place
for the beaux and belles, and many a match
was made in or near that same Hermitage
church. But Church purposes were not all for
which the little brick church was used. It
also ser\^ed for a schoolhouse, and the pastor
was sometimes the schoolmaster. The chil-
dren in the community were sent to the Her-
mitage church to school. The curriculum was
very ambitious, and the pupils were given Lat-
in almost simultaneously with the old blue-
back speller. French too and even Greek
1 88 Preservation of the Hermitage.
were conned. The boys were prepared foi
college and the girls fitted for the finishing
seminaries, though many had only the Her-
mitage church for their Alma Mater. There
were good spellers in those days, none better
anywhere, and many a little slip of a girl took
the head of her spelling class early in the ses-
sion and defied the foremost scholars in the
school to dislodge her.
Many of the older citizens of that commu-
nity cherished to their dying day the fondest
and brightest recollections of their school days.
A gentle elderly lady, one of the most earnest
students that ever attended the school, had the
thought of it so interwoven into her being that
through a long life ever in her dreams she was
again and again at the Hermitage church, go-
ing to school or attending church. Then the
dream would change, and she had taken up
her abode there and was living in it as a dwell-
ing. Memory would cling around the old
edifice and bring back the forms of loved ones
who had gathered with her there, and the vi-
sion would be most sweet. Dear sisters long
since gone, girlhood friends, and the young
boys with whom she associated came trooping
The Hermitage Church. 189
through memory's train, and she lived again
in the past. A young sister had died in her
early youth, and this sister was ever with her.
The school had its fun and its frolics, its
hopes and ambitions, its scholars and its dul-
lards. AA hen a new teacher made his advent
in the neighborhood the pupils were very anx-
ious to present a fine appearance and impress
him with the extent of the scholarly attain-
ments in that vicinity. One day two little fel-
lows brought some chestnuts gathered in the
near-by forest. The new teacher asked : "How
do they sell, my little man?" *Ten cents a
point" was the reply.
The church is still used week by week even
to this day and maintains a regular Church
organization. In those years long gone by the
communion service was a silver cup and a sil-
ver dish from the Hermitage. The cup is a
silver tankard, one of a pair made in London,
and is beautifully chased. The pair were pre-
sented to General Jackson. The plate is one
of the Martin Van Buren dishes purchased by
Jackson. This same cup and plate are still used
and are brought to the church on communion
occasions by Mrs. Rachel Jackson Lawrence,
190 Preservation of the Hermitage.
who lives about two miles distant. Mrs. Sarah
Jackson presented a table of solid mahogany
from the Hermitage furnishings for a com-
At the same time the Ladies' Hermitage As-
sociation was being organized ( 1889) Mrs.
W. A. (Bettie M.) Donelson was interesting
herself on behalf of the Hermitage church.
It, like the rest of the Hermitage property, was
showing the marks of the finger of time and
was in a very dilapidated condition. The roof
was leaking, the plastering fallen in a great
many places, several window panes were out,
and the frame was rotting away. With won-
derful executive ability Mrs. Donelson, un-
aided and alone, got up an "Old Folks Con-
cert," which she gave at the Vendome Theater
in Nashville. There were many participants,
and she offered as a prize a locket made of the
hair of General and Mrs. Jackson to the one
selling the most tickets. Hundreds of tickets
were sold and nearly every seat taken. As a
net result she had five hundred dollars for her
effort. This money she expended on the
church and put it in fine condition. Mrs. Don-
elson lives in the Hermitage neighborhood and
The Hermitage Church. 191
is a constant attendant, member, and worker in
all its affairs. She is a daughter-in-law of
Maj. Andrew Jackson Donelson, private sec-
retary to President Andrew Jackson.
One of the greatest events of recent years
was the visit of Admiral and Mrs. Schley to
the Hermitage when they visited Nashville in
1902. The visit was made on Sunday, the only
day at their disposal, and services were held in
the church. It was one of the coldest days of
an unusually cold winter, but many braved the
weather and went out from the city to attend
the services held especially for the occasion in
honor of the distinguished visitor. Members
of the Church in the vicinity decorated the
pulpit and Jackson's pew with evergreens from
the Hermitage garden. A huge log fire burned
in the old-fashioned fireplace and warmed the
church comfortably. There is a cabinet organ
there, and a city choir furnished the music.
Admiral Schley was seated in General Jack-
son's pew. He was an Episcopalian, the offici-
ating minister, Rev. D. C. Kelley, was a Meth-
odist, and the Church Presbyterian, making of
it an interdenominational service. After serv-
ice in the church the party and guests went to
192 preservation of the Hermitage,
the Hermitage, lingered there several hours,
and had breakfast served ere they returned to
The State Legislature, at the session of
1913, conveyed to the trustees of the Hermit-
age Church living in the neighborhood two or
three acres, more or less, surrounding it, and
a manse for the pastor has been built in the
churchyard. A pastor has been engaged,
services will be held regularly, and the historic
church will continue in a plane of usefulness.
The Artist at the Hermitage.
An interesting person at the Hermitage in
those long gone by years was Ralph E. W.
Earl. He had a distinguished lineage and was
one of the collateral descendants of James
Prime, who was at Mil ford, Conn., in 1644.
The name and family of Prime are of Flem-
ish origin, and a descendant of the Primes —
viz., Ralph E. Prime — has compiled the gene-
alogy of the family as far back as 1638 and
traces it down, to present generations, and
from this line of descendants we learn the
genealogy of Ralph E. W. Earl.
His grandfather, Ralph Earl, was born No-
vember 13, 1726, at Leicester, Mass. He was
a patriot and served as captain in the patriot
army in the Revolution. He had the distinc-
tion of having offered to him at the same time
a commission as captain in each army and
chose the patriot commission. His father,
Ralph Earl, was born May 11, 1757. He was
an artist of distinction, a pupil of Sir Benja-
194 Presentation of the Hermitage.
min West, and painted the first picture of
Niagara Falls ever painted, which still exists
in England. He also painted many portraits
of the nobility and some of the royal family
of England and portraits of many prominent
New England people. He was also a soldier
in the Revolutionary War. His mother was
Sarah Gates Earl. They had four children,
of whom Ralph E. W. Earl was the third.
Ralph E. W. Earl was born in 1788. Tak-
ing up his father's profession as an artist, he
made a distinguished reputation of his own.
He painted many pictures of distinguished per-
sons in England, Prance, and America. He
was a friend of General Jackson and married
Jane Cafifrey, a niece of Mrs. Rachel Jackson,
and thereafter became one of the family at
the Hermitage. His young wife lived only a
few months, but he never married again and
continued to reside at the Hermitage. He was
given the room immediately above General
Jackson's bedroom, which he also used as a
Earl was an industrious worker and left
many beautiful specimens of his handiwork.
His portraits of Jackson are so fine and so
The Artist at the Hermitage. 195
varied in style and position as to make a not-
able exhibit all to themselves. His work is
excellent, bearing the stamp of the true artist
who had perfected himself in his profession.
The beautiful portraits of Mrs. Rachel Jack-
son, of the adopted son and his wife, Mrs.
Sarah Yorke Jackson, and of little Rachel were
all his work. Portraits of prominent people
all over the country were painted by him.
He went with General Jackson to the White
House and was dubbed the "court painter" or
"portrait painter to the king." After return-
ing with General Jackson to the Hermitage, he
died the same year, September 16, 1837, and is
buried in the garden. His friend and patron
marked his grave with a stone and put upon it,
in addition to the name and dates, the words,
"Friend and companion of Gen. Andrew Jack-
After Earl's death all of his possessions,
souvenirs, and relics were returned to his fam-
ily connections as far as the Hermitage family
were able to collect them. But in the collection
of Andrew Jackson's books purchased from
his heirs, numbering over four hundred and
fiftv volumes, is one volume which evidentiv
196 Preservation of the Hermitage.
at one time was the property of Colonel Earl.
It is a copy of Lord Byron's works, and in the
volume, carefully pasted to the fly leaf, is an
autograph letter from the great poet himself.
This is a souvenir evidently picked up by Colo-
nel Earl during a visit to or residence in Paris.
It is old and worn and torn, but is thoroughly
Byronic in character and very interesting. It
is as follows:
To the Editor of Galignani's Messenger.
Sir: In various numbers of your journal I have seen
mentioned a work entitled "The Vampire" with the
addition of my name as that of author. I am not the
author and never heard^ of the work in question until
now. In a more recent paper I perceive a formal an-
nunciation of "The Vampire," with the addition of an
account of my residence in the Island of Mitylene, an
island which I have occasionally sailed by in the course
of traveling some years ago through the Levant and
where I should have no objection to reside, but where
I have never yet resided. Neither of these perform-
ances are mine, and I presume that it is neither unjust
nor ungracious to request that you will favor me by
contradicting the advertisement to which I allude. If
the book is clever, it would be hard to deprive the
real writer, whoever he may be, of his honors; and if
it is stupid, I desire the responsibility of nobody's
dullness but my own. . . . You will excuse the
trouble I give you.
The imputation is of no great importance, and as
long as it has been confined to surmises and reports I
The Artist at the Hermitage. 197
should have received it, as I have received many others,
in silence. But the formality of a public advertisement
of a book I never wrote and a residence where I have
never resided is a little too much, particularly as I
have no notion of the contents of the one nor the inci-
dents of the other.
I have a personal dislike to vampires, and the little
acquaintance I have with them would by no means in-
duce me to divulge their secrets.
You did me a much less injury by your paragraph
about "my devotion and abandonment of society for
the sake of religion," which appeared in your Messen-
ger during last Lent, all of which are not founded on
fact ; but you see I do not contradict them because they
are merely personal, whereas the others, in some degree,
confuse the reader.
You will oblige me by complying with my request
for contradiction. I assure you I know nothing of the
work or works in question and have the honor to be
(as the correspondents to magazines say) your con-
stant reader and very obedient humble servant,
Venice, April 27, 1819. Byron.
18 Rue Viviene,
The room the artist occupied at the Hermit-
age is still called Earl's room and is now simply
furnished with a colonial bedstead, dresser,
wardrobe, washstand, straw matting, and white
muslin curtains, a prevailing summer style at
the Hermitage while Andrew Jackson lived.
The Hermitage Garden.
When Gen. Andrew Jackson built the man-
sion for his wife in 1819 he set apart near
its eastern doorway an acre of ground for
a garden to supply the family with vegetables
and at the same time to be a flower garden.
The acre plat is laid off in four regular
squares bisected by gravel walks some six or
eight feet wide. A similar walk extends en-
tirely around the outer edges about six feet
from the inclosing fence. In the center of the
garden where the main walks meet is an art
circle for flow^er beds laid out in artistic de-
sign, v;ith little walkways threading between
them. All the walks are outlined by bricks
made for the purpose when the house was
built. They are one-half longer than an or-
dinary brick and beveled upon the upper and
The mistress of the Hermitage loved her
flowers; and one of the greatest pleasures of
her devoted husband was to procure for her
The Hermitage Garden, I99
new and rare plants, which he did when serv-
ing as honorable senator in Philadelphia. The
sweet spring blossoms that answer to the first
warm kisses of the early sunshine are every-
where abundant. They are the old-fashioned
flowers that our mothers loved and that are
to be found only in old-fashioned gardens. In
all the long years since they were planted they
have grown and flourished until now they are
huge shrubs. The lilacs, white and purple, are
large bushes; so are the crape myrtle and the
snowballs, and they flower beautifully in the
Many curious plants are there that are sel-
dom grown now, but their beauty ever attracts
attention to them. The dainty white fringe
tree droops its fragile blossoms at the garden
gate, and one flourishes at the tomb near the
head of Mrs. Jackson. The smoke tree, with
its curious blossoms, stands opposite a huge
purple magnolia, the first harbinger of spring,
with its sweetly scented blossoms. The fra-
grant calacanthus is there, and the woodbine
and honeysuckle climb over trellises near
clumps of syringa and woo the honeybee to
sip the sweets concealed in their dainty cups.
200 Preservation of the Hermitage.
All the shrubs have grown and flourished,
undisturbed in the long years, and now have
luxurious strength and fill with rich perfume
the old historic garden.
The early breath of spring calls from their
slumbering beds hyacinths, lilies of the valley,
jonquils, narcissi, purple shades, and the violet-
odored bluebottles. Among the first of the
early spring blossoms are the bluebells, found
growing wild on the bluffs of the Cumberland.
They were probably among the first of nature^s
beauties to find their way to the garden. The
native woodland and river banks also fur-
nished the yucca, which thrives in many places
in the garden and outlines the walk to the
springhouse, and which, when in bloom, pre-
sents a scene of great beauty. The orange-
colored butterfly plant, or sesclepias, and the
beautiful spirit lily also come from the native
woodland. In the early spring the garden is
a wilderness of bloom, for these plants have
multiplied to a vast supply. Peonies planted
long years ago, white, red, and pink, flourish all
over the garden and have grown strong roots,
producing a wonderful quantity of flowers. In
their season the flowers may be cut by the wag-
JACKSO^^ S TOMB.
President Roosevelt received by the Regent, Mrs. Dorris, and the
Ladies' Hermitagfe Association.
The Hermitage Garden. 201
onload, and the Ladies' Hermitage Association
has turned this to account and made it a source
of revenue. A chairman of a flower committee
is appointed, the flowers (a wagonload) sent
to the city, and the chairman and her commit-
tee stand on the streets and sell them out,
which is soon done. They also take orders
and have sold many hundred dollars' worth of
flow^ers. The old fragrant hundred-leafed rose
has overnm some of the flower beds and even
thrust its sprouts, trespassing, into the gravel
walks. Along on the fence, supporting them
as a trellis, are many climbing rosebushes, the
fragrant micrafilia and the multiflora, the lat-
ter in clusters, each a nosegay all to itself.
The musk cluster, the pink cluster, and the old-
fashioned daily rose that never fails to bloom
all the year round, and the Louis Philippe, a
brilliant red rose, are some of the other roses.
Growing by the hundreds in strong, vigorous
clumps are the ascension lilies, filling the gar-
den with delicious perfume in the month of
The poetic side of life was then in the as-
cendancy, and flowers were often made the
means of conveying the tender sentiment.
202 Preservation of the Hermitage.
Every flower had an emblem with which the
young people were acquainted. Flowers were
then, as now, sent as gifts, but always from
one's own garden. Nothing was considered
in worse taste nor a surer indication of ex-
treme poverty or great penuriousness than for
one to think of selling flowers. This was some-
thing for the aesthetic taste alone, around
which no commercial idea clung.
Even then flowers were used for the dead.
When the widow of Lewis Randolph (who was
Miss Elizabeth Martin and was married at the
White House during Jackson's administration
to Lewis Randolph, 'the grandson of Thomas
Jefferson) lived at home again with her father,
near the Hermitage, she lost a beautiful, bright
little boy just four years old named Lewis Jack-
son Randolph. It was in the early summer,
and the fragrant white ascension lilies were in
full flower. All around and upon the little
stilled form these sweet blossoms were placed.
The young aunt, a girl of twelve years, loved
the little fellow tenderly and grieved for him
with all a child's strength of affection. She
lived to be an elderly woman; but she never
caught the odor of the lilies nor saw the fair
The Hermitage Garden. 203
blossoms but that the memory of this, her first
childish grief, came back to her, and the spirit
of the child was with her again. The sweet
musk cluster and the dainty pink cluster, fra-
grant little things that they are, pinned in tiny
sprays all over the winding sheet used in those
days, were nature's last offering to the dead.
When Mrs. Rachel Jackson died at the Her-
mitage it was in the beautiful garden that her
grave was made, in the corner nearest the ris-
ing sun. Her sad death will be remembered
as occurring very suddenly of heart failure
on the eve of the departure of her distin-
guished husband for his inauguration as Presi-
dent of the United States. The grave planted
there in the chill of a midwinter day, forlorn
and desolate, was ever a sacred place to her
bereaved husband. His last act before leaving
for Washington was to plant four willows,
something that would grow, about her last
resting place. He never lost interest in the
garden nor the willows in all his long absence
from the Hermitage.
May 19, 1832, he wrote a letter to Mrs.
Sarah Yorke Jackson, his daughter-in-law,
from which the following is an extract :
204 Preservation of the Hermitage,
I sincerely regret the ravages made by the frost in
the garden, and particularly that the willow at the gate
is destroyed. This I wish you to replace. The wil-
lows around the tomb I hope are living, and a branch
from one of these might replace the dead one at the
garden gate. It will grow if well watered and planted
on receipt of this.
When Andrew Jackson, Jr., sold the Her-
mitage to the State of Tennessee he reserved
a plat of one-fourth of an acre as a burial
ground for himself and family. He and his
wife are buried in the plat near the tomb, and
there are several other famil}^ graves. The
tomb of General Jackson and his wife is in-
closed by an iron railing.
A mysterious effort was made to rob the
tomb of General Jackson in the summer of
1894. An old man and his family had been
installed in the Hermitage as custodians. One
day in August a strange dark man appeared
at the Hermitage, was shown over the house,
visited the tomb in the garden, and talked for
a long time with Uncle Alfred. He seemed
in no hurry to leave and apparently took an
unusual interest in the place. He questioned
closely about the family, inquired into the
family life, discussed the family histon^ and
The Hermitage Garden. 205
was deeply interested in the tomb. He left
about midday and, as was afterwards discov-
ered, went to the little country store on the
Lebanon road and procured a lunch. In the
afternoon he returned, which was very un-
usual, for visitors generally took the train in
time to reach the city before nightfall. Twi-
light found the man still on the premises.
The custodian and his family became suspi-
cious and uneasy, causing them to use extra
precautions in closing doors and windows that
night. To their relief, when they had about
decided to order him off, the man took his
departure, and they never expected to see or
hear of him again.
The next morning when the old man, as
was his custom, went into the garden, he was
horrified to discover that a large hole fully six
feet in diameter had been dug on the west
side of the tomb, extending dow^n to the solid
masonry of the foundation. It was in August,
and there had been a long and distressing
drought. The ground was hard and baked,
making excavation no easy matter. When the
vault was reached, a solid block of old-time,
honest masonry protected tlie bones of the
2o6 Preservation of the Hermitage.
great man and his wife within the tomb.
Nothing short of dynamite would have had
the sHghtest effect upon it. These conditions
and the early coming of dawn prevented what
might have been the demohtion of Jackson's
tomb and the theft of his bones from the
strong vault which had so long held his per-
Every effort was made to discover the iden-
tity of the perpetrator. It was undoubtedly
the strange dark man who had lingered there
so long; but who was he, and where had he
gone? Mrs. Baxter and the Secretary went
immediately to the ' Hermitage and endeav-
ored to find out the perpetrator, consulting
the most famous detective of the city; but
there was absolutely no clew beyond the facts
already noted. There had been no actual dam-
age that was not easily repaired ; and as the
Ladies' Hermitage Association had no money
to waste on useless inquiry, the mystery was
Two other facts developed. An iron fence
surrounds the tomb, and the gate is kept
locked, but the fence is not so high that a man
cannot easilv vault over it. The more readily
The Hermitage Garden, 207
to get within the inclosure, the marauder had
used a plank from the near-by fence to aid
him in chmbing over. The entire neighbor-
hood was deeply interested. It further devel-
oped that from the nearest neighbor the mys-
terious stranger had the day before borrowed
a spade, which he had punctiliously returned
by leaving it within the yard inclosure, not
waiting to say *'Good morning^' or even
"Thank you." The spade, when loaned, was
dull and rusty from disuse and was bright and
shiny when returned, giving evidence of its
contact with the hard, dry earth.
The sequel ? Well, it came in a strange and
incidental way. Some months after the occur-
rence a correspondent from New York City,
writing to an enterprising Cincinnati paper,
told of a man who had just died in a hospital
in New York. He was an Italian, and his
name was Torrianni. His profession was that
of a resurrectionist. Before his death he
talked of his work and seemed to take a pride
in his successes. He confessed that it was he
v;ho had stolen the body of the father of
President Harrison, who died just before his
son became President. The rabberv was dis-
2o8 Preservation of the Hermitage.
covered immediately and the body found in a
medical college and reinterred. The act caused
a wave of indignation to sweep over the coun-
try. Further than this, and what more nearly
concerned the Ladies' Hennitage Association,
the man also confessed that it was he who
made the attempt upon the tomb of Andrew
Jackson in the summer of 1894.
When the retiring President was again in
his home at the Hermitage, the family of his
adopted son were the joy and solace of his life.
Particularly was he fond of little Rachel, the
namesake of his dear wife. She was his con-
stant companion rn his rides around the farm,
at his fireside, and in his walks about the place.
He had a habit which he indulged in tv^ry
evening at twilight. His footsteps would turn
to the garden; and little Rachel would drop
"grandpa's" hand, for she had learned that he
desired to be alone. Oi>ening the gate, with
bowed head and bent foi*m, his stick striking
upon the graveled walk, mingled with the
mournful cadences of the katydids, the old
hero turned his footsteps to the tomb. There
in the silence of the deepening twilight he
communed with his God while the spirit of the
The Hermitage Garden, 209
gentle Rachel hovered near. The tomb had
long been built under General Jackson's own
supervision, and upon the slab had been put the
beautiful inscription, the beauty and tenderness
of which strike every one who reads it. It is :
Here lie the remains of Mrs. Rachel Jackson,
wife of President Jackson, who died the 22d of
December, 1828, aged sixty-one years. Her face
was fair, her person pleasing, her temper amia-
ble, her heart kind. She delighted in relieving
the wants of her fellow creatures and cultivated
that divine pleasure by the most liberal and un-
pretending methods. To the poor she was a ben-
efactor; to the rich an example; to the wretch-
ed a comforter; to the prosperous an ornament.
Her piety went hand in hand with her benevo-
lence, and she thanked her Creator for being
permitted to do good. A being so gentle and
so virtuous slander might wound, but could not
dishonor; even death, when he bore her from
the arms of her husband, could but transport
her to the bosom of her God.
When General Jackson died, he was placed
by the side of his wife, and upon the slab are
the simple words :
General Andrew Jackson.
Born March 15, 1767.
Died June 8, 1845.
2IO Preservation of the Hermitage.
All his brilliant career, all his glorious re-
nown are left to the historian and to live in
the hearts of his countrymen.
To-day the home of Andrew Jackson is as it
was in the days wlien he and his beloved Rachel
welcomed all with cordial hospitality. The old
homestead is so filled with sweet memories of
their devoted love, of the after happy life, when
loving son and daughter ministered to his
heart's longing and prattling babes grew up
around him, that the visitor cannot fail to be
impressed with the tender, loving side of the
brave warrior as well as feel a pride in his
heroic achievements. As one passes down the
flower-bordered walks of the garden the sweet,
fragrant blossoms seem to speak in their
quaint poetic language of those who dwelt
there in the long ago. In reverence one pauses
and gazes in silence on their tomb. Sweetly
and peacefully they lie sleeping there within
the shadow of the home they loved so well,
and the soughing winds sing an everlasting re-
quiem over their last resting place.
Some years ago it occurred to the writer that
the time would come when the history of the
founding of the Ladies' Hermitage Associa-
tion would be written and that it would add
to the interest of this history and annals to
have the testimony of some who were closely
connected with the work in its formative days.
The following statements are taken from the
minute book, in which they are written by the
persons whose names are signed. The first one
is from Mrs. Mary L. Baxter herself and is
This is to certify that I was first asked to become
the Regent of the Ladies' Hermitage Association by
Mrs. Mary C. Dorris in 1889.
May 18, 1897. Mrs. Mary L. Baxter, Regent
At the solicitation of Mrs. Mary C. Dorris I was the
first one to sign the charter of organization of the
Ladies' Hermitage Association in the spring of 1889.
June 20, 1906. Rachel Jackson Lawrence.
In the spring of 1889 Mrs. Mary C. Dorris came to
see me one night and asked me to sign the charter of
the Ladies' Hermitage Association. I did so, becoming
a charter member at her request.
June 20, 1906. Mrs. Mary Hadley Clare.
214 Preservation of the Hermitage.
This is to certify that in April, i8^, shortly after
the act conveying the Hermitage house and tomb and
twenty-five acres to the Ladies' Hermitage Associa-
tion, and in accordance with said act, authorizing the
appointment of nine trustees for the State, Mr. and
Mrs, D. R. Dorris came to my office to secure the ap-
pointment of said trustees. Mrs. Dorris, as an officer
of the Association, had a list of names which she rec-
ommended, all of whom were appointed, Mr. Adolph
S. Ochs being my selection, the others being selected
and named by Mrs. Dorris.
Robert L. Taylor, Governor. ,
At the suggestion of Mrs. Dorris I presided over
the first meeting of the Hermitage Association. To her
untiring efforts is largely, due the success of the praise-
worthy effort of the Association to rescue the home of
the immortal Jackson from the hands of strangers and
to dedicate it to the memorj' of his great achievements
in the field and forum. T. A. Atchison.
Mrs. Mary C. Dorris has just called to ask my
signature, which I give cheerfully. She has been a
hard and earnest worker in the Ladies' Hermitage
Association from its first conception, and to her it owes
much of its success. I signed the charter at her request.
July I, 1910. Mary G. Heiss.
In January or Februar>', 1889, Mrs. Mary C. Dorris
brought me the charter of the Ladies' Hermitage Asso-
ciation, which I signed in her presence, mine being the
fifth signature. Louise G. Lindsley.
November 16, 1910.
For several years after moving to Nashville my
husband, Robert B. Currey. and I lived with his mother
at our old home, at the corner of Church and Spruce
Streets. Mr. and Mrs. Dorris and their children also
lived there. One day Colonel and Mrs. Jackson drove
in from the Hennitage to make Mrs. Dorris a visit
They came to ask her advice and interest her in the
preservation of the Hermitage. She grasped the idea
at once, becoming enthusiastic, and from that time on
she was untiring in her devotion to the work. There
was a great deal to be done, a great many people to be
seen. Day after day she spent at the Capitol trying to
get the Legislature to authorize a memorial associa-
tion and give them control of the property. Often
Colonel and Mrs. Jackson would come in from the
Hermitage and hold a long consultation with Mrs.
Dorris. Sometimes Mr. Alex Donelson made one of
the party, and it was he who went with Mrs. Dorris
to procure a charter for the Ladies' Hermitage Asso-
ciation. All the work of founding the Ladies' Hermit-
age Association was done in our old home, at the corner
of Church and Spruce Streets, and I remember these
meetings distinctly, but Colonel and Mr. Jackson, Mrs.
Dorris, and Mr. Alex Donelson were the only ones then
interested. Others of our family would occasionally be
with them and hear them discuss the organization and
knew every step that was taken.
In fact, so much of Mrs. Dorris's time, talent, and
energies were taken up that her brother (my husband)
and her mother complained that she was neglecting her
own interests for the Hermitage work. Once when
Mrs. Jackson was present Mrs. Dorris's mother spoke
of her devoting so much of her time to the Ladies'
Hermitage Association. Mrs. Jackson said: "Hush,
2i6 Preservation of the Hermitage.
woman! She is making history. The day will come
when her family will be proud of the work she has
In 1890 I spent a delightful summer with Colonel
and Mrs. Jackson at the Hermitage. The Association
was still in its infancy. Mrs. Baxter was Regent, and
Mrs. Dorris was Secretary'. i\lrs. Jackson and I were
constantly thrown together, and our talks often turned
to the Ladies' Hermitage Association, Mrs. Jackson
predicting that it would be a great success. I often
heard her say: 'Tt was an inspiration when Colonel
thought of Mary Dorris, and from the day we saw her
and she took hold of the idea I knew it would succeed."
From that day to this her interest has never flagged.
May 4, 1913. Mrs. Robert B. Currey.
It is a privilege to say a word for Mrs. Dorris and
for her book, a work whith has been to her a labor of
love and of patriotic interest. The long years of beau-
tiful service she has given to the upbuilding of the
Ladies' Hermitage Association and her unswerving de-
votion to it deserve the commendation of the whole
country; for the Hermitage is not a local interest, but
is one dear to the heart of the whole American peo-
It was my privilege to have the honor of being in-
strumental in raising the first funds for this notable
work, and my chance came to me through Mrs. Dorris.
I had written, however crudely, my first production, or
attempted production, for the stage, the production tak-
ing the form of a little operetta for young people,
"Birds of Tennessee." One morning I confided to Mrs.
Dorris this attempt on my part and ran over the libretto
to her. She said: "Why, that's good! Let's give it
for the benefit of the Ladies' Hermitage Association."
We did. With her help the work was put before the
public and produced at the Vendome Theater for two
or three evenings and made quite a pleasing little hit.
Some of the best and most gifted of Nashville's young
people came to our help. There wasn't a line of music
written, but the airs were my own. I hummed them
over to the leader of the orchestra, who caught them
and arranged them for the other members, and in this
crude fashion the singing parts were put together.
Justin Thatcher, the sweet singer of Nashville, was one
of those who helped us; and Robert Nichol was our
mocking bird and was, of course, the leading figure
in a carnival composed entirely of the song birds of
Tennessee. Billy Porter and the late Ed Stahlman were
also in the caste, Mr. Porter being a blackbird and Mr.
Stahlman as good an owl as ever adorned the night
Tom Norton was our jaybird and, as "the stylish Mr.
Jay," was one of the real successes of the play. Mr.
Norton also sang without music and learned the air of
his song from having it hummed over to him. He aUo
sang it in Franklin, when the play was produced there,
and again made a great hit.
On the last occasion the play was shown in Nash-
ville the late distinguished and beloved Dr. J. Berrien
Lindsley arose in the audience and said some very
pleasant things of the play, the people in the play, and
of the author. In the name of the Ladies* Hermitage
Association he thanked all parties connected with it.
These are very pleasing things to remember; and for
this pleasure the author of that crude little play is in-
debted to Mrs. Dorris, whose book, "Preservation of
the Hermitage," now appears, .
2i8 Preservation of the Hermitage,
Mrs. Dorris should have a large and whole-hearted
audience, and her work should appeal both to the inter-
est and affection of the people of Tennesese. A hard
and sincere toiler among the women of her State, she
has not hesitated to grapple with the problem of meet-
ing life alone and fighting her way, a soldier's sword in
one hand and a woman's pen in the other. She has
kept fair and beautiful her gracious gift of womanhood
and has been a ready and appreciative listener to other
women toiling along the same rough road her own feet
have followed. Through all hardships and struggles and
doubts and adversities she has not failed to keep the
lamp of love aglow in her forehead, as beautiful as a
star upon a rugged night at sea. A glad coworker in
all that pertains to the welfare of her sex, her State,
and her country, she has been an inspiration to many
The public owes a good deal to Mrs. Dorris. A
cordial reception on the part of the public is due her
story, "Preservation of the Hermitage," and the Ladies'
Hermitage Association, which has accomplished the real
work of rescuing from oblivion or worse than oblivion
the most notable building of the State, the home of the
most noted man Tennessee ever produced. For, had it
not been for the Ladies' Hermitage Association, the
historic homestead would without a doubt long ago
have suffered the fate of other notable landmarks of
Nashville. As a pioneer in this great work Mrs. Dorris
is entitled to a royal reception for her book. It is a
privilege to speak for it. Will Allen Dromgoole.
February lo, 1915.
The following directors have had control of
the Ladies' Hermitage Association since its or-
Elected May 15, 1889.— Mrs. Mary L. Baxter, Re-
gent; Mrs. A. S. Colyar, First Vice Regent; Mrs. J. M.
Dickinson, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. Mary C. Dorris,
Secretary ; L. F. Benson, Treasurer ; Mrs. William Mor-
row, Mrs. John Ruhm, Mrs. Bettie M. Donelson.
Elected May so, 189 1.— Mrs. Mary L. Baxter, Re-
gent; Mrs. Albert S. Marks, First Vice Regent; Mrs.
J. Berrien Lindsley, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. Mary
C. Dorris, Secretary; Dr. William Morrow, Treasurer;
Mrs. William Morrow, Mrs. John Ruhm, Mrs. Bettie
M. Donelson, Mrs. John C. Gaut, Mrs. Maggie L. Hicks.
Elected June 7, i^pj.— Mrs. Mary L. Baxter, Regent ;
Mrs. Albert S. Marks, First Vice Regent; Mrs. J.
Berrien Lindsley, Second Vice Regent; Mr. Edgar
Jones, Treasurer ; Mrs. John Ruhm, Auditor ; Mrs. John
C. Gaut, Mrs. Bettie M. Donelson, Mrs. Isabel M. Clark,
Mrs. J. M. Dickinson.
Elected October 30, i895.—Mrs. Mary L. Baxter,
Regent; Mrs. Albert S. Marks, Acting Regent; Mrs. J.
Berrien Lindsley, Secorid Vice Regent; Mrs. Mary C.
Dorris, Secretary ; Mrs. P. H. Manlove, Treasurer ; Mrs.
John Ruhm, Auditor; Mrs. Hugh Craighead, Mrs. Bet-
tie M. Donelson, Mrs. John C. Gaut, Mrs. Isabel Clark.
Elected May 19, 1^97.— Mrs. Mary L. Baxter, Re-
gent; Mrs. Albert S. Marks, Acting Regent; Mrs. J.
Berrien Lindsley, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. Mary C
Dorris, Secretary; Mrs. P. H. Manlove, Treasurer;
Mrs. R. G. Thome, Mrs. J. M. Dickinson, Mrs. M. S.
Cockrill, Mrs. A. M. Shook, Mrs. John C. Gaut.
Elected May 17, i^pp.— Mrs. J. Berrien Lindsley,
220 Preservation of the Hermitage.
Regent; Mrs. J. M. Dickinson, First Vice Regent; Mrs.
Eugene C. Lewis, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. Mary C.
Dorris, Secretary; Mrs. A. M. Shook, Treasurer; Mrs.
R, G. Thorne, Mrs. M. S. Cockrill, Mrs. John C. Gaut,
Mrs. J. C. Buntin.
Elected May 15, /po/.— Mrs. J. Berrien Lindsley, Re*
gent; Mrs. A. M. Shook, First Vice Regent; Mrs. M. S.
Cockrill, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. Mary C. Dorris,
Secretarj' ; Mrs. J. Walter Allen, Treasurer; Mrs. Wil-
liam J. McMurray, Mrs. Thomas M. Steger, Mrs. John
C. Gaut, Mrs. J. C. Buntin.
Elected May 13, Jpoj.— Mrs. J. Berrien Lindsley,
Regent; Mrs. A. M. Shook, First Vice Regent; Mrs.
M. S. Cockrill, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. Mary C
Dorris, Secretary; Mrs. J. Walter Allen, Treasurer;
Mrs. John C. Gaut, Mrs. W. J. McMurray, Mrs. Thom-
as M. Steger, Mrs. J. G Buntin. (Mrs. Lindsley ex-
piring July 5, 1903, Mrs. A. M. Shook was elected Re-
gent and Miss Louise G. Lindsley a director.)
Elected May 17, J905.— Mrs. Ivlary C. Dorris, Regent ;
Mrs. M. S. Cockrill, First Vice Regent; Miss Louise
G. Lindsley, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. J. Walter Allen,
Secretarj^; Mrs. P. H. Manlove, Treasurer; Mrs. W. J.
McMurray, Mrs. Thomas M. Steger, Mrs. J. C Buntin,
Mrs. A. M. Shook.
Elected May 15, 1907. — Mrs. Mary C. Dorris, Re-
gent; iMrs. J. Walter Allen, First Vice Regent; Mrs. A.
M. Shook, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. Walter Allen,
Secretary; Mrs. P. H. Manlove, Treasurer; Mrs. !M. S.
Cockrill, Mrs. Thomas M. Steger, Mrs. B. F. Wilson,
Mrs. Joseph W. Ford.
Elected May 19, 1909. — Miss Louise G. Lindsley, Re-
gent ; Mrs. J. Walter Allen, First Vice Regent ; Mrs. A.
M. Shook, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. Mary C. Dorris,
Secretary; Mrs. P. H. Manlove, Treasurer; Mrs. M. S.
Cockrill, iMrs. Cleves Symmes, Mrs. B. F. Wilson, Mrs.
Joseph M. Ford. (Mrs. M. S. Cockrill expired in 1910,
and Mrs. D. Shelby Williams was elected director.)
Elected May J/, ipii.— Miss Louise G. Lindsley, Re-
gent; Mrs. J. Walter Allen, First Vice Regent; Mrs.
B. F.' Wilson, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. Mary C Dor-
ris, Secretary-; Mrs. P. H. Manlove, Treasurer; Mrs.
J. Cleves Symmes, ^Irs. John C. Brown, Mrs. A. M.
Shook, Mrs. James H. Campbell.
Elected May 21, 191 3.— Urs. B. F. Wilson, Regent;
Miss Louise G. Lindsley, First Vice Regent; Mrs. A.
M. Shook, Second Vice Regent; Mrs. Mary C. Dorris,
Secretary; Mrs. P. H. Manlove, Treasurer; Miss Car-
rie Sims, Mrs. R. A. Henry, Mrs. Bettie M. Donelson,
Mrs. Maggie L. Hicks.
The following gentlemen have served on the
Board of Trustees:
Ex-Gov. John C Brown;* L. F. Benson;* Ex-Gov.
James D. Porter;* Dr. D. F. Porter,* Memphis; Hon.
Julian A. Trousdale;* Hon. E. S. Mallory,* Jackson;
Gen. John A. Fite, Lebanon; Hon. A. C. Floyd, Chat-
tanooga; Judge H. H. Ingersoll, Knoxville; Gen. W.
H. Jackson;* W. R. French;* Dr. J. Berrien Linds-
ley;* Gen. John F. Wheless;* Judge J. M. Dickinson;
Dr. Thomas A. Atchison;* Hon. James M. Head; Nat
Baxter, Jr.;* Gen. G. P. Thruston;* Gen. J. W. Lewis,
Paris; Percy Warner; Col. A. M. Shook; Hon. John
W. Gaines; John M. Gray, Jr.; Ex-Senator James B.
Frazier, Chattanooga; Hon. Sam G. Heiskell, Knox-
ville; Lewis R. Donelson, Memphis.