Yesterday, AAHGS Nashville partnered with Andrew Jackson’s The Hermitage for a day of education to help individuals with preserving their family histories. The event was held at Tulip Grove Mansion, a Greek-revival home built between 1834-1836 by Andrew Jackson Donelson, the nephew of the President’s wife (Rachel Donelson) and adopted son and heir of President & Mrs. Jackson.
The Jackson family owned and enslaved many individuals on this property, thus, it is highly important that activities such as the one we had yesterday, are held to help ensure that we promote the ongoing research and documentation of individuals of African ancestry. In doing so, we help ensure their stories are not forgotten.
The day started with a presentation by yours truly, during which I shared information on the many options available for documenting family history research through building family trees. Whether you document your family history on paper forms, using computer-based genealogy software, or web-based programs (such as collaborative family trees), it is important that the family stories & details are documented. The presentation slides are available online.
Marsha Mullin, Vice President of Collections & Research & Chief Curator at The Hermitage, gave a highly educational talk about the enslaved population there. During President Jackson’s time at the residence, he enslaved hundreds of individuals with most of the enslaved having been born on site. When he passed in 1845, the property and the enslaved were passed on to his son Andrew Jr. Over the subsequent years, many of the enslaved were sent to other parts of the country, such as Kentucky, to work at an ironworks that Andrew Jr. purchased, or were deeded to Andrew Jr.’s son, Samuel, down in Louisiana.
Marsha described the records that have been gathered to help tell the story of the Hermitage’s enslaved and the work being done to identify descendant families. For example, this family documented in 1870 in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, shows the household of Thornton Nichols (spelling varies). The household includes a 100-year-old male, who is believed to be named Polidore.
The names of Thornton, Polidore (age 100), Sally, and Augustine all match a known enslaved family unit that was deeded by Andrew Jackson Jr. to his son Samuel Jackson in Louisiana. Samuel Jackson Jr. left Louisiana to join the Civil War and died in 1861. Further research and investigation are needed on Thornton and his family.
The 3rd session of the day was presented by genealogist Sue Forshee Cooper, who shared tips and strategies for the genealogy research process. Sue provided attendees with useful websites to use, approaches for courthouse research, and guidance for how to think outside the box when seeking records.
Additionally, photograph scanning and document preservation experts were on site as well to further aid in the family history process. Many thanks to all the attendees who came out to spend the day with us!