Hermitage in Davidson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
The Hermitage Overseer
Between Two Worlds
Hermitage archaeologists consider this area a likely location for the overseer's dwelling, based on recovered household debris and its central location between two of the three slave quarters at The Hermitage.
I am pleased that you found all well at The Hermitage and that Mr. Steel has done his duty and has treated my negroes humanely. So long as he treats my negroes well,
Hiring the overseer
When Andrew Jackson and Andrew Jackson Donelson left for Washington in January 1829, they contracted with Graves Steele to be the overseer for both The Hermitage and Donelson's plantation for the next year. For managing both plantations, they would pay him $600.00 in a lump sum at the end of the year.
...Andrew Jackson and Andrew J. Donelson have employed the said [Graves] Steele to oversee their negroes and manage the affairs of their plantations during the year 1829, and a such have placed him in possession of the working tools, the horses & stock of ever description, and whatsoever else appertains to the land as necessary to its cultivation and protection, with obligations to bestow upon them the attention & care usually expected from the most faithful, diligent and industrious overseers. And further the
In November, Jackson wrote an angry letter to Steele berating him for his bad management: ...an overseer is accountable to his employer for all losses sustained through his neglect...Therefore you see the necessity of forwarding to me...a full account of your guardianship with the loss of my property, & with the cause that has lead to it.
Despite his distress, Jackson rehired Steele for another three years.
This map of the northern half of the Hermitage property was filed with the deed when the property was sold in 1870. It uses the mansion, the cotton gin, and a “dwelling” that may have been the overseer's home as reference points.
The people below are standing on the porch of a building we call the “North Cabin” which fell to ruins before the Ladies' Hermitage Association acquired this part of Jackson's farm. Located just north of the First Hermitage, it was a log building covered in clapboards. It is the same house as noted on the map.
We have no image of any of the Hermitage overseers. This photo from an unidentified plantation shows an overseer on horseback watching the work of the
Erected by The Hermitage Foundation.
Location. 36° 13.081′ N, 86° 36.693′ W. Marker is in Hermitage, Tennessee, in Davidson County. Marker is on Field Quarter Trail. Click for map. The marker is on the Field Quarter Trail at The Hermitage. Marker is in this post office area: Hermitage TN 37076, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Determined Resistance (within shouting distance of this marker); The North Cabin (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Ginning and Pressing "King Cotton" (about 300 feet away); Field Quarter Trail (about 300 feet away); The First Hermitage (about 400 feet away); The Hermitage Landscape (about 400 feet away); A Future President's Home (about 400 feet away); Cabin-by-the-Spring (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Hermitage.
Categories. • African Americans • Agriculture • Anthropology •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 176 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.