Follow the walk back to the gate where you will see a path leading to the area behind the house. In a little metal box on a post you will find pamphlets called "Beyond The Mansion." These will guide you through the walking tour including a diagram of the grounds. We will cover some of that information here as well as some additional facts that we've discovered.
Research speaks well of President Jackson's treatment of the slaves on his property. So much so that slaves that he 'freed' refused to leave. When President Jackson returned in 1830, for his first visit since his presidential election, the slaves crowded around him and wept with joy that he was home. Because of his leniency it would take time following his departure to get the slaves back in "working order."
Yard Cabins & Triplex
No longer standing are three slave quarters which had stood to the left as you walk out of the fence from the mansion. This is the area that began the working plantation area.
- To the right were two homes 20 x 40 feet in size. Slaves dug up clay on the property to produce bricks used in the mansion and their own homes. Each slave family was given one room for living space, equipped with a fireplace for heating and cooking.
Uncle Alfred's Cabin
Alfred Jackson was born into slavery at the Hermitage around 1812. He married Gracey, another slave and seamstress on the property. He stayed on as caretaker and even tour guide following the takeover by the Ladies Hermitage Association in 1889. In 1901, he was laid to rest, at his own request, near the tomb where President & Mrs. Jackson now lie. He wanted to remain close to the President just as he had in life.
Uncle Alfred's cabin is the only slave quarters that still remain on the Hermitage property. Following the state of Tennessee's enactment of the emancipation amendment to it's constitution in January 1865, Uncle Alfred went on living with the Jackson's for "freedom" meant nothing to him. Even when it was taken over by the LHA, he still remained and to eject him from the property was never a consideration.
The area which once included other livestock and vegetable gardens that fed the inhabitants of the Hermitage property. Today vegetables are grown there that would've been grown in Jackson's day. Livestock also now inhabit the pasture. You will also see a small patch of cotton growing which is rarely seen today.
Just past the pasture were four cabins. In 1840, these served as homes for at least five slave families. These are now being restored for future tours by various sponsors. The one to the left, originally served as residence to Andrew & Rachel Jackson prior to the construction of the Mansion. It was originally two stories high, but the lower floor was removed and the upper level brought lower prior to the slave families moving in. The other building was a kitchen and slave quarters.
Gin House and Press
As you continue down the path another cabin stood as well as a ginhouse and press, the overseers quarters and a well. All of which are now gone. In this area cotton was processed and sent via boat to New Orleans, weaving and blacksmithing also was done. Two hundred yards further down this path (at the bend in the road) are the remains of the foundation which were quarters to the field slaves.
Built in 1940 by the Ladies Hermitage Association the Cabin-By-The-Spring has two rooms and a kitchen which is equipped for simple cooking. Annual Spring and Fall Outings are held here by the Association. Members of the Ladies Hermitage Association have the privilege of utilizing the cabin for entertaining upon application to the Director and providing a small fee.
Spring in Stone
Following the construction of the log house to live in, Andrew Jackson enclosed the spring in stone so Rachel could keep milk and butter cold. This was utilized as the main source of water for everyone on the grounds. The spring still flows today.