Elizabeth Hutchison Jackson

by Louise Pettus

On Aug. 11, 1824, in the midst of his first, and unsuccessful, campaign for the presidency, Andrew Jackson took time to write a letter to James H. Witherspoon of Lancaster District, his birthplace.

After thanking Witherspoon for inviting him to campaign in South Carolina, Jackson answered an important question that Witherspoon put to him: the exact spot of his birth. Jackson replied, "I was born in South Carolina, as I have been told at the plantation whereon James Crawford lived about one mile from the Carolina road of the Waxhaw Creek, left that state in 1784, was born on the 15 of March in the year 1767." In spite of Jackson's clear statement of his birthplace, the controversy thrives.

Jackson's letter to Witherspoon had more to it. He thanked Witherspoon for information on the place north of Charleston where Andrew's mother, Elizabeth Hutchison, died while nursing her nephews aboard a British prison ship.

Jackson wrote: "I knew she died near Charleston, having visited that City with several matrons to afford relief to our prisioners with the British - not her son as you suppose, for at that time my two Elder brothers were no more; but two of her Nephews, William and Joseph Crawford Sons of James Crawford then deceased. I well recollect one of the matrons that went with her was Mrs. Boyd. It if possible Mrs. Barton can inform me where she was buried that I can find her grave. This to me would be great satisfaction, that I might collect her bones and inter them with that of my father and brothers."

Andrew Jackson's father and brothers were buried in the Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church cemetery in upper Lancaster district near Jackson's birthplace.

Agnes Barton (1767-1846) was located and interviewed on the subject of Elizabeth Jackson's burial place. She had come to the Waxhaws when Andy Jackson was two years old, but during the Revolutionary War, she and her husband, a carpenter, went to Charleston and settled in the suburbs of that city. When Elizabeth Jackson became ill with ship's fever she was taken into Mrs. Barton's home and nursed. When she died, Mrs. Barton dressed the corpse in her own best dress. Mr. Barton constructed the casket. They buried her on a hillock in a simple unmarked grave.

James H. Witherspoon wrote back to Jackson: "I have examined Mrs. Barton on that subject, (she lives in one mile of me). She states that if it was in her power to point to the spot she would fondly do so; as well as she remembers...your Mother was buried in the suburbs of Charleston, about one mile from what was then called the Governor's Gate, which is in and about the forks of the Meeting and Kingstree Roads. Mrs. Barton states that your Mother was buried by her Husband, and two men of the name of Hood's from the Waxhaws one of them is now dead, the other is living on Beaver Creek. Mrs. B. is of the opinion that after as long a time of nearly fifty years, she would have no knowledge of the particular Spot; but she is of the Opinion that Mr. Hood can point to the place for he has frequently in conversation with Mrs. B. told her, that he has often noticed the little House where they all lived in passing to Charleston in his Wagon, and spoke of your mother etc."

Witherspoon promised to go see Hood who lived some 12 or 15 miles from him.

Andrew Jackson never fulfilled his wish to find the bones of his mother and place them beside his father and brother's graves. Not until 1949 was there a marker to Mrs. Jackson placed in the Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Cemetery. It was by the efforts of Mrs. Fred C. Lawrence, who headed Winthrop College's extension division and was the regent of the Catawba Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, that a sculpted figure was located.

The soft youthful features of the memorial statue surely do no resemble Elizabeth Hutchison Jackson, who was described by Susannah Smartt as a "fresh- looking, fair-haired, very conversive old Irish lady, at dreadful enmity with the Indians!" but the statue, nevertheless, is a lovely tribute to the spirit of love and sacrifice that motivated Andy Jackson's mother to travel far from home to nurse smallpox victims in the midst of a terrible war.

©Louise Pettus, 1999