Andrew Johnson's Family Life

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

A look at the belongings of a Presidential family

Returning to Greeneville
The Johnson family had a great deal of work to do on their Homestead when they returned from Washington. The family had left the house during the years of the Civil War and did not return until following Andrew's presidency. The house had been occupied by soldiers of both sides who left graffiti on the walls and a general state of disrepair in their wake. As the family began to think about their return home, they bought many new furnishings from Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Their widowed daughter, Mary, preceded the others home to establish the household. Johnson bought a Steinway piano for each of his daughters. The one pictured here belonged to Martha. It sits in the parlor of the Homestead.

The Parlor

Andrew Johnson's favorite overstuffed chair - this chair sits in the parlor by the fireplace.

The President's Bedroom. The furnishings in Andrew Johnson's bedroom are as uncompromising and substantial as the man himself.

The elaborate quilt on Andrew Johnson's bed was made by a relative of the builder of the house.

This unique newspaper/periodical holder is a favorite artifact with visitors. Notice Johnson's initials carved on the front.

Johnson straight-edge razor still sits tucked beside the wash-basin beside his bed.

In Eliza's bedroom
A few of Mrs. Johnson's treasures follow ~ including this sewing bird. By pressing on the bird's tail, the beak would open and hold material. The bird perches on a purple velvet pincushion. Embroidery work, scrap-booking, and reading poetry were some of Eliza's favorite past times.

Mrs. Johnson suffered from tuberculosis for many years. She spent a great deal of time in this recliner, then referred to as an invalid's chair.

One of the oldest pieces in the house, this clock was a gift to Mrs. Johnson from her mother.

The Watkins prints
Johnson owned four of the 1862 Carlton Emmons Watkins photographs of Yosemite ~ his photographs helped inspire President Lincoln to set aside Yosemite as protected land. This one hangs in the upstairs hallway of the Homestead.

This ornate Masonic frame also hangs in the upstairs hallway. Andrew Johnson was a 32nd degree Mason. On June 20, 1867, in the White House, Johnson had degrees four - thirty two conferred upon him.

We wonder what Andrew Johnson, a former tailor who had sewn everything by hand, thought of this early Wheeler and Wilson sewing machine. It was given to Martha Johnson Patterson, Johnson's daughter, while she was serving as her father's White House hostess.

Martha also owned this beautiful earring/necklace set. They came as a gift from Mrs. Polk when Martha was a student at Georgetown.

In the Dining Room
The Johnson family used the Lincoln china in the White House. At home, they had their own pattern. This is the Lyons design by Hulse and Adderly.

"The President's Home" is etched on the side of this ruby-ware mug.

An E.N. Welch clock embellished with symbolism from the Civil War kept time on the Dining Room mantel.

This chafing dish kept food warm. Eliza was said to keep this in her room at the White House, where she would keep "tea" warm for herself and her husband.

The Kitchen is in the basement of the Homestead.

The Johnson kitchen was filled with cast iron cookware, pie safe, and other implements from the era. This Thomas Chandler crock is a item of note among pottery collectors today.

In later years
Andrew Johnson remains the only President to return to Washington as a United States Senator. He took his possessions with him in this trunk, now on display at the Homestead. It has a misspelled "Greenville, TN" on the side. Johnson attended one special session of Congress in March 1875, and gave one speech. He died that June from a stroke.
The funeral wreath
When Andrew Johnson died, the people turned out for his funeral. They considered him the "Courageous Commoner." The funeral wreath contained white lilies and roses. All that is left today are some of the boxwood greenery and the white ribbons which summed up the people's philosophy. "The People's Friend. He Sleepeth."

The presidential monument and family burial plot in the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery

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Images courtesy of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site

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