After you read it, please try to believe I'm not a nut. Every time I research this, I find something else that fits my hypothesis. At least, in view of the recent "Lincoln" movie, you might have a better understand of who the character of Mrs. Keckley actually was.....At least they gave her a position in the movie. Sadly, they had to put it in terms of what they could understand. She was 10-15 years older than the Lincolns. I do not believe she was in the White House as Mary's dearest confidante because she was having an affair with a White man. They did unnecessarily degrade this historical personality with that representation.
Here's the story and what so far I have found on it. Please put away your belief that everything about historical figures is known and reported on correctly before you read it.
Twenty years ago I was working in Chicago for a gentleman who at that time was the CEO of a rubber company. His background also included being a Medal of Honor winner in WWII! He was quite well to do, some of it family money. Part of my job was assisting him with his family financial matters. Even though he was so wealthy, he was down-to-earth nice. He would laugh and say, "You know I am related to Abraham Lincoln." Now this was funny because this battlefield commission at the Tarawa invasion was awarded to a 19 yr old kld, who was 5' 5" tall, 140 lbs. soaking wet. People would laugh - We would all giggle but really I didn't quite believe him. I thought he was just being funny. However, when his mother passed away, I discovered it was not humor - I found some facts and tried to ask him things further.
After his mother's death, I became tasked with assisting in processing her will which included her birth certificate. Their family farm (oil bearing) was on Lincoln Trail in Vincennes, Ind. I found then her birth name was HANKS. Her birthdate was approx. 1895. Since my boss (Charlie) had really not much interest in the exact relationship, I could get no more information from him. Only, "I don't know, I think it was an great, great uncle, maybe. However, what he thought was funny and he would laugh at and say, "What people don't know or understand is that Abraham was poor but not totally without backing as is believed." " Even back then politicians knew how to accentuate the "positive" that they wanted people to perceive." "Nancy Hanks had married poorly and Lincoln's father was a loss but Nancy Hanks had some family background." It seemed Nancy's actual father, also Charlie's great - grand whatever had owned a plantation.
Now, please, please dont give up on me here.....Charlie said that that plantation had stayed in family hands until he, himself, was a child, saying "I used to play on that same "farm" Lincoln played on when he was a boy." That would mean at least some part of it stayed in the family's hands until the 30's. But Charlie felt the fact that through Nancy Hanks Lincoln had some backing was covered up. (I did read one thing notable during the time this latest movie came out and that was that Lincoln was considered very much a master even then of dealing with the press.)
(Sadly, Charlie passed away then so the next is just what I ran headfirst right into. I do not think Charlie knew this or would have even cared, unless he would turn it into some of his humor.)
I went on several years until I was working at a minority-owned advertising agency and came across I magazine on Black history. Charlie's last name caught my eye and I looked at the article only to find a picture of a black lady ELIZABETH HOBBS KECKLEY. Right there and then I felt I was looking at a strong "family" resemblance to Charlie !!!!! I went back to look just now and the resemblance again and it stays with me. As shown in the movie, Elizabeth was with the Lincoln family all the time in the White House. She was Mary Todd's closest confidant. Why not? I believe she was family. Before the war Elizabeth was born on the Hobbs plantation which was on the west of the White House beside one of the Davis plantations (Jefferson).
If you look at a photograph, Elizabeth is obviously of mixed racial background and recorded as being over 6' tall She could read and write (In that time as a slave?????? She had been taught a trade of dressmaking, which she was good at) (Nancy Hanks was also born in that area as illegitimate and was "assigned the name "Hanks." That's why the last name Hobbs doesn't match). Elizabeth was later sold as a teenager to a man who mistreated her. (I think this was might have been when her father died ((Hobbs the plantation owner)). However, when the other white daughters of Hobbs the plantation owner found out she was being mistreated, they traveled to St. Louis, bought her back and brought her back to their plantation!!!!!! How common was that ???? Then, a year or so as time goes, Elizabeth was able to buy her and her son's freedom. (On her dressmaker's salary! Huh ?) And from there she ended up in the White House with Abraham and Mary Lincoln.
Now, Charlie, never told me about Elizabeth Hobbs. All he said was that the plantation was still in family hands when he was a child and he was told Lincoln had played there also. However, if he was right and Abraham played there as a child, then that's how Abraham knew Elizabeth and that's how Abraham knew she was a loving "family" member who could help him care for Mary Todd.
Elizabeth, during her time in the White House and after, was a regular correspondent of Frederick Douglass. After Lincoln died, she wrote a book, the purpose of which was to defend Mary Todd from the accusations of her insanity. If you read this book, it becomes obvious that Elizabeth was present with the Lincolns during some very intimate conversations. Those kind of moments that a family member might be present for...not just a "dressmaker."
I have never read such a loving book in my life and if you get nothing out of this, I hope you will just read it. Elizabeth was Mary Todd's closest confidante, the reason Elizabeth wrote the book was to tell how Abraham and Mary loved each other and how Mary's soul was damaged so deeply with the deaths she had experienced. However, when Robert Lincoln found out about the book he did everything he could to suppress it. Why? If you read it, you will ask, Really Why? Because a White House staff member wrote a loving book about his parents? I think no!. I think because Robert realized some of the things in that book did not add up. As in why would a dressmaker be living in the White House. Why was she so literate, and why did Mary Todd, start screaming, "Get me Elizabeth" during her worst times. Because she wanted an elder family member who had been through tragedy herself, that's why! And that's why Abraham knowing the loving person Elizabeth was and how fragile Mary Todd was had brought her there. It wasn't to make dresses!
I hope anyone who reads her book of even looks through it lets me know what you think!. I have tried to be brief. I do have more things that tally in regard to the relationship. I have never found any part of this hypothesis that doesn't add up. The last thing that I found in one of Lincoln's biographies was that his grand father was an "aristocratic, educated plantation owner" I'm thinking that's right!
I was pleased they gave Mrs. Keckley a part in the movie. The part in their lives she probably played. However, to cast her as there because she was having an affair with a White man was a disservice. The movie makers probably were trying to figure it out. Elizabeth was at least 10-15 years older than Abraham. She wasn't there because of an affair, she was there because she was part of the family Abraham couldn't bring to the forefront.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I don't know where to correctly assign its topic but it has bothered me for years and I don't know where else to go for help in authenticating it.
Edited by Duncansmom, 01 August 2013 - 08:03 PM.