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Mary "Polly" Donelson

Replies: 10

Re: Mary "Polly" Donelson

Posted: 30 Oct 2001 8:02PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 10 Apr 2002 9:40PM GMT
Mary "Polly"Smith was the daughter of General Daniel Smith whom President George Washington appointed Secretary of the Southwest Territory in 1790. He had the finest house in all Nashville. When 13 year old Polly was courted by the Samuel Donelson, Rachel's younger brother, who was somewhat of a cut up, General Smith was in great opposition. When Polly reached 15, General Smith was threatening to send her off to a young ladies' finishing school as she was seeing all too much of that farmer Donelson, as likable a young man that he was. True love won out when a young red headed lawyer who was boarding with the widow Donelson helped Polly elope by climbing down from her second story bedroom window with aid oif the branches of a nearby tree. Samuel and Polly were married at the home of Samuel's sister, Rachel. The defiant young whippersnapper lawyer was Andrew Jackson, newly arrived from the Waxhaws. The General would not forgive Jackson or Samuel or his daughter for years and vehemently cut the offending tree to trhe ground. Only when Samuel and Polly presented him with his first grandson John did his heart soften. Then were born my great grandfather Andrew Jackson Donelson( who was later Jackson's personal secretary in later life, helped the US secure Texas into the Union and ran for Vice president) and Daniel Smith Donelson (who was a general in the Civil war and for whom Fort Donelson was named). The story goes that in 1804 Samuel was killed at a young age on a hunting trip. A young woman needed a husband in those days and Polly remarried a wealthy planter named James Sanders in 1807 but friction developed between the stepfather and his sons, and one day Jackson rode over on his horse, picked up his ten years old godson who wasa being mistreated and took him home to raise, although unofficially, as his own son. Rachel and Jackson were childless and always welcomed children into their warm home, which at that time was a log cabin.I don't know when or if Polly may have married a Mr. Pugh later as your question asks but she lived to a ripe old age.The young military cadet Andrew Jackson Donelson married his cousin Emily Tennessee Donelson who was Rachel's best friend (and her pick to replace if she could not assume the duties of First Lady) When Jackson was elected President.,Rachel died of a heart attack just before Jackson regretfully had to leave his home in Nashville to assume the presidency. Emily became our nation's First Lady In 1828 and, in 1829, Emily and Andrew had the first baby ever born in the White House to any First Lady and they had two children more delivered there during Jackson's presidency for a total of four children. Their baby, born in 1829, they namd Mary Emily. I don't know who she married in later life. but she could well have been called Polly after her grandmoither and could well have married your Joihn Pugh in question. I would like to know any more details you might have and do recommend to you the book Emily Donelson of Tennessee which goes into great detail about the family. It was written by Pauline Wilcox Burke, a descendant. i am also writing a book on our family history and have published for other writers the book, Chalmette: the Battle for New Orleans and How the British Nearly Stole the Louisiana Territory, and the book, Andrew Jackson Donelson: Jackson's Confidant and Political Heir. It is interesting that Andrew Jackson Donelson and Daniel Smith Donelson, though brothers, when the Civil war broke out both stood on bitterly opposing sides. Their grandfather General Daniel Smith and his wife Mary Ann Mitchie had also had two children, Polly (Mary Ann Mitchie Smith) who married Rachel' brother Samuel and George (Colonel George Smith who married who married Rachel's briother John's eldest daughter Tabitha. Thus the Smith and Donelson families were duobly connected as many were on the frontier. It is also interesting that Andrew Jackson Donelson had been asked to be the guardian for Emily's niece Elizabeth Martin when her father, James Glasgow Martin, a physician became ill. Elizabeth's grandmother had also been briefly married in a childless marriage to Rachel's brother, Stockley. There was an awkward situation that Merriwether Lewis Randolph, the grandson of Thomas Jefferson, had begged Dof onelson the hand in marriage of his ward, Elizabeth. Permission was granted although Jefferson and Jackson had been none too friendly Jeffereson had once said it would be the "ruination" of the country" if Jackson were eto be lected. As the years passed Merriwether took Elizabeth with him to an Arkansas outpost, but ill in health, he passed away. When Emily Tennessee Donelson herself succumbed to TB after her arduous duties and such a rapid succession of children, and after a good period of grieving, Andrew Jackson Donelson took his ward Elizabeth as his wife. She had been a best friend to Emily and was felt best suited to raise Andrew Jackson Donelson's four motherless children. Elizabeth Martin Randolph Donelson, my great grandmother bore Donelson seven more children, Her life was to be far from easy.She was riding with her husband and Jackson on a mission in Washington, when the carriage in which they were riding overturned, an injury from which Jackson never recovered and she stood watch at Jackson's deathbed. She suffered through the dangerous absences of her husband's missions to Texas, with nearby Mexico threatening War, and she accompanied him when he served as U.S. ambassador in Berlin (where several of their children were also born amid tense times and bullets in the street during the Russian Revolution. She suffered with him, when as editor of the Washington Union newspapere, he tried his best, as taught by Jackson, to preserve our country's precious union which John C. Calhoun and others were so vigorously pulling apart as the Civil War brewed and stirred. She comforted him as he unsuccessfully ran for Vice President on the American Party with Millard Fillmore. She saw him depressed when their cotton lands were stolen and he was put in jail, alternately both by the North and the South, and when, during the conflagration, two of their sons were needlessly killed. He died in 1871 resigned to fate knowing he had tried his best and my great grandmother, Elizabeth Martin Donelson, his patient supporter, followed him in a few years. written by Andrew Jackson Donelson, Jr. Forgive me for going on but this was a good exercise to practice for my book..If you wish to contact me, my e-mail is jadonel@aol.com
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Nancy 15 Jul 2000 4:35PM GMT 
VHULL 31 Jul 2000 3:22PM GMT 
jadonel 31 Oct 2001 3:39AM GMT 
VivianHull 31 Oct 2001 12:22PM GMT 
Sophrona 15 Jan 2006 4:41AM GMT 
Vivian Hull 15 Jan 2006 1:55PM GMT 
jadonel 31 Oct 2001 3:02AM GMT 
Theresa Roger... 23 Mar 2005 11:30PM GMT 
Nancy 27 Mar 2005 11:53PM GMT 
morocco2 28 Mar 2005 5:31PM GMT 
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