Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 1: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born in February 1818 in Dinwiddle, Virginia in the United States.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 2: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born into slavery in the Dinwiddle County Court House. Her mother was called Agnes, she was nicknamed 'Aggy' for short. She was owned by slave masters Armistead and Mary Burwell.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 3: Her mother Aggy was considered a 'privileged slave' as she had been educated. It was illegal to teach slaves how to read and write during these times.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 4: She didn't find out who her father was until her mother was dying. This was because her father was in fact her master, Armistead Burwell. He was a white man and Elizabeth's features made it obvious that her father was likely to be white.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 5: Her mother married a slave who lived nearby with his master. Her new step-father was called George Pleasant Hobbs. He too, was an educated slave who was able to read and write. George Pleasant Hobbs' master moved away, taking George with him and therefore, separating him from his wife Aggy and her daughter.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 6: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was treated cruelly by her slave masters. She was made to work from the age of four looking after other children. Armistead and Mary Burwell had four children and Elizabeth was assigned to care for the smallest child Elizabeth Margaret. Mary Burwell would punish her if she felt she'd done something wrong.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 7: At the age of 14, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was sent with her master's eldest son Robert to Chesterfield County in Virginia. Robert married Margaret Anna Robertson who took a dislike to Elizabeth and made her life hell. She asked a neighbor called William J. Bingham to subdue the girl.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 8: When she was 18 years of age, William J. Bingham asked her to undress so that could beat her. She refused to do so saying that he was not her master and that he had no right. He bound her hands regardless and beat her. He carried out the same brutal act week upon week, for several weeks. One day he suddenly broke down and asker for her forgiveness for it would be a sin to continue beating her.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 9: During her time in Chesterfield County, she suffered even more so at the hands of others as a white man called Alexander M. Kirkland decided to take advantage of her by forcing her into a relationship. Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley gave birth to his son in 1839 who was named George after her stepfather.Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 13: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley began working for the Lincolns at the White House. She first met Mary Todd Lincoln in 1861. Elizabeth took over the design of Mary's wardrobe and they became friends. Elizabeth comforted Mary after the assassination of the President and a short time later, she accompanied her to Chicago for a three week period before returning home. Their friendship fell apart in later years following the disclosure of letters that were written to Elizabeth Keckley, although not agreed by Elizabeth, the letters were still published.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 10: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was returned to Virginia to slave owners Ann Burwell Garland and her husband. She was reunited with her mother Aggy who also served the Garland family. The Garland's moved many times, each time taking Elizabeth and Aggy with them to sew and care for their children.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 11: The Garland family eventually settled in St. Louis which gave Elizabeth Keckley the opportunity to speak to free blacks in the community; this gave her inspiration and hope of one day breaking free from slavery.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 12: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley met a man called James who she would eventually marry, however, she refused to do so until she and her son were freed from slavery. Elizabeth asked her master Hugh Garland if they could be freed. He initially refused but agreed to do so, two years later, for the purchase price of $1200. With the help of people she knew in St. Louis, she managed to collate enough money to purchase their freedom. She remained in St Louis to pay off her debts.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 14: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley fell into financial difficulty which forced her to sell 35 Lincoln articles. She had kept the articles for 35 years and sold them at the price of $250. It is believed that Elizabeth and Mary Lincoln managed to reconcile their friendship years later.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley Fact 15: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley died at the age of 89 in Washington D.C. She was a resident of the National Home in Euclid St. NW. in Washington, D.C.
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