As we awaited the arrival of the remainder of our order of shingles for the Stone House roof, this article was published in our summer 2022 newsletter. It addresses the people depicted in the painting of the Stone House by Mr. Joe Gainer. When Mr. Gainer expressed an interest in including human figures in the painting, he consulted with Executive Director & Curator, Byron Smith, on what would be appropriate to depict. Mr. Smith shared what he knew about Henry Jackson and the enslaved African Americans who lived in his household. He also called attention to paintings by early nineteenth-century American genre artists such as John Lewis Krimmel, Francis William Edmonds, and William Sidney Mount. Mr. Gainer worked with Mr. Smith to portray a scene that would be typical of what might have appeared to a viewer on the west side of Main Street looking at the Stone House in the spring of 1830.
In the center of the group of figures is a Caucasian man with his back to the viewer. This figure is Mr. Gainer’s interpretation of what Henry Jackson, the owner of the Stone House, may have looked like in 1830. He is handing a ring of keys to the African American woman to the right. This female figure is Mr. Gainer’s depiction of Winney, an enslaved African American woman whom Henry Jackson would manumit, or free from slavery, upon his death in 1833. We will focus more on Winney shortly. The running figures on the left side of the painting are neighborhood Caucasian children who are chasing a chicken in the street in hopes of catching it, and returning it to their home property. They are not depictions of any particular boy and girl who lived in town during that year of 1830. They are included to help the viewer of the painting get a sense of a scene that would have been ordinary on Main Street in the town at that time. Now it is rare to have a chicken loose in town, but it did happen on the 7th of January 2019, when we found one running in the yard next to the museum. (See photo below.)
On the far right of the painting, there is another enslaved African American depicted next to a freight wagon. He is carrying a full bag over his shoulder and upper back. As we state in our website article on Henry Jackson, the 1830 census shows that he claimed ownership of a total of eight enslaved people. When Henry Jackson died in 1833, the number had reached to at least twelve, not including the enslaved women’s youngest children. They included women named Winney (depicted in the painting), Vine (Lavina), Henrietta, Jane, and Hannah. Winney had a girl named Anna Samenta, Vine had a son named Enoch, Hannah had an unnamed baby daughter, and Jane also had an unnamed child. There were also young men named John and William (called “Bill” and about sixteen at the time), and boys named Hiram (a mulatto), Legrand or “Lee” (a mulatto), Lewis, and Anthony. Upon Henry Jackson’s death he freed his “servant boy” John and gave Hiram and Lee to his friend Simon Carson with the stipulation that these young men should be freed at age twenty-one. Lewis, Anthony, and Bill were given to Henry Jackson’s nephew Andrew Shannon Longacre. Vine and Jane, along with their children, were given to his niece Evaline Longacre Watson who would later marry Jacob Mytinger, the next owner of the Stone House Property. Henrietta, Hannah, and Hannah’s daughter were given to Jackson’s other niece Sarah Longacre. Henry Jackson did not acknowledge any children in his will, but it is evident that he sincerely cared for John, Hiram, and Legrand. This figure in the painting carrying the bag could represent any of the older enslaved males in Henry Jackson’s household at that time.
As stated in Henry Jackson’s will, Winney and her daughter Anna were also freed upon his death and given the “red house” next door on Lot 47, where 5436 Main Street is located today. Henry Jackson also directed that Winney be allowed to select all that she needed from among Jackson’s household furnishings before they were auctioned off so that Winney could “comfortably” outfit her new home. Winney used her freedom to marry a man named Abraham Ball and move to Shenandoah County. By 1840 Winney was leasing the Red House on lot 47 to a tenant for a small rent, and in 1841 she and her husband sold it for $350.00 so that they could purchase farmland for themselves. Every picture tells a story. See our other pages on this website to learn more about Henry Jackson’s household and the other owner of the Stone House.