Susan Hunt - Lady of Pomegranate Hall


Submitted by Annie Smith | Category: General Interest | Published on Jul 26, 2010
 
Abstract:
Pomegranate Hall, built by Judge Nathan Sayre, was the home he shared for many years with Susan Hunt, as noted by Gary B. Nash, an authority on Early American History in his book Forbidden Love.

Exploring women history we discover, in Adele Logan Alexander's book, Ambiguous Lives: Free Women of Color in Rural Georgia, 1789-1879, that Susan Hunt, distant relative of the author Alexander, was a daughter of a Cherokee mother and mulatto father, lived in Pomegranate Hall with the prominent white lawyer and Judge, Nathan Sayre. Though a "mixed-marriage" wasn't legal at the time, Susan and Nathan conceived and raised three children together with Susan and the children essentially "hidden", living in the back three stories of what appeared to be a two-story house.

Pomegranate Hall itself, with its irregularities, perhaps reflects the paradoxical position posed by a free woman of color like Susan Hunt in a time of slavery. As was true of women in general, Ms. Hunt and her children's privileged yet marginal lives were indeed dependent on the influential Judge Sayre, yet their situation was further complicated by their awareness that their very existence was perceived as a threat to the institution of slavery.

To understand Susan Hunt is to be aware that her mixed racial heritage was both a blessing and a curse, creating advantages as well as complications in the nineteen-century South where she undoubtedly lived neither fully in the black nor in the white world.

In Maria Bryan Harford Connell's book, Tokens of affection: the letters of a planter's daughter in the Old South, we come across a note written in October of 1840 from Mt. Zion, a woman named Maria Bryan Harford, writing to Julia Ann Bryan Cumming, makes reference to their wealthy friend Nathan Sayre. Commenting on his public announcement at a recent revival that he had "gotten religion" she notes that he did not publicly share that he had fathered three children with Susan Hunt, and acknowledges that he presented himself to the community as a bachelor despite having his family of color essentially hidden away in a secret suite of rooms at Pomegranate Hall.

It is likely that Susan took on many of the tasks usually left to plantation mistresses, yet also bore some of the duties typically given to slaves.

Yet her children had the good fortune of education and became members of the landowning black middle class.


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