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  --  1825--1900   Table of Contents     MARY CATHERINE WINDSOR
  --  1830--1914

Brown, Hallie Q.
Homespun heroines



Mrs. Caroline Sherman Andrews-Hill was born in "middle Tennessee," Columbia County, September 16, 1829, of slave parents.

Her father was a man of great strength of character and, as often was the case in what is called "slavery days," was foreman of his master's plantation. Her mother was also a favored and highly esteemed member of her owner's household, having under her training many younger women and girls of her people.

The young Caroline early gave evidence of unusual intelligence and aptness to learn both her duties as a little nurse-maid about the house, and also of letters, for it was found that at a very tender age she was learning "by heart" the lessons she heard conned by her white charges. Prompt measures were taken to prevent her progress in book learning by removing her from the proximity of the schoolroom when her nurselings were reciting their lessons.

In 1843 the Sherman family--the masters--moved from Mississippi to Arkansas bringing the subject of our sketch with them. The family "settled" on a large plantation some eight or nine miles east of Little Rock then but a village, though styled the "Capital" of the state.

Here the young Caroline grew into young womanhood, and in 1848 was married to Rev. William Wallace Andrews, who, though a slave, had the unusual advantages of a good education and great freedom of personal self-direction for the day and times. Upon his marriage, Mr. Andrews was allotted a comfortable dwelling through the liberal kindness

of his owners, and, by their aid in his application to his wife's owners, who were not his owners, his wife was allowed to "hire" her time, that is to become her own employer, and, by paying her owners the same wages per month which they could have gotten by hiring her to some white person, she was allowed to live in the home provided by her husband.

So energetic, shrewd and prudent in industry and management was this remarkable young woman, that for fifteen years she earned and paid the greater part of her wages monthly, clothed and fed a family of growing children, furnishing all medical attendance needed from time to time at her own expense, and in the last few years of this period paying house rent besides.

Her husband was able to lend but little financial assistance at this time to his wife and family, on account of the close confinement to his home duties of chief steward and butler in his owner's household.

This noble-spirited couple did not allow the strenuous task of their own family life to render them narrow and selfish, but both united in striving to brighten the lives of their fellows in bondage by inviting the less fortunate to come to their freer home and there hold prayer meetings, class-service and Sunday school.

In the last named service Mr. Andrews used every opportunity possible to teach not only the word of God by hearing but taught many eager friends to actually read the printed page. While his devoted wife comforted and aided the young mothers in the care of their little ones by both word and deed.

The glorious Emancipation Proclamation of the immortal Lincoln freed this noble couple from the shackles of slavery which, resting never so lightly, are yet insupportable to the free, exalted spirit of a man or a woman.

Immediately Mr. and Mrs. Andrews set the good example to the newly liberated people about them to "own a piece of land." This was her earnest and constant exhortation

to friends and neighbors--"Go down into the soil."

The Rev. Andrews, immediately upon freedom's coming to the people of Little Rock, opened a school in the Methodist Church of which he was in charge. To this school Mrs. Andrews went along with her children as did many other grown-ups. Her burning desire was to learn to read and write fluently, for the pressing needs of her situation had not allowed her to make much use of her husband's desire and willingness to teach her.

She preserved at home and at school (by long intervals in the latter) until she could read fluently and could write her name.

In 1866 she was bereft of her noble and devoted husband who died at his post while holding his presiding elder's quarterly meeting in Pine Bluff, Ark.

This sad blow was followed seven weeks later by the loss of her only son, a promising youth of sixteen years of age.

From the almost utter prostration of grief and desolation into which these unspeakable losses plunged her, Mrs. Andrews arose in the strength given her by her heavenly Father in whom she implicitly trusted and by dint of industry, thrift and resolute effort succeeded in finishing the purchase of the home which she and her husband had contracted to buy.

She believed in "Schooling," and always urged parents to send their children to school regularly and as long as possible. She lived to see her daughter teach in her (the daughter's) native city for more than thirty-five years.

Mrs. Andrews became Mrs. Ohmer Hill in 1867, and she with her husband continued to wield a wide influence for good in their community by lives of earnest, honest industry, their example of thrift, and their earnest Christian spirit and deeds of benevolence to all about them.

Mrs. Hill was especially esteemed for her great-hearted warmth of love for all who came to her. She was indeed a child of God and an heir of salvation. Her grandchildren,

six of whom she helped to bring up to young manhood and womanhood, all loved her devotedly and considered her a fount of love and comfort in time of stress and of wisdom and counsel in every dilemma.

She passed peacefully and triumphantly into the Mansions Above, Sunday, November 25, 1914, full of days, honor and blessings.


  --  1825--1900   Table of Contents     MARY CATHERINE WINDSOR
  --  1830--1914