- Jan 24, 2017
Jeremiah Smith, long time White House employee.
"Jeremiah Smith was a free Negro, born in Anne Arundel County, MD in 1835. Very little is known of him, except that he grew into an imposing figure of manhood, with the manners of a courtier.
During the Civil War, he served as a teamster in the Union Army, where perhaps he made the acquaintance of General Grant.
Then he obtained a position in the Grant White House.
Smith was first engaged as a White House footman, and accompanied Mrs. Grant on her rounds of “calls,” a popular tradition in Washington for several decades. Dressed in his finest navy blue livery with silver trim, it was his responsibility to help the First Lady from the carriage and escort her to the door of whichever home she was visiting. If the lady was “at home,” he would wait until Mrs. Grant was ready to leave (about fifteen minutes), and then escort her back to the carriage. If the lady was not “at home,” Jerry would take Mrs. G’s calling card from a silver case, and leave it with whoever answered the door.
Julia Grant was a genuinely nice lady, and took a somewhat maternal interest in all the servants. When the Grants were in the White House, Washington real estate prices were low, and some “affordable housing” was available for the newly freed Negroes. Julia strongly urged all her Negro servants to purchase these houses as insurance for their old age: they would always have a place to live.
Jerry Smith was slow to respond to Mrs. Grant’s urging, and she became worried about the footman she had grown to like. She is said to have scolded him, adding that if he did not make arrangements to purchase a house immediately, she would buy one for him, and withhold some of his monthly wages to pay for it.
Jerry bought the house".
“Official Duster” Jerry Smith, photographed in 1889 by Frances G. Johnston
The link provides more on Jeremiah's story, telling of the impressive man he was. This thread is as much about him as it is about Julia Grant.
Edit: To include inverted commas (") for the piece which is taken from the link provided.