The Notorious Madam Shaw: Family slave tells of 1839 scandal inside Catherine Casey's Lexington


Five-year-old slave Andrew Jackson lived in Catherine Casey's household on High Street, between Upper and Mulberry, in 1839. A few years later, John A. Hampton, Evaline Horton, Dorcas Hampton and child slave Jim Powers moved to the northwest corner of Maxwell and Mulberry streets, where they set up home as a family. The two-room house they shared was previously the historic "African Church."

Dorcas (aka The Notorious Madam Shaw) Hampton's conception was a gossip topic in Lexington, Ky., in 1839. The story of her life's beginning is retold by family slave Andrew Jackson in the historical biography of Dorcas Hampton's life, written by Mary Lou Montgomery.

Andrew Jackson was about five years old when he overheard the "old people" talking within Catherine Casey's household on High Street in Lexington.

"Well, it happened that John A. Hampton (Mrs. Casey's nephew) got intimate with (Evaline Horton) while she was there" working as a seamstress for Mrs. Casey, he told a court jury at Hannibal, Mo., in September 1894. (Andrew Jackson testified in order to help Dorcas claim a child's share of her father's estate.)

And so the story of Dorcas Hampton's life began. When Mrs. Casey learned that Evaline was with child, she threw the young apprentice out of her house, Andrew Jackson said. Evaline fled to the home of Mrs. Casey's newly married sister, Melissa Nelson Chevis, where Andrew's grandmother lived.

"When (Evaline) first left Mrs. Casey's she went to Mrs. Chevis's on Main Street and stayed there, well I suppose four or five or six weeks," Andrew testified.

Mr. Chevis forbid John A. Hampton from coming near his house or the impregnated Evaline.

The next thing Andrew knew, John A. Hampton had Evaline - unmarried - in a buggy headed toward her mother's home in Knox County, Ky., where Dorcas was born the following April.

Click here to order The Notorious Madam Shaw in trade paperback or Kindle from Amazon.com

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