One of many souvenir plates sold by Andrew Johnson's great-granddaughter to pay the upkeep of his house.
One of many souvenir plates sold by Andrew Johnson's great-granddaughter to pay the upkeep of his house.

Johnson Family Gallery

Field review by the editors.

Greeneville, Tennessee

Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States, has a bad reputation among modern historians. However, visitors won't find much naysaying in the Johnson Family Gallery of the Greeneville Greene County Museum. Here Johnson will always be his hometown's favorite son, an American success story who rose from humble beginnings to the White House.

The museum features several exhibits about the Johnson Family slaves.
The museum features several exhibits about the Johnson Family slaves.

Much of the museum's collection came from the estate of Margaret Johnson Patterson Bartlett, Johnson's last surviving direct descendent, who was a tireless booster of her great-grandfather. Museum director Betty Fletcher told us that after Bartlett died in 1992, the museum was given two hours to take whatever Johnson relics it wanted from her home.

Several exhibits in the Family Gallery showcase "the other Johnson family," meaning Andrew Johnson's slaves. "Even though former President Andrew Johnson was opposed to the institution of slavery, he was a slaveholder," explains one display, concisely conveying Johnson's uncanny ability to straddle a problem and please absolutely nobody.

Bed from the home where Andrew Johnson died is probably not his death bed.
Bed from the home where Andrew Johnson died is probably not his death bed.

The museum has a complete, and possibly unique, collection of color-coded tickets to the six days of Johnson's Impeachment trial, and a bed from the house of his daughter, where he died in 1875. We asked Betty: is it Johnson's death bed? Probably not, she answered, and recalled a time she received a phone call from someone asking the same question. "Do you claim it's the death bed?" the caller asked. "No," she answered. "Good," the caller replied, "then I'll claim my bed is the death bed" (There are apparently several competing death beds in the area).

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Also see: Tributes to a Traitor President

Johnson Family Gallery

Greeneville Green County Museum

Address:
101 W. McKee St., Greeneville, TN
Directions:
Greeneville Green County Museum. South side of town, on the southwest corner of S. Main and W. McKee Sts.
Hours:
Tu-Sa 11-4 (Call to verify)
Phone:
423-636-1558
Admission:
$3 suggested donation
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Bronze Andrew JohnsonBronze Andrew Johnson, Greeneville, TN - < 1 mi.
Andrew Johnson's Backwards BirthplaceAndrew Johnson's Backwards Birthplace, Greeneville, TN - < 1 mi.
Andrew Johnson National Historic SiteAndrew Johnson National Historic Site, Greeneville, TN - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Metal Man Riding a Pig-Dog, Asheville, NC - 42 mi.

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May 26, 2018

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