Portrait of Mauma Mollie


Mauma, a Partridge family slave, was transported to South Carolina on a slave ship from Africa. She came to Jefferson County, Florida with John and Eliza Partridge in the 1830s, and was Frances Weston Partridge’s nurse. Henry Edward Partridge recorded in his diary in 1873: “We buried either in 57 or 58 our faithful old ‘Mauma’ Mollie – her who had nursed nearly all of the children of the family; been a friend as well as faithful servant to my Mother; in whose cabin we had often eaten the homely meal of fried bacon & ash cake and where we always had welcome and sympathy and whom we loved as a second mother. Black of skin but pure of heart, she doubtless stands among the faithful on the right of the King.” “Mammies” were a central aspect of the cultural memory of slavery in the American South and the mythology of race relations. While the image shows a slave who was beloved by the family that owned her and who in remembrance was considered a member of the family, it gives no insight into Mollie’s interior life. Neither portrait nor diary entry give any insight into what she thought of the quality of her life or about her servitude, or other aspects of her private life, such as whether she had a spouse or children.

Last updated: November 18, 2014