Mary Ann Eastin was 12 yrs old when her mother Rachael Donnelson Eastin died. Her father William let her and 3 of her siblings go with their maternal grandparents to be raised. The Grandparents were John & Mary Purnell Donelson. John Donelson's house, known as "The Mansion" was large and commodious. It was 12 miles from Nashville, TN.
Mary Ann Eastin and her aunt Emily Donelson who was close in age, were sent off to boarding school at the Nashville Female Academy, on of the leading instructions of learning in the South. The two girls were well taught in all the finer things in life, except dancing, for that was a sin.
During the holidays Mary Ann and Emily spent many weeks at the nearby Hermitage with Rachel and Andrew Jackson who made great pets of them. There the saw many important people and listened to them talk.
In 1829, Andrew Jackson became President and Rachel died at the Hermitage on the eve of his inauguration. Thus it came about the little Emily, now wife of he cousin Andrew Donelson, Secretary to the President, went to Washington in the President's Party to become Mistress of the White House. Of course, Mary Ann Eastin was invited to go with her.
Because of Mary Ann Eastin's place in the heart of Uncle Jackson, great interest was aroused by the report that her affections had settled upon a naval officer nearly twice her age. That this lively young beauty was to become an "old man's darling" was a suprise indeed. Mary's uncle, Andrew Donelson, promptly notified the Coffee family. When the news penetrated Columbia, TN, where lived Lucius J. Polk ( a cousin of James K. Polk), the young man's heart had a sudden attack of palpitaiton, for some time before he had met Mary at the Hermitage, and with him it had been a case of love at first sight; and now belatedly realizing that faint heart never won fair lady, he summoned his courage and took the next stagefor Washington.
Wheter the sight of this younger beau from her own home country, or other considerations, caused Mary to exercise the everlasting privilege of a woman to chane her mind, is not known; but change it did, and the bridal outfit for a naval wedding was put to civilian use. Almost up to the last minute Jckson apparently hd doubts about what Mary Ann Eastin finally would do.
On the evening of April 10th, 1832, the President led Mary Ann Eastin up the length of the East Room to an improvised altar, where, in the presence of numerous friends, she plighted her troth to Lucius Junius Polk, of TN.
A few days later the Globe carried this notice: "Married In this city at the President's on the evening of the 10th inst. by the Rev'd Mr. Hawley, Mr Lucius Junius Polk of TN to Miss Mary Ann Eastin"
Jackson suffered a tug at the heartstrings as Lucius Polk carried this favorite nicece back to TN as a bride. He had known her as a little girl much about the Hermitage, for she had gone to the nearby Mansion to live after the death of her mother, Rachael Donelson Eastin; and the motherless little one had won the affections of both Uncle and Aunt Jackson who had become especially fond of her.
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