Jemison Land & Cattle Company

 "This web site is a tribute to the American Cotton Farmer, the last eight generations of Jemison cotton farmers, the Jemison Family and a special tribute to Lynn Hawkins Jemison co-owner of Jemison Land & Cattle Company."      

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Jemison History

Business Hall of Fame
Elbert S. Jemison
Elbert S. Jemison, Jr.
Jemison Mansion
Mary Jemison
Robert Jemison, Jr.
Science Hall of Fame
Sports Hall of Fame
William Jemison
William T. Van de Graaff
Jemison Mansion

The Jemison-Van De Graff Mansion
1305 Greensboro Avenue, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Constructed 1859-1862

The Jemison - Van de Graff Mansion is one of the most elaborate houses built in Alabama before the devastating effects of the Civil War fell upon the Alabama economy.  Robert Jemison, Jr., a wealthy planter and businessman provided the vision and money  to create a 'state-of-the-art' home for his family.  He spared no expense in its creation.  The Italianate style house was designed by Philadelphia architect John Stewart. John Stewart was in Tuscaloosa supervising the construction of Bryce Hospital. The hospital had been designed by his partner Samuel Sloan who also designed the famous "Longwood" in Natchez, Mississippi.  Jemison's home incorporated the latest innovations in design and technology including an elaborated plumbing system which included running water, flush toilets and copper bath tub; large conservatory to be warm by a central heating plant, indoor lighting fueled by coal gas manufactured in a machine located in the basement.  Other modern features implemented in the design were a boiler for producing hot water, a gas stove, an early form of a 'refrigerator', and a dumb waiter for raising food from the basement kitchen to the pantry located directly above.

The Jemison-Van de Graff mansion was almost burned during the waning days of the Civil War.  When Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama were threatened by Union troops Senator Jemison fled for his life and spent several days hiding in the swamp near his plantation.  In retribution, Union soldiers sought to burn the home of this leading Confederate senator.  Mrs. Jemison was given fifteen minutes to take what personal possessions she needed from the house before it was put to the torch.  Fortunately, during those few minutes several young boys playing a trick on the invading Yankees rode down Greensboro Avenue crying, "Forest is coming, Forrest is coming hurrah for Forrest!" 

The Yankee's commander, fearful of this legendary Rebel general, ordered his troops to retreat.  In their haste, they neglected to burn down the Jemison mansion.

The Jemison-Van de Graff mansion remained in the family well into this century.  In the 1940's the house was purchased by J.P. and Nell Burchfield who undertook a major restoration of the structure.  From 1955 to 1979 the mansion served a generation of Tuscaloosans as the Friedman Public Library.  With the construction of the new public library on River Road the structure became the home of two nations publications, Antique Monthly and Horizon magazine.

In 1991, the mansion was acquired by the Jemison-Van de Graff Mansion Foundation.  Using grants and generous contributions from private citizens this not-for-profit foundation is in the process of carefully researching and restoring this beautiful house to its original appearance.  Please help us with this worthwhile project by making your tax-deductible donations payable to the Jemison - Van de Graff Foundation.

© 2011 Jemison Land & Cattle Company