Eliza McCardle Johnson
The wife of President Andrew Johnson, Eliza McCardle Johnson was the daughter of Sarah Phillips and John McCardle, a Greeneville shoemaker, who once also operated an inn at Warrensburg. She met Andrew Johnson soon after he arrived in Greeneville in September 1826. Their wedding took place in Warrensburg on May 17, 1827, when she was 16 and he was 18.
Considered modest and retiring, Johnson's personality contrasted sharply with her husband's more aggressive, outgoing nature. Despite frequent, lengthy periods of separation while he held political office in Nashville or Washington, D.C., the couple was apparently devoted to each other, and Andrew Johnson always expressed concern for her well-being. They had five children: Martha (born in 1828), Charles (1830), Mary (1832), Robert (1834), and Andrew Jr., known as "Frank" (1852).
Remaining in East Tennessee after the state seceded, Johnson, as the wife of a notorious Unionist, was harassed and expelled from Greeneville by the Confederates. She stayed with her daughter Mary Stover in Carter County until October 1862, when she was forced to leave again. General Nathan Bedford Forrest at first refused to let her through the lines to join her husband, by then military governor of Tennessee, in Nashville.
By this time Eliza Johnson had been ill for some years with tuberculosis. While her health periodically worsened or improved somewhat, she remained an invalid, generally withdrawn from the public eye. Johnson did not go to Washington, D.C., until June 1865, after her husband succeeded to the presidency. Even then, the couple's oldest daughter, Martha Patterson, served as White House hostess, often assisted by her sister, Mary. Johnson, usually confined to her room, rarely even attended a reception.
After the Johnsons left the White House and returned to Greeneville, her health remained poor, and she was in serious decline by the spring of 1875. Johnson was unable to attend her husband's funeral in August 1875. She died at her daughter Mary's home in Carter County six months later.
- As the wife of a notorious Unionist, she was harassed and expelled from Greeneville by the Confederates.
- Ill for some years with tuberculosis, she remained an invalid, generally withdrawn from the public eye.