Ellen Anderson was an enslaved woman who lived and worked at Tuckahoe during the Wight and Allen period. She was thought to have been born sometime between 1810 and 1816. Her name first appears in the inventory contained in the will of Edwin Wight in April 1850. Shortly thereafter, she is listed on Joseph Allen’s account in July where it is specified that she is the cook. At the time, she was listed as having five children (Daniel, Jane, Dilsey, Jordan, and Nancy). It is unclear who the father was.
At some point in the early 1850s, she seems to have started a family with a man named Ed Smith. By 1856, she and her children were listed under his last name. Ellen had several more children, presumably by Ed: Wallace (who died in infancy), Harriet, and Andrew. Throughout that decade, she appears to have continued to serve as the cook meaning that she and her family would have likely lived in one of the cabins along Plantation Street. In 1861, another birth was recorded for a child named Louisa. The mother’s name is listed as Ellen and while it is likely this is the same person, it is not known for certain.
After the Civil War, it seems that some of the Smith family stayed in the area. The 1870 census listed both Ellen and Ed Smith in Goochland County. He was recorded as a farm laborer and she was listed as “keeping house”. This census is noteworthy as it categorizes Ellen as a Mulatto.