A 175-year-old sketch of Adam Huntsman has been donated by his descendants as a gift to the East Tennessee Historical Society.
Patricia Grames Pollock, great-great granddaughter of the one-term congressman from Tennessee, presented it on behalf of her family to Michele MacDonald, Curator of Collections for the society, on February 25. It had been passed down to her father, Charles M. Grames, by his mother Edith (Huntsman) Grames, who was Huntsman’s granddaughter.
Adam Huntsman (1786-1849) was a Virginia native who came to Knox County, Tennessee in 1809, where he settled for about three years. It was here that he studied law under John Williams, one of Knoxville’s most prominent attorneys in the early nineteenth century and later a United States Senator. The legal skills he learned from Williams he carried with him westward to Overton County and later Madison County, Tennessee, where he became a highly regarded criminal lawyer.
But it was politics that was Huntsman’s passion: he was a leader of the Democratic Party in West Tennessee in the 1830s and 1840s and corresponded with notable politicians of his day such as Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, and John C. Calhoun. He served four terms in the Tennessee state senate and defeated David Crockett for the Twelfth Congressional seat in 1835, a loss that led to Crockett’s journey to Texas and his death at the Alamo.
The sketch is believed to have been done circa 1835 or 1836 while Huntsman served in Congress. Family tradition states that it was the work of an African-American woman who drew it with her foot!
Mrs. Pollock is pleased the East Tennessee Historical Society agreed to add it to their collection. “This fine old sketch deserves a permanent home where people can see it,” she said.