Tribute to Lottie Wilson
by Nelson Hill


President Lincoln With A Former Slave
Charlotte "Lottie" Wilson 1902
Born in Niles, Michigan in 1854, Charlotte "Lottie" Wilson painted her interpretation of this significant meeting
between the famous abolitionist speaker Sojourner Truth and Abraham Lincoln
while living in Washington D.C. An earlier version "Freedman's Progress" by Frank Courter was destroyed in a fire.
The Niles Community Library Purchased the painting in 1982

The attached picture of Abraham Lincoln and Sojourner Truth, with the Black Bible presented to Abraham Lincoln by the Black People of Boston after he freed the slaves, is now hanging in the Niles Library. It is the same bible used by Barack Obama when he was sworn into office as President. Lottie Wilson, was a native of Niles, Michigan. Her mother was Henrietta (Hill) Wilson. Henrietta's father was Henry Nelson Hill, her brother was Gamaliel Hill. Henry Nelson Hill is my Great Great Grandfather, and Gamaliel Hill is my Great Grandfather.
The original oil was destroyed by fire in 1902, fortunately a photographer, Frank Perry had taken photos of the it and Lottie Wilson took on the monumental task of reproducing the painting from the photos earlier taken.

About the artist:
Artist name: Lottie Wilson - (January 9, 1854 to January 16, 1914)   Used her maiden name for her wonderful and varied works of art.

Lottie was the daughter of Calvin and Henrietta (Hill) Wilson.
She was the first colored person to attend the Chicago Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Lottie always used her maiden name for her professional work.

Lottie Wilson was married three times. Her first husband was James Huggart, her children's father. He died not long after daughter Caletta (See portrait on this site - under our family photo section) was born.
Lottie painted a picture of her daughter Caletta, after her death, which occurred when she was about eleven years old in 1885.  Her second husband was Wesley Jackson, her third and last husband was Daniel Moss. Lottie Wilson was one of a few black women artists in the later part of the 19th, century. She taught art classes at her home but also painted china and was a fine sculptress. She painted a portrait of Booker T. Washington and gave it to Tuskegee Institute, a portrait of Charles Sumner which she gave to the Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1892. Her husband Daniel Moss married another woman after Lottie died, and after that, many of Lottie's paintings, pottery and sculpted pieces became a mystery as to their location.

Lottie moved to Washington D.C., shortly after her daughter Caletta died. She painted the wonderful picture of Abraham Lincoln and Sojourner Truth shown above sometime around 1902.

Sadly, all of Lottie's children died. On Lottie's headstone is the name Dennis Daisy (died 8/30/1876 - age 1 month) and also Caletta (1874 to 1885). In referencing Daniel and Lottie (Wilson) Moss in the 1910 census, filled out in Niles, Michigan; Lottie states that she had three children, none of which were alive by that time. The two children mentioned here are buried in Silverbrook Cemetery, this county in the Wilson Plot which had 5 graves in it. We don't know why the name after Dennis was Daisy, because there was Lottie, Calvin Wilson, Henrietta Wilson, Caletta, and Dennis Daisy, six names but only five plots, so we are perplexed about that. Perhaps because the one child was only a little over one month of age, they might have shared a grave for his little coffin.

I don't know all the names of the paintings Lottie painted, but my wife and I are still looking - Historian - Nelson Hill.

Bay City, Bay County, Michigan articles - 1901

article   artcle

Photo of Lottie Wilson
The Cameo around her neck is a portrait of daughter, Caletta.

Contributed by: Sharon Hill

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