How did you first become interested in Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham?
Joyce: The head master of my high school was a marvelous story teller. When I was sixteen and in one of his classes, he began with, “There is a lady with whom I have been in love all my life…she married once for money, once for love and once for fame…this year she will turn 148…” I was fascinated.
What set her apart from other women of that time period?
Joyce: Her business acumen, the prenuptial agreements designed for her second and third husbands. What she considered rightfully hers, was hers. She would turn her wealth into greater wealth. She was “no man’s fool!” She was independent. After a brief period of relying on others in her twenties, through keen observation, Adelicia became an astute business woman. She relied on herself, her wit. Beneath the beauty and charm, was a woman of great cunning.
What is the one thing you find to be most fascinating about Adelicia?
Joyce: The times did not define Adelicia. She defined herself. Her refusal to bow to societies’ dictates made her vulnerable to the consequences of that refusal. She accepted responsibility for her behavior…she did not engage in self -pity… she did not surrender, no matter the odds. Her spirit to persevere, to endure, was unwavering.
Despite her progressiveness, it appears that Adelicia also owned slaves – was she merely going along with the times?
Joyce: If you read the text carefully, you will see Adelicia’s concerns about slavery, however, she was a product of the day. As a writer, I find it best not to set myself up as a judge of that period. It was what it was. I was not there.
Do you have any suggested reading for anyone wanting to learn more about Adelicia?
Joyce: My knowledge of Adelicia was gleaned from research in five states and in Europe, in documents long filed away, forgotten letters, the bowels of archives and libraries, private collections and oral history. I know of no reading source, however, a visit to Belmont Mansion in Nashville, is a grand way to learn more of Adelicia.