Unknown - portrait of Judge John Speed

Fortunately acquired for the collection is this miniature portrait painted on ivory in 1840 by an unknown artist for Lucy Gilmer Speed. It is of Judge John Speed (May 17 1772-Mar 30 1840), the father of Joshua Fry Speed (Nov 14 1814-May 29 1882), the great friend of Abraham Lincoln.

On April 15, 1837, Lincoln arrived at Springfield, the new state capital, in order to seek his fortune as a young lawyer. Lincoln needed to set up housekeeping and went to Speed's store to buy a bed. Lincoln asked to buy the bed on credit but young Joshua Fry Speed offered to share his own large upstairs room, resulting in the two settling in as room-mates. This in turn led to the development of a life-long friendship.

Judge John Speed was also the builder and original owner of the historic home Farmington, which he built in 1815/1816 for his wife, Lucy Gilmer Fry, daughter of Joshua Fry and granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Walker, the guardian of Thomas Jefferson.

Lucy knew Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson and there are design similarities between Farmington and Monticello, the latter as shown here being completed in 1809.

For example, they both have octagonal rooms, a distinctive feature of Jeffersonian architecture. Lucy's aunt and uncle's home in Charlottesville, Virginia was also called Farmington and had an addition designed by Thomas Jefferson.

Judge John Speed was descended from the British cartographer of the 17C, see A genealogy of the Speed family since the 16th century

Judge John Speed was also the father of James Speed (Mar 11 1812–Jun 25 1887), who was appointed to the cabinet of Abraham Lincoln as Attorney General in 1864. See James Speed - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One of the Judge's daughters was Susan Fry Speed (30 Sep 1817-Nov 1888). She is referred to below in connection with some other Speed and Lincoln memorabilia acquired with this miniature.

The miniature is 43mm x 35mm in size and the reverse of the unusual octagonal shaped case is inscribed "L G Speed" for Lucy Gilmer Speed, who was the second wife of Judge John Speed.

The birth of John Speed was recorded at Charlotte Court House, Charlotte, Virginia. He was the son of James Speed and Mary Spencer.

He firstly married Abigail LeMaster (aka Abby LeMaster) on 1 Nov 1796 (sometimes 26 Nov 1796) in Jefferson, KY. Abigail (c1775-Jul 1807) was the daughter of John LeMaster and Jemimia Floyd.

There are reports of up to four children, James Speed (1797-1797), possibly a second James Speed (1799-1799), Mary Speed (1802-?), and Eliza Jane Speed (1805-2 Jul 1885). Eliza is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville KY.

As a widower with two small children, John Speed then secondly married Lucy Gilmer Fry on 15 Nov 1808 at Mercer, KY. Lucy Fry (23 Mar 1788-27 Jan 1874) was the daughter of Joshua Fry and Peachy Walker.

Judge John Speed was then 36 years old and thus 16 years older than Lucy. Family history sites suggest they had eleven children with most of them born prior to 1819. The eldest, Thomas Speed being born on 15 Sep 1809.

John Speed served in the United States forces in 1791 against the Indians and the "Farmington" property in Judge John Speed's life was reportedly the scene of lavish hospitality extended not only to kinsmen and friends, but even to an army, for it is said, that the volunteers for the War of 1812, passing "Farmington," were entertained in entire companies and even larger bodies of men. Although this was before the main house was built in 1815.

At around this time, in 1820, Louisville’s population was 4,180 of which 1,031 were slaves and 95 free people of color.

Speed commenced construction of a homestead in 1815, which was completed in 1816. It is shown here together with four outbuildings in John Rutherford's 1820 gouache, which was painted some 65 years before the first known photo of the house.

It is now the historic home Farmington Historic Homes Foundation - Farmington According to tax lists, John Speed owned 12 enslaved African Americans in 1811, 39 in 1812 and 43 in 1813. By 1820, John Speed is listed as owning 55 slaves. This rapid increase in slave ownership reflects the establishment and development of Speed's plantation at Farmington.

The main cash crop was hemp, which was used to make rope and bagging for the cotton trade. The farm also produced corn, hay, apples, pork, vegetables, wheat, tobacco and dairy products. The tasks of planting, harvesting and shipping products to market were performed primarily by enslaved African Americans who worked in the fields, labored at the ropewalk and drove the wagons.

Farmington has a place in history, as shortly after the 1840 death of Judge John Speed, in 1841, Farmington hosted its most famous guest, Abraham Lincoln.

Tired and despondent over breaking off his engagement to Mary Todd of Lexington, and also worried about the direction his political career was taking, Lincoln came to Farmington to visit with Joshua Speed and his family. He stayed about three weeks with the Speed family during August and September 1841. The courtship of his friend Joshua and Fanny Henning gave him some hope about his own future. After rest and relaxation, Lincoln returned to Springfield and to renew his wooing of Mary Todd. Their subsequent marriage is history.

At least six of Judge John Speed’s sons and grandsons served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

The Speed Art Museum has in its collection two similar images of Judge John Speed as shown here. One is a large oil by Matthew Harris Jouett (1788-1827).

The second is a miniature watercolor said by the Speed to be on paper, although it looks as if it may be on ivory. It is 51mm x 41mm and is by an unknown artist.

All three portraits appear to be based on the same pose, looking at the viewer and with his spectacles pushed back on his forehead.

Most likely, the Jouett portrait is the original, obviously painted before Jouett died in 1827. In that year Judge John Speed would have been aged 55 and, although the image is difficult to see, Speed looks a little younger than 55, which suggests the oil portrait was painted around 1820.

Differences between the two miniatures are subtle, as can be seen by comparing them, but sufficient to be confident they are not by the same artist.

The artist for this octagonal miniature is unknown, but there is part of a trade card used as packing in the reverse, with the wording "..den Lane New York". A kind visitor has suggested this refers to Maiden Lane, in Manhattan, with the trade card referring to the artist or jeweller who made the case. This suggests the miniature was painted and/or framed in New York. However, there were some 120 miniature painters in New York at this time and hence it has not been possible to identify the artist.

From the style of the case it probably dates to the early 1840's. Judge John Speed died in 1840 and the most likely explanation is that Lucy Gilmer Speed commissioned the miniature in 1840, so that she could wear it in memory of him.

Within the Speed Museum collection there are these three portraits of Lucy Gilmer Speed but, unfortunately, she does not appear to be wearing the miniature in the paintings.

The one on the left is a miniature in a case which is difficult to date. The middle portrait in color is an oil by Jouett who, as noted above, died in 1827 and probably painted the oil of Judge John Speed around 1820.

That suggests the oil of Lucy Gilmer Speed by Jouett which is of identical size, was also painted around 1820, when she was aged 32.

However, she looks to be quite some years older than 32 in the oil portrait, which raises the possibility that the portrait does not depict Lucy Gilmer Fry but some other family member, unless the years, her own eleven children, and her two step daughters had caused time to be particularly unkind to her!

The various other portraits of the Speed family above are in the Speed art Museum collection and full details about them can be viewed via the Kentucky Online Arts Resource (KOAR) Home

When the miniature of Judge John Speed was acquired, it was accompanied by several other items of memorabilia associated with the Speed family and Abraham Lincoln. These items are associated with descendants of Judge John Speed's daughter Susan Fry Speed (30 Sep 1817-Nov 1888) who married Benjamin O Davis (3 Jun 1806-15 Mar 1861) on 5 Jun 1838.

One of the children of Benjamin and Susan Davis, was Lucy Gilmer Davis (30 Aug 1840-3 Feb 1924) who married J Edward Hardy (5 Nov 1834-?) on 18 Jun 1861.

One of the children of J Edward and Lucy Hardy was Frank Whittle Hardy (aka Frank Hardy) (see references to F W Hardy below) and a daughter was Charlotte Howard Hardy.

Charlotte Howard Hardy (aka Lottie Hardy) (1862->1930) married Charles Pettet Robinson (1854->1930) and their daughter was Lucy Gilmer Robinson (Jan 1896-May 1987) who married ? McCormick (?-<1930 1921.="" 1930="" 8="" a="" also="" appears="" as="" at="" before="" below.="" br="" census="" died="" gilmer="" her="" home.="" husband="" in="" is="" it="" john="" known="" living="" mccormick="" n="" old="" parents="" referred="" robinson="" she="" son="" the="" to="" was="" widow="" with="" year="">
There is an actress and singer named Gilmer McCormick who was born in Louisville in 1947 and seems likely to be the granddaughter of Lucy Gilmer Robinson McCormick, see Gilmer McCormick - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia She is best known for for her performance in the stage and film versions of Godspell in the early 1970s and for her role in the 1984 horror film Silent Night, Deadly Night.

One of the items acquired with the miniature portrait of Judge John Speed, is a very old photograph of an oil portrait of a Speed family member. He is believed to be the son of Judge John Speed, but the whereabouts of the original oil portrait is unknown.

On the reverse there are several partially illegible inscriptions, but the following can be read; "Mrs Edward Hardy Ky St" and "J E Hardy 117 W Ky" and "8 cream on board".

These appear to relate to instructions for creating copies of this photograph of the oil portrait.

However, the oil can be compared with this miniature portrait of Joshua Fry Speed which is owned by the Filson Historical Society, Louisville, KY.

Although an image of the young James Speed has not yet been located, a photograph of him in later life is shown here.

Of the two brothers, Joshua Fry Speed seems the most likely to be the sitter in the oil, but the help of any visitor able to confirm the sitter's identity would be appreciated.

Three other items came with the miniature of Judge John Speed, two books and an engraving.

One book seems to be quite common. It is a 1908 edition of "A Perfect Life" by Mary Raymond Shipman Andrews, and which contains an engraved portrait of Lincoln.

The flyleaf of the book is inscribed; "F W Hardy 117 W Ky St, Louisville, Ky", the same family as mentioned on the reverse of the image of the oil portrait above.

The second engraving is a profile portrait of Lincoln which seems to have been cut down from another source. It has a facsimile image of Lincoln's signature.

It appears to be signed "Mandel(?) Murphy UWI(?)". However, it is possible that the word Mandel may be Cryllic for Murphy, as the "N" is back to front and the "E" is a "C".

Thus any thoughts on the origin of this profile engraving would be welcome.

The last item is another book by Joshua Fry Speed which seems to be uncommon, as there are few Internet references to it and no original copies appear to be available for purchase.

The exterior cover is titled "Lincoln - California - by Joshua F Speed".

Inscribed on the flyleaf is "Mrs Wm Robinson from her friend Fanny Speed" and underneath that is "Gilmer Robinson McCormick".

From the information above it is can be seen that Gilmer Robinson McCormick was a great-great-granddaughter of Judge John Speed.

The full title of the book is "Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln and Notes of a Visit to California - Two Lectures by Joshua F Speed".

It has 67 pages and was published by John P Morton and Company in Louisville, KY in 1884.

Joshua Fry Speed married Frances Henning (aka Fanny Henning (1820-1902) on 12 Feb 1842. They had a marriage of 40 years, but they had no children.

Joshua Speed died in 1882 and so it is probable his wife Fanny Henning Speed arranged the printing of the book in 1884 after his death.

Joshua and Fanny are shown in this double portrait, with Joshua's arm around Fanny.

In the 1850 census, Fanny's mother Elizabeth Henning (1785-?) was living with them and they disclosed assets of $20,200.

They can be tracked through subsequent census records, although Fanny could not be found in the 1900 census.

They are interred together at Cave Hill Cemetery which is a 296-acre Victorian era National Cemetery and arboretum located at 701 Baxter Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky. 1327


LAhoopsfan said...

I am best friends with Lucy Gilmer McCormick Reinhardt, and yes, she is the granddaughter of Lucy Gilmer Robinson McCormick. I am forwarding your blog to her, so she can 'fill in the gaps.' Her family donated much to Farmington, including a large portrait of Jodge John Speed, similar to the miniature pictured in this article.

LAhoopsfan said...

Hi again, Gilmer doesn't navigate blogs and such very well, so if you want to send me a personal email at, I will make sure she gets it.

I'll also try to 'walk her through' things here. I don't know if she has a google ID, but...I'll find out and try to get her to post something here. (She tried herself this morning and then called me to say it didn't post). Regards, Jeanne Lange Haskell

Unknown said...

I know it's been a while since you originally posted this, but thought I'd note that the second engraving you show of Lincoln appears as if it might be after one of the photographs taken of Lincoln by Matthew Brady. Several versions of Brady's images were produced by engravers between 1885 and 1890, when the country suffered the pains of the 20th and then 25th anniversaries of the Great Man's death. Philadelphia engraver, Charles Elliot, was one of the artists who used Brady's photos to create affordable engravings for the public, and so strongly suspect that the image you show is very likely one of his.

MichaelMiller2009 said...

Hey Jeanne,

My name is Michael Miller. I am a direct descendant of Dr. Thomas Walker. I'm doing research for a book on Thomas Walker and His Descendants. During my research on the Great-Grandchildren of Peachy Walker Fry: Thomas Walker's youngest Daughter I came across this site about the Speed Family Portraits. Lucy Gilmer Fry Peachy's daughter of course married John Speed. I notice that Mrs. Reinhardt is a descendant of Lucy's. I would love to hear from you or Mrs. Reinhardt. Well thank you for your time. My email is Take care

MichaelMiller2009 said...

Hey Jeanne,

My name is Michael Miller. I'm doing research for a book I'm writing on my Ancestor Dr. Thomas Walker and his Descendants. I came across this site while researching the Great-Grandchildren of Peachy Walker Fry :Daughter of Thomas Walker. I've seen your friend Mrs. Reinhardt is a direct descendant of Peachy's. I would love to hear from you or Mrs. Reinhardt. My email is Take care

Mar said...

I'm a direct descendent of Lucy Fry and Judge John Speed. Through both of them I'm descended from Peachy Walker Speed Peay, her son George Peay and finally Ella Peay. There is a wonderful new book out called "The Keats Family" by Lawrence M. Crutcher which details all these people.

Anonymous said...

i am a descendent of peachy walker speed and a found this very acurate

Mar said...

I am interested in hearing from anyone who might be descended from Peachy Walker Peay (Speed).