Dressmaker and Confidante of Mary Todd LincolnElizabeth Keckley was a former slave who became a successful seamstress and author in Washington, DC, after buying her freedom in St. Louis. She created an independent business with clients who were the wives of the government elite: Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, Mary Randolph Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee, and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born in 1818 in Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia. Her biological father was a white plantation owner, Colonel A. Burwell. Her mother Agnes was married to George Hobbs, who lived 100 miles away on another plantation.