YEBies BHM Fact of The Day : Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings & Monticello Plantation
Sally Hemings was born in 1773 the daughter of Elizabeth (Betty) Hemings and, allegedly, John Wayles, Thomas Jefferson's father-in-law. She became Thomas Jefferson's property as part of his inheritance from the Wayles estate in 1774 and came with her mother to Monticello by 1776. Sally Hemings was never officially freed by Thomas Jefferson. By all accounts Sally "was mighty near white. . . very handsome, long straight hair down her back; light colored and decidedly good looking". Sally Hemings had four surviving children of at least two were by Thomas Jefferson. Beverly (b. 1798), a carpenter and fiddler, was allowed to leave the plantation in late 1821 or early 1822 and, according to his brother, passed into white society in Washington, D.C. Harriet (b. 1801), a spinner in Jefferson's textile shop, also left Monticello in 1821 or 1822, probably with her brother, and passed for white as well. Madison Hemings (1805-1878), a carpenter and joiner, was given his freedom in Jefferson's will; he resettled in southern Ohio in 1836, where he worked at his trade and had a farm. Eston Hemings (1808-c1853), also a carpenter, moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, in the 1830s; there he was a well-known professional musician before moving about 1852 to Wisconsin, where he changed his name (to Eston Jefferson) along with his racial identity. Both Madison and Eston Hemings made known their belief that they were sons of Thomas Jefferson once they left Monticello. DNA testing conducted in 1998 indicated that a male in Jefferson's line was the father of at least one of Sally Hemings's children.