Isaac Jefferson’s father, George Granger, was the only enslaved man to serve as Monticello overseer, while his mother, Ursula Granger, was a particularly trusted household servant. Trained in metalworking, including apprenticeship to a Philadelphia tinner, Isaac Granger worked in the Monticello blacksmith shop and nail factory, and briefly operated a tin shop.
He, his wife, Iris, and their sons Squire and Joyce became the property of Jefferson’s son-in-law Thomas Mann Randolph in the late 1790s. In the 1820s Granger gained his freedom and moved to Petersburg, VA, where he practiced his trade as a blacksmith until his death.
Isaac Granger, who adopted the surname Jefferson toward the end of his life, was known in Petersburg for his stories of life at Monticello. His vivid recollections were taken down by Charles Campbell in the 1840s, but not published until 1951, along with a striking daguerreotype of the blacksmith. Campbell noted that Isaac Jefferson “bore a good character."
"He trusted Monticello to Great George"
Calvin Jefferson considers Jefferson's views about African Americans in light of the responsibility he entrusted to George Granger.