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William Beck

Hired White Workers
General LaborerLime Burner

William Beck worked as a lime burner and general laborer at Monticello from 1769 to 1783 and from 1796 to 1801.  Little is known about William Beck’s family, except that he had a son.  Nor is it known where he might have lived on the Monticello plantation.  In the 1770s, Beck was often on the road, performing various services for Jefferson in Williamsburg and elsewhere in Virginia.  When back in Albemarle County, Beck was tasked with duties that ranged from digging a 65-foot well on the mountaintop to “raising” [quarrying] and “burng. lime” used in the construction of the main house. At the end of the American Revolution, Beck sought out and cared for the survivors of the more than 20 enslaved men, women, and children—mostly from Jefferson’s Goochland and Cumberland county plantations—who joined or were captured by British soldiers and taken to camps at Plymouth or Yorktown. 

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