The Descendants of Elizabeth Hemings: Sally Hemings

Sally Hemings (1773-1835) was lady's maid to Jefferson's daughters, and also worked as a chambermaid and seamstress.  She spent two years in Paris, after accompanying nine-year-old Mary Jefferson across the ocean.  According to her son Madison, Sally Hemings began a relationship with Jefferson in Paris and bore him a number of children. 

Although she was not freed by the terms of Jefferson's will, she was not among the slaves sold at the 1827 estate auction at Monticello. Jefferson's daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph presumably gave her "her time," that is, freed her unofficially so that she would not be subject to the 1806 Virginia law requiring freed slaves to leave the state within one year. Madison Hemings recalled that after Jefferson's death, he and his brother Eston took their mother to live with them in a rented house in Charlottesville.

All four of Sally Hemings's surviving known children became free close to their twenty-first birthdays.  Beverly Hemings and his sister Harriet Hemings were allowed to leave Monticello without pursuit and apparently passed into white society.  Their descendants have not been located. Their brothers Madison Hemings and Eston Hemings remained at Monticello until after Jefferson's death; both were freed in his will.

Madison Hemings (1805-1877) worked as a carpenter at Monticello and pursued the woodworking trade after he became free in 1827. He married a free woman of color, Mary Hughes McCoy. After his mother's death, he and his wife moved to southern Ohio, where they raised their family and owned a 66-acre farm. Photographs of two of their nine children survive (see above: Emma Byrd Young, daughter of Madison and Mary Hemings's oldest daughter Sarah Byrd, with her husband George Young and their children).

Emma Byrd Young, granddaughter of Madison Hemings’s, & her family

The Youngs' descendants include Getting Word participants George (Jack) Pettiford (1926-1996, first two images just above), Ann Pettiford Medley, and William Dalton.

The Hemingses' second daughter, Harriet Hemings Butler Spears (1839-1925) (above, in oval), lived with her family in Ohio.  Her descendants include Getting Word participants Shay Banks-Young (left) and Clara Lee Fisher (below, shown with husband David Fisher and sons Zachary and David). 

More on Madison Hemings and his descendants »

Tag this

None
Login or register to tag items

Add comment

Login or register to post comments