Peter Fossett

Peter Farley Fossett (1815-1901) was the son of Joseph Fossett and Edith Hern. Along with his mother and seven siblings, Peter Fossett was sold in the January 1827 auction following Jefferson's death. Joseph Fossett was later able to purchase the freedom of his wife and some of his eight children and move with them to Ohio in about 1840, but Peter Fossett's new owner refused to sell him to his father. In his reminiscences, published in 1898 [1], Peter Fossett recalled the contrast between Monticello and the plantation of his new master, Col. John Jones, where he was threatened with a whipping if ever found with a book in his hand. Fossett nevertheless continued to learn to read and write and passed his knowledge on to his fellow slaves by stealth. In 1850, after two attempts to run away, Fossett was placed again on the auction block. Through the combined efforts of his father, family members, and friends of Jefferson, his freedom was purchased and he joined his family in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became one of the city's most prominent caterers, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and pastor of First Baptist Church, Cumminsville, where he served for 32 years.

Footnotes

1. "ONCE THE SLAVE OF THOMAS JEFFERSON - The Rev. Mr. Fossett, of Cincinnati, Recalls the Days When Men Came from the Ends of the Earth to Consult 'the Sage of Monticello' - Reminiscences of Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison and Monroe," New York World, January 30, 1898, Sunday edition.

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