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Beverly Frederick Jefferson

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Beverly Jefferson (1839–1908)

Beverly Jefferson (1839–1908)

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Beverly Jefferson and his sons

Beverly Jefferson and his sons

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Beverly Jefferson with his son Carl and grandson William

Beverly Jefferson with his son Carl and grandson William

Dates alive: 
1839–1908
Occupation: 
Hotelkeeper; Transfer business owner

Beverly Jefferson, the youngest child of Eston Hemings and Julia Isaacs Jefferson, lived as an African American in southern Ohio until the age of eleven, when his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, changed their surname from Hemings to Jefferson, and thereafter lived as white people. Until 1872 Beverly Jefferson worked in the hotel business, becoming a very popular hotel proprietor after the Civil War. Thereafter he focused on what became the Jefferson Transfer Company, the leading carriage and omnibus firm in the capital. Long obituaries followed the death of this “well known and prominent citizen of Madison.” 

Beverly Jefferson and his wife, Anna Maud Smith, had five sons, who included graduates of the University of Wisconsin, a lawyer, and a physician. He apparently spoke of his descent from Thomas Jefferson only to close friends. Long after his death, his grandsons altered the family history to erase the connection to the Hemings family. Present-day descendants had no knowledge of their African American heritage until the 1970s.

Ancestry: 
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    Ambiguous Identities

    Learn more about how the mixed-race Hemings family navigated the color line.

     

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