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Eston Hemings Jefferson

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Eston Hemings listed with his mother and siblings on Jefferson's bread ration list, February 1810 
FB page 134, Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Eston Hemings listed with his mother and siblings on Jefferson's bread ration list, February 1810
FB page 134, Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

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Eston Jefferson's son John Wayles Jefferson, who commanded the all-white 8th Wisconsin Regiment in the Civil War

Eston Jefferson's son John Wayles Jefferson, who commanded the all-white 8th Wisconsin Regiment in the Civil War

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Eston Jefferson's son Beverly and grandsons

Eston Jefferson's son Beverly and grandsons

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Sheet music with two songs in Jefferson's hand, including Money Musk.
Sheet music with two songs in Jefferson's hand, including Money Musk.
Dates alive: 
1808–1856
Occupation: 
Cabinetmaker; Musician

Eston Hemings learned the woodworking trade from his uncle, John Hemmings, and became free in 1827, according to the terms of Thomas Jefferson’s will. He and his brother Madison left Monticello to live in the town of Charlottesville with their mother, Sally Hemings.  Together they purchased a lot and built a two-story brick and wood house. 

In 1832, Eston Hemings married a free woman of color, Julia Ann Isaacs.  About 1838 they sold their property and moved to Chillicothe, OH, where Hemings led a very successful dance band.  He was remembered as "a master of the violin, and an accomplished 'caller' of dances."  

At mid-century Eston and Julia Hemings and their three children, John Wayles, Anna, and Beverly, left Ohio for Wisconsin, changing their surname to Jefferson and living henceforth as white people. They settled in the capital, Madison, where Eston Jefferson pursued his trade as a cabinetmaker.  A 1998 study genetically linked his male descendants with male descendants of the Jefferson family.

Excerpts: 
Ancestry: 

Ambiguous Identities

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

 

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