You are here

Julia Isaacs Jefferson

Close

Julia Jefferson's son Beverly and grandsons, whom she took an active role in raising after their mother died young

Julia Jefferson's son Beverly and grandsons, whom she took an active role in raising after their mother died young

Close

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

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

Dates alive: 
1814–1889

Julia Ann Isaacs, daughter of German Jewish merchant David Isaacs and Nancy West, a free woman of color, lived with her family on Charlottesville’s main street until 1832, when she married Eston Hemings. About 1838 they moved to Chillicothe in southern Ohio, where Hemings led a popular dance band.

At mid-century the Hemingses made a fateful decision. They and their three children, John Wayles, Anna, and Beverly, left Ohio for Madison, Wisconsin, changing their surname to Jefferson and living henceforth as white people. Julia Jefferson an active member of the Congregational church and, in the Civil War, the Ladies Aid Society. Her sons and grandsons, whom she helped raise, prospered in society, business, and the professions. Many years after her death she was still remembered in her family as “its best and bravest character.”

 __________________________________________

 __________________________________________

Excerpts: 

Ambiguous Identities

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

 

Participate

Login or register to participate in our online community.