Moses Gillette was the son of Moses Gillette, a cooper at Monticello, and his wife Martha. The elder Moses made pails and firkins in his own time to sell to the Monticello household. He was sold after Jefferson’s death to a local miller. After emancipation in 1865, he moved to southern Ohio to live near his brother Israel Gillette Jefferson.
The younger Moses remained in Albemarle County, buying ten acres of land across the Rivanna River from the Hydraulic Mills. He married three times and cared for a broad range of family members, raising more than twenty children. His descendants were unaware of the family’s connection to Monticello until 2006 and were pleased to learn of their ancestors’ contributions to it. They also spoke of the reluctance of the older generation to discuss the past: “We came from one of those families that didn’t talk a lot.”