After being accepted at the University of Virginia, Jacqueline Yurkoski came to Charlottesville with her parents and agreed to answer some questions about how a Sally Hemings descendant of the younger generation feels about her ancestry. She looks forward to a career in medicine.
You are here
Tagged with “Education”
Jane Floyd was born in St. Louis but spent summers at the Selma, Ohio, farm of her maternal grandparents, John Penn and Barbara Ann Woodson. She first learned of her lineage when she shared her elopement plans with her mother, Jane Ann Woodson Gordon (1890–1972). “That’s how she happened to tell me about being descended from Thomas Jefferson.”
Edna Jacques grew up in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Howard University, with a master’s degree in mathematics. She was the first minority hired by IBM in Philadelphia and achieved further “firsts” for women and minorities in her thirty years at the company. She grew up listening to stories of her Bolling and Hemmings ancestors told by her great-aunt Olive Rebecca Bolling (1847–1953). She heard of the beauty of the Hemmingses and the accomplishments of her great-grandfather Samuel P.
Martha Boston, who carried on the Hern/Hearns family tradition of a belief in the importance of education, was the youngest of eight children of Bernard Clinton Hearns and Clara Jones Hearns. Her father, “a very progressive man” in her eyes, worked on the railroad to save money to buy the family farm. Her mother, “seeking the best for her children,” sent her as a child to Baltimore to live with a sister, so she would have the opportunity for better schooling.
John Quill Taylor King was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of Alice Woodson, a teacher, and John Quill Taylor, a doctor. When his mother remarried after his father’s death, he took the surname of his stepfather, Charles King, a funeral director. King graduated from Fisk University in 1941 and then entered the U.S. Army. He retired from the Army Reserves as a Major General.
Robert Cooley, attorney, judge, and magistrate, was the son of Ruth Golden and Robert H. Cooley II. He graduated from Virginia Union University and Howard University Law School. He spent eight years as an attorney in the U. S. Army, being awarded the Army Commendation Medal. Of his army service in Europe he said, “ I was free…I was not a black person. I was an American.”
Clara Fisher, artist and counselor for a non-profit social service agency, is the mother of two boys and a graduate of Duquesne University. Her father, Edward James Lee, died when she was only eight. She remembers helping him in his vegetable garden and accompanying him on his rounds as a constable, serving subpoenas. She said, “My father always told me that Thomas Jefferson was his great-great-grandfather.” She is thus only four generations removed from Madison Hemings of Monticello.
Mabel Hall Pittman Middleton, writer and teacher, grew up in Lexington, Virginia. After serving in the Women’s Army Corps in World War II and graduating from Fisk University, she taught English in Mississippi. She obtained her doctorate from Southern Illinois University and chaired the English Department at Jackson State University. She was appointed to the Mississippi Humanities Council in 2000.
Dr. Middleton, who married and had three children, heard from her family of her connection to Monticello but did not hear of her ancestor Brown Colbert’s emigration to Liberia.
Through his mother, Minnie Lee Young Diggs, Eliga Diggs is descended from Reuben and Susan Scott, enslaved foreman and domestic servant, brought to northern Alabama by Jefferson's great-grandson William Stuart Bankhead in 1846. From the age of eight Diggs had to work hard on the family tenant farm, on land rented from Bankhead’s descendants, the Hotchkiss family. He served two years in the U. S.
Born in Greenbrier County, Virginia, Lewis Woodson moved with his family to Chillicothe, Ohio, about 1821. He became a teacher and a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. In 1831 Woodson, his wife, Caroline Robinson, and their children relocated to Pittsburgh, where he started the first school for black children in the city and worked as a barber.