In the words of a descendant, Eliza Tolliver Coleman lived “up on the mountain all of her life.” Members of her extended family lived and worked at Monticello over the course of a century—far longer than any of the property’s owners. According to family tradition, Eliza Coleman “came out of that Thomas Jefferson tree,” but her exact connection to Monticello’s enslaved families is not yet known. She married Thomas Coleman (1845-post 1910), a former slave of Joel Wheeler, manager of Monticello during and after the Civil War. They had eight children.
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Ann Pettiford Medley grew up in Greenfield, Ohio. She and her husband, Cecil Medley, raised five children and worked in the catering and food services field. It was her daughter Patti Jo Harding who began to research the family history and enlisted the help of her cousin Diana Redman and Getting Word consultant Beverly Gray. Mother and daughter were present at Getting Word’s first interview in Chillicothe in 1993. Ann Medley remembers Sunday visits to her grandmother Anna Young Pettiford, some of whose siblings passed into the white world, cutting ties with the family.
Patti Jo Harding became the family historian and, with the help of her cousin Diana Redman and Getting Word consultant, Beverly Gray, has been gathering information from courthouses and graveyards to understand the rich history of her family. She was present at the very first Getting Word interview, with other members of her family. She said, “Everybody keeps talking about Thomas Jefferson, … but I'd like to find out more about Sally.”
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.
Anne Slaughter and four other descendants of Monticello gatekeeper Eliza Tolliver Coleman were interviewed together in 1995. All live in the Washington, DC, area and work (or worked) in various departments of the federal government. They shared their memories of Eliza Coleman’s daughters Lucy Coleman Barnaby Page and Grace Coleman Harris and recalled summers spent at the Monticello gatehouse. Members of the extended Coleman family lived at Monticello for more than a century—far longer than any of the property’s owners.
Stephen De Windt moved with his family from the San Francisco Bay area to Pasadena when he was twelve. He attended Pasadena City College and Arizona State University. After a career in the airline industry, he became an actor—a “background artist”—in Hollywood.
Betty Ann Fitch is part of an extended family that worked and lived at Monticello for more than a century. She earned her master’s degree in English and became a teacher. She was particularly close to her grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Henderson Fitch, who was orphaned at age four and taken in by the Levy-Mayhoff family, the owners of Monticello. Mary Elizabeth Henderson lived with and worked for the Mayhoffs for more than twenty years, spending long periods in New York City as well as Monticello. She married Thomas Jefferson Fitch, the Monticello coachman and chauffeur. Betty Ann Fitch i
Calvin Jefferson, who is descended from the Grangers as well as the Hemingses of Monticello, grew up in Washington, DC. After working for the U. S. Postal Service, he became an archivist for the National Archives and Records Administration, from which he retired in 2007 after thirty years. He did not learn of his family's connection to Monticello until 1996. He has a strong interest in his family history and continues research on the Hemings family, particularly Betty Brown and her descendants.
In 1996, four generations of the Hughes family of Fauquier County came to Monticello soon after learning of their descent from Rev. Robert Hughes of Union Run Baptist Church and head gardener Wormley Hughes of Monticello. Their ancestor was Reverend Hughes's son, also Wormley Hughes (1851-1901), who left Albemarle County with the Union army in the confusion at the end of the Civil War; his parents were "broken hearted."
Joyce Harrod grew up in the Washington, DC area, where she still lives. Ms. Harrod is an artist and teaches art to middle school students. Her father, George Harrod, was the first African American to hold various positions in the federal government. In her interview, she expressed herself as very proud of her father and said her grandmother had led “a model life” as a person of strong faith and “an independent woman”: “She continues to be an inspiration to me.”