Bessie Dorsey was a descendant of Wormley and Ursula Hughes through their grandson Philip Evans Hughes (1853-1925). Mrs. Dorsey lived most of her life in Washington, DC, raising and providing an education to her son, George Harrod, who went on to hold several prominent positions in the federal government. Her relatives have relied on her memories in their exploration of their family history.
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Tagged with “Monticello”
Jacqueline Diggs grew up on a farm in Jackson County, Ohio, member of a family of very light-skinned people who “went as black,” as she says. Her own appearance made it possible for her to help to break down segregation in the job market in Columbus. She was married to George “Jack” Pettiford for more than forty years and they raised four children. When asked when he told her about his ancestry, she laughingly said, “I thought it was a joke. I thought he was being funny. But I had hopes -- I had hopes that he would turn out like Thomas Jefferson.”
George “Jack” Pettiford grew up in a mostly white neighborhood in Greenfield in a still segregated Ohio. After playing baseball with his white friends, he could not go to a restaurant with them afterward. When he joined the Navy in World War II, he was pressed to enter a white unit and had to insist that he serve with blacks. He and his wife, Jacqueline Diggs, raised four children in Columbus. He attained a supervisory position at the Rockwell Corporation only after many disappointments because of discrimination.
Fountain Hughes spent his boyhood in slavery on the Hydraulic Mills property of the Burnley family near Charlottesville. After the Civil War, in which his father was killed while with the Confederate Army, his mother, Mary Hughes, had to hire Fountain out for a dollar a month. In the 1880s he purchased horses and a carriage and worked as a hack driver, but soon sought greater opportunities in Baltimore, MD. There he worked for several decades for the Shirley family as a farmer and gardener.
Isaac Jefferson’s father, George Granger, was the only enslaved man to serve as Monticello overseer, while his mother, Ursula Granger, was a particularly trusted household servant. Trained in metalworking, including apprenticeship to a Philadelphia tinner, Isaac Granger worked in the Monticello blacksmith shop and nail factory, and briefly operated a tin shop.
Tucker Isaacs, son of German Jewish merchant David Isaacs and Nancy West, a free woman of color, was remembered by one Charlottesville resident as "a good citizen and much respected." He played a central role in the development of the town’s main street, constructing brick buildings on land he owned.
Wormley Hughes was the oldest son of Betty Brown; his father has not been identified. As a boy, he worked in the Monticello house and the Mulberry Row nailery. He became head gardener, preparing flower beds and planting seeds, bulbs, and trees. He also had charge of the valuable carriage and saddle horses in the Monticello stables. He dug the grave of his master, who had called him "one of the most trusty servants I have.
Israel Gillette Jefferson, the son of Edward and Jane Gillette, worked as a boy in the Monticello house, the kitchen, and the textile shop. From age thirteen, he was also a postilion, riding one of the four horses that pulled Jefferson’s landau carriage. He was sold after Jefferson’s death to Thomas Walker Gilmer, who became Secretary of the Navy. The earnings of his second wife, a free seamstress, Elizabeth Farrow Randolph, helped him purchase his freedom from Gilmer.
Johnny James Young was descended from Susan Scott, a Monticello slave who was brought to northern Alabama by Jefferson's great-grandson William Stuart Bankhed in 1846. When Young was growing up, his family was still closely tied to Bankhead's descendants and some family members lived on and farmed their land.
Virginia Rose was the daughter of Elizabeth Letitia (Bessie) Trotter and Henry Kempton Craft, a Harvard graduate, electrical engineer, teacher, and YMCA executive. He was the grandson of William and Ellen Craft, famous for their daring escape from slavery in 1848. Bessie Trotter, who attended the New England Conservatory of Music, was the sister of the prominent civil rights leader William Monroe Trotter.