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David Hern, Jr.

1784–after 1829
Enslaved Workers

Massachusetts Historical Society

David Hern, Jr. was the son of David and Isabel Hern, both inherited by Jefferson from the estate of his father-in-law, John Wayles. Known to Jefferson variously as Davy, Jr., Isabel's Davy, or Wagoner Davy, Davy worked at Monticello as a nail-maker, blacksmith, and charcoal-burner.  Like other boys, he started out as a nailer, and like most of Monticello’s enslaved people, he participated in the wheat harvest; in 1796, for example, he gathered wheat and made sheaves.  His major occupation, however, was driving a cart or wagon.  To deliver and pick up goods, his travels as a wagoner took him 120 miles to Washington, south to Poplar Forest, and across central Virginia.  His wife Fanny Gillette Hern and his sister Edith were both trained in French cooking at the White House; they became the principal cooks at Monticello after 1809.  Hern, his wife, and their eight children were sold at the 1827 dispersal sale.

This account is compiled from Lucia Stanton, “Those Who Labor for My Happiness:” Slavery at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (University of Virginia Press and Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2012).

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Getting Word

Learn more about the Hern family.

Learn more about the lives and stories of the Hern family at our related family history website.

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Jefferson: Slavery at Monticello

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