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Hugh Chisholm

Hired White Workers

Massachusetts Historical Society

Hugh Chisholm was a hired white workman, a jack of all trades, employed at Monticello from 1796 to 1797 and from 1801 to 1814.  Jefferson “paid Chisolm for plaistering &c.,” as well as for masonry, carpentry, bricklaying, and “20.D. to pay for digging.”¹  Sometimes working with his brother, bricklayer John, he “moulded and burnt” clay to make bricks and with “2 apprentices … [could] lay 1600. bricks a day.”²  Chisholm worked on Monticello II (1796-1809), the dependencies, cisterns , and the South Pavilion. He may have renovated the workmen’s house on Mulberry Row when it was converted from dwelling to textile workshop. Chisholm owned a slave, Lewis, to whom Jefferson paid small sums for occasional odd jobs, such as “Chisolm's Lewis gratuity for cistern 1.D." in 1821.³

Read more at»

  1. Jefferson's Memorandum Books, Sept. 14, 1810, vol. II: 1260 and Sept. 25, 1806, vol. II: 1188.
  2. Thomas Jefferson to Hugh Chisholm, Dec. 15, 1807. 
  3. Jefferson's Memorandum Books, Sept. 29, 1821, vol. II: 1379.


Explore the workmen’s house, a structure that served as a dwelling and textile workshop during Jefferson’s lifetime.

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Learn about the enslaved people who lived and worked on Mulberry Row, the dynamic industrial hub of the Monticello plantation.


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