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Ursula Granger

Enslaved Workers

Massachusetts Historical Society

In mid-January 1773, Jefferson purchased Ursula and her two children, and, later, her husband, George Granger, Sr. Jefferson's wife, Martha, must have known Ursula’s skills as she was, “very desirous to get a favorite house woman of the name Ursula.”1 The Grangers were important to Monticello’s operation for the next 25 years; “Great George” became Monticello’s only African American overseer.  They probably lived in the “Negro quarter,” one of the slave dwellings for multiple families on Mulberry Row. 

Ursula Granger, a Valuable Cook

Ursula worked as a cook, wet-nurse (for Jefferson's wife), house maid, laundress, dairymaid, and also supervised cider-making in 1800; “There is nobody there but Ursula who unites trust & skill to do it,” Jefferson wrote. In addition to working in the Jefferson household, she cared for her own family.  In 1794 she received 30 yards of linen, 20 yards of “cloth with knap,” and 36 skeins of spun sewing thread for clothing.  Ursula, George Granger, Sr. and their son George Granger, Jr. all died within months of each other in 1799 and 1800, victims of serious illness treated by a conjurer in Buckingham County.

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).

See a digital model and animation of the large structure that was the site of meat preservation and dairying.

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