Benjamin Snead (sometimes spelled Sneed) (1721 - March 28, 1819) was a schoolteacher and weaver who lived not far from Monticello, about two miles east of Shadwell. He provided instruction at various times to Randolph Jefferson, some of the younger Jefferson sisters, at least one of Jefferson's grandchildren, and possibly even one or more of those enslaved at Monticello.[1] It was Snead who read the burial service for the first Ellen Wayles Randolph, the only one of Martha Jefferson Randolph's children to die in infancy. Snead's wife, Mary (Polly), was a midwife, who was often called upon to attend births among the enslaved community at Monticello, including that of Harriet Hemings.

Snead's property was called Fancy Hill; the Snead family later sold the property in the mid-nineteenth century to the Porters, who eventually sold it to General Edwin "Pa" Watson; the property was eventually renamed Kenwood, and is now the site of the Jefferson Library and the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies.[2] Snead lived in Albemarle County for most of his life before moving to Danville, Kentucky, to be near his family. He died at the advanced age of 98; his obituary remarked that his "mental faculties [were] little if at all impaired and his bodily activity sufficient to enable him to ascend Clinch mountain on foot."[3]

- Anna Berkes, 5/17/2010

Primary Source References

1769 April 1. "Pd. Hen. Mullins assee. of Ben. Sneed by order of Mrs. Jefferson 10/."[4]

1769 October 2. "Pd. Ben. Sneed for weaving for E. Jefferson 6/."[5]

1770 November 19. "Robert Sharpe (Alb.) v. John Sorrel (Amherst) <and Benjamin Sneed (Albem.)>. Enter caveat for 400 as. on Plumbtree branch Albemarle joining the lands of Ford, Lewis, and of the sd. Robert. Survd. abt. 20 years ago & works nev. retd."[6]

1795 July 26. "Pd. B. Sneed for reading service over [Eleonor, i.e. Ellen] 2.D."[7]

1798 May 12. (Martha Jefferson Randolph to Jefferson). "[W]e have been all well but Jefferson who had declined rapidly for some time from a disorder which had baffled every attention and change of diet, the only remedy we ventured to try; but Mr Sneed opening school and Jeffy being hurried out of bed every morning at sunrise and obliged after a breakfast of bread and milk to walk 2 miles to school: his spirits returned his complexion cleared up and I am in hopes that his disorder has left him entirely."[8]

1799 November 25. "Pd. Benj. Sneed [a witness ads. Johnson] 1.1"[9]

1806 September 24. "Pd. Ben. Sneed 5.D. for 2 1/2 months tuition of George's son."[10]

Further Sources

  • Darnell, Ermina J. The Forks of Elkhorn Church. Louisville, Ky.: Standard Printing Co., 1946. Reprinted 1980, Genealogical Publishing Co. Contains genealogical information on the Snead family.
  • The History of West Virginia, Old and New. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1923. Available online. Volume II has a biographical sketch of Noble Kimbrough Sneed, a grandson of Benjamin.


  1. ^ Albemarle County Deed Book, 12:405; see also John Harvie account with Peter Jefferson estate, Thomas Jefferson Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.
  2. ^ Mary Rawlings, Ante-bellum Albemarle (Charlottesville, Va.: People's National Bank, 1935), 5.
  3. ^ "Longevity," Kentucky Reporter, April 14, 1819.
  4. ^ MB, 1:140. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  5. ^ MB, 1:150. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  6. ^ MB, 1:197. Transcription available at Founders Online. The reference to "Sneed" was deleted in the manuscript.
  7. ^ MB, 2:930. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  8. ^ PTJ, 30:346. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  9. ^ MB, 2:1009. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  10. ^ MB, 2:1189. Transcription available at Founders Online. This entry possibly referred to a son of Little George, one of Jefferson's slaves.