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Samuel Carr (1771-1855) was the son of Thomas Jefferson's sister Martha Jefferson Carr (1746-1811) and his close friend Dabney Carr (1743-1773). Following the death of her husband in 1773, Martha and her six children lived at Monticello for extended periods of time. Thomas Jefferson took a particular interest in the education of his nephews, beginning with the eldest. When Samuel, the second son, was eleven, Jefferson sent him to live with Dabney Carr's brother, Overton Carr, in Prince Georges County Maryland. Jefferson hoped that Overton would provide for Samuel the same education that Jefferson himself had offered Peter, the first son.1
Samuel Carr was back in Virginia by the 1790s, and was eventually settled at Dunlora plantation in Albemarle County. Early in the new century, he served as an Albemarle county magistrate and later sat in the Virginia House of Delegates (1818-1819) and the Virginia Senate (1835-1839). During the War of 1812, Carr served as a colonel of cavalry.2
Samuel Carr was married to his cousin Eleanor ("Nelly") Carr and, after her death, to Maria Dabney of Albemarle County. He fathered six children and died in Kanawha County, where his son James Lawrence Carr had settled. He was buried at Monticello.3
During the nineteenth century, Thomas Jefferson's descendants stated that Jefferson's nephews Peter and Samuel Carr were the fathers of light-skinned Monticello slaves that some people claimed were Jefferson's own children. DNA testing in the late twentieth century, however, found no genetic link between Hemings and Carr descendants, refuting the assertion that Samuel Carr or his brother Peter had fathered Sally Hemings’s children.
- Nancy Verell, 5/8/17
Primary Source References
1801 May 1. (Jefferson to Carr). "I […] yourself & mrs Carr joy on the birth of a son & heir. how does she do? affectionate salutations to you both & to the family."4
1803 June 2. (Carr to Jefferson). "With pleasure I hasten to inform you that my brother is much better .... My anxiety and hopes induce me to believe that in a few days he will be out of danger. with sentiments of sincere attachment and esteem I remain Dr Sir Yr friend. & servt."5
1803 November 12. (Carr to Jefferson). "The family at this place are all well, as they are also at Carrs brook & Edgehill. My mother and Nelly join me in wishing you welfare and happiness."6
1811 March 16. (Jefferson to Carr). "I send you some Benni seed, and more asparagus beans having found a larger stock."7
1811 March 16. (Carr to Jefferson). "I will See Mr Clarkson tomorrow and endeavor to purchase the Horse upon the best terms I can for you. ... For the beans and Benni be pleasd to accept my thanks."8
1814 August 29. (Jefferson to Carr). "Roland Goodman who has lived with me as a carpenter since January last, informs me he is a member of your company, now called into service, and desires me to inform you of the state of his health."9
1819 February 1. (Carr to Jefferson). "I congratulate you upon the success of the university Bill. I think the Legislature might be induced to make a further appropriation towards the completion & endowment of it. ... I am very anxious to be in Albemarle by the middle of this month not to return. I expect we shall be able to get thro’ the Revised Bills by the first of March—with best wishes for your health & happiness."10
- 1. Jefferson to Overton Carr, March 16, 1782, in PTJ, 6:166-67. Transcription available at Founders Online. See also MB, 1:523, 1:523n39. Transcription available at Founders Online.
- 2. Woods, Albemarle, 160; PTJ:RS, 3:454n (note available at Founders Online).
- 3. Woods, Albemarle, 160; PTJ:RS, 3:454n (note available at Founders Online); Edson I. Carr, The Carr Family Records (Rockton, IL: Herald Printing House, 1894), 182.
- 4. PTJ, 34:4-5. Transcription available at Founders Online.
- 5. PTJ, 40:468-70. Transcription available at Founders Online.
- 6. PTJ, 41:704. Transcription available at Founders Online.
- 7. PTJ:RS, 3:453-54. Transcription available at Founders Online.
- 8. PTJ:RS, 3:454. Transcription available at Founders Online.
- 9. PTJ:RS, 7:619-20. Transcription available at Founders Online.
- 10. Thomas Jefferson Papers, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library. Transcription available at Founders Online.