As many as 70 members of the Hemings family lived in slavery at Monticello over five generations.
The Monticello plantation was a complex community dependent on the labor of many people—especially its enslaved field hands, artisans, and domestic workers. Enslaved people worked from sunrise to sunset six days a week, with only Sundays off. They also had the usual holidays for slaves in Virginia: Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun (seven weeks after Easter).
Several extended families lived in slavery at Monticello for three or more generations. Among them were the families of Elizabeth Hemings and her children; Edward and Jane Gillette; George and Ursula Granger; David and Isabel Hern; and James and Cate Hubbard.
Members of the entrepreneurial family of Edward and Jane Gillette possessed a variety of valuable skills and often supplied Monticello with their own goods and produce.
The story of the Herns illustrates the strength of the African American family.
Joseph Fossett was a trusted blacksmith and his wife, Edith, was Monticello’s principal cook during Jefferson’s retirement.
The Grangers and their children were trusted and skilled artisans and laborers at Monticello.
Brothers James and Philip Hubbard were brought to Monticello in their early teens to work in the Nailery. In later years, both were runaways, but for different reasons.