Eston Hemings

Eston Hemings

Eston Hemings Jefferson (1808–1856) was born a slave at Monticello, the youngest son of Sally Hemings, a mixed-race slave. Most historians believe that his father was Thomas Jefferson, the United States president. Evidence from a 1998 DNA test showed that a descendant of Eston matched the Jefferson male line, and historical evidence supports the team's conclusion that Thomas Jefferson was likely the father. Many historians believe that Jefferson had a 38-year relationship with Sally Hemings and fathered her six children, four of whom survived to adulthood.

Jefferson freed Eston and his older brother Madison Hemings in his will, as they had not yet come of age at his death. They each married and lived with their families and mother Sally in Charlottesville, Virginia until her death in 1835. She lived to see a grandchild born in the house her free sons owned. Both brothers and their young families moved to Chillicothe, Ohio to live in a free state, where Eston Hemings earned a living as a musician and entertainer.

In 1852 Eston moved with his wife and three children to Madison, Wisconsin, where they changed their surname to Jefferson and entered the white community. Their sons both served in the Union Army, and the older one, John Wayles Jefferson, achieved the rank of colonel. He became a wealthy cotton broker and never married.

Both Beverly and Anna Jefferson married into the white community, and their descendants have identified as white. Beverley Jefferson's five sons were educated and three entered the professional class as a physician, attorney, and manager at the railroad. One of their male-line descendants was tested in the 1998 DNA study.

His sister, Julie Jefferson Westerinen, together with two Jefferson descendants from the Hemings' and Wayles' sides of the family, founded the "Monticello Community" to recognize descendants of all who lived and worked at Monticello. The three received the 2010 Search for Common Ground award for racial healing within the larger Jefferson family.

Read more about Eston Hemings:  Early Life, Post-slavery Life, Descendants, Jefferson-Hemings Controversy, The Monticello Community