Attributed to James Akin – James C. Kelly and B. S. Lovell. Thomas Jefferson: His Friends and Foes. Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 101, No. 1, “In the Modest Garb of Pure Republicanism”: Thomas Jefferson as Reformer and Architect (Jan., 1993), pp. 133- 157 / American Antiquarian Society, Public Domain,

I read an article recently that every genealogist should read. It is in a special issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly from September 2001 (Volume 89, No.3).

This issue was completely devoted to discussion of the Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings relationship. If you are a member of NGS you can download this article from the NGS Quarterly Archives.

Sally Hemings: The Evidence

The esteemed Helen Leary tackles the subject inSally Heming’s Children: A Genealogical Analysis of the Evidence.

It is a 40+ page article, but well-worth taking the time to read. Helen illustrates use of the Genealogical Proof Standard to assess one of this country’s most enduring mysteries: Was Thomas Jefferson the father of Sally Heming’s children?

In Helen’s gifted hands, the evidence is laid out. Truly massive amounts of evidence. Every hypothesis is tested, each conflict is addressed and a clearer conclusion you won’t find anywhere.

Virginia Luxuries

Helen is a masterful teacher and a thorough researcher. I grew as a researcher as I read through her analysis. This is a great way to learn how to apply these methods to your own research.

DNA testing in 1998 matched Sally Hemings’ youngest son Eston’s DNA to  a Jefferson male. I particularly enjoyed how Helen handled bias on the part of researchers.

An Amazing Census

I’ll leave you with a clip from the 1870 census  that blew my mind.

In 1870, a census taker in Ross County, Ohio, enumerated Sally’s son Madison. He wrote the following notation into the census next to Madison’s name:

“This man is the son of Thomas Jefferson!”

1870 census

That has got to make you say Wow. I’ve never seen anything like that before.

I hope you’ll go read this article, come back here and let me know what you thought.

I encourage you to read the entire issue: an article by Thomas Jones dissects the “official” report done by the Thomas Jefferson Scholars Commission (who continue to deny the pairing).

There is also an excellent article by Gary B. Mills about proving children of master-slave relationships.

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