The Sketch of Eston Hemings, in your weekly issue of Saturday last
interested me not a little. From the personal resemblance, it appears
probable that he was a son of the great man who drew the Declaration of
Independence: and this is clearly so if Hemings told the truth regarding his
mother . Such relations as his statement suggests, were in perfect harmony
with the practical ___ of the old slave system in Jefferson's time, and until
the abomination was wiped out.
This article originally appeared in the Scioto Gazette, a Chillicothe,
Ohio newspaper, on August 7, 1902 under the sub-heading "Granddaughter of
Thomas Jefferson Described in Glowing Pen Picture by Judge Sibley; Probably a
Sister of Eston Hemings." Judge Sibley contributed his recollections of Eston
Hemings, and Eston's daughter Anna, to supplement an earlier sketch of Hemings'
life that had appeared in the paper on August 1.
Besides, he was familiar with Parisian society--tinctured, indeed with French
notions on some subjects--and as all know, Puritanic ideas regarding the
relations of men and women never have been potent on that side of the British
I am not, however, to be understood as rating Mr. Jefferson below some of his
distinguished compatriots in private morals. The character of Aaron Burr will
at once be recalled. Even Ben Franklin was not, as a young man, wholly
impeccable, while Alexander Hamilton wrote a pamphlet in extenuation of a
liaison out of which a political scandal had been made.
The circumstance, then, that Thomas Jefferson should become a father by one of
his own slaves, derives any unusual interest from his position in social and
public life other than the occurrence in itself considered. Such things
characterized slavery as long as it lasted.
With so much by way of preliminary, I come to some matters in personal history,
out of which arise facts that relate, I presume, to the Eston Hemings family.
During the fall of 1849 I attended a "Manual Labor School" at Albany, in Athens
county, Ohio. It had some local fame as an "Abolition School," as students
were received in it regardless of color. I think two brothers named Lewis,
were at its head, aided by others. There I met a beautiful octoroon, in her
early teens who was introduced to incoming students as "miss Anna (or Ann)
Heming, the grand daughter of Thomas Jefferson." Her hair was kinky, but a
rich dark chestnut in color, while her black lustrous eyes were far the finest
that I then had ever seen.
In her cheeks the vormil red did show
Like roses in a bed of lillies ___
Fairer than the whiteish of her mater the transparent beauty of her
complexion was the wonder and talk of both boys and girl. I do not remember
where she was said to have come from, and since leaving the school in 1850,
never have heard of her, nor of anyone with like name until reading the sketch
of Eston Hemings in the Gazette.
As I recollect the name was Hemings...
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