Eston Hemings, born in 1808 at Monticello was the youngest child of Sarah (Sally) Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. Indications are that he and his brother Madison were also close friends with each other and became accomplished musicians playing the violin at both Monticello and various Charlottesville gatherings.
Eston knew and married his cousin Julia Hemings Isaacs in Charlottesville where his Aunt Nancy Hemings West was listed as a free colored woman and the de-facto wife of David Isaacs, a horse trader.
We believe that Eston's knowledge and activities in the horse-trading industry was likely gained via his father-in-law and was probably employed by him for a time up until Isaacs death and the decision in 1836 to relocate to Ohio taking his mother-in-law with them. He is listed in the 1850 census as a musician confirming oral history that both he and Madison played professionally in Ohio in addition to other enterprising endeavors. There is little doubt among Hemings descendents that Thomas Jefferson encouraged and taught them to play the violin and began a tradition among their descendents continued to-date.
So far as we have been able to determine, both Eston and his brother Madison for a time after leaving Virginia, ... lived in Chilicothe along with Eston's aunt and mother-in-law Nancy Hemings West. Research indicates that Eston, who was an accomplished muscian, as was Madison, ... may have been employed by or partnered with Thomas Renick of the the wealthy Renick family from Western Virginia enriched by the breeding, buying and selling of horses. Records are clear that Thomas Renick who went to Wisconsin sometime around 1844 died there, and his body was returned to the family gravesite in Chilicothe, Ohio, ... we believe possibly by Eston Hemings. Eston did not move his family to Wisconsin until 1852 but certainly would have had a reason and place to go before doing so. Our interest in him with regards to the Renicks is that they were well known and established as horse traders as had been his father-in-law.
One thing for certain is that Eston was a traveling man and likely moved throughout the Northwest Territories of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin in the horse-trade industry booming as new settlers poured into the west made possible by his father's famed "Louisiana Purchase" from Emperor Napoleon. Thomas Jefferson's reasoning was that acquiring the vast territories claimed by France would both dampen French and Spanish expansion ambitions in North America; and, open up vast territories for settlement by the newly established United States. Equally important, the new bottom lands acquired in the Mississippi River Valley opened opportunities and demands for a vast expansion of slavery.
Eston died in 1856, and his son joined a Union Army regiment in Wisconsin as an officer confirming that his family likely resided there for some time before or after his father's death. Wisconsin was a classic example as to opportunities available to men and women not of Native American or African heritage.
By the 1850s when Eston Hemings moved his family to Wisconsin, the United States was a vast array of states, territories and pending states for admission to the Union; and, the new nation was half slave and half free, ... and could not for long stand.
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