Harriet Hemings Butler Spears was born in 1834 according to what is on her tombstone but our research is that she was born in 1839 and according to the reminisces of Madison Hemings, he only had one daughter (Sarah) born in Virginia when he left in 1836 for Ohio where his other children including Harriet were born.
Whatever the case may be, we know more about her than all the other offspring and siblings of Madison Hemings because her daughter Mary Elizabeth Butler married Thomas Findley Lee in Ohio, and became my grand-parents I knew very well and heard their stories.
Harriet Hemings Butler-Spears (above) was the daughter of Madison Hemings and ... grand-daughter to Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. She was also the beloved "Grandma Spears" to Nancy and her siblings who knew her intimately when growing up in Ohio. And, they knew their grand-mother was the daughter of Madison Hemings who was the son of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, ... they called "the Black Mariah."
It is for certain and known among her offspring that Harriet Hemings Butler Spears was a no-nonsense enlightened and educated Christian mother that was educated and had been taught to play the violin by her father Madison Hemings, ... and lived through heart-aches of pre-Civil War and Civil War era in which she lost a brother, cousins and friends. From a feminist perspective not likely considered by the modern day writers, ... Harriet was a woman who likely participated in early freedom rides to bring relatives and others from behind the cotton curtain of chattel slavery in Virginia.
She could move as a free White woman into places like Winchester, Roanoke, Charlottesville and even Richmond to try and keep hope alive among kin-folk still legally bound to be slaves. We do not know whether she did or not but doubt a woman such as her would ignore the plights of Hemings cousins still enslaved. But, on the other hand, Madison would likely have forbid her to go where body snatchers were known to seek out and sell young men and women down river into the deep south as slaves.
She is buried in the Bloomington Cemetery not far from Mary Charlotte Jefferson and other officially classified White relatives of Thomas Jefferson, ... confirming our belief that Madison and Eston had knowledge of and kinship in the area before moving there from Virginia. It is an insult to the intelligence of Thomas Jefferson, America's greatest intellectual mind, to imagine or suggest that he did not know his relatives in Ohio or elsewhere. Or even worse, that cousins of his father Peter, did not know that a cousin wrote the Declaration of Independence, ushered Ohio into the Union and became President of the United States? Death made the cemetery a family burial plot for kinship denied in life and death down in Virginia by mindsets molded in the ante-bellum south, ... though "gone with the wind."
Further review of the national archives are necessary to determine which of the below Union army soldiers was the James Butler and Henry Spears married to Harriet. Harriet would later remarry to Henry Spears who we understand was a close friend to her dead husband, and became a prominent African-American Civil War veteran in Ohio. Upon her death Harriet was buried in a grave adjacent to both husbands.
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