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John Nelson
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Mary Lee Brady, Ph.D.

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John Hemings Nelson, born 1775

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John (Nielson) Nelson was a White carpenter at Monticello working for Thomas Jefferson during years before and during the revolution.  Records indicate he was likely an Englishman and very skilled.  He fathered John Hemings by Elizabeth Hemings three years after death of John Wayles and two years after her relocation from Wayles' Guinea Plantation to Jefferson's Monticello Plantation. It is not known as to how long the relationship between Betty Hemings and John Nelson lasted but records confirm that it did exist, and in fact John Nelson was present long enough in Jefferson's employ to help train his son John Hemings as an expert carpenter. 

His son John Hemings Nelson became the famed builder and carpenter at both Monticelloand Jefferson's other favorite home in Bedford County.  Copies of letters to Jefferson written by John Hemings are proof that he and likely the other Hemings offspring of Betty Hemings could read and write, ... and certainly able to communicate and understand quantitative data such as counting money and measuring materials.

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Last modified: 01/21/15