A President in the Family

Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and Thomas Woodson
Byron W. Woodson, Sr.

The Rights of All

There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds are virtue and talents.
—Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, October 28, 1813  1

Thomas Woodson acquired more acreage in Jackson County than he could possibly cultivate himself. A smattering of evidence suggests that a number of people resided on portions of the Woodson property for a few years at a time. Though it seems Thomas secured a favorable financial standing, the purpose behind the transitional use of the property probably had less to do with the prospect of rental income than with the needs of the transients, some of whom might have been blacks who escaped enslavement. He was glad to be of help. Thomas and Jemima drew even greater satisfaction from the achievements of their large, ambitious brood.

Since Jemima was seven years older than Thomas, the union began when she filled the role of both wife and surrogate mother. During their residence in Ohio the age difference began to effectively disappear. As Lewis emerged as a prodigy and continued to assume more responsibility, another oddity loomed. Only sixteen years older than Lewis, it seemed as though Thomas had spawned a brother, not a son. No doubt this quirk of fate was obvious to family and friends. Thomas rejoiced in his blessings, supporting his prodigious son and encouraged his other sons and his daughters to follow Lewis’ lead.


In 1835 Sally Hemings died in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she had moved after Jefferson’s death to join her sons Madison and Eston. Her place of burial has not been preserved. The Hemingses purchased a house and additional lots on Main Street near Davy Isaacs and Nancy West. Davy Isaacs, a Jew whose father had emigrated from Frankfurt, Germany, to Virginia in 1747, operated a store on Main Street and counted Thomas Jefferson as a regular customer. Nancy West was a free colored woman who cohabited with Davy Isaacs but maintained her own identity as a property owner and a business operator. She published a local newspaper, the Charlottesville Chronicle. Between 1789 and 1817, Davy Isaacs and Nancy West produced seven children. Sally Hemings’ son Eston married their sixth child, Julia Ann.  2

Eston was listed as head of the Main Street household in the 1830 U.S. Census, which listed Eston, Madison, and their mother, Sally Hemings, as white. One “colored female adult” and five children were also listed. Madison married a mulatto named Mary McCoy in 1831. Eston and Madison worked as musicians and carpenters.  3

After Sally Hemings’ death in 1835, Madison and Eston moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, where their brother Tom (Thomas Woodson) had lived for nine years. Madison soon left Chillicothe for Pike County, located immediately south of Ross County and Chillicothe. A carpenter/builder, Madison Hemings built a warehouse for Great Lakes ship captain Joseph Sewell adjacent to the Erie and Ohio canal in Waverly, Ohio, along with several other area buildings. Madison lived as an African American. He made no secret of his relationship to Thomas Jefferson, nor did he flaunt it. He occasionally proclaimed connection to President Jefferson, but knew that whites would make every effort to discredit him. Most of Madison’s children passed into white society; the family lines that did so lost cognizance of any connection with Monticello. The family lines living as African Americans passed along their connection to Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson.  4

One account indicates that Chillicothe locals accepted the idea that Eston was the son of Thomas Jefferson. He was thought to resemble Jefferson, but Eston apparently attempted to play down the idea. It is possible that Madison Hemings was the one who implanted the family genealogy into the lore of Chillicothe. Eston bought property in Chillicothe and later sold part ownership to his mother-in-law, Nancy West, when he moved to Wisconsin in 1850. Eston changed his surname to Jefferson in Wisconsin, where he and all of his children lived as whites. He worked as a cabinetmaker there but died not long after his arrival. Several of his descendants were childless, but a small family line continued. Eston’s descendents did not pass on a clear knowledge of his connection to Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson.  5

Martha Jefferson Randolph moved to Boston for a time after her husband died and Monticello was sold, to live with her daughter Ellen Randolph Coolidge. Her youngest children, George and Septima, traveled there with her. Martha later lived in Washington for a short time with another daughter, then returned to Virginia, living at Edgehill with her son Thomas Jefferson Randolph. When her indigence thereafter became public knowledge, the state legislatures of South Carolina and Louisiana each voted a gift of $10,000. Martha Jefferson Randolph died in 1836, a year after Sally Hemings, and was buried in the family plot at Monticello.  6

Martha instructed her sons, Thomas Jefferson Randolph and George Wythe Randolph, to always uphold the honor of their grandfather. She told them that one of Sally Hemings’ children was born during a period when her father had been away from Monticello for fifteen months. While this account was not true, it would influence the thinking of historians for over a hundred years. Thus the southern miscegenation taboo, which coerced intelligent people to pretend not to know or understand what was blatantly apparent, prevailed.  7

Martha’s account passed from Thomas Jefferson Randolph to historian Henry Randall (who did not mention the Hemings controversy in his biography of Jefferson), then to historian James Parton. Parton reported several of Randolph’s assertions, including that “he had never seen a motion or a look or a circumstance which led him to suspect, for an instant, that there was a particle more of familiarity between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Henings [sic], than between him [Jefferson] and the most repulsive servant.” The Parton biography, which presented the most vigorous defense of Jefferson’s “sexual misconduct” of that century, was published in 1874, a year after Madison Hemings gave a statement to an Ohio newsman. Parton presented the Randolph denial with more style and vigor than the Randolphs could have ever dreamed.  8

Jemima Woodson’s mother, Hannah Grant, died the year before Sally Hemings. Thomas and Jemima shared the same loss. Hannah filed a will in the Greenbriar County courthouse on June 10, 1834. The exact date of her death is not known. She used the will to free her slave, Sheldon Brock, whom she referred to as a “bound,” a term sometimes used in reference to a slave but used more frequently in the prior century to describe an indentured servant. Hannah’s use of the word was intended to soften the reality. Appointing Thomas Woodson as Brock’s guardian, she designated money for purchase of “one half quarter section of land” for Brock. She willed ten dollars to “Louis [Lewis] Woodson of Ohio,” who was actually then immersed in various missions in Pittsburgh. Hannah had many grandchildren, but Lewis is the only one mentioned by name in the will, a special remembrance.  9

Like Betty Hemings’ death, Hannah’s marked the end of one era and the beginning of another for those intimately connected to her. It was a profound event for them. Prior to her death, some of her children gained freedom. Less is known about Hannah’s origin than about Betty’s; but each managed to push parts of their family out of slavery, triumphantly, maybe miraculously. Unlike Betty, Hannah secured freedom for herself as well. Like Sally Hemings she spurned the opportunity to move to the Midwest. During her last years in the Greenbriar County highlands, she recalled the memories of her enslavement on the Virginia Piedmont and lived another part of her life through reports of the prosperity that her children and grandchildren enjoyed in the heartland called Ohio.


Those who lived at Monticello passed into another life, but their legacies lived on, helped by a writer named Frances Wright. Wright, a wealthy young woman of Scottish decent, had begged Lafayette to allow her to join him on his trip to Monticello in 1824. She had been touched by the literature of Lord Byron, who spread potent notions of personal freedom and new sexual mores. Lafayette consented, and she did in fact meet Thomas Jefferson, reportedly engaging in lengthy discussions with the elderly sage.  10

After the failure of Wright’s ill-conceived “experiment,” a racially integrated settlement in Tennessee where she planned to educate former slaves, she moved to on Cincinnati, Ohio. There she lectured, becoming the first woman in America to speak publicly about political matters. Her lectures stirred the town, and it must have been her references to Thomas Jefferson that drew the most concern. She claimed firsthand knowledge: “Mr. Jefferson is said to have been the father of children by almost all of his numerous gang of female slaves…when, as it sometimes happened, his children by Quadroon slaves were white enough to escape suspicion of their origin he did not pursue them if they attempted to escape, saying laughingly, ‘Let the rogues get off, if they can; I will not hinder them.’ ”  11

Wright’s poignant but exaggerated account was recorded in Cincinnati by another writer from the British Isles, Frances Trollope, whose Domestic Manners of the Americans was published in 1832. The account did not mention Sally Hemings, the children, or others by name. The story gently echoed through time. It was raised above a whisper by abolitionists and later, after the Civil War, by Reconstructionists, but it was proffered more as innuendo than as fact.

When biographer Alice Perkins covered Frances Wright’s life in 1939, Trollope’s tale of the lecture heard in Cincinnati was recounted, except for the passage relating to miscegenation at Monticello. Apparently Perkins either did not feel the tale would stand without corroboration or thought that the passage of time and the deification of Jefferson rendered the tale irrelevant. In 1829 Frances Wright moved from Cincinnati on to New York City, living the balance of her life in America, witnessing Emancipation and the emergence of the women’s suffrage movement. The Wright/Trollope account would not begin to have meaningful impact until the 1940s, a hundred years later, when it fell into the hands of another persistent researcher, Pearl Graham.  12


At the 1830 A.M.E. National Conference in Hillsborough, Ohio, the Reverend Lewis Woodson, Bishop Morris Brown, and the Reverend Paul Quinn collectively decided that Woodson would minister to a church in Pittsburgh and guide the expansion of the Ohio Conference from there. His wife Caroline, of course, supported the decision. Women of that time did not have equal say in matters of importance. The Pittsburgh community had clearly and repeatedly expressed a desire for an A.M.E. church; Lewis Woodson found that his talents were fervently appreciated.  13

In 1808, the African Church had been organized in a home on Front Street in Pittsburgh and was chartered in 1818. The same year Sunday school began in a separate location, between Third and Fourth Streets. Members of the African Church petitioned the Baltimore Conference of the A.M.E. Church for admission into the denomination. In 1822, the Reverend Paul Quinn was sent to Pittsburgh to minister there, fulfilling the request. The church was able to purchase a building on Strawberry Way in 1827. The congregation must have grown, because in 1830 another purchase was made, this time on Front Street.  14

Moving from Columbus, Ohio, in 1831, Lewis assumed the ministry in Pittsburgh. The following January, Lewis formed the African Education Society

Click to see larger image

Year Book of Negro Churches, compiled by Bishop Beverly C. Ransom (Wilberforce, Ohio: Wilberforce University, 1935–36).

with businessman John B. Vashon, a successful bathhouse operator, as its president. Woodson served as secretary. The school, staffed solely by blacks, attracted many of the “respectable citizens” of Pittsburgh. The society bought a building from the Methodist Church on Front Street and paid Lewis a teacher’s salary of $150 per year.  15

Having stabilized Bethel Church and established the school, Woodson turned to the mission of expanding the Ohio Conference. In 1833, a nine-day conference was held in Pittsburgh. Bishop Morris Brown presided; the Reverend Lewis Woodson assumed a familiar role as secretary. The Reverend Paul Quinn was among those present. Fifteen ministers and seven interns attended. The Conference reportedly had grown to include twenty-four churches, divided among five circuits. Total church membership of 1,194 was reported. In later years, the Ohio Conference boundaries would include Indiana, Michigan, and parts of Kentucky. Thereafter, the North Ohio Conference was created along with other conferences; the Ohio Conference consequently contracted.  16

Pennsylvania instituted gradual abolition of slavery in 1780. Any person born after March 1, 1780, could not be a slave for life in the state. Abolition of the indenture of whites was immediate. By 1800, there were only 500 enslaved persons in Pennsylvania, 64 of whom lived in Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located. When Lewis Woodson arrived in Pittsburgh, there was very little, if any, slavery in the city.  17

In the late summer of 1831, John B. Vashon and Reverend Woodson befriended a young man of nineteen who had recently arrived in Pittsburgh. Most African Americans came in contact with Vashon, the owner of a bathhouse and barbershop, soon after arriving in Pittsburgh. The young man, Martin Delany, became a student in Lewis Woodson’s school.

Martin Delany came from Charlestown, which is now located in West Virginia, but at the time was in the Old Dominion, Virginia. His mother was free; his father was enslaved. Born May 6, 1812, Martin was the youngest of three children. He thirsted for knowledge but was not well educated. After an itinerant peddler sold him a primer in exchange for some bent spoons and blunt knives, Martin began to teach himself to read. When townspeople discovered this and threatened to lock Martin’s mother in jail, she fled to Pennsylvania, settling in Chambersburg with her children in 1820. Martin Delany’s father followed, finding a job in a paper mill. Martin attended primary school there, but the high school was expensive; no tuition aid was offered. Consequently, Martin sought work and eventually found himself helping to construct the Pennsylvania Canal. He wished to attend Dickinson College in Carlisle but was unable to do so. At that point Delany set out on the 150-mile journey to Pittsburgh.  18

In Pittsburgh, Delany lived with the Vashon family for a time, sharing a bed with Vashon’s son George. He found work on the Pittsburgh waterfront and attended Reverend Woodson’s nearby school at night. Delany began to read a new abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, published by William Lloyd Garrison in Boston. Soon Delany decided that he wanted to practice medicine and approached a local doctor, Andrew McDonald, seeking an apprenticeship. The doctor agreed, and through him Delany learned the practice of bloodletting and applying leeches. The 1837 Pittsburgh Business Directory lists Delany, Martin R., as a cupper, bleeder, and galvanizer. The practice of medicine at the time was appallingly archaic by today’s standards.

William Lloyd Garrison began publication of The Liberator on January 1, 1831. Garrison traveled to several cities, meeting with black activists. Abolitionist Lewis Tappan wrote, “It was their united and strenuous opposition to the expatriation scheme that first induced Garrison and others to oppose it.” Garrison became a staunch and powerful advocate of abolition. Unlike most white abolitionists, he opposed expatriation of African Americans and formed meaningful relationships with African American leaders. Reflecting upon twenty-five years of observation, the African American abolitionist Dr. J. McCune Smith noted that it was hard to tell “who loved the other the most, Mr. Garrison the colored people or the colored people Mr. Garrison?” By early 1832, Garrison had enlisted blacks in several cities as newspaper agents, including John B. Vashon. African Americans carried The Liberator through its infancy. In December 1832, Vashon advanced Garrison $50 and later $60. By 1834, the newspaper had built its subscriber list to 2,300; whites comprised one-fourth of the number.  19

On October 21, 1835, Vashon lunched at Garrison’s house in Boston. Later that day, Garrison was attacked by a mob. When he was placed in jail for safekeeping, Vashon visited him, bringing a new hat to the frazzled abolitionist. Vashon traveled a great deal for a man of his time. His 1835 trip predated extensive railroad construction. Vashon most likely used horse-drawn coach from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia or to New York City, then traveled by steamship to Boston, a total journey of nine or ten unpleasant days. He attended antislavery and “Negro” conventions and joined the boards of several organizations. When the American Anti-Slavery Society formed in December 1833 in Philadelphia, Vashon was named to the board of managers, along with five other blacks, including Robert Purvis of Philadelphia and the Reverend Peter Williams of New York.  20

In the early 1830s, African American leaders held conventions in East Coast cities, where most free blacks lived. The free black population of Baltimore was the largest by far. At the last of these conventions in 1835, the American Moral Reform Society, spearheaded by Philadelphian William Whipper, was formed. Lewis Woodson became the secretary of the Pittsburgh auxiliary, placing himself in a dilemma. The Society’s basic tenets fostered moral reform, industry, integrity, and temperance—all convictions agreeable to Lewis. However, the Society opposed racial separation and tied initiatives for black advancement to the collaboration of sympathetic whites. Lewis Woodson rejected the entanglement of black progress with the sympathy or patronizing expressions of whites. Lewis stressed self-determination and strengthening institutions within the black community.  21


Wanting to avoid contention with Whipper, yet needing to express convictions he deemed critical, Lewis Woodson assumed the pseudonym “Augustine” in a series of essays published in the abolitionist newspaper the Colored American, which was printed in New York by African American publisher Samuel Cornish. A deft tone was set in the first of Lewis’ Augustine letters: “Since the commencement of the great abolition movement in our country, many highly respectable and intelligent colored men have fallen into the opinion, that we have less to do in our moral elevation, and that it will require less to raise us to respectability and usefulness now, than formerly.” Lewis considered toil and sacrifice the most fundamental aspect of African American uplift, and he largely rejected the assistance of white abolitionists. “Consequently, unless we within and among ourselves become elevated and worthy, we should still be cut off from polite and elevated society, though all the world around us were in our favor.”  22

Candor was the strength of Lewis’ message. His writings fully recognized the depth of the deprivation that African Americans experienced and outlined the principal resources needed to improve conditions for his people:

There are also others, who think it impolite and improper for us to acknowledge and speak of ourselves as a distinct class, in the community in which we live.…They have been the holders and we the held. Every power and privilege have been invested with them, while we have been divested of every right.…If the school, the pulpit, and the press be the natural and legitimate means of our moral elevation…that elevation, to be effectual must…be brought to bear…by ORGANIZED and systematic effort.  23

He compared the circumstances of African Americans to those of other nationalities:

A few individuals of any class of men, being civilized, enlightened and refined, does not procure for their class such a character. This is the case with Ireland, Spain, Turkey, and Russia. Not but there may be found in all these countries, many who excel in whatever is elegant, polite, and refined; but because a majority of their population is low, ignorant, and degraded, it establishes for them a corresponding national character. So, on the contrary, France is characterized for her politeness; Scotland for her morality and profound learning.…Not but there may be found in all these nations, many individuals differing essentially from these national characteristics, but because a majority of the individuals who compose them, are such, it establishes for the whole, such a national character.  24

Contrary to William Whipper’s contention, Woodson argued that the black church should not work toward integration among white congregations. He argued for independence: “Prejudice, the offspring of slavery, shuts us out alike from the pulpit and the house of God, with our fairer brethren;—it shuts their eyes, stops their ears, steels their hearts against us, and cuts [us] off from all friendly intercourse with them—and leaves it with ourselves alone to sink to perdition, or rise to immortality. It is to the pulpits of our own congregations that I wish to direct the attention of the reader, as being the only source from which shall cause the moral regeneration of our race.”  25

The letter printed by the Colored American on July 28, 1838, marked a crescendo, not of a literary or a political nature, but in the realm of emotion. Referring to the Declaration of Independence as a rational act, justified by prevailing “antipathies,” Lewis Woodson urged African Americans toward separate settlement on land tracts large enough to support black schools and churches, as opposed to the scattering or mixing of blacks into rural communities. Just this once he brought his father into the debate, though not by name: “My father now resides, and has been for the last eight years residing in such a settlement, in Jackson County, Ohio. The settlement is highly prosperous and happy. They have a church, day and Sabbath school of their own.”  26

The ten letters Lewis Woodson wrote to the Colored American under the pen name Augustine comprise the earliest manifesto for African American self-determination. The central themes were self-reliance, moral elevation, institution-building, and unity. Unlike other leading black abolitionists, Lewis never advocated expatriation to Africa or a slave uprising. For a time he did accept immigration to Canada or the West Indies as an option, since those places were near enough to prevent abandonment of the African American slave population trapped in the South. It is probably an overstatement to claim that black America set its course by rallying to the message of the Augustine letters, but it is clear that the letters articulated with uncanny and unequalled accuracy the course that was in fact taken.

Lewis anticipated the success of the abolition movement. He recognized a need to prepare for the end of slavery, and it seems in retrospect that those preparations must have hastened emancipation itself. “Slavery must soon be abolished; and, if so, where are the men to supply the wants that will then be created? Brethren, we are far behind the spirit of the age. God is holding out his blessings to us, will we be ready? When HE demands our action, will we be prepared?” “The elevation of three millions of immortal beings from the lowest depths of moral degradation, to the proper level of humanity, is a work to which the head and pen of the mightiest sage is barely adequate.”  27

Lewis Woodson and Martin Delany were elected as Pittsburgh delegates to the “Annual Convention of Colored Men of New York City.” The convention, however, was never held. The pair no doubt made the best possible use of the trip, greeting abolitionists in New York and Philadelphia. Later Delany became disenchanted with his bleeding and cupping practice and decided to travel to the South and Southwest to learn about those parts of the country and living conditions of blacks there. He boarded a steamship headed down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, touring Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Greatly disturbed by what he encountered, Delany returned to Pittsburgh in 1840. In 1843, he established the Mystery, the first African American newspaper printed in Pennsylvania, and he married Catherine Richards, a member of an old African American Pittsburgh family whose patriarch had bought land from John Penn, a son of William Penn. Delany’s newspaper office was only a few doors away from Lewis Woodson’s residence. The location is now occupied by PPG Place, an office tower complex that houses headquarters of the successor of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company.  28

Delany’s Mystery was not a profitable enterprise, as the number of abolitionist and African American newspapers continued to grow. In 1847, Frederick Douglass, the famed African American orator, traveled to Pittsburgh to address antislavery meetings. Douglass enlisted Delany to help start a newspaper in Rochester, New York. The North Star was named for the star Douglass followed through the forests to freedom. Delany served as its first editor and toured with John Mercer Langston, a graduate of Oberlin College, delivering antislavery speeches and selling newspaper subscriptions.

Realizing that the practice of medicine was becoming more advanced, and seeking an education that would elevate him above the customary procedures of bleeding and cupping, Delany applied to Harvard Medical School. He was accepted with the stipulation that he immigrate to Liberia under the aegis of the American Colonization Society upon completion of his training. Other black applicants accepted this scheme but finished the medical program at Dartmouth before leaving for Africa, as Harvard students objected to the admission of blacks. Delany rejected the plan and did not enter medical school, but he did sail to Africa with his family in 1859 to explore the prospect of settlement there. His stand against immigration to Africa softened; however, he continued to strongly reject forced emigration and the role of the American Colonization Society.


At two minutes past noon on a sunny, windy day in April 1845, the bell of the Third Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh rang with an unusual and alarming rhythm. Fire! A wooden shed near the corner of Second Street and Ferry Avenue (now Boulevard of the Allies and Stanwinx) caught fire. The first fire company to respond was the Vigilant. The wind sent embers toward other clapboard buildings, spreading danger to adjacent structures. The water system, installed in 1828 and enlarged in 1844, was used to fight the blaze, but water soon ran low, as it had not rained for two weeks. The fire spread across to Front and Third Streets, as wind whipped into the fire from changing directions. At Second Street, the Globe Cotton Factory was destroyed within minutes, creating an inferno. Workers and residents ran for their lives. Brave efforts to save the Third Presbyterian Church were unsuccessful. The 160-foot steeple, aflame, warned those across Fifth Avenue of unspeakable disaster. Bethel A.M.E., Lewis Woodson’s church, located on Front Street (later First Avenue), quickly succumbed to the inferno.  29

Fire terrorized Pittsburgh for hours. Near 6 P.M., the devilish wind ceased its mischief. The fire destroyed 1,100 buildings in all, nearly double the number burned in the New York Fire of 1835. Ten to twelve thousand people were left homeless. In seven hours, sixty acres of the city burned to the ground—representing three-quarters of the improved real estate value in Pittsburgh.  30

Locals responded with bravery and resolve. Insurance companies were of little assistance. In 1829, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania forbade companies to sell fire insurance unless they had an office and a charter in the Commonwealth. Consequently, one-quarter of the insurance policies in force in 1845 had been provided by companies situated in Pittsburgh. The offices of these companies and the value of many of their investments had been lost in the fire. Some of the companies operating from Philadelphia went bankrupt. The Bethel A.M.E. Church gave $61.28 to the Allegheny Relief Association, a figure that compared well to the donations of other churches. Generous contributions were received from all over the United States. Contributions from New York State totaled $23,265. This generosity significantly eased hardships caused by the fire.  31

The A.M.E. Church relocated, but not until 1873 did it acquire a structure which fit its standing in the community. In that year, the church moved to Wylie Avenue in the Hill District. Lewis Woodson’s home was not damaged by fire; but, when rebuilding commenced, he moved both his residence and his barber business close to the site where the Great Fire had started.


When Lewis Woodson, using the pen name Augustine, identified the Ohio community where his father lived he did not give his father’s name. Anonymity was a family practice. In no way does this suggest that Lewis was not proud of his father. He was exceedingly proud. Exposure of the family’s unusual history and its leadership role, especially in the Underground Railroad, would invite prying questions and possibly acrimony. It is easier to win a battle if the enemy does not know which soldiers are the officers.

The June 29, 1842 issue of the Philanthropist, the organ of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society, printed an article on the success of black farmers in Jackson County. It reported on a settlement located six miles from the town of Jackson that contained 161 persons, “most of whom were former slaves in Virginia.…They own 2,055 acres of fine land.” One Thomas Hoodron was said to own 150 hogs and 400 head of cattle and to have grown 1,500 to 3,000 bushels of corn as well as a large quantity of hay. “Four of his sons are school teachers. The people are putting up a good house for a permanent school.” A white neighbor is quoted as saying, “The Negroes are all that care anything about education around here…still they are treated with great injustice by whites; but not withstanding every obstacle they are making steady progress in moral and intellectual improvement.”  32

There was in fact no Thomas “Hoodron” in the county. Thomas Woodson, who remained anonymous to most readers of the article, paid a total of $2,425 for his land in Jackson County. According to the Philanthropist the land was worth $12–15,000. In 1850 Thomas Woodson placed a value of $6,750 on the land when reporting to the U.S. Census. Whatever the precise figure, the land value was rising, and the abolitionist newspaper clearly embellished the success of farmer “Thomas Hoodron.” Although the Philanthropistused Thomas Woodson to exemplify the success of blacks (albeit with an intentionally misspelled name), he was listed as a white man in the U.S. Census near this time, the only time the federal census would label him as such. Though the Philanthropist made its point successfully, it did so because readers did not know all of the details. If readers had known the subject farmer was listed in the census as being white the point would have been lost. It was difficult to accurately use the Woodsons to exemplify anything other than their boundless tenacity.  33

Other evidence of Thomas Woodson’s bent for anonymity indicates that while in Jackson County he sometimes used the name Tom Corbin for disguise. Tom Corbin Road is the name of a local road that runs across the land Woodson once owned. Yet there is no record of a Tom Corbin in the U.S. Census. Corbin also appears as the middle name of one of Thomas Woodson’s youngest granddaughters, Lucy Corbin Woodson. Oral history has survived which indicates use of the name by Thomas Woodson in some manner. It’s likely that he used the name because of his connection to the Underground Railroad or to further disguise his connection to Thomas Jefferson. All church records, deeds, and wills reflect unabridged use of one name, Thomas Woodson.

In the 1850 census, Harriet, George, and William Woodson, children of Thomas and Jemima, were listed as adult heads of households in Jackson County. This Harriet was the widow of Thomas Woodson (Jr.), third son of Thomas and Jemima. Thomas Woodson (Jr.) died at the age of thirty-one in 1846, leaving Harriet with six children. John P. also died at an early age, thirty-four, in 1853. Berlin Crossroads, as the community was then known, was a fixture on the Underground Railroad. Members of the Woodson family now embrace the premise that one or both of the brothers were killed by slave catchers who discovered that they were helping escaped slaves. This history is probably accurate, although its origin is untraceable.  34

In addition to providing editorial content for the Colored American as Augustine, Lewis Woodson was also the newspaper’s Pittsburgh agent. His brother Thomas followed suit by becoming an agent for the Palladium of Liberty, a black newspaper printed in Columbus, Ohio. Historian Floyd Miller presumed that this particular Thomas Woodson was Lewis’s father, but he was probably Thomas Woodson (Jr.), born in 1815. The family continued to grow and prosper despite the racial hostility that surrounded their enclave. During the height of the Civil War, Morgan’s Raiders, a Confederate cavalry battalion, invaded southern Ohio, reaching Berlin Crossroads. A local man’s horse was shot from under him at the road crossing. It is not known if the target of the attack was Buckeye Furnace or Underground Railroad stations, but the attack did not have long-term consequences for the county or for the Woodson family.  35


When the first Africans were brought to Virginia in 1619, no law sanctioned, defined, or regulated slavery there. At first, Africans were treated like white indentured servants and freed after seven years. A comprehensive slave code was not enacted until 1670. In parallel fashion, when northern states passed acts of abolition after the American Revolution, blacks assumed the rights of free men. Gradually, the states surrounding Pennsylvania restricted those rights. States denied the voting right to blacks as follows: New Jersey, 1820; Delaware, 1792; Maryland, 1809; Ohio, 1817; and New York (invoked a property test), 1821. By 1837, a movement was afoot to deny voting rights to blacks in Pennsylvania.

Small numbers of blacks voted in Allegheny (Pittsburgh), Bucks, Dauphin, and other Pennsylvania counties after the Gradual Abolition Act of 1780 became law. Blacks in Philadelphia were not able to vote, however, and the prospect for progress there was dim. Philadelphia blacks were attacked in 1834 and 1835 (reported as a riot) and forced to concern themselves with self-preservation rather than civil rights. In 1835, a black man from Luzerne County, William Fogg, was turned away from the poll by a man named Hobbs. Fogg sued and won the favor of the county court, but Hobbs, backed by politicians, appealed. The ruling set in motion politicians who opposed sharing the right to vote with blacks. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court eventually ruled in Fogg’s favor but not until after a state constitutional convention eliminated the voting right of blacks.  36

A state constitutional convention was in session on June 19, 1837, when John Sterigere, a former state representative and former U.S. congressman, offered a motion to insert the word “white” before “freemen” in the section of the constitution that addressed suffrage. Sterigere believed that “the Negro is only fit for slavery” and attempted to make political hay of Governor Joseph Ritner’s abolitionist leanings.  37

Even before Sterigere made the motion, blacks in Pittsburgh were aware of the prospects for trouble. On June 13, a mass meeting of African Americans was held in Pittsburgh to discuss the threat to their voting privilege. They decided to compose “The Memorial of the Free Citizens of Color in Pittsburgh and Its Vicinity Relative to the Right of Suffrage.” Today the document is known as the “Pittsburgh Memorial.” It contains several sections: a petition, which includes an elegant extract from the 1790 Pennsylvania Constitution; a survey of the black community in Pittsburgh; and a statement from the Pittsburgh tax collector. A list of petitioners provides an excellent picture of the early stalwarts of the African American community in western Pennsylvania. The highest taxpayers cited were John B. Vashson and Charles Richards. Five signers are depicted as Committee members responsible for the Memorial. John B. Vashson is listed first; Lewis Woodson, Secretary of the Committee, is listed last. The Memorial reflects traces of Lewis Woodson’s writing style, but it was not written entirely by his hand.  38

On January 20, 1838, the Pennsylvania constitutional convention voted to restrict suffrage to white males only. Later in the year, Robert Purvis of Philadelphia composed a protest document, “Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens Threatened with Disenfranchisement, to the People of Pennsylvania.” The elegant appeal was not enough, however. In October 1838, white male voters ratified a new constitution that restricted suffrage to their ranks.

Chronicles of several Europeans who traveled through the United States between 1815 and 1845 to study its political system and culture provide rich and relatively impartial pictures of the nation. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America chronicled the predicament of African Americans. His synopsis is blunt and revealing:

In the North the white no longer distinctly perceives the barrier that separates him from the degraded race, and he shuns the Negro with the more pertinacity since he fears lest they should some day be confounded together.…Among Americans in the South, Nature sometimes reasserts her rights and restores a transient equality between blacks and the whites.…But if the relative position of the two races that inhabit the United States is such as I have described, why have the Americans abolished slavery in the North of the Union, why do they maintain it in the South, and why do they aggravate its hardships?  39

In reality, conditions were clearly more precarious for blacks who lived in the South, whether enslaved or free. The black code was more rigid in the South; the code was regularly enforced there, and slavery as an institution permeated everyone’s everyday life. This account documents that blacks in the North lived in an atmosphere of animosity just as intense as that in the South but somewhat different in character.


Lewis Woodson was certainly disappointed by the new Pennsylvania Constitution. The right to vote conveys both tangible and symbolic powers. Its denial established disenfranchisement in more than one way. Paradoxically, public funding of a black school began in Pittsburgh in 1837. The African Education Society was thereafter disbanded. This was an enormous step forward for African Americans. The education of blacks was illegal in the South, and taxes collected from blacks in the North had not been used to educate their children in prior years. Blacks for the most part were poor; many used part of their meager income to buy the freedom of relatives from southern slaveholders. The financial relief brought by public funding of black schools was momentous, even though the funding itself fell short of standard appropriation. Publicly funded education for blacks in the North became a reality only a few years after public education for whites. The benefits were immediate and long-range, symbolic and fundamental.  40

As early as 1837, Lewis Woodson operated a barbershop at Liberty and Seventh Streets in Pittsburgh, which today is the heart of the downtown business district. In 1847 John B. Vashon operated his bathhouse, barbershop, and saloon at Market and Ferry Streets, closer to the wharfs along the Monongahela River. Charles Richards, a steamboat steward at the time, was one of the first stalwarts of the African American community in Pittsburgh to live in the neighborhood then known as Haiti and later known as the Hill District. The Hill District became the focal point of the African American community.

By 1857 three Woodsons were listed in a Pittsburgh business directory, Lewis and two of his sons, John and Lewis. John Woodson, born in 1827 in Ohio, practiced his barber trade in the Perry Hotel. Lewis Frederick Woodson (b. 1829) shared a location with his father. The evidence indicates that the careers, marriages, and ambitions of the new generation of Woodsons were closely associated with the patriarch, Lewis.  41

As he aged Lewis Woodson became less driven by political and social issues and turned to building a network of family enterprises. Around the same time, James G. Birney, a former American Colonization Society agent, transcended the idea of expatriating blacks and used his wealth to forge into presidential politics through the Liberty Party, founded in 1840 with the singular goal of emancipation. His transition symbolizes the institutionalization and politicalization of abolitionism. With the Liberty Party, and then the Free-Soil Party, in motion, the role of clergy in the abolition movement, even that of black clergy, was simply overshadowed.

Pittsburgh was booming! Steamboats not only plied the Ohio River, making the city a gateway to the west, but they led to the creation another crucial industry, shipbuilding. From the start of steamship travel, many boats that plied western rivers were built in Pittsburgh. The firm of Robinson and Minis won the distinction of building the first large iron-hulled steamboat, the Valley Forge, in 1839. Locals were bewildered that it stayed afloat as well as wooden boats. Pittsburgh boatyards produced 100 boats in 1840 alone, most for use on canals. The construction of steam-powered boats increased demand for steel. Pittsburgh was already a smoke-filled assemblage of hills and rivers; new industry only made conditions worse. By 1816 one traveler complained, “Pittsburgh is gloomy, because dark dense smoke rises from every part, and a hovering cloud of vapor obscures the view.” In spite of condescending remarks from passers-by, hard-working locals of many nationalities rather enjoyed having bread on their tables and savored freedoms their parents were unable to imagine.  42


The black population in Ohio rose from 9,568 in 1830 to 36,673 in 1860, a fourfold increase. The needs of this population grew rapidly. By comparison, the African American population of the state of New York grew from 44,870 to 49,005 in the same period, a gain of less than 5,000. Lewis Woodson focused on the needs of the growing population of free blacks, especially in the west. The Encyclopedia of African Methodism reveals, “The Ohio Conference was the first Conference to take a definite stand for education and temperance.” The following resolution, introduced by Lewis Woodson in 1833, memorializes the beginnings of his effort: “Resolved, As the sense of this conference, that common schools, Sunday Schools, and temperance societies are of the highest importance to all people; but more specifically to us as a people, that it shall be the duty of every member of this conference to do all in his power to promote and establish these useful institutions among our people.” Thankfully politicians also recognized this need. With the establishment of public primary and secondary education for blacks in Pennsylvania, the African Education Society, which Lewis Woodson had founded, was disbanded. Since he had already begun to push the church toward satisfying the educational needs of African Americans, he began to push it toward the domain of higher education.  43

In 1844, the Ohio Conference, meeting in Columbus, selected and purchased a tract of land “for the purpose of erecting a seminary of learning, on the manual labor plan, for the instruction of the youths among us in the various branches of literature, science, agriculture, and mechanical arts, and also for those who may desire to prepare for the ministry.” A tract containing 172 acres was purchased for $1,720, paid in installments. It was located twelve miles west of Columbus, two miles north of the National Road. The school was established as the Union Seminary.  44

Separately, a few years later, leaders of the Cincinnati Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church decided to establish a school of higher education for blacks and selected a site near Xenia, Ohio, known as Tawana Springs. The site was previously used as a resort and was known as a station on the Underground Railroad. It was also known as a place where white fathers relocated with their African American mates and their children. The school opened in 1856 as the Ohio African University.

Commitment was deep, resources small. The first principal of the Ohio African University was assisted by one person, his wife. In 1858 the Reverend Richard S. Rust, D.D., a graduate of Wesleyan University, became president, and the faculty was bolstered by three graduates of Oberlin College, including Sarah Jane Woodson, who taught in the English Department. (Having finished Oberlin in 1856, she was among the first six black women to graduate from college.) She was the youngest daughter of Thomas and Jemima Woodson and thus the youngest sister of Lewis Woodson. She was the first African American faculty member at the school, and as such was the first African American to teach college. Sarah Jane was also one of the first women of any race to teach college in the United States (if not the first). The board of trustees, at the new university was composed of twenty-four members, included four African Americans. Among these four were Bishop Daniel A. Payne and the Reverend Lewis Woodson. Bishop Payne, a member of the board’s executive committee, lived on the campus.  45

During the Civil War, the Ohio African University found it difficult to sustain operations. Reverend Rust informed Bishop Payne that the Methodist Episcopal Church would sell the campus to the A.M.E. Church if the latter could raise the funds to pay off the university’s indebtedness of $10,000. In June 1862, the campus closed. Bishop Payne contacted several men, including Dr. Willis R. Revels, Philadelphian Stephen Smith, and Reverend Lewis Woodson. Smith did not respond, but others encouraged Payne to raise the money and buy the campus. Woodson wrote Payne, promising he “would be one of one hundred men to give one hundred dollars.” The board of trustees pressed Payne for a timely answer, declaring that the state of Ohio wished to purchase the site for an asylum. When the trustees set a deadline of noon on March 11, 1863, Payne responded affirmatively.  46

Union Seminary, the A.M.E. school established in 1844, was moved to the newly acquired campus, which was renamed Wilberforce University after the renowned British abolitionist. Bishop Daniel A. Payne, a graduate of Gettysburg Theological Seminary, became president. Sarah Jane Woodson, who left the school in 1860 after two years, returned in 1865 for two more years as preceptress of English and Latin and as lady principal and matron. Only one other college had been founded to educate African Americans before the Civil War. Ashmun Institute, later named Lincoln University, was founded in 1854 by Presbyterians in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Upon returning to America from their exploratory trip to Africa, Martin Delany’s wife and children moved to the Wilberforce University campus in Ohio. On February 8, 1865, Delany met with President Lincoln to argue for the appointment of black officers in the Union Army. During the war, 188,000 African Americans were enlisted. President Lincoln assigned Delany the rank of major in the U.S. Army. He was the highest-ranking African American officer, but he was never assigned a troop command. After the Civil War, he moved to South Carolina, working for the Freedmen’s Bureau. He asked his family join him there, but to no avail; they stayed in Ohio. Delany continued to work for the state of South Carolina. After serving a term as lieutenant governor before the Reconstruction era ended, he later joined his family in Wilberforce. His restless soul had finally found a home.  47


Jemima Woodson passed into the hereafter in 1868 at age eighty-five. It is not known whether Lewis Woodson was able to travel to Ohio in time for his mother’s burial. He did travel to Jackson County at some point during that year, remaining in the vicinity for some time.

Jemima Woodson lived even longer than her mother, Hannah Grant, and Betty Hemings. She witnessed extraordinary change, as they had, but during a very different time and ultimately in a new place, one that would typify the new age. Betty Hemings saw Africans unloaded from ships, shackled, and chained. She and Hannah Grant lived through the Revolutionary War. They often subordinated their needs and self-interest to those of their masters in hope that the next day would bring reward and a better life in return. Jemima Woodson spent a lifetime with one husband, raising a huge and industrious family. She was amazed at the steamboats that came to master the rivers, then amazed at the railroads that raced across the land. She saw her youngest daughter, Sarah Jane, graduate from Oberlin College and become the first African American to teach at a college; she witnessed the Civil War and Emancipation. Chattel slavery was abolished. If her children faced obstacles, Jemima knew they would overcome them, as the challenges the family had already hurdled had been the hardest.

In 1869, Rachel Hill Cassel, mother-in-law of Frances Woodson Cassel (the fifth child of Thomas and Jemima), donated nearly two acres of land for the construction of a school for the African American community of Berlin Crossroads, Ohio. Although not the first school in the settlement, it was built to last. The original trustees were James Woodson (the seventh child of Thomas and Jemima), James W. Stewart, and Major Shepherd, the latter two being Rachel’s sons-in-law. The Rachel Cassel Educational Center, as it was known, served its original purpose until about 1930. It was demolished in 1970 when the Appalachian Highway was widened.

The third generation of Woodsons followed the legacy of Thomas and Jemima Woodson and their gifted son, Lewis. Thomas Wesley Woodson, the only son of James Woodson, was born in 1853 in Berlin Crossroads and went on to become a distinguished A.M.E. minister. He was ordained by Bishop Daniel A. Payne in Dayton, Ohio, in 1891 and obtained a doctor of divinity degree from Morris Brown College in 1913. He ministered to many churches during his life, including Quinn Chapel in Chillicothe, Ohio. Thomas Frank Cassel became a lawyer and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, along with his first cousin Benjamin Frank Woodson, who was a carpenter-builder. T. Frank Cassel was elected as the first African American member of the Tennessee legislature, during the Reconstruction era. Sarah Jane Woodson Early spent her last years in Nashville, the state capital, after a long life devoted first to education and later to the temperance movement.

At least two Woodson descendants enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Civil War, Cyrus Creighton Cassel and James White, both grandsons of Frances Woodson Cassel. Lawrence Woodson, one of William and Jane Woodson’s twelve children, became an educator, teaching at the Randall Academy in Jackson County before moving elsewhere.

Most of the Woodson grandchildren were raised in Ohio, but Lewis and his wife Caroline had of course taken their three young children with them from Ohio to Pittsburgh, where seven more children were born to them. Like Thomas and Jemima’s children, some moved away and others stayed close to their parents when they matured. Before the Civil War, the older children began to marry and start families of their own.

Lewis’ oldest daughter, Mary, married Jethro McGuire and stayed in Pittsburgh. Lewis Frederick Woodson married Nancy Tanner, remaining in Pittsburgh for some time but later moving away like most of his own eleven children. Nancy Tanner’s father, Hugh Tanner, was one of the signers of the Pittsburgh Memorial. Her brother Benjamin was a graduate of Avery College in Pittsburgh and of the Western Theological Seminary. Benjamin Tanner became an A.M.E. minister and in 1868 was appointed editor of the Christian Recorder, the denomination’s newspaper. The assignment placed him in Philadelphia, where he became an A.M.E. bishop and on occasion preached at the Mother Bethel Church there. His son Henry Ossawa Tanner would become a world-renowned painter. One of Nancy Tanner Woodson’s daughters, also named Nancy Woodson, married a Philadelphia minister who was part of Bishop Tanner’s circle of friends; she moved to Philadelphia.  48

Many of the grandchildren carried threads of the Hemings/Woodson legacy forward. Many family members became educators; some entered the ministry; others retained some connection to the construction trade as contractors or landlords. Most carried on strong oral traditions generation after generation, though such a large family was bound to grow apart.

Thomas Woodson bought and sold land throughout the 1840s and 1850s, including eighty acres in 1853 for seven times the per acre price he paid in 1829. He also sold land to the Jackson County Coal & Iron Company. Apparently not all of the transactions have been uncovered, because in 1870 it seems he retained as much land as he owned in 1840 despite land sales. The Woodson patriarch made a will in 1855. In 1875, at the age of eight-five, he sold fifty acres of land to daughter-in-law Jane Woodson, William’s widow, in exchange for her promise to care for him for the remainder of his life. By then he had outlived four of his sons. Only Lewis and James still lived. Daughters Delila and Jemima had long before left Jackson County, and contact with Jemima was lost.  49

Earlier, Thomas Woodson had told his children they were the grandchildren of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. In his last years, he told grandchildren who remained in Jackson County of his biological origin and his departure from Monticello. Young Woodsons such as Thomas Wesley Woodson and Minerva Woodson, Jane’s daughter, who as a child lived on the same farm as her grandfather, heard the oral history directly from him. Thomas Woodson passed on knowledge of his extraordinary origin and life, handing down a legacy of self-reliance, strong family traditions, and a defiance of injustice.  50

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Sections of Thomas Woodson’s deed of fifty acres to Jane E. Woodson, October 14, 1875.


1. Quoted in Robert Andrews, Famous Lines (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 29.

2. Judith Justus, Down from the Mountain (Perrysburg: Privately printed, 1990), 77, 78, 105, 106.

3. Ibid., 77: 1830 census record.

4. Ibid., 78: account of Madison’s work in Ohio.

5. Ibid., 89: sale of Chillicothe house.

6. Jack Mc Laughlin, Jefferson and Monticello (New York: Henry Holt, 1988), 380: financial help for Mrs. Randolph.

7. Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson, an Intimate Life (New York: W. W. Norton, 1974), 296.

8. James Parton, Life of Thomas Jefferson (Boston: James R. Osgood & Co.,1874), 569: citation of Randolph family denials.

9. Minnie S. Woodson, Woodson Source Book (Washington, D.C.: Privately printed, 1984), iii: Will of Hannah Grant, Greenbriar County (W. Va.), Deed Book #2.

10. A. J. G. Perkins, Frances Wright, Free Enquirer (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1939), 3–10: description of Frances Wright; Brodie, Thomas Jefferson, 461:Wright’s appeal to Lafayette.

11. Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (London: Whittaker, Treacher and Co., 1832), 97–98.

12. Perkins, Frances Wright, 213–14: Perkins’ omission.

13. Woodson, Woodson Source Book, 67: from Rev. Beverly C. Ransom, Year Book of Negro Churches, 276: record of 1830 A.M.E. Conference.

14. “Bethel A.M.E. Honored with Historical Marker,” Pittsburgh Courier, September 30, 1995.

15. Woodson, Woodson Source Book, 68: from the Constitution of the Pittsburgh African Education Society, printed in the Liberator, 2/25/1832.

16. Bishop R. R. Wright, Encyclopedia of African Methodism (Philadelphia: A.M.E. Church, 1947), 456.

17. S. Trevor Hadley, Only in Pittsburgh (Cincinnati: Educational Publishing Resources, 1994), 182.

18. Ibid., 145: early life of Martin Delany.

19. Benjamin Quarles, Black Abolitionists (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), 19: quote by Lewis Tappan, and 18: quote by J. McCune Smith from Frederick Douglass’ Paper.

20. Ibid., 21: Vashon-Garrison encounters.

21. Floyd Miller, The Search for a Black Nationality (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975), 95.

22. Woodson, Woodson Source Book, 95–96: from the Colored American, 12/9/1837.

23.  Ibid., 95: from the Colored American, 12/2/1837.

24. Ibid., 96: from the Colored American, 12/9/1837.

25. Ibid., 101–2: from the Colored American, 1/13/1838.

26. Ibid., 109–10: from the Colored American, 7/28/1838.

27. Ibid., 105: from the Colored American, 1/27/1838 and 2/10/1838.

28. Ibid., 88: Floyd Miller, “The Father of Black Nationalism,” Civil War History, vol. 17, no. 4 (December 1971).

29. Tom Kondis, “The Inferno,” Pittsburgh, November 1976.

30. Marcellin C. Adams, “Great Fire of 1845,” Western Pennsylvania History Magazine, May–June 1942; Dorothy Kantner, “Old Diary Reveals Spark by Spark Account of Blaze,” Sun Telegraph, March 26, 1955.

31. J. Heron Foster, A Full Account of Great Fire at Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh: J. W. Cook, 1845).

32. Woodson, Woodson Source Book, 32: from the Philanthropist, 6/29/1842.

33. Ibid.

34. Ibid., 132, 138: deaths of Woodson men from gravestones in Woodson Cemetery, Jackson County, Ohio.

35. Ibid., 54: mention of raid by Confederate calvary from “The Decline of Roads,” Columbus Dispatch Magazine, 4/3/1960.

36. Eric Ledell Smith, “The Pittsburgh Memorial,” Pittsburgh History, vol. 80, no. 3 (Fall 1997): 106–7.

37. Ibid.

38. Ibid., 106–11.

39. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Knopf, 1945), 381.

40. Woodson, Woodson Source Book, 66: from James P. Wickersham, A History of Education in Pennsylvania, (Lancaster: Inquirer Publishing Co., 1886), 254.

41. Isaac Harris, Harris Directory (Pittsburgh: Privately printed, 1857).

42. Leland D. Baldwin, Pittsburgh: The Story of a City, 1750–1865 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1937), 190: boat production; and Hadley, Only in Pittsburgh, 226: “Pittsburgh is gloomy.”

43. Wright, Encyclopedia of African Methodism, 455; Nancy C. Curtis, Black Heritage Sites: The North (Chicago: American Library Association, 1996), 179: establishment of school at Wilberforce; E. Franklin Frazier, The Free Negro Family: A Study of Family Origins Before the Civil War (New York: Arno Press, 1968), 8: population growth.

44. Wright, Encyclopedia of African Methodism, 455.

45. Woodson, Woodson Source Book, 147: biographical information on Sarah Jane Woodson.

46. Ibid., 86: from Bishop Daniel A. Payne, Recollections of Seventy Years (NewYork: Arno Press, 1888), 150.

47. Hadley, Only in Pittsburgh, 152.

48. Rae Alexander-Minter, “The Tanner Family: A Grand Niece’s Chronicle,” in Henry Ossawa Tanner (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Art Museum, 1991), 23–26.

49. Woodson, Woodson Source Book, 141–42: deed of sale, Thomas Woodson to Jane E. Woodson, 10/14/1875.

50. Conversation between Thomas Woodson and Minerva Woodson as per interview with General John King, March 15, 1999.

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * CITATION * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A President in the Family -- : Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and Thomas Woodson


"The Rights of All." A President in the Family : Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and Thomas Woodson. Westport, CT: Westport, Connecticut London, 2001. The African American Experience. Greenwood Publishing Group. 9 Oct 2015. <http://testaae.greenwood.com/doc.aspx?fileID=GR7174&chapterID=GR7174-681&path=books/greenwood>

Chicago Manual of Style

"The Rights of All." In A President in the Family : Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and Thomas Woodson, Westport, CT: Westport, Connecticut London, 2001. The African American Experience. Greenwood Publishing Group. http://testaae.greenwood.com/doc.aspx?fileID=GR7174&chapterID=GR7174-681&path=books/greenwood. (accessed October 9, 2015).