Other Families

Almost thirty people who are not descended from the fourteen families featured on this website were interviewed for the Getting Word project. They fall into two groups. We have interviewed a number of people with a possible, but still unclear, connection to the Monticello African American community. They have either heard Monticello mentioned by elders in their family or they note that names in their ancestry match Monticello names. We and the participants continue to try to solve these mysteries.

In the second group are people who have generously shared what they have heard about the enslaved residents at Monticello and their descendants. The members of Peter Fossett’s church and a descendant of Madison Hemings’s neighbor, for instance, provided precious information that would otherwise have been lost.

Since he was recorded as stating that he was born at Monticello, Henry Martin probably belonged to one of the fourteen featured families. Yet exactly who his parents were has not been determined. 

Henry Martin (1826-1902) with the bell he rang for decades in the Rotunda of the University of Virginia / University of Virginia Library


“I Knew He Was A Bell Ringer”

Yes, I knew he was a bell ringer, and I knew that he carried these, oh that's coming back to…
“I Knew He Was A Bell Ringer”

Ruth Hunt remembers what she heard about her great-grandfather Henry Martin.

“Yes, I knew he was a bell ringer, and I knew that he carried these, oh that’s coming back to me now. I remember Daddy talking about these buckets of coal that he carried to fire, whatever he had to fire. He was very good at ringing the bells without a time piece. I remember Daddy saying that. And I remember him saying he was always there, you know like he wasn’t, he was on time and he wasn’t absent, that sort of thing. And I know my Grandmother Patsy Martin, great‑grandmother, was a very religious person. The two of them seemed to have been religious people from what I recall. And my Grandmother Patsy would not allow anybody to come in her house with a hat on. My father told me about a man who came to her door, I don’t know whether it was insurance or what he was, but she invited him to take his hat off and the way she invited him was like, this was the impression I got, no nonsense kind of thing.”