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Grave Decision Volume 52 Number 1, January/February 1999
by Larkin Mitchell

The Monticello Association, a group of 700 descendants of Thomas Jefferson and his wife, Martha, may revise its membership policy to include the progeny of Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings. Recent DNA analysis, directed by retired pathologist Eugene Foster, confirmed what generations of historians had suspected, that Thomas Jefferson fathered at least one son by Hemings.

Tests determined that male descendants of Eston Hemings, Sally's youngest son, have features on their Y chromosomes identical to those identified in descendants of the Jefferson family. Because the Y chromosome, which determines maleness, remains unaltered from generation to generation, the results prove that Eston was the son of Sally and Thomas Jefferson. Robert Gillespie, president of the Monticello Association, noted that membership entitles one to be buried in the historic plot. The association will vote on the issue in May.

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© 1999 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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