Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Lucy?

Thomas Jefferson's Former Monticello Slave Named Lucy, ca.1845.
Daguerreotype: Mason County Museum, Maysville, Kentucky

Monticello's Lucy

The mysterious tale of two Thomas Jefferson slaves named Lucy.  We found one daguerreotype (photographic image), with two different stories. Which one is correct?  According to the Library of Congress, the picture is that of Lucy daughter of Lilly and Barnaby.  While the website from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello states that the woman in the daguerreotype photograph is  Lucy daughter of Dorothea (Dolly).  So, we'll have to do some further research to unravel this mystery.  

Lucy (1811–?) daughter of Lilly and Barnaby, was born on Monticello and was one of Thomas Jefferson's slaves sold at public auction at Monticello in January 1827. Lucy and her parents were among the slaves whom Jefferson leased to his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792–1875). This photograph was taken of Lucy in the mid 1840s. (source: The Library of Congress)

LUCY COTTRELL --  Lucy Cottrell was the daughter of Dorothea (Dolly) Cottrell, a house servant at Monticello who, after 1826, became the property of George Blaetterman, a professor at the University of Virginia. About 1850 Dolly and Lucy Cottrell went to Maysville, Kentucky, with the professor's widow, who freed them five years later. In this daguerreotype Lucy Cottrell is holding Charlotte, daughter of Blaetterman's foster son. (source: Thomas Jefferson Monticello)


  1. The information posted here about Monticello's Lucy is not correct. The picture is of a Lucy, but she was Lucy Cottrell the daughter of Dorothea (Dolly) Cottrell, and not Lucy the daughter of Lilly and Barnaby. Dolly was a house servant at Monticello. After 1826, she became the property of University of Virginia Professor George Blaetterman. The professor's widow took Dolly and Lucy to Maysville, Kentucky in about 1850. She freed them five years later. In this daguerreotype Lucy Cottrell is holding Charlotte, daughter of Blaetterman's foster son.

    see http://www.monticello.org/site/plantation-and-slavery/family-histories-beginning

    1. Wow, thanks for the information. I guess Thomas Jefferson's Library (The Library of Congress in Washington, DC) and Thomas Jefferson's homestead Monticello (Charlottesville, Virginia) are out of sync. I'll do some further research and correct the record.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      -- Ron Edwards, US Slave Blog

    2. Gayle M Schulman a local historian in Virginia wrote a thoroughly researched and well documented paper entitled "Slaves at the University of Virginia". This paper is also very interesting. Here are a few excerpts from that paper.

      "University professors owned at least a dozen people who had been the property of Thomas Jefferson or his relatives. Thomas Key hired, and then purchased, Sally Cottrell, a slave belonging to Jefferson’s granddaughter Ellen Randolph Coolidge. At the dispersal sales of Jefferson’s slaves in January 1827 and 1829, Professors Blaetterman, Bonnycastle, and
      Dunglison made purchases. George Blaetterman purchased Marshall, Ben and Lilly Hern, and Ursula Hughes with four of her children. Ursula and her children were immediately exchanged with Thomas Jefferson Randolph for Doll and her children.18" (Thomas Jefferson Randolph was the grandson of Thomas Jefferson). Dolly and Lucy lived at Monticello, but were not Thomas Jefferson's property. They were not sold at the dispersal sale. They were however the property of a member of Jefferson's family.

      Ms. Schulman later continues "The first Professor of Modern Languages, George Blaetterman, left the University in 1840, but continued to live at his estate near Keswick until his death in 1850. When his widow moved to Kentucky to live with their adopted son, she took some of the family slaves with
      her. In 1855 she freed all of them including Dolly Cottrell and her daughter, Lucy Cottrell.
      They remained with her until Lucy’s husband, Peter, could finish paying off the debt he owed
      the Blaetterman family for having purchased him rather than let his former owner sell him
      away from his family.90"

      Please see http://www.locohistory.org/Albemarle/Slaves_at_the_University_of_Virginia.pdf



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