The Granger Family

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Making Hard Decisions: Passing

Would you have tried to "pass"? Explore this and other challenging decisions faced by Monticello's enslaved families.
Isaac (Granger) Jefferson by unknown photographer, 1845.
Special Collections, University of Virginia Library
Cowrie shell excavated from a slave dwelling at Monticello.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation

Jefferson purchased George and Ursula Granger and their sons in 1773 because Ursula Granger was a “favorite housewoman” of his wife. Ursula supervised the kitchen, smokehouse, and washhouse from 1773 through the 1790s. George Granger, Sr. was the Monticello farm foreman and, later, overseer. The Grangers’ three sons were trusted and skilled artisans and laborers.


George, Ursula, and their son George died within months of one another in 1799 and 1800. The youngest son, Isaac, using the surname Jefferson, survived into the 1840s as a free man in Petersburg, Virginia, and his recollections of life at Monticello were recorded.


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