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Catherine Jane Hemings Jefferson, born 1844
Home Up Unnamed Son Hemings Sarah Elizabeth Hemings Jefferson, b.1835 Thomas Eston Hemings Jefferson, born 1838 Harriette Hemings Jefferson, b. 1839 Mary Ann Hemings Jefferson, born 1843 Catherine Jane Hemings Jefferson, born 1844 William Beverly Hemings Jefferson, born 1847 James Madison Hemings Jefferson, born 1849 Julia Ann Hemings Jefferson, born 1851 Ellen Wayles Hemings Jefferson, born 1856 Madison Hemings' Story

Mary Lee Brady, Ph.D.










Catherine Jane Hemings was born in 1844 as a daughter of Mary McCoy and Madison Hemings during the dynamic phrase of the abolitionist movement in Ohio, and indications are that she married at age 21 to John Butler who was killed in the Civil War along with his brother James Butler married to her sister Harriet.   Researchers such as Beverly Gray have raised the question as to why Catherine left her father's home in Ross County and we agree it is a mystery worth pursuing in the context of extended family dynamics. 

The obvious birth of a James Butler in 1880 who died in 1887 adds to her mystery and even suggests that Catherine may have had a child out of wedlock since her husband and father of Mary Elizabeth Butler had died during the Civil War.  The more likely case is the child named in photo was offspring of her son or daughter fathered by her husband John Butler who died in 1865.

It is our speculation based on research that she may have left the home her father Madison Hemings after her mother died in 1867, and married George Washington Ely of Washington, Pennsylvania, ... possibly her cousin via Harriet Hemings who married a White man after leaving Monticello and possibly relocated to western Pennsylvania. 

We do not know for sure but it is clear by virtue  of Civil War enlistment records that Hemings offspring were never far and unknown to each other though not divulging who was passing for White and which ones lived where.   This of course is and was one of the great issues during and after slavery wherein the color line was not the only means to define relationships but also secrecy that Hemings and Randolph family member learned to master long before Thomas Jefferson died. 

In a few Hollywood movies such as "Imitation of Life" and "Island In The Sun" the issue was gently treated by screen-makers who themselves may have had intimate knowledge of the 19th century dynamics relative to race.  When we hear of see someone like Judge Scalia descended from Ellis Island immigrants in the early 20th century, ... make light of the African-American experience it is clear that his knowledge of America is contemptuous in understanding real affirmation action based on not only the color of one's skin but also sex. 

The reason so many of us seek to understand women like Catherine Hemings is because they are within us and their souls cry out for remembrance that many like her crossed the color line to be White, ... because life among the lowly with her father Madison was unbearable.  With a son or daughter old enough to fend for themselves, Catherine likely left for a new beginning in Washington, Pennsylvania or on the other hand, ... George Washington Ely came to live in Ohio where he apparently died.    

Below are some of the link sources we have examined in attempting to learn more about Catherine.


Husband's Name
Madison HEMINGS  
Born: 19 Jan 1805Place: <Monticello, Albemarle County, Virginia> 
Died: 1877Place:  Ross County, Ohio 
Married: 1831Place: Charlottesville, Virginia 
Father: Thomas Jefferson 
 Mother: Sarah (Sally) Hemings 

Wife's Name
Mary MCCOY  
Born: 1808Place: Virginia 
Died: 1867Place: Ross County, Ohio 
Married: 1831Place: Charlottesville, Virginia 
Father: Mr. McCoy 
 Mother: Ms. Hughes 


 1. Sex Name  
  MUnnamed Son HEMINGS (First-born baby boy born and died in Charlottesville. Believed to have been named John to honor Madison's favorite uncle, John? who also mentored him as a surrogate father and trained him as a carpenter) 
  Born: Abt. 1833 Place: Charlottesville, Virginia  

 2. Sex Name  
  FSarah E HEMINGS (Named after Madison's cousin Sarah Jefferson Randolph) 
  Born: 1835 Place: <Ohio>  
  Died: 1884 Place:   

 3. Sex Name  
  MThomas Eston HEMINGS  (Named to honor Madison's Father Thomas Jefferson and brother Eston Hemings) 
  Born: 1838 Place: Ohio  

 4. Sex Name  
  FHarriet HEMINGS  (Named to honor Madison's sister Harriet) 
  Born: 1839 Place: Ohio  

 5. Sex Name  
  FMary Ann HEMINGS  (Named to honor Madison's Aunt Mary Hemings and cousin Ann Jefferson Randolph) 
  Born: 1843 Place: Ohio  

 6. Sex Name  
  FCatherine Jane HEMINGS  (Named to honor Madison's cousins Catherine and Jane Jefferson Randolph) 
  Born: 1844 Place: Ohio  

 7. Sex Name  
  MWilliam Beverly HEMINGS  (Named to honor William Wilberforce and Madison's brother Beverly). 
  Born: 1847 Place: Ohio  
  Died: 1910 Place: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 

 8. Sex Name  
  MJames Madison HEMINGS  (Named to honor Madison's Uncle James Hemings and cousin James Madison Jefferson Randolph who died). 
  Born: 1849 Place: Ohio  

 9. Sex Name  
  FEllen Wayles HEMINGS  (Named to honor Madison's cousin Ellen Wayles Jefferson Randolph) 
  Born: 1856 Place: Ohio  
  Died: 1936 Place:  

Husband's Name

Whiting W BUTLER  
Born: 4 Apr 1816Place: , Muskingum, Oh 
Died: 22 May 1904Place: Council Bluffs, , Ia 
Buried:  Place: Glenwood, Mills, Ia 
Married: 31 Mar (div) 1836Place: Marion, Marion, Oh 

Wife's Name
Elizabeth SMITH  
Born: Abt 1817Place: , Adam County 
Died: 1 Feb 1897Place: Glenwood, Mills, Ia 
Buried:  Place: Glenwood, , Ia 
Married: 31 Mar (div) 1836Place: Marion, Marion, Oh 


 1. Sex Name  
  MJacob (James) BUTLER  
  Born: Abt 1837 Place: Zanesville, Muskingum, Oh  
  Married      Abt 1865    Wife:Harriet Hemings 
  Died: Abt 1865 Place: Civil War  

 2. Sex Name  
  MJohn BUTLER  
  Born: Abt 1837 Place: Zanesville, Muskingum, Oh  
  MarriedAbt 1865 Wife:Catherine Hemings 
  Died: Abt 1865 Place: Civil War  

 3. Sex Name  
  FMary BUTLER  
  Born: Abt 1840 Place: Zanesville, Muskingum, Oh  
  Died: Abt 1910 Place:   

 4. Sex Name  
  FHattie BUTLER   
  Born: Abt 1843 Place: Zanesville, Muskingum, Oh  
  Died: Abt 1920 Place:   

 5. Sex Name  
  FCaroline BUTLER  
  Born: Abt 1847 Place: Zanesville, Muskingum, Oh  
  Died: Abt 1925 Place:   

 6. Sex Name  
  FCatherine (Hemings) BUTLER  
  Born: Abt 1849 Place: Zanesville, Muskingum, Oh  
  Died: Abt 1930 Place:   

 7. Sex Name  
  MLouis BUTLER  
  Born: 20 Jun 1852 Place: Zanesville, Muskingum, Oh  
  Died: 25 Dec 1927 Place: Eckert, Delta, Co


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