My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Family History Randomness

I’ve been having such a difficult time trying to come up with something–anything–to blog about. So today’s post will be about one of my other passions in life–genealogy and history 🙂

Anyway, I don’t remember if I posted this or not, but I did actually apply to be on a TV show. Well, actually I applied for my family to be on the show. 😛 I know I’ve mentioned it before–it’s called The Generations Project–and I am really hoping they find my story intriguing enough to pick up. If not that’s OK–I will find the answers somehow.

Are you curious? Well even if you aren’t you’re going to read about it anyway 😛 I submitted the family mystery/legend about my great (x7) grandmother Jemima Jefferson Collins Davis. 

Family legend says she may be an illegitimate first cousin of the Thomas Jefferson (her sons claimed they were related), possibly fathered by his uncle Field Jefferson. Obviously there’s really no documentation of her–if she was an illegitimate daughter, and was a daughter of a slave too, it’s likely they wouldn’t have recorded that.

Of course, there’s also the possibility she was a slave on the Jefferson family plantation because slaves would generally take the last names of their masters. I personally think she was mixed, since the man she married was white (his family supposedly came from Wales) and it would be more likely…and I even think that it would be even MORE likely if she was a supposed illegitimate daughter of the Jefferson family.

Either way, I find it intriguing, whether she’s a slave or if she’s mixed. She and her husband, John Davis, had four sons, all of who were in the American Revolution. The youngest one, James, (who I descend from) was one of the first pioneers into Tennessee.

Anyway, I don’t really even know where to begin researching this, although I’ve gotten some help from others on Facebook who are as interested in genealogy as I am. I think I would probably have to contact Jefferson family historians to see if they could find records (as they would probably have access to things that the normal public wouldn’t).

Sometimes family history has such great material for stories too–maybe someday I could write something about all of this 😛

Comments on: "Family History Randomness" (85)

  1. This is good stuff. How interesting. You’ll have to let us know what you find out.

  2. I love family history, that’s where I got the idea for my book. Good luck solving the mystery.

  3. Hi there,

    My husband is a descendent as well. I just spent 3 weeks in VA trying to uncover any documentation concerning Jemima’s parentage.

    I would love to discuss this with you. I am absolutely obsessed with getting some answers.

    We have no family oral tradition concerning Jemima being descendent of Jefferson slaves. Would you mind sharing that info?

    I have been googling Jemima almost daily and I am thrilled to find your post today

    • I am obsessed too! I will email you what I know–it’s not much as I’ve only recently discovered it. And it’s awesome that we’re distantly related too! I’ll send you the family tree I have compiled so far too.

  4. Dara,

    If I understand correctly the DNA used to prove the Sally Hemmings connection was taken from descendants of Field Jefferson so that has already been done. Doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult to find a direct Davis male to test.


  5. How absolutely fascinating. Every family needs a historian to be the guardian of these stories so they can be passed along. It’s so cool that with genetic testing we can sometimes confirm family myths and legends that have existed for generations.

  6. Very interesting! Good luck with your research.

  7. Larry Bevins said:

    I have been researching this mystery too. I am the 6th great grandson of Jemima Jefferson and John Davis. Their son Thomas Davis is my 5th great grandfather. I have copies of the History of Logan County, which states that William and Thomas Davis were cousins to President Thomas Jefferson. I would love to find documentation to prove Jemima Jefferson’s connection. I love researching our family genealogy.

  8. Hi Larry,

    Do you have any theories from your research?


  9. Steve Higley said:


    I’m also descended from John Davis and his wife Jemima through their son Robert – who was the only one of the four sons who did NOT fight in the revolution as he was a cripple (some sources say he had club feet).

    I’ve been researching my Davis family for many years (my Dad’s mother was a davis – she grew up in Clinto County and went to school in a one-room classroom in Nora, KY). I’ve posted this before on various forums, but here is all there really is out there – besides family tradition – to support the contention the Jemima was a Jefferson:

    1. We know from written SECONDARY sources that three of John and Jemima’s sons, Robert, Thomas and William, claimed to be first cousins of President Thomas Jefferson.

    2. In order for them to be first cousins with President Thomas Jefferson, Jemima would need to be a daughter of Peter Jefferson’s (Thomas’ father) father, Thomas Jefferson (the president’s grandfather).

    3. In order for them to be first cousins once removed (more likely) she would have to be a first cousin of President Thomas Jefferson and would have to be a daughter of Peter Jefferson’s only brother, Field Jefferson.

    4. In order to be first cousins twice removed (actually less likely due to the dates involved) she would have to be a daughter of one of Field Jefferson’s four sons: Thomas (b 1743), Peterfield (b. 1735), George (b ca.1745) or John Jefferson.

    5. NONE of these six men are known to have had a legitimate daughter by the name of Jemima.

    6. In the FIRST LIST OF TITHABLES OF PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, YEAR 1767 (an early form of census) on the list of George Jefferson there appears “George Jefferson (Mechkenburg), John Davis, overseer, & Negroes, to-wit: Sam, Chance, Pompey, Phillis, Patt & Lacy”

    7. On the same list there appears Daniel, William and Samuel Collins.

    Those are all the facts that I have regarding this pair. Given that DNA evidence now proves that a Jefferson fathered at least one child by President Jefferson’s slave Sally Hemings, I find the conjecture that Jemima (b. ca. 1736) was a bastard child of one of the Jeffersons plausible. The best candidate would be the president’s Uncle Field Jefferson (b. 1702, m Mary Robertson 1734, d. 1762) though it is also possible that Field’s father Thomas Jefferson (b. 1679 d. 1735) is her father but this seems unlikely.

    If Jemima is Field Jefferson’s illegitimate child it would make the Davis brother’s claim of being first cousins with the president valid (although they would be half first cousins once removed).

    And that’s it. It’s possible that somewhere there are records to further support this – but if so I’ve been unable to find them in ten years of searching – including two trips to Virginia State Archives in Richmond.

    But I’d love to keep in touch and possible solve this long-standing family mystery. Most family traditions have at least a long-lost and garbled truth to them and I’d love to find this one out too. DNA testing would give evidence of racial background for Descendants and that might be the closest we’ll ever come to knowing more.

    Friend me on FaceBook. I’m Steven Higley from Colorado Springs.

    Good Luck


  10. Carolyn McKenna said:

    Hello all:

    I too, am descended from Robert Davis, Sr (to Absalom Davis and finally to the Woody family of Clinton County, Kentucky). There seem to be a lot of Davis branches, since Robert himself and then his children had lots of offspring.

    Poor Dara, I am sure, did not intend her writing blog to become a Davis family genealogy site. Nevertheless, I am entering the blogisphere for the first time in my life because 1) Dara’s blog seems more accessible (and a lot more entertaining) than many of the genealogical blogs and 2) I am just so darn curious.

    I am new to researching this side of my family, so the answer may be obvious to everyone else. Anyway, here is my question about Jemima Davis:

    Why does everyone assume that Jemima was a “Jefferson?” Couldnt Jemima be a maternal cousin of Thomas Jefferson? I havent seen documentation for her use of the Jefferson surname and I am beginning to think that maybe 19th century genealogists added her presumed maiden name.We know she was a Collins, because she married John Davis under that name (making her either a Collins by birth or a Collins by marriage and most genealogists choose the second, making her a very young widow indeed at the time of her marriage to John Davis). We know her sons, including “my” Robert, claimed to be cousins of Thomas Jefferson, but did they also claim the Jefferson name? I am just curious as to whether anyone has ever pursued that line of questioning?


    • LOL, I don’t mind it being a genealogy site

      Anyway you have a good point. That’s something to look into!

    • Carolyn, Are you connected to the Armstong Family. I am researching the Allen/Beford families of Parker County Texas. Trying to tie up a few details about Bernice Bedford Armstrong.

  11. Hi Carolyn,

    I have often wondered about that. I am suspicious, as well, that the Jefferson name was added by amateur researchers. I have never seen the Jemima/John marriage documentation. Where can it be found?

    My biggest problem with the slave parentage angle is that mixed race marriages were illegal at the time.

    I suppose that if Jemima was descendent of an African/American that fact might have gone unnoticed but considering the involvement that the family seemed to have in Virginia, I doubt it.

    Anyway, I love that Dara has provided this space for discussion. I am open to all ideas and even though I am not a direct descendent of John Davis (my husband is) I am fascinated by the history of this family.

  12. Connie Mincy said:

    I also descend from John and Jemima. I have a copy of an obituary, that was sent to me from another Davis descendant, which states that John married Jemima Collins, whose maiden name was Jefferson, and she was a “relative” of Thomas Jefferson.
    It was sent to me by Brenda Andrews who said that she had DNA testing and there is no african american blood in her.
    So the question is, how is she related to Thomas Jefferson? I found on where some have it listed that she was the daughter of Field Jefferson and another stating that she was the dtr of Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph and was listed as Jane.
    So who is right and who is wrong. It is anyones guess. But my cousin and I have been searching for several years and have not come up with anything.
    There is also a Davis book C.E.W. Davis stating that Jemima is related to Thomas Jefferson. Has anyone found this book or know where it is located?
    Still searching.
    Any input is appreciated.

    • Connie,
      I am Ronald Davis, great grandson of C.E.W. Davis, and I have a copy of the booklet(only a few pages in all) by C.E.W. If you want a copy, let me know. Contact me on this site. (My email adress is farther down on this site)

    • Connie,
      This is Ronald Davis. I have replied two or three times on this site, but now i wantm to tell those interested that I have a site where all can put their Davis line, compare them, and connect with one that matches theirs. The site is ; I invite everyone to look it up, and if there are problems notify me at
      Ronald Davis

      • great idea. I am also a descendant and just recently got to this part of my tree and find it very fascinating!

  13. Carolyn McKenna said:

    In reply to Connie Mincy’s inquiry: the C. E. W. Davis “book” is actually an eleven page manuscript written in 1892 at his Clinton County home. I have not seen it, but I understand that at least a copy or a transcription is in the Monticello, KY town library in Wayne County, KY. Presumably copies are also circulating among members of the Davis clan.

    I think it is intriquing that a town in the county in which the Davis family had a major presence was named after the home of Thomas Jefferson. Coincidence?

    In any event, the author was son of Absalom Davis and grandson to Robert Davis, one of Jemima’s sons. While it is based on oral tradition and written when he was a middle-aged man, presumably Constant got the story about the Jefferson connection from his father Absalom, as his grandfather Robert died when Constant was a boy of about 7. Absalom would have gotten the story directly from his own father Robert, who would have likely gotten it directly from his father John as his mother Jemima likely died when Robert was a child. Certainly Robert was one of the sons who in their own lifetime claimed to be “cousin” to Thomas Jefferson.


  14. Carolyn McKenna said:

    Update on my last reply: a wonderful family website “The Clarks of Otter Creek & Related Families” by Fay Clark cites the C. E. W. Davis genealogy as appearing in the local newspaper: Albany (KY) Banner, Aug 25, 1892, in article entitled “The Davis Family.” Albany, KY was the county seat of Clinton County, where many Davis family lived (it was carved out of Wayne County, KY, where the family had settled in 1804).

    Also, in that family history, Constant cites his great-grandmother’s maiden name as “Jefferson”, so I guess that answers the question of whether or not at least her own family thought Jemima used the last name of Jefferson.


  15. Larry Bevins said:

    Hi Everyone,

    I have posted on this site before, but wanted to add that I found information where Jemima Jefferson Collins’ first husband was Ahira Collins b. abt 1789 and he married Jemima Jefferson in 1752 Amherst, Virginia. Ahira Collins died 11 Apr 1861. It looks like she was only married to Ahira Collins for a year, because she married John Davis (our line) in 1753 Amherst County, Virginia.

    I have trouble believing that Jemima would have been Peter Jefferson’s daughter, Jane, since all Encyclopedia’s, history books, and even TV documentations say she died at 25 years old unmarried. If she was our Jemima her birth date was different and she also died 1765, which means she passed away before her last three children were born. Jemima Jefferson Davis had other children born after 1765 such as Betty Elizabeth “Poor Betty” Davis b. abt 1770 Va married Adam Runyon Senior in Kentucky.

    I believe if she is related it would be through Field Jefferson. There is a connection stated on a land record that George Jefferson (Field Jefferson’s son) received as a gift about 580 acres in Lunenburg County 13 May 1761. He married Elizabeth Garland, daughter of David Garland, 2 July (consent) 1764. He was among the first justices of Pittsylvania County, where he owned 8,000 acres, and was a militia captain. John Davis was overseeing the Pittsylvania County plantation for George Jefferson of Mecklenburg County in 1767.

    I have Jemima Jefferson Collins b. abt 1736 and I do find it very interesting that Field Jefferson had a daughter by the name of Elizabeth b. 1736 in Va. I have tried to find information on this Elizabeth but haven’t found anything as of yet, but that she was Field Jefferson’s daughter. I couldn’t locate spouse or any other information. I did find her on a site from Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia showing Field & Mary Frances Robertson Jefferson’s children: Thomas Jefferson b. 1733-1783, Peter Field Jefferson b. 1735-1794, Elizabeth Jefferson b. 1736, Frances Jefferson b. 1738-1766, George Jefferson b. 1739-1780 (who knew our John Davis), Mary Jefferson b. 1740 – ?, Judith Jefferson b. 1741 – ?, John Robertson Jefferson b. 1742 – 1809, Phoebe Jefferson b. 1743 – 1830.

    Also I found her on another site with the same children as above. Could Elizabeth be Jemima? Just a thought. Could Jemima have been Elizabeth’s nickname and that is why her name was on the marriage record to John Davis as Jemima or was her name Jemima Elizabeth Jefferson? The name of Jemima wasn’t just given to slave females or black females. Daniel Boone’s son Nathan named his daughter Jemima Boone. This is just one example. The name Jemima was also given to white girls back in the early days of America. I think some researcher’s think Jemima was Jane because there is a record of John & Jane Davis selling land to some men. Could her name have been Elizabeth Jane Jefferson and she went by the nickname Jemima. Just another thought.

    John Davis may have been close to George Jefferson because Jemima was his sister. I found more records that record John Davis in the affairs of George Jefferson. I intend to continue to search and try to find proof to connect Jemima Jefferson to Field Jefferson in my genealogical research.

    I too am a descendant of John Davis and Jemima Jefferson through their son Thomas Davis. My Davis ancestors were from Logan and Mingo County, West Virginia. My grandma was Berths Davis Bevins.

    Hopefully all of us researching Jemima will find something to prove who her parents were, but I do feel she may be Field Jefferson’s daughter.

    Keep in touch. Larry

    • Larry, I do believe you are incredibly close to discovering her true identity. I don’t know that there would be much more evidence out there, but the puzzle pieces seem to be fitting together quite well.

    • Larry,
      This is Ronald Davis. I wrote Herbert Barger asking about Elizabeth , daughter of Field Jefferson ,and he told me that Field Jefferson Didn’t have a daughter named Elizabeth. I have seen a Jefferson family site that does not list her. That conflicts with the information in the Jefferson Encyclopedia.
      I was hoping he could clear this up for us.

  16. Connie Mincy said:

    Larry, you have this Mr Collins being born about 1789 and married to Jemima Jefferson in 1752. How is this, I am sure that it was a typo that he was married before he was born.

    • Larry Bevins said:

      Hi Connie, I could have made a typo. I have done that before. I’ll check my records and see what I have and let you know.

      Thanks, Larry

  17. Catherine Davis said:

    To whom this may concern,
    I am a direct decendant of John and Jemima, the family tree information that I have is very old ( passed down from one generation to another over the years, in my information it states that Jemima was the Paternal Aunt of Thomas Jefferson. I would be very happy to share the information I have. names, DOB’s and Deaths, marriages etc… (52 pages)
    Please e-mail me at the above e-mail address and we can connect

    • Carole Webber said:

      Hi Catherine,

      I can’t see an email for you but I would really like to see your info.


    • Carole Webber said:

      Catherine please contact me at

    • Priscilla Davis Moore said:

      I would love to have any family info that you have. CEW Davis was my gg- grandfather. I have been searching for the Davis History he wrote for 5 years. Have you found it? You may send anything you may have to my email or ????? let me know. Thank you so very much.

    • rebecca ferguson nelson said:


      I too am a Davis descendant, apparently through two different lines. Elizabeth Neil Davis married Henry Wood Ferguson 29 Sept, 1814. They are my great great great grandparents. It is my belief that both are related to this Davis line. Henry Wood Ferguson is the grandson of Belfield Wood who was the brother of Avarilla Wood Davis (wife of Robert Davis). Elizabeth is harder to prove. but I believe her to be the daughter of Thomas Davis, son of Robert and Avarilla Davis. I would like very much to communicate with you about these families. my email is

      Rebecca Ferguson Nelson

    • I too and a direct descendent of Robert and Jemima. Would greatly appreciate having documents to follow for my continuing search. Please contact me at

    • Teresa Upchurch said:

      I too am descendant of John Davis and Jemima Jefferson. My grandmother’s grandfather was Constant E. W. Davis (C.E.W. Davis) that I keep reading about a book he wrote. I would love to get my hands on a copy of that! Anyway, information on Jemima and John; Robert D. Davis, (or his wife Avarilla Wood); Absalom Davis (wife Alice Fair Guffey, aka Allie Fair); or Constant E. W. Davis (C.E.W. Davis), would truly appreciated. Thank you. Weaving our threads of the family tapestry is so very interesting. I do hope we will hear from one another again in the near future.
      Teresa Upchurch (oh, PLEASE put Jemima Jefferson is the subject line of the e-mail so I can retrieve it from the junk mail….I have my spam filter set high, if you do not hear a reply from me within a week please resend in case I missed catching it from the junk filter until I can place you in my contacts). Thanks again!

      • Teresa, I have the booklet written by C.E.W. Davis. I would have to send it by US postal service. If you are interested, give me your postal mail address.

        Ronald Davis

    • Connie Mincy said:

      Catherine, I am interested in the info that you have on the Davis family. I descend from John and Jemima through their son John and his wife Mourning Guffey.
      I have been searching for some time and always interested in finding new information.
      Thank you.
      Connie Davis Mincy

    • Larry Bevins said:

      Hi Catherine, I didn’t see a email for you but would love to have a copy of what you have on John and Jemima Jefferson. My email is:


    • Catherine,
      I am Ronald Davis .My great grandfather was C.E.W. Davis that wrote the booklet about the Davis geneology. I am interested in the material you have.
      Is it information before Absalam Davis, preacher at Davis Chapel who was son of Robert Davls?
      Ronald Davis

    • Catherine,
      I am Ronald Davis, great grandson of C.E.W. Davis. I also have information going back to John and Jemima. Iwould be interested in the information you have. I would especially like to find a picture of Absalam Davis, the preacher at Davis Chapel at Alpha Kentucky. Which branch of the family are you a part of? Let me hear from you.
      Ronald Davis

    • Catherine,
      I too am a descendent of John and Jemima Davis (their son Thomas’ line). I would really, really like a copy of the family tree if possible.
      Thanks, Ron

    • Vickie Sheppard said:

      I would love to have a copy of your records. My great-great grandma is Julie (Julia) Runyon, daughter of Elizabeth Runyon, dauther of Jemima Davis.

    • Millie Ellis said:

      John and Jemima are in my family line – would love to see the information you have. Thank you. Email:

  18. Connie Mincy said:

    Catherine, I am interested in the info you have. If you would be so kind as to send to my e-mail address, it would be greatly appreciated.

  19. My Davis’ were in Sumner Co., Tennessee in 1795. Hannah Davis married to Kendal Brinkley. Need information as to her parentage. Can anyone help?

  20. Anne Poole said:

    Hello All…..

    Field Jefferson was my 10th great grandfather. I had never heard that he may have had another child named Jemima ! Interesting ! Would love to learn more about another “cousin” and her descendants !


  21. My name is Ronald Davis. I have read 14 pages of your discussions about Jemima Davis. I found out much that I had been searching for. I have some that you might like.
    C.E.W. Davis was my great grandfather. He came to Texas with some of his children in the late 1800’s and settled in Blue Ridge, Texas. A large family
    of Davises grew up there and some scattered, but others stayed. It has been the home place. My father grew up there and finished his schooling there.
    He married and moved to Celeste, Texas . I was born in Leonard, and my sister was born at Celeste. In the late 1930’s my father’s brother, Henry, one of C.E.W.’s other grandsons typed out for each of his brothers family records
    taken from a family Bible owned by an aunt, “Minnie” McGuffey, information on C.E.W. Davis’ family. He also gave the geneology back to
    Robert, who married Avarilla Wood. I have the pages from the family Bible.
    It only goes back to C.E.W. He must have gotten the rest form his grandfatner, C.E.W. In the 1960’s my dad and I started trying to go farther back , but only found one other name–that of John Davis , who married Jemima Collins.
    My father was Doyle Reuben Davis. His father was General Sherman Davis,
    “General”. His father was C.E.W. Davis. His father was Absalam,the preacher that established the Davis Chapel at Albany Kentucky, who was the son of Robert Davis and Avarilla Wood.
    My Email address is:

  22. This is Ronald Davis again. I hav found some information that is new to me,
    mybe to you: Robert Davis, who married Avarilla wood,was the son of
    John Davis, Sr., born in Amherst Co., ; He was the son of Robert Davis and Margaret Hughes, both born in Wales; This Robert Davis was the son of
    Nathanael Davis and Elizabeth Hughes, both born in Wales. It looks like Robert, the son of Nathanael , may be the one who came to America.
    Also, I have group picture of C.E.W. Davis descendents taken at the C.E.W. homeplace at Blue Ridge, Texas, and another picture of most of C.E.W,s brothers and sisters, children of Absalam Davis, preacher of Davis Chapel.

    Ronald Davis

  23. Mary Evans said:

    I to am looking for any possible knowledge of Jemima Jefferson Davis and John Davis. I am so glad that I found you…this is a journey that has kept me looking for a long time.
    This is the line that takes me to John and Jemima….
    Ethel Alice Miller/1910-1995
    Vinnie Pennington Davis/1883-1912
    Thomas L Davis/1842-189
    Alexander Davis/1815-1837
    James Davis/1789-1876
    Jonathan Davis/1750-1831
    John Davis/1732-1799 …wife Jemima Jefferson Davis.
    I have read over time that Jamima is related to Thomas Jefferson, some have said she is his sister, others say she is a cousin. Although we may never know the whole story, it is so good to know that others are looking for her truth. Let me know if any more information comes to you.
    Thank You, Mary Evans

    • John Davis said:

      mary —

      I cam across your posting while researching my ancestor, Jonathan Davis. Initially I did not see an obvious connection until I came to your comment. You listed the following sequence of names:

      Alexander Davis/1815-1837
      James Davis/1789-1876
      Jonathan Davis/1750-1831
      John Davis/1732-1799 …wife Jemima Jefferson Davis.

      My great grandfather was James Davis, b. Pittsylvania Co., VA in 1789 and died in Roane Co., TN in 1876

      He was marreid twice and had a son by his first marriage, named Alexander.

      Jonathan Davis (b. circa 1750, d. July, 1831, m. Elizabeth Chaney 1776) was James’ father, so your names perfectly match my research

      I have searched for years for the parents of Jonathan Davis. You have listed a John Davis (1732-1799) as the father of your Jonathan, along with his wife, jemima Jefferson Davis. Could you share with me any documentation you may have on these individuals? I will be glad to do the same.


  24. That report needs closer scrutiny. Page 1 refers to Wales, England (there is no such place), and says that Jemima Jefferson was Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph’s daughter (which would make her Thomas Jefferson’s sister). It only takes a moment to check these “facts” out on reputable web sights. I never made it to page 2.

    • K,
      This is Ronald Davis. Wales may not now be a part of Great Britain, which most of us call England, But it was under English rule when our ancesters came from there. The grundy history line is another Davis line, and I dont think we can just dismiss it because there are mistakes in it. I do agree with you that counting Jemima as the daughter “Jane” of Peter Jefferson doesn’t
      fit–if for no other reason, because of the dates involved.

  25. Todd A Nichols said:

    My father is a Jefferson from Lunenburg, VA. I have traced our lines back to Green Jefferson who was a 4yr old black boy living in VA with the Disosway family, who were abolitionists from NY. Not sure if this is a direct link to the Jefferson slaves or not, but interesting anyway. I believe this was in the early 1800’s around 1804 or so. Anyone here have any additional information to add?

  26. To all of the Jemima Jefferson Collins relatives: As a Jefferson family genealogist and assistent to Dr Foster on the now infamous lie, the Jefferson-Hemings DNA Study, I wish to make the following statement.

    Some time back a relative of this person contacted me and I replied with the information requested. As I recall, I am 85 years old, Jemima descended from a son of Field Jefferson, thus making her a first cousin to Thomas Jefferson. If I can find my reply I will post it.

    Meanwhile, please see my web pages: and for all about the Jeffersons and the FIASCO, the Jefferson-Hemings study. Thomas Jefferson NEVER fathered slave children!

    Herb Barger

    • Wow, thanks! I’m amazed at all the responses this post has gotten and very thankful for it too! 🙂

    • Connie Mincy said:

      Herbert, I had contacted you many years ago and at that time there was nothing to point to Jemima being related, so I was wondering what new has been uncovered to show that she is indeed, a cousin of Thomas Jefferson, I do have a copy of John Davis obit that does state that his wife was a cousin of Thomas Jefferson.
      So anything that is available I would really like to have copies. I want to thank you for finally settling the issue of who her parents were and that she is, in fact, a cousin of Thomas Jefferson.
      Connie Mincy

      • Ron Jewell said:

        Unfortunately, we are still a long way from declaring that for a fact Jemima was related to President Thomas Jefferson. I, too, contacted Mr. Barber — in December 2010. At that time he had no information that tied Jemima to any Jefferson. Before I am convinced of the kinship, I would need to have information specifically explaining how Jemima was related to Thomas Jefferson. Exactly how were they related? Who was her father? Who was her mother? What is the source of the information? Etc. To say a person is related to another person without specifics sounds like handed-down, un-verified family legend to me.

    • Larry Bevins said:

      Thanks Mr. Bargar for your response on Jemima Jefferson. I really respect what you have said.

      Thanks so much,

      Larry Bevins

  27. Here is a link to an interesting analysis regarding the likely parentage of Jemima. I have included here the most relevant info. If Field Jefferson is the father of Jemima, she is not listed as such in any genealogical info that I could find. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t so but that there needs to be further information gathered before it is a foregone conclusion. If anyone has anything that would help with that regard please post it.

    John Davis (b ca. 1732) m. widow Jemima Jefferson in Virginia. They were the parents of Robert (m. Avarilla Wood) and William (m. Mourning Guffey) [both] early settlers of Clinton County. Davis family legend (as written in Wayne and Clinton county histories) has it that she was a relative of President Thomas Jefferson.

    I’d like to do a quick reality check on this Jemima Jefferson Collins Davis connection. Let’s examine all the facts.

    1. We know from written sources that three of John and Jemima’s sons, Robert, Thomas and William, claimed to be first cousins of President Thomas Jefferson.
    2. In order for them to be first cousins with President Thomas Jefferson, Jemima would need to be a daughter of Peter Jefferson’s (Thomas’ father) father, Thomas Jefferson (the president’s grandfather).
    3. In order for them to be first cousins once removed (more likely) she would have to be a first cousin of President Thomas Jefferson and would have to be a daughter of Peter Jefferson’s only brother, Field Jefferson.
    4. In order to be first cousins twice removed (actually less likely due to the dates involved) she would have to be a daughter of one of Field Jefferson’s four sons: Thomas (b 1743), Peterfield (b. 1735), George (b ca.1745) or John Jefferson.
    5. None of these six men are known to have had a legitimate daughter by the name of Jemima


  28. Connie Mincy said:

    I tend to believe Mr Barger as he is a historian on the Jefferson Family. I had found him several years ago from the Monticello site.
    We don’t know if Jemima was her first name, or middle name, so it seems that the records may have had her listed by her given name and not Jemima.
    With this said, since Mr Barger has researched and recorded info about Thomas Jefferson and his family, it would seem that he probably knows what he is talking about.
    Thank you Mr Barger for your information.

    • I too am grateful for Mr. Barger’s input. I don’t dispute the idea that Jemima is related to Thomas Jefferson. I have seen the testimony from two of her sons as recorded by Jack Ragland in his History of Logan County. I have read that Constance W Davis also made that claim in his book. Connie has a John Davis obit with the relationship stated. Is that an obit of John Davis/Jemima or John Davis /Mourning, Connie? Anyway, I would love to see it or if that isn’t possible could you transcribe the contents of the obit? My husband is descendant through John Davis/Mourning, as well.

      My husband and I have been working on this intriguing genealogical mystery for years. We have made three trips from Utah to VA KY and TN, searched the DAR, county and local library records, made countless trips the the FHL in SLC and scoured the internet. We have been to the Davis Chapel, and followed our Davis trail to Oregon. There is no doubt that the Davis’s played an exiting and noteworthy role in the early history and settlement of our country.

      I am very interested in how Jemima is related to the Jeffersons. The how is very important to my research as a family historian. I believe that with enough input from descendents and others we could solve that mystery definitively.

      I am also very interested in John Davis’s ancestry of which there is also much speculation.

      Ronald Davis has started a website where we can all post our Davis relationship and discuss these mysteries. Please think about becoming a member.

      Thank you,


      • I would like that info as well. And learning more about John Davis would be fascinating as well. I need to check out Ronald’s website.


    (Albany Banner)
    John Davis a resident of (unreadable) was born of parents that were natives of Wales. He married Jemima Collins, who had some children by a former husband, and whose maiden name was Jefferson, a relative of President Jefferson. By him she had seven childre, five sons and two daughters. Robert, Thomas, William, James and John, Mary and Jemima. Thomas married Miss Nancy Hill and raised a tolerable (unreadable) children in West Virginia. (The rest is unreadable and only contains a final sentence.

    The original was in fragile condition and was sent to me by Brenda Andrews, another Davis descendant.
    No Year was given for the paper, can only assume it was at time of his death.


  30. Thank you for posting this Connie. Reading it made me feel closer to Jemima. The lack of info on her has always made her seem like a phantom to me. The Albany Banner began publishing in 1891 so if this is an obit, it was a reprint. I’m inclined to believe it was more likely a write-up of early Clinton County residents.

    I have never seen anything about Jemima’s other children. This could be helpful in research – if those children can be identified.

    Thanks again.

    I’m very excited about this, it gives me another piece of the puzzle which hopefully will lead to other places to look.

  31. ATTENTION: everybody interested in JemimaJefferson Collins Davis:
    Jemima is not a slave name. It is a Welsh name. It is the name of a Welsh
    woman hero who took it upon herself to defeat the French navy. Log in on
    “Who Was the Original Aunt Jemima and What Did She Do?” By Robert LeFevre.
    Ronald Davis

  32. ATTENTION: everybody interested in JemimaJefferson Collins Davis:
    Jemima is not a slave name. It is a Welsh name. It is the name of a Welsh
    woman hero who took it upon herself to defeat the French navy. Log in on
    “Who Was the Original Aunt Jemima and What Did She Do?” By Robert LeFevre. Thomas Jefferson claimed that his family came from Wales.
    (From a Jefferson family site) This note could be helpful.

    Ronald Davis

    • This is Ronald Davis.
      There are some errors in this that I will correct as soon as I can get time–possibly tomorrow, 3/19 /11.

      • My note above has to do with Dara’s comments about Jemima’s possible African American connection that were discussed by others afterward. My note said that Jemima was a Welsh name. It is not. It is a Hebrew name taken from the Bible. It was used in Wales. Jemima, a heroic Welsh woman in Wales caused the defeat of a French invasion attempt of Wales in 1797. Thomas Jefferson claimed that his family was from Wales.Jemima was born before that incident probably in America, but this shows that the name was used in Wales long before itm became attached to slavery in America. It was not until 1875 that the name Jemima became connected with the black woman tradition connected with Aunt Jemima. (see “Aunt Jemima ” on Wikipedia). False information about Thomas Jefferson, accusing him of fostering children of a slave woman has also become involved in the thinking. Herbert Barger’s answer on March 2, 2011 (above) agrees with testimony given by other researchers about Thomas Jefferson’s innocence of those charges, and there has never been anything to suggest that Jemima Jefferson was illigitimate or slave. As we have seen in the discussion, other things can account for the fact her name has not been found listed as such in the geneologies. As Connie Mincy has said (above,May 23,2010),one of the female descendents of Jemima Jefferson has had her DNA tested which showed she had no African-American blood. If DNA shows anything, that shows that Jemima had no African-American blood.
        As far as her being a cousin to Thomas Jefferson is concerned, the fact that three of her own children said she was his cousin, that is the credible witness of three individuals who were in the best position to know.She was their mother.
        Ronald Davis

  33. This is Ronald Davis. I see that I have not given the address for my web site. It is: All of you are welcome to look it over, become a member, put your family lineage on it for others to connect to, or ask questions.

  34. Mary Evans said:

    I am so glad that I found this site. I am also trying to find where Jemima belongs in the family line. If infact she is part of Thomas Jefferson’s family line. I am new at this, and I am always excited to find my family.
    This is where I join in the Davis line…Vinnie Pennington Davis 1883-1917, Thomas L Davis 1842-1892, Alexander H Davis 1815, James Davis 1789-1876, Jonathan Davis 1750-1831, John Davis 1732-1799 who is married to Jemima Jefferson Collins Davis 1736-1765.
    I really have nothing more to share, but continue to search. I have enjoyed reading all the possible answers, and questions…Mary Evans

  35. John Davis said:

    Mary —

    I have researched this family line for years and this is the first time I have ever seen a reference to Jonathan Davis’ parent(s). I am dying to know where you first came across this information and anything else you can share regarding Jonathan’s ancestors. I also have scans of the Davis family bible that goes back to James Davis. In addition, my son and I are restoring the small cemetary where James and his second wife, Rebecca, are buried and have photos of their tombstone. Would be willing to share all of this and more. You can contact me direclty at


    John Davis

  36. Millie Ellis said:

    Wow! I just stumbled onto this blog and have read with great interest. Like all of you, I have become fascinated with the John & Jemima Davis legends. My line-of-descent pulls from John & Jemima twice on my father’s side – from his maternal grgr-grandparents, Catherine McCullom (1797-1854) and William S. Davis (1792-1878). Catherine’s grandfather was John Davis, Jr, son of John & Jemima and William’s father was Robert Davis, also a son of John & Jemima. I think that makes Catherine and William first cousins, once removed? Anyway, Nearly all of my director ancestors lived and died here in Kentucky – very close by to where I live. I hope that puts me in a position to dig up something helpful. I plan to check out each of the webpages you all have mentioned and will continue to follow this blog. With so many cousins researching this mystery, I feel sure we will be able to figure it out! It’s nice to meet you all and thanks. Millie Ellis

  37. Mary said:

    This is where I join in the Davis line…Vinnie Pennington Davis 1883-1917, Thomas L Davis 1842-1892, Alexander H Davis 1815, James Davis 1789-1876, Jonathan Davis 1750-1831, John Davis 1732-1799 who is married to Jemima Jefferson Collins Davis 1736-1765.
    I really have nothing more to share, but continue to search. I have enjoyed reading all the possible answers, and questions…Mary Evans

    Dear Mary,

    There appears to be a problem with the family line above. From what I understand John and Jemima had a son John 1758-1841 (buried Clinton Co. KY) from whom my husband descends. I’m not aware of a Jonathan 1750-1831. I found a Jonathan Davis 1750-1831 who died in Roane, TN. Is this your Jonathan?

  38. Alvin Madden-Grider said:

    I am also descended from Jemima Jefferson through the Davises (Sarah, John’s son) down through Mackeys and Griders.

    I am her ggggg grandson. I find all this very interesting. Thanks for all the info.

  39. Thank you, Mr. Davis for clarifying the common misconception that the name Jemima is/was a “black name”. Jemima, is no more associated with persons African blood than any other given name in history. If one digs a little deeper, they find many Jemima’s of European ancestry in history as it was a commonly given name during the 18th century and before. It is mistaken as such due to the long time Aunt Jemima line of food products heroin being black.
    In response to the female decendent of Jemima Davis Collins that said she had no African blood based on her DNA test, that does not mean anything about one’s actual pedigree. DNA is a very complex thing as we all are aware. True, she may not share the proper markers to indicate African ancestry but that could be because she didn’t inherit those particular genes from the African ancestor. A gene pool is comparable to that of a lottery. If we all inherited the same exact genetic makeup, then all our siblings would be identical. There are cases where one sibling shows a different DNA test than another. In fact, they always do when both are tested.
    I read a few speculative comments about Jemima being a Jefferson. There is no documentation of any substance that indicates her last name was Jefferson. That name was added by some very amateur historians to put it mildly in the last 15 years.
    Jemima’s surname was Collins. There is no documentation as much as I would like to believe that indicates otherwise. If she was by blood a Jefferson, I can promise that surname was never used by her in her lifetime. The birth dates included in that “story” are incompatible with any known timeline. Based on my research and knowledge of 18th century culture, she was most likely a mulatto in the most liberal usage of the word. As Collins was her surname it can be easily connected to the Melungeon culture that many servants and lower class persons were descended from during that time. If you don’t know what a Melungeon person is, I would recommend checking that out before making any more conclusions regarding this person’s ethnicity. Finally, there is no evidence anywhere to suggest Jemima Collins was a daughter of Sally Hemmings. Sally had children who were considered mulatto, but there is no evidence to indicate Jemima was one of them. Sally was mulatto as were most of the free people of color who held the rank just above slave in those days. Jemima was most likely a daughter of a female servant at Monticello who had the surname Collins. I am a descendent as well as most of you, but with no documentation to back this up, I’m afraid we will never know the truth.

  40. Dear Thom,

    Thank you for posting. I am always excited to see new info, and opinion here. I would love to see ANY documentation of Jemima. Birth, marriage, death etc. Do you have access to anything?

    It seems that the belief that Jemima’s maiden name is Jefferson comes from an article published Aug 25 1892 in the Albany Banner written by CEW Davis. It is reportedly stated in the article that Jemima’s maiden name was Jefferson and that she was previously married to a Collins by whom she had children. So there is secondary information that goes back over 100 years that supports the Jemima Jefferson identity. Connie Mincy provided a transcript above.

    I too have wondered about the melungeon Collins connection. The Collins family in Virginia are said to be descendants of Saponi indians. I have read some conjecture on the internet where John Davis is suggested to be a descendant of Princess Niketti (Powattan tribe.)

    There is a rumor whispered by my husband’s recently deceased aunt that there was indian blood in the family. There is also a rumor in the family that the family ancestors came from France which has no genealogical basis but is consistent with melungeon tradition. Melungeons reportedly explained their dark skin by French ancestry. Don’t ask me why.

    I think some sort of mulatto ancestry is likely. Other than DNA, I’m not sure how to prove this since early Americans often hid their native American and African American ancestry.

    As well as a connection to the Jefferson’s, I would be delighted to discover that my children had Native or African American ancestry.

    Your thoughts please,


  41. Just stumbled across this blog while working on a genealogy blog post on my own tiny site for Elizabeth Chaney/Cheney who married the Jonathan Davis who died in Roane County, TN in 1831. I’ll admit that I need to go back and reread the discussion to catch up, but I’m thrilled to run across some possible cousins!

    Before anyone asks, I have no new information to add about the Davis clan. I stumbled across this blog post while looking to see if anything new had been published about Elizabeth or her husband.

    Anyway, just stopping in to say hello, and looking forward to more discussions of possible shared relatives!

  42. This is where my website can be found: . the geneological sheets are on page two. One can get page two by clicking on theplace that says page two, at the top right corner of the first page

  43. Allison S. Versendaal-Potter said:

    I am so lost!! I got my whole list and then I come to a huge rock in the road….I can get all my ancestors in a row except one huge glitch in terms of Jane Jefferson…..(Thomas’s sister) which keeps being listed unmarried and dead at 25….everything in my family chart matches even clear back to 1169!!!! Then I hit Jane jefferson( 1736-1765), who was supposed to be married to John Davis(1722-1799) who then in turn had child Robert Davis(1754-1843) Who married Avarilla Wood(1754-1843) and had child Averilla (1831-1881) who married John Crabtree(1789-1886) who had child Mahala (1822-1876) Who married Jefferson Davis(1824-1918) they had My Great Great grandfather Jefferson Hart Davis(1865-1941) who married Laura Ratliff(1877-1970) and gave birth to my Great Grandfather Paul Lyndal Davis(1899-1990) who married Marie Mildred Wilson(1905-1997) gaving birth to my amazing, don’t know what i will do without grandfather Keith Wilson Davis whom is 83 and alive and kicking!! Who married Phyllis Beth Lawrence(1934- still living) and gave birth to my MOM Debra Sue Davis(1959- still living) and then of course me……Allison Sue Versendaal (1977- present)SO I have this documented by numerous relatives, It’s all documented online ect…….EVERYTHING is there and fits….CEPT Jane Jefferson… I said even my ancestory From Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph like I said is traced clear back to 1169!!! is all accurate….I’m stumped and confused!! I have no colored affiliation anywhere,and photographs show this too. It seems to me, there is some sort of cover up or hidden something for everyone in that general vicinity of relation… appears to me on my stuff….I would be descended from Thomas Jefferson’s sister….but his references say otherwise….so aggravating….I can even trace farther relatives that entwine into this circle….so it’s all there, but theres also something shady going on!!
    Does anyone kow how you go about being DNA tested and what kind of cost is involved?Who to contact?

    • Ronald Davis said:

      Allison, this is Ronald Davis. I am 80 years old and I am a great grandson of CEW Davis. Our family records go back to Robert and Avarilla Davis. The evidence you yourself have given, and others have also given, show positively that Jane is not Jemima, the wife of John and mother of Robert Davis Also,see Larry Bevin’s letter above.

  44. Carole Webber said:

    It has been awhile since I or anyone has posted here. I wanted to update everyone on progress I have made regarding the Jemima Davis/Thomas Jefferson connection. First let me say that my husband (the Jemima Davis descendant) recently had his DNA tested and there is no African DNA. His mother (also descendant from Jemima) had hers done, as well, and no African DNA showed up there either.

    I believe that the connection is most likely through George Farrar/Judith Jefferson. I have been in contact with another descendant from these two people who is a DNA match (4th through 8th cousins). He descends through George/Judith’s son Peter.

    I have long suspected that this is where the connection is. Judith was President Jefferson’s aunt.

    Jemima is not listed as one of the nine children of George Farrar and Judith Jefferson on any genealogy info that I can find but of course that means little.

    According to information that I have read George and Judith moved from Gillis Mill, Henrico County to Mecklenburg, Va in the late 1750’s to be closer to her brother Field Jefferson. As has been documented there was a John Davis working as overseer on George Jefferson’s plantation in same county. There are also 3 Collins men listed on the same document. It has been suggested that this overseer John Davis could be our guy.

    I think it is a real possibility that deserves further investigation.

  45. Carole Webber said:

    I also wanted to add with regard to the Native American/Melungeon question discussed above that neither my husband or his mother had any Native American DNA in their analysis.

  46. Carole Webber said:

    PS. If you are intereste my husband had his DNA tested through If anyone is interested it is $99.00. Might even be as low as $79.00. It would be interesting to see if the Farrar/Jefferson connection showed up on any of your relationships.

  47. Connie Mincy said:

    I see that there have not been very many recent posts on the subject of Jemima Jefferson Collins Davis. I descend from John and Jemima, as I have posted earlier. I had my DNA done and there is no Native American nor African American.

  48. Has anyone found out anything new on any of our research? I keep looking to see if any of you have posted anything new.
    Ronald Davis

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