Early Life and Education
Lewis Woodson was the oldest of eleven children born to Thomas C. and Jemima Woodson, both mixed-race slaves who had gained their freedom. He was born in January 1806 in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now part of West Virginia).
Woodson family oral history, dating to the early nineteenth century, has claimed that Thomas Woodson was the eldest child of Sally Hemings and her master President Thomas Jefferson. That account has been disputed by Jeffersonian historians; there is no surviving record of Sally Hemings' having given birth to a surviving child before 1795, except for accounts written by the newsman James Callender.
In addition, results of a 1998 Jefferson DNA study conclusively showed that there was no genetic link between the Jefferson male line and the Woodson male line. The study's major findings were that the Y chromosome of the Jefferson male line matched that of Sally Hemings' son Eston's descendant. The Woodson Y chromosome did show northern European ancestry.
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