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Because of the Cherry Blossom Festival, Thomas Jefferson's Descendant Now Calls Marshfield 'Home'

Chris Truscott gathered with descendants of Presidents Washington, Madison, Monroe, and about two dozen others this weekend in the Ozarks
Jefferson Descendant
Chris Truscott is a corporate speechwriter and the direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson. (Photo credit: Jennifer Davidson, KSMU)

Chris Truscott has one very famous ancestor.

"Thomas Jefferson is my great-great-great…and several more greats-grandfather,” Truscott said.

He shares Jefferson’s love of the written word:  he’s a corporate speechwriter.  He writes full speeches, talking points, and letters.

"And it's not quite the Declaration of Independence, but it is pretty cool," he jokes.

Truscott says coming to the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield is a little "surreal."  You  have dozens of descendants of past presidents, as well as movie stars reflecting a wide spectrum of Americana--including stars from Gilligan's Island and Gone With The Wind. 

For Truscott, the festival has been more than just entertainment. When attending the festival two years ago, he fell in love with the editor of the Marshfield newspaper, who moderated a panel he was on. He relocated, the two married, and they’re expecting a baby this summer.

Also attending the Cherry Blossom Festival in past years were more Jefferson descendants; Truscott says growing up, he knew he had black cousins.  Most historians believe that after Thomas Jefferson's wife died, he fathered several children with his slave, Sally Hemings.

"Shannon Lanier, of New York, he's a descendant of Jefferson through Sally Hemings -- he's' been here several times," Truscott said.

Truscott said that debate came to a head in the 1990s.

"It wasn't a huge shock to me, but I think for a lot of people in the, kind of greater Jefferson family, there was this sense of  denial, and this expectation for the Hemings to meet a burden of proof that none of us have ever had to meet. And of course that's entirely becuase we're white, and they weren't. So they were held to a much less fair standard," Truscott said.

He says people tell him his facial features strongly resemble Jefferson’s straight, pointed nose and square jaw.

“And I don’t know if it’s true, but people say it.  I think…I think to an extent, people want to believe it.”

His father is buried at Monticello, where he’s also eligible for a plot one day. But Truscott says he’ll be buried wherever “home” is when he dies.  And that very well could be among the cherry trees that grace this little sliver of the Louisiana Purchase.

Chris Truscott, L, chats with Tom Washington, R. (Photo credit: Jennifer Davidson, KSMU) Chris Truscott, L, chats with Tom Washington, R. (Photo credit: Jennifer Davidson, KSMU) Chris Truscott is a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson (Photo credit: Jennifer Davidson, KSMU) Tom Washington is a great-nephew of George Washington, and works for the Republican Party in Texas. (Photo credit: Jennifer Davidson, KSMU) Chris Truscott, L, a corporate speechwriter based in Marshfield, and Tom Washington, R, of Texas. (Photo credit: Jennifer Davidson, KSMU)