After the war, Hemings gained informal freedom when her common-law husband, Thomas Bell, a white merchant from Charlottesville, purchased her and their two mixed-race children from Jefferson. She was forced to leave her two older children, Joseph Fossett and Betsy Hemmings (as she spelled it), enslaved at Monticello. After Bell's death, Mary and their two children inherited his estate. She kept in touch with her large extended family, still enslaved at Monticello, and aided her children there. When Jefferson's slaves were sold after his death in 1826 to settle his debts, she purchased family members to help keep families intact.  Since Hemings Bell has been honored as a Patriot, all of her female descendants qualify for membership in the DAR.