Jack Jouett, Jefferson’s Paul Revere, after the War

Jack Jouett House

Jack Jouett was Thomas Jefferson’s Paul Revere, most famous for riding pell mell through the night to warn Virginia’s governor in 1781 that Banastre Tarleton and his men were on their way to Charlottesville to capture the governor and Virginia’s General Assembly.  Given Tarleton’s reputation for speed, surprise, and route, Jouett had to ride down back roads and country lanes with low hanging-trees, cattle paths, and foot paths to get ahead of the British officer with enough time to warn Virginia’s government-in-exile.  https://emergingrevolutionarywar.org/2016/08/02/jack-jouett-midnight-rider-of-the-south/  Unlike Revere, whom the British famously captured, Jouett arrived in Charlottesville with enough time for Jefferson and most legislators to escape.

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Jack Jouett House with earlier stone kitchen visible at the rear

            It’s a great story and Jouett makes it into standard biographies of Jefferson, histories of the war in Virginia, or campaign studies of Cornwallis and Tarleton.  But, Jouett’s story doesn’t end there.  Like many veterans—Jouett served in the Virginia militia—he headed west, over the Appalachians, in search of land and new opportunities.   The next year found Jouett in Kentucky County, Virginia.  Despite the bloodletting that went on in Kentucky during the Revolution, families continued to flock there.  Shortly after his arrival, he married, eventually fathering twelve children.  Given Kentucky’s exploding growth, the Virginia legislature divided Kentucky County into Lincoln, Jefferson, and Mercer counties and the people of Lincoln county elected Jouett as their representative in the Virginia General Assembly.  But, at heart, he remained a Virginia farmer, raising crops and livestock.  Sadly, he continued the practice of slavery, eventually owning twenty-five people.

Historical Marker at Jack Jouett House in Versailles, Kentucky

            In 1797, Jouett and his family bought a 530-acre farm in Woodford County and built one of Kentucky’s earliest brick homes, a step up from the log and stone buildings many settling the frontier built on their arrival.  Reflecting the period, it adopted design features from Virginia with a central hall and parlor and bedrooms in a half-floor attic.  The building included an earlier stone-walled kitchen built in the 1780s.  Jouett eventually moved away to Bath County in 1809 and died in 1822.  The house 1797 house, however, remains and was restored between 1972-1978 and opened for public tours in 1978.  Many of the interior contents are from the period and a small museum telling Jouett’s story in Virginia and Kentucky is in a separate building nearby.  It is not far from Lexington or some of Kentucky’s other Revolutionary War sites like Harrodsburg or Boonesborough.  It can be visited at:

Jack Jouett House Historic Site
255 Craig’s Creek Road
Versailles, Kentucky 40383
(859) 873-7902

It is best to visit the location’s website (http://jouetthouse.org) or call ahead for operating hours.