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.

Review: Russell Mahan, The Kentucky Kidnappings and Death March: The Revolutionary War at Ruddell’s Fort and Martin’s Station, Kindle ed. (West Haven, UT: Historical Enterprises, 2020).

In the summer of 1780, Captain Henry Bird crossed the Ohio River with some 800 Native Americans from various British-allied tribes and two companies of soldiers from Detroit (roughly 50 Canadians and Tories and a mixed group of regulars from the 8th and 47th regiments) to invade Kentucky.  More importantly, he brought two pieces of artillery, a three pounder and a six pounder.  It was one of the largest and most substantial attacks into Kentucky during the American Revolution.  

Bird’s goal was the Falls of the Ohio (today’s Louisville), which was critical to the American war effort on the frontier due to its critical position on the Ohio River.  Bird rendezvoused with the great bulk of the Native Americans at the confluence of the Great Miami and Ohio Rivers, (west of today’s Cincinnati) to discover that they had other plans.  Attacking fortified areas was less appealing than raiding small settlements and isolated farms, where the Indians might secure booty and terrorize the locals into abandoning Kentucky.  Constituting the vast majority of the army, the Native Americans won out. 

Continue reading “Review: Russell Mahan, The Kentucky Kidnappings and Death March: The Revolutionary War at Ruddell’s Fort and Martin’s Station, Kindle ed. (West Haven, UT: Historical Enterprises, 2020).”

Stumbling Upon Daniel Boone

Recently I had the chance to travel through Lexington, Kentucky en route to western Kentucky and to see the sites associated with the Fort Donelson campaign in the American Civil War.

In Frankfurt, Kentucky, Simon Bolivar Buckner, the Confederate general who surrendered the Tennessee fort, is buried.

Little did I know that a stone’s throw away, literally, is the grave of Daniel Boone. A fascinating find, if I would have researched a little more, I probably would have realized who all was buried in that cemetery in the state capital of Kentucky.

There, on a bluff, above the Kentucky River, lies Daniel and his wife Rebecca. The great frontiersman and pioneer who took settlers through the Cumberland Gap. One of the first folk heroes of American history.

Never know what you may stumble upon, when on a history excursion!

Pictures are below.

The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, Part 2

An Englishman on the Frontier

Part 1 click here.

Nicholas Cresswell left Alexandria for the Illinois Country on March 16, 1775, his correspondence as yet unknown to the local Committee of Safety.  The Ohio River served as a highway to the west, so he headed for its origin at Pittsburgh.  Along the way, he stopped to visit the battlefield where French and Indian forces defeated Major General Edward Braddock in July, 1755.  Cresswell and his traveling companions found “great numbers of bones, both men and horses.  The trees are injured, I suppose by the Artillery…the greatest slaughter seems to have been made within 400 yards of the River…We could not find one whole skull, all of them broke to pieces in the upper part, some of them had holes broken in them about an inch diameter, suppose it to be done with a Pipe Tomahawk.”[i]

Monongaela Battle (Library of Congress)
Initial Dispositions of the Battle of the Monongahela.  Cresswell walked the battlefield on his way to Pittsburgh in 1775.  (Library of Congress)

Continue reading “The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, Part 2”