NoD: Jack Jouett, Jr.

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Jack Jouett Historic Marker, Owingsville, Ky.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's immortal poem begins, "Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere." His words "one if by land, two if by sea" captured forever Paul Revere into America's folklore. He is believed a great father of American independence.

But what of the other hero who made a similar ride? In early June 1781, Jack Jouett - asleep in Cuckoo, Louisa County, Virginia - heard British troops and quickly determined their destination: Charlottesville. Jouett took to his horse and rode the 40 miles to warn Governor Thomas Jefferson and the legislature (which had been convened in Charlottesville due to Benedict Arnold's taking of Richmond).

Arriving hours before the British, Jouett first rode to Jefferson's home, Monticello, where he successfully warned the Governor and those legislators staying there. Jouett then rode the additional two miles to Charlottesville and warned the balance of the legislature. All but seven legislators successfully escaped thanks to Jouett's heroics. (Jefferson leisurely stayed at Monticello and escaped himself by horseback with only second to spare, but Jouett definitely warned him!)

Soon after, Jouett moved to Kentucky County. Passing a cabin on his way through the Wilderness Pass, Jouett hears a woman scream. He broke into the cabin only to find her being beaten by her husband and began to separate the two, but the woman defended her husband by taking a cast iron skillet to Jouett's head. Fortunately, the skillet was of low grade and the bottom fell through, but Jouett rode on until he could find a blacksmith to release the remainder of the pan from his head. [*]

Settling first in what is now Mercer County, Jouett ultimately moved to Woodford County. He served in both the Virginia and Kentucky legislatures on behalf of Kentuckians and he aided in Kentucky's first constitutional convention. He died while visiting his daughter in what-is-now Bath County and was buried in an unmarked grave at the "Peeled Oak" farm.


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