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1 he Jack J ouett House

255 Cra~g's Creek Rd Versa~lles KY 40383 (859) 873-7902

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Thejack jouett Story

The Jack Jouett Story

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USS Jouett


Jack Jouett's most famous exploit happened in Virginia, but there is much more to hi story than his nighttime ride to save Thomas Jefferson from capture. Daniel Jouett, Jack's ancestor, was a native of France, but migrated to England and then to New Jersey to freely practice his religion. Daniel's younger son Pierre settled in Virginia, where Jack was bom to John and Mourning Hams J o M on December 7,1754. The Jouetts firmly supported the American Revolution. His father supplied meat to American forces, and three of his brothers joined the Continental Army. Two of them, Captain Matthew Jouelt of the 7th Virginia and Captain Wllliam Jouett of the 10th Virginia, were killed in action. A third, Capt. Robert Jouett of the 7th Virginia, was wounded, and a fourth brother, Captain Charles Jouett, served after the war in the state militia. Jack himself became a captain in the 16th Virginia militia and signed the Albemarle Declaration, a document in which he and about two hundred of his neighbors renounced their allegiance to British rule. Jack's home state became the scene of bloody fighting near the close of the war. After their defeat at Saratoga, British strategists attempted to conquer America by invading the southem colonies, where they believed large numbers of loyal subjects woukl flock to their aid. In 1781 the British commander, Lord Comwallis, moved his exhaustd army from the Carolinas to Virginia in order to secure reinforcements and wipe out Patriot resistance there. Virginia was illequipped to deal with this threat, and British troops rampaged throughout the state, burning supplies and using their superior cavalry to drive away American forces commanded by the Marquis de Lafayette. In June, Cornwallis learned that the Virginia Assembly and Thomas Jefferson (who was finishing his term as governor) were staying in Charlottesville, near Jefferson's home of Monticello. Deciding to capture these leaders and destroy important stores in CharlottesviJle, Comwallis assigned the task to Banastre Tarleton, a young L i d affioer notorious among the Americans because of his reputation for brutality. Tarleton set out on his seventy-mile ride with 250 troops on June 3, 1781. The summer heat wore out Tarleton's horses and men, and at 9:30 P.M. he stopped briefly at the Cuckoo Tavern in Louisa County. Because the night was so hot and humid, twenty-seven-year4 Jack Jouett was resting outside when he spotted the British cavalry. Guessing that their destination was Chariottesville, he jumped onto Sallie, his black horse, and set out on a forty-mile back b-ailwith only the moon to light his way. As he galloped along, branches and limbs tore at his clothes and face, scarring him badly, but he did not stop until he reached Monticello in the wee hours of the morning on June 4. Despii JoueWs urgent warning, Jefferson took his time, preparing to leave, p a d t i his papers and sending his family to a nearby plantation. The British were riding onto his lawn when he finally made his escape. Jack Jouett continued into Charlottesville to alert the legislators staying at his father's Swan Tavern. These men included such notables as Patrick Henry and three signers of the Declaration of Independence. All but seven of the legislatorsgot away. One of those captured and detained was Daniel Boone, representingwhat would one day become the state of Kentucky in the Virginia Assembly. For his heroic act, the legiilature awarded Jack Jouett a sword and a pair of pistols. L i e many Virginians. Jouett decided to seek his fortune to the west, migrating to Kentudty in 1782. Two years later he rnanied Sallie Robarcis, his childhood sweetheart who became the mother of his twelve children. One of his sons was Matthew Harris Jouett, a veteran of the War of 1812 and one of Kentudcy's most distinguished artists. Having become established in Kentucky, Jack representedthis western territory in the Virginia legislature and participated in the effort to make Kentucky a separate state. He continued his public service as a member of t e Kentucky legislature, and his Riends included Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson. In 1792 h Jack semed in Woafford County, just west of Lexington, where he imported and raised livestock, becoming one of the most prosperous farmers and landowners in the area. In 1797, he began building the Federal brick home that still stands today. He died of a sudden, unexpected illness on March 1, 1822 at his final residence in Bath County, Kentucky.


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