FOREWORD

The reminiscences printed here were
taken down in the 1840 by Charles Camlbell, the Virginia historian, from the account of a slave who had lived at Monticello from 1775 until two years before Jefferson death. They were first printed in 1951 in a scholarly edition with introduction and notes by Dr. Rayford W. Log which was sold out within a year of its first issue.

The present popular edition is intended
to meet the growing demand for this classic.

CHAPTER i

ISAAC JEFFERSON was born at
img_3497 Monticello: his mother was named
Usler 1 but nicknamed Queen, because
her husband was named George and com-
monly called King George. She was pastry-
cook and washerwoman: stayed in the
laundry. Isaac toated wood for her: made
fire and so on. Mrs. Jefferson would come
out there with a cookery book in her hand
and read out of it to Isaac’s mother how to
make cakes, tarts and so on.

Mrs. Jefferson was named Patsy Wayles, 8
but when Mr. Jefferson married her she was
the widow Skelton, widow of Batter 3 Skelton.
Isaac was one year’s child with Patsy Jeffer-
son: she was suckled part of the time by

Isaac’s mother. Patsy married Thomas Mann
Randolph. 4 Mr. Jefferson bought Isaac’s
mother from Col. William Fleming of
Goochland. Isaac remembers John Nelson,
an Englishman at work at Monticello: he
was an inside worker, a finisher. The black-
smith was Billy Ore; 5 the carriage-maker
Davy Watson: he worked also for Colonel
Carter of Blenheim, eight miles from Monti-
cello. Monticello-house was pulled down in
part and built up again some six or seven
times. One time it was struck by lightning.
It had a Franklin rod at one end. Old Master
used to say, “If it hadn’t been for that
Franklin the whole house would have gone.”
They was forty years at work upon that house
before Mr. Jefferson stopped building.

8

CHAPTER 2

ML. JEFFERSON came down to
^illiamsburg in a phaeton made
y Davy Watson. Billy Ore did the
iron-work. 6 That phaeton was sent to Lon-
don and the springs &c was gilded. This was
when Mr. Jefferson was in Paris. Isaac re-
members coming down to Williamsburg in
a wagon at the time Mr. Jefferson was Gover-
nor. He came down in the phaeton: his
family with him in a coach and four. Bob
Hemings drove the phaeton; Jim Hemings
was a body-servant; Martin Hemings the
butler. These three were brothers 7 : Mary
Hemings and Sally, their Sisters. Jim and
Bob bright mulattoes; Martin, darker. Jim
and Martin rode on horseback. Bob went

afterwards to live with old Dr. Strauss in
Richmond and unfortunately had his hand
shot off with a blunderbuss. Mary Hemings
rode in the wagon. Sally Hemings’ mother
Betty was a bright mulatto woman, and Sally
mighty near white: she was the youngest
child. Folks said that these Hemingses was
old Mr. Wayles’ children. Sally was very
handsome : long straight hair down her back.
She was about eleven years old when Mr.
Jefferson took her to France to wait on Miss
Polly. She and Sally went out to France a
year after Mr. Jefferson went. Patsy went
with him at first, but she carried no maid
with her. Harriet, one of Sally’s daughters,
was very handsome. Sally had a son named
Madison, who learned to be a great fiddler.
He has been in Petersburg twice: was here
when the balloon went up the balloon that
Beverly sent off.

Mr. Jefferson drove faster in the phaeton
than the wagon. When the wagon reached
Williamsburg Mr. Jefferson was living in
the College. 8 Isaac and the rest of the ser-
vants stayed in the Assembly-house a long
wooden building. Lord Botetourt’s picture 9
was there. The Assembly-house had a gallery

10

on top running round to the College. There
was a well there then: none there now. Some
white people was living in one end of the
house: a man named Douglas was there:
they called him Parson Douglas. 10 Mr. Jeffer-
son’s room in the College was down stairs. A
tailor named Giovanni, an Italian, lived
there too: made clothes for Mr. Jefferson and
his servants. Mrs. Jefferson was there with
Patsy and Polly. 11 Mrs. Jefferson was small:
she drawed from old Madam Byrd 18 several
hundred people and then married a rich
man. 13 Old Master had twelve quarters
seated with black people: but mighty few
come by him: he want rich himself only his
larnin. Patsy Jefferson was tall like her
father; Polly low like her mother and long-
ways the handsomest: pretty lady jist like her
mother: pity she died poor thingl She mar-
ried John W. Eppes a handsome man, but
had a hare-lip.

Jupiter and John drove Mr. Jefferson’s
coach and four: one of em rode postilion:
they rode postilion in them days. Travelling
in the phaeton Mr. Jefferson used oftentimes
to take the reins himself and drive. When-
ever he wanted to travel fast he’d drive:

11

would drive powerful hard himself. Jupiter
and John wore caps and gilded bands. The
names of the horses was Senegore, Gustavus,
Otter, Remus, Romulus, and Caractacus,
Mr. Jefferson’s riding-horse.

CHAPTER 3

A^ER one year the Government
was moved from Williamsburg to
Richmond. Mr. Jefferson moved
there with his servants, among em Isaac. It
was cold weather when they moved up. Mr.
Jefferson lived in a wooden house near
where the Palace 14 stands now. Richmond
was a small place then: not more than two
brick houses in the town: all wooden houses
what there was. At that time from where the
Powhatan house now stands clear down to
the Old Market was pretty much in pines.
It was a wooden house shedded round like
a barn on the hill, where the Assembly-men
used to meet, near where the Capitol stands
now. Old Mr. Wiley had a saddler-shop in

the same house. Isaac knew Billy Wiley
mighty well a saddler by trade: he was door-
keeper at the Assembly. His wife was a baker
and baked bread and ginger-cakes. Isaac
would go into the bake-oven and make fire
for. She had a great big bake oven. Isaac used
to go way into the oven: when he came out
Billy Wiley would chuck wood in. She some-
times gave Isaac a loaf of bread or a cake.
One time she went up to Monticello to see
Mr. Jefferson. She saw Isaac there and gave
him a ninepence and said, “This is the boy
that made fires for me.” Mr. Jefferson’s
family-servants then at the palace were Bob
Hemings, Martin, Jim, house-servants; Jupi-
ter and John, drivers; Mary Hemings and
young Betty Hemings, seamstress and house-
woman; Sukey, Jupiter’s wife, the cook.

CHAPTER

THE day before the British 1 * came to
Richmond Mr. Jefferson sent off his
family in the carriage. Bob Hemings
and Jim drove. When the British was ex-
pected 16 Old Master kept the spy-glass and
git up by the sky-light window to the top of
the palace looking towards Williamsburg.
Some other gentlemen went up with him,
one of them old Mr. Marsdell: he owned
where the basin is now and the basin-spring.
Isaac used to fetch water from there up to
the palace. The British reached Manchester
about i o’clock. 17 Isaac larnt to beat drum
about this time. Bob Anderson, a white
man, was a blacksmith. Mat Anderson was
a black man and worked with Bob. Bob was

a fifer, Mat was a drummer. Mat bout that
time was sort a-makin love to Mary Hemings.
The soldiers at Richmond, in the camp at
Bacon Quarter Branch, would come every
two or three days to salute the Governor at
the Palace, marching about there drumming
and fifing. Bob Anderson would go into the
house to drink; Mat went into the kitchen
to see Mdry Hemings. He would take his
drum with him into the kitchen and set it
down there. Isaac would beat on it and Mat
larnt him how to beat.

16

Browere’s life mask of Jefferson made in 1825, showing what Isaac’s Old Master really
looked like about the time Isaac left Momicello. See page 41,

CHAPTER 5

A soon as the British formed a line,
three cannon was wheeled round
all at once and fired three rounds.
Till they fired, the Richmond people
thought they was a company come from
Petersburg to join them: some of em even
hurraed when they see them coming: but
that moment they fired every body knew it
was the British. One of the cannon-balls
knocked off the top of a butcher’s house: he
was named Daly, not far from the Governor’s
house. The butcher’s wife screamed out and
hollerd and her children too and all. In ten
minutes not a white man was to be seen in
Richmond: they ran as hard as they could
stave to the camp at Bacon Quarter Branch.

There was a monstrous hollering and
screaming of women and children. Isaac was
out in the yard: his mother ran out and cotch
him up by the hand and carried him into the
kitchen hollering. Mary Hemings, she
jerked up her daughter the same way. Isaac
run out again in a minute and his mother
too: she was so skeered, she didn’t know
whether fo stay indoors or out. The British
was dressed in red. Isaac saw them marching.
The horsemen (Simcoe’s cavalry) was with
them: they come arter the artillery-men.
They formed in line and marched up to the
Palace with drums beating: it was an awful
sight: seemed like the day of judgment was
come. When they fired the cannon Old
Master called out to John to fetch his horse
Caractacus from the stable and rode off.

18

CHAPTER 6

ISAAC never see his Old Master arter dat
for six months. When the British come
in, an officer rode up and asked “Whar is
the Governor?” Isaac’s father (George) told
him, “He’s gone to the mountains.” The
officer said, “Whar is the keys of the house?”
Isaac’s father gave him the keys: Mr. Jeffer-
son had left them with him. The officer said,
“Whar is the silver?” Isaac’s father told him,
“It was all sent up to the mountains.” The
old man had put all the silver about the
house in a bed-tick and hid it under a bed
in the kitchen and saved it too and got his
freedom by it. But he continued to sarve Mr.
Jefferson and had forty pounds from Old
Master and his wife. Isaac’s mother had

seven dollars a month for lifetime for wash-
ing, ironing, and making pastry. The British
sarcht the house but didn’t disturb none of
the furniture: but they plundered the wine-
cellar, rolled the pipes out and stove em in,
knockin the heads out. The bottles they
broke the necks off with their swords, drank
some, threw the balance away. The wine-
cellar was full: Old Master had plenty of
wine and rum the best: used to have Anti-
gua rum, twelve years old. The British next
went to the corn-crib and took all the corn
out, strewed it in a line along the street to-
wards where the Washington tavern 18 is now
(1847) an d brought their horses and fed
them on it: took the bridles off. The British
said they didn’t want anybody but the Gover-
nor: didn’t want to hurt him; only wanted to
put a pair of silver handcuffs on him: had
brought them along with them on purpose.
While they was plunderin they took all of
the meat out of the meat-house; cut it up,
laid it out in parcels: every man took his
ration and put it in his knapsack. When
Isaac’s mother found they was gwine to car
him away she thought they was gwine to
leave her. She was cryin and hollerin when

20

one of the officers came on a horse and
ordered us all to Hylton’s. Then they
marched off to Westham. Isaac heard the
powder-magazine when it blew up like an
earthquake. Next morning between eight
and nine they marched to Tuckahoe, fifteen
miles: took a good many colored people
from Old Tom Mann Randolph. He was
called “Tuckahoe Tom.” Isaac has often
been to Tuckahoe a low-built house but
monstrous large. From Tuckahoe the British
went to Daniel Hylton’s. They carred off
thirty people from Tuckahoe and some from
Hylton’s. When they come back to Rich-
mond they took all Old Master’s from his
house: all of em had to walk except Daniel
and Molly (children of Mary the pastry-
cook) and Isaac. He was then big enough to
beat the drum: but couldn’t raise it off the
ground: would hold it tilted over to one side
and beat on it that way.

.CHAPTER 7

THERE was about a dozen wagons
along: they (the British) pressed the
common wagons: four horses to a
wagon: some black drivers, some white:
every wagon guarded by ten men marching
alongside.

One of the officers give Isaac name Sambo:
all the time feedin him: put a cocked hat on
his head and a red coat on him and all
laughed. Coat a monstrous great big thing:
when Isaac was in it couldn’t see nothin of
it but the sleeves dangling down. He re-
members crossing the river somewhere in a
periauger [piragua]. And so the British
carred them all down to Little York (York-
town.) They marched straight through town

and camped jist below back of the battle-
field. Mr. Jefferson’s people there was Jupi-
ter, Sukey the cook, Usley (Isaac’s mother),
George (Isaac’s father), Mary the seamstress,
and children Molly, Daniel, Joe, Wormley,
and Isaac. The British treated them mighty
well, give em plenty of fresh meat and wheat
bread. It was very sickly at York: great many
colored people died there, but none of Mr.
Jefferson’s folks. Wallis (Cornwallis) had a
cave dug and was hid in there. There was
tremendous firing and smoke: seemed like
heaven and earth was come together: every
time the great guns fire Isaac jump up off
the ground. Heard the wounded men hol-
ler in. When the smoke blow off you see the
dead men laying on the ground. General
Washington brought all Mr. Jefferson’s folks
and about twenty of Tuckahoe Tom’s (Tom
Mann Randolph’s) back to Richmond with
him and sent word to Mr. Jefferson to send
down to Richmond for his servants. Old
Master sent down two wagons right away and
all of em that was carred away went up back
to Monticello. At that time Old Master and
his family was at Poplar Forest, his place in
Bedford. He stayed there after his arm was

broke, when Caractacus threw him. Old
Master was mightly pleased to see his people
come back safe and sound 19 and to hear of
the plate.

CHAPTER 8

MR. JEFFERSON was a tall strait-
bodied man as ever you see, right
square-shouldered: nary man in
this town walked so straight as my Old
Master: neat a built man as ever was seen in
Vaginny, I reckon, or any place a straight-
up man 20 : long face, high nose.

Jefferson Randolph (Mr. Jefferson’s
grandson) nothing like him, except in
height tall, like him: not built like him:
Old Master was a straight-up man. Jefferson
Randolph pretty much like his mother. Old
Master wore Vaginny cloth and a red waist-
coat, (all the gentlemen wore red waistcoats
in dem days) and small clothes: arter dat he
used to wear red breeches too. 81 Governor

Page used to come up there to Monticello,
wife and daughter wid him: drove four-in
hand: servants John, Molly and a postilion.
Patrick Henry visited Old Master: coach
and two: his face for all the world like the
images of Bonaparte: would stay a week or
more. Mann Page used to be at Monticello
a plain mild-looking man: his wife and
daughter along with him. Dr. Thomas
Walker lived about ten miles from Monti-
cello a thin-faced man. John Walker” (of
Belvoir), his brother, owned a great many
black people.

Jefferson’s polfpapli, t |iat ta *’ llis ” cn PI in lwllillc ‘”

CHAPTER 9

OLD Master was never seen to come
out before breakfast about 8 o’clock.
If it was warm weather he wouldn’t
ride out till evening: studied upstairs till
bell ring for dinner. When writing he had a
copy in machine: while he was a-writin he
wouldn’t suffer nobody to come in his room:
had a dumb-waiter: when he wanted any-
thing he had nothin to do but turn a crank
and the dumb-waiter would bring him water
or fruit on a plate or anything he wanted.
Old Master had abundance of books: some-
times would have twenty of ’em down on the
floor at once: read fust one, then tother.
Isaac has often wondered how Old Master
came to have such a mighty head: read so

many of them books: and when they go to
him to ax him anything, he go right straight
to the book and tell you all about it. He
talked French and Italian. Madzay* 5 talked
with him: his place was called Colle. General
Redhazel (Riedesel) stayed there. He (Maz-
zei) lived at Monticello with Old Master
some time’: Didiot, a Frenchman, married
his daughter Peggy: a heavy chunky looking
woman mighty handsome. She had a
daughter Frances and a son Francis: called
the daughter Franky. Mazzei brought to
Monticello Antonine, Jovanini, Francis,
Modena, and Belligrini, all gardiners. My
Old Master’s garden was monstrous large:
two rows of palings, all round ten feet high.

CHAPTER 10

MR. JEFFERSON had a clock in his
kitchen at Monticello; never went
into the kitchen except to wind up
the clock. He never would have less than
eight covers at dinner if nobody at table
but himself: had from eight to thirty two
covers for dinner: plenty of wine, best old
Antigua rum and cider: very fond of wine
and water. Isaac never heard of his being
disguised in drink. He kept three fiddles:
played in the arternoons and sometimes
arter supper. This was in his early time.
When he begin to git so old, he didn’t play:
kept a spinnet made mostly in shape of a
harpsichord: his daughter played on it. Mr.
Fauble, a Frenchman that lived at Mr.

Walker’s, a music-man, used to come to
Monticello and tune it. There was a forte
piano and a guitar there: never seed anybody
play on them but the French people. Isaac
never could git acquainted with them: could
hardly larn their names. Mr. Jefferson al-
ways singing when ridin or walkin: hardly
see him ariywhar out doors but what he was
a-singin: 24 had a fine clear voice, sung min-
nits (minuets) and sich: fiddled in the par-
lor. Old Master very kind to servants.

CHAPTER ii

THE fust year Mr. Jefferson was
elected President, 25 he took Isaac on
to Philadelphia: he was then about
fifteen years old: travelled on horseback in
company with a Frenchman named Joseph
Rattiff and Jim Hemings, a body-servant.
Fust day’s journey they went from Monti-
cello to old Nat Gordon’s, on the Fredericks-
burg road, next day to Fredericksburg, then
to Georgetown, crossed the Potomac there,
and so to Philadelphia: eight days a-goin.
Had two ponies and Mr. Jefferson’s tother
riding-horse Odin. Mr. Jefferson went in the
phaeton: Bob Hemings drove: changed
horses on the road. When they got to Phila-
delphia, Isaac stayed three days at Mr.

31

Jefferson’s house: then he was bound pren-
tice to one Bringhouse, a tinner: he lived in
the direction of the Water-works. Isaac re-
members seeing the image of a woman thar
holding a goose in her hand the water
spouting out of the goose’s mouth. This was
at the head of Market Street. Bringhouse was
a short’, mighty small, neat-made man:
treated Isaac very well: went thar to larn the
tinner’s trade: fust week larnt to cut out and
sodder: make little pepper-boxes and graters
and sich, out of scraps of tin, so as not to
waste any till he had larnt. Then to making
cups. Every Sunday Isaac would go to the
President’s House large brick house, many
windows: same house Ginral Washington
lived in before when he was President. Old
Master used to talk to me mighty free and ax
me, “how you come on Isaac, larnin de tin-
business?” As soon as he could make cups
pretty well he carred three or four to show
him. Isaac made four dozen pint-cups a day
and larnt to tin copper and sheets (sheet-
iron) make ’em tin. He lived four years
with Old Bringhouse. One time Mr. Jeffer-
son sent to Bringhouse to tin his copper-
kittles and pans for kitchen use: Bringhouse

sent Isaac and another prentice thar a white
boy named Charles: can’t think of his other
name. Isaac was the only black boy in firing-
house’s shop. When Isaac carred the cups to
his Old Master to show him, he was mightily
pleased: said, “Isaac you are larnin mighty
fast: I bleeve I must send you back to
Vaginny to car on the tin-business. You is
growin too big: no use for you to stay here
no longer.”

Arter dat Mr. Jefferson sent Isaac back to
Monticello to car on the tin-business thar.
Old Master bought a sight of tin for the pur-
pose. Mr. Jefferson had none of his family
with him in Philadelphia. Polly his daughter
stayed with her Aunt Patsy Carr: she lived
seven or eight miles from Old Master’s great
house. Sam Carr was Mr. Jefferson’s sister’s
child. There were three brothers of the
Carrs Sam, Peter and Dabney. Patsy Jef-
ferson, while her father was President in
Philadelphia, stayed with Mrs. Eppes at
Wintopoke: Mrs. Eppes was a sister of Mrs.
Jefferson mightily like her sister. Frank
Eppes was a big heavy man.

Old Master’s servants at Philadelphia was
Bob and Jim Hemings; Joseph Rattiff, a

Frenchman, the hostler. Mr. Jefferson used
to ride out on horseback in Philadelphia.
Isaac went back to Monticello. When the tin
came they fixed up a shop. Jim Bringhouse
came on to Monticello all the way with Old
Master to fix up the shop and start Isaac to
work: Jim Bringhouse stayed thar more than
a month.

34

CHAPTER 12

ISAAC knew old Colonel (Archibald)
Gary mighty well: as dry a looking man
as ever you see in your life. He has given
Isaac more whippings than he has fingers and
toes. Mr. Jefferson used to set Isaac to open
gates for Colonel Gary: there was three gates
to open, the furst bout a mile from the
house itother one three quarters; then the
yard-gate, at the stable three hundred yards
from the house. Isaac had to open the gates.
Colonel Gary would write to Old Master
what day he was coming. Whenever Isaac
missed opening them gates in time, the
Colonel soon as he git to the house, look
about for him and whip him with his horse-
whip. Old Master used to keep dinner for

35

Colonel Gary. He was a tall thin-visaged
man jist like Mr. Jefferson: he drove four-
in-hand. The Colonel as soon as he git out of
his carriage, walk right straight into the
kitchen and ax de cooks what they hab for
dinner? If they didn’t have what he wanted,
bleeged to wait dinner till it was cooked.
Colonel Gary made freer at Monticello than
he did at home: whip anybody: would stay
several weeks: give servants money, some-
times five or six dollars among ’em. Tucka-
hoe Tom Randolph married Colonel Gary’s
daughter Nancy. The Colonel lived at
Ampthill on the James River where Colonel
Bob Temple lived arterwards. Edgehill was
the seat of Tom Mann Randolph, father of
Jefferson Randolph: it was three miles from
Monticello.

CHAPTER

ISAAC carred on the tin-business two
years. It failed. He then carred on the
nail-business at Monticello seven years:
made money at that. Mr. Jefferson had the
first (nail) cutting machine ’twas said, that
ever was in Vaginny sent over from Eng-
land: made wrought nails and cut-nails, to
shingle and lathe: sold them out of the shop:
got iron rods from Philadelphia by water:
boated them up from Richmond to Milton,
a small town on the Rivanna: wagoned
from thar.

CHAPTER 14

THOMAS Mann Randolph had ten
children. 556 Isaac lived with him fust
and last twenty-six or seven years:
treated him mighty well: one of the finest
masters in Virginia: his a wife mighty peace-
able woman: never holler for servant: make
no fuss nor racket: pity she ever died! Tom
Mann Randolph’s eldest daughter Ann, a
son named Jefferson, another James, and
another Benjamin. Jefferson Randolph mar-
ried Mr. Nicholas’ 27 daughter (Anne). Billy
Giles 28 courted Miss Polly, Old Master’s
daughter. Isaac one morning saw him talking
to her in the garden, right back of the nail-
factory shop: she was lookin on de ground:
all at once she wheeled round and come off.

That was the time she turned him off. Isaac
never so sorry for a man in all his life: sorry
because everybody thought that she was
going to marry him. Mr. Giles give several
dollars to the servants and when he went
away dat time he never come back no more.
His servant Arthur was a big man. Isaac
wanted Mr. Giles to marry Miss Polly.
Arthur always said that he was a mighty fine
man: he was very rich: used to come to
Monticello in a monstrous fine gig: mighty
few gigs in dem days with plated mountins
and harness.

39

CHAPTER 15

ELK Hill: Old Master had a small brick
house there where he used to stay,
about a mile from Elk Island on the
North Side of the James River. The river
forks there: one half runs one side of the
island, tother the other side. When Mr. Jef-
ferson was Governor, he used to stay thar a
month or sich a matter and when he was at
the mountain he would come and stay a
month or so and then go back again. Blen-
heim was a low large wooden house two
storeys high, eight miles from Monticello.
Old Colonel Carter lived thar: had a light
red head like Mr. Jefferson. Isaac know’d
him and every son he had. Didn’t know his
daughters.

The Linn engraving of Jefferson that Isaac thought a poor

likeness. See Isaac’s comments on the page facing, and the

life mask of Jefferson facing page 16.

Mr. Jefferson used to hunt squirrels and
partridges; kept five or six guns; oftentimes
carred Isaac wid him: Old Master wouldn’t
shoot partridges settin: said “he wouldn’t
take advantage of em” would give ’em a
chance for thar life: wouldn’t shoot a hare
settin, nuther; skeer him up fust. “My Old
Master was as neat a hand as ever you see to
make keys and locks and small chains, iron
and brass;” he kept all kind of blacksmith
and carpenter tools in a great case with
shelves to it in his library, an upstairs room.
Isaac went up thar constant: been up thar a
thousand times; used to car coal up thar:
Old Master had a couple of small bellowses
up thar.

The likeness of Mr. Jefferson (in Linn’s
Life of him) according to Isaac, is not much
like him. “Old Master never dat handsome
in dis world: dat likeness right between Old
Master and Ginral Washington: Old Master
was squar-shouldered.” For amusement he
would work sometimes in the garden for half
an hour at a time in right good earnest in the
cool of the evening: never know’d him to go
out anywhar before breakfast.

CHAPTER 16

THE school at Monticello was in the
out-chamber fifty yards off from the
great house, on the same level. But
the scholars went into the house to Old
Master to git lessons, in the south end of the
house called the South Octagon. Mrs. Skip-
per (Skipwith) had two daughters thar: Mrs.
Eppes, one.

Mr. Jefferson’s sister Polly married old
Ned Boiling^ of Chesterfield, about ten
miles from Petersburg. Isaac has been thar
since his death: saw the old man’s grave. Mr.
John Bradley owns the place now. Isaac slept
in the out-chamber where the scholars was:
slept on the floor in a blanket: in the winter
season git up in the mornin and make fire

for them. From Monticello you can see
mountains all round as far as the eye can
reach: sometimes see it rainin down this
course and the sun shining over the tops of
the clouds. Willis’ Mountain sometimes
looked in the cloud like a great house with
two chimnies to it: fifty miles from Monti-
cello.

43

CHAPTER 17

THAR was a sight of pictures at Monti-
cello: pictures of Ginral Washington
and the Marcus Lafayette. Isaac saw
him fust in the old war in the mountain with
Old Master; saw him agin the last time he
was in Vaginny. He gave Isaac a guinea:
Isaac saw him in the Capitol at Richmond
and talked with him and made him sensible
when he fust saw him in the old war. Thar
was a large marble at Monticello with twelve
angels cut on it that came from Heaven: all
cut in marble.

About the time when my Old Master be-
gun to wear spectacles, he was took with a
swellin in his legs: used to bathe ’em and
bandage ’em: said it was settin too much:

44

when he’d git up and walk it wouldn’t hurt
him. Isaac and John Hemings nursed him
two months: had to car him about on a han-
barrow. John Hemings 30 went to the carpen-
ter’s trade same year Isaac went to the black-
smiths. Miss Lucy, Old Master’s daughter,
died quite a small child; died down the coun-
try at Mrs. Eppes’ or Mrs. Boiling’s, one of
her young aunts. Old Master was embassador
to France at that time. He brought a great
many clothes from France with him: a coat
of blue cloth trimmed with gold lace; cloak
trimmed so too: dar say it weighed fifty
pounds: large buttons on the coat as big as
half a dollar; cloth set in the button: edge
shine like gold: in summer he war silk coat,
pearl buttons.

Colonel Jack Harvie 31 owned Belmont,
jinin Monticello. Four as big men as any in
Petersburg could git in his waistcoat: he
owned Belvidere, near Richmond: the Col-
onel died thar: monstrous big man. The
washerwoman once buttoned his waistcoat
on Isaac and three others. Mrs. Harvie was
a little woman.

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CHAPTER 18

MR. JEFFERSON never had
nothing to do with horse-racing or
cock-fighting: bought two race-
horses once, but not in their racing day:
bought em arter done runnin. One was
Brimmer, 3 * a pretty horse with two white
feet: when he bought him he was in Phila-
delphia: kept him thar. One day Joseph
Rattiff the Frenchman was ridin him in
the streets of Philadelphia: Brimmer got
skeered; run agin shaft of a dray and got
killed. Tother horse was Tarkill: 33 in his
race-day they called him the Roane colt:
only race-horse of a roane Isaac ever see:
Old Master used him for a ridin-horse. Davy
Watson and Billy were German soldiers:

46

both workmen, both smoked pipes and both
drinkers: drank whiskey; git drunk and sing:
take a week at a time drinkin and singin.
Colonel Goode of Chesterfield was a great
racer: used to visit Mr. Jefferson; had a
trainer named Pompey.

Old Master had a great many rabbits:
made chains for the old buck-rabbits to keep
them from killin the young ones: had a
rabbit-house (a warren) a long rock house:
some of em white, some blue: they used to
burrow under ground. Isaac expects thar is
plenty of em bout dar yit: used to eat em at
Monticello. Mr. Jefferson never danced nor
played cards. He had dogs named Ceres,
Bull, Armandy, and Claremont: most of em
French dogs: he brought em over with him
from France. Bull and Ceres were bull-dogs:
he brought over Buzzy with him too: she
pupped at sea: Armandy and Claremont,
stump-tails, both black.

47

CHAPTER 19

JOHN BROCK, the overseer that lived
next to the great-house, had gray hounds
to hunt deer. Mr. Jefferson had a large
park at Monticello: built in a sort of a
flat on the side of the mountain. When the
hunters run the deer down thar, they’d jump
into the park and couldn’t git out. When Old
Master heard hunters in the park he used to
go down thar wid his gun and order em out.
The park was two or three miles round and
fenced in with a high fence, twelve rails
double-staked and ridered: kept up four or
five years arter Old Master was gone. Isaac
and his father (George) fed the deer at sun-
up and sun-down: called em up and fed em
wid corn: had holes all along the fence at the

48

feedin-place: gave em salt, got right gentle:
come up and eat out of your hand.

No wild-cats at Monticello: some lower
down at Buck Island: bears sometimes came
on the plantation at Monticello: wolves so
plenty that they had to build pens round
black peoples’ quarters and pen sheep in em
to keep the wolves from catching them. But
they killed five or six of a night in the
winter season: come and steal in the pens
in the night. When the snow was on the
groun you could see the wolves in gangs
runnin and howlin, same as a drove of hogs:
made the deer run up to the feedin-place
many a night. The feedin-place was right by
the house whar Isaac stayed. They raised
many sheep and goats at Monticello.

The woods and mountains was often on
fire: Isaac has gone out to help to put out the
fire: everybody would turn out from Char-
lottesville and everywhere: git in the woods
and sometimes work all night fightin the fire.

49

CHAPTER 20

COLONEL GARY of Chesterfield
schooled Old Master: he went to
school to old Mr. Wayles. Old Mas-
ter had six sisters: Polly married a Boiling;
Patsy married old Dabney Carr in the low-
grounds; one married William Skipwith;
Nancy married old Hastings Marks. Old
Master’s brother, Mass Randall^ 4 was a
mighty simple man: used to come out among
black people, play the fiddle and dance half
the night: hadn’t much more sense than
Isaac. Jack Eppes 55 that married Miss Polly
lived at Mount Black 36 on James River and
then at Edge Hill, then in Cumberland at
Millbrooks. Isaac left Monticello four years
before Mr. Jefferson died. 57 Tom Mann Ran-

dolph, that married Mr. Jefferson’s daugh-
ter, wanted Isaac to build a threshing ma-
chine at Varina. Old Henrico Court House
was thar: pulled down now. Coxendale
Island (Dutch Gap) jinin Varina was an
Indian Situation: when fresh come, it
washed up more Indian bones than ever you
see. When Isaac was a boy there want more
than ten houses at Jamestown. Charlottes-
ville then not as big as Pocahontas’ 8 is now.
Mr. DeWitt kept tavern thar.

Isaac knowed Ginral Redhazel;39 he stayed
at Colle, Mr. Mazzei’s place, two miles and
a quarter from Monticello a long wood
house built by Mazzei’s servants. The ser-
vants’ house built of little saplins of oak and
hickory instead of lathes: then plastered up:
it seemed as if de folks in dem days hadn’t
sense enough to make lathes. The Italian
people raised plenty of vegetables: cooked
the most victuals of any people Isaac ever see.

Mr. Jefferson bowed to everybody he
meet: talked wid his arms folded. Gave the
boys in the nail-factory a pound of meat a
week, a dozen herrings, a quart of molasses
and peck of meal. Give them that wukked
the best a suit of red or blue: encouraged

them mightily. Isaac calls him a mighty good
master. There would be a great many car-
riages at Monticello at a time, in particular
when people was passing to the Springs.

Isaac is now (1847) at Petersburg, Va.,
seventy large odd years old: bears his years
well: is a blacksmith by trade and has his
shop not far from Pocahontas bridge. He is
quite pleased at the idea of having his life
written and protests that every word of it is
true; that is, of course, according to the best
of his knowledge and belief. Isaac is rather
tall, of strong frame, stoops a little, in color
ebony: sensible, intelligent, pleasant: wears
large circular iron-bound spectacles and a
leather apron. A capital daguerrotype of him
was taken by a Mr. Shew. Isaac was so much
pleased with it that he had one taken of his
wife, a large fat round-faced good-humoured
looking black woman. My attention was first
drawn to Isaac by Mr. Dandridge Spotswood,
who had often heard him talk about Mr.
Jefferson and Monticello.

C. C.

P. S. Isaac died a few years after these his
recollections were taken down. He bore a
good character.

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