Marker #1541 in Woodford County commemorates the Jack Jouett House, built by the Revolutionary figure who rode all night to warn Thomas Jefferson and other Virginia legislators that British troops were coming to capture them.
John “Jack” Jouett, Jr. was born on December 7, 1754 in Albemarle County, Virginia. On June 3, 1781, Jack Jouett was at the Cuckoo Tavern, about forty miles from Charlottesville, when he saw Colonel Banastre "Bloody" Tarleton, a British officer known for his cruelty, and his troops at the tavern. Jouett realized that Tarleton and his men were on their way to capture Governor Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Assembly. Members of the Assembly included such Revolutionary leaders as Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, and Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Jouett guessed that Tarleton and his men would take the main road, so he rode cross country for forty miles throughout the night on his mare, Sally. Early the next morning, Jouett arrived at Monticello, warned Jefferson, and continued on to warn the town of Charlottesville. Jefferson and most of the legislators escaped. Only seven legislators were captured, including Daniel Boone. For his bravery, the Virginia General Assembly awarded Jouett a sword and a pair of pistols. Jack Jouett is known as “The Paul Revere of the South.”
In 1782, Jouett moved to the western part of Virginia, which would later become Kentucky. He settled in Lincoln County (later Mercer County). There, in 1784, Jouett married Sally Robards, with whom he had twelve children. One of Jouett's sons, Matthew Harris Jouett, became a famous portrait painter and studied under such artists as Gilbert Stuart and Thomas Sully.
Jouett served several terms in the Virginia General Assembly, representing Lincoln County and later Mercer County. He was instrumental in bringing about Kentucky's statehood, serving three terms as legislator for Woodford County.
In 1797, Jouett bought a 530-acre farm in Woodford County. He was a leader in recognizing Kentucky's agricultural potential. He imported cattle and horses from Europe to improve Kentucky breeds. He owned a distillery and grist mill on Craig’s Creek, located near the Kentucky River. Jouett relied on enslaved labor to run his farm. He enslaved as many as 25 men, women, and children throughout his life.
The rural homestead included a 1780’s frontier stone cabin, used as a kitchen by the Jouetts. The Federal-style brick house featured a formal parlor, dining room and three bedrooms. Today, the restored home is open to the public for tours and hosts interpretive events throughout the year. The homestead was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Jack Jouett moved to Bath County in 1809, where he died on his farm in 1822.
The marker reads:
Erected circa 1797. Jack Jouett (1754-1822), hero of the Revolution. Famed for tortuous all-night ride to save Va. legislators, including Gov. Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and 3 signers of the Declaration from capture. Member of Kentucky Separation Convention, of Va. and Ky. Gen. Assemblies; distinguished early leader; father of Matthew Jouett, famous portrait painter