Tag Archives: Thomas Jefferson

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”


the ConstitutionThomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4th, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Adams was 90, and Jefferson, 82. Adams’ last words were, ‘Thomas Jefferson still survives.’ But he was mistaken. Jefferson had died five hours earlier at his beloved Monticello.

At the time of their deaths, Adams and Jefferson were the last two surviving members of the original American revolutionaries who stood up to Great Britain and forged a new government. Along the way, they disagreed as to how to best found this infant democracy, but both upheld beliefs in liberty and the truths laid forth in the Declaration of Independence. For a time, their heated disagreement led to animosity between them and they lost the deep connection they once had. Fortunately, they reestablished this close bond in the last 14 years of their lives through regular correspondence, and died as good friends.

(Image of the Constitution above)

Some timely quotes from these brilliant and vital Founding Fathers. Without them, America would not exist. If these men were here today, I suspect they would have plenty to say about the state of our nation.

old colonial cemetary“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.” – John Adams

(Old colonial cemetery in New England)

“History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.” ― Thomas JeffersonLetters of Thomas Jefferson

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” (Lawyers and politicians take note)
― Thomas Jefferson

Indepenance Hall“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
― Thomas Jefferson

“A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
― John AdamsLetters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife

“The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.”
― John AdamsThe Letters of John and Abigail Adams

(Independence Hall in Philadelphia)

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write .” ― John AdamsThe Works Of John Adams, Second President Of The United States

Liberty bell Philadelphia isolated on white“Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” ~Thomas Jefferson

(The Liberty Bell)

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” (Unarguably)
― John AdamsThe Portable John Adams

“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”  ― Thomas Jefferson

young girls in colonial garb at historic farm“There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.” – John Adams

“I must study Politics and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematics and Philosophy.” – John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, May 12, 1780.

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

“Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.” ~John Adams

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”  ― Thomas Jefferson

Horse drawn carriage in Williamsburg“I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.” ~John Adams

“There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.” ~John Adams

(Horse drawn carriage in colonial Williamsburg)

“The equal rights of man, and the happiness of every individual, are now acknowledged to be the only legitimate objects of government.”
― Thomas JeffersonLetters of Thomas Jefferson

459505669“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” ~From The Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson

(The Declaration of Independence and the Betsy Ross Flag)

There are so many more nuggets of wisdom I could have included. And I know I’ve said this before, but if you haven’t seen the John Adams series, do!

I love the theme song.

“The garden is the poor man’s apothecary.” ~German Proverb–Beth Trissel


herb garden“A man may esteem himself happy when that which is his food is also his medicine.” –Henry David Thoreau. 

“All that man needs for health and healing has been provided by God in nature, the challenge of science is to find it.” ~ Paracelsus (Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim) (1493-1541)

“What can kill , can cure.”

“Yesterday I had peas and pot herbs, today pot herbs and peas; tomorrow I shall eat peas with my pot herbs and the day after pot herbs with my peas.” ~Benedictine Monk, 1053.

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.)

herbal arrangement

“Garlic is as good as ten mothers.”
~Traditional European Saying

“Eat leeks in oile and ramsines in May,

And all the year after physicians may play.” (Ramsines were old-fashioned broad-leafed leeks.)

“The leaves and floures of Borrage put into wine  make men and women glad and merry, driving away all sadnesse, dulnesse, and melancholy, as Dioscorides and Pliny affirme.  Syrrup made of the floures of Borrage comforteth the heart, purgeth melancholy, and quieteth the phrenticke or lunaticke person.”
~John Gerard, The Herball, or General Historie of Plantes. 1597

herb garden with parsley“The revival interest in herbal medicine is a worldwide phenomenon.”
~Mark Blumenthal, Executive Director of the American Botanical Council

“Oh, the powers of nature! She knows what we need, and the doctors know nothing.” ~Benvenuto Cellini

“Botany and medicine came down the ages hand in hand until the seventeenth century; then both arts became scientific, their ways parted, and no new herbals were compiled.  The botanical books ignored the medicinal properties of plants and the medical books contained no plant lore.” ~Hilda Leyel   

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.” ~Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac

“Time is an herb that cures all Diseases.”
~Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790,  Poor Richard’s Almanac 

“Eat an apple going to bed , make the doctor beg his bread.”

“What is Paradise? But a Garden, an Orchard of Trees and Herbs, full of pleasure, and nothing there but delights.” ~William Lawson, 1618.

“With the growing recognition of the value of herbs, it is surely time to examine the professional therapeutic use of these herbs. There are profound changes happening in the American culture and herbal medicine, ‘green medicine,’ is playing an ever-increasing role in people’s experience of this transformation.”   
~David Hoffman, past President of the American Herbalist Guild

“The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven.
I can scarcely expect bread.” ~Thomas Jefferson

“I borage, give courage.”

“He would live for aye, must eat sage in May.”

“Gardening with herbs, which is becoming increasingly popular, is indulged in by those who like subtlety in their plants in preference to brilliance.”~Helen Morgenthau Fox 

Herb Gardens of Colonial America and Williamsburg–Beth Trissel


monticello in spring


“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” ~Thomas Jefferson

As much as I converse with sages and heroes, they have very little of my love and admiration. I long for rural and domestic scene, for the warbling of birds and the prattling of my children.  ~John Adams

painted lady butterfly on catmint

I love old-fashioned gardens, particularly those with herbs. I grow many heirloom flowers and herbs, even included a lovely garden in my Colonial American historical romance novel set during the American Revolution, Enemy of the King. (For the post I did on the garden in the novel click here.)

apricot hollyhocks croppedHerbs and old-time flowers are in all my stories, more or less,  but back to the plants. (Image from our garden.  Photo by daughter Elise, as are all others taken of our garden from last year before the big wind tore through and knocked everything down. I’ll have to discover whether any of these heirloom apricot hollyhocks survived later this spring.)

Not only were the colonists acquiring native plants and the knowledge of their uses from American Indians, but they brought cherished plants with them from The Old World (seeds, rootstock).  By the mid to latter 1700′s, the variety of herbs and vegetables grown encompassed all those known to the Western World–or potentially could have.

The colonial kitchen garden was planted outside the back door, so these vital herbs were at the ready.  In addition to using the herbs fresh, many plants were bound together in bunches and hung upside down to dry from the kitchen rafters.  Dried roots were stored for later use. Tinctures and decoctions made from plant leaves and stems were administered in liquid form.

“Throughout colonial New England, on rural farms and in small villages, the dooryard was the focal point for many daily projects. Generally sited to receive the warm southern sun, and protected by the barn and other outbuildings from bitter northwest winds, this area was used for such activities as washing clothes, making soap and candles, chopping wood and processing meat.

The colonial woman’s dooryard garden, along with her larger vegetable gardens, was expected to provide many of the foods, flavorings, medicines and chemicals necessary for a largely self-sufficient household with little cash. Plants such as madder and woad were used to dye cloth, southernwood and pennyroyal served as insect repellents, basil and sage improved and sometimes masked the flavors of food. Since most households were isolated from medical care, herbs such as yarrow, angelica, feverfew and valerian were used to treat common ailments or aided in childbirth.”~

*For more on planting your own dooryard garden refer to the informative link above.~

I’ve read of tansy grown outside the back door to repel ants from coming into colonial homes.  Tansy is an attractive, robust herb with gold button flowers.  Be warned that it needs space, forming dense clumps. The sap attracts ants so maybe the idea is the ants cluster around the tansy and stay out of the house. Imagine the rich blend of fragrances in a colonial kitchen, the spicy scent of  dried herbs mingled with wood smoke from the hearth, the stew simmering in a big iron kettle and savory meat roasting over the flames. Delightful.  Also mentioned in my Colonial American romance novel as well as some herbal cures and treatments.

From: The Gardens of Colonial Williamsburg:

Colonists often mentioned what plants they were growing when they wrote to friends and relatives back home in Europe. Many of these letters survive and have served as a guide to planting the reconstructed gardens. Archaeologists have found seeds from some of the original plants in Williamsburg, and can do soil analysis to tell exactly what type of plant was grown in a particular spot. While most of the trees, shrubs and plants seen today in Williamsburg are authentic to the Colonial period, astute observers will notice an abundance of crepe myrtles, pruned as trees in the Southern tradition. That’s because John D. Rockefeller, who financed the restoration, loved crepe myrtles and wanted them in the restored city. And since he was paying the bills …”

“Many of Williamsburg’s gardens reflect the Dutch-English patterns, popular during the reign of William and Mary. This garden style, characterized by geometric symmetry within an enclosed space, was common in England in the late 17th and early 18th century. The emerging trend toward naturalistic gardens in contemporary England did not appeal to the settlers in Virginia, where a natural landscape did not need to be re-created. To them, a garden was nature tamed, trimmed and enclosed. Like many travelers, the colonists attempted to reproduce the homes they had left behind. Frequently they brought seeds of favorite plants and bulbs to rebuild a version of their old gardens. Garden paths were made of gravel, crushed oyster shells and bits of broken brick. Walkways paved with brick would have been too expensive.

Some favorite kitchen and medicinal herbs from Colonial America:

Basil, also called St. Josephwort, was grown for commercial use in Virginia before the American Revolution.

Used as a flavoring,  particularly in salads and soups, pea soup, the clove fragrance of basil improved the taste of foods.  Also a strewing herb.  And the leaves were dried for use in snuff  to relieve headaches and colds.  I love the fragrance and flavor of basil.  Several vintage varieties of basil are emerging from the newly seeded pots I sowed in the greenhouse a week ago. 

BEE BALM: 

(Image by daughter Elise)

Used for bee stings. Bee Balm is a member of the mint family. It is native to North America but colonists soon sent seeds to Europe for their friends to plant and enjoy. Tea brewed from its leaves was called Oswego tea and used as a substitute for china tea after the 1773 Boston Tea Party.

I am a big fan of bee balm, growing it with more or less success depending on the season.  The flowers really do attract butterflies and hummingbirds.  I set out new plants every year and have done so again this spring with high hopes that they will spread as they have done in the past but not so much in recent years. Too much drought, I suspect, even though I try to water.

CARAWAY: 

The roots were cooked and eaten like carrots, and the seeds chewed or added to cheese, fruit and baked goods.  Caraway seed is an aid to digestion. I’m not a fan of caraway.  No, not even a little bit, but included it for those of you who are, plus it’s historical.

(Image of colonial kitchen)

CATNIP:  

A tea brewed from the leaves was used to treat stomach ache and head colds. Catnip was also steeped in wine and imbibed that way. If a woman wanted to increase her fertility she might soak in a catnip sitz bath. Catnip will take over the garden if you let it, but I like the scent, and the plant, though kind of weedy, is appealing in full flower. Very cheery.

Of course, cats are big fans of catnip.They get quite intoxicated by the scent. Although this kitty seems rather relaxed. I have cats who literally roll on the catnip in the garden and nibble it. They also like the related herb catmint, pictured down below. I’ve grown catmint for years and the same plants are still there blooming faithfully each year, about late spring.       

Chamomile:

“Camomill is put to divers and sundry uses, both for pleasure and profit, both for the sick and the sound, in bathing to comfort and strengthen the sound and to ease the pain of the diseased.”~John Parkinson

Another herb commonly grown in Colonial Williamsburg was Chamomile, a lovely herb.  I grow both the lower ground cover variety and the annual reseeding kinds, known as Roman and German chamomile. In early summer the Roman chamomile forms a mat covered with daisy like flowers and the scent is delightful.  I clip off the faded flowers for regrowth and fresh blooms, but the best show is early on.

In early America, the flowers brewed into a tea were used to treat stomach complaints and dispel cold and aches.  A sugary syrup made with the flowers was thought to treat jaundice and dropsy.  Chamomile flowers in the bath are an aid to skin irritations.  It’s known as the gentle soothing herb. Chamomile is a strewing herb and insect repellent.  It’s also just darn cheerful.  A very happy herb to grow.  Lifts the spirits just to look at it and the fragrance is appealing, soothingly nice.

Chives:  

Who doesn’t like chives?  As long as you don’t get too carried away adding the chopped stems to food.  Chives flavored dishes and the flowers added color to arrangements in early America.  Onions and garlic figured prominently in treating many colonial ailments and were thought to offer protection from evil spirits.  I grow and like chives.  The purple blossoms are pretty in late spring.  I also grow a variety called garlic chives that are white when they flower later in the season, quite pretty, and add good flavor in cooking.  They also reseed freely so bear that in mind.

DILL: 

A favorite in our garden, partly because the caterpillars of the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies feed on the leaves and make their chrysalis on the stems, fun to watch, but also because dill smells wonderful and tastes good.  Colonial Americans grew dill to flavor stews and pickles, also for its healthful properties.  Again, another soothing herb.

They also used it to treat hiccups. But I don’t know if that works.  I don’t know that a lot of what they did worked.  It all depended on the herb and whether that plant actually possessed the properties colonists thought it did. (This image of dill in our garden is growing along with an old-fashioned poppy I got seed for from Monticello). 

HYSSOP: A popular medicinal herb in early America.  I used to grow hyssop but it died out and needs replanting.  The fragrance is potent and not altogether pleasing, but the plant is pretty.  The blooms come in pink, white or blue.  I prefer the blue color.  The colonists used hyssop tea mixed with honey and the herb ‘rue’ as an expectorant.  That doesn’t appeal to me.  I’d rather use the bruised leaves, as they did, applied with sugar to a “greene wound.”  Hyssop was thought to fight infection and to kill head lice when soaked in oil.  An oil of leaves and flowers was applied to arthritic joints.  Also used as a strewing herb.

PENNYROYAL:

Strewing herb. Flea and mosquito repellent.  I love the pungent scent of pennyroyal. After several failed attempts, pennyroyal has formed a low, fragrant mat in our garden and is spreading nicely. At least, it was, until this past winter. A few tiny patches have survived and I’m hoping it will make a comeback. It’s so very delightful. (This pic isn’t pennyroyal, but an image of a butterfly on flowering catmint as mentioned above)

MINTS: 

We have a variety of mints on a determined march to the sea in our yard and garden but we love the intoxicating scent and mint tea is a huge favorite, so we pull only a little of it out.  In colonial America, they drank spearmint to comfort the nerves.  I should also think as an aid to the stomach which the mint family is rightly known for.  In cooking, mint was boiled with fish or dried and added with pennyroyal to puddings and green peas. Also a strewing herb. And I can certainly see why! (Image of apple mint).

PARSLEY: 

I like the flat leaf variety and grow it.  Parsley was used in early America to dispel the gamey taste from wild meats, like venison. The boiled roots were thought to remove “obstructions of the liver” and to promote urine production. 

(This image of parsley in our garden shows it growing beside asparagus and black-eyed Susans.)

ROSEMARY:

A pot of this herb grows in my window, but several have made it through the winter this year with protection. Rosemary was important in colonial times and popular in Williamsburg. An oil made from the flowers was applied to restore eyesight and remove spots and scars on the skin. Compresses of the leaves and oils were used for the head and heart to relieve painful joints and muscles, or “sinews.”

Rosemary was often potted up and kept inside for the winter. The farther north you live the less likely you are to see rosemary in flower.  I seldom get the plants to that size.  Rosemary isn’t happy inside in winter here, but clings to life.

HOREHOUND: 

Used to make a cough syrup. Often used with honey and other herbs. Mixed with plaintain for snakebites. Soaked in fresh milk to repel flies. The leaves are used for flavoring beer, cough drops, honey and for making tea.  I have grown horehound and the plants definitely need room to spread.  I love horehound drops.  It does sooth the throat.

 LAVENDER:

Strewing herb and insect repellent.  Essential in English lavender water.  Recipes found their way to colonial America, as did the plants.  Lavender blossoms have long been dried and used in sachets and potpourri to freshen clothes, linens, rooms,  and to repel insects.  An excellent site on English Lavender Water and more on the herb. *Used to rinse hair.

“This light, refreshing potion is perhaps the oldest known and most frequently used lavender product. Recipes for it were exchanged by women of the Roman era, books throughout Europe and Colonial America. Ours is classic English lavender infused with fresh floral and citrus notes.”

I definitely want a bottle or two. I love lavender, am forever planting new varieties trying to get some to survive our winters.  We have heavy soil, so am amending that and someone suggested growing the lavender in among stones that hold heat to warm the plants.  *Images of lavender in our garden.  The wooden stakes we use not only help support sagging plants but also discourage large farm dogs from sitting on them.  So we use a lot of stakes and large sticks fallen from various trees.  Also called ‘marking sticks’ so we remember where we’ve planted a row of seeds or new seedling.

fuzzy sage with blue larkspurSAGE:

“Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?” ~ Old English proverb

A favorite in our garden, sage has been grown for untold ages, as have all these herbs.  Sage was a culinary favorite in colonial America, and soon gained popularity with Native Americans, and was an important  medicinal herb for a plethora of illnesses.  As a spring tonic to cleanse the body, colonists fasted on sage with butter and parsley. Sage brewed into an ale was given to women to aid in delivery.  Sage has may other uses, as a tea sweetened with honey for sore throat or as a gargle.  Sage reduces perspiration and was used for fevers. And so on. (Image of fuzzy sage and larkspur in our garden)

THYME:

I love thyme.  We grow many varieties.  The species of thyme grown by the colonists was an upright, wild variety that survived the cold winters.  I need to find this one. The best I can do is the English thyme which seems to be hardier than the French. Some of the creeping thymes do well here. Colonists used thyme for melancholy, spleenic conditions, flatulence and toothache. (One of several kinds of creeping thyme we grow in our garden).

A wonderful sounding book that I would like to get is Flowers and Herbs of Early America~
It’s a beautiful big hardback book and rather pricey so we shall see. Recommended by the Colonial Williamsburg Historical Society–available at the Amazon link above.

This past summer I purchased two lovely hardback books while visiting in Colonial Williamsburg:The Gardens of Colonial Williamsburg by Kent Brinkley and Gordon Chappell. And, Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way by Wesley Greene.

18th century methods for producing herbal remedies:

Tincture: herb is soaked in alcohol, strained and used.

Decoction: This method was used for tougher parts of the herb plants, the roots, stem and bark. The herb is boiled in water until water is reduced by 1/2 to 1/3.

Infusion: Immersing the herb in water as in tea.

Distilled: Infusing the herb with water, boiling same and catching the condensed steam. Makes a condensed form of an infusion.

From COLONIAL USE OF HERBS:

We contemporaries must understand the basis on which decisions were made in early America. Colonists based portions of their world view on teachings of early Greek writers. Theories about alchemy and astrology and concepts such as the four cardinal humors influenced many of the colonists’ agricultural, dietary and medical practices. The four cardinal humors were the body fluids: blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. The conditions and proportions of these affected the physical and mental health of the individual.

There were thought to be four basic human temperaments:

  • Yellow bile or choler – hot and dry, characterized by a fiery nature and a bilious complexion.
  • Phlegmatic (phlegm) – cold and moist, characterized by apathy and a pale complexion.
  • Melancholic (black bile or choler) – cold and dry, characterized by depression and sullenness.
  • Sanguine (blood) – hot and moist, characterized by great appetites and capacities, and a ruddy complexion.

The educated colonist would study an herbal, a book containing the names and descriptions of herbs, or plants in general, with their properties and virtues. The earliest herbal written in the English language was published in London in 1525. Additionally, much knowledge was passed along from parent to child, since many colonists were illiterate.

Most herbals listed the qualities of temperature of each plant – hot, cold, dry and moist – paralleling the four elements – fire, air, earth and water. These characteristics were said to be reflected in the human temperament.

In almost all individuals one humor was thought to dominate the personality. There were certain potential health disorders or imbalances associated with each humor. For example, the sanguine person was believed to be amusing and good-natured, but prone to overindulgence. Diarrhea or gout could be a problem for such an individual, so cool, dry herbs like burdock or figwort were used to cleanse the system.

Overly cooling foods were given when a patient had a fever, but those same foods were considered unsafe if consumed by a well person. Foods had to be combined to produce the proper combination for a healthy person.Melons were chilling, so they were served with ginger or pepper, warming spices. Lettuce was cold and moist, so hot and dry pepper, hot and moist olive oil and cold and dry vinegar dressed it. Vinegar, itself, was considered cooling, so it had to be enhanced with peppercorns, coriander seeds or other warmers. Otherwise, vinegar would “make leane” and cause melancholy.

young girls in colonial garb at historic farmAnother old idea of the period was the “Doctrine of Signatures” or “Law of Similars”. This was the notion that a plant looked like the human organ or symptom of the disease it could benefit. Plants containing a milky juice, like lettuce, were thought to “propogate milk in nursing mothers”. The walnut, which looks somewhat like a brain, when properly prepared and laid upon the crown of the head, was said to comfort “the brain and head mightily”.

The use of herbs and plants in the colonial household was carefully decided based on the knowledge and observations of the time.

 A very interesting article on  Apothecary Herbal Healing“Before pharmacists, there were apothecaries. During the Colonial period in America, apothecaries dispensed medicines, including herbal remedies. Apothecaries functioned as pharmacists and doctors. Their skills with herbs made apothecaries reliable resources for people seeking healing from any ailment. 

herbs_pennyroyalApothecary gardens  (link to a site that tells how to plant one) provided herbs to aid healing. The art of apothecary continues in the modern era. Herbalists grow their own herbs and treat ailments just as their colonial foremothers-and fathers. The term, apothecary, came to be used for the store where the apothecary operated. Apothecaries are the ancestors of modern pharmacies or drug stores.”~

***In conclusion, herbal treatments may or may not have been administered based on an actual knowledge of how that plant’s properties affected a particular condition.  Some remedies were tried and true while superstition influenced other supposed treatments and cures.

For more on Colonial Herbs and their uses visit: http://www.chaddsfordhistory.org/history/herbs4.htm

 

*Pics are from our garden,  Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello, and Mt. Vernon. All images are royalty free.

Virginia–Steeped in History and Inspiration–Beth Trissel


The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration.  Not only have I lived in the Old Dominion for most of my life, but also several previous centuries in the sense that my ancestors were among the earliest settlers of the Shenandoah Valley (1730’s/1740’s). Chapel Hill, circa 1816, the Churchman family home place on my father’s side, is part of the inspiration behind the old homes in my novels, as are the other early plantations I’ve visited like Berkeley, Shirley and Carter’s Grove.  My Scots-Irish forebears settled Augusta County in the southern valley with names like Houston, Patterson, Finley, Moffett and McLeod.  These clannish people often intermarried, so I can tie in with many other early families depending on how I swing through the ancestral tree.

Colonial Virginia encompassed a vast territory.  Initially  Augusta County named for Princess Augusta, wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales, stretched northward from the present day county of Rockingham to include part of Page; to the South it extended the full length of Virginia’s border, and to the northwest it included the present day states of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and part of western Pennsylvania, all the territory claimed by Great Britain at that time.

Jamestown, the earliest successful English colony, and  Williamsburg,  a vital center in early America, are both in Virginia.  If you haven’t visited Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, you’re in for a real treat.  These sites are wonderfully  restored so it’s like stepping back in time to another age, one that fascinates me.

Virginia is steeped in history.   How could I not be drawn to this wealth of stories here?  They span centuries.  And if the earth could speak what tales it would tell, some of them horrific.

Virginia is also the site of more battles than any other state in the union, encompassing the Indian Wars, the Revolution and that most uncivil of wars, the Civil War.  Not to mention, Virginia has more ghost stories than any other state.  Also fodder for the imagination and yet more stories.

For Seekers Of Wisdom–Beth Trissel


“The well bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.” -Oscar Wilde

“There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.”-Charles Dickens

“He who knows others is learned; he who knows himself is wise.”- Lao Tze

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”- Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it”-Albert Einstein

***Mount Mansfield, image by my brother, photographer and artist John Churchman. For more on his work visit: http://www.brickhousestudios.com/

“Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.”-Sophocles

“It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.”- Robert Green Ingersoll

“It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.”-Walter Lippman

“Wisdom is a sacred communion.”-Victor Hugo

“Wisdom begins in wonder.”-Socrates

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”- Lin Yutang

“Does wisdom perhaps appear on the earth as a raven which is inspired by the smell of carrion?”-Friedrich Nietzsche

“If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day.”- Alex Noble

“Without courage, wisdom bears no fruit.”- Baltasar Gracian

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.”-Thomas Jefferson

“The truest greatness lies in being kind, the truest wisdom in a happy mind.”- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

“My experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more.”-Michael Gerber

“Too bad that all the people who really know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair.”- George Burns

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”-Sandara Carey

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.”- George Bernard Shaw

“Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”- Confucius

“Great beginnings are not as important as the way one finishes.” –Dr. James Dobson

“Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”-Nathaniel Hawthorne

***Apart from the image by my brother, John Churchman, the remainder of the images are royalty free.

A Ride to Rival Paul Revere’s–Jack Jouett! Beth Trissel


The following information on Jack Jouett’s Ride is from the Monticello website:

“In 1781, Virginia felt the full force of the Revolutionary War….troops led by Benedict Arnold conducted raids along the James River. By May, Arnold’s men and troops led by Maj. Gen. William Phillips had joined a larger British force under Lord Cornwallis that had moved into Virginia from the south. This invading army would scatter the Virginia government and create turmoil through a swath of the state before ultimately surrendering to the combined French and American forces at Yorktown on October 19. Within the turmoil of invasion, a heroic action by a young Virginian thwarted the British capture of Virginia’s governor, Thomas Jefferson, and members of the Virginia Assembly. The hero in this instance was John “Jack” Jouett, Jr., a 26-year-old resident of the small town of Charlottesville near Jefferson’s Monticello.

Upon learning that Virginia’s legislature was reconvening in Charlottesville after evacuating the capital at Richmond, Cornwallis dispatched Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton to capture the governor and assemblymen. Tarleton traveled swiftly, mostly at night, and counted on catching the Virginians by surprise. He pushed hard before stopping to rest men and horses somewhere in the vicinity of the Louisa Court House on the evening of June 3. This is where Jouett observed the British and guessed their destination.

Jack Jouett was a captain in the 16th regiment of the Virginia militia. His older brother, Matthew, had been killed at the Battle of Brandywine, and his two younger brothers also were militiamen. His father John Jouett, Sr., served as a “commissary” supplying the Continental Army with beef from his farm in Louisa County. As the Jouett family lived in Charlottesville, ownership of this farm could explain why Jack Jouett happened to be in Louisa on the evening of June the 3rd.

According to Jefferson’s account, Jouett knew the “byways of the neighborhood, passed the enemy’s encampment, rode all night, and before sunrise of the next day [June 4] called at Monticello.” This would have been a hazardous ride of approximately 40 miles. Legend has Jefferson offering Jouett a glass of good Madeira before he continued on to Charlottesville to rouse the assemblymen there.

After Jouett’s departure, Jefferson ordered a carriage made ready for his family and offered breakfast to the members of the legislature who were staying at Monticello. Jefferson sent his family to safety at a neighboring farm but remained behind, perhaps to gather needed papers, when he received a second warning from a neighbor, Christopher Hudson, that the British troops were ascending Monticello mountain. Hudson related that he found Jefferson “perfectly tranquil, and undisturbed” but urged him to leave immediately. According to Hudson, Monticello was surrounded “in ten minutes at farthest by a troop of light-horse.” Jefferson described how he avoided the main road and traveled through the woods to join his family.”

For more on Jack Jouett visit the above link and here are several more:  http://americanrevolution.org/jouett.html

http://www.jouetthouse.org/

“Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God.” ~Thomas Jefferson


Amen to that. A wise man, Jefferson.

From the Monticello website: “Jefferson grew 330 vegetable varieties in Monticello’s 1000-foot-long garden terrace.”

*Image of the vegetable garden at Monticello

It’s historic garden week at Monticello and I see a fascinating looking book for sale on their site. I really need to get this: “A Rich Spot of Earth” Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello by Peter J. Hatch