THE
MONTICELLO
ASSOCIATION


THE MONTICELLO GRAVEYARD 1837 – 1883*

Graveyard 1871

 

     We are sure that there are many members of our Association who are not entirely familiar with the history of the Monticello Graveyard, even though Robert Kean has written a scholarly and extensive history of it. Therefore we are taking the liberty of quoting from the above-mentioned history and reprinting a most interesting article from our Annual Report of 1916. We are also including an excerpt from a Charleston paper of 1861. We hope these all tie together and will be of interest to you.

First, from Kean's "History of the Graveyard at Monticello" as published in the Collected Papers of the Monticello Association in 1965:

     "Mrs. Ellen Wayles Harrison writing in 1885 to Prof. A. F. Fleet of the University of Missouri said that at the time of her great grandfather's death in 1826 the graveyard was enclosed by a double wall filled in between with earth, in which was

planted a pyracanthus hedge. This fell into decay in consequence of the crumbling of the stone walls, and the whole was replaced in 1837 by a brick wall, nine feet high, with stone caps on the pillars; the gates were of iron, and a grating of the same material closed an opening of eight or ten feet, left opposite the monument.

     The original list of subscribers for the building of this wall is in the archives of the Monticello Association.

     "This wall with the iron grating opposite the monument over Jefferson's grave is clearly shown in an illustration in Harper's Weekly in 1886; and also in an old photograph taken about 1870 which is in the archives of the Monticello Association. It remained until the erection of the new monument by the U .S. Government in 1883, when it was replaced by a high iron fence.'. (p. 8)

***

     "The tragic desecration of the graveyard and destruction of many of the gravestones which began so soon after Mr. Jefferson's death is well known. The erection of the high brick wall by Colonel Randolph apparently was able to do little to curb the ardor of souvenir hunters, for Mrs. Harrison says further in her letter that

     It was hoped that the grating, affording a full view of the group of Jefferson graves would satisfy the public This hope was elusive. ...The locks on the gate were broken as fast as they were renewed. The graveyard was constantly the object of care and attention to the family but to no avail. Turf laid one month would be trodden up the next. One individual, showing a piece of Jefferson's tomb, boasted that he had taken a sledge hammer up from Charlottesville to secure it.

     And Sarah Randolph in The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson written at Edgehill in 1871 says,

     But all precautions have been in vain. The gates have been again and again broken open, the graveyard entered, and the tombs desecrated. The edges of the granite obelisk over Jefferson's grave have been chipped away until it now stands a misshapen column. Of the slabs placed over the graves of Mrs. Jefferson and Mrs. Eppes not a vestige remains, while of the one over Mrs. Randolph only fragments are left."

     "All of this is only too evident in the photograph mentioned above, which can be positively dated between 1867 and 1871 since it shows the new gravestone of George Wythe Randolph, but not the grave of his wife. The high brick wall and the iron grating remain, but the stone caps are gone from the brick pillars which are themselves broken at the top, and the condition of the Jefferson monument and of the surrounding graves is exactly as described by Sarah N. Randolph. Only one broken fragment remains of the white marble slabs which were originally around the base of the monument. The granite monument itself, though much battered about the comers and edges, had nevertheless proved too stout to be broken through in any respect. The marble tablet is gone, but the indentation in the face of the obelisk where it had originally been set, is still clearly visible." (pp. 11-12)

     The following paragraph is from The Charleston Mercury, August 29, 1861. It is part of an article sent to Miss Olivia Taylor in 1001 by Mr. James Bear, Curator at Monticello. The article was titled: "Notes of the War, from our own correspondence, Charlottesville, Va., August 24":

     " ...You climb, and climb, and climb. ..until you unexpectedly emerge in a small clearing around which a somewhat dilapidated, square brick wall runs. The iron gate is 'open, and as you enter, the eye glancing over a dozen or more marble slabs and head-stones rests on a granite pyramid, supported by a block of the same material, rudely hewn and blackened with age, which you know at once to be Jefferson's tomb. There is no name on the monument, only the dates of birth and date. The conceit is a childish one and in wretched taste, and yet I cannot help thinking that the dusty incumbent who holds the stone in mort main is rather flattered by the surprise of his visitors. ..Around the great statesman, and philosopher and man of letters, lie his children and their offspring. .."

     There was no name on the monument because the marble tablet that had been placed on the "granite pyramid" was at that time being kept safely at Edgehill.

     Fifty-nine years ago fifteen members of the Monticello Graveyard Association met at Madison Hall, University of Virginia. The officers for the following year were elected. They were:

Col. I. R. Kean, President
Miss Cornelia I. Taylor, Vice-President
George Wayne Anderson, Historian
Virginius R. Shackelford, Secretary and Treasurer

Read into the Minutes of the Fourth Meeting of the Monticello Graveyard Association (held April 17 , 1916) was this material:

Subscribers

 

     "The following document from the Edgehill papers has been sent to the President by the Vice-President. It is a copy of a paper in the handwriting of Col. T. J. Randolph, of Edgehill. No date is given. It was evidently written after his mother's death in 1836, be.fore the brick wall was built around the Graveyard which some of our members can remember. A note stating who the signers were and their relationship to Mr. Jefferson has been added by Mrs. John S. Morris:

'SUBSCRIBERS TO THE GRAVEYARD
AT MONTICELLO

 'Anxious that the graveyard at Monticello should be enclosed in a permanent manner, being the depository of the remains of loved and valued friends, each of us desirous to contribute his portion of the expense, bind ourselves, our heirs, executors and administrators to pay the sums respectively attached to our names for that purpose to any person who under the superintendence of Thomas I. Randolph shall undertake the same.

'(I) Thomas I. Randolph $100
(2) Samuel Carr 100
(3) John A. Carr 50
(4) Archibald Cary 25
(5) T. M. R. Bankhead 25
(6) Randolph and (7) Nicholas 50
(8) Cornelia, (9) Mary & (10) Septimia Randolph 50
(11) Nicholas P. Trist -Paid T. J. R. Oct. 20 100
(12) J. A. G. Davis - remitted 25
(13) F. Eppes l00'

"NOTE: (1) Col. Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792-1875), of Edgehill, Albemarle Co., Va., eldest son and second child of Gov. Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr. (1768-1828), of the same place, and Martha Jefferson (m. 1700), daughter of President Thos. Jefferson.

(2) Col. Samuel Carr, of Dunlora, Albemarle Co., Va. (1771- 1855), second child and oldest son of Dabney Carr and Martha Jefferson, his wife, daughter of Col. Peter Jefferson and his wife, Jane Randolph; and a sister to President Jefferson.

(3) John Carr (1801-1839), son of Col. Samuel Carr and wife Barbara; m. Gay Ferguson.

(4) Archibald Cary, b. at Carysbrooke, Fluvanna Co., Va.; removed to Cumberland Co., Md.; second son of Wilson Jefferson Cary , of Carysbrooke, great-nephew of President Jefferson and his wife Virginia Randolph, of Tuckahoe, m. at Monticello, August 28,1805.

(5) Thomas M. R. Bankhead, second child and oldest son of Charles Bankhead and Anne Cary Randolph his wife, oldest child of Gov. T. M. Randolph and Martha Jefferson his wife.

(6) "Randolph" is probably Benj. Franklin Randolph, son of Gov. T. M. Randolph and his wife Martha Jefferson.

(7) "Nicholas" must have been one of the brothers of Mrs. T. J. Randolph, of Edgehill, as her father, Gov. Wilson Cary Nicholas, is buried at Monticello.

(8) Cornelia Randolph, dau. of Gov. Thos. Mann Randolph and Martha Jefferson his wife.

(9) Mary Jefferson, also a daughter.

(10) Septimia, the seventh daughter, m. Mr. David Meikleham and had four children, William, Alice, Ellen Wayles and Randolph.

(11) Nicholas P. Trist, m. 1821 Virginia, daughter of Gov. Thos. Mann Randolph and his wife Martha Jefferson. N. P. Trist made the Treaty of Hidalgo Guadaloupe after the Mexican War (1848). His daughter Pattie m. Mr. John Burke, of Alexandria., Va.

(12) Prof. John A. G. Davis, of the University of Virginia, m. 1821 Mar:' Jane (b. 1803), daughter of Lucy Carr and Richard Terrell. Lucy Carr (1768-1803) was the daughter of Dabney Carr and Martha Jefferson, sister of President Jefferson. Professor Davis was the father of Dr. John Staige Davis, Professor of Anatomy and Practice of Medicine at the University of Virginia, and grandfather of the present Prof. John Staige Davis, who succeeded his father in the chair of medicine there.

(13) Francis Eppes (b. 1801), son of John Wayles Eppes and his wife Maria Jefferson, second daughter of President Jefferson. Francis Eppes m. his cousin Mary Elizabeth, dau. of Thos. Eston Randolph and Jane Cary his .wife. Dr. Francis Eppes Shine, of Bisbee, Ariz., and the Eppes of Florida and Georgia are his descendants."

     We owe a profound debt of gratitude to Mrs. Morris, (Pattie Cary Kean 1858-1939) for her research on the "Subscribers to the Graveyard at Monticello."

     This is a compilation of an unhappy time of our beloved graveyard at Monticello. We can be eternally thankful for Cousin Nely Taylor (Cornelia Jefferson Taylor 1849-1937) and many others in the family who cooperated in her persistent drive to preserve the last resting place of not only Mr. Jefferson but so many of our other near and dear ones. We can now look with some pride and satisfaction on the present condition of our Graveyard.

     We are continually grateful for the complete cooperation of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation with the Monticello Association.

* This article was prepared by Madeline McMurdo Whitemore, Custodian of the Graveyard and retiring Historian of the Monticello Association.

Guide