• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Jack Jouett Tavern opens


Just 2.3 miles away from where a Revolutionary War hero built a home in 1797, a golf club’s lounge now bears his name. “We’d like to welcome everyone to the christening of the Jack Jouett Tavern,” said Randy Clay, co-owner of The Woodford Club, Friday, Dec. 13, to cheers from a full house. Clay said when he and co-owner Dr. Chet Blackey purchased the former Moss Hills Country Club in March, “Our goal was to make sure it came back to life so this would be an exciting place for Woodford Countians to come, to enjoy, have fun, and have memories and bring families – and just a good time. And tonight certainly represents that …” Clay said they’d considered several names for the bar until they thought of “a really great person down the road” – Jouett, whose overnight ride in 1781 may have saved the lives of Virginia Gov. Thomas Jefferson and much of that state’s legislature. Clay thanked Woodford Fiscal Court and the Woodford Historical Society for allowing them to use the name, and introduced club chef Russell Blair, noting that his mother, Rebecca Blair, illustrated the children’s book about Jouett that’s given to every fourth-grader in the county. A copy of the book’s cover is hung on a wall in the tavern. “What a great-looking room. What a great-looking bunch of people,” Blair said. “Tonight is the first night of our new menu, so I’m somewhat happy and somewhat stressed …” Despite the chef’s stress, Blair’s complimentary burgoo and bread pudding were a hit with the crowd, as were the comments of Susan Hughes, executive director of the Jack Jouett House. Hughes said she was excited when Clay contacted her to ask about using Jack Jouett’s name. “It gives us a chance to cross promote, to bring more people to the Jack Jouett House and then to bring them here to The Woodford Club,” she said. She offered a brief history of Jouett’s nighttime ride, saying, “You get the long version when you come for a tour.” On the evening of June 3, 1781, Jouett learned that the British had sent a brigade of dragoons to capture Jefferson and other members of the Virginia House of Delegates, Hughes said. “He rode overnight, cross-country, 40 miles, arriving at Monticello at about 5 in the morning to find Jefferson in his garden, and he warned Thomas Jefferson, allowing (him) to get away,” Hughes said. Jouett then rode on to Charlottesville, where his warning allowed most of the legislature to escape, too. “People call Jack the ‘Paul Revere of the South.’ I want to put it to you a different way. Paul Revere rode 15 miles, had help, got captured and he was riding on a good road,” Hughes said to hearty laughter and applause. “Jack Jouett rode 40 miles overnight, cross-country, didn’t have help, didn’t get captured and look who he saved. Our country would be a much different place if Thomas Jefferson had been captured by the British. There’s no question that Jefferson would have either been hanged immediately or sent to Britain for a show trial and then hanged – and we would have lost our freedom.” Hughes asked the crowd to raise a toast to Jouett – and asked folks to come for a tour of his home on Craigs Creek Road sometime. Musician Matt Castle resumed playing, and patrons resumed doing what people have been doing in taverns since before the days of Jack Jouett

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