LETTERS FROM THOMAS JEFFERSON TO JOEL YANCEY, OVERSEER OF JEFFERSON'S SUMMER HOME 'POPLAR FOREST'.
Ancestry: Joel Yancey, son of Joel, son of Archelaus, son of Charles, son of Charles
Thomas Jefferson served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Many people are familiar with his famous home "Monticello". He also had a country retreat which was called "Poplar Forest". It stood on a 4,300 acre piece of land bequeathed to him by his wife. The property was located in Bedford County a few miles south of Lynchburg - about 80 miles from Monticello. Joel Yancey, of Bedford County, for a few years worked for Jefferson as the overseer of Poplar Forest. Various letters written to him by Jefferson can be found in various Jefferson manuscript collections.
Excerpts from: Thomas Jefferson's Garden Book 1766-1824. Published in 1885.
Monticello June 7, 1815
[Letter To Joel Yancey at Poplar Forest:]
I omitted among my memorandum to request you to have all the seed of the oat-grass at Mr. Goodman's saved, in order to make lots near each of the overseer's houses. It comes a month earlier than any other grass, and is therefore valuable for ewes and lambs, calves, yearlings, and poor cows. There should also be good clover lots adjoining, independent of the large clover fields. I have inquired and got good information on the subject of clover sown in the husk. It is to be cut as usual and laid up in hand-ricks of 3 or 4 feet high to rot to such degree as to leave the husks separable from the stalk and from one another. Whenever it rains the ricks should be turned over to prevent it's rotting too much or spoiling the seed at the bottom. When it is sufficiently rotted it must either be beaten to pieces with flails on a plank floor, or passed thro the threshing machine. The object is not to separate the seed from the husk, but merely to separate at their bottom, where they grow together, the numerous husks of which a single clove blossom is composed. 7 Bushels from the middle of February to the 10th of March, and there is no better method than sowing it in snow. The 2nd cutting yields more seed than the 1st, and it is better, having been cut altogether it starts it's 2nd growth and ripens together, everybody agrees that it comes up with much more certainty when sown in the husk . . .
[From Thomas Jefferson at Monticello]
Monticello, July 18, 1815
[Letter To: Joel Yancey at Poplar Forest]
. . . I am glad you approve my plan of culture, because it will be the more agreeable to you to pursue it. It's general effect is this. Ine third of the farm is in wheat for market and profit. One sixth (that is one field) is in corn for bread for the laborers. The remaining half of the farm, that is to say, one field in peas or oats, one field in clover for cutting, and one in clover for pasture, is for the sustenance of the stock of the farm, aided by 8 acres of pumpkins at each place, which feeds everything two months in the year & fattens the pork. And as much timothy as our meadow ground can be made to yield, which is very important when the clover crop fails from drought, a frequent occurrence. On this plan I know it to be unnecessary that a single grain of corn should ever be given to any animal, unless a little perhaps to finish the fattening pork, but even for that peas are as good. Of these you may certainly count on 10 bushels to the acre, which on that much corn, and all fall-fallowing will be saved. To the produce for market my plan adds 80 M Tobacco hills at each place, as much of it on the first year's land as can be cleared. If this plan be fully executed, I will most gladly take all risk of the result to myself, and my own blame . . .
[From Thomas Jefferson at Monticello]