jefferson         joel  

Thomas Jefferson, Joel Yancey, Southern Waffles and Food in Early Virginia


Thomas Jefferson (left) and his Overseer of "Poplar Forest"  Joel Yancey (right)


see also letters between Thomas Jefferson and Joel Yancey

poplar forest




Recently upon reading the book "New London" - I came upon this page which talks of "Poplar Forest"

one of Thomas Jefferson's estates - where Joel Yancey served as overseer for  a few years.

of interest was a recipe for "Southern Waffles" - brought back from France by Thomas Jefferson.


This got me thinking about  food, meals and the culinary experience here in early America.

How were the daily meals and occasional feasts of our early Virginia ancestors different 

than the meals of today?  


Below are various links of possible interest - to those interested in Food and Recipes of early Virginia.


Recipes from Thomas Jefferson

Recipe for waffles very similar to the above:


Thomas Jefferson Mac and Cheese


Thomas Jefferson Vanilla Ice Cream



The First Cookbook of America

A copy of the cook book here:


Thomas Jefferson's Cook Book - you can have a copy

Food in Early Virginia


Food Preservation - in the days before electricity


To Thomas Jefferson from Joel Yancey, 19 November 1819

Dear Sir

Poplar Forest Nov. 19th,19

Your letter of 14th got here on the 17th at night, and I duly receivd that by Bishop, I am astonishd that my letters should be so long on the way, when yours almost, always reach me within 4 days after date, by the cart John Hemings has recd the map, and the window Irons. the map I will attend to myself as soon as I can get the cart off By the cart you will receive five bushels of dried peaches, and 3 pecks of red apples, 1 firkin of Butter, and the cheese sent from Richmond. the cheese has a small hole in it, about the middle, made by the rats, while at Mr Robertsons, you have here also a barrel of Pickled shad, which probably may be better this winter, than in spring, and Hanah has two pots of nice preservd, peaches, weighing 12lb that is to 6lb each, which can to sent down by Johny H—if you desire it, I shall fatten 70 good Hogs certainly, which I have now in the pens, and there are 5 others, which are a little shy & Which I have no doubt we shall get in a day or two, so that you may safely calculate on 75 hogs. 41 at B. creek and 34 at Tomahawk, we have 25 or 30 more that would make good pork, but we cant spare the grain to fatten them, there is some most sufficient I think, (with a little corn, to keep them gentle) to support them this winter & spring, and they will be large by next killing, I have engaged 2 overseers for the next year and agreed to furnish Bishop at Tomahawk with 500lb pork and Robert Miller at B. creek with 400lb the balance of the pork you will direct the distribution The spinning machine here wants repairing and Johny Hemings has promised conditionally to do it. but puts me off from time to time, and I fear he will not find it convenient whilst he is up, unless you mention it, in your next instructions to him, I am certain that it cannot take him more, than a day—or two, and it is now, and has been for some time perfectly useless to us,—I think it would be well, for you, to direct your agent in Richmond to send us a bale of machined Cotton, the supplys in Lynchburg are so small and irregular, that it frequently happens, that we cannot get it at any price, we fall short of clothing for the People again this fall; on hand there is only 100 yds of shirting and 200 yds of woolen, you will please direct what is to be bought—by Johny Heming I will send you a general account of stock corn, wheat, &c. Hepburn has inqured frequently, whether I had recd his dft, I believe he really wants his money, I have always told him, that I was satisfied, the reason, that I had not, was on A/c of the dry season, you could get nothing to market, Indeed I read to him, what you said to me on the subject in your letters, your old acquaintance Mr Clay, I fear will not stand the winter, he was extremely Ill on saturday and sunday last, but has got a little better I heard yesterday I have the honor to be with the highest Esteem & respect

yr mo obt servt

Joel Yancey

P.S. Hanah requests me to mention to you, that she has sent an apron, which miss E. Randolph left in her care, and which she understands thro Johny Heming. Miss Ellen wishd sent by the cart.

J. Y.

Memo of Henrys load

1 Bag peaches wgt


1 ditto ditto do


1 bag apples whgt


1 firkin butter gross—


1 Cheese



396 pounds

MHi: Coolidge Collection.