I admit it, I have a thing for history. When we travel, we see as many historical places as possible. This year is no different, while planning our trip east, Monticello was a no brainer.
Taking the time to see how others lived, in a time so different, is important to me. Social history is just as important as genealogy. The more time we spend discovering the past, the more we will understand the times our ancestors lived. Though our ancestors might not have lived as Thomas Jefferson did, it is still important to see and understand. But, keep in mind these places are continually learning a well. The continue excavating and researching so they can continue to tell the story.
Our visit to Monticello was on a very hot and humid day. The drive from Charlottesville to Monticello was nice, and we definitely agreed that we needed to add more time when we visit again. Charlottesville seems like such cute little town to explore.
Your visit to Monticello starts with the purchase of your tour tickets, they give you a time that you should be at the front of the house. The website states that two hours is really all you need to visit. This is not the case, give yourself plenty of time to visit the house, take the optional tours and wander the grounds.
We purchased our tickets and went into their cafe for coffee, as this was the start of our day. From there we took some time to visit the art gallery next to the cafe, and the gift shop. We did not take time to watch the film, which was located in the same area.
We then went upstairs where you catch the bus to the top of the mountain, where Thomas’ home is. The first view is stunning, as you look through the tree-lined walkway. Thomas was definitely smart to build on the mountain top. Not only is the view breathtaking, but it gets a wonderful breeze as well.
Monticello, The House and Land:
Excavation was in process on the West Lawn, while we were visiting. We spent a few minutes talking to those who were working and they told us that this was the first place that Thomas and Martha lived when they moved on the mountain. So far they have found; nails, glass, and pottery while excavating this area of Monticello.
Inside the house was as lovely as one can expect of one of our founding fathers. I enjoyed the peak into Thomas’ life and living space. The library in itself was amazing, not to mention the gifts to Lewis and Clark on their expedition. from others that were on display in the Hall, where visitors were greeted (and many waited for hours to see Thomas).
For years, many of us have read how the Jefferson’s refuse to believe that any of Sally Hemming’s children were fathered by Thomas Jefferson. As genealogist’s, we know that DNA evidence has proven that the Jefferson yDNA runs through the descendants of her sons. I was happy to see that the literature provided by Monticello does include Sally and her family. The Monticello website has a list of articles on the Jefferson – Hemings Resources. Discoveries of Sally’s bedroom at Monticello are currently being reported.
They are now offering tours about slavery at Monticello and have rebuilt what the slave cabins would look like. This tour starts at the “Hemmings cabin” on Mulberry row and lasts 45 minutes. I would have loved to been a part of this tour, but we ran out of time and had to move on. I plan to head back to Monticello in the future with more time to spend.
Jefferson Family Cemetery:
As we walked back to the Visitors Center we passed the Jefferson Family Cemetery, which is gated and locked, I took some time to take a few pictures of the graves (through the wrought iron fence). I do wish that the cemetery would be opened to the public as well, even if they had to have someone there to make sure the land and headstones were not harmed.
If you cannot get to Monticello, a great way to look at the house and land is through their explorer application.