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Extract of Cornelia J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph (Trist) and Mary Elizabeth Randolph (Eppes), 24 September 1817, document 5 in a group of documents on Jefferson’s Trip to Natural Bridge [ca. 13–17 August 1817]

V. Extract of Cornelia J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph (Trist) and Mary Elizabeth Randolph (Eppes)

Monticello September 24 ..17

My Dear girls

I wrote Virginia another very long letter from poplar forest giving her an account of our journey to the Natural bridge but it arriv’d after you had left this place, I dare say you have met with nothing wilder & more savage than we did traveling on horse back through a country where there was no carriage road. we made a great many enquiries about bears, wolves, panthers, & rattle snakes & found they were nearly exterminated which I was very much surprised at seeing the country look’d as if it had scarcely any other inhabitants, we heard tho that a bear had eaten a child sometime before we were there & that wolves were frequently1 heard howling in the mountains. in the immediate neighbourhood of the bridge the people were more civiliz’d than they were just on this side of the ridge. When we were returning to poplar forest we came to a bridge which had been broken down & that a good many people were mending, they imediately brought logs & laid across from one bank to the other but these banks were very high & the bridge form’d in this hasty manner so dangerous that I could scarcely prevail on myself to follow sister Ellen whom grandpapa was leading on before, a man bare legg’d & without any coat on immediately came to my assistance & led me across in safety another instance of the gallantry of our countrymen on this side of the ridge, I do not know what it is on the other side, I dare say Virginia remembers our being help’d by some waggoners, in a very dangerous situation once before, & sister Ellen who has travel’d more than any of us, has more than once had occasion to remark the difference between Virginians & the people of the other states in this respect.

RC (NcU: NPT); extract, consisting of salutation, dateline, and middle portion of letter, which is signed “C.R.” In the unextracted sections of this letter Randolph relates her initial dismay that the recipients left for the springs while she was away but consoles herself that she has been promised a trip there next year and a visit to Richmond in the current autumn; states that “Grandpapa has given his note for our trip to Richmond & if Elizabeth goes I shall like it very well, Sister Ellen & myself are anxious that Virginia should accompany us, but I am afraid there is very little probability of it”; comments that the Rivanna River was too high to cross in order to visit Ashton; mentions that Ann C. Bankhead had come the previous day with her son Thomas Mann Randolph Bankhead, who was recovering from an illness; remarks that as the younger Bankhead grows up he looks less like a Randolph, while he once resembled Martha Jefferson Randolph’s children as well as Arthur M. Randolph; indicates that she and Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) have been studious while away, but that she is unable to settle down to a routine until they are all home and have discussed their travels; and sends greetings to her aunt Mary Randolph.

Mary Elizabeth Cleland Randolph (Eppes) (1801–35), known within the family as Elizabeth, was the daughter of TJ’s cousin Thomas Eston Randolph and Thomas Mann Randolph’s sister Jane Cary Randolph. She was born at Dungeness plantation in Goochland County, grew up in Albemarle County at the family estates of Glenmore and Ashton, and became intimate with the family at Monticello, particularly TJ’s granddaughters. Late in 1822 she became the first wife of TJ’s grandson Francis Eppes and moved with him to Poplar Forest soon afterwards. After the Eppes family sold Poplar Forest in 1828, Francis traveled to Florida Territory to purchase land. Elizabeth and their children joined him the following year in Leon County at property near Tallahassee. Her parents and several siblings also relocated in 1829 to Florida and settled nearby. Eppes died at her residence in Leon County several days after the birth of her sixth child (Shackelford, Descendants description begins George Green Shackelford, ed., Collected Papers … of the Monticello Association of the Descendants of Thomas Jefferson, 1965–84, 2 vols. description ends , 1:172–8; Randolph Whitfield and John Chipman, The Florida Randolphs, 1829–1978 [2d ed., 1987], 22–8, 32–3, 58, 61; Richmond Enquirer, 1 May 1835; Episcopal Recorder 13 [16 May 1835]: 27; gravestone inscription in cemetery of Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Tallahassee).

1Manuscript: “ferquently.”

Index Entries

  • Ashton (T. E. Randolph’s Albemarle Co. estate); proposed visit to search
  • Bankhead, Ann (Anne) Cary Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter; Charles Lewis Bankhead’s wife); visits Monticello search
  • Bankhead, Thomas Mann Randolph (TJ’s great-grandson); appearance of search
  • Bankhead, Thomas Mann Randolph (TJ’s great-grandson); health of search
  • bears; in Va. search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); education of search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); travels of search
  • Coolidge, Ellen Wayles Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); visits Natural Bridge search
  • Eppes, Mary Elizabeth Cleland Randolph (Francis Wayles Eppes’s wife; Thomas Eston Randolph’s daughter); identified search
  • Eppes, Mary Elizabeth Cleland Randolph (Francis Wayles Eppes’s wife; Thomas Eston Randolph’s daughter); letter to, from C. J. Randolph search
  • Eppes, Mary Elizabeth Cleland Randolph (Francis Wayles Eppes’s wife; Thomas Eston Randolph’s daughter); travels of search
  • health; of TJ’s family search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Travels; to Natural Bridge search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Bankhead, Ann C. search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; TJ visits search
  • Natural Bridge, Va.; TJ’s grandchildren visit search
  • panthers; in Va. search
  • Randolph, Arthur Moray; appearance of search
  • Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson (TJ’s granddaughter); education of search
  • Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson (TJ’s granddaughter); letter from, to M. E. C. R. Eppes search
  • Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson (TJ’s granddaughter); letters from, to V. J. R. Trist search
  • Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson (TJ’s granddaughter); travels of search
  • Randolph, Cornelia Jefferson (TJ’s granddaughter); visits Natural Bridge search
  • Randolph, Mary (Thomas Mann Randolph’s sister; David Meade Randolph’s wife); greetings sent to search
  • rattlesnakes; in Va. search
  • Rivanna River; water level of search
  • snakes; rattle search
  • springs; visitors to search
  • Trist, Virginia Jefferson Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); letters to, from C. J. Randolph search
  • Trist, Virginia Jefferson Randolph (TJ’s granddaughter); visits springs search
  • wolves; in Va. search
  • women; letters from; C. J. Randolph to M. E. R. Eppes search
  • women; letters from; C. J. Randolph to V. J. R. Trist search
  • women; letters to; M. E. R. Eppes from C. J. Randolph search
  • women; letters to; V. J. R. Trist from C. J. Randolph search