In the 18th Century, an Ordinary was an establishment that served meals and, sometimes, provided shelter. It was also a meeting place for amusement of local citizens. Ordinaries, later called taverns or inns, were spaced at regular intervals across the county so that travelers could rest and feed themselves and their horses.
Cuckooville to Cuckoo. The land from which the present Village of Cuckoo emerged can be traced to June 13, 1743, when Richard Brooks deeded 100 acres to Nicholas Gentry. This land can be traced to the first mention of "Sackville King's Ordinary" which burned ca. 1815-18. It was from the Cuckoo Tavern in 1781, that Jack Jouett made his famous ride to Charlottesville to warn Thomas Jefferson of the intent of Col. Tarleton. The land with the Ordinary was purchased by Col. William O. Callis from Robert Barret in 1788. Robert Barret, Jr. was the postmaster after the office was established in 1807. The land was purchased by Capt. Henry Pendleton who built the home now known as Cuckoo in 1818.1
The tavern at Cuckoo was owned by John Jouett in 1769, and possibly was called Winston’s Ordinary before that.1
“13 Dec. 1773 John Jouett of Trinity Par., Louisa Co., to Sackville King of Trinity Par., Louisa Co., £ 200 curr. money; 100 a. in Trinity Par…at the road running Past and bounded by Anthony Winstons…Robert Barrett and John Crutchfield…Nicholas Gentory thence down the road.
13 Dec. 1773 ack by sd. Jouett.”2
“Common Wealth of Va. to David Rodes & Richard Anderson Gent. Justices of Albemarle Co. John Jouett & Mourning his wife by deed 13 Dec. 1773 have conveyed to Sackville King a tract in Louisa Co. of 100 a. Sd. Mourning cannot conveniently Travell so far as our Co. Ct. to make her personal acknowledgement. Power given to examine her privily. 3 Jany. 1777.
We have privately examined Mourning Jouett & she declared she acknowledged all her right of dower to within land. 7 Mar. 1777
David Rodes Richd Anderson"3
"28 Nov. 1776 Nicholas Gentry & Jane his wife of Trinity Par., Louisa Co., to Robert Barrett of same; £83 5s; 106 1/2 a. in Trinity Par. bounded by the Road that leads from Sackville Kings Ordinary to Louisa Court House, Dirty Swamp & the lines of William Mallory, William Hogan, John Crutchfield & Sackville King.
Nicholas Gentry Jane Gentry
Wit: Charles Smith, Lewis Barrett, John Winston, David W. Meriwether, William Barrett, Charles Barrett
9 Dec. 1776 ack. By Nicholas Gentry & Jane his wife.”4
1. Louisa County Virginia 250th Anniversary. (Pamphlet). Louisa County Historical Society. Louisa, VA. 1992.
2. Louisa County, Virginia Deed Books, C C1/2, D and D1/2, 1759-1774. Abstracted and compiled by Rosalie Edith Davis. Manchester, Missouri. 1977. page 68.
3. Louisa County, Virginia Deed Books E and F 1774-1790. Abstracted and compiled by Rosalie Edith Davis. Manchester, Missouri. 1983. page 19.
4. Ibid. page 14.
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“Jouett was a Captain of Virginia Militia and was
stationed in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. Late on the evening of June
3rd of 1781, Captain Jouett was asleep on the lawn in front of the Cuckoo
Tavern (now a private residence). He was awakened by the sound of a large
number of horsemen. Sitting up, he observed a large unit of the dreaded "White
Coats", a nickname given to the British Dragoons in Colonel Banastre
(the Butcher) Tarleton's regiment. Tarleton himself was leading the cavalry
column. Jouett was quick to realize the objective of this force. The Virginia
General Assembly was in session at Charlottesville, some forty miles from the
Cuckoo Tavern, and Governor Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and many other
notorious 'rebels' were there. They were virtually helpless, as most
of Virginia's fighting men were up north with General George Washington, and
the local Militia was ill equipped and too few in numbers to stop Tarleton. The
young General Marquis de LaFayette, who had been so successfully harassing the
British, Tarleton in particular, was too far away to be of any assistance. The
enormity of the situation sat squarely on Captain Jouett's broad shoulders. He
and he alone had to save the General Assembly. It was utterly impossible! A
forty-mile horseback ride in the middle of the night over rough terrain. Revere
rode only 15 miles over good roads. Col. Tarleton certainly had advance scouts
on the road to Charlottesville, hence that route was denied to Jouett. He had
to go through the tangled Virginia backwoods.
No sooner had the hoof beats of the British Dragoons faded into the night, when Captain Jouett saddled his horse and plunged into the dense woods. Virginius Dabney wrote in his version of this story in the June, 1928 issue of Scribner's magazine - "The unfrequented pathway over which this horseman set out on his all night journey can only be imagined. His progress was greatly impeded by matted undergrowth, tangled bush, overhanging vines and gullies . . . his face was cruelly lashed by tree limbs as he rode forward and scars said to have remained the rest of his life were the result of lacerations sustained from these low hanging branches."
A speedy horse, a strong will, and the aid of a full moon gave Captain Jouett a slight advantage. With the first light of dawn he arrived at Thomas Jefferson's famous home, Monticello. He awoke Governor Jefferson and some of the Virginia Legislators who were staying at Monticello. Then, without hesitation, the exhausted Captain turned his horse and galloped to Charlottesville to spread the alarm. The Assemblymen at Charlottesville scattered, but only after voting to reconvene on June 7th at Staunton.
Shortly after Governor Jefferson received the warning, he dispatched his family, gathered his important papers and then, he too departed. In his haste, he dropped his light walking sword. Realizing it a few minutes later, he returned to Monticello and retrieved it. While there he observed British Dragoons. Mounting his horse, he again galloped away.”
Moran, D N. Jack Jouett of Virginia, the “other ride”. The Valley Compatriot Newletter. Feb. 1984.
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The following WPA report and maps are from the Library of Virginia.
Follow the links.
The photos of the highway markers were taken by DLK.
Works Progress Administration of Virginia
Class: Site (Ordinary)
Research made by
Bumpass, Virginia February 17, 1937
King’s Ordinary Site
At Cuckoo, VA. North side of Jefferson Highway.
6: Historical Significance:
Captain Jack Janett (sic) (should be: Jouett*), Jr. was in King’s Ordinary on the night of June 3, 1781, when Tarleton’s cavalry passed by. Some of Tarleton’s men came into the tavern and Janett pretended to be drunk and overheard then talking about going to Charlottesville and taking Jefferson and the legislature.
After their departure Janett rode to Charlottesville by a shorter route and arrived in time to warn Jefferson and the legislature.
A highway marker at Cuckoo reads as follows:
“Jack Janett at the tavern here saw Tarleton’s cavalry pass in the night of June 3, 1781. Suspecting that they were going to Charlottesville to seize Governor Jefferson and the Legislature, Janett rode there by another way and arrived in time to give warning.”
There is a tablet at Cuckoo erected by the Jack Janett chapter of the Virginia Daughters of the American Revolution commemorating Janett’s ride.
*the author has misspelled the name Jouett probably by misreading of a handwritten document. There is reference to the origination of the document by the WPA in 1937,
at the website.
now at site of