Everyone who has lived in Charlottesville or Albemarle County for any length of time probably knows the story of Jack Jouett, sometimes known as the “Paul Revere of the South”. John “Jack” Jouett (1754-1822) served as a captain in the 16th Regiment of the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War. He was an imposing man, standing 6’-4” tall and weighing over 200 pounds, and he was said to be both muscular and handsome.
On the night of June 3-4, 1781 Jouett, who was then about 26 years old, was asleep on or near the lawn at Cuckoo Tavern a few miles east of Louisa Courthouse. When British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his dragoons arrived at the tavern, Jouett instantly suspected they were on their way to Charlottesville to attempt to capture Governor Thomas Jefferson and members of the Virginia assembly, who had earlier fled to Charlottesville from Richmond. Taking a backroads route, Jouett rode 40 miles through the moonlit night to Monticello, where he arrived about dawn and warned the residents of the impending danger. Most of the delegates, and Jouett himself, were able to escape to Staunton, while Jefferson ultimately fled to his second home, Poplar Forest, near present day Lynchburg.
Following the Revolution, Jouett moved west to what is now Kentucky, where he raised a large family and had a distinguished career. Some 145 years later on September 6, 1926, the Municipal Band reversed Jouett’s route and traveled from Monticello to the village of Cuckoo, VA, to present a concert as part of the ceremonies involved in the placing of a commemorative tablet memorializing Jack Jouett’s ride at the site of Cuckoo Tavern. Chief speaker for this event was Mr. Stuart Gibboney, then President of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation. Also speaking at the event was Mr. Edward B. Jouett, a great grandson of Jack Jouett.
In 1995 former Municipal Band clarinetist Stephen Millard, who was then band director at Jack Jouett Middle School, a post which he held for nearly 30 years, was asked to compose a piece for the Albemarle County Middle School Honors Band. Mr. Millard chose as his subject Jack Jouett’s famous ride, and the Honors Band premiered the piece, called A Monticello Triptych, in May of that year. Mr. Millard dedicated the piece to James W. Simmons, who was then Music Director of the Municipal Band. The Municipal Band first performed the same piece on its April 16, 1996 spring concert with the composer himself conducting. That performance can be heard and viewed on the YouTube. Jack Jouett’s fame will remain strong—honored both in memory and in music, thanks to Stephen Millard and to all the bands which perform A Monticello Tryptich.