To keep ice for the plantation, Thomas Jefferson constructed an ice house. In the winter of 1802-1803 the summer's harvest of wheat was safely stored in barrels and barns. Monticello overseer Gabriel Lilly had to wait for freezing temperatures before he could harvest his next crop: ice from the Rivanna River.
James Ferguson, 1710-1776, was a sort of “Bill Nye the Science Guy” of the middle to late 1700s. A fellow of the Royal Society, he had done important work in observing and understanding the moon’s orbit, but his true calling turned out to be explaining science to the general public. Some of his works still make good reading today. He strove for simple, elegant solutions and didn’t waste words. Perhaps he put it best in “Select Mechanical Exercises”:
“The simpler that any machine is, the better it will be allowed to be, by every man of science.”
"Ice-creams were produced"
Ice cream frequently appears in visitors' accounts of meals with Thomas Jefferson. One visitor commented: "Among other things, ice-creams were produced in the form of balls of the frozen material inclosed in covers of warm pastry, exhibiting a curious contrast, as if the ice had just been taken from the oven."