Lego

Lego was one of Thomas Jefferson’s quarter farms. Located near Shadwell, in Albemarle County, Virginia, Jefferson purchased Lego from Thomas Garth.[1] Jefferson’s Lego property had originally been a portion of a 1734 land grant issued jointly to Edwin Hickman and three other men.[2] The Lego quarter farm, as well as Tufton and Monticello, totaled nearly 1,000 acres of land under cultivation.[3] In addition, the three properties had almost 175 people living on them, including 135 slaves who worked the farms.[4]

The origin of the name "Lego" is subject to some speculation.[5] Lego means "I read" in Latin, and local tradition reports that Jefferson liked to bring a book to a shady spring there. Some scholars question whether he would have committed a philological impropriety, by applying a verb to a place. A more likely explanation is Jefferson's love for the poems of Ossian (now known to be largely the creation of their purported translator, James MacPherson). The lake of Lego figures in the epic exploits of Ossian's ancient Scottish heroes, some of whom also provided names for Jefferson's horses.

Footnotes

  1. Betts, Farm Book, 32.
  2. Ibid, 127.
  3. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 169.
  4. Ibid, 177.
  5. This paragraph based on Lucia Stanton, "The Research File: What's in a Name?" Monticello Newsletter Spring (1992).

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