In Colonial Virginia, January was among the most popular wedding months. Thomas Jefferson and Martha Wayles Skelton followed this custom, tying the knot on New Year’s Day, 1772 at her father’s plantation “The Forest” in Charles City County, southeast of Richmond. Martha and Thomas left to begin married life at Monticello on January 18th.

Later in life, their eldest daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, recounted the newlywed couple’s harrowing honeymoon journey:

"They left the Forest after a fall of snow, light then, but increasing in depth as they advanced up the country. They were finally obliged to quit the carriage and proceed on horseback. Having stopped for a short time at Blenheim, where an overseer only resided, they left it at sunset to pursue their way through a mountain track rather than a road, in which the snow lay from eighteen inches to two feet deep, having eight miles to go before reaching Monticello. They arrived late at night, the fires all out and the servants retired to their own houses for the night. The horrible dreariness of such a house, at the end of such a journey, I have often heard both relate."

Additional family history relates Jefferson saying that part of a bottle of wine, found on a shelf behind some books, had to serve the new-married couple both for fire and supper and Jefferson’s Garden Book entry of January 26th records the snow at three feet deep, “the deepest ever seen in Albemarle.”

While there is no record of how Thomas and Martha Jefferson occupied their time while snowed in on the Monticello mountain, it’s worth noting that Martha Jefferson Randolph was born September 27th, 1772, nine months after the couple set up housekeeping in what we know today as the South Pavilion.