Elizabeth House Trist (ca. 1751-1828), also called Eliza, was the daughter of Mary Stretch House and Samuel House. She was the grandmother of Nicholas Philip Trist, who married Thomas Jefferson’s granddaughter Virginia Jefferson Randolph at Monticello in 1824. Elizabeth Trist is best known today for her journal detailing a trip to Natchez in 1783-84.[1]

Podcast: The Remarkable Journey of Elizabeth House Trist

Thomas Jefferson formed an enduring friendship with Eliza Trist when he stayed at her mother’s Philadelphia boardinghouse during service in the Continental Congress in 1782-84. He advised her in recurring financial difficulties, wrote her regularly, persuaded her to move her family to Albemarle County in 1798, and appointed her only child, Hore Browse Trist, port collector for the lower Mississippi River in 1803, upon which she moved with him to New Orleans. Hore Browse Trist died in 1804, and Elizabeth Trist returned to Virginia in 1808. She spent some of her remaining years as an itinerant houseguest at a variety of Albemarle County estates, including Monticello, where she died and is believed to have been buried.[2]Anchor

Further Sources


  1. ^ William L. Andrews, ed., Journeys in New Worlds: Early American Women’s Narratives (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990), 183-87.
  2. ^ Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist to Nicholas Philip Trist, December 10, 1828, Nicholas Philip Trist Papers, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Transcription available at Jefferson Quotes and Family Letters.  In this letter, Virginia described the manner of Mrs. Trist's death and remarked that "Your Grand-mother's burial was attended by Mr. Garret, Mr. Davis, Dr. Carr, Benjamin Winn, & E. Winn & E. Garret. Mr. Hatch of course," but there is no gravemarker for her at Monticello. (The description of Mrs. Trist's last hours is on the first page of the letter, and the note of her funeral on the third page.) See also Martha Jefferson Trist Burke's notes on Trist family history, in which she wrote, "My great grand mother died at 'Monticello' when I was two years old 1828 she is buried there, but I do not know in what part of the grave yard she was laid." Martha Jefferson Trist Burke, "Notes on Trist Family History," Martha Jefferson Trist Burke Commonplace Book, privately owned. Transcription available at Jefferson Quotes and Family Letters.