Edith Fossett (1787-1854), learned French cookery at the President's House in Washington, D.C., and served as chief cook at Monticello during the period of Jefferson's retirement. It was of her cooking that Daniel Webster spoke when he described the meals at Monticello as "in half Virginian, half French style, in good taste and abundance."
1806 July 31. (Jefferson to Joseph Dougherty). "...in pursuit of a young mulatto man, called Joe [Fossett], 26. years of age, who ran away from here [Monticello] the night of the 29th. inst[ant] without the least word of difference with any body, and indeed having never in his life having received a blow from anyone...We know he has taken the road towards Washington...he may possibly trump up some story to be taken care of at the President's House till he can make up his mind which way to go, or perhaps he may make himself known to Edy only, as he was formerly associated with her."
1809 February 27. (Jefferson to Edmund Bacon). "As the two cooks which are here will take the place of Peter Hemings in the kitchen, it will be necessary that one of them should have his room next the kitchen, and that is should be vacant on their arrival."
1809 May 6. (Etienne to Jefferson). "Edy ought to remember the way I used vanilla sparingly...Edy and Fanny are both good workers, they are two good girls and I am convinced that they will give you much satisfaction."
1813 March 29. "Pd midwife 6D. for attending Edy, Moses's Mary and Esther."
1816 January 22. "Pd. Rachael midwife 10.D. to wit for Edy, Virginia, Ursula & Mrs. Marks's Sally, the 2.D. overpd. on acct."
1817 June 14. (Jefferson to John Barnes). "Thruston, brother of Edy, who while I was in Washington, was in the kitchen under the instruction of Mr. Julien, has escaped from my grandson..."
1820 December 12. (Jefferson to Edmund Bacon). "If you receive this [letter] before I get home be so good as to send up immediately to Edy to have us some sort of a dinner ready: for I expect there is none of the white family at home."
1821 December 9. "Rachael midwife for Edy 2 D."
1824 February 19. "Pd. Rachael, midwife, 6.D. for Fanny, Edy & Cretia."
1825 September 11. "Rachael, midwife, 8.D. Ursula, Anne, Edy, Maria."
'1826.' (1826 inventory). "Negro woman Edy & her child Daniel 200.00"
1827. (Mary J. Randolph Memorandum book). Edy listed among recipients of cloth rations in.
1827? July 5. (Mary J. Randolph Memorandum book). "July 5 Edy sick & came out."
1837 September 15. "Know all men by these presents that I Joseph Fossett of the Country of Albemarle and state of Virginia have manumitted, emancipated and set free, and by these presents do manumit, emancipate and set free the following negro slaves to wit, Eady, Elizabeth Ann, William, Daniel, Lucy and Jesse and her grandchildren James, Joseph, Thomas and Maria Elizabeth an infant. And I heareby declare the said Eady, Elizabeth Ann, William, Daniel, Lucy and Jesse, James, Joseph, Thomas and Maria Elizabeth hereby emancipated are of the following description ages and height--viz.: Eady a woman of brown complexion 5 feet 2 inches and 44 years old..."
1862. (Edmund Bacon). "He had a French cook in Washington named Julien, and he took Eda and Fanny there to learn French cookery. He always preferred French cookery. Eda and Fanny were afterwards his cooks at Monticello."
Our new app, available for iOS and Android devices, introduces visitors to the individuals who lived and worked on Mulberry Row, once the industrial hub and “Main Street” of Thomas Jefferson’s 5,000-acre plantation. Free wifi is available on site.