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Poultry

Thomas Jefferson kept a variety of poultry at Monticello, including chickens, ducks, Guinea fowl, peacocks, pigeons, geese, and turkeys.

Primary Source References

1771. "Thin the trees .... Keep in it deer, rabbits, Peacocks, Guinea poultry, pidgeons &c. Let it be an asylum for hares, squirrels, pheasants, partridges .... court them to it by laying food for them in proper places...."1

1806 November 21. (Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph). "Davy arrived last night.... he carries also a cage with a pair of Bantams for Ellen."2

1806 November 30. (Jefferson to Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge). "by Davy I sent you a pair of Bantam fowls; quite young: so that I am in hopes you will now be enabled to raise some. I propose on their subject a question of natural history for your enquiry: that is whether this is the Gallina Adrianica, or Adria, the Adriatick cock of Aristotle? for this you must examine Buffon &c."3

1806 December 12. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). "I recieved the Bantams for which I am very much obliged to you they seem to be larger, and younger, than the first and I think them handsomer."4

1807 February 17. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). " ... as for the Bantam she laid one egg in the cold weather and eat it up I am very much afraid she will do all the others so if she does she will be as worthless as the others but in spite of that I am very fond of them and think them very handsome the old ones are quite tame but the new much to the contrary."5

1807 June 29. (Jefferson to Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge). "how go on the Bantams? I rely on you for their care, as I do on Anne for the Algerine fowls, & on our arrangements at Monticello for the East Indians. these varieties are pleasant for the table & furnish an agreeable diversification in our domestic occupations."6

1807 November 1. (Jefferson to Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead). "I expect a pair of wildgeese of a family which have been natives for several generations, but they will hardly be here in time for Davy. they are entirely domesticated, beautiful, have a very musical note, & are much superior to the tame for the table."7

1807 November 11. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). "one of my poor little Bantams is dead and the one which I liked best although it was the old one he had got so tame that he would fly up in my lap and eat out of my hand all the children were sorry at his death."8

1808 January 15. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). "my Bantams are well but I am afraid I shall never raise any."9

1808 March 11. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). "I am in a fair way to raise some Bantams as the hen is now setting she has taken up her residence in the cellar has laid 13 eggs and I hope will hatch some chickens."10

1808 March 14. (Jefferson to Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge). "I am glad to learn you are at length likely to succeed with your Bantams. they are worthy of your attention."11

1808 March 18. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). "My bantam will hatch in 10 days and I hope I shall raise some of her chickens but they are so delicate she hatched some last year we took great care of them but they died."12

1808 March 25. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). "my bantam will hatch next week."13

1808 March 29. (Jefferson to Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge). "I am glad to hear you expect a family of Bantams. take good care of them. is it not best to put the hen into a tobacco stick coop, in & round which the chickens will always stay."14

1808 April 1. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). "my bantam has hatched 8. pretty little chickens and I shall follow your advice about her treatment."15

1808 July 1. (Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge to Jefferson). "My bantams have grown prodigiously and are beautifull."16

1808 July 15. (Martha Jefferson Randolph to Jefferson). "I must beg the favor of you ... to bring me a little ivory memorandum book ... I find my chicken accounts troublesome without some assistance of the kind."17

1808 June 4. "Gave for bringing home a pea-hen."18

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