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Elizabeth House Trist

Elizabeth House Trist (ca. 1751–1828), also called Eliza, was the daughter of Mary Stretch House and Samuel House, and the grandmother of Nicholas Philip Trist, who married Thomas Jefferson’s granddaughter Virginia Jefferson Randolph at Monticello in 1824. Elizabeth Trist is best known for her journal detailing a trip to Natchez, 1783–84.[1] Jefferson formed an enduring friendship with her when he stayed at her mother’s Philadelphia boardinghouse during service in the Continental Congress, 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]


  1. William L. Andrews, ed., Journeys in New Worlds: Early American Women’s Narratives (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1990), 183–7.
  2. Virginia Jefferson Randolph Trist to Nicholas Philip Trist, Monticello, December 10, 1828. Manuscript at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Nicholas Philip Trist Papers. 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 online in Quotes and Family Letters Project.

Further Sources

  • Mary Brown Trist Jones Tournillon to Harriot Brown, 6 Aug 1809.
  • Rutland, Robert A. and J. C. A. Stagg, eds. The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series. Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Virginia, 1984, 2:424–6.
  • Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Family Letters Digital Archive.
  • Wells, Jane Flaherty. "Thomas Jefferson’s Neighbors: Hore Browse Trist of ‘Birdwood’ and Dr. William Bache of ‘Franklin,’" Magazine of Albemarle County History 47 (1989): 1–13.
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