Tag Archives: General Lafayette

Matthew Harris Jouett – Kentucky Portrait Painter

Last weekend my son, Linton, and I had a day together in Louisville.  He lives in Indianapolis, not the ends of the earth, but not an easy day trip.  When our weekend was planned I told Ritchey and Kate he was mine on Saturday, but I would share him with the rest of the family on Sunday!  We had a huge family dinner and Julian had quite a day with Uncle Linton.

Most of our day together was spent at bookstores, record shops, eating and talking.  Beforehand I searched for those rare and used bookstores and the first we visited was A Book By Its Cover on Dartmouth.  When we turned in it was a residential area.  We searched again and came up with the same place.  Linton called, and, yes, we were in front of the business!  The gentleman told us most of his business is online, but he welcomes those who want to come and peruse.  And he had one room of Kentucky history and county histories – I was in heaven!

One book I found was Matthew Harris Jouett – Kentucky Portrait Painter (1787-1827) by E. A. Jonas.  The book is in excellent condition, being No. 264 of 500 copies of the first edition.  About forty of his portraits are reproduced in the book.  Being a Mercer County resident and having a little knowledgeable about the history of our county, I recognized the last name as the same as the wife of Thomas Allin, our first county clerk.  Thomas Allin married Mary Jouett on February 16, 1789, at the home of her brother, Captain John Jouett, Jr.  Their parents were John Jouett, Sr., and Mourning Harris.  Captain John Jouett, Jr., better known as ‘Jack’, was the father of Matthew Harris Jouett.  Matthew was born in 1787, two years before his aunt’s marriage.

After a local education, Matthew’s father sent him to Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, to be educated as a lawyer.  He studied and became a lawyer, but his free time was spent painting.  In 1812 he married Miss Margaret Allen of Fayette County.

He could not continue his law profession, gave up his business and started painting portraits as his livelihood.  His father was not happy, and that is an understatement.  The War of 1812 changed everyone’s lives, and Matthew Jouett volunteered his services and served valiantly.  He enlisted in Captain Robert Crockett’s Company, Third Mounted Regiment, Kentucky Volunteers, Colonel Allen commanding.  July 13, 1814, he was appointed paymaster, with the rank of captain of the 28th United States Infantry by President Madison.  At the battle of the River Raisin the payrolls and papers, in his care as paymaster, fell into enemy hands and were never recovered.  He found himself in debt to the War Department for $6,000.  That doesn’t sound like a huge sum today, but it would be about a million dollars.  This was not due to negligence or lack of prudence, just a fortune of war.  He was determined to pay the money back – and he did so through painting portraits.  His father was furious and called him a ‘sign-painter’, never realizing how great his talent truly was.

Matthew Jouett went to Boston in 1817 and studied for a year with Gilbert Stuart – who painted the famous George Washington portrait.  Back in Kentucky Matthew painted assiduously.  Those who sat for him sound like a Who’s Who of history – Henry Clay, Judge John Rowan, Andrew Jackson, Hon. George M. Bibb, Mr. Justice Thomas Todd, Captain Robeson DeHart, Colonel Edmund Taylor, Sr., General LaFayette, Hon. John Brown, Hon. Robert S. Todd, George Rogers Clark and many, many others.  It is said that in the ten years of his career he produced over 400 portraits – and there could be more.  In 1964, at an auction in Lexington, a gentleman bought a portrait of a child for $22 – and afterwards found out it was a Matthew Jouett painting, worth $1600-$2000!

Matthew Jouett died after a short illness, August 10, 1827, in his fortieth year and at the top of his professional success.  It is said he accomplished as much in ten years as many others were able to do only in a lifetime.  His fame as a great painter truly began at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.  His paintings were given the best place in the gallery by the Hanging Committee because of their recognized merit.  In 1928 fifty to sixty of Matthew Jouett’s portraits were exhibited at the J B Speed Museum in Louisville.  Some of his work is in the Hall of Governors at the Kentucky History Center, and I believe one hangs in a New York museum.

Matthew and his wife are buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.  I think there’s another road trip to plan – to the cemetery, J B Speed Museum in Louisville, and the old state house in Frankfort where the life-size portrait of General LaFayette hangs!  I will keep you updated!

Samuel Barker Davis, Pension Application

Note by Phyllis Brown:  The Captain John Linton mentioned in this application is my 4th great-grandfather.

From Virginia Revolutionary Pension Applications by John Frederick Dorman

Samuel Barker Davis, February 2, 1833, Hampshire County, Virginia

Samuel Barker Davis, Senior, of said county, aged about 75, declares he volunteered in Fairfax County, Virginia, on 18 July 1775, when there were no regular organized companies of militia, under Captain James Renn, whom the company chose as their commander, and served until 1 September following in defense of the town of Alexandria from the threatened attacks of Lord Dunmore, then in the Potomac River, but he was in no engagement.  Captain Conway frequently superintended the garrison or work at Alexandria during this term of service.

He was again called into service as a volunteer (private) at the request of General Washington to his own county for volunteers and left home on 23 August 1777 under Captain Thomas Pollard and marched from Alexandria in Fairfax County by way of Georgetown and Fredericktown, Maryland, Yorktown, Lancaster and Reading, and joined the main army under General Washington on their retreat from the battle of Germantown on the afternoon of the same day, 4 October 1777, and was attached to General Scott’s brigade under General Scott and Colonel Romney of Alexandria until 23 November.  He reached his home in Fairfax county on the last day of November 1777.

He was called into service from Loudoun County, Virginia, as a private (militia) under Captain John Linton and they commenced their march from the place of rendezvous in Loudoun County on 13 July 1781 and marched by way of Fredericksburg and Richmond and joined the army under General Lafayette on the James River below Richmond on 26 July 1781 and were attached to Muhlenburg’s brigade under Colonel Meriwether and Major Hardiman and served until 26 September 1781 when the company was discharged between Williamsburg and Little York.  He reached his home in Loudoun County on 1 or 2 October 1781.

He was born in Charles County, Maryland, and removed to Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1769 or 1770 and resided there until 1778.  He then moved to Loudoun County, Virginia, and remained there until 1785, then removed to Prince William County, Virginia, and remained there until 1787 and then removed to Hampshire County, Virginia.  He was known by the name of Samuel Davis in his juvenile days and his name was thus written on muster rolls and various other instruments of writing, but having himself learned to write about the year 1810 and recollecting that his father told him that at his baptism he was called Samuel Barker, he has ever since written his name Samuel B. Davis.  [Sworn before Reuben Davis, J.P.]

26 Feb 1852.  Hampshire County, Virginia.  Ann Davis of said county, aged 58, declares she is the widow of Samuel B. Davis.  She was married 7 Dec 1814.  Her husband died 16 April 1840.

7 Dec 1814.  Hampshire County, Virginia.  Samuel B. Davis and Ann Bogle were married by the Rev. John Johnson.

10 May 1853.  John B. White writes from Romney that Ann Davis is very poor and has a family to support.

27 Jun 1853.  Hampshire County, Virginia.  Ann Davis of said county, aged 59, declares she was married to Samuel B. Davis 7 Dec 1814 and her husband died 14 Apr 1840.

1 Aug 1855.  Hampshire County, Virginia.  Ann Davis declares she is the widow of Samuel B. Davis.  She was married 7 Dec 1814 by John Johnson, M. G., and her name was Ann Bogle.  She applies for bounty land.

3 Apr 1858.  Hampshire County, Virginia.  Ann Davis declares her pension certificate was lost in the fall or winter of 1857 in Hampshire County, Virginia.

Samuel B. Davis of Hampshire County, Virginia, private in the company of Captain Renn in the Virginia line for six months and 25 days, was placed on the Virginia pension roll at $22.77 per annum under the Act of 1832.  Certificate 6285 was issued 27 Feb 1833.

Ann Davis, widow of Samuel B. Davis, private in the Virginia line, was placed on the Virginia pension roll at $22.77 per annum.  Certificate 231 under the Act of 1853 was issued 6 Oct 1853.  Bounty land warrant 34532 for 160 acres was issued 14 Jul 1856.