History of Michie Tavern Relating to Earlysville VA

Michie Tavern was originally located in Earlysville. –  References for the following history come from newspaper articles, primarily the Daily Progress, beginning July 1954 through October 1974. I have gained all of my information from the archives located at the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.

Most Earlysville residents learn this about the 17th century Michie Tavern. This historical lanmark now stands nearby Jefferson’s Monticello. However, it was originally constructed along Buck Mountain Road between Free Union and Earlysville. Also, there is a marker along the Buck Mountain Road that approximates the original location of the tavern.  (A Mr. and Mrs. Henderson moved and reconstructed Michie Tavern to its current home in 1927.) Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful in locating any photos of the tavern before its relocation. A 1928 photo exists in the Holsinger collection at the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. It appears to be the earliest remaining visual record of the structure.

A Unique Story About John Michie

The tavern’s first owner, John Michie, was born in Scotland in 1685. The story told is that Michie took part in the Jacobite Rebellion against King James II. When the rebellion failed, Michie and others were sentenced to death or deportation. Determining which fate they would suffer was left to the fate and a bag of beans. Michie was instructed to take a bean from a sack of white and black beans. The King’s men cruelly determined that the selection of a black bean would mean his death and a white bean signaled deportation to Virginia. He drew a white bean, and he gave this bean to his friend, James Watson, who would now be saved. His second draw from the bag was also a white bean, and therefore his life was saved as well.

In addition, Michie and Watson are listed on the passenger roll for a vessel (unnamed) that arrived in the New World in 1716.

Today’s Michie Tavern is a wonderful asset for the Central Virginia community.

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