Friday, July 17, 2015

July 1, 2015

Saving Monticello: The Newsletter

The latest about the book, author events, and more

Newsletter Editor - Marc Leepson

Volume XII, Number 7                                                                      July 1, 2015

FROM HARLEY LEWIS: I heard recently from Harley Lewis, Jefferson Levy’s great grandniece, and the member of her family who has taken the strongest interest in Uriah and Jefferson Levy’s Monticello legacy. After reading last month’s SM Newsletter, which featured the recent renovations of the upstairs rooms at Monticello, she wrote to me with memories of stories that her mother and grandmother told of visiting Monticello when Jefferson Levy owned the place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Mrs. Lewis wrote: “How I wish I could turn back the clock and be able to ask questions of my mother and grandmother on their stays at Monticello. It was to them just part of their life, not extraordinary and no different than going on vacation to the Jersey shore or Saratoga.”
Harley Lewis’s mother—Jefferson Levy’s niece Frances Wolf Levy Lewis—loved visiting Monticello as a child. “It was a working farm and her fondest memories were the ponies and pony cart rides, along with the other livestock,” Harley Lewis told me.
“However for her mother, my grandmother [Lillian Hendricks Wolf], it was a different story. She went as seldom as possible because of the logistics of packing and sending an entourage of servants, including two nursemaids for the children, the train ride to Charlottesville, horse-drawn carriages up the mountain, sleepless nights in sweltering hot bedrooms, plus a bathtub not to her liking [so] she had a lining made to fit its contours.”

Her grandmother and mother, Harley Lewis said, “often opted to remain in the comfort of her home and let my grandfather lead the expedition” from New York to Charlottesville.

INSIDE MIKVEH ISRAEL: I also heard recently from SM Newsletter subscriber Lorri Mills, who had visited Mikveh Israel, the Sephardic synagogue in Savannah. The third-oldest Jewish congregation in America, and the first in Georgia, it was founded in July of 1735 by Uriah Levy’s great, great grandfather Dr. Samuel Nunez, and a group of other Jews who came there in the summer of 1733, fleeing Portugal and the Spanish Inquisition. The magnificent current Neo-Gothic building was consecrated in 1878.
Ms. Mills kindly gave me permission to use these this photo of the inside of that historic building.

EVENTS:  Here’s a rundown on my July events. I only have two as I am working full time these days on my next book, a biography of Barry Sadler, the Green Beret Army Sergeant who wrote and performed “The Ballad of the Green Berets,” the No. 1 song of the year 1966. Barry Sadler had an amazing life before, during and after that song became a cultural phenomenon. The pub date will be in the fall of 2016. Stay tuned.

  • Thursday, July 2, a talk on my Francis Scott Key biography, What So Proudly We Hailed, and book signing at 12:00 noon at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. Info:


  • Sunday, July 5, a talk on Saving Monticello and book signing at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History, 1811 R Street, NW in Washington, D.C. The talk begins at 1:00 and is free and open to the public. Info:

If you’d like to arrange an event for any of my books, email  For more details on other upcoming events, go to, the “Author Events” page on my website,

Facebook, Twitter: If you’re on Facebook, please send me a friend request. If you’re on Twitter, I’d love to have you as a follower.

Gift Ideas:  If you would like a personally autographed, brand-new paperback copy of Saving Monticello, e-mail me at Or go to to order copies through Second Chapter Books in MiddleburgVirginia. We also have copies of Desperate EngagementFlagLafayetteand What So Proudly We Hailed.