And now, a word from our interns: Smokehouses, Sewing, and Stories of Summer 2016

Summer is waning here in Kentucky–the hemp has been harvested, school groups begin their annual visits, and our interns leave Locust Grove after a summer of great work. We’ve had three interns with us this summer, and we are so grateful for their commitment to Locust Grove and all of the help they provided to our research, interpretation, and programs. We sat them down and asked them them about their experiences–read on to meet Carl, Jasmine, and Amy!

1.Introduce yourself!

I’m Carl C, and in May 2016, I earned an MA in History from the University of Louisville.  In the fall, I will begin the PhD in History program at Northwestern University, where I plan to focus on nineteenth-century U.S. history and the study of American Catholicism.  Prior to enrolling in the graduate program at Louisville, I earned a BA in History from Murray State University and taught in the Calloway County School District.


2. What brought you to Locust Grove?

Although a student of the Civil War Era, I have always been interested in the history of early Kentucky and the development of the Ohio River valley.  Having received most of my training in traditional history courses, rather than in public history or museum studies, I considered the Cultural Landscape Intern position an opportunity to apply my research and writing skills in a public history setting.

3. What are you working on this summer at LG? 

As the Cultural Landscape Intern, I am responsible for collecting and organizing all the available information about the original ~700 acres at Locust Grove.  During the first month of my internship, I read the letters included in the Historic Locust Grove Manuscript Collection, visited The Filson Historical Society to view relevant documents, and compiled a list of useful maps.  These documents will be used to analyze how Locust Grove has changed over time as well as answer questions about how the Croghans utilized their land.

4. What has been your favorite part so far?

I’ve enjoyed the environment at Locust Grove and meeting new people, including staff, volunteers, and guests.  Undoubtedly, I’ve made connections that will continue beyond the timeline of my internship.

5. What do you hope to gain from your LG experience?

I hope to learn more about Louisville and United States history during the Early Republic and antebellum periods.  Furthermore, I am excited to gain valuable experience working at a historic site.

1. Introduce yourself! 

My name is Jasmine W. and I am a senior history major at the University of Louisville.


2. What brought you to Locust Grove?

Last summer, I completed historical research and that has led me to a new found love for the work. This spring, I had completed an internship at Culbertson Historic Mansion in New Albany, Indiana and wanted to continue working in the museum field in the summer. My professor sent me an email outlining Locust Grove’s internships for the summer and I applied!
3. What are you working on this summer at LG? 

I am currently working on researching 19th century smokehouses in Kentucky. I am using this research to create more accurate interpretation plan for the smokehouse. I have also been cross training as a docent!
4. What has been your favorite part so far?

My favorite part has been researching and learning about everyday farm life in the 19th century.  Also, giving tours has been enjoyable. I love getting to talk to people from all over with difference interests.
5. What do you hope to gain from your LG experience?

In a broad sense I hope to learn more about museum interpretation. How the research of historians, and museum workers, can be used to create an interactive learning experience for the general public. On a smaller scale, I want to learn about the daily work that goes on a in a museum: working as a docent, event planning, hosting field trips, attending lectures, and interacting with volunteers and the staff.

  1. Introduce yourself! 

I am Amy L. and I have a Bachelors of Arts in History from the University of California at Davis, and a Masters of Arts in History from San Francisco State University. They don’t put it on the diploma, but I can say I passed my comps at SF State with honors!

I was also full time faculty in History at Jefferson Community & Technical College until their recent layoffs (part of the game of Academia, I suppose!) Teaching history at the community college level was my dream job. It was the whole reason I went back for my masters and I absolutely loved every minute of it.


2. What brought you to Locust Grove?

I think I had my first meeting at Locust Grove about a week and a half after moving to Louisville. I have been the Theatrical Director for the First Person Interpreters program since 2013 when I moved here and began teaching at JCTC.

Carol Ely and I had already been discussing the possibility of my interning here over the summer when the JCTC layoffs hit. Having this lined up as my ‘next step’ to beef up my CV definitely made that entire process much easier. Losing a job I really loved and had always wanted to do was pretty devastating, but I had the Grove to catch me and help keep me sane. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without this place.

3. What are you working on this summer at LG? 

So many things! My first project was to catalog and tag all the clothing for the Interpreters. I am also working on developing an easily accessible format to host all of the amazing resources and research which has been compiled for that program in the last 3+ years. Both of those projects are being helped along by some other amazing Grove volunteers.

I am also helping with several projects for the 1841 Duel/Timeline Picnic. That includes promotion as well as research and development for two different displays, including one on Louisville and Locust Grove in the 1840’s. I’m having a great time going through all the letters from that period right now. It’s right in the center of the biggest George drama!
4. What has been your favorite part so far?

I’ve spent so long as a volunteer at Locust Grove around my other job, it has been almost unbelievable to get to be here several days a week and really feel like part of the team.

5. What do you hope to gain from your LG experience?

Originally this was an opportunity for me to just get in here and make some things happen the staff didn’t have the bandwidth for. Since then, it’s become an amazing opportunity to beef up my resume and possibly transition into museum work from higher education. The opportunity to get in the hearth kitchen and play around has definitely been an added bonus! I’m still looking for some volunteers to help sew tags into clothing as well as some other upcoming costuming projects- ask me if you want to come sit and stitch!

Our interns are such a valuable part of our summers here at Locust Grove. Thank you for everything you have done for us and stay in touch!

To our regular blog readers, have you joined the Locust Grove email list yet? Stay abreast of all the happenings at Locust Grove by visiting here. We’ll see you at the Antiques Fair on September 25!

Your obedient servant,


Duel! Clay and Wickliffe, Men of Honor


“In 1841, [Cassius Marcellus Clay] fought a duel with Robert Wickliffe, Jr.; neither was injured.”

That is all The Kentucky Encyclopedia has to say about the duel between Cassius Marcellus Clay, the Lion of White Hall, and Robert Wickliffe, Jr., son of Kentucky Statesman Robert Wickliffe and nephew to Governor Charles A. Wickliffe. But for Locust Grove, this was a significant event in the history of the site, and on  July 31, when Clay and Wickliffe face off for a 21st century reenactment of this conflict, and all the ritual and etiquette that comes with dueling itself.

In its heyday in the United States, dueling was a fashionable way of defending one’s honor. There was a prescribed set of steps that must be followed in order to challenge one to a duel, accept the challenge, decide on time, location, and weapons, and so forth. It was perhaps not the most productive form of conflict resolution, but it allowed one individual to demand satisfaction from another for an insult or an injustice without descending into chaos and brawling. Historian Joanne B. Freeman remarks in Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic that “The strictures of honor controlled, channeled, and masked political combat by providing a shared code of conduct that enforced gentlemanly standards of behavior. Men who did not abide by these rules were neither gentlemen nor leaders” (170). Over time, there have been several codifications of the rules of dueling, but one of the most widespread was the Code Duello, set out in 1777 by a group of Irishmen. You can read the complete list of rules here, but we here at Locust Grove have caught Hamilton mania and would be remiss if  we didn’t share “Ten Duel Commandments”, which helpfully compresses the dueling code into a catchy tune. Have a listen:


So, let’s recap. A conflict arises; one man challenges the other to a duel to demand satisfaction for an injustice against him. The other accepts. Through their seconds, the challenged chooses weapons and location while the challenger chooses the distance. The seconds, the only true witnesses to the duel, negotiate all other terms of the duel, all the while offering opportunities for the challenged man to apologize to the challenger. If an apology was given and accepted at any time, the matter would be ended, and the duel would be cancelled. Generally, in a duel with pistols, the weapons are discharged by each man at least once, with further shots being taken if no one is injured and no one yields. As stated in Rule 22, “Any wound sufficient to agitate the nerves and necessarily make the hand shake, must end the business for that day.” There are no winners or losers in a duel–the challenger will be satisfied that his honor is intact, while the challenged will have upheld all the rules of the duel to answer for his insult to his rival’s character.


1902 illustration of the Hamilton-Burr Duel in 1804. 


As time passed, it seems that most people agreed with Burr’s (fictional) statement that “duels are dumb and immature.” (For those specifically interested in the Hamilton-Burr Duel in 1804, there will be a special lecture on this event at 3PM on July 31 as part of the duel reenactment.) Duels were outlawed in 18 states by 1859, and continued to lose popularity by the end of the 20th century. However, here in Kentucky, since a new state constitution was ratified in 1891, any official elected to state office must swear to the following statement:

“I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God.”

This constitutional statement effectively put an end to the practice of dueling in Kentucky–but forty-one duels were fought in the Commonwealth between 1790 and 1867, including the one between Cassius Marcellus Clay and Robert Wickliffe, Jr. on May 13, 1841.

Cassius Marcellus Clay “the Lion of White Hall”, was the son of Green Clay, and the cousin of Henry Clay. He served three terms in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and became an anti-slavery advocate after hearing a speech given by William Lloyd Garrison while attending Yale. He published an anti-slavery newspaper, True American, and suffered many death threats and physical attacks on his purpose due to his political views. A friend of Abraham Lincoln’s, he served as United States Ambassador to Russia from 1863 to 1869.


Cassius Marcellus Clay, c. 1844-1860

Robert Wickliffe, Jr., “the Young Duke”, was the son of Robert Wickliffe, who like Clay’s father, was one of the richest planters in Kentucky. Wickliffe’s uncle was Charles A. Wickliffe, governor of Kentucky from 1839-1840. Wickliffe Jr. served as Charge d’Affairs to Sardinia under President John Tyler. Wickliffe and Clay had been classmates at Transylvania University, and came up in Kentucky politics together, although Wickliffe was greatly influenced by his father, “the Old Duke”.

So, why did Clay and Wickliffe duel on Locust Grove’s lawn? For one thing, they were political rivals. In the election of 1840, they both campaigned for the same seat in the Fayette County General Assembly. They also had very different views on slavery, specifically the repeal of an 1833 statute that outlawed the importing slaves in to Kentucky to be sold. Clay opposed the repeal of this law, and the practice of slavery, declaring himself in favor of the gradual emancipation of slavery, while Wickliffe accused him of being an abolitionist who sought a rebellion against the state. At one point during a speech, Wickliffe brought up Clay’s wife, Mary Jane Warfield Clay, and an outraged Clay challenged him to a duel. As Lashe D. Mullins and Charles K. Mullins write in A History of White Hall: House of Clay, “Clay was always certain to act if he felt like his views or his (or his wife’s honor) were put into question” (44). As the Code Duello states in Rule 10, “Any insult to a lady under a gentleman’s care or protection to be considered as, by one degree, a greater offense than if given to the gentleman personally, and to be regulated accordingly.” Clay had an obligation to stand up for his wife’s honor was well as his own. Other sources state that Clay also insulted Wickliffe’s father, Robert Wickliffe, “the Old Duke”, one of the richest slaveholders in the state. Both men had their reasons for entering into such an affair of honor.

In a letter to his brother-in-law, General Thomas Jesup, Dr. John Croghan details the day of the duel, as several men essentially showed up on his lawn to duel it out:


“Locust Grove, May 15, 1841
Dear Genl,
In my letter to Mary [Jesup] I remarked that I would write to you the ensuing Tuesday; but the unexpected arrival here of some half a dozen gentlemen to settle an affair of honor prevented my doing so. It seems Mr. Cassius Clay of Lexington (son of Genl Green Clay) & Mr. Wickliffe junr are candidates for the Assembly, and in the heat of debate, while addressing the multitude, the former spoke very disparagingly of the Father of the latter. The consequence of which was Wickliffe challenged Clay. John Rowan [1773-1843] was Wickliffe’s second, & Mr. Peyton of Virginia, Genl [Albert Sidney] Johns(t)on [1803-1862] of Texas & Mr. W[illiam] Preston [1816-1887] his friends. They remained here until Thursday & left enough in the post at the end of the lane to answer my purposes for 12 months. The friends of Clay were Majr [William R.] McKee [1806-1847] formerly of the Army[,] second, and W. Payne & Dr. Marshall junr of Lexington. Both parties it seemed had agreed to meet here & but for an accidental circumstance would. They fought near our Mill and after the exchange of a shot a reconciliation ensued. They missed, but my opinion has that they are men of courage. A laughable report got out of my getting them to fight in the mill house. After the affair was over all parties came to the house, where they met Judge [Henry] Pirtle [1798-1880], Judge [Samuel Smith] Nicholas [1797-1869]; [William Fontaine] Bullock [1807-1889]. & [James] Guthrie [1792-1869] who had come out with a view of stopping the fight. I had for all something to eat & drink and I think they went home as happy as they left there.”


We hope you’ll join us for the reenactment of this Kentucky affair of honor on July 31! Full schedule is below; admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children. It will satisfy all my dearest wishes to see you there.

Schedule of Events
Historical Fashion Show 1:30 pm
Dancing in the Auditorium (includes lesson) 2 pm
Lecture: The Burr & Hamilton Duel 3 pm
Clay & Wickliffe Duel 4 pm
Includes a demonstration and discussion of firearms in 1841 as well as a narration and reenactment of the duel itself

Honorably yours,


Further reading:

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic by Joanne B. Freeman

The Kentucky Encyclopedia by John Kleber

A History of White Hall: House of Clay by Lashe D. Mullins and Charles K. Mullins

Lion of White Hall: The Life of Cassius M. Clay by David L. Smiley

Cassius Marcellus Clay: Firebrand of Freedom by H. Edward Richardson

*Promotional photographs courtesy of Fox and Rose Photography.


Volunteer Spotlight: Keith S., Everyman Extraordinaire

Summer at Locust Grove is always filled with exciting events, and after the success of last summer’s wedding reenactment, we decided to try another new event. On July 31, join us as we reenact the 1841 duel between Cassius Marcellus Clay and Robert Wickliffe, Jr. This event carried out the ritual and etiquette of dueling, and while no one was hurt, the rules of dueling require a doctor to be on site. Clay and Wickliffe smartly chose Locust Grove as the site of their showdown, meaning that Dr. John Croghan, Locust Grove’s owner at the time, would be able to provide medical attention if needed. At our own duel, Dr. John Croghan will be portrayed by Keith S., who has been volunteering at Locust Grove for the past six years. Keith regularly appears as 1840s Dr. John, as the First Person Interpreter Corps also incorporates an 1816 Dr. John into the cast. Keith also serves as the assistant director of the First Person Interpreter Corps, providing a wealth of logistical support to the program. Read on to learn more about Keith’s many contributions!

Keith, as Dr. John Croghan, surveys the land he owns at Locust Grove.  Photo courtesy of Fox and Rose Photography. 


 How did you become a volunteer? 

My wife and son were already volunteers and I decided to join in.

What is your favorite part of volunteering at Locust Grove? 

Interacting with guests.
What else would you like people to know about you? 
I started volunteering as a Costumed Interpreter in order to push myself out of my comfort zone. It’s become one of the most rewarding things that I do.I’m continually amazed at the wealth of talent, knowledge, and enthusiasm that the Costumed Interpreters bring to HLG. I’m proud to work with them, both in costume and behind the scenes.

Here’s what others have to say about Keith!

Amy L.: Keith is a dedicated member of our cast- I still remember his wonderful audition where he brought Dr. John’s dry wit to life. However, he has gone much further than that by taking on a volunteer management role this year as our Assistant Director. He has the grace, charm, and strength of character to help manage and direct our sometimes slightly chaotic crew.

Brian Cushing: Keith is a rare sort of amazing volunteer. He can be turned loose on an event with no particular job other than to identify issues and solve them and they will always be resolved in the best manner possible, freeing staff to deal with other logistics and all around keeping the gears moving smoothly. No job is too big, dirty, or sweaty, and he does it all pleasantly and with a passion for making the Locust Grove experience the best it can be. When Keith arrives on site, I know it’s going to be a good day.

Thanks for all the you do, Keith! Look for Keith in action on during the duel on July 31!

doctor on site 2

For more information on volunteering at Locust Grove, why not go here? And if you’re interested in being featured or nominating someone for the volunteer spotlight, go ahead and fill out this form. And to all of our volunteers–we couldn’t run Locust Grove without you!

Sincerely yours,


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