Welcome back to the Locust Grove Blog! Throwback Thursday seems like a grand time to talk about our favorite and most famous resident, General George Rogers Clark. GRC (as I’ll be abbreviating his very distinguished, but somewhat lengthy name) lived at Locust Grove from 1809 until his death in 1818. The “Our Red-Haired Revolutionary” series will focus on stories and facts about GRC that are a little more obscure and might not get mentioned on your tour of Locust Grove. But first, let’s see who we’re dealing with.
This image, of course, greets you as you walk into the Exhibit gallery at the Visitor’s Center. It’s been dubbed “Hollywood George” for obvious reasons. We have several different likenesses of GRC on the premises, but this is one of my favorites. It shows him in his prime, as he would have appeared during the American Revolution.
Some vital GRC statistics:
- Born November 19, 1752 in Albemarle County, VA to John and Ann Rogers Clark. He was the second oldest of ten children, including Lucy Clark Croghan (7th of 10) and William Clark (9th of 10.)
- Began a career as a surveyor in 1771 at the age of 19.
- Built a fort on Corn Island in the Ohio River in 1778 , effectively founding the city of Louisville.
- Also in 1778, he captured the British fort at Kaskaskia and Fort Sackville at Vincennes, IN, in what was then Illinois territory.
- From 1782-1787, served as one of five Indian Commissioners for the Western territories.
- Lived at Locust Grove from 1809 until his death on February 13, 1818.
Something I learned only recently about GRC was that in 1783, Thomas Jefferson, then governor of Virginia, asked George Rogers Clark to explore the western United States. Of course, this was twenty years before the Louisiana Purchase and the Corps of Discovery expedition, headed by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, GRC’s younger brother. GRC would have been the perfect candidate for such an journey in 1783 , because of his recent, successful Illinois Campaign during the war, when he held Kaskaskia and Vincennes, and his position as Indian Commissioner of the Westward Territories. In 1791, Jefferson wrote of Clark, “No man alive rated him higher than I did […] We are made to hope he is engaged in writing the account of his Expedition North West of the Ohio; they will be valuable morsels of history, and will justify to the world those who have told them how great he was.” This is pretty high praise from possibly the most famous American red-haired revolutionary! It’s said that upon being informed of this remark, Clark began to weep.
If you’re looking to visit the site of GRC’s most famous victory, George Rogers Clark National Historical Park is located on the presumed site of Fort Sackville in Vincennes, Indiana. Or if you live in Louisville and you’re looking to pay homage little closer to home, George Rogers Clark Park is located on the site of the original Clark Family Homestead, Mulberry Hill. It’s a lovely spot for a picnic. But you know where else is the perfect place for a fall picnic? You guessed it–Locust Grove itself. We’ve got the picnic tables all set out for you. Come visit us soon! The Fall Antiques Fair is only 10 days away, so you can take home some treasures after you view ours.