Boo! Spooky Times at Locust Grove

Happy Halloween from Haunted Locust Ghoul–I mean, Historic Locust Grove. Over the years, staff members and volunteers have fielded a number of questions about paranormal activity at Locust Grove. While we know of no ghosts officially , friendly or otherwise, a few visitors have said they’ve felt an otherwordly presence in the house. According to a 1979 article in the Louisville Times, visitor Joan Miller felt a female presence upon arriving on the property. Miller reported the presence said she had been “the lady of the house” and when Miller found herself face-to-face with the portrait of Serena Livingston Croghan, wife of George Croghan, she knew it was “the lady” with whom she had been communicating. Miller later said, “I did not ‘see’ a ghost […] I only felt a presence and spoke with her.” She also recounted that she learned from Serena that she had been unhappy at Locust Grove, and that Serena told her she was “so please to have been recognized.”

Ooooh! Anyone have chills yet? As far as paranormal activity, ghosts, or wandering souls go, this is the closest Locust Grove has to a ghost story. But parts of history conflict with Serena and Miller’s story. Serena Croghan was never the mistress of Locust Grove. Lucy Clark Croghan, her mother-in-law, lived in the home as its mistress until her death in 1838, when Locust Grove was inherited by her eldest son, John. George and Serena Croghan were estranged at various points throughout their marriage due to George’s gambling, and while Serena certainly visited Locust Grove, her primary residences were the New Orleans plantation where she lived with George, or her family home in New York. To call herself “the lady” of Locust Grove is a little presumptuous for the spirit of Serena!

Serena’s portrait hangs in the parlor at Locust Grove.

In the lore of Locust Grove, Lucy Croghan herself, or rather her portrait, could be involved in an act of ghostly defiance. While the portraits of Lucy and William Croghan now hang side by side in the dining room, they once were hung separately. When the house was opened in the morning, Lucy’s portrait would often be found on the floor and would have to be re-hung, only for the portrait to return to the floor the following day. Only once the portraits of Lucy and William were hung together in the dining room did Lucy’s portrait cease to give in to gravity or otherworldly movements. I guess Lucy finally got what she wanted–to be next to her husband of 33 years.

Now, of course, you could just chalk all this up to speculation on my part, or, at the least, an attempt to raise readership by coming up with spooky stories for Halloween. But I would never do that! I am a historian, and I am here to report the facts! I guess you’ll just have to bring the Ghostbusters to Locust Grove to see for yourself. Because in haunted times like these, they’re who you’ve gotta call.

As we wrap up October here on the Locust Grove blog, be sure to check out the recent posts and archives on the right side of this page. If you’re new, take a look at some of our most popular posts here, and here, and meet a few faces here, here, here, and here. And be sure to let me know what you want to see on the LG blog by leaving a comment, or finding me on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Spookily yours,


Why did the skeleton go to Market Fair alone?  Because he had no body to go with!

Why did the skeleton go to Locust Grove alone?
Because he had no body to go with!


P.S. You can find out more about Serena Livingston Croghan here. Dining room photo taken by Courtney Novak for the Locust Grove Virtual Tour.

The 18th Century Returns to Locust Grove: A Weekend at Market Fair

Blimey! Locust Grove certainly knows how to have a good time. I hereby declare this past weekend’s 18th Century Market Fair to be a rousing success, judging from all the smiling faces and the sheer number of cars parked in the field. From the antics of the Amazing Budabi Brothers to the military engagements between British and American forces to the savory smells from His Lordship’s Beef, there was plenty to see and do and buy and taste! Here are a few stories and characters I encountered as I journeyed through space and time to Charleston, South Carolina in 1780.


Kevin and Barbara were two of the first people I met at Market Fair this year.  In 21st century life, Kevin is the city manager for Bowling Green, Kentucky, and he and Barbara have been reenacting since 1990. They also chose to celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary with us this weekend. Congratulations, Kevin and Barbara!


For many, reenacting is a family affair. Young Benjamin and his parents portray British subjects moving from Virginia to Kentucky, and as you can see, Benjamin is very happy to be living in the 18th and 21st centuries!



I discovered that like Benjamin, many reenactors were born into the hobby. Jen and Elizabeth, both from Chicago, along with Dobie the dog, were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Northwest Territory Alliance or NWTA, a midwestern reenactment organization. Elizabeth’s father was originally from Britain, and founded the NWTA as part of the process for his naturalization, so her participation is part of her blood. Jen calls reenacting “tough but worth it” and thinks of events like Market Fair as a sort of family reunion. Locust Grove is lucky to be a part of such a big and loyal family of reenactors!


Nick, on the left above, and his brother Erik, are the Amazing Budabi Brothers, and they  have been entertaining fairgoers at Locust Grove for seven years. Their performances in front of the house drew big crowds and gales of laughter, so we certainly hope they’ll return next year!

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Keeping the grounds free of vermin was Silas Moore, Rat Catcher. This year he caught 23 rats, but his record is 25. He gets one penny for every rat that he catches, and as a bonus, all the ale he can drink. Rat catching is an excellent business, as he not only gets paid, but can also make dinner from what he catches. He helpfully provided me with a recipe for rat stew, but I have a feeling he’s grown fonder than he’d like to admit of his rat Wilson.




Thomas Adams, a brewer from Philadelphia, and his wife Grace traveled to Charleston in support of the British, and gave me insight into life in the British camp.



This kind lady let me pet her rabbit, named Supper.




I also had the chance to do some shopping for the dairy! J. Henderson provided us with two pancheons last year, and I fell in love with the blue and white design of these pitchers and batter bowls. Aren’t they pretty?



Speaking of the dairy, we now have a cow! Her name is Nancy Gaston, after LaMar Gaston, a Locust Grove volunteer and former Board member, who has been one of my partners in crime in furnishing the dairy. I think she adds an authentic, rustic presence to the dairy, don’t you?


Perry Riley, of Elysium Ver Sacrum, is a gourd artists and reenactor from Danville, IL. In his 18th century persona, he portrays a white man who was captured by and adopted into a Native tribe, and feels caught between two worlds. In his 21st century life, Perry works for Pepsi-Co, and also creates gourd art. Gourds have been used by humans since 11,000 BC, and were the “Tupperware of the Old World”.  He also  volunteers much of his time as an art therapist at the VA Hospital in Danville. He works to keep the tradition of the “Spirit of ’76” alive by adopting deployed U.S. soldiers and sending them care packages. If you’d like to contribute to his endeavors, you can find him on Facebook!


A big shout-out to our program manager, Brian Cushing, for all the hard work he put into this year’s Market Fair!



Our own Lynn Lamb, Weekend Manager, took some time to play as a member of the American militia!




Our family of volunteers, the Hiners, represented the Kentucky Junior Historical Society by demonstrating games and helping guest make corn husk dolls! Thanks for all your hard work, Hiner family!








I had so much fun, it’s really surprising I didn’t end up letting the ladies of Turkey Roost outfit me in the latest 18th century fashions!



But Nancy didn’t seem to mind I stuck to my blue jeans for the weekend.


Volunteer Jennifer  was on trash duty, but she still took some time to bond with resident rat, Wilson.


Halloween is just around the corner, and Business Manager Debbie spotted a spooky visitor in the parking lot.

Why did the skeleton go to Market Fair alone?  Because he had no body to go with!

Why did the skeleton go to Market Fair alone?
Because he had no body to go with!


All in all, it was a splendid weekend. If you were at Market Fair this weekend, let us know in the comments! What was your favorite thing? Do you now wish you lived in the 18th century? Will you be back next year? As October winds down, so does a lot of the activity around Locust Grove, but we still have plenty events for the rest of the year. And of course, we’re open every day for tours! We’re always happy to welcome you into our 18th century world!

Yours truly,


P.S. Even more pictures!

Market Fair is tomorrow, y’all!

This is just a quick post to say–EVERYONE! Market Fair is this weekend! Saturday and Sunday from 10-4:30, come one, come all to the seat of Major William Croghan to partake in period-appropriate victuals and entertainment, watch the Illinois Regiment demonstrate their military prowess, shop for goods and sundries, and so much more! Today was Market Fair School Day, and it was a great success, so you know the rest of the weekend will be even more fun! The full schedule of events can be found here. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children. I’ll be running around the grounds all day Saturday and part of Sunday, so look for me and say hello! I’d love to see you and talk about the dairy! Because that’s right–the dairy is furnished! Find pictures of it and the set-up for the weekend below to whet your appetite until you journey down Blankenbaker Lane to the encampment!







It’s going to be another busy, beautiful weekend! Come join us!

Yours hopefully,


P.S. To receive updates on all the goings-on at Locust Grove, why not join our e-mailing list? Sign-up HERE to receive monthly updates! Or if you foresee numerous visits to Locust Grove in your future, why not become a member? Friends of Locust Grove receive free admission, invitations to members-only events, a 10% discount in the Museum Store, a copy of our quarterly newsletter, The Grove Gazette and much, much more! More information can be found HERE.

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