As you’ve undoubtedly surmised, there’s never a dull moment at Locust Grove. Recently, when talking to one of our docents about my beloved dairy, she informed me that a visitor once asked her, “Is that where they kept the dead bodies?” Now, to our knowledge, the dairy was never a corpse repository, but this is only one of the interesting, hilarious, and complex questions that keep our staff and volunteers on their toes. I took an informal survey of favorite questions, and am here today to present my findings to you, our dear readers.
Lynn B. has been a volunteer at Locust Grove for thirty-two years, so she is an expert on who has visited Locust Grove in the past 214 years. On a number of occasions, guests have asked her, “Where did Jane Austen sleep?” The origin of this question likely stems from the fact that Locust Grove hosts the Jane Austen Festival every year, sponsored by the Jane Austen Society of North America’s local chapter. For three days every summer, Locust Grove becomes a stately country home in Regency England, complete with a promenade and afternoon tea. Jane Austen herself never visited Kentucky, but Locust Grove is a perfect spot to celebrate her life and work because the period of William and Lucy Croghan’s residence overlaps with the publication of her novels. The house and grounds allow our visitors to visualize the time period during which Jane and Mr. Darcy and Catherine Morland and Emma Woodhouse lived. It’s also a fun way to bring the early 19th century to life, even if you’re more of a Bronte enthusiast. For more information on JASNA Louisville, you can visit their website here. Maybe next year you’ll join the promenade!
Volunteer Jeanne said that she’s often asked about the flags hanging in the auditorium. As you can see, we represent the United States, and the city of Louisville, but a third flag is also given a place of honor.
The red and green striped flag was the flag of the Illinois Regiment, commanded by George Rogers Clark during the American Revolution and his famous victory at Vincennes. We’re very proud to fly this flag at Locust Grove! For more information on the history of the flag, head to the Indiana Society of the Sons of the American Revolution website.
School children make up a large percentage of our yearly visitors, and their questions are most amusing and thought-provoking. One young person, upon seeing our gardener Sarah at work, asked “Are you a slave?” Slavery is a complicated topic, but one we don’t wish to avoid, so this question allowed Sarah to explain that, although she is not a slave because of the time period in which she lives, back in the early 19th century, a slave would most likely being doing her job of planting, weeding, and caring for the many plants and vegetables on our grounds. Although Dr. John Croghan’s will freed the slaves of Locust Grove in 1849, the Croghan family owned between 30-45 slaves while they lived here. It’s just as important for us to talk about their lives as it is to talk about the Croghans. More information about slave life at Locust Grove can be found here.
When I’m on tour with students, I always ask them to count the fireplaces, so I was amused when our Education Coordinator Diane told me that a few weeks ago, a school kid asked her, “Which chimney does Santa Claus come down?” With four chimneys to choose from, maybe Santa switched it up every year to keep the Croghan children on their toes!
The clear winner for best question ever at Locust Grove was submitted by Bob B: “Was George Rogers Clark a vampire?” As far as we know, he was not. But now that it’s October, and getting closer to Halloween, maybe it’s time to look into the question a little further, just to be sure. We do get a lots of questions about ghosts, but so far no one has reported any paranormal activity in the house. But if we do have a ghost, and it is General Clark, I hope he’s happy with how his bedroom is decorated.
Here at Locust Grove, even seemingly silly questions get serious answers. We like to learn as much as our visitors, so if we don’t know the answer, we’ll look it up for you. If you have a question, be sure to let us know! We’d love to help.
Until next time, I remain,
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.