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.

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