Locust Grove and the Artifacts of History: Meet our Archaeology Intern

As you’ve no doubt realized, we have an incredible team working behind the scenes at Locust Grove. Today, we’re talking with Sammi Hagan, Archaeology intern. Sammi just graduated from the University of Kentucky in May with a BA in Anthropology. Her focus was in archaeology and classical studies and she’s also very interested in South American archaeology as well as Cultural Anthropology.While she applies for graduate programs in anthropology, we’ve been lucky to have her working on an archaeology exhibit here at Locust Grove. Let’s see what’s she’s been up to!

Meet Sammi Hagan!

Meet Sammi Hagan!

What drew you to work at Locust Grove? 
 I actually didn’t know much about Kentucky or even Louisville history before working at LG so working here seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn more about Kentucky’s past and the important people that lived in Louisville and helped make it the awesome place to live that it is today. Plus it was a chance to work with people just as invested in history as I am!
What are you working on right now? 
 Currently I’m working with our archivist Kaitlyn on completing the inventory of the collection in the house and updating the database that has all the information about every item displayed Locust Grove. We are uploading new pictures, updating the location and status of everything in the house. I’m also working on finishing an exhibit using the archaeological collection. It’s about the Surveyor’s cabin built in the middle of the formal garden here at Locust Grove during the Croghan family era and includes some of the artifacts found in 1997 during the field school excavation in that area.
The surveyor's cabin exhibit at Locust Grove is a focal point of Sammi's project.

The surveyor’s cabin exhibit at Locust Grove is a focal point of Sammi’s project.

What does your typical day look like? 
 I don’t really have a “typical” day here at LG. I split my time a lot between the archaeology facility down at UofL where our collection is curated and Locust Grove. If I’m not at the lab I usually come in to LG around 11 and work on the inventory with Kaitlyn. Then when Kaitlyn is gone I research some about the artifacts I’ve picked to display and work on how I’m planning to display it.
What’s been your most interesting discovery? 
 I can’t remember exactly when this happened but one of the archaeologists LG works with is Phil DiBlasi at UofL and he told me once they used a tornado to find a feature at Locust Grove. They looked at a record of a tornado that had cut through Locust Grove’s Property and apparently hit a barn in it’s path. Then they used knowledge of tornados and the way they behave to figure out the exact path and ended up finding archaeological evidence of a barn in that way. I’ve never heard of doing archaeology through meteorology like that but apparently it works!
Has anything frustrated you in your work here at Locust Grove?
 One thing that has frustrated me about this project is just the sheer size of the archaeological collection. There are literally tens of thousands of artifacts that have been excavated at Locust Grove throughout the years and only a TINY fraction of them are on display already. So going through the whole collection and trying to narrow it down to just a few things to display was really difficult, especially when I didn’t start with a topic already in mind.
What is your favorite item in the collection? 
There’s so many things to choose from!! But my favorite item in the archaeological collection is a tie between a piece of pottery with a colorful design painted on it that looks like the style from the colonial period and a box of tons of leather shoes, some whole and some in pieces.

A shard of pottery in the Locust Grove collection.

What do you like best about Locust Grove? 
 I love the way Locust Grove makes history really come alive. The house is set up so well it looks like the Croghan’s are just away on vacation. The amount of personal detail they use in setting up the exhibits makes it really fun to imagine you are actually there in 1809.
Why should people care about archaeology?
That’s a dangerous question to ask me! I am extremely passionate about archaeology because I think it’s really important in understanding who we are. It tells us where we came from and how we got to where we are today. Archaeology fills in the parts that history might leave out like telling us what slave life was like or what women did on a daily basis in different ancient civilizations. Many times history was written by the affluent men in a society because they were typically the only literate ones so they tended to gloss over or completely leave out information about the less privileged groups in society and archaeology helps to bring those people back into history by using the material culture they left behind. Not to mention it’s really fun to get dirty and live out your Indiana Jones fantasies.
A leather shoe from the archaeological collection.

A leather shoe from the archaeological collection.

Why should people visit Locust Grove?
 People should visit Locust Grove because it’s an exciting chance to sort of go back in time and experience history in a way that’s more fun than reading it out of a book. Also because the Clark and Croghan families did so much collectively for our country when we were just starting out and there’s so much to learn about them.
What’s next for you?
I’m going on a trip in the spring to South America and can’t wait to see some of the Inca ruins and also do some volunteering with a community development organization in Peru.
Sammi adds, “I have loved my time here at Locust Grove and I’m only bummed it’s ending so soon!” Thanks for all your hard work, Sammi! We’ll miss having you, and we’ll work on getting you a hat like Indiana Jones!
Stay tuned for news of Sammi’s exhibit by following Locust Grove on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. And if you’ve visited us recently, please take a moment and leave us a review on TripAdvisor! We’d love to know what you thought!
And don’t forget–Market Fair is this Saturday and Sunday from 10-4:30. Come back to the blog on Friday for a brief preview of the excitement!
 Until then, I remain your faithful servant,

Weekend Wonders: Autumn Perfection

We’ve passed another  busy, blustery weekend here at Locust Grove! With tour buses, a Tiger Scout troop, two weddings, families taking photos on the grounds, and the October meeting of the Jane Austen Society of Louisville, we were never bored this weekend. So prepare yourself for a nice, long, newsy post! Here are some faces and photos from Saturday and Sunday.

Another beautiful day at Locust Grove!

Another beautiful day at Locust Grove!

Our Saturday morning docent is Charlie, a retired dentist who has been with us at Locust Grove for one year. Charlie’s wife and daughter both have volunteered at Locust Grove and sparked his interest in become a docent himself. His “lifelong love affair” with history started in middle school when he became interested in the Civil War . The Civil War period of American history remains his favorite, and he has visited most Civil War battlefields. He also appreciates GRC’s vision of conquering the Northwest territory with only two hundred men against the British. Stop by on a Saturday morning to meet Charlie and learn more about the escapades of the Illinois Regiment!

Like all of our docents, Charlie is a wealth of knowledge of George Rogers Clark!

Like all of our docents, Charlie possesses a wealth of knowledge of George Rogers Clark!

If you visit on Sunday afternoon, you’ll get to meet Nancy, a retired teacher who has been a volunteer and docent since 1993. Originally from Bowling Green, KY, she became interested in history when her grandmother talked about her ancestors while she was growing up. When she taught fourth and fifth grade, Nancy brought her classes to Locust Grove because in fourth grade she taught Louisville history and in fifth grade she taught US History. Students still get the benefit of Nancy’s knowledge–she also gives school group tours during the week! But if you want Nancy all to yourself, Sunday is a perfect time for a tour.

Nancy lends a gracious presence to our docent staff.

Nancy lends a gracious presence to our docent staff.

The museum store also saw some excitement with a new stock of Locust Grove logo shirts and hats, as well as some lovely embroidered scarves.




Christmas is only 65 days away!

On Sunday afternoon, we also had the pleasure of hosting the monthly meeting of the Jane Austen Society of Louisville. Our own Marketing coordinator Bonny Wise is the Regional Coordinator for the Jane Austen Society of North America, and these ladies and gentlemen meet monthly at Locust Grove for afternoon tea and discussion to keep Regency life alive! This month’s topic was film adaptations of Mansfield Park, and next month, on November 16, Anne Fischer will speak on The Education of Young Women. If you’d like to learn more about JASNA-Louisville’s activities, you can visit their website here! I hope to see you in your Regency finest next month.






JASNA Louisville member and Locust Grove costumed interpreter and hearth cook Melissa brought yummy lavender shortbread to share at afternoon tea, and she shared the recipe with us! She modified it from this recipe to give it that Jane Austen flair.

Lavender Shortbread


1 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp lavender, dried or fresh

DIRECTIONS: 1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). 2. Cream butter and brown sugar. Add flour and lavender. Mix well. 3. If dough is too dry, add 1 tbsp or more of water. Knead briefly and then press into a disc on baking sheet, about 1/2 inch in thickness. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lavender. 4. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes. When it is still warm from the oven, cut into strips.

I have tasted this recipe, and I can attest to its deliciousness! Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

Jennifer and I were also amused by a squirrel at our front door who seemed intent on licking every single brick on the walkway. It may seem mundane, but this squirrel could be a descendant of a squirrel the Croghans may have known! Or if not, at least he was cute.

I've named this squirrel Edmund Nicholas.

I’ve named this squirrel Edmund Nicholas.

All in all, it was a lovely weekend at Locust Grove! I hope you’ll get the opportunity to visit us soon. In fact, next weekend is the perfect time! The 18th Century Market Fair is next weekend, October 25 and 26, from 10-4:30pm. We’ll have reenactors, mock battles, entertainment, food, drink, and so much fun! You can find more information here. I know I said the Antiques Fair was going to be awesome, but the Market Fair is going to be just as cool. We’ll see you then back in 1790!

With kind regards,


Come visit Locust Grove! Don't give your friendly Weekend Manager and blogger time to model merchandise and knit!

Come visit Locust Grove! Don’t give your friendly Weekend Manager and blogger time to model merchandise and knit!

Our Red-Haired Revolutionary: A Funny Family Man

Welcome to the second part in the series, “Our Red-Haired Revolutionary”, which focuses on stories and facts about George Rogers Clark that are a little more obscure and might not get mentioned on your tour of Locust Grove. For this installment, I turned to our wonderful docents to find out what they admired most about this complicated, curmudgeonly gentleman.

The man, the legend.

The man, the legend.

Docent Jeannie V. loves the story of our own GRC and his brother William helping Thomas Jefferson acquire mammoth bones from Big Bone Lick. As the story goes, Jefferson was fascinated by the extinct species, and wrote to GRC, “were it possible to get a tooth of each kind, that is to say a foretooth, grinder &c it would particularly oblige me.” (Susan N. really likes GRC’s correspondence with Jefferson–perhaps in the future we’ll have to take a look at those letters!) GRC first visited Big Bone Lick in 1776, while William Clark excavated Big Bone Lick in 1807, and sent specimens back to Jefferson. Some of these can be found on display at Monticello! (I think we should all take a field trip to see them–who’s with me?)

Like many of our docents, Jeanne appreciates GRC’s sense of humor. As one of the Indian commissioners of the Western territories, GRC had many native friends, particularly Delaware chief Buckongahelas. Once, when traveling down the Wabash River, GRC spotted Buckongahelas and some of his men in the woods on the side of the river. Wanting to scare Buckongahelas, GRC betrayed no evidence that he had seen his friend, but made a gesture as if indicating that other boats should follow him. Unbeknownst to Buckongahelas, GRC and his men were traveling the river in one boat, but the natives quickly left the area just in case they were outnumbered. GRC’s sense of humor and pageantry was also on display in 1809, when his leg was amputated at the Louisville home of his sister Fanny Clark Thruston. During the operation, a fifer and drummer stood outside the door playing music to keep his spirits up, while GRC kept time with his fingers.

After his amputation, GRC lived in this room at Locust Grove. Come take a tour to find out why the wallpaper is also an allegorical tip of the hat to GRC's funny bone.

After his amputation, GRC lived in this room at Locust Grove. Come take a tour to find out why the wallpaper is also an allegorical tip of the hat to GRC’s funny bone.

Docent and woodworker George is impressed with GRC’s leadership. Not only did he lead the Illinois regiment all over this region, he convinced his family, including his mother and father, to move from Virginia to the wilds of Kentucky.John and Ann Rogers Clark moved to Mulberry Hill in 1783.  It takes a truly charismatic man to persuade his family to uproot their lives and make their way in a new territory. Of course, this is the man described by his aunt as “a very interesting boy, always ready to go to anything that was to do”.

Speaking of leadership, the Illinois Regiment will be in residence at Locust Grove during the Market Fair! Mark your calendars–October 25 and 26 from 10-4:30. Entertainment, refreshments, historical interpreters–who could ask for anything more?

The Illinois Regiment at the 2013 Market Fair.

The Illinois Regiment at the 2013 Market Fair.

Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you’d like to see on the blog or your favorite story about GRC! Let’s have a conversation about history!

I remain as ever your faithful blogger,


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