The Organizer of Memories: Thank you, Kaitlyn!

If you’ve been around Locust Grove in the past two years, you’ve probably met Kaitlyn Markert. Kaitlyn first came to Locust Grove as an intern during the summer of 2013, and has been our contract archivist since the summer of 2014. She has spent her time organizing our research files, institutional archives, the oversize collection, and manuscript collection, and now she is headed on to bigger and better things. Next month, Kaitlyn will take on a new role as the Head Archivist for the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library across the Ohio River in New Albany, IN, and while we know she will do a spectacular job organizing the collections in the Indiana Room, we will miss her terribly. Kaitlyn’s last day at Locust Grove is June 23, so here is her exit interview!

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Kaitlyn hard at work!

On her favorite and least favorite projects: 

“The Sam Thomas files were my favorite. They are huge! Sam Thomas was thorough to the point of being annoying, but he laid the groundwork for me. I was just finishing what he couldn’t do. My least favorite was the oversize collection. Files had been rolled and had to be flattened, and I had a limited schedule.”

On her favorite Clark-Croghan family member:

“Ann Croghan Jesup is my favorite. She loves to tell stories; her letters are really rich with information. She is so much spunkier than I would have ever anticipated. She wasn’t afraid to gossip in her letters, which you weren’t supposed to do. She was a strong woman, and very relatable to me.”

On how her time at Locust Grove has influenced her career and what she enjoys about archival work:

“Locust Grove has helped me realize that archives could be my lifelong profession. If this is the rest of my life, I’m okay with it. I like that some of the work is mindless. I like the consistency. It’s constant work, everything has a procedure. I like the conservation side of being an archivist and taking care of things. Because of me, this will last twice as long.”

Where was George Croghan in May 1817? Thanks to Kaitlyn, now we have this handy chart!

Where was George Croghan in May 1817? Thanks to Kaitlyn, now we have this handy chart!

A big part of Kailtyn’s work has been to transcribe the Croghan family papers and letters, a process Sam Thomas started when he was the curator at Locust Grove. These letters are invaluable to Locust Grove, as they offer insight into the personalities and activities of members of the Croghan family. Kaitlyn created a huge chart that tracks the whereabouts of all the Croghan family members from the 1780s to the mid-1840s, and her work will be so helpful for docents, interpreters, interns, and staff for years to come. Kaitlyn is also now infinitely knowledgeable about the letters, and to that end she shared her favorite with us, a letter between George Hancock, a Croghan family friend, and Thomas Jesup, Ann Croghan’s future husband.

“I know it seems silly but this letter is one of my favorites, mainly because it just shows that Jesup really cared for Ann, and was worried that she was already engaged. I think it’s also funny that it is George Hancock running around trying to dispel the rumors.”

Augt 6 1821

My Dear Sir

       Your favour of the 17th July was this morning received, and that you should not again accuse me with neglect I hasten to answer it. Your letter has confirmed what I have for some time conjectured. You must have been impressed with the belief that Miss A [Ann Croghan] was engaged to D. [Davis] and as you have asked me as a man of Honor to state whether this is true, I will as such state what I know to be true. First I most positively say that she never was engaged to him, & that she never intended marrying him, although at the time he addressed her he was looked upon as a Gentleman by many of her Friends, and that the only time has never encouraged him was when she heard that it was generally thought they were engaged & then only that it (__), his (__) and given her own opportunity of discarding him & thereby put an end to the general impression, that they would be (__).

       At the time you addressed her I know that she intended to have you, and the morning you addressed her at Mrs Prestons that she had determined to engage herself, but was advised by a Female Friend first to consult her Father, & she determined not to encourage you until she had & supposed that she would in a short time see you in Washington, when if her father consented she would engage herself. These are facts which I know to be true.

There was a Cousin of his who long had been a candidate for her affections, and having failed has determined she shall many (__) of he can prevent, and having heard that she was pleased with you, I felt assured would prevent your returning if he could, & I will venture to predict that having been in Washington was your (__) for her having been engaged to Davis–

       Davis having been acquainted as a college mate with Wm Croghan & myself he was introduced by us to our friends, and from our introduction he was noticed by them; –but by many, and particularly Miss Ann, a little time persuaded them that he was a (__) she had this opinion of him while it was thought he was attentive to her sister and when she found that she wa the object, she was only polite, and all the encouragement he received was with the view that it would induce him to make an early declaration & give her an opportunity of discarding him which was done as soon as an opportunity offered (rest of letter missing)

Looking back on her time at Locust Grove, Kaitlyn said, “I want to think my research will change the way things are interpreted. Our whole mission is to interpret the Croghans’ lives and I like to think they’re looking down on us.I just want what I’ve done to be helpful.”

Three binders of materials compiled by Kaitlyn will remain in Locust Grove's research collection.

Three binders of materials compiled by Kaitlyn will remain in Locust Grove’s research collection.

Well, Kaitlyn, I’m here to tell you that you have accomplished exactly that! Our collections is that much richer because of all you have done. If you are a docent, don’t forget about the docent in-service on June 23 at 10am, where Kaitlyn will share all her new knowledge with you! And Kaitlyn, the best of luck to you! Come back and visit us often!

This Thursday, June 18, at 6:30pm, volunteer Jennifer McCormick will lead a nature walk through the woods of Locust Grove. See the native trees and flowers that Shakespeare wrote of in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and hear of the myths of the great All Father’s Day. This is the most sun-filled time of the year for us in the Northern Hemisphere, so come walk in the woods and feel the magic! Space is limited, so call 502.897.9845 to reserve your spot for $6 admission.

And on July 18, join us for a Croghan Family Wedding and Picnic! We’ll be celebrating the marriage of Kaitlyn’s favorite, Ann Croghan to General Thomas Jesup (He got his girl after all!) The day’s festivities start at 12pm, and you won’t want to miss the party!

Cultural Pass activities continue on Sundays from 1-5:30pm and Mondays from 10-5:30pm, so stop by to experience what it was like to grow up at Locust Grove! We’re always happy to see you!

Cheerily yours,

Hannah

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Meet Melissa, Hearth Cook Extraordinaire!

Every summer, Locust Grove is lucky to welcome a group of talented interns who are passionate about living history and eager to learn more about working in museums! Interns at Locust Grove have developed exhibits, conducted research on outbuildings, completed inventories of our collections, and worked on new programming to better serve all of our visitors and guests. This summer, we welcome three interns to our family–Melissa, Bailey, and Sarah–and over the next couple weeks, we’ll get to know them on this blog. First up is a familiar face–costumed interpreter and hearth cooking expert, Melissa Alexander! Melissa recently graduated from Xavier University and is now a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati, studying for her Master’s Degree in History. This summer, she is our historic trades intern, working with Brian, our program coordinator, to facilitate the costumed interpreter program and create awesome hearth-cooked food in full view of our visitors and Cultural Pass guests! This past Thursday, she held a workshop Read on to find out more about Melissa and her love of interpretation and historic apples!

Hi Melissa!

Hi Melissa!

What brought you to Locust Grove?

I became familiar with Locust Grove at the 2012 Jane Austen Festival, but didn’t begin volunteering until the summer of 2014.  There is something beautiful and wonderful about the Croghan family household, and I just couldn’t get enough!

 How did you become interested in the hearth culinary arts?

After messing around in my own modern kitchen with a lot of historic recipes (with lots of trial and error!) Brian Cushing, program coordinator, approached me with the offer of letting me explore cooking at Locust Grove.  I couldn’t say no!

What are some classic recipes?

A lot of people try to simplify historic food by boiling it down to “meat and potatoes”, but a lot of the recipes I make in the kitchen are actually really diverse and interesting.  They have as many varied dishes as we have, so I can’t really say that any is more classic than the others!

A busy kitchen!

A busy kitchen!

What are challenges of hearth cooking?

Hearth cooking is not glamorous work.  It’s a lot of lugging around full pots of water, standing over blazing fires, and smelling like a chimney afterwards.  The food is amazing, so that makes up for it!

What are the joys of hearth cooking? 

I love it when I can make a connection between what someone knows today and what our ancestors did in 1816.  This past Christmastide, I made a Yorkshire Christmas Pie, which was extremely labor intensive, but all paid off when I got to see the lightbulb go off in peoples’ heads when they realized that its modern cousin is — yes! — Turducken!

Do you have any favorite memories or recipes?

The best part of any day hearth cooking is when the Costumed Interpreters all gather in the kitchen and enjoy what I made throughout the day.  Hearth cooking can be a lonely business, but when I get to feed all of my friends, it’s all worth it! I also love making baked apples and working with apples. I once cooked with an 1805 variety!

Delicious baked apples, as made by Melissa!

Delicious baked apples, as made by Melissa!

What are your other interests? 

My favorite pet project right now is bourbon history.  I’m actually working on developing a paper I wrote for my undergraduate degree into a manuscript, so I can seek publication for it.  Wish me luck!

Melissa is also an accomplished seamstress!

Melissa is also an accomplished seamstress!

Melissa will be in the kitchen most Sundays and Mondays this summer, and she is always looking for volunteers! She needs  any able-bodied person she can get who can use a knife! If you’d like to volunteer at Locust Grove as a cook or any other area, contact Mary Beth Williams at 502.897.9845 or mwilliams@locustgrove.org.

This Thursday’s program is Homebrewing 101 with Lagers Homebrew Club. The event begins at 6:30pm and is $6 per person, with no reservations necessary. We are also taking reservations for June 18’s event, “The Beauty and Lore of the Forest”, a tour of Locust Grove’s woods with volunteer Jennifer McCormick. This event starts at 6:30pm and is $6 per person, with a limit of 10 people, so make your reservation now by calling 502.897.9845. Our summer programming continues apace–what events are most intriguing to you? As ever, we look forward to seeing you!

Graciously yours,

Hannah

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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