Yuletide Greetings from all of us!

A Merry Christmas to you from everyone at Locust Grove! We have had such a wonderful time celebrating the season with you, and sharing the story of Locust Grove throughout all of 2015! Thank you for being part of continuing to preserve all that makes the site so special.

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For a bit of Christmas reading, here is a letter from Dr. John Croghan to his brother-in-law, General Thomas Jesup, from Christmas 1844.
“Locust grove Decr 25, 1844

My dear Genl

Your letter of the 13th caused me the most painful solicitude.  You remarked that “if there be not a favorable change I will write tomorrow.”  I am greatly relieved by your not writing as it satisfies me that, my dear Sister, and William are better. God grant that all of you may be well ere this reaches you. If I could act as my feelings dictate I would be with you, now and remain until Spring but my health, as well as other considerations renders it impossible. George gives me inexpressible grief and concern.  He has for two months acted in the most exemplary manner, but, it was apparent that something rendered him unhappy.  He told me a few days since the cause of his anxiety and indeed, I have just received letters confirming his statements.  He has at different times & places in his fits of intemperance, involved himself and drawn for double pay.  This has been officially made known, and he is miserable in consequence of not being able, as yet, to raise the necessary sum to pay these accounts.  A gentleman in Louisville offered to loan him on the best terms a sum sufficient to pay all his debts, and upon going to Louisville to receive this sum, he was informed by the gentleman who offered the loan, “that very unexpectedly & much to his chagrin, the money he intended for the Col: had been loaned the day previous.”  At the instance of the gentleman, the Col: left here Thursday for Lexington to negotiate a loan.  He expected to return Sunday; and as he has not as yet arrived, I apprehend he will not succeed.  He seems more thoughtful & more penitent that I have ever known him to be, and says, “if he can but once get free from the shameful embarrassment which his vile debaucheries have occasioned, that he will soon be what he ought long to have been.” I sincerely pray it may be so, but his past promises make me doubt it. Confidentially speaking I got a letter from William, enclosing one from Mr Wilkins, in which he (Mr W) expresses the great pain it gave him to state the Col: had drawn double pay for the months of Jan: Feb: March & April.  William writes that “to save the Col: he would pay one half if I would pay the other half.”  I wrote to him that I would and to inform Mr Wilkins immediately that he might consider the debt as paid. After all I have paid the Col. I had determined never to pay another cent for him, but here is a case involving the reputation of ones family and I, therefore, cannot hesitate about making an effort to save him. The Col. not being here, and receiving those letters during his absence renders me truly unhappy. This is Christmass (sic) merry Christmass (sic) – to me it has been a day of gloom and melancholy forebodings. Give my love to Ann and to my nieces and nephews and sincerely hoping that all of you are well, I remain dear Genl.

Sincerely yours,

John Croghan”

Ah yes, “gloom and melancholy forebodings”–just what the Christmas season is all about! Perhaps Dr. John had been reading A Christmas Carol, published by Charles Dickens just the year before and had decided to see what Scrooge felt at the beginning of the tale. One can only hope that he woke up from a long winter’s nap in much better spirits.

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Although it isn’t set at Christmas, the following letter, from George Hancock, husband of Eliza Croghan, to Thomas Jesup, expresses a little more of the sentiments of this time of year.

“Fotheringay, May 14th 1820

My Dear Genl.

I scarcely know how to account for our not having heard from each other since I had the pleasure of seeing you. My excuse must be my having been almost constantly engaged while at Louisville in a controversy with out old acquaintances Davis & Floyd. Davis has been informed that I threatened to horsewhip him, he wrote in a very insulting note with the including of drawing a challenge.  Never having made the the trust he had heard I had, I wrote him that his informant has been guilty of a malicious falsehood, that I (__) him as having such beneath the notice of a gentlemen, and should not notice him as such. A few days after Col. Floyd handed me a challenge from him–I informed Col. Floyd that I did not know his friend as a gentleman but would hold myself responsible to him (Col. Floyd) for, so doing, and be considered the offence sufficient, I was ready to meet him (__) did not think it cause of quarrel between us, & there it rested.

This you will say is a poor excuse for not writing, I admit it. But pray My Dear Genl what plea can you bring forward to us like your silence? Has the bustle and gaiety of the metropolis thrown a shade on the recollection of your former friends? I can answer for you that is has not, (__) your excuse whatever it may be, I know will be satisfactory. (__) as I am from society, I hear little of the world abroad, and my communications can afford little to interest you. So that the only pleasure you can expect from our correspondence, must be that which is the result of a consciousness of conferring an obligation.

I have  few days since from our friends at Locust Grove, they were well. By the by Genl. when do you visit Ky again. Having been made once your confidant I must insist to knowing whether you intend (__) the sign in the West, and like a true soldier, not discouraged by a first (__) make another desperate effort to pressure the fortress: Believe me woman may be compared to a fortress, the modesty, to its defenders. When summoned to (__) (__) some time feel confident that if attacked surrender is inevitable.

I say more however I must insist on knowing your feelings on that, are you mad? (__) will your answer, for as my Uncle Toby says “ there is reasons in all things”.

I have just heard of the recent changes in spain. What effect think you, will it have on our negotiations? Will the U.S. before they come to an ultimate understanding, wait until the present storm in Europe, may have subsided in a calm? (__) having been your study and delight, should a war ensue you would of course awaken from that business which exceeds a soldier’s life in time of peace, and participated in (__). But should a continued peace be our (__) Pray what role will be your employment? When I saw you I think you had determined to retire from public life, and in the society of a few friends find that enjoyment which pomp & luxury can never procure.

I agree with you that happiness is to be found only in the bosom of an affectionate family, and in the society of all friends. Happiness is the child of friendships; and I fear it is too often the case that she is not found by those who seek her in ambition, and that is the intrigues of courts and among the jealousies of the great, she never focuses her abode–

As soon as your leisure will permit, I shall be happy to hear from you in the mean time accept my highest (__) of (__) and believe me

Sincerely your Obt Servt

Geo Hancock”

May all of you find happiness in “the bosom of an affectionate family, and in the society of all friends” this year! We so look forward to seeing you in 2016!

 

Joyfully yours,

Hannah

P.S. Locust Grove will be closed from January 1-January 31 for housekeeping and maintenance. We will be answering our phones, mail, email, and keeping up with all of you all over social media! Please check in with us, and we hope to see you when we re-open for the 2016 season on February 1!

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George on the Go

If you follow Locust Grove on Facebook, you may have noticed pictures of a familiar face floating around Louisville landmarks, accompanies by staff members and volunteers. Yes, folks, General George Rogers Clark (or at least his cardboard doppelganger) has taken to leaving Locust Grove once a month to stretch his legs, make some friends, and familiarize himself with the sights and sounds of the city he founded. George on the Go is a new Locust Grove program that takes a cardboard cut-out of GRC around Louisville and Southern Indiana with a threefold mission: to introduce George to Louisville, to heighten our staff and volunteer’s knowledge of other area cultural and historic sites, and to spread the word about all things Locust Grove. So far, we’ve had four outings and many more are in the works! George makes friends wherever he goes, so here are some pictures of his adventures!

For George’s September outing, he visited his old haunts and re-familiarized himself with Downtown Louisville.

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George hanging out with Meriwether Lewis and his brother William Clark at the Falls of the Ohio.

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George takes in the view of the river from the site of his cabin in Clarksville.

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George on the porch of his cabin in Clarksville.

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George with Locust Grove volunteers Hannah and Brandon.

 

George also enjoyed taking in all the sites along Main Street!

George took a tour of the Frazier Museum’s exhibit The Lewis and Clark Adventure to catch up with his brother’s exploits!

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George even saw a familiar face at the entrance to the exhibit!

In October, George and friends Jason, Noah, and Jocelyn Hiner took in the Kentucky Derby Museum and Churchill Downs, the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual Meeting, and the Big Four Bridge!

George’s great-nephew, Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. founded Churchill Downs and started the Kentucky Derby in 1875!

Catching up with friends at the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual Meeting at the Galt House!

George also had a blast walking to Indiana on the Big Four Bridge!

 

In November, George stopped by the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery to pay his respects to President Taylor and his fellow veterans, accompanied by volunteer Jeannie Vezeau, and his sister Ann Clark Gwathmey and her husband, Owen Gwathmey.

The General’s most recent outing was to the opening of the New Lincoln Bridge, connecting Louisville to Jeffersonville, IN. George was very gratified to meet outgoing Kentucky Lieutenant Governor Crit Luallen and several Abraham Lincolns!

Miniature Georges have also been taken on trips to Japan, Disney World, Florida, and the Cayman Islands in 2015!

Volunteers, staff members, members, and friends of Locust Grove are always welcome to join George as he goes out and about the city of Louisville!  In fact, I need your help deciding where George should visit in January! Our outing is scheduled for January 23 at 10am, and we would love to have you join us! Please take a minute to check out the poll below and cast your vote!

Thanks for all your support of George’s adventures–we’re looking forward to even more in 2016!

Intrepidly yours,

Hannah

P.S. Catch more pictures of George below! And follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #GeorgeontheGo!

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Christmas in our hearts: Christmastide at Locust Grove

We had a marvelous time celebrating Christmastide with all of our friends and neighbors this year! Over 400 guests came through our doors to visit with the Croghans, enjoy music and dancing in the Grand Parlor, tour the house and the kitchen, shop in the book sale and the Museum Store, and celebrate the spirit of the season! A grand time was had by all, and here are some stories and pictures to prove it!

On Friday evening, Locust Grove was honored to host Yeoman Warder Robert Brown of the Tower of London. Yeoman Warder Brown regaled guests in the auditorium with ghost stories from the tour before touring the house and greeting the cast. His visit to Louisville was hosted by the Society of the Cincinnati, of which William Croghan was a member. Jamie E. as Owen Gwathmey greeted Yeoman Warder Brown and members of the Society in the dining room, where he showed off “Major Croghan’s portrait and the china with their emblem designed by Pierre L’Enfant. We had fun with the steamboats too, sharing that Captain Shere had gone upriver: Where no man had gone before. Then we let them know the name of his ship was of course: The Enterprise.”

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Yeoman Warder Brown with the ladies of the cast.

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Out in the kitchen, hearth cook Melissa made drinking chocolate, baked apples, cider, and gingerbread to conjure up historical smells for our guests!

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As with most of our interpretation events, Christmastide takes place in the year 1816, and guests are invited to inquire about current events, fashions, traditions, and other topics from that year. Sharron H., as Fanny Fitzhugh, found that even discussing something as mundane  as the weather can be interesting for guests and interpreters alike. Sharron recalls that a group of guests  “came in asking, “What’s this about a year without a summer?” And Ted and I started sharing stories we’d heard about how cold it had been in New England with late frosts and freezing temps well into the summer and how just plain cold it had been that year. We talked about how we had heard that crops across Europe were lost to freezes and floods and how we feared there would be famine if it went on too long. When one of the guests asked if we knew what was causing this, we said we had no idea, but we wondered if the rumors of “end times” could be true. First there was the massive earthquakes in 1811/1812 and the tales of how the Mississippi flowed backwards for a time. Then there was the recent comet that came and just hung in the sky for weeks. Now this weird weather…It all started when the steamboat’s first trip UP the river. Maybe God was trying to tell us we were getting too big for our britches!” 

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General Clark and his sister Fanny greet guests.

Our cast of costumed interpreters includes several younger members, all of whom have their own unique perspective on life in 1816. As Laura B. (Barbara Cosby) introduced a group of younger guests to her dolls, one of them inquired if she had ever heard of Barbie! Laura as Barbara was then able to talk with these guests about how she acquired her playthings while they acquainted her with 21st century ideas such as plastic and Target! Laura and Jocelyn H/ (Eloise Bullitt) also played period games such as Game of Goose with guests of all ages, demonstrating that fun can be had in any century!

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Several of our guests of all ages joined in the dancing and proved to be quick studies, especially this little guest, who conceded to dance as long as her mom joined her. Hannah S. as Elizabeth Taylor was one of the dancers, and she remarked that “my favorite moment was when we got to dance with that sweet little tiny who danced with her mom. The smile on her face when we all clapped for her at the end was just magical.”

In the parlor, Mia S. as Lucy Croghan received guests to her home and shared some of the trials of raising six sons. Mia recalls that she told many guests to tell her if they found her sons playing cards, and was gratified when a young guest, after coming across the Croghan sons playing Speculation in the Farm Office raced back to the parlor to report the clandestine card-playing.

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Mrs. Peggy Taylor and Mrs. Lucy Croghan disapprove of card playing.

Christmastide has always included music, but this year musical accompaniment for dancing was provided by Tammy B. as Mrs. Richard Taylor on the violin, with carols sung by Hannah S. and Sara R., as Elizabeth Taylor and Mary Ann Cosby. We were incredibly fortunate to have them share their talents with us, as mentioned by Brian Cushing: “Our wonderful musical interpreters scrambled when we found out that our long time musicians were no longer available and the vocals by Hannah and Sara and the violin music from Tammy that resulted was not only breathtakingly beautiful and enchanting but one of the most authentic feeling musical interpretations that has ever happened there. A visitor from another historic site remarked to me what a truly authentic salon/parlor experience it was.”

Jason H. (Judge Fortunatus Cosby) also had words of praise for our musicians, declaring that “the highlight for me was our two vocalists singing their duets. They drew so many people into the grand parlor and got so many compliments from the crowd. While Mr. Cosby was as effusive as always, they did TRULY sound angelic.Tammy was so terrific that we kept entreating her to come back up and play. She was much in demand!”

If you don’t believe our eye-and-ear witnesses, here’s a short clip of these talented ladies!

And here is Tammy fiddling to accompany the dancing!

Our mischievous gardener Sarah hung mistletoe from the banister, and many couples were caught underneath, turning Christmastide into “Kissmastide”!

Christmastide is structured as a family party, when the Croghans, and their relations, friends and neighbors come together to celebrate the season and the end of another year. We always want our guests to feel just as welcome to take part in this family celebration. Janice S. as Ann Clark Gwathmey remarked that “The house really felt like home and we really felt like one big family. Our greetings to each other were warm and heartfelt. Our conversations to each other and to the guests were genuine and our laughter was contagious!” We hope all you felt this same spirit! Much cheer to all of you in the coming weeks!

Joyfully yours,

Hannah

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