One of the delights of working at a historic house is telling the stories of the very real people who came before us. Sometimes, at least for me, it’s rather a challenge to infuse the narrative of the Croghan family’s time at Locust Grove with the personalities of William, Lucy, George Rogers Clark, the children, the slaves, and the many visitors who passed in and out of the home over the years. We believe William likely retained his accent from his native Ireland, and we note that Lucy Croghan was thought to have “flashy” taste according to her eldest son John. Indeed, the quirks of George Rogers Clark’s personality deserve a blog post all their own! I’ve always loved learning more about the Croghan children, as they were brought up entirely in the new nation their father and uncles helped to create, and were given the challenge of forging their own paths for themselves and for their family name. Ann Croghan Jesup, the eldest daughter, is of especial fascination to me. Letters and family stories indicate that she was an intelligent, spirited woman, and her portrait hangs in the dining room of her childhood home as a testament to her character. Ann married General Thomas Jesup in May 1822, and the couple settled in Washington, D.C., as Jesup was serving as Quartermaster General of the United States Army. Although the couple returned to Kentucky as often as they could throughout their marriage, Ann was separated from her family for months at a time. The letters she writes, especially to her mother, display an abiding affection for her family and Locust Grove, and demonstrate the closeness of the Croghans. Below is a letter from Ann to her mother Lucy Croghan, written 193 years ago today. Doesn’t Ann sound like someone you’d like to befriend?
Ann Croghan Jesup to Lucy Croghan
George Town September 29 1823
My Dear Mamma
By the last mail I received your letter, I will not pretend to tell you, the happiness it afforded me I could scarecely believe it was from you, and read it over and over again until I knew every word by heart, in truth I had despaired of receiving a letter from you & wrote to Nicholas not to tantalize me with that hope again, I sometimes think I write to you all too often, but tis much a pleasure to me, that I will not willingly give it up although I know there is very little that I can says that will be interesting to you, your not being acquainted with any person here. The same mail that brought your letter also brought one from sister. She had a very fatiguing journey in, Charles was at the Springs. I shall be very much disappointed if he does not return this way. I write to sister very often, at least two letters to her one. And I certainly have not so much leisure as she has. I am always engaged, from sunrise until night, not with my needle, for I sow very little, the very best seamstresses will sow for 25 cents per day. I found I had fallen off so much in my music that I play a great deal to recover it. I shall take one lesson a week which will be quite enough. We give 50 cents a lesson which is sheap (sic) enough. & $6 a month for the Piano. Tell Nicholas we will see which will make the best progress in French. I do not care about learning but the Genl. Was so anxious that I at last consented to get a teacher. I have lately recd a present that I know brother John would beg from me ‘tis an inkstand made of a petrification found at the rock of Gibraltar, that, with a beautiful strand of necklace, was presented to me by a friend of the Genls who has recently returned from Europe—We gave, last week (for the first time) a pretty large tea party, twas for Genl & Mrs. Bloomfield, who were on a visit to their relations the Macombs. The night before ours, Mrs. Calhoun had one, every person was saying, well! Was there every anything so stupid, another, I am no sleepy, can’t keep my eyes open, another Well, Well, Well!! Was there ever such a party—all those remarks alarmed me, for the same persons were to come to ours—and for my life I could not prepare with the same spirit as if I had not heard those remarks, but ours was very different, whether twas because they knew twas the last & thought to make the best of it I can’t say—but I never saw so gay a party, old & young enjoyed themselves & stayed to a very late hour, all thanked me for the pleasant evening they had spent. Yesterday I dined in company with the new Secretary of Navy Mr. Southard. He looks very like the largest Mr. Southard of Louisville & has about as much sence (sic) he affects too, to be diffident as not to be able to open his mouth in company, but tis because he dose (sic) not know what to talk about the Genl. Has called on him & he is to dine with us in a day or so, most of those great men become very little when you know them. There is Mr. Addington (now the representative of England) he is much inferior in every respect to almost any young gentlemen in Louisville & those young Counts and Barons that are attached to the different Legations are complete laughing stocks for the young ladies, really they laugh at them before their faces—they all are great admirers of the Miss. L’obedours, who repay them by making them as ridiculous of any & I did not like her so much. I should have a (__) laugh at her—she is so anxious for her girls to be the great (__) always contriving to catch beaux for them, fixing their hair, arranging their dress, telling them how to make themselves most agreeable to the beaux &c &c all this she dose before me indeed she is as king & affectionate to me as possible & I like her very much, but she makes herself so rediculious. She is the reverse of Mrs. Macomb who has no wit or deception about her. She a remarkable fine old lady—you must not think My Dear Mama that I ever make remarks of any person, I never do—if brother Wm. Has not started to Pittsburgh could you not come in with him Mr Dear Mama. Lucy Ann continues to grow very fast, she is teathing I think by her biting every thing she can het hold of. She is now sitting on the rug with her foot in her mouth, since I put on the pretty little blue shoes that Genl Macomb bought from New York for her. I can’t keep her feet out of her mouth. Mrs. Wilson, a sister of Mrs. Balch’s has just been here, she is quite a gay widow, directly I finish this I am going to look at the carpeting we had brought from N York. I would rather not get Brussels as our two rooms will take 125 yards –& it is 2 dollars a yard. The ingrane carpeting is very pretty & only half the price. I think we had better get that—David says he is very much mortified that none of his friends have written to home. Why dose not Black Charles send him a few lines? David is a very good boy indeed. But Rose is just as she was at home only lazier, however she is very fond & careful of Lucy Ann. I give my love to my Dear brothers—and pray write to me again My Dear Mama. We are all in very good health. Your Affectionate Daughter
I see your letter is dated on the first, and I only recd it yesterday—if you would direct to the Genl. I should get them much sooner. Always let us hear of Mr. Clay’s health, for I am asked so often.
It would be such fun to visit Ann in Washington, don’t you think? She has quite the social life!
Locust Grove is also quite social in October, with our First Wednesday Lecture, a reading performance of Frankenstein by Kentucky Shakespeare, and of course, the return of Market Fair! Check our calendar of events here for more information, or sign up for our e-mailing list here to receive monthly updates of all things Locust Grove. We certainly hope to see you this autumn! Ann’s portrait is always ready for visitors.