We’re Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastide!

In December 1816, inventory records show that William Croghan purchased the following supplies for his household:
½ lb alspice
1 oz Thread
3 Pianno Strings
1 pair shoes
⅛ yds Levanture [Levantine?]
1 yd Riband
24 pains glass
4 pains glass
3 ¾ yds Blue Cloth
2 cuts Thread
2 doz Buttons
2 yds Linen
1 yd Flannel
1 lb Imperial Tea
2 Pitchers

His eldest son, Dr. John Croghan, is listed as ordering the following:
vest shape
1 ½ yds B. Cambric
2 skeins silk
1 doz moulds
paid Mrs Anderson for making vest shape
3 bowls
¼ lb Tea
1 qr. paper
½ yd Blk cambrick
½ qr. paper
2 yds Flannel
1 qr. paper
1 Loaf Sugar 8 Cherry
1 pair worsted
1 “ Lamb’s wool socks
½ quire Letter Paper
½ qr. common writing paper
½ qr. paper

Now, we have absolutely no evidence that any of this was going to be used in a holiday celebration like our own event, Christmastide. We don’t know if those two skeins of silk were a gift from John to one of his young sisters, or if William was planning on surprising Lucy with new glass windows. Three piano strings are certainly a part of regular piano maintenance and upkeep, and letter paper is a necessity when many of your friends and relations live miles away from Louisville.

What surprises do the gentlemen of the family have in store for the ladies?

It certainly is fun to imagine, however, that some of these purchases might turn into Christmas presents for the family’s end-of-year celebrations. In the early 19th century, Christmas looked a little different–Twelfth Night was the major seasonal holiday.  But a little after our interpretive time of 1816, many of the holiday traditions we know and love today came into being, such as “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (also known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”),  first published on December 23, 1823 in the Troy Sentinel in New York State. Gift-giving had long been a part of holiday celebrations, but was generally not reciprocal and involved the master and mistress of a house or family bestowing tokens on their children, servants, slaves, and others without expecting anything in return. However, we at Locust Grove encourage everyone to give gifts–especially those that can be purchased at our Holiday Book Sale and Period Craft Market! If you’re looking for pitchers like the ones William purchased or a pair of lamb’s wool socks, look no further! Here are our participating historic artisans whose wares will be for sale during Christmastide:

In the Visitors’ Center you can also shop in our Museum Store, where everything is 20% off through Sunday, December 4! Children can also learn about the history of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and make Christmas cards and pomander balls!

The ladies of the family will certainly have lots of tips for hosting a holiday party.

The ladies of the family will certainly have lots of tips for hosting a holiday party.

Once you venture out of the Visitors’ Center into the house, you’ll find members of the Croghan family and their friends engaged in all the bustle and activity of preparing for a holiday party. Perhaps you’ll encounter the ladies refreshing their curls while instructing younger members of the family on all the elements of being a good and gracious hostess. Maybe the gentlemen will deal you into a game of speculation or ask you which waistcoat is more appropriate for the occasion. There’s sure to be dancing and singing, as well as  conversations about all the events of the past year. No matter what time you arrive between 12pm and 7pm, you’re sure to find something to strike your historical fancy and draw you into the world of 1816. Christmastide festivities will run on Saturday, December 3, from 12-7pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children 6-12. Children under 6 will be free. Admission includes entrance to the Period Craft Market and the Holiday Book Sale. The Holiday Book Sale will continue on Sunday, December 4, from 10am-4:30pm with no admission charge.

Such silliness!

A lighthearted moment after last year’s Christmastide

We are so excited to welcome all of you back to Locust Grove this season! It is always a pleasure to have a cup of cheer with our friends and neighbors.

Warmly  yours,



“Good people all, this Christmastide”: Spreading Cheer at Locust Grove

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmastide around Locust Grove! Our staff and volunteers have been sprucing up the store and decking the halls in preparation for Christmastide, our holiday program. Enter the year 1816 for a Croghan family celebration with music, dancing, games, delicious smells in the hearth kitchen, and plenty of holiday cheer. Our marvelous Costumed Interpreters have trained and prepared all year for this weekend, and will populate the house as members of the extended Croghan and Clark families might have two hundred years ago during the holiday season. In 2015 in the Visitors’ Center, we’ll have children’s activities, treats, a small seasonal book sale, and our annual 20% off store sale. Christmastide is one of the only times visitors have the chance to see the house at night, so please stop by for a visit! Let’s peek in on the preparations, shall we?


Greenery is piled up in the auditorium waiting to deck the house in holly and ivy!

At a recent dress rehearsal, costumed interpreters moved throughout the house practicing their dance steps, whist playing, and historical improvisation skills. A few cast members were missing from this rehearsal, but during Christmastide, expect a full complement of Clarks, Croghans and their cousins! I stopped in the dining room to talk to Owen Gwathmey (Jamie E.) and his wife, Ann Clark Gwathmey (Janice S.), George Rogers Clark’s oldest sister. The Gwathmeys have eleven living children, and moved to Kentucky because, as Ann said “the whole family had settled here but us.” Their son Samuel laid out Jeffersonville, Indiana and in 1816, their son John had just sold the hostel The Indian Queen for $20,000! Their children did very well for themselves, and the Gwathmeys are very proud, as they should be.


Ann Clark Gwathmey, Owen Gwathmey, and their granddaughter Eloise Bullit, daughter of Diana “Missy” Gwathmey Bullit. (Photograph courtesy of Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)

Upstairs, I found Sarah (Mrs. Richard) Taylor, portrayed by Tammy B., fiddling for the dancers. Mrs. Taylor is the mother of Elizabeth Taylor and the mother-in-law to Peggy, who is married to Zachary, that military man who is away serving at Fort Howard in Wisconsin. Both Peggy and Eliza will be joining Mrs. Taylor at Locust Grove for the holiday revels. Tammy auditioned to be a Costumed Interpreter at Locust Grove after she became “bewitched by the fashion” of the period. Tammy, like all of our interpreters has become deeply involved in the history and background of her historical character. Tammy muses that “There is little written about Sarah, as is often the case with women of history. One creates a character based on information and reflections of others, her background, who she married, what they did, and the success of her children. Something happens through the process of improvising in character with one another. Relationships between characters form, as do real relationships among CIs. These relationships really keep me engaged in the process. We struggle together, have great laughs and live in another time together.”


Mrs. Peggy Taylor (Marrie K.), wife of Zachary. (Photograph courtesy of Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)


The Ladies of Locust Grove, in their Christmastide finery. Back row: Elizabeth Ferguson, Sarah Anderson, Peggy Taylor, Emilia Clarke, Eliza Cosby, Mary Ann Cosby, Elizabeth Taylor. Front row: Barbara Cosby, Sarah Taylor, Fanny Fitzhugh, Lucy Croghan, Eloise Bullitt, Ann Gwathmey. (Photograph courtesy of Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)

Amy L. is the theatrical director for the Costumed Interpreter program, and also portrays Emilia Clarke, the wife of Nicholas Clarke, who was William Croghan’s nephew. Amy remarks, “I am constantly impressed at the new levels I see our cast members pushing themselves to. Our new recruits this year have taken an amazing amount of initiative to reach and raise the bar, quickly learning the material and translating it into a natural performance. Our alums continue to research, rehearse, and create amazing, authentic garments. I have also noticed more and more of them bringing period skills and other elements of everyday life, such as letter writing, reading and other educational materials, into their performances. I hope everyone realizes how much work these folks put into being able to sit there and look perfectly natural and effortless.” It is indeed amazing to wander through the house and hear the Croghan brothers arguing over who owes who after a game of Speculation, while George Rogers Clark reminisces with his sisters!


The men of the Clark and Croghan families. Back row: Dr. John Croghan and Charles Croghan. Front row: Judge Fortunatus Cosby, General George Rogers Clark, and Owen Gwathmey. (Photograph courtesy of Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)


Fanny Clark Fitzhugh, Emilia Clarke, and Sarah Taylor will be about the house to greet neighbors and friends. (Photograph courtesy of Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)

Program Manager Brian Cushing runs the show behind the scenes, but be sure to look for him and tell him what you think of the event! He is filled with excitement and gratitude for the dedication of the volunteer Costumed Interpreters. He borders on gushing as he states, ” I just want to say how amazed I am that we have a team of volunteers with the variety of talents it takes to pull this off, the drive to put the massive amount of work in it takes in out of passion for it, and how proud I am to be able to work with them. We’ve gotten used to seeing these folks doing what they do at Locust Grove but their professionalism, nuanced attention to a broad range of details, and the broad range of skills at work in each everything they do is truly unique. They have earned this moment in the spotlight.”


Brian is a blur of energy behind the scenes with Charles and Dr. John Croghan

Three of our interpreters–Sam L. as William Croghan, Jr., Mia S. as Lucy Croghan, and Brandon V. as Dr. John Croghan–had another moment in the spotlight and appeared on Great Day Live to talk about Christmastide. You can find their fabulous appearance here.

Christmastide will be 5:30-9PM on Friday and 4-9PM on Saturday. Admission to Christmastide is $8 for adults and is free for children 12 and under.  On Friday, guests will have an especially exciting treat–an actual Yeoman Warder from the Tower of London, more commonly known as a Beefeater, will make a special presentation at 6:30PM. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn more about the Tower and perhaps even Christmas traditions from across the pond! We just love Christmastide, and we hope to see you this weekend for a cup of cheer!

Merrily yours,



The entire cast!

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Photographs courtesy of Fox and Rose Photography and Hannah Zimmerman.