Dressing Miss Ann Croghan

We are fortunate to have many, many dedicated individuals researching, writing, baking, sewing, and making so that we can tell the stories of Locust Grove’s community. Our guest blogger today is Amy Liebert, Theatrical Director and Women’s Costuming Director for our First Person Interpreters program. Amy recently draped and consulted on a new dress for Heather, who interprets the role of Ann Croghan in our cast. Here’s a look at her process, and how our interpreters at Locust Grove use historical sources to create historically accurate, and ideally, character-driven clothing, to educate museum visitors on the year 1816.

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Dressing Miss Ann Croghan by Amy Liebert

Heather as Ann Croghan on the porch of Locust Grove

Heather as Ann Croghan on the porch of Locust Grove

Heather is 16 years old and she portrays Ann Croghan, daughter of William and Lucy Croghan who owned Locust Grove. Ann was born in 1797 and was 19 years old in 1816. Heather will hopefully portray Ann for some time to come.

Portrait of Ann Croghan Jesup

Portrait of Ann Croghan Jesup

This is a portrait which was painted of Ann after her 1822 marriage to Thomas Sidney Jesup. She is a brunette, wearing the color red.

We didn’t ask her to do this, but Heather actually started dying her hair, which is naturally dark blond, brown for this part. Talk about dedication! Her mother made her some false curls based on my post here, and modified this method of styling Heather’s hair.

I found the fabric for this dress on Fashion Fabrics Club, before Heather joined the cast. It reminded me of the fabric this dress from the DAR Fashionable Tyrant exhibit was made from. Since we ask that all fabric for this program be approved, I will often pick up approvable fabric when I find a good deal, and pass it on at cost to the ladies in the program.

Polka Dot printed dress, 1810-1815, from private collection

1810-1815 (Private Collection)

I draped the bodice for the dress on Heather and drew up instructions for the skirt. We chose a front opening dress so she would have an easier time getting dressed.

Heather as Ann Croghan wearing front opening dress

Heather’s grandmother Patsy actually did all of the construction on the garment with my instructions and consultation. She was a real champ about learning historic clothing construction techniques!

Heather wearing polka dot dress as seen from the back

Apparently, Patsy has come to really enjoy doing tucks.

Tucks at the hem of Heather's skirt

Here, you can see the tucks at the hem of Heather’s skirt.

Heather stuck with the red theme for her evening gown, which was made from some lovely red silk from 96 District Fabrics. I also draped the bodice for this on her, and helped fit all the tucks on the fashion fabric. Patsy handled all the major construction.

Bodice of red dress ins progress

Here she is in action with her ‘sister’, Eliza Croghan.

Heather as Ann Croghan and Emily as Eliza Croghan

Heather as Ann Croghan and Emily as Eliza Croghan

I may be biased, but I think they look pretty darn great!

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You can read more of Amy’s work on her blog, Places in Time. Look for Ann Croghan’s dress in action during Christmastide, 1816 on Saturday, December 8 from 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm!

“Your Affectionate Daughter”: Ann Croghan Jesup Writes Home

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

                                                                                           A.H. Jesup

Post Script:

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.  

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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.

Yours sincerely,

Hannah

 

Letters from Januarys Past

 

Winter always seems to catch up to Kentucky in January, and this past week has been no exception. We’ve had two dazzling snowstorms, which got me thinking about what the Croghan family was doing during past Januarys. Below are two letters written almost two hundred years ago to the day, from William Croghan, Jr. to his brother George, and from Ann Croghan Jesup to her sister, Eliza Croghan Hancock. While neither of these letters were written at Locust Grove, they give plenty of insight into life in the early nineteenth century, as well as the close bond of the Croghan family. Enjoy!

William Croghan, Jr. to Col. George Croghan

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George Croghan and William Croghan, Jr. George was three years older than his brother, a lawyer who would inherit Locust Grove in 1822. Both brothers married wealthy women from prominent East Coast families.

 

New Orleans Jany 23, 1819

Dear George

       Your horses &c are so long comeing, & learning that they will not be fit for service if they come by water for at least a month after their arrival – I have resolved tomorrow to start to Fort Adams[.]  For the Negroes I have purchased six yokes of Oxen, which will answer very well for breaking up the ground, everything now is in readiness & in a week, I shall be hard at work on the plantation.  There are out horses &c sufficient for the negroes, if any more be wanting they must be erected at their leisure.  My Cotton seed I have just been up after, & had taken to the plantation.  The cane given me by Minor, is at his upper plantation which I will take in the boat as I come down.  

Major Lee has made a purchase within half a mile of you, for his son, he begins operations immediately.  

Why do you not write more frequently?

My Love to Papa Mama, Serena, & the family…

     William   Croghan Jr.

P.S.  Jan 25–I have just returned from up the coast, having made a purchase of Madam Victors land Six acres front, including a house worth $5000 for $3000 per acre–payable one half in May 1820 and follow 1821

Ann Croghan Jesup to Eliza Croghan Hancock

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Ann Croghan Jesup and Eliza Croghan Hancock. Ann was four years older than Eliza, and lived in Washington, DC, as her husband was Quartermaster General of the US Army. Eliza and her husband George Hancock owned Locust Grove from 1828-1834.

 

Washington Jan 22 1828

My dear sister

       Genl Jesup has gone to Mr. Southards party, and the Children are asleep & all is so quiet about the (town or house) that I think I can write to you without interruption. I would have answered your letter immediately if Lucy Ann had not been sick but I never like to write to you without making sure all are well—she has not been well for more than two weeks. The doctor said it is want of action in her liver” that ails her, she has not been confined to her bed nor had a fever but complained constantly of pain in her bowels & lost her appetite & spirit but today & yesterday the weather was delightful sunshiney and she is much better, she has been very much confined on account of the dreadful weather that now that she begins to take the first (__) she will soon be well—she is very anxious to be well enough by the 26th to go to Miss Ringgolds little party. I have been obliged to amuse her in every way to keep her from fretting—she never tires of our  (__) about Uncle Hancock’s” I am sure I could not tell how many times both Cealy & myself have called over (__) your name, “Now mama tell me about the dear that Uncle gave me” & (__) to make out a long story about “now tell me about Tom’s (__) with (__) Betsy—now about the (__) that Aunt when she was picking blackberries & of May & of Aunt Molly & believe I have tired you out talking so much of Lucy Ann now Marys turn, she is as good humoured as when you saw her & is far prettier. She has as great a passion for “Tories” as she calls stories as her sister. She is the most mischievous creature that ever was. I have to whip her two or three times a day, but while I am whipping her she is planning more mischief & as soon as I have finished at it she goes. She always has a long story to tell her Papa about her Mama whipping her ”but but Mama” & if she does not understand her she gives him a good slap in the face. Little Jane grows finely. She looks very much like her sisters did at her age, her hair is quite black. She has grown (__) five minutes in the night indeed she is no trouble to carry on. I always dress & undress her & that is all the trouble she gives. Mrs. Findley comes to see her almost every day—I have not been and visiting until Friday last for three months. I was out all this morning with Mrs. Findlay and Mrs. [illegible lines]. Mrs. Williams would be at her house this week so I expect when will commence then with her parties. So the other secretaries wives do. I will have a dress made for you with pleasure if you will only say of what you wish it. I would advice a silk, as you say you do not want it before spring. I dare say I could send it to Fotheringay–but if you go as early as April to KY had it not better be sent there. Black watered silks are very much the fashion now—capes—collars & indeed everything one fancies, is work on the neck & I think I can tell the length for your dress; let me know how (__) your waiste is & I can have it made to fit you if you. If you want anything else let me know. When I heard from home all were well— (__) Taylor is still in the City as big a fool as ever not withstanding the PM General is his father in law—Dr. Johnston has been three weeks in the city & was quite a (illegible lines)                                                                         

Sister AH Jesup

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We at Locust Grove think just as fondly of you, our  friends, as the Croghans did of their family, and we look forward to seeing you all when we re-open for 2016 on February 1!

Warmly yours,

Hannah