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!

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,

Hannah

 

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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