Curatorial Curiosity: Meet Hannah M.!

Here at Locust Grove, we are fortunate to have so many tremendously talented people share their time and talents with us.  Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the organization, and our interns serve as a superb resource for all sorts of projects. Over the past few months, Hannah M. has acted as our Collections Intern, working with our Curator Mary Beth to bring our collections storage and registry up to snuff. Hannah is a Louisville native who grew up near Locust Grove, and has many fond memories of adventures on the property. Take it away, Hannah!

Hannah M. in newly reorganized Collections Storage!

Hannah M. in newly reorganized Collections Storage!

Hi! I’m Hannah M. As a homeschooled kid, my siblings and I spent many hours roaming through the woods and creeks behind Locust Grove and often picnicked at HLG back in the 90s. I moved away from Louisville in the early 2000s but recently moved back with my husband, Justin, and our two Australian Shepherds, Dash and Zero. While I was away, I received my bachelors degree from the University of Mary Washington (UMW) in Fredericksburg, VA. It’s a lovely, small school that used to be the sister school to UVA! At UMW,  I double majored in Historic Preservation and American Studies with a minor in Museum Studies. I also interned at Kenmore Plantation, the home of George Washington’s sister, and Ferry Farm, GW’s childhood home! After graduating, I worked for a hospital system’s supply chain management department back in Virginia. It was nice to experience the “cubicle-life” but it made me even more sure that I wanted to work in a museum. I decided to take the leap and go back to school! Currently, I am completing my Masters in Museum Studies to be a Registrar or a Collections Manager at the University of Oklahoma. I have three classes to finish and am expecting to graduate in July. I also work part time at the Speed Art Museum but am starting to apply for “real jobs” in Registration all over the country!
2. What brought you to Locust Grove?

I was drawn to Locust Grove for two reasons. First, I spent a lot of time here as a child and always felt that my many visits helped spur me towards studying museums and history as an adult. Second, I love house museums! They all have many quirks and challenges, but for the most part, the people who work and volunteer at house museums do it because they love their jobs and are passionate about the work they do.

Hannah helps Curator Mary Beth with piece from our textile collection.

Hannah helps Curator Mary Beth with piece from our textile collection.

3. What are you working on at Locust Grove? 

I actually started interning at HLG last summer! I spent the fall interning in collections. Among other things, I reorganized collections storage, helped number and accession a number of objects, and updated our PastPerfect records. This spring I am starting a new project with Mary Beth. We are going to start researching and rewriting parts of Locust Grove’s Collection Management Policy. I am also going to help write a corresponding Collection Management Procedures document to help in the adherence of our current Collection’s Policy. It’s going to be exciting to continue to move HLG towards AAM excellence.

Thanks to Hannah, everything is in its proper place!

Thanks to Hannah, everything is in its proper place!

4. What has been your favorite part so far?

I have so many favorite parts! I loved getting hands on experience in Collections Storage. I learned so much about proper collections storage and AAM standards. I have also enjoyed working hand-in-hand with Mary Beth and seeing the behind the scenes of Collections Management and Curation at a House Museum.

Hannah and Education Assistant Diane polish silver.

Hannah and Education Assistant Diane polish silver.

5. What do you hope to gain from your Locust Grove experience?

I have already gained so much on-the-job training that is going to be relevant in my future career. I am beyond thankful to intern at such a vibrant House Museum. The staff and volunteers here are wonderful and I feel lucky to be here!

Thanks, Hannah! We’re lucky to have you! If you’re interested in joining the fun, stay tuned for summer internship opportunities! They will be posted here on our website.

Our 2017 events calendar is also on the website! Be sure to check out all our upcoming events and don’t forget about the Used Book Sale, March 3-5! We can’t wait to see all our friends this year.

Sincerely yours,

Hannah Z.

 

How to Visit a Historic House (Especially Locust Grove!)

One of the great pleasures of working at a historic house is the opportunity to welcome visitors from all over the world. During our very busy summer, our guests came to Locust Grove from as far away as Australia and as nearby as just across Blankenbaker Lane. We are always overjoyed to see you, whether it’s your first visit or your seventeenth, and we look forward to making you part of our family and showing off our house. If you stay with us long enough, we will tell you everything we know about the Croghans and Clarks, lives of Locust Grove’s enslaved people, Louisville’s growth as  a city, Kentucky’s significance as a state, and the work that has gone into restoring and preserving the house and grounds for you and future generations to enjoy. Many of our visitors are veterans of historic house tours, but some may be unfamiliar with the ways a historic house is different from a more traditional museum, including the students on school field trips who will file through the halls this fall.  When it comes to our house tours, our staff, desk volunteers, and docents who act as our tour guides want to make sure you feel welcome from the moment you walk in the door until the moment you take your leave. It’s especially important to us to give you the best experience we can! I asked our wonderful volunteers and staff members for their suggestions on how to make the most of a visit to a historic house like Locust Grove. Here’s what they had to say.

Rosalind and Lynn, two of the friendly faces who might greet you when you arrive!

Rosalind and Lynn, two of the friendly faces who might greet you when you arrive!

  1. If you are on a schedule, let us know when you arrive. Ask how long the tour will last, and tell us if you need to leave by a certain time. This will allow us to tailor your visit to you, and will also alert your docent to your time constraints so you can enjoy the tour and not be checking your watch. If it looks like you might not be able to go on the tour, we are happy to direct you to our museum gallery, set up a viewing of the film, and provide you with a map of our grounds and outbuildings so you can see everything but the house before you have to hit the road.
Our volunteers, like Tim and Nancy, are always happy to help!

Our volunteers, like Tim and Nancy, are always happy to help!

2.Call ahead if you are bringing a big group or may need special accommodations. Locust Grove is a three-story brick house built in 1792. Some of the rooms are small, and the only way to access the upper floors is climbing a staircase that shows the quirks of its age. If you are concerned about accessing the house, please call us so we can talk you through a visit to Locust Grove and tell you what a visit will entail so you can be informed. Our visitor’s center is fully accessible, and we are happy to provide assistance in any way we can. If you take the tour, but choose to stay on the first floor of the house, we are prepared to offer you photographs of the upper floors and to talk you through the rest of the tour. If you are bringing a group of ten or more, we ask that you call ahead to schedule your visit in advance so we can provide adequate docents to make your visit as pleasant as possible. No one wants to be crammed uncomfortably into one of the smaller rooms straining to hear! At Locust Grove, we endeavor to provide a personal, engaging experience, and we will do everything in our power to make that happen!

This August, Alba celebrated 15 years of working as a weekend manager at Locust Grove! Congratulations, Alba! We are so fortunate to count you as a part of our family!

This August, Alba celebrated 15 years of working as a weekend manager at Locust Grove! Congratulations, Alba! We are so fortunate to count you as a part of our family!

3. Speak up and ask questions! If you have something you’re just itching to ask, please do! Want to know about the purpose of the fancy copper basin in the master bedroom? Confused about why only six places are set in the dining room for a family of ten? Wondering about the significance of preserving the house in the first place? Ask us, ask us! Our most frequently asked question is, “Where is the bathroom?”, and we’re always happy to answer anything you might want to know, from what an enslaved person’s daily life might entail or where you can buy wallpaper like the pattern in the Grand Parlor. Although we hope you’ll return to visit, this might be your only chance to visit Locust Grove, and we’d hate for you to leave with lingering questions, even if they seem mundane to you. Tell your docent if you have a particular interest in something so your tour can be tailored to you. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll look it up! 

Rodger is one of our newest docents. Welcome Rodger!

Rodger is one of our newest docents. Welcome Rodger!

4. This is someone else’s house. One of the biggest differences between a historic house and a more traditional museum is the way we display our collection of items from the past. At Locust Grove, every building, every inch of carpet, wallpaper, and woodwork, and every item displayed in the house, from a thimble in the parlor to the punkah in the dining room is a part of our collection, and should be treated gently and with the utmost respect. You guessed it–this means please don’t touch. The furnishings in the house all date to the time period during which the Croghans were living at Locust Grove, all the woodwork is original, and the carpets and wallpapers have been carefully designed and produced to evoke those of times gone by. If your docent hands you some soap or a ball made from a pig’s bladder, consider it an invitation and by all means, touch! Otherwise, we ask you to keep your hands to yourselves and be aware of the age of your surroundings. For this reason, it’s especially important for you to stay with your tour guide. We welcome you to take photographs of anything you’d like to remember–just please turn off the flash. Thank you!

Bob Boone and Bob Pilkington always bring their sense of fun to work.

Bob B. and Bob P. always bring their sense of fun to work.

5. Keep an open mind. All of our docents have worked very hard to perfect their tours, and each of them have their own personal flair. The one thing each docent has in common is a desire to spark your imagination so you can understand the life lived at Locust Grove before any of us ever stepped over the doorstep. Be prepared to hear something new! Each docent’s tour is different, and even in history, we are constantly learning new things, so information is updated. Your curiosity by coming to visit and asking questions absolutely helps us to learn more about the place we love.

Our volunteers come from all ages and backgrounds, and often have special skills.

Our volunteers come from all ages and backgrounds, and often have special skills. Here, Carol, Kelli, Jocelyn, Heather, and Noah demonstrate an 18th century game.

Irene often interprets the crafts of dyeing, spinning, and weaving for school visits.

Irene often interprets the crafts of dyeing, spinning, and weaving for school visits.

Visitors like you are the reason we preserve and interpret Locust Grove and share the stories of all the people who lived here. We welcome your compliments, your suggestions, your concerns, and of course, your questions. Please stay in touch with us! I like to tell my tour guests that the reasons for using the back door are twofold. One: The front door sticks. Two: The back door was the door commonly used by members of the family and household. After you visit Locust Grove, we consider you part of our family and our story, so we encourage you to take ownership of your visit to Locust Grove. We cannot wait to see you again this fall!

With my sincere good wishes,

Hannah

P.S. To receive updates on all the goings-on at Locust Grove, why not join our e-mailing list? Sign-up HERE to receive monthly updates! Or if you foresee numerous visits to Locust Grove in your future, why not become a member? Friends of Locust Grove receive free admission, invitations to members-only events, a 10% discount in the Museum Store, a copy of our quarterly newsletter, The Grove Gazette and much, much more! More information can be found HERE.

You can also follow Locust Grove on the web by subscribing to the blog on the right, and following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. (We’re everywhere!)

Eliza Croghan and Cholera in Kentucky

A few weeks ago, Louisville suffered a major water main break, which meant that much of the city, including Locust Grove was under a 24-hour boil water advisory. In the midst of this event, I started thinking, as one does, about the connection between cholera and the Croghans. You see, Eliza Croghan Hancock died of cholera at Locust Grove on July 12, 1833, 182 years ago today, during a major cholera epidemic in Kentucky. Cholera, a waterbourne disease, was a common cause of death in cities, like Louisville, that were connected by river traffic. Clean drinking water through standardized sanitation practices was of especial importance to fighting the disease, but could be difficult to come by on the frontier of Kentucky. Eliza’s death from the disease occurred during  the major pandemic of 1832-1833. Lexington was hit especially hard during this period, as more than 500 people in a population of 7000 people died of cholera during the summer of 1833.

Elizabeth (Eliza) Croghan was born on April 9, 1800, the fifth child and second daughter of William and Lucy Croghan. She, along with her older sister Ann, was educated at home by her mother, father, and aunt Emilia Clarke. Eliza and Ann briefly attended Louisa Keats’ Domestic Academy in Springfield in 1810, but Eliza was so homesick they returned home to Locust Grove to finish their education. Eliza married George Hancock, a Virginia planter and the brother-in-law to her uncle William Clark on September 29, 1819. The Hancocks owned and lived at Locust Grove from 1828 to 1834.

Eliza Croghan Hancock

Eliza Croghan Hancock

As morbid as it seems, I have pulled the following letters from the Locust Grove manuscript collection between Eliza’s husband, George Hancock, and her brother-in-law, Thomas Jesup, detailing the cholera epidemic in Kentucky and Eliza’s death. As death from cholera is relatively quick, it is likely that Eliza was already suffering from another illness before her death, as indicated by Hancock’s earlier letters. Before she died, Eliza was a lively member of the Croghan family, so the first letter presented here was written by a ten-year-old Eliza to her older brother, William, Jr. I thought it might be nice to commemorate her life as well as her death.

Eliza C. Croghan to William Croghan Jr.:

[December 25, 1810]

Dear Brother

As Mr Walker is going up to Lexington Mama told me to Wright to you.  Sister Ann is just return from Cousin Eliza Gwathmy wedding and brought us some cake to dream on she says they wear very mery at the wedding and Cousin Betsy looked very pretty but what devirted me most was the blusxder Coock Robin made Aunt had a large cake made of brown sugar for the servoants and Coock Robin thru mistake toock one of Aunts best cakes and left her the one that was made of brown sugar.  The pretty Miss sally hughs is married to Mr Wade the dancing Master Mr and Mrs Hughs was very much against the match and sent Mr wade away but Miss sally said she loved him so well if he did not come back she would die so they sent for Mr wade back and they were married.  The very same day Mr wade toock his wife have behind him on his horse to Louisville home Miss Polly Prather I believe to Mr Newman.

I suppose you will be supprised to hear we are at home we went as far as Uncle Andersons but when we came to part some body began to cry recan you think it was me Mama got uneasy and said she could not part with us so here we are at home.  I am trying to learn what I can under the tuishion of Papa Mama and cousin Emilia I often think of the girls at the academy & Mama Keats, but we should have had to part some tim or other.  I think by this time I have tired you and if you will only excuse my bad writing bad spelling & bad diction I will forever be your affectionate sister.

Eliza C. Croghan

George Hancock to Genl. T.S. Jesup:

Locst Grove Octr 26th 1832

Dear Genļ

We reached home 5 days since, after a very fatigueing journey.  We found William quite ill, but…will be soon restored to health.  I was anxious that Eliza should have remained in Lexington…I could not prevail on her to do so.  She was indisposed on the road, and after arriving at home was quite ill, she is now however much better, …

Th Cholera is I think subsiding in Louisville.  Most of the cases are mild, and 4 in 5 cured – deaths about 5 to 8 per day.  The deaths almost entirely among the dissolute; the Better classes almost without an exception are cured of it.  In some instances it has been severe on farms.  Judge Speed lost 6 nigro men in 2 days.  I have had 2 cases on this place – but both cured – & I take some credit to myself for their recovery, (there being no physician at hand).  In town we have lost 2 … I intended to remove all mine, Charles yours & the Doctors to L.G. but Dr Tompkins persuaded me that if I crowd them with those here, that all will be in danger.  I therefore have left all in town.

…The farm has suffered awfully with Bilious fevers this fall, only one death however…but nearly all have been sick – some dangerously.  Chs McSorly was confined 3 weeks…my business of course much changed on the farm.  …

Yours truly

Geo: Hancock

Locust grove Nov. 1 1832

Dear Gen.

…Eliza is much recovered and in a few days will be well.  William has improved astonishingly and will be well in a week more I think.

Since my last we have had one case of Cholera – cured – and as the disease is said to be abating in Louisville, I hope we will soon have nothing to fear in the country – on yesterday a man belonging to Charles [Croghan] died very suddenly (Harry) only sick two or three hours.

…Doctr Tompkins stays constantly with us, and this of course [illegible] us somewhat to our being here.  …

Yours

Geo: Hancock

Locust Grove June 20th 1833

Dear Sir:

It has been a long time since we have heard from our friends in Washington, and I think the uneasiness on their account, felt by my wife, tends very much to retard her recovery from a violent Bilious (sic) attack.

Some days since we thought her nearly well, but within the last two days she has relapsed; and is now quite ill – Doctr Tompkins (who is with us) think her better since morning however; … the Cholera, and sickness of the neighborhood prevents my leaving home for Va.  …

–The cholera has made dreadful havoc in the country around us, on Mr Browns farm 12 men died in 36 hours.  Wm Bullitts, Wm Thompsons &c. have all suffered.  We have no case on the farm yet.  I keep us strict [illegible] and hope we may excape.

This morning it is reported that some Farmer (probably Judge Speed) has discovered an infallible remedy for it, in any Stages; having cured every case & having 40 cases.  – it is Cayenne Pepper mixed with Castor oil, and a warm Bath.  …

Geo: Hancock

Locust Grove June 24th 1833

Dr Sir

…Eliza is better today.  Mrs Pearce is with her, the Doctr thinks her convalescent.  The cholera is with us; we have 5 cases today – it yields readily to medicine and I hope none will prove fatal.  You can conceive nothing to equal the gloom spread over the country here.  No one leaves home.  Crops of wheat standing uncut, corn fields abandoned to winds. – and what makes all worse is it is incessantly raining; as yet there are few cases in Louisville.  … I hope Mrs Jesup & the children are well, and that they will come out with Mrs Croghan & see us again.

Yours truly

Geo: Hancock

Locust grove June 30th  1833

Dear Genļ

Since my last to you the Cholera has increased to an alarming extent.  We have not well ones enough to attend the sick – and it is difficult to get a Physician.  Dr. Tompkins is with us now and has promised not to leave us until Eliza is better.  I fear her situation is very critical.  My mother was taken with Cholera (I fear) tonight.  If Dr Croghan is with you for Gods sake send him on to us.

Yours

Geo: Hancock

     William Croghan, Jr.  to Charles W. Thruston:

Pittsburgh Sepr 8, 1833

Dear Charles

From my summer excursion, …I have in a great measure attained…my health, which is much improved.  The trip to Quebec, I did not make; learning when in New York of the decease of my poor dear Sister, my plans were all immediately changed, & forthwith, I hastened to Washington City, feeling a dub anxiety on the occasion for my aged Mother.  The safe return of the Dr about that time after a protracted voyage & in fine health, had a happy influence & I left her, doing quite well, & resigned to this heavy affliction.  …The Cholera here the past season, has offered to many … a pretext for not paying me my Rents, …

W. Croghan

While it was a trying 24 hours under the boil water advisory, 1833 was an even more difficult year for Louisville. I for one am certainly thankful for the Louisville Water Company, and the Lexington health ordinance that prevented pigs from roaming free in the streets.

With best regards for your continued good health,

Hannah