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.


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!


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!

Schenley Sweethearts: The Elopement of Mary Croghan and Edward Schenley

  Picture it: Staten Island, New York, 1842.  It was the scandal heard round the nation: young heiress Mary Elizabeth O’Hara Croghan, daughter of Louisville’s William Croghan, Jr. and Pittsburgh’s Mary O’Hara,  eloped with British Captain Edward Schenley, a twice-widowed man thirty years her senior.  Imagine the sensation! The intrigue! The rumors! What a scandal. Captain Schenley was the brother-in-law of Mary’s schoolmistress! Mary was only 15, and the only heiress to a large Pittsburgh fortune! Newspapers reported that her father, William Croghan, Jr., fainted when he heard the news, as well he might. Within the Croghan family, the episode was referred to as “the abduction of Mary.” A flurry of letters between William, his daughter, his new son-in-law, various members of Mary’s extended family, and the irresponsible schoolmistress all detail the intrigue surrounding the elopement. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are a few relevant letters, detailing the story of these two unlikely lovebirds. 



Mary Elizabeth O'Hara Croghan Schenley, before 1903.

Mary Elizabeth O’Hara Croghan Schenley, before 1903.

This first letter is dated January 23, 1842. It should be noted that Mary and Edward were married on January 22!

Mary Croghan to William Croghan Jr.

[Tompkinsville, N.Y.]                                                                                                         Jan 23rd 1842

My dear father.  I think you have treated me very very badly indeed in not writing to me as soon as you arrived in Washington, if Emmeline had not written to Mrs Macleod something about your being there, I can not say all the things I would have imagined had happened to you, but never mind if I do not receive a letter from you tomorrow or next day I will write another to you.  Mr Schenley has not yet ceased in his kindnesses to me and all of the other girls; the Saturday after you left I went into the city with Mrs Macleod to have my teeth (or tooth) arranged, after we had finished “he” came and took up to see Stouts statue of Fanny Elssler (oh it is too perfect) and afterwards we went to see the Panorama of Thebes and Jerusalem, that was quite enough for that day, and last Friday evening he took Fanny Wash, Mrs Macleod, Pina and me to the theatre, we staid at the American (tell Emmeline we had the same rooms exactly) we saw “London assurance” over again and “What will the world say”  O! it was too too nice I like the last the most, as it was very very amusing and interesting, we had the same private box that we had the first night […] I want to get a cloak and bonnet, two very necessary articles for New Brighton,, and I thought it would be better to tell you I want them before I get them, am I not an excellent good “big” girl I think so?  Do you intend visiting New York before you go to Pittsburg, from what Emmeline said in her last letter you had not then decided – Good bye my dear pa – If you do not soon write to your very  affectionate daughter 


P.S.  Do you not think I am improving in my writing?


Captain Edward Schenley. Image: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Captain Edward Schenley. Image: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In this letter, Edward attempts to ingratiate himself with his new bride’s father.

 Edward Schenley to William Croghan Jr.

[February, 1842]  New York

Dear Sir,

        Previous to your receiving this letter from the hands of my friend Mr. Henry Delafield, he will have disclosed,, verbally, to you the event which has called it forth; I shall therefore briefly but solemnly assure you that I have used no undue means of arguments to induce your very dear daughter to become my wife – that I have placed every circumstance of my life before her; and that her resolution to unite herself to me has been of upwards of a year standing;

        Not having experienced the honor of an intimate acquaintance with you; I must beg to refer you for a further knowledge of my general character and conduct as a son and husband, l.st to Mrs. Inglis whose daughter was my first wife, and who has known me thru good and evil fortune for nearly 20 years. – 2ndly to Sir William and Lady Pole of Shute House Devonshire, under whose care my only child, their granddaughter resides, and to whose paternal care it is my intention at once to place my Wife. –

        As regards Those who know me in this country.  I most freely commit my character; both publick and private into the hands of my warmest friends; I may almost say Brothers; Mr. H. Delafield and the other members of their family.  I have held intimate intercourse with them during 13 years a period which must have furnished them with an insight into my habits and disposition.

        I am by no means vain enough to suppose that any opinion, however favorable, can at once reconcile you to the disposal of your daughter’s affections and hand without your knowledge and sanction; but it is a duty I owe to myself as well as to you to prove that I am worthy of her and to offer it as the best place in my power for the wounded feelings and temporary bereavement I have occasioned you. —

        I refer you to herself for the feelings that have dictated this step on her part; and on that subject will merely remark that they can have been of no ordinary or sudden nature.  Whom induced her to unite with me in deceiving a Parent to whom She is most filially attached; And the family from whose care and kindness she has esperienced so much benefit and happiness.

        In conclusion, my dear Sir, permit me to assure you that my life shall be devoted to cherish, and render her happy. – Should circumstances admit of it, nothing could give us so much pleasure as your immediately joining us in England where I can safely promise you a hearty welcome from the Pole family and every connection I possess.

        I beg to subscribe myself; with respect and esteem.  Dear Sir. –Yours very.


                                                                                            Edward W.H. Schenley


In the following letter, Mrs. Richmond McLeod, Mary’s schoolmistress, attempts to explain herself to William Croghan.

Richmond Macleod to William Croghan Jr.

New Brighton
Thursday [February, 5 1842]
Since last evening when Mr Delafield came down to announce and break to us the dreadful event I have been contemplating how to address you my dear Mr Croghan. Dreadful as Mr Schenleys conduct is towards you it is so much worse towards Mamma and myself that I am yet inclined to doubt the truth of the whole story. Had he stabbed me to the heart it would have been a kinder act. At this moment writhing and suffering I only direct my thoughts to you, my prayers to Heaven to support you and bring you to look on this in the best way you can. A nights reflection shows me the ruin brought on me by my nearest and dearest relatives; but my only consolation is a clear conscience and a conviction that if I was deceived no one else could ever have discovered it. I have sent poor Emmeline such a letter as I am able to write – and remain your most unfortunate though always with respect.
Richmond M. Macleod


Here, Edward Schenley writes his account of events to a friend.

Edward Schenley to Mr. Lynch [1842]

My dear sir,

The very night I supped with you my final arrangements were completed to [illegible] off to England [.] Miss Croghan, to whim I was duly and properly married on the 22nd Jan. all of course by that of [illegible] and after a long [illegible words] difficult but effectual deceptions [illegible] against my family here. The subject of my intruding these matters upon you is to beg the favour of your friendly offices for them under the severe affliction and indignation that they are likely at the first practised to consider it. I have written a good number of letters which it is possible, and I wish you and captain Bolton may see: for I think that their [illegible] will convince you that disparity of age is the only thing that can seriously be advanced as an objection; permit me to assure you most solemnly that this and every other circumstance  connected with me has been laid before my wife; and that her resolution to marry me at all events has dated from a year back. That I am credibly informed to she more than once stated this resolution to her father, and that our greatest fear was that he would caution my family—in which case the thing could not have been affected: however not to trouble you more than necessary I shall merely again solicit your friendly influence amongst any persons who may get hold of a wrong version of the story, or who may prefer abusing them to the really only blamable person.

Your obliged friend

Edwd W. Schenley


Mary’s uncle, General Thomas Jesup, was dispatched to New York to sort out the situation. His two letters follow.

Genl. T.S. Jesup to William Croghan Jr.

New York 12th Feby 1842

My dear Sir,

        I arrived here late last night, and have today been constantly occupied in inquiries in relation to the event so distressing to us all.  Thus far I have found but little that is satisfactory – If Mrs MacLeod is innocent circumstances are most strongly against her – She brought Mary to the City on the 21st of January, and took her to the theatre – Staid that night at Couzens’ Hotel, & as she says, Mary slept in the room with her, & Miss Wash and her daughter in another room – they remained until one o’clock the next day (the 22nd), in the City […] The Marriage certificate which I have seen is dated the 22nd of January the identity of both Mary & Schenley was testified to before the police magistrate by a worthless fellow by the name of Lafarge – though Inglis was present, he did not testify to their identity.  If they have sailed at all, they have gone under assumed names – no persons under the name of Schenley sailed in the mediator. I have seen a letter of W. Schenley to W. Lynch in which he declares that he was engaged to Mary before he went  last to Demarara, and that she has informed you of the engagement—the latter declaration I pronounced to be false the moment I heard it—was I not right? […]

        I will write again tomorrow evening.

                                                                    Yrs truly. Th: S. Jesup

New York,  Feby  14th 1842

My dear Sir,

       […] I this morning traced Mr Schenley & Mary to the hotel, (Holts,) where they staid from 11 o’clock on the 31st of January ‘till the same hour on the 1st of this month, when they went on board the Mediator.  I have also become acquainted with facts which put it beyond doubt that Mrs Macleod has been the principal actor in the drama.  She says, as you no doubt remember, that Mary wrote to her to send her some clothes, as you required her to remain with you in the City.  She sent the clothes, but in place of directing them to the Astor house to your care, she directed them to William Inglis – by accident the label became loose and a gentlemen who was requested to see the bundle delivered to Inglis discovered that on the inner ride it was directed to “Miss Mary Croghan, care of W. Inglis.”  If it were a case of murder any jury would convict Mrs. Macleod on the circumstantial evidence that has been elicited. I obtained to day a copy of the letter of Mr. Schenley to Mr. Lynch which I enclose.

        I have seen either copies or the originals of all the letters written by Mr. Schenley, except one to Captain Bolton which I am told contains a challenge to any or all who may comment on his conduct. The substance of the letter to Mr. Lynch is circulating in a portion of the Society here—if the replies have I understand circulated a report that you conducted Ms. Macleod from my house to the [illegible], and the influence drawn from the circumstances is that you were reconciled to the event which has taken place—I did not think it necessary to contradict the statement, but simply replied  to the gentleman who made the communication that her mother had placed her under our protection, and I did not consider it very complimentary to either of us to make it a mother also much wonder that we should have behaved toward her as gentlemen.

        With my best wishes for your health & happiness I am, dear sir, most truly yrs.

                                                                    Th. S. Jesup


Finally,  Mary’s uncle George Croghan writes to his cousin, John O’Fallon, of the affair.

George Croghan to Col. O’Fallon

Mammoth Cave 16th Feb y. 1842

My Dear Sir

        I entreat of you as a friend and relation to take your Daughter away from the Brighton school as you would save her from the contaminating influence of its Directress Mrs McLeod than whom a more artful intriguing and base woman does not exist.  You will have heard that my Brother William has been robbed of his Daughter a child of 14 years old.  [illegible] by the [illegible] artifices of that vile woman she has eloped (perhaps forced away) & sailed for England with a Mr Schenley (a man of 56 and brother in law to Mrs McLoed) who has for a length of been aiding & abetting with fiend like appetite his worthy accomplice in a crime in the nefarious scheme of robbing a Father of his child, that they may secure to themselves a portion at last of her immense estate.

Mrs McLeod will attempt to exonerate herself from all blame & may succeed with some for she has the talents, [illegible] & cunning of the devil himself, but listen not to her – facts are so strong against her that nothing ought to restrain my Brother from arraigning her before the courts as the kidnapper of his child.

Two years ago if not more the Dr implored Wm not to intrust his Daughter to the care of Mrs McLeod as she was unworthy – had the Dr prevailed what agony would have been avoided.  I have received two letters from Mr Croghan upon this distressing subject, filled with details of the cool calculating schemes and artifices resorted to by the vile woman to effect her nefarious end.  Wm is half distracted.  Let him rouse himself and pursue to the rescue of his child, even though to effect it he have to blow the vile robbers brains out.  I write in haste & in great distress. …

                                                                    G. Croghan


Well! Although the circumstances of their marriage may not have been satisfactory, by all accounts Mary and Edward had a contented, happy married life. They lived for a time in Suriname, where Edward was posted by the British Foreign Office, before making their residence in London. They had seven children together, and remained married until Edward’s death in 1878. Before her own death in 1903, Mary became a major Pittsburgh philanthropist, donating land which became part of Carnegie Mellon University and Schenley Park.  Upon her death, her estate was estimated at £870,000, or roughly $93 million. Despite the scandalous start, these sweethearts became something special.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!




Letter transcriptions taken from the Historic Locust Grove Manuscript Collection.

S. Kussart, “One Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Mrs. Mary E. Schenley.” The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 4, October 1926, pp. 209-220.

Popular Pittsburgh, “Pittsburgh Profiles: May E. Schenley – The Pittsburgh Enchantress Who Shocked the World.” February 11, 2015. Accessed February 13, 2017. http://popularpittsburgh.com/mary-schenley/

Gwynne Tuell Potts, The Very Rich and Scandalous Miss Croghan, presented at Locust Grove in March 2015.

Gwynne Tuell Potts and Samuel W. Thomas, George Rogers Clark: Military Leader in the Pioneer West & Locust Grove: The Croghan Homestead Honoring Him. Louisville: Historic Locust Grove, 2006.



“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.  


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,