Christmas in our hearts: Christmastide at Locust Grove

We had a marvelous time celebrating Christmastide with all of our friends and neighbors this year! Over 400 guests came through our doors to visit with the Croghans, enjoy music and dancing in the Grand Parlor, tour the house and the kitchen, shop in the book sale and the Museum Store, and celebrate the spirit of the season! A grand time was had by all, and here are some stories and pictures to prove it!

On Friday evening, Locust Grove was honored to host Yeoman Warder Robert Brown of the Tower of London. Yeoman Warder Brown regaled guests in the auditorium with ghost stories from the tour before touring the house and greeting the cast. His visit to Louisville was hosted by the Society of the Cincinnati, of which William Croghan was a member. Jamie E. as Owen Gwathmey greeted Yeoman Warder Brown and members of the Society in the dining room, where he showed off “Major Croghan’s portrait and the china with their emblem designed by Pierre L’Enfant. We had fun with the steamboats too, sharing that Captain Shere had gone upriver: Where no man had gone before. Then we let them know the name of his ship was of course: The Enterprise.”

103

Yeoman Warder Brown with the ladies of the cast.

img_20151204_190323768.jpg

Out in the kitchen, hearth cook Melissa made drinking chocolate, baked apples, cider, and gingerbread to conjure up historical smells for our guests!

img_20151205_190447281.jpg

As with most of our interpretation events, Christmastide takes place in the year 1816, and guests are invited to inquire about current events, fashions, traditions, and other topics from that year. Sharron H., as Fanny Fitzhugh, found that even discussing something as mundane  as the weather can be interesting for guests and interpreters alike. Sharron recalls that a group of guests  “came in asking, “What’s this about a year without a summer?” And Ted and I started sharing stories we’d heard about how cold it had been in New England with late frosts and freezing temps well into the summer and how just plain cold it had been that year. We talked about how we had heard that crops across Europe were lost to freezes and floods and how we feared there would be famine if it went on too long. When one of the guests asked if we knew what was causing this, we said we had no idea, but we wondered if the rumors of “end times” could be true. First there was the massive earthquakes in 1811/1812 and the tales of how the Mississippi flowed backwards for a time. Then there was the recent comet that came and just hung in the sky for weeks. Now this weird weather…It all started when the steamboat’s first trip UP the river. Maybe God was trying to tell us we were getting too big for our britches!” 

img_20151201_192802107.jpg

General Clark and his sister Fanny greet guests.

Our cast of costumed interpreters includes several younger members, all of whom have their own unique perspective on life in 1816. As Laura B. (Barbara Cosby) introduced a group of younger guests to her dolls, one of them inquired if she had ever heard of Barbie! Laura as Barbara was then able to talk with these guests about how she acquired her playthings while they acquainted her with 21st century ideas such as plastic and Target! Laura and Jocelyn H/ (Eloise Bullitt) also played period games such as Game of Goose with guests of all ages, demonstrating that fun can be had in any century!

img_20151204_191107984.jpg

Several of our guests of all ages joined in the dancing and proved to be quick studies, especially this little guest, who conceded to dance as long as her mom joined her. Hannah S. as Elizabeth Taylor was one of the dancers, and she remarked that “my favorite moment was when we got to dance with that sweet little tiny who danced with her mom. The smile on her face when we all clapped for her at the end was just magical.”

In the parlor, Mia S. as Lucy Croghan received guests to her home and shared some of the trials of raising six sons. Mia recalls that she told many guests to tell her if they found her sons playing cards, and was gratified when a young guest, after coming across the Croghan sons playing Speculation in the Farm Office raced back to the parlor to report the clandestine card-playing.

49

Mrs. Peggy Taylor and Mrs. Lucy Croghan disapprove of card playing.

Christmastide has always included music, but this year musical accompaniment for dancing was provided by Tammy B. as Mrs. Richard Taylor on the violin, with carols sung by Hannah S. and Sara R., as Elizabeth Taylor and Mary Ann Cosby. We were incredibly fortunate to have them share their talents with us, as mentioned by Brian Cushing: “Our wonderful musical interpreters scrambled when we found out that our long time musicians were no longer available and the vocals by Hannah and Sara and the violin music from Tammy that resulted was not only breathtakingly beautiful and enchanting but one of the most authentic feeling musical interpretations that has ever happened there. A visitor from another historic site remarked to me what a truly authentic salon/parlor experience it was.”

Jason H. (Judge Fortunatus Cosby) also had words of praise for our musicians, declaring that “the highlight for me was our two vocalists singing their duets. They drew so many people into the grand parlor and got so many compliments from the crowd. While Mr. Cosby was as effusive as always, they did TRULY sound angelic.Tammy was so terrific that we kept entreating her to come back up and play. She was much in demand!”

If you don’t believe our eye-and-ear witnesses, here’s a short clip of these talented ladies!

And here is Tammy fiddling to accompany the dancing!

Our mischievous gardener Sarah hung mistletoe from the banister, and many couples were caught underneath, turning Christmastide into “Kissmastide”!

Christmastide is structured as a family party, when the Croghans, and their relations, friends and neighbors come together to celebrate the season and the end of another year. We always want our guests to feel just as welcome to take part in this family celebration. Janice S. as Ann Clark Gwathmey remarked that “The house really felt like home and we really felt like one big family. Our greetings to each other were warm and heartfelt. Our conversations to each other and to the guests were genuine and our laughter was contagious!” We hope all you felt this same spirit! Much cheer to all of you in the coming weeks!

Joyfully yours,

Hannah

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“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?

12289511_1177206032306967_4134782337443405646_n

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.

12239861_855094894610523_3588027119894089143_n

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.”

12301672_854810181305661_8292494959499882093_n

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

12308757_854838304636182_2139938986762807675_n

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!

12313940_854832324636780_3770293116808339575_n

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)

10525963_663984353721579_7968468922115896876_n

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.”

12342486_1177205718973665_7416123972316160723_n

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,

Hannah

12341127_854883527964993_209388105089213808_n

The entire cast!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photographs courtesy of Fox and Rose Photography and Hannah Zimmerman.

We’re going to Kentucky, we’re going to the Fair: A Weekend at Locust Grove’s Market Fair

Fall is one of the best times of year to visit Locust Grove, so what better way to see the house and grounds than during the lively festivities of Market Fair! This year’s event was a tremendous success, full of wonderful performances, engaging demonstrations, dozens of vendors of all sorts of foods and goods, and of course, the faces of our friends who came out to the fair! Here are some of the highlights from the weekend.

12189710_1159062954121275_688394264120048883_n

My favorite part of Market Fair is seeing the site come alive with the stories from the past and the people in the present who interpret those stories. It’s especially fun when Locust Grove plays host to animals! Spinner and Weaver Peggy from Loom Hall borrowed three sheep and brought them with her! I spent a lot of my weekend making friends with Juniper, Llama, and Cotton.

12063796_1159062200788017_7078613104610616711_n

12118806_1159083367452567_1201864771234402817_n

Good morning sheep!

11986562_1158571417503762_4931341976359010324_n

An animated discussion about wool.

Wool at Loom Hall.

Wool at Loom Hall.

11138092_1159062160788021_1775155020000801834_n

Peggy was happy to talk wool, sheep, spinning, and looms to visitors.

Another new addition to Market Fair was an 18th century pony cart! Candy trotted Mattie the pony around the fair, cheering everyone up with the sound of the cart’s bells!

12046740_1158570500837187_9119091828501523170_n

Candy and Mattie pause during artillery demonstrations.

12046839_1158567447504159_5759086579774350948_n

Spot Candy and Mattie in this picture!

Crown Point Bread Company joined us again from New York, and brought along Carver, the resident bread dog. However, Carver was more interested in the wares of His Lordship’s Beef than bread and made every effort to befriend Steve and his team throughout the weekend.

12191435_1159077494119821_4264068927296100037_n

“Come on Steve, just one tiny taste?”

12141762_1158570294170541_4288196183485061281_n

Meat roasts at His Lordship’s Beef

12049476_1158569920837245_428006174171442027_n

Carver’s human, Yannig, sold delicious rolls, loaves, and cookies, and always had long lines.

12074662_1158567190837518_397825673965932649_n

The crew of His Lordship’s Beef!

For many people, Market Fair is a kind of family reunion, a time to spend time with friends and fellow reenactors from all over the country. Blacksmith Aubrey Williams came from Terre Haute, Indiana for the weekend, and shared a booth with Jim Carr, from the Hikes Point neighborhood of Louisville. Williams has been coming to Market Fair for about ten years, and enjoys demonstrating his forge to visitors, remarking that “people like you to make things.” Carr works in IT when not in the forge and got hooked on reliving history after visiting Market Fair a few years ago.

1601563_1159076354119935_4642865813867847105_n

Jim and Aubrey are truly talented smiths.

Silas Moore the Rat Catcher brought his apprentice (and grandson) Roscoe to Market Fair this year.

Silas Moore the Rat Catcher brought his apprentice (and grandson) Roscoe to Market Fair this year.

By day, Nathanael Logsdon is the director of Historic Tunnel Mill, and the proprietor of Taylor Rose Historical Outfitters. During Market Fair, he brewed my favorite beverage, coffee, along with tea and chocolate, as Hellringer and Kurtz. (The Kentucky Bourbon Pecan blend was delicious!)

12049515_1159077704119800_6817096199350909270_n

1610994_1158571914170379_2763069024778249551_n

Nathanael was joined by his family and a giant copper coffee pot!

I also met a group of folks with another connection to George Rogers Clark–Barbara Lemmons and Gary, Liz, and Kyra Williams from Evansville, Indiana. Their home historic site is George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Vincennes, and they enjoy coming down to Louisville to further celebrate the past and George Rogers Clark. As Gary, a graphic designer, said “George Rogers Clark was a very real person”, and learning more about him and other like him is one of the best part of reenacting. Kyra has been a reenactor her whole life–24 years, one month, and three weeks as of Market Fair!–and along with her mom, Liz, counts the shopping and the people as her favorite part of the event. My favorite part? Barbara’s ginger cookies.

12190114_1159073140786923_1301558504138104255_n

Gary, Kyra, Barbara, and Liz are Market Fair veterans!

Joining us once again all the way from Wisconsin were the Amazing Budabi Brother, Nick and Erik. According to Erik, they grew up as Amish gypsies, and were raised as ninjas. Put differently by Nick, they were born into reenacting and trained horses and oxen until they learned to juggle as teenagers to help them get girls. They quickly learned that jokes and fire make for a better show, and audiences seem to agree! What should we expect from the Budabis at next year’s Market Fair? “Elephants.”

12106802_1158570064170564_6091740800924051037_n

12049670_1159063287454575_6339313547238364270_n

Erik often gets called Aladdin. Someone once told Nick he looked like the Hamburglar.

12063388_1159072300787007_991602760698435827_n

12042937_1159072580786979_545812466939126316_n

IMG_2496

We also had some wonderful musical performances by Jonathan Hagee the balladeer and Jack Salt and the Captain’s Daughter! You can go to our YouTube channel and check out some song snippets from these talented performers.

Market Fair wasn’t always pleasant, however. Some Patriot gentlemen began declaiming anti-British sentiments and reading aloud from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, and brought out a dummy of the King. Two Loyalist gentlemen overheard, and the next thing anyone knew, the Regulars were on the move, and the Patriots were on the run.

12190107_1159073967453507_6226099521362427313_n

Mr. Paine has some interesting ideas.

12189701_1159075740786663_5183045711572380439_n

However, this Loyalist gentleman didn’t seem to appreciate them.

12063707_1159073887453515_7513626037585763146_n

Searching for those radical gentlemen.

Market Fair wouldn’t be complete without reenacting a few military drills and engagements.

CIMG0143

CIMG0157

CIMG0154

CIMG0142

12065590_1158572150837022_8622745237854455372_n

12049183_1159076764119894_2483750592980464594_n

IMG_2626

So, for one weekend, this old house rang with the sounds of forges and pony cart bells, cannon fire, sea chanteys, and good friends meeting old friends. What a lovely end to October–we can’t wait until next year! We love knowing what you thought of your historical experiences, so please share your stories and pictures with us, here on the blog in the comments section, or on Facebook. We certainly hope to see you again soon–for Christmastide! Thank you for spending time with us this autumn!

With sincere good wishes,

Hannah

 

 

12189062_1159077780786459_7429740046272680719_n

P.S. Check out even more photos from Market Fair below!

Additional photographs provided by Jeannie Vezeau, Gail Thompson, and Bob Boone.