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.


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.


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,


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!



“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?


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.


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.”


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


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!


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)


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.”


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,



The entire cast!

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Photographs courtesy of Fox and Rose Photography and Hannah Zimmerman.

“Teach me, and I remember”: The Croghan Children’s Education

With the onset of fall here at Locust Grove, we are delighted to welcome school groups on a weekly basis to tour the house and grounds and learn about work and play in the late 1790s and early 1800s. All these students exploring Locust Grove for the first time got me thinking about the children This got me thinking about the education of the Croghan children during their time here at Locust Grove. The Croghans had eight children: John, George, William Jr., Ann, Eliza, Charles, Nicholas, and Edmund. All eight started their education at home, likely in the Grand Parlor on the second floor of the house. Around the age of ten or twelve, depending on the child, they were sent away to school. John and George attended Dr. Priestley’s Seminary in Danville, KY, William, Jr. attended Transylvania College and Dickinson College, the twins Charles and Nicholas attend St. Thomas College near Springfield, KY, and Edmund attended Jefferson Seminary. For a short period of time, Ann and Eliza studied at Louisa Keats’ Domestic Academy, but Eliza became homesick and they continued their education at home with their parents and cousin Emelia Clarke.

Dr. John Croghan and his brother William Jr. relax on the porch.

Dr. John Croghan and his brother William Jr. relax on the porch.

Of the eight siblings, John became a physician, George a soldier, and William Jr. practiced law, while Ann and Eliza made advantageous marriages. Sadly, Charles, Nicholas, and Edmund died before taking up an occupation. Charles actually died of tuberculosis in Paris in 1832 at the age of 30, attended by his brother Dr. John. All of the brothers left behind many letters between themselves and their parents, letters which reveal close and loving relationship between family members. Some of my favorites written during the brothers’ school days are excerpted below. Please enjoy!

John Croghan to Majr. William Croghan, Danville April 27th 1807

Dear Father,

          Being considerably engaged at present in my scholastic pursuits, and having a very conspicuous office to fill in the Sophomore society, the supposition must be that I am bereft of the pleasure of writing to you as often as I here to fore have done.

          In your last letter to me I observe that you intend taking my Brother [George] & myself from this Seminary as soon as our year will expire with Mr Priestley (the termination of which will be the first of June) and then to send us to one of the Eastern Colleges.  It is my wish to go to some University for the further refinement of my mental improvements, and if it were left to my choice I should prefer that of Cambridge [Harvard College], which on account of its Learned professors, Library, and Apparatus is in higher repute than any University in the United States.  As to the College at Baltimore I am in hopes you have no thoughts of sending us to for I consider this as a Seminary of learning far superior to it.  The studies which I am at present engaged are Geography, Homer (a Greek author) Terence, and Arithmetic occasionally, and Rhetoric – I have completed the study of Euclid, and Trigonometry.  I have nothing more to relate to you at present without entering on the borders of politics.

          I was extremely sorry that I could not accompany my Brother to Jefferson, but it was utterly impossible.  I had made frequent application for Horses, but was as often refused; numbers of the students were detained here on this account.  Give my respects to Mama and Family, and likewise to Uncle George Clark whenever you happen to see him; he is an Uncle for whom on account of his noble, independent, and patriotic spirit, on account of the services he has rendered his Country, and the distinguished manner in which he has behaved in the field of Wars I am very partial to.  He possessed truly a magnanimous Mind!  Adieu for the present my dear Father may the light of Heaven continue to shine around you.

                                                                      John Croghan

Many defects will occur throughout tis letter which William may point out –

Dr. John Croghan as he appeared in life.

Dr. John Croghan as he appeared in life.

 John Croghan to John O’Fallon, Locust grove, June 27th 1807

Dear John

          … the very unfortunate accident which has befallen my Brother Nicholas, … During this last storm which happened previous to my arrival here a tree was blown down not far distant from my Fathers house, on one of the limbs of which he has ascended, and having fallen from there, he struck his Eye on a stick which stood erect from the ground, which penetrated so deeply that it at once demolished both the Retina and Iris of the Eye.  We have the sight of his Eye in a wine glass … I shall therefore terminate by stating that Nicholas is deprived of his sight, Uncle George (who is here at present) appears to be very near in the predicament, and indeed the soar Eyes predominate almost throughout the whole neighborhood.  Uncle has been here for some time …

                                                                                              John Croghan

Nicholas lost an eye in an accident at the age of five.

Nicholas lost an eye in an accident at the age of five.

  Majr William Croghan to Nicholas or Charles Croghan, Locust grove May 11th 1816

My Dear Nicholas or Charles,

I have Received your Letter of the 7th instant which is Wrote and worded in so handsome a Stile (for the first letter you ever Wrote) that I cannot but flatter Myself that in a Short time you will so far Improve as to be equal to most Boys of your Age & Experience. – I got to Bardstown the Evening I left you, where I stayed all Night and the Next Morning Started for home accompanied by Captain Moore and Fortunates Cosby and Arrived in the Afternoon.

          At present I wish you to be Instructed in Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography & History, One of your brothers or Myself will call to see you this Summer and see what Improvement you have Made and Consult with the professors what Other branches of Education you had better be Instructed in. – your Confinement at College and living there [2 lines scratched out] but you Must put up with it, and Cheerfully Submit to the Rules of the College & advice & Instructions of the professors; you are Sent there to Recover the time you lost at the Stone Schoolhouse where you made but little Improvement in your Education, pray my Dear Boys be attentive to your Books and no doubt you will have a Good Education, your Brother Edmund continues at the Seminary in Louisville and Improves, I hope you will at least Improve in your Education as fast as he does, your Brothers John, George & William have each of them a good Education, and Nothing will give me greater pleasure than to find by your Attention that you are likely to follow their Examples and Acquire a good Education, — your Sisters and Brother Edmund are Much Obliged to you for the pictures, and paintings, — pray Write to me every two or three Weeks, let me know what you are learning, and how you like to live at the College, let me know if you want anything, and if in my power I will Send it for you. —  your Mother Brothers & Sisters Unite with me in their love to you wishing you every possible happiness.

                                                                          I am My Dear Boys

                                                                              Your Affectionate Father

                                                                              W Croghan

May 14th I expected to Send this letter by Fortunatus Cosby, with two pair of pantaloons but he will not Start for a few days, when he goes I will Send the pantaloons, — Inform James Bate that his Father has Received the letter he Wrote the Family are all well.  WC

After dying in Paris, Charles Croghan was buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

After dying in Paris, Charles Croghan was buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Majr. William Croghan to Nicholas & Charles Croghan, Locust grove June 19th 1816

My Dear Nicholas & Charles

I Received the letter you Wrote by Mr Bates, with Several other Letters you wrote a few days before, from those Letters I am Sorry to Observe that you don’t appear Satisfyed with your Situation at the College, which I think in a great Measure proceeds from Improper Advice gave to you by One of two of the Boys at College, you and those Boys were Informed of the Rules that were to be Observed at College and Should conform to them, you was sent there with a view of Improving in your Education which no doubt you will do if attentive to the Instructions of the professors.  They are men of Liberal Education, and highly qualified to teach the Different Branches of Education they teach, don’t let the Idle Conversation of a few Unruly Boys who wish to come home have an effect on you; when you write Letters, let them be Wrote by your Selves. – I received the letter you Wrote by the young French Gentlemen, who I supposed Informed you of their Spending an Evening on Board the Steamboat with your Mother, Sisters, & Myself. – Edmund Continues at the Seminary in Louisville, learning Latin &c, — I lately heard from your Brothers George & William, they were well and Expect to be home, George in 5 or 6 weeks, William soon after, when they come no doubt they will pay you a visit. – you must try by All means to be Reconciled to your Situation at College, you now have an Opportunity of Improving in your Education, therefore let me beg you would be Attentive and loose no time, Should you pass over this favourable Opportunity, you never will have it in your power to Improve to such Advantage again,

          Let me hear from you frequently and Should you be in want of a little money or anything I can Send let me know & I will sent it, —

                                                                              Your Affectionate Father

                                                                                    W Croghan

June 25th  Since Writing the foregoing I received three letters from you; and your Brother Edmund & Sisters Ann & Eliza  One, — We now have plenty of the pictures which you have Inclosed in your letters, Each pickture you inclose in your letter or piece of paper is liable to pay the same postage of a letter, if One piece of paper is inclosed Double postage Must be paid, if two [or] three times the postage, be the papers ever so Small.

          Dear Charles I have Received your letter and am glad to Understand by it, that you have conducted yourself so well as to not have a Bad Mark since you went to College, — Pray my Dear Charles try to Improve in your Education you now have a Much better Opportunity of doing it than you will ever have again, as to your coming home the 4th of July you Must not think of it I wish very much to see you and Nicholas but cannot think of your looseing the time at present and [I] Must try to see you if in my power, – My Dear Boys from your Letters I am Sorry to Observe that your clothes are getting very Much worn, I was in hopes your New Coats, with last Summers Coat, and your Cloth Coats with the Other Cloths you had, would have lasted until Next Fall, not in I purposed getting you new Cloths but I shall Make some Arrangement by seeing you or Otherwise by which you Shall have a Supply of Cloths Shortly, until then take what care you can of your Cloths, — I am my Dear

                                                                                              Your affectionate Father

                                                                                                  W Croghan

Charles and Nicholas survey Locust Grove from the porch with their cousin, Eloise Bullitt.

Charles and Nicholas survey Locust Grove from the porch with their cousin, Eloise Bullitt.

It must be fun to grow up in such a big, bustling family as the Croghans! Don’t forget to stop by for Market Fair next weekend to experience the eighteenth century at Locust Grove! We’ll have an encampment, music, entertainment, food, and so much more! I highly recommend visiting with the rat catcher.

Many happy returns of the season to you!


Market Fair 2015 Poster