And now, a word from our interns: Smokehouses, Sewing, and Stories of Summer 2016

Summer is waning here in Kentucky–the hemp has been harvested, school groups begin their annual visits, and our interns leave Locust Grove after a summer of great work. We’ve had three interns with us this summer, and we are so grateful for their commitment to Locust Grove and all of the help they provided to our research, interpretation, and programs. We sat them down and asked them them about their experiences–read on to meet Carl, Jasmine, and Amy!

  1. Introduce yourself!

I’m Carl C., and in May 2016, I earned an MA in History from the University of Louisville.  In the fall, I will begin the PhD in History program at Northwestern University, where I plan to focus on nineteenth-century U.S. history and the study of American Catholicism.  Prior to enrolling in the graduate program at Louisville, I earned a BA in History from Murray State University and taught in the Calloway County School District.


2. What brought you to Locust Grove?

Although a student of the Civil War Era, I have always been interested in the history of early Kentucky and the development of the Ohio River valley.  Having received most of my training in traditional history courses, rather than in public history or museum studies, I considered the Cultural Landscape Intern position an opportunity to apply my research and writing skills in a public history setting.

3. What are you working on this summer at LG? 

As the Cultural Landscape Intern, I am responsible for collecting and organizing all the available information about the original ~700 acres at Locust Grove.  During the first month of my internship, I read the letters included in the Historic Locust Grove Manuscript Collection, visited The Filson Historical Society to view relevant documents, and compiled a list of useful maps.  These documents will be used to analyze how Locust Grove has changed over time as well as answer questions about how the Croghans utilized their land.

4. What has been your favorite part so far?

I’ve enjoyed the environment at Locust Grove and meeting new people, including staff, volunteers, and guests.  Undoubtedly, I’ve made connections that will continue beyond the timeline of my internship.

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

I hope to learn more about Louisville and United States history during the Early Republic and antebellum periods.  Furthermore, I am excited to gain valuable experience working at a historic site.

1. Introduce yourself! 

My name is Jasmine W. and I am a senior history major at the University of Louisville.


2. What brought you to Locust Grove?

Last summer, I completed historical research and that has led me to a new found love for the work. This spring, I had completed an internship at Culbertson Historic Mansion in New Albany, Indiana and wanted to continue working in the museum field in the summer. My professor sent me an email outlining Locust Grove’s internships for the summer and I applied!
3. What are you working on this summer at LG? 

I am currently working on researching 19th century smokehouses in Kentucky. I am using this research to create more accurate interpretation plan for the smokehouse. I have also been cross training as a docent!
4. What has been your favorite part so far?

My favorite part has been researching and learning about everyday farm life in the 19th century.  Also, giving tours has been enjoyable. I love getting to talk to people from all over with difference interests.
5. What do you hope to gain from your LG experience?

In a broad sense I hope to learn more about museum interpretation. How the research of historians, and museum workers, can be used to create an interactive learning experience for the general public. On a smaller scale, I want to learn about the daily work that goes on a in a museum: working as a docent, event planning, hosting field trips, attending lectures, and interacting with volunteers and the staff.

  1. Introduce yourself! 

I am Amy L. and I have a Bachelors of Arts in History from the University of California at Davis, and a Masters of Arts in History from San Francisco State University. They don’t put it on the diploma, but I can say I passed my comps at SF State with honors!

I was also full time faculty in History at Jefferson Community & Technical College until their recent layoffs (part of the game of Academia, I suppose!) Teaching history at the community college level was my dream job. It was the whole reason I went back for my masters and I absolutely loved every minute of it.


2. What brought you to Locust Grove?

I think I had my first meeting at Locust Grove about a week and a half after moving to Louisville. I have been the Theatrical Director for the First Person Interpreters program since 2013 when I moved here and began teaching at JCTC.

Carol Ely and I had already been discussing the possibility of my interning here over the summer when the JCTC layoffs hit. Having this lined up as my ‘next step’ to beef up my CV definitely made that entire process much easier. Losing a job I really loved and had always wanted to do was pretty devastating, but I had the Grove to catch me and help keep me sane. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without this place.

3. What are you working on this summer at LG? 

So many things! My first project was to catalog and tag all the clothing for the Interpreters. I am also working on developing an easily accessible format to host all of the amazing resources and research which has been compiled for that program in the last 3+ years. Both of those projects are being helped along by some other amazing Grove volunteers.

I am also helping with several projects for the 1841 Duel/Timeline Picnic. That includes promotion as well as research and development for two different displays, including one on Louisville and Locust Grove in the 1840’s. I’m having a great time going through all the letters from that period right now. It’s right in the center of the biggest George drama!
4. What has been your favorite part so far?

I’ve spent so long as a volunteer at Locust Grove around my other job, it has been almost unbelievable to get to be here several days a week and really feel like part of the team.

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

Originally this was an opportunity for me to just get in here and make some things happen the staff didn’t have the bandwidth for. Since then, it’s become an amazing opportunity to beef up my resume and possibly transition into museum work from higher education. The opportunity to get in the hearth kitchen and play around has definitely been an added bonus! I’m still looking for some volunteers to help sew tags into clothing as well as some other upcoming costuming projects- ask me if you want to come sit and stitch!

Our interns are such a valuable part of our summers here at Locust Grove. Thank you for everything you have done for us and stay in touch!

To our regular blog readers, have you joined the Locust Grove email list yet? Stay abreast of all the happenings at Locust Grove by visiting here. We’ll see you at the Antiques Fair on September 25!

Your obedient servant,


Those Caving Croghans: Locust Grove visits Mammoth Cave

This is a very momentous year for the National Park Service–it’s the National Park Centennial! To celebrate this occasion, Locust Grove staff and volunteers took a tour of Mammoth Cave, Kentucky’s only National Park and the longest known cave system in the world. Mammoth Cave has a noteworthy connection to Locust Grove–Dr. John Croghan, the eldest son of William and Lucy Croghan, purchased Mammoth Cave in 1839 for $10,000, and retained possession of the cave until his death in January of 1849. The cave is an important part of the Croghan family history and legacy, and it was a treat to learn more about its history. Let’s retrace our steps and hit the highlights of the day!


We found our park!

Our first stop once we reached the park was a special presentation by Ranger Chuck DeCroix. Ranger Chuck not only reminded us of the National Park Centennial, but told us that Mammoth Cave would be celebrating its 75th Anniversary as a National Park on July 1, 2016! Mammoth Cave receives roughly 4,000-5,000 visitors per day, with an annual visitation of 650,000. Locust Grove’s own Del Marie V. is a Barren County native and a member of Friends of Mammoth Cave, and she and her family have been a part of preserving Mammoth Cave’s legacy since its inception as a National Park. Guided cave tours have been conducted for 200 years!

In the early 19th century, Mammoth Cave was valued for the presence of calcium nitrate, which was essential for the production of saltpeter. An early map of the cave known as the Eye Draught Map, produced in 1809, showed the location of the niter soil so useful to making saltpeter. Original copies of this map were in the collections of Thomas Jefferson and Dr. Benjamin Rush. In addition to being a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Rush was also a prominent physician of the day, and Dr. John Croghan studied with him from 1809-1812. In fact, it has very recently been discovered that John Croghan first visited Mammoth Cave in 1815 while traveling on the Green River. Mammoth Cave researchers have just found his signature carved into the cave wall, dated February 26, 1815. Previously, the first Croghan family member to visit Mammoth Cave was thought to be Nicholas Croghan, who left a signature in candlesmoke in Gothic Avenue on May 7, 1825, barely a month before he died.

When Dr. John purchased Mammoth Cave on October 8, 1839 for $10,000, he bought the property from Franklin Gorin, an attorney who a year earlier had brought several slaves to the cave. One of these slaves was Stephen Bishop, who, according to Ranger Chuck, was one of the greatest explorers of Mammoth Cave of all time. Bishop and the other Mammoth Cave slaves were also purchased by Dr. John along with the Cave. Stephen Bishop was the first to cross the Bottomless Pit into previously unexplored parts of the cave, and served as a tour guide until his death in 1857. One of Bishop’s most notable contributions was a map of the Cave drawn from memory at Locust Grove during the winter of 1841-1842, which was the most complete map of the cave to date. His former owner Franklin Gorin said of him after his death that “his great talent was a perfect knowledge of man”, and Stephen Bishop’s legacy can still be felt at the Cave today.


A replica of Stephen Bishop’s map can be found in Dr. John Croghan’s office at Locust Grove.


When Dr. John purchased Mammoth Cave in 1839, he had high hopes for the tuberculosis treatment hospital he planned to open. Patients were housed in huts, of which two are still standing deep in the cave. In November of 1839, Dr. John wrote to his brother-in-law, General Thomas Jesup, of his plans for the cave, noting that “Owing to the uniformity of temperature throughout the year […] the dryness of the atmosphere and the continual purification thereof by the constant formation of salt Petre, I have no doubt there is no where to be found a spot so desirable for persons laboring under pulmonary affections […]” Unfortunately, the ten month experiment from the fall of 1842 into 1843 was a dismal failure, as none of his 15 patients improved and several died while undergoing treatment in the Cave. Nevertheless, the Croghan stamp is all over the Cave. There is a section called Croghan Hall and another called Clark’s Avenue, named for Dr. John and George Rogers Clark, respectively. Dr. John’s nieces and nephews inherited the cave along with his other property after his death from tuberculosis in 1849, and Serena’s Arbor bears the name of his niece, Serena Croghan, while Jesup’s Domes are individually named Lucy Ann and Julia for the daughters of his sister, Ann Croghan Jesup. 

During our cave tour, we were able to see two places of especial interest to fans of Locust Grove. One of our first stops was Gothic Avenue, where scores of visitors wrote their names in candlesmoke to mark their visit. One of these signatures was that of Nicholas Croghan, who visited in 1825. We  visited on June 18, and the next day, June 19, was the 214th birthday of Nicholas and his twin brother Charles. So naturall, we sang Happy Birthday to them in front of Nicholas’s signature!


Happy Birthday, Nicholas!

We also had the chance to visit the two remaining tuberculosis huts left over from Dr. John’s experimental hospital. This was a rather grim experience, as Ranger Chuck explained that visitors to the cave while patients were in residence described them as skeletons. I tried to take a picture of the huts, but the low light in the cave meant that my picture didn’t turn out so well. (You can see better images here and here.)


Actual photo taken by Hannah inside Mammoth Cave. Beautiful, right?

We denizens of Locust Grove spent almost two hours in Mammoth Cave, strolling down Gothic Avenue, admiring the various geological formations, and learning so much about the Cave that I’m sure I’ve forgotten something! It was incredible to think that the same Historic Entrance we used to enter and exit the Cave was used by Dr. John, Nicholas, Stephen Bishop, and thousands upon thousands of other visitors.


Heading down into the Cave by way of the Historic Entrance.

It was also just fun to spend the day together! We hope you’ll be able to join us for one of our day trips in the future!


We’re about to head down into the Cave! Can you spot George Rogers Clark in this photo?

All of us at Locust Grove are especially excited because it’s almost time for our favorite holiday–Independence Day! As is our tradition, admission to Locust Grove will be FREE on July 4 from 10-4:30pm, and will feature readings of the Declaration of Independence, period demonstrations, concessions by Sweet and Savory, and lots of 1816 celebratory flair! Come celebrate American Independence in 2016 by traveling back to 1816!

Yours in historical spelunking,


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!)


This blog post is indebted to a presentation at Mammoth Cave to Locust Grove staff and volunteers by Ranger Chuck DeCroix on June 18, 2016.

Ashley Bowen-Murphy, “The Nation’s First Tuberculosis Hospital Was Built Inside a Cave.” Atlas Obscura, June 7, 2016.

Stacy Conradt, “John Croghan, the Man Who Built a TB Ward in a Cave.” Mental Floss, April 17, 2015.

Edward Forrest Frank, “Tuberculosis Hospital Remains in Mammoth Cave.” Black Guides of Mammoth Cave, October 22, 2013.

National Parks Service, “Physician, Heal Thyself.”

National Parks Traveler, “Mammoth Cave National Park Harbors More Than A Few Ghost Stories.” October 30, 2009.

Gwynne Tuell Potts and Samuel W. Thomas. George Rogers Clark and Locust Grove. Louisville: Historic Locust Grove, Inc, 2006. 


It’s Been a Long, Fun Summer

Well, my friends, our summer at Locust Grove has come to an end and we are looking forward to a busy and beautiful autumn! From Independence Day to the Historic Wedding to Hemp Festival to Cultural Pass to our daily tours, we enjoyed seeing each and every one of you who visited with us this summer! You can relive  the events of the summer in the blog archives, but here are some highlights.
Over five hundred children and their parents joined us for Cultural Pass on Sundays and Mondays to tour the house, check out the outbuildings, wander the grounds, and play games with us! A special thanks to Heather, Noah, and Jocelyn H., who volunteered their time and expertise to inform and entertain our guests every weekend this summer! Noah and Jocelyn portrayed Charles Croghan and Eloise Bullitt and engaged our guests in nineteenth-century games and conversation topics while Heather loaned her extensive games collection and monitored many a spirited rolling hoop race!

The Hiner family heading to the house for Cultural Pass fun!


Jocelyn (as Eloise Bullitt) explains the finer points of hoop rolling.


Noah (as Charles Croghan) contemplates the benefits of a 19th-century education.

Heather demonstrates making cornhusk dolls!

Heather demonstrates making cornhusk dolls!

As summer has drawn to a close, we’ve also said goodbye to our three wonderful interns–Sarah, Bailey, and Melissa! Their projects have added a great deal to our collections and our interpretation, but don’t take my word for it! Here are their own words about their experiences.
Bailey works on inventory in the woodshop.

Bailey works on inventory in the woodshop.

“I’ve had some trial and error (and ultimate success) in terms of formulating an efficient system to reconcile information from the physical collection of artifacts with information in the museum’s database. In a different vein, while I’m still probably more afraid than most when it comes to insects and squirrels, I have had to confront and conquer these hindrances in order to successfully do my project here.
Some of my favorite moments at LG have been witnessing how visitors connect American history to their personal histories. For example, while in the Woodshop I would often hear statements along the lines of: “My grandparents had an old shop just like this! The smell alone brings back great memories from childhood.” Or, “Wow, that’s an impressive collection of planes! I used to use some similar to those.” In those moments, I was given tangible examples of the importance of my project (inventorying the collection). For me, it’s easy to get into a solitary routine where I, obviously, understand the importance of my project from a curatorial standpoint. But, being able to interact and hear personal tidbits from visitors really made the project dynamic and especially meaningful.” –Bailey M.
Melissa works on a sewing project as a demonstration during Cultural Pass.

Melissa works on a sewing project as a demonstration during Cultural Pass.

“I had such a fantastic time as an intern at Locust Grove this summer that it is hard for me to put it into words! Brian, the program coordinator, and I worked very closely in order to plan and facilitate events such as the Historical Picnic and Wedding, Hemp Festival, Party like it’s 1922, and many more. I’m just thrilled that I was able to be a part of the LG team and can’t wait for all of the awesome things to come (hint: they contain whiskey and food!) My time at LG has given me the confidence to run into my graduate program at the University of Cincinnati headfirst, and I cannot wait to see where the future will take me!“–Melissa A.
Sarah leads the house tour she developed about Dr. John Croghan.

Sarah leads the house tour she developed about Dr. John Croghan.

“I absolutely loved this internship. If I had another chance to do it again, I definitely would. The hardest part about this project was finding primary sources to match wonderful secondary leads. One of my favorite finds was finding the article, “Remarkable Phenomenon.” This article is about John and his salt lick business hitting oil near the Cumberland River.The easiest thing about this internship was the people I worked with. Everyone at Locust Grove is so nice and interesting. This aspect about my internship is probably what I’ll miss the most. I loved hearing stories from volunteers about their life.” –Sarah H.

Our summer staff person, Samantha H., also completed a wonderful archaeology exhibit for us in the Surveyor’s Office! It is on display now, so stop by to see some of the pieces that were found on the grounds!


Our first field trip of the school year!

The return of fall means students join us for school tours and field trips. We’ve already welcomed several classes for our Pioneer tours and Craft Samplers, and we look forward to welcoming even more in the upcoming months! More information about school tours can be found here.As we prepare for field trips, autumn events, and visitors from near and far, we’ve also been taking the time to make some repairs to the house. Here’s Lorraine carefully mending the worn places on the woven carpet that covers our stair treads. Each spot takes about six hours to complete, so we are incredibly lucky to have her skill and patience at work in our house.

Thanks for all of your great work, Lorraine!

Thanks for all of your great work, Lorraine!

We’ve had such fun playing this summer, and we’re looking forward to the fun continuing into the fall! Program Manager Brian Cushing had this to say about our summer events:

“We cast a wide net variety wise in order to find out what, exactly, it is that people want to come to Locust Grove to do. Our three most popular categories, hands down, were special theater performances, interactive/hands-on historical experiences, and Bourbon. Luckily, these are three things that we have the most fun bringing to people! This will likely guide the formation of new special programming going forward so  we can create series of programs that we know our visitors will value. We have laid the groundwork for a new wave of partnerships between Locust Grove and Kentucky Shakespeare and we are taking stock in the range of period trade centered historical experiences we have the capacity to offer. We also have some great connections here at Locust Grove with the Bourbon community, Susan Reiglar having been its biggest champion here, and will try to give life to every sort of experience we can think of.

I also want to mention our First Person Interpreters and living history demonstrators. They were more out in force this Summer than ever before and consistently grabbed the attention of visitors and delivered history to them in the interactive, engaging, moldable way that the modern museum audience requires. They have formed into a remarkable team and deliver an incredibly professional product, even though the corps is 100% volunteer. They are also only ever committed to making it better. We are looking at a solid cornerstone for the future of the Locust Grove experience here.”

As always, you can find our full calendar of events here, but now, we want to hear from you! If you attended one of our summer events, whether it was a Thursday night lecture on beer or a Sunday afternoon at Cultural Pass or Antiques Market, please tell us about your experiences! What did you enjoy this summer? What would you like to see more of here at Locust Grove?  We also love seeing pictures and  hearing stories of your time with us, so find us on social media, send us an email at, or use the contact form below.  And if you have any ideas about what you’d like to see on this blog, I am always open to suggestions! History is about everyone!

Yours sincerely,