And They Lived Historically Ever After: The Wedding of Ann Croghan and Thomas Jesup

After weeks of preparation and anticipation, Ann Croghan married Thomas  Jesup at Locust Grove on July 18, 2015. Of course, Ann and Thomas were actually married in 1822, but we at Locust Grove were delighted to have the opportunity to reenact the occasion. Normally at Locust Grove, our costumed interpreters spend time in the year 1816, so it was an especial treat to step forward into the future and discuss other events in the lives of the Croghan family. Many wonderful people worked together to make this event possible, despite the heat of the day, so in the spirit of that cooperation, for this post several members of our interpreter corps have shared their perspectives on the event, as they had a front row seat to the fun and frivolity of the proceedings.

The happy couple! Photo courtesy Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)

The happy couple! Photo courtesy Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)

From Brian Cushing, Locust Grove’s program manager: I am completely in awe of what the first person interpreter team was able to pull off with the recreation of the 1822 wedding of Ann Heron Croghan to General Thomas Sydney Jesup. Hannah Stoppel (Ann Croghan) and Brandon Vigliarolo (Thomas Jesup) hit the books to get an in-depth understanding of who these people were and what their lives were like leading up to their wedding. Their presentations to the interpreters prior to the event helped us all to achieve a more complete understanding of the history of the world of the Croghans. Melissa Alexander did special research on Mary Carson O’Hara, soon to be the wife of William Croghan, Jr., to additionally flesh out the world of Locust Grove in 1822.

Jesup suffered an injury to his right hand during the War of 1812, so Gwynne Potts reminder Brandon to keep his hand in a glove for the event. (Photo courtesy of Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)

Jesup suffered an injury to his right hand during the War of 1812, so Gwynne Potts reminder Brandon to keep his hand in a glove for the event. (Photo courtesy of Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)

Another huge credit for pulling this off on the ground goes to Keith Stevenson, usually our 1842 Dr. John Croghan, who chose to stay in plain clothes for this event and was indispensable in helping me get the organizational side of things and “heavy lifting” done throughout the day. Frank Jarboe, who Market Fair attendees will remember as “Parson John”- the traveling 18th Century minister, helped us out by providing the text for the ceremony.  Kelly Stevenson implemented her expert calligraphy skills to make “Reserved” signs for the ceremony and also decorated the bride and groom’s  table for the reception. Executive Director Carol Ely and Marketing Coordinator Bonny Wise made sure there was a piece of cake in the hands of all of the wedding guests at the reception. Mia Seitz made a special promotional sign for the upcoming 18th Century Market Fair in hopes of luring some of our guests back for another incredible experience. And, of course, the long list of Locust Grove staff, docents, gate/admission volunteers, concession volunteers, and an intrepid few who agreed to be all purpose. It was a real team effort to pull off what was a truly unique, spectacular day.

The ladies gathered in the grand parlor to make final preparations for the ceremony.

The ladies gathered in the grand parlor to make final preparations for the ceremony.

From Amy Liebert (Mrs. Emilia Clarke): As the theatrical director for this program, I was blown away by the dedication, energy, creativity and amazing performances our cast brought to this event.

In addition to the amount of work the cast put into their costumes, there was also an all cast rehearsal last wednesday as well as a rehearsal in the morning for the bride, groom, their attendants, Lucy and William, and the minister. This was in addition to the usual regular rehearsals and workshops where our cast members hone their skills.

This was also the first time out for one of our interpreters, Kendra McCubbin and the last appearance for some time of one of our seasoned alums, Julia Bache, who is going off to college in the fall. Julia usually plays Ann Croghan in 1816; however, for this event she was Mary Ann Bullitt.

Jason Hiner stepped in as William Croghan at the last minute and put on a fantastic performance all day.Albert Roberts, stepped into the role of minister for the ceremony (with very little advanced notice!).

William Croghan escorts his daughter Ann Croghan to the ceremony

William Croghan escorts his daughter Ann Croghan to the ceremony

From Sam Loomis (William Croghan, Jr.): Such a good turn out for the heat! Albert gave a lovely sermon on matrimony and sacred bonds, and included a very robust shout against fornication.

The gentlemen of the family preparing for the ceremony in the farm office.

The gentlemen of the family preparing for the ceremony in the farm office. (Photo courtesy Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography) 

From Jason Hiner (William Croghan): The event last week was magnificent. It was similar to the Fourth of July event but with even more CIs and far more interactions since there was a much broader story for the day. And with lots of other Jane Austen Society members milling around in semi-regency attire, guests couldn’t help but be immersed in living history for the day.

Guest gather for the wedding ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Sami Hagan)

Guest gather for the wedding ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Sami Hagan)

Just as the bride and groom were finalizing their vows, a butterfly fluttered above them back-and-forth and then launched itself into the open air above the audience. Several people gasped and Mrs. Croghan pointed up at it and breathlessly exclaimed, “Look!”

I think the part the guests loved the best may have been the prepping of the bride and the groom. The men retired to the farm office and played cards (imploring the guests not to let Lucy know that the fish were out on the table) and the women gathered in the second floor parlor and actually made real preparations. It was glorious. One of the great things on the second floor was that Mrs. Emilia Clarke had to chase several men out of the room because of the state of undress of several of the ladies (multiple wardrobe malfunctions had to be dealt with). A couple of the men she beckoned to come back and then she doled out a punishment like a good school marm. She assigned them to go to their wives and tell them the things they loved about them. It being a day to celebrate nuptials and all…

Mrs. Lucy Croghan sharing advice to unmarried ladies. (Photo courtesy Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)

Mrs. Lucy Croghan sharing advice to unmarried ladies. (Photo courtesy Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography)

In researching the wedding, it was discovered that a custom of the time was for the guests to take off their stockings, wad them up in a ball, and throw them at the bride and groom for good luck. I’m not making this up. Those 19th centuries crazies loved their dirty laundry apparently. This revelation plunged the CI core into at least 15 minutes of introspection about the scope for a reenactment of this glorious custom. Alas, there were concerns about the potency of sweat produced by the 100 degree heat and the decision was made for everyone to keep their stockings on. The event was the poorer for it, in my opinion.

Mary O'Hara (Melissa Alexander), Ann Croghan (Hannah Stoppel), Thomas Jesup (Brandon Vigliarolo) and William Croghan, Jr. (Sam Loomis)

Mary O’Hara (Melissa Alexander), Ann Croghan (Hannah Stoppel), Thomas Jesup (Brandon Vigliarolo) and William Croghan, Jr. (Sam Loomis) pose for the official portrait of the wedding party. (Photo courtesy of Heather Hiner, Fox and Rose Photography) 

From Melissa Alexander (Mary O’Hara): I am floored by both the preparations leading up to and their execution for this event.  I had the honor of joining many different facets of the preparation team, since I ended up helping with logistics, stitching, and interpreting.  I had the honor of portraying Mary O’Hara, William Croghan, Jr.’s wife, which I enjoyed very much.  The most fun I had was sitting in the great parlor before the wedding with all of the ladies, especially when Hannah (Ann Croghan) donned her wedding veil.  Oh, the squeals of delight!  I am so proud of our whole team at Locust Grove for pulling this event off and I cannot express how honored I am to have been a part of it!

Ann Croghan (Hannah Stoppel) and her maid of honor, Mary O'Hara Melissa Alexander)

Ann Croghan (Hannah Stoppel) and her maid of honor, Mary O’Hara (Melissa Alexander) (Photo courtesy of Heather Hiner of Fox and Rose Photography) 

From Brandon Vigliarolo (Thomas Jesup): It was a great event. Despite the extreme weather I had a great time, especially during the ceremony. It was a neat experience to stand on the steps and take part in a recreation like ours. It was also great to be able to make the day double special for us since we got engaged too! 

From Hannah Stoppel (Ann Croghan) : My favorite part of the day was getting ready with all the ladies in the great parlor…and getting engaged.

That’s right, folks! Hannah and Brandon became engaged themselves on the morning of the event! Their smiles on the steps are real! Best wishes to you both!

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Best wishes to you, Hannah and Brandon!

The wedding was a truly wonderful day–we certainly hope you enjoyed it, and we look forward to having you as our guests at Locust Grove again soon!

With warmest regards,

Hannah

 

 

A Good Man Needs a Good Coat: Dressing Thomas Jesup

Weddings are always exciting, especially historical ones, and we at Locust Grove are deep in the throes of preparations for the reenactment of Ann Croghan and Thomas Jesup’s wedding on July 18! When we last checked in with the wedding, we admired Hannah Stoppel’s magnificent craftsmanship of Ann’s wedding dress, and now, it’s the gentlemen’s turn! Our Program Manager Brian Cushing, and our Thomas Jesup Brandon Vigliarolo are hard at work on the 1822 uniform coat that will serve as Jesup’s wedding attire. This is a very special project, so I’ll turn it over to them to tell you all about it!

First of all, let me introduce you to these two gentlemen. Brian is a Louisville native, a historic clothing aficionado, the chief of our Costumed Interpreter corps, and our current Program Manager. Brandon is a native of Michigan, a graduate of Michigan State University, a four-year veteran of the United States Army as an MP, Hannah Stoppel’s real-life boyfriend, a copywriter, and Locust Grove’s 1816 Dr. John Croghan. Brian and Brandon also take on other historical roles–recently they portrayed William Henry Harrison and Henry Clay, respectively.

Tippecanoe and Brandon too.

Tippecanoe and Brandon too.

Now, on to the important things: how did this wedding reenactment come about? Why choose Ann and Jesup over another couple? 

Brian: The way I remember it, the idea to have a Summer “come one, come all” living history soiree on the grounds occurred at about the same time when we had to call off the historical ball in 2014 due to the threat of bad weather (basically- why aren’t we doing a version of this when we can’t get snowed out!!??). Then we started playing with the idea of incorporating an interpretation of an event that happened at Locust Grove that wouldn’t ordinarily fit into any of our interpretations to provide an interactive, educational, Locust Grove centered theme for the day.  When it became apparent that the first year for the event would also act as a stand in for the Jane Austen Festival while it is on hiatus, the 1822 wedding made the most sense as a complement to that idea. As far as why that one and not any other- one is that it happened at Locust Grove, whereas William and Lucy were married elsewhere.  Ann and Jesup’s wedding just seems to be a favorite in the current “Locust Grove consciousness.”

Who was Thomas Jesup? Why is he significant?

Brian: SO much more to tell [about him] than I am recalling at the moment. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 and by 1822, Quartermaster General of the US Army. After William Croghan, Sr. died (not long after the wedding) Jesup wound up in a very prominent role as one of the heads of the family. His advice was constantly sought by pretty much everyone and he was one of the ones repeatedly bailing George Croghan out of trouble.

The pattern pieces for the coat Brandon will wear as Jesup.

The pattern pieces for the coat Brandon will wear as Jesup.

Brandon, how did you get the honor of being Jesup?

Brandon: When the event was first announced it was pretty much an immediate decision to cast Hannah as Ann — I don’t even know if they considered anyone else, which I think speaks volumes to her abilities as an actress, interpreter, and costumer.

I (albeit jokingly) was not too sure I was happy with the idea of someone else playing Hannah’s pretend husband, and did a fair deal of pouting when I was told that we definitely needed a John Croghan, and that they were looking for a Jesup. Due to other obligations, we were left without a Jesup, so I was asked to step in!I’m still not sure if it was because they trust me to play a good Jesup or because they wanted to put a stop to the pouting.

Brian:  I would like to point out that I think it is fitting that our one US Army veteran currently with the interpreter corps gets to wear this insane uniform.

A proper coat requires a proper fit.

A proper coat requires a proper fit.

What can people expect the day of the wedding? 

Brian: The wedding will be the unifying theme to what we want to be a laid back, enjoyable time for living history people of any period/caliber or just the curious to spend a day enjoying the beauty and history at Locust Grove and remembering why we love it so much and why it is important to work so hard to make it the best it can be. Wedding “preparation” will happen throughout the day as well as a performance of Jane Austen’s juvenilia by an actress from KY Shakespeare (for those who need their July Austen fix!), food for sale, an evening ball, and a special visit from HMS Acasta– commemorating the bicentennial of their last trip home.

What’s the deal with this coat? Why is it significant?

Brian: We have gone to a great deal of effort over the past couple years to be sure our first person interpreters appear as authentically as possible to the way people did at the time they portray. So when we took on the 1822 wedding, we knew we had to be all in. Hannah Stoppel set the bar high with her research and construction of an 1822 wedding gown for Ann. Carol made the final call that Jesup should be dressed correctly in uniform rather than a civilian alternative since the military was so much a part of this family and that Locust Grove would support the effort. The uniform regulations had just changed in 1821. The problem was, resources for such things tend to center around wars and since we were between major wars in 1821, this thing took quite a bit more detective work than had we been doing a scenario occurring during the Revolution or War of 1812.

What research went into making the coat?  How is it being constructed?

Brian:  A lot of interesting people have assisted our search for information and resources and the team we have working on this thing is beyond amazing with their skill and commitment to making sure this is done as best it can be so that the final product is nothing short of a museum level interpretation. You will never here these guys say, “No one will know the difference;” It’s correct or it’s not. I did the pattern and have handled cutting, fitting, and initial construction of the structure of the coat.Amy Liebert, Hannah Stoppel, Melissa Alexander, and Mia Seitz will detail work, pad stitching, finishing, and all around everything else.

The main fabric is a deep blue wool broadcloth, heavily milled- the edges will for the most part be left raw and will hold that edge without fraying. The buttonholes and blind stitched buttonholes will all be done by hand with silk buttonhole twist, deep blue matching the coating color. Nathanael Logsdon of Taylor Rose Historical Outfitters got the 2 gold epaulettes done for us and Steve Abolt of Allegheny Arsenal was able to provide us with the correct gold stars that are prescribed for the base of the tails. Blue was affirmed as the correct color for uniforms of the United States army- shortages during the War of 1812 had lead to quite a variety being seen. The regulations of 1813 ushered in an elegant simplicity to the army’s uniforms, which was continued in 1821. Contrasting colors and metallic lace was left behind.

The army updated its uniform regulations from the 1813 version in 1821. I have yet to find an extant 1821 staff officer coat or a portrait of anyone definitely wearing one. The regulations still exist, though, and we had advice from Steve Abolt, who has dug further into this than we probably ever will. I am watching the massive amounts of embellishment (that will nevertheless appear subdued) go in by hand right now, and the buttons are on the way (MUCH more difficult to find than we anticipated). So- fingers crossed- we have an incredible team and we are determined.

An in-progress 1821 regulation staff officer's coat!

An in-progress 1821 regulation staff officer’s coat!

Brandon: Honestly I don’t think I have a whole lot to add since the research, construction, planning, and organization of the coat and event was very much a Brian accomplishment. All I get to do is make it look good.

Brandon, you’re a relative newbie to the Locust Grove team. What do you enjoy about it? Brian, why do you stick around? 

Brandon: I love Locust Grove  because of the chance it gives me to have a face-to-face encounter with history. There’s something powerful about a physical space that has existed as home to countless generations of people, and something amazing about being able to be a part of that history. I also enjoy the difference in the depth of the history between Michigan and Louisville — there aren’t too many places as old as Locust Grove in the north!

Brian: I came to Locust Grove in Nov., 1999 as a costumed interpreter. Never thought it would one day actually be part of my job. And it’s not just a job- bringing the past alive is what I spend most of my time trying to figure out how to most effectively do. I’m really honored to be able to put that to work at Locust Grove with the incredible potential it has for it and the relevance it has to the modern museum audience. The Jesup coat presented a unique challenge- we had made the commitment to not compromising on quality when it came to interpreting material culture in the past so we couldn’t stop here.

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Well, gentlemen, after all the work that has been put into this coat and this wedding, we can’t wait to see it in person on July 18! Thank you so much for all your hard work and devotion to this project and to Locust Grove! Wedding guests can find all the details of the day here and you can check in on Hannah and the making of Ann’s wedding finery here. We could not be more delighted about this wedding than if we were Croghans ourselves, so we certainly hope you will join us for this splendid occasion!

With great anticipation, I remain,

Hannah

(All photographs courtesy of Brian Cushing and Brandon Vigliarolo)