Saturday was absolutely lovely – the sun was shining, white puffy clouds were drifting in the deep blue sky, and, even though there was a chill in the air, it was a great day for an adventure. Locust Grove, the home of Major William Croghan and wife Lucy Clark, was the setting for an 18th Century Market Fair! The three story brick house was begun in 1792. William and Lucy moved in with their family three years later. Today the property includes 55 acres of the original 694 acre farm. The house and grounds are located on Blankenbaker Lane in Louisville, Kentucky, not far from the mighty Ohio River.
General George Rogers Clark, older brother to Lucy, and former surveying partner of William Croghan, spent the last nine years of his life at this home. The flamboyant general and Revolutionary War hero began as a surveyor and Indian fighter in Kentucky at the young age of 20, and lived for a time at Fort Harrod, in Harrodsburg, where Ritchey and I make our home. After a long military career he suffered a stroke in 1809 which resulted in the loss of one leg.
Lucy was also a sister to William Clark, who with Meriwether Lewis, made their famous expedition to the Pacific Coast. One of their first stops on their return was at the Croghan household on November 8, 1806. What a welcome home party that must have been! Can you imagine the excitement, not only of the Croghan/Clark family, but also their neighbors, who wanted to hear about the adventures during the greatest exploratory venture of our country’s history.
Included in the price of admission for the fair was a tour of the house. The Croghan home has undergone a complete renovation over the past two years. New paint and wallpaper, more appropriate to the time period, now adorn the walls and doors. The custom wallpaper reprinted for Locust Grove for the upstairs parlor/music room, by Adelphi Wall Hangings, is exquisite. The volunteer tour guide explained that a piece of the original paper was discovered when a wall was removed that was not part of the original house. While once thought to be a pre-revolutionary wallpaper from France, it has now been decided it was from 1805 and a copy.
The kitchen is set apart from the house. I love this large room with its immense fireplace, centrally located table and storage areas.
Even though more difficult to cook here than in a modern kitchen, it would be a fun challenge to fix a meal here in the tradition of long ago.
There is also a spring house, ice house and smokehouse – all necessary for a household at that time. The ice house is directly behind me in the above picture. It has a very deep hole dug to keep the ice from melting as long as possible. The spring house is to the left, a small building with a creek running through to keep foods cool.
Military parades, artillery demonstrations and mock battles featuring General George Rogers Clark’s own militia, the Illinois regiment, as well as British Dragoons and German Hessians were part of the fun. The cannon were so loud they set off car alarms!
The regiments had their campsites on opposite sides of the property. Ritchey enjoyed talking with them about the cannon and the various pieces of shot used during battles.
Other fun activities of the day included juggling acrobatics by The Amazing Budabi Brothers – they are quite the characters!
Jack Salt sang traditional sea songs and chanteys.
There were period children’s games and you could visit an 18th century doctor! And there was food!
Thick slices of sourdough bread and white cheddar cheese are also a must!
Many vendors sell period clothing, pottery, jewelry and other items.
And the glorious trees of Locust Grove show off their lovely fall foliage! What a great day!
Until next year!