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Locust Grove has links
to Lewis & Clark

The east Louisville home
will play host to several key events

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 2003) – Locust Grove was a centerpiece for Revolutionary War-era activity, as well as a strong foothold in the founding of Louisville. The 55-acre example of living history will host many events throughout the year, in conjunction with the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Expedition.
The circa 1790 Georgian mansion was originally home to William and Lucy Clark Croghan (pronounced “Crawn”). Lucy was the sister of Louisville founder and Revolutionary War hero, Gen. George Rogers Clark, and William Clark, exploring partner of Meriwether Lewis. Upon returning from their famous 1803 expedition to the Pacific Northwest, Lewis and Clark were honored with a banquet ball at Locust Grove.
Major Croghan was an Irish immigrant who came to Kentucky as the surveying partner of his future brother-in-law, Gen. George Rogers Clark. The couple reared eight children on their 694.5-acre farm, six miles up river from present downtown Louisville.
On April 12-13, Locust Grove played host to a Revolutionary War encampment. It was representative of the 18th-century military camp life that would have been experienced by Gen. Clark and his troops during the Northwest Campaign.
Members of the Illinois Regiment of Virginia (IRofV) were present to bring to life the sights, sounds and smells of military camp life. Shelley E. Adams, program director for Locust Grove, said members of the IRofV live and participate in events all across the United States, including events at Williamsburg and Mount Vernon.
“We host them at Locust Grove because Gen.George Rogers Clark was the commander of the IRofV.” The weekend events included a battalion drill, tactical exercises, recruitment, inspection and a memorial for Gen. George Rogers Clark.
Re-enactors Kevin and Samantha Hickle of Rising Sun, Ind., both referred to participating in this encampment as “the only thing that really happened in this area during the Revolutionary War period.”

Locust Grove home


Dogwood trees line
the paths at Locust Grove

Because of Major Croghan’s social standing and Gen. Clark’s presence, Locust Grove gained a reputation as a gathering place for political and social figures of the time period. The home was visited by a number of national figures, which included James Monroe, Gen. Andrew Jackson, Aaron Burr, Zachary Taylor and John James Audubon.
The home is now listed as a National Historic Landmark and it was here that Gen. Clark took up residence for the last nine years of his life (1809-1818).
In 1878, the Croghan family sold their property to a riverboat captain, James Paul. From 1883-1961, it remained in possession of the Richard Waters family. Jefferson County and the Commonwealth of Kentucky then purchased Locust Grove.
The Hickles are part of a Living History unit, under command of Capt. Abraham Kellar’s company of the IRofVir. The re-enactors of this unit belong to the Northwest Territory Alliance, which strives to promote interest in the American Revolution of 1775-1783 by honoring those who served.
Kevin is an Assistant Commander having gained the rank of 1st Sgt. in Capt. Kellar’s Company, while his wife portrays a camp follower. She described her role as “the support for the army.” Other women of the unit portray the wives of soldiers and French women of the town of Vincennes.
Visitors to a military encampment such as this one might be surprised to learn that women and children actually accompanied troops during the war. It is estimated that 20,000 women fell into the role of camp followers.
One would not ordinarily think of Martha Washington as a camp follower, but she and other women joined Gen. Washington at Valley Forge from time to time.
These women performed many tasks: cooking meals, washing and mending clothing, caring for the sick and wounded, and constantly constructing and tearing down camp. They marched behind the troops when the troops relocated.
It was not uncommon for them to take up arms and assist the cannon crews. The women were given rations provided for soldiers, said Samantha. Their children got a full ration.
The role the Hickle’s portray carries over into real life, as well. They own their own sutlery business, specializing in 18th century children’s clothing and related items. Samantha sews clothing, and they will have their store set up at Mansker’s Station Historic Site in Goodlettsville, Tenn., May 3-4 for a trade fair. Kevin will have 18th century children’s learning aides on hand.
Both have been re-enacting for over 20 years. Samantha especially takes her role seriously, as she is a descendant of an aunt of Meriwether Lewis.
Lewis presumably committed suicide, leaving behind no children of his own.
The couple usually participates in any event relating to Gen. George Rogers Clark, such as the upcoming reenactment of Gen. Clark’s taking of the Fort at Vincennes from Hamilton on May 24-25 in Vincennes, Ind., and the September 22, 2003 Corps of Discovery II landing in Rising Sun, Ind.

• To learn more about the Illinois Regiment of Virginia, visit their website at: www.illinoisregiment.org. To learn more about Locust Grove call (502) 897-9845 or visit their website at www.locustgrove.org.

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