By Curt Oden - Exline correspondent
I hope everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend. The flags lining Main Street and along the Exline Cemetery, sure looked nice furling in the wind, over the holiday. It is hard to believe it is the month of June already.
With all of the local gardens starting to produce some produce, my wife Denise thought this recipe sounded really good.
Cucumbers in Sour Cream
3 or 4 cucumbers
1 cup sour cream
½ c. vinegar
½ c. sugar
Peel and slice the cucumbers. Place the cut up cucumbers in water and add the salt. Salt to taste. Marinate for a half an hour.
Blend dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl while the cumbers are marinating. Drain the cucumbers and place them in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the sliced cucumbers. You may use this sauce again just by adding more salt soaked cucumbers.
One time on a trip, we went to some very interesting and historic homes in the state of Kentucky. On the east edge of Louisville, Ky. is a home known as Locust Grove. The farm originally had 694 acres but now the home is listed as a National Historic Landmark, with the out buildings and 55 acres of the farm preserved.
Mr. William Croghan (which is pronounced as “Crawn”) had been a surveying partner with George Rogers Clark, who was the founder of Louisville and was also a Revolutionary War hero, and the conqueror of the Northwest Territory and who eventually became William’s brother-in-law.
William Croghan and Lucy Clark were married at her parent’s farm, known as Mulberry Hill in 1789. They had their Georgian mansion built around 1790 on their farm.
William and Lucy (Clark) Croghan, raised their family and farmed the land. One unique thing about this house was that it sat elevated on a man made knoll of land, about four feet above the surrounding farmland. The edges of this square berm were laid in field stone with small steps to access it. They said it was from an English design that could give clear, unspoiled views from the house, without a yard fence to obstruct your view. The raised elevation of the land, also kept the farm animals out of the yard that surrounded the house, which was really unusual.
George Rogers Clark’s and Lucy’s other brother was the famed explorer, William Clark. When William Clark and his friend Meriwether Lewis, were on their way from out east to begin their famous exploration to the west coast in 1804, they stopped and visited with their relatives who lived at Locust Grove to tell them about their planned adventure.
Then, on their way back in 1806, they again stopped to visit and regaled the Croghans with their adventures on their famous Expedition.
In 1809, George Rogers Clark moved in with his sister Lucy and her husband William at Locust Grove. Because of William Croghan’s position in the local community and George Rogers Clark’s service to his country, these men had a lot of visitors.
George Rogers Clark lived the last nine years of his life at Locust Grove. He died there in 1818.
Another notable person to visit the estate was Vice President Aaron Burr. The renowned nature artist, John James Audubon was acquainted with Major Croghan and became friends with his sons.
The estate was also visited in 1819 by three different men who were or became United States Presidents. They were James Monroe, Gen. Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor. Taylor had grown up not far from Locust Grove on a farm known as Springfield. President Andrew Jackson returned to Locust Grove for another visit in 1825 and brought his wife Rachel with him at that time.
Locust Grove was also the site of a duel in 1841, between the Kentucky statesman Cassius Marcellus Clay and Robert Wickliffe. So the home and property was witness to many notable visitors over the years.
The Croghan family owned the mansion and property until 1878 when they sold it to James Paul, who was a river boat captain.
Richard Waters of Hermitage Farms was the next person to purchase the estate. That occurred in 1883. That family owned the home until 1961, when it was then sold to Jefferson County and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The old, historic home then underwent a complete restoration in 1961 to make it appear as it did when it was new. The place is not far from the Ohio River, six miles up the river from Louisville. The home and property are operated by Historic Locust Grove, Inc. and overseen by the Louisville Metro Government. Once the restoration was complete it was opened to the public in 1964.
The home contains many original pieces that once belonged to the Croghan and Clark families that are on display along with furniture, portraits and other historic objects.
The grounds also have the original smoke house that was restored, along with the kitchen building, ice house, spring house and dairy building. The construction of a log cabin was also completed, along with eight log and stone buildings in all that are preserved. While you are there, you may also see the pretty herb and flower beds that grace the property.
This was a very interesting place to have visited, especially when you thought of the stories that had been told by all of their famous visitors in that house and even the exploits of Lewis and Clark’s adventure across the country.
While in Kentucky, we also visited another old town called Bardstown. There, we visited the famous home known as “My Old Kentucky Home.” It is named for the renowned song that Stephan Foster wrote there of the same title. The song is now also the Kentucky State Song and is sung each year on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs for the Running of the Roses at the Kentucky Derby Horse Race.
This famous mansion is known as Federal Hill. It was the home of Judge John Rowan. It was built between 1795 and 1818 in Nelson County, just outside of Bardstown. This Georgian style mansion originally had 13 rooms. The significance of the number 13 at the house is thought to honor the original 13 colonies of the country.
There are 13 windows on the front of the house and 13 steps to reach each floor in the mansion. This large brick home has 13.5 foot high ceilings and 13 inch thick walls, with floors made of yellow pine wood.
The owner of the property, John Rowan, originally was born in York, Penn. in 1773. He came to Bardstown in 1790. Mr. Rowan studied law and eventually became a leading defense attorney. He also got into politics serving as the secretary of state in 1804. He also served in Congress and in the Kentucky General Assembly, the Kentucky Court of Appeals, along with being a U.S. Senator representing Kentucky. In 1794 he married Anne Lytle. The judge died in 1843.
The large mansion also saw many visitors to the Rowan family. Some of the many people that were guests there were, Henry Clay and Aaron Burr, along with other social and political people of the time.
Composer Stephan Collins Foster from Pennsylvania was a relative of the Rowan family and visited the mansion several times. It was here he got the inspiration to write the words and music for the song “My Old Kentucky Home“ in 1852 from a previous visit there.
The song became associated with the home of Federal Hill after the Civil War, when soldiers saw the home and said the song referred to this Old Kentucky Home.
The famous mansion was in the Rowan family for 120 years. In 1922 the last family member to own the estate was Madge (Rowan) Frost. She sold the famous mansion and 235 acres of land to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. On Feb. 26, 1936 the estate became a Kentucky State Park.
When Madge (Rowan) Frost sold Federal Hill, she wanted it to be preserved as an historic sight. She also gave the state, original family heirloom pieces of furniture and other furnishings to authentically display in the home.
When we toured the mansion it was very pretty inside with historic old pieces of furniture and other period pieces. The judge’s law office was in a log cabin that is preserved at the bottom of the hill from the home, closer to the road. We were also allowed to go in and see the interesting objects in there and we additionally got to walk through the pretty gardens on the grounds.
While we were in Bardstown, we went on a nice carriage ride through the historic district, which was very scenic and relaxing.
Following the carriage ride, we visited the historic Talbott Tavern located in the center of town at Court Square. It had been there since the late 1700s as a place for weary travelers to stop and get a good meal and spend the night.
Over the years, many historic people are alleged to have stayed there. When Abraham Lincoln was a young boy he stayed at this famous tavern with his family. Other notable people who stayed there were, the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone and General George Rogers Clark. The exiled French King, Louis Phillipe stayed there along with his entourage. While they were there, they even painted murals on the upstairs walls. The bullet holes that could be seen in the walls of those faded paintings, were supposedly put there by Jesse James. He was a frequent visitor to Kentucky because both his mother and father were from that state and he had relatives there.
The Talbott Tavern is thought to be the be the oldest western stagecoach stop in America. Travelers from the east came westward into Kentucky and would stop to refresh themselves at this roadside tavern.
While we were there, we enjoyed a delicious supper. They are noted for their country ham steak and southern fried chicken. It was nice to be able to end the day on that trip at this famous old establishment.
Since I visited the famous old tavern I understand the top half of it caught on fire on March 7, 1998. The fire destroyed the roof and a lot of the second floor. The first floor also received extensive water and smoke damage.
They began restoration and had the famous abode reopened by 1999. At that time, the famous murals that were on the second floor had not been restored.
So those three places, Locust Grove, Federal Hill, which is known as “My Old Kentucky Home” and the Talbott Tavern were very interesting and historic places to get to see and experience.
Recently Mary Ann Hurley, her son Aaron and his son Ethan along with friends, Mike Thasher and Linny Byan, all went fishing down in Missouri on the Lemine River, which enters into the Missouri River about five miles west of Boonville, Mo. There, they caught catfish that weighed 20, 21 and 35 pounds.
For those of you who are interested, they are still accepting applications for the “Miss Exline” pageant during the 4th of July celebration that will be held here. Would be contestants may pick up their applications at the Exline Old Country Store in town. They must be filled out and returned to the store by Friday, June 15. The contest is open to young ladies between the ages of 14 to 18 years old. You do not have to be a resident of Exline to enter. The event is open to anyone.
There will be interviews of the contestants by the judges and a talent portion. For further information for the “Miss Exline” contest you may contact the Exline Old Store manager, Penny at (641) 658-2399 for further details.
The Exline School Alumni and Community Dinner was held last Saturday at noon at the community center. There was a good turn out of 49 people with 29 of them being former students that attended the Exline High School. The event was sponsored by the Exline Recreation Committee.
Don’t forget, the June Birthday Celebration will be held Wednesday, June 6, at the Exline Old Country Store at 10 a.m.