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Clark May

1 May –

1824 – Pittsburgh, PA. William Croghan Jr. writes Archibald Woods, upon learning that an enslaved man refuses to leave Woods: I really know not what to do about the servant, I am unwilling to compel him to leave you…I should like seeing the boy and reconcile him to accompany me to Kentucky…I have every reason to hope on my seeing him and conversing with him, he will not be adverse to accompanying me. (See 22 January 1824.) [Potts, p. 100-1]

1827 – Pittsburgh, PA. Mary Elizabeth Croghan, daughter of William Jr. and Mary O’Hara Croghan, is baptized in Trinity Church. She will be the only surviving child of these parents. [Potts, p. 100]

2 May –

1799 – Louisville, KY. In Jefferson County Chancery Court, William Croghan initiates “demand title” suit against James Madison and Nelly Madison. [Renau, p. 70]

1803 – Paris, France. Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe sign a purchase agreement in which the United States will buy 828,000 square miles constituting the Louisiana Territory from France for the sum of $15 million, less $3,750,000, to serve as compensation for the $12 million the French navy had looted from American ships, 1798-1800. [Potts, p. 77] Editor’s note: This is something like $13.59 per square mile. I do not know what it would be in today’s currency, but I am fairly certain that the United States probably got the best land deal in its history, excepting the $24 in trade goods paid for the island of Manhattan. 

Births –

1801 – Harrods Creek, Jefferson County, KY. Fortunatus Cosby Jr. born. [EL, p. 223]

3 May –

1755 – Braddock’s advance guard begins its march to Fort Duquesne. [Renau, p. 10]

1916 – Louisville, KY. William and Lucy Croghan, Dr. John Croghan, and other family members are moved from the burying ground at Locust Grove to Cave Hill Cemetery. [EL, p. 233]

4 May –

1860 – Mammoth Cave, KY. Joseph R. Underwood writes to Thomas Sidney Jesup: I apprehend that nothing can be done variant from the will of Doctor Croghan. In your letter to me…dated 2nd of last September, you say, ‘my daughter Mrs. Nicholson has sent a copy of the paper signed by us to Mrs. Croghan with the request that if her family approve, that they sign the paper and put it under cover to you. The long delay indicates an intention to not act in this matter.’ [Potts, p. 113]

5 May –

1763 – Chief Pontiac to Potawatomies and Hurons: “When I go to see the English commander and say to him that some of our comrades are dead, instead of bewailing their death, as our French brothers do, he laughs at me and at you. If I ask anything for our sick, he refuses with the reply that he has no use for us. From all this you can see well that they are seeking our ruin. Therefore, my brothers, we must all swear their destruction and wait no longer.” [Potts, p. 13]

6 May –

7 May –

1775 – downriver from Fort Fincastle [Wheeling, WV]. Nicholas Cresswell records: This morning Captn. Clark (whom I find is an intelligent man), showed me a root that the Indians call pocoon, good for the bite of a Rattle Snake. [Potts, p. 23]

1789 – Louisville, KY. William Croghan appointed and took oath of office, as surveyor of Virginia state line. [Potts, p. 58]

1825 – Mammoth Cave, KY. Nicholas Croghan “smokes” his name and the date on a wall in the cave. [Potts, p. 99]

Births –

1742 – Botetourt County, VA. Joseph Crockett born. He will be a Revolutionary War soldier, serving with George Rogers Clark, and a leader in early Kentucky. [KE, p. 242]

8 May –

1790 – Louisville, KY. An arrest warrant is issued for George Rogers Clark, and is apparently executed. . (See 23 Jan 1790; 5 Aug 1790) [Potts, p. 196 note 2]

1835 – Louisville, KY. Newspapers record that a friendly suit is brought by family members in Louisville Chancery to annul George Rogers Clark’s purported will in order to include heirs of the siblings not mentioned and to clarify those who had died or married. A decree will be issued in 1851; but the last details are not finished until 1865, almost half a century after the death of the “Hannibal of the West,” and after a war which was dedicated to deciding whether or not the country he had served so faithfully would finally be split over Federalist centralists, or states rights Jeffersonian Democrats. (See 16 March 1970; 11 May 1792; 15 September 1795; 15 August 1796; 5 October 1796; 18 August 1797; 14 December 1797; 28 July 1803; 5 November 1815; 10 July 1826; 4 October 1830.) [Potts, p. 93-4]

9 May –

1763 – Detroit, MI. For about two years, Jeffrey Amherst has directed British occupation of former French territory. He has ceased giving diplomatic gifts [i.e.: bribes] to the American Indians; forced them to accept ruinously low prices for their furs; and proposed gifting them with blankets infected with smallpox. Ottawa war chief Pontiac leads 500 Ottawa, Chppewa, Potawatomi, Huron, Shawnee, and Delaware warriors in an assault on the fort. Failing to capture it, they settle in for a siege. Other American Indians capture former French outposts, including Michilimackinac and Sandusky. [Cayton, p. 28]

10 May –

1755 – VA. General Braddock arrives at Fort Cumberland. [Renau, p. 10]

11 May –

1792 – Louisville, KY. George Rogers Clark, probably living at Mulberry Hill farm, writes to his older brother, Jonathan: 

“Dr Brother,

 Since my last to you nothing uncommon hath happened among us. The Indians are spreading Fire and the Tomahawk through the frontier with out much resistance and I believe will continue to do so, untill next fall if then…It is a pity that the blood and the treasure of the people should be so lavished when one campaign properly directed would put a final end to the war and …might establish a harmony between us and the Indians, that might exist for many years. Two armies hath already been defeated and I [don’t] doubt [that] the third will share the same fate if the greatest precaution is not made use of. we are suing the Indians for peace. This convinces them that we are beat and cowed, and of course will cause nations not yet at war to join the confederacy and if they Treat at all their demands will be so great that it will be as dishonorable for the States to grant as it is for them to beg a peace. So much for the publick…I have given the U. States half the Territory they possess and for them to suffer me to remain in poverty in consequence of it will not redound much to their honor hereafter, when the most minute movement of mine from first to last is already committed to paper…I am more capable of Negotiations and the Military life now than ever, because I have untill the present day studied it. Suppose my principles would permit me to change sides, don’t you think the continent would have cause to trimble? I shall follow your advice and present another Memorial this fall [I] am now making preparations for it. If I meet with another rebuff I must rest contented with it, be industrious, and look out further for my future Bread… all the trouble you are at in superintending my business will be gratefully acknowledged by your affectionate brother. [signed] GRClark”

1816 – Louisville, KY. William Croghan Sr writes to Charles and Nicholas Croghan, students at St. Thomas College, near Springfield, KY, where Jefferson Davis is also matriculating. “Cheerfully Submit to the Rules of the College & advice & Instructions of the professors; you are Sent there to Recover the time you lost at the Stone Schoolhouse where you made but little Improvement in your Education, pray my Dear Boys be attentive to your Books and no doubt you will have a Good Education.” [Potts, p. 67]

12 May –

1778 – Wheeling, WV. George Rogers Clark and his militia men depart Fort Redstone, with about 20 settlers bound for the Falls of the Ohio. [Kramer, p. 20]

1780 – Charleston SC. William Croghan captured at surrender of city. [Renau, p. 21]

13 May –

1805 – Louisville, KY. Frances Eleanor Clark O’Fallon Thruston marries Dennis Fitzhugh. [Renau, p. 73]

14 May –

1754 – (Uncle) George Croghan to Pennsylvania Governor James Hamilton: “The government may have what opinon they will of the Ohio Indians, and think they are oblig’d to do what the Onondago Counsel will bid the, butt I ashure your honour they will actt for themselves att this time without consulting the Onondago Councel.” [Potts, p. 10]

1771 – Botetourt County, VA. John Todd admitted to the bar. He will soon come to St. Asaph (Logan’s Station), KY, and from there explore and acquire enormous amounts of acreage throughout Kentucky and into Tennessee. He will be with George Rogers Clark on the Illinois Campaign. He will become the first colonel of the Fayette County militia, which made him second in power on the frontier only to GRC.  (See 27 March 1750; 19 August 1782.) [KE, p. 887]

 1791 – KY. For the past year, James O’Fallon has been recruiting settlers for the South Carolina Yazoo Company, a venture to populate a “buffer” colony between the United States and Spanish territories. He claims to have 300 men, to be followed by 300 troops and 600 families under the leadership of James Wilkinson. Wilkinson’s exposure as a Spanish agent forced him out of the Yazoo Company, whereupon O’Fallon recruited George Roger Clark to replace Wilkinson. On this date, the Kentucky Gazette carries a proclamation from George Washington: It is my earnest desire that those who have incautiously associated themselves with the said James O’Fallon, may be warned of their danger…that all persons violating the treaties and act aforesaid, shall be prosecuted with the utmost rigor of the law. [Potts, p. 70]

1803 – Camp Dubois, MO. The Corps of Discovery sets off up the Missouri River. [EL, p. 509-10]

1857 – William “Willie” Jesup writes to his sister, Lucy Ann Jesup Sitgreaves. He is well aware of his father’s wrath, but evidently has done little in the past four years (see 19 May 1853) to curb his extravagance: I will…see my Father if I can, but I know that meeting will be very painful to me, as Father will meet me as he would a stranger, and that would be almost too much to bear. I have by my conduct made my lot in this world hard enough without being cooly treated by Papa. I have to be almost as a stranger to you all at Washington for the rest of my life, and I might as well try and accustom myself to the unpleasant duty at once. I shall continue to write to my married sisters until they prohibit me from doing so [and Julia] will have one brother that she can love and respect, but me her unworthy brother it will be better for her to forget. [Potts, p. 108]

1862 – Washington City. Willie Jesup’s body is reburied in Georgetown’s Oak Hill Cemetery. His sisters have paid to have his remains buried alongside his parents. [Potts, p. 204, note 138]

15 May –

 1798 – Monticello, VA. Thomas Jefferson is under attack for the account he published in his Notes on the State of Virginia concerning the murder of Mingo chief Logan’s family. This atrocity precipitated Dunmore’s War, and Jefferson blamed Captain Michael Cresap. The inquiry is launched by Luther Martin, Federalist, attorney general of Maryland – and son-in-law of Michael Cresap. Jefferson blames the furor on “the endeavours of the tory party among us to write me down as far as they could find or make materials.” He offers to alter any subsequent editions of his book, if proof of innocence is forthcoming. He writes to Dr. Samuel Brown: I suppose it probable that General Clarke may know something of the facts relative to Logan and Cresap. Present me affectionately to the General & assure him of my constant remembrance & esteem. [Potts, p. 76]

1826 – Louisville, KY. John Croghan writes to Thomas Sidney Jesup regarding Smithland, KY: …improving rapidly. There are one or more Steam boats building there & the little town exhibits quite a commercial character. [Potts, p. 69]

1841 – Louisville, KY. John Croghan writes to Thomas Sidney Jesup that his comforting idyll at Locust Grove was recently interrupted “by the unexpected arrival here of some half a dozen gentlemen to settle at affair of honor.” Apparently, in the midst of a typically passionate campaign for a seat in the Kentucky house of representatives, incumbent, Cassisus Clay “spoke disparagingly” of candidate Robert Wickliffe’s father. Clay later recalled that Wickliffe had spoken of Mrs. Clay. Whatever the provocation – or lack thereof – Wickliffe, seconded by John Rowan, challenged Clay, seconded by Major William R. McKee. Albert Sidney Johnson and William Preston also accompanied Wickliffe and tarried after the fireworks, apparently to pay the tab as they “left enough in the post at the end of the lane to answer my purposes for 12 months… Both parties it seemed had agreed to meet here & but for an accidental circumstance would. They fought near our mill and after the exchange of a shot a reconciliation ensued. They missed, but my opinion has that they are men of courage. A laughable report got out of my getting them to fight in the mill house. After the affair was over all parties came to the house, where they met Judge [Henry] Pirtle, Judge [Samuel Smith] Nicholas, [William Fontaine] Bullock & [James] Guthrie who had come out with a view of stopping the fight. I had for all something to eat & drink and I think they went home as happy as they left there.

  Cassius Clay succinctly summed up: We left the ground enemies as we came. [Potts p. 107]

  From 1849 onward, Section 228 of the Kentucky constitution requires all attorneys and all office holders to swear that they have never participated in a duel, as principal or second. Section 239 requires them to swear that they will not in future duel. Apparently some legislators have –and still do – seek to circumvent the constitution by simply abandoning themselves to some form of bare-knuckle brawling. Tolerance for this behavior depends upon public sentiment at the moment. 

16 May –

17 May –

1822 – Louisville, KY. Locust Grove. Ann Croghan and Thomas Sidney Jesup marry. Presbyterian minister Rev. Daniel Smith, successor Rev. Daniel Chapman Banks, officiates [Potts, p. 98; p. 202, note 34]

1875 – Louisville, KY. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., “Lutie,” on behalf of the Louisville Jockey Club and Driving Park Association, opens a horse racing track on land leased from his uncles, John and Henry Churchill. The premiere race, The Kentucky Derby, is won by Aristides. [EL, p. 198-99]

18 May –

1805 – Frankfort, KY. The Frankfort Palladium, quotes the Philadelphia Gazette, reporting that former vice president Aaron Burr, now thoroughly disgraced over killing Alexander Hamilton 12 July 1804, has embarked on a western tour for the purpose of “opening a canal around the Falls of Ohio, and erecting a water works at that place.” He associated himself with the Indiana Canal Company, thus helping to send that project gunwale under. [Potts, p. 81-2] 

1822 – Pittsburgh, PA. William Croghan Jr. writes to William Croghan Sr. that he is intent on marrying Mary O’Hara, daughter of the late General James O’Hara, friend of George Rogers Clark: …all that is wanting is her mothers consent… On learning the result, I will loose no time in returning home. [Potts, p. 100]

19 May –

1853 – Washington City. Thomas Sidney Jesup writes to James E. Jesup: In looking over the amounts run up by my son William…I have been struck by the utter recklessness which has characterized his whole course…a stop must be put to his extravagance or I cannot go on twelve months longer. [Potts, p. 108] We can easily imagine the distress of a father who has frugally and prudently built the Quartermaster Department for the United States Army, who finds himself powerless to curb the carelessness of his own son. 

20 May –

1793 – Philadelphia, PA. The Democratic Society is formed upon “Principles, Articles and Regulations.” [Potts, p. 198, note 63]


1825 – Louisville, KY. John Croghan writes to Thomas Sidney Jesup: You will perceive through the medium of the public print our reception of Lafayette… I regret that he had not time to visit Locust Grove, in as much as he promised to do so, but so limited was his stay, & so worried was he by parades & civilities that it seemed impossible. [Potts, p. 96]

  Indicating that both twins are in poor health, and require something of a spa environment, he continues that: Nicholas is now in Green River. Charles is at his place on the river, so there is no one at Locust Grove but Mother, William and myself.

  In August, he George Croghan tells Jesup that Lucy and Charles and planning a visit to Washington City: for a change of scene is necessary to both of them…Poor Charles…has lost one who alone seemed to attach him to life…his shattered constitution cannot support this recollection of all he has lost. (See 19 August 1825.) [Potts, p. 99]

1837 – Louisville, KY. John Croghan writes to Thomas Sidney Jesup that he has decided to build: a small room adjoining the house as a chamber for my Mother. [Potts, p. 105]

21 May –

1785 – Smithland, KY. Survey of William Croghan’s 4,000 acres at the confluence of the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers, is recorded in George Rogers Clark’s survey book. [Potts, p. 69]

1804 – St. Charles, MO. William Clark to William Croghan: My friend Capt. Lewis expressed some sorrow that you happened not to be at home at the time he passed down [the Ohio River], but hopes to see you on his return to the U.States, as to my self, I have, do, and shall [al]ways have that Brotherly effection for you which you are well assured I always possessed, and hope that in less than two years to see you & that family (yours) whome I have every effection for, at your own house. My rout is uncertain. I think it more than probable that Capt. Lewis or my self will return by sea, the other by the same rout we proceed, the time is uncertain. All the other alterations which I did not inform you of has been made since I saw you. And the law authorising the president to explore the Countrey &c. has just come to my knowledge.

  I have been at [this] place fie days waiting for Capt. Lewis who has been detained at St. Louis to fix off the Osage Chiefs. He has just arrived and we shall leave this Village immediately & proceed on our journey. [Potts, p. 79]

22 May –

1781 – Louisville, KY. George Rogers Clark writes to John Floyd, at Fort Pitt: Indians allowed planting along Beargrass…your little expedition [Renau, p. 28]

1803 – Louisville, KY. William Croghan again requests deed from James Madison. [Renau, p. 72]

23 May –

24 May –

1806 – Louisville, KY. John Gwathmey deeds lot 80, “on which John Bustard now lives,” to William Croghan, in consideration of $1,500. It is recorded in Jefferson County Deed Book 7, p. 506. The lot is located on the southwest corner of Fifth and Main streets, and was numbered 64 on the city’s original plan. By 1805, when Samuel Gwathmey purchased it, it had been renumbered 80. Diana Moore Gwathmey Bullitt lived there, and John Gwathmey built the Indian Queen hotel diagonally across the intersection. He operated this famous hostelry from about 1803 until 1819. On 25 March 1809, number 80 apparently supported a log structure, with a store on the ground floor, and living quarters upstairs. It was in these living quarters, occupied at the time by Frances Clark O’Fallon Thruston and Judge Dennis Fitzhugh, that Richard Ferguson, et al, amputated George Rogers Clark’s right leg. [Potts, p. 87, p. 200, notes 105 & 106]

25 May –

26 May –

1788 – Louisville, KY. James O’Fallon writes to Gardoqui proposing to organize a colony along Florida’s northern border, with himself in political control of Roman Catholic colonists. George Rogers Clark had proposed a buffer colony two months earlier, but his focus was along the Mississippi River, where O’Fallon soon shifted his attentions also. Neither colony materialized. [Potts, p. 70]

1802 – Spotsylvania County, PA. Jonathan Clark records in his diary: Clear. Moved from Spotsylvania for Kentucky. [Potts, p. 63]

27 May –

1763 – Fort des Miamis, IN. The Miamis capture the fort. This is part of Pontiac’s Rebellion. [Cayton, p. 28]

1778 – Louisville, KY. George Rogers Clark, a handful of militia men, and about twenty settlers

land on Lord Dunmore’s Island, at the Falls of the Ohio. The settlers will later name it Corn Island.

28 May –

1752 – Loggstown, PA. Treaty of Loggstown allows Ohio Company to move forward with exploration and settlement of the Ohio River valley, without fear of Indian attacks. The influence of the Iroquois confederation in the Ohio River valley is severely compromised. Virginia claims all new lands, setting the stage for border disputes with Pennsylvania. Great Britain fails to recognize the significance of these developments. George Croghan and William Trent flee their creditors and establish outposts on the western side of the Ohio River. Croghan’s home will become his celebrated seat on Aughwick Creek. [Potts, p. 10]

1800 – Louisville, KY. William Clark commission captain of a troop of cavalry, Jefferson County militia, First Regiment Kentucky militia. [EL, p. 199-200]

29 May –

30 May –

1810 – Louisville, KY. Dr. Richard Ferguson bills $184.12  for care of George Rogers Clark. [Renau, p. 119]

31 May –

1822 – Louisville, KY. First meeting of congregation which will become Christ Church Cathedral. [EL, p. 178-9]


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