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Gray Lady Stories: Part 2

By Julia Gabbard, Tour Guide

thumbnail liberty hall oween ghost stories

Gray Lady sightings continued into the 20th century. Some believe that participating in such occult activities, as the last resident of Liberty Hall, Mary Mason Scott (Mame), was known to do, can open doors to the spiritual realms, and create portals through which the dead may come and go.  Perhaps this could explain the ongoing, occasional encounters that so many claim to have had over the years.

Gray Lady Stories: Part 1

By Julia Gabbard, Tour Guide

thumbnail liberty hall oween ghost stories

If asked what they know about Liberty Hall, most people will say “The Gray Lady.”  Humans are very interested in what lies beyond the grave, so it is no surprise that stories of the Gray Lady continue even now.  This is part one of a four-part series on Liberty Hall’s Gray Lady. However, to enjoy the stories of the Gray Lady, one needs to understand a bit about the Brown family while they lived, so I’ll start with a brief history.

I Like Dogs: The Browns and their Furry Friends

By Sara Elliott, Director

Dog printA Distinguished Foreigner print, painted by E. Caldwell, etched by E. Wallace Hester, 1889, Liberty Hall Historic Site Collections

“I like dogs
Big dogs
Little dogs
Fat dogs
Doggy dogs
Old dogs
Puppy dogs
I like dogs
A dog that is barking over the hill
A dog that is dreaming very still
A dog that is running wherever he will
I like dogs.”

-Margaret Wise Brown, The Friendly Book

Corner in Celebrities: Frankfort Suffragists

By Kate Hesseldenz, Curator

Laura Clay 1916Laura Clay and group marching for the Madison, Fayette, and Franklin Kentucky Equal Rights Association, at Democratic National Convention in St. Louis Date, ca. 1916, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center

Founded in 1888, the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (K.E.R.A.), was the first women’s rights organization in the South. Names such as Laura Clay and Madeline McDowell Breckinridge come to mind as leaders of Kentucky’s suffrage movement. Although not as well known, there were many other women who were involved. 

Collections Spotlight: Shaker Boxes - Uncommon Craftsmanship

By Tommy Hines, Executive Director, South Union Shaker Village

Pantry boxes 2Pantry boxes, Liberty Hall Historic Site Collections

From frontier times through the early days of the 20th century, wooden boxes were used in great abundance in the kitchens of Kentuckians. There are seven such boxes in the Liberty Hall Historic Site collection. The boxes were produced in a variety of sizes to hold everything from large cheeses to tiny pills.

Collections Spotlight: A Rare Find - A Kentucky Penitentiary Table

By Sharon Cox

Figure 1Figure 1: Penitentiary table, mid-19th century, Liberty Hall Historic Site Collections, photograph by Mack Cox

The Liberty Hall Historic Site (LHHS) Collections Committee believes that this table was made by inmates of the first Kentucky Penitentiary in Frankfort. (Fig. 1).  While antebellum Kentucky Penitentiary chairs are uncommon (Fig. 2-left), post-Civil War examples (Fig. 2-right) are plentiful.  Yet, this table is the only non-chair form known to the collections committee that might have been a standard product of the prison’s furniture industry, making it an important example of Kentucky furniture. 

This Band of Devoted Women: Preservation Stories of Mount Vernon and Liberty Hall

By Becky Shipp

Mt vernon and Liberty HallMount Vernon, 1850s and Liberty Hall, 1934

Ann Pamela Cunningham of South Carolina established the Mount Vernon Ladies Association (MVLA) in 1853. Her work and legacy of rescuing and restoring Mount Vernon, the former home of George Washington in Virginia, is recognized as the beginning of the historic preservation movement in the United States and the inspiration for many women to become involved in this work in their own communities. 

A Charming Garden: Liberty Hall Grounds in the Early Years

By Vicky Middleswarth, Educator

Spring Bluebells 2015Spanish bluebells in the Liberty Hall Historic Site gardens

When spring arrives at Liberty Hall Historic Site, the daffodils and bluebells make it easy to forget that the grounds once served a different purpose.  Margaretta Brown may have brought New York roses to her Kentucky home, but her letters reflect a more practical use of the land.

Benjamin Gratz Brown

By Sara Elliott, Director

Gratz Brown Blog imagePortraits of Benjamin Gratz Brown by Oliver Frazer, oil on canvas, ca. 1835 (left) and ca. 1845 (right), Liberty Hall Historic Site Collections

“Called Ben Gratz!!!” exclaimed John Brown on the name of his first grandchild[i]. Benjamin Gratz Brown was the only child of Mason and Judith Ann Bledsoe Brown and therefore the first grandchild of John and Margaretta Brown. Born on May 28, 1826 at the home of his namesake and great-great-uncle, Lexington businessman Benjamin Gratz, the infant would soon take up residence in the heart and home of his paternal grandparents in Frankfort.

A Rare Kentucky Book: Kentucky; A Poem by Isaac W. Skinner

By James D. Birchfield

KY a poem pic 1

On the shelves of the Brown family library at Liberty Hall there is a very rare Kentucky book – Kentucky; A Poem, by Isaac W. Skinner.[1]  It truly is a rare book, because there are only four known copies: the Liberty Hall copy, two copies in the Special Collections Research Center at the University of Kentucky, and a fourth copy owned by the Millbrook Public Library in Millbrook, Alabama.