A Local Legend

Johnston’s ‘The Little Colonel’
to be subject of special exhibit

Tribute to the late author
coming to Oldham County, Louisville

Staff Report

(November 2007) – The Oldham County Historical Society will hold a special exhibit on The Little Colonel from Nov. 17 through Feb. 16, 2008. Titled “The Little Colonel: A Romantic Vision of Life Long Ago in Oldham County,” the exhibit is sponsored by the society, the Pewee Valley Historical Society, the University of Louisville, Western Kentucky University, and Samuel Culbertson Mansion Bed and Breakfast.
Special Curator of the exhibit is Sue Lynn McDaniel, Special Collections Librarian at the Western Kentucky University. The museum is located at 106 N. Second Ave., La Grange.

Annie Fellows Johnston

Photo provided

Author Annie Fellows
Johnston is pictured
here from a painting
by artist Herbert Ross.

Take a trip through the world of the Little Colonel who resided in the town of Lloydsborough (Pewee Valley). Author Annie Fellows Johnston based many of the characters in her endearing “Little Colonel” tales on people who lived in Pewee Valley at the turn of the 20th century. Exhibits and events will be offered in La Grange, Bowling Green, Louisville and Pewee Valley.
The exhibit will include “Little Colonel” collectibles, including many on loan from the Little Colonel Doll Collectors; a recreation of Annie Fellows Johnston’s “writing room” using some of the author’s personal effects; highlights of Pewee Valley landmarks associated with the “Little Colonel” stories; and computer access to the Little Colonel’s first website, www.littlecolonel.com.
One sponsor, the Samuel Culbertson Mansion Bed and Breakfast, is home to Annie Fellows Johnston’s models for the “Two Little Knights of Kentucky.”
The Oldham County History Center is located at 106 N. Second St. It is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.
The exhibit at the University of Louisville Belknap Campus near downtown Louisville will feature the original works of Pewee Valley’s pioneer female photographer, Kate Matthews, whose bellows-style camera captured many of the people and places portrayed in the “Little Colonel” stories.
Titled “A Kentucky Idyll: the work of Pewee Valley photographer Kate Matthews and author Annie Fellows Johnston,” the exhibit will be displayed in the Photographic Archives and Rare Books Galleries on the lower level of Ekstrom Library Nov. through Feb. 28, 2008, and will also include books by Annie Fellows Johnston from the university’s collections.
The exhibit will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and closed Dec. 24-Jan. 1.
The Pewee Valley Historical Society, meanwhile, is sponsoring a self-guided tour of 29 historic sites throughout Pewee Valley. Tour books will be available at the caboose at the intersection of Central Avenue and Mt. Mercy Drive beginning in mid-November.
Oldham County is planning a weekend of events Feb. 8-10, 2008, spotlighting the town’s “Little Colonel” legacy. Events will include:

• 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, 2008: Annie Fellows Johnston portrayed by Sue Lynn McDaniel, Oldham County History Center, La Grange. Includes a cash bar and appetizers. Tickets are $13 for History Center members; $15 for non-members.

• Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008: “The Little Colonel of Lloydsborough,” a 30-minute play by the Little Colonel Players at the Playhouse on Mt. Mercy Drive at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 adults; $2 children. An open house tours of Tanglewood and Bemersyde, home of Presbyterian minister Peyton Hoge, at scheduled for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.. Appraisal Fair at St. James Episcopal Church, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $5 per item for up to three items per person. Food available; “Little Colonel” gift boutique at Pewee Valley Women’s Club, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Sunday, Feb. 10, 2008: “The Little Colonel of Lloydsborough,” a 30-minute play by the Little Colonel Players at the Playhouse on Mt. Mercy Drive, 11 a .m. and 1:30 , 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets $5 adults; $2 children. Chili lunch at Town Hall sponsored by the Pewee Valley Fire Department; “Little Colonel” gift boutique at Pewee Valley Women’s Club, 1-4 p.m.
A special $25 per person tour package is available Saturday and Sunday:

• “Little Colonel” luncheon prepared by the Women’s Guild of Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church, where Annie Fellows Johnston was a member. Featured will be authentic “Little Colonel” era recipes and an exhibit of “Little Colonel” memorabilia from the Herdt family, who knew Annie Fellows Johnston, her daughter Mary and Kate Matthews and will be on hand to answer questions.

• Ticket to “The Little Colonel of Lloydsborough.”

• Guided bus tour.
For tour package reservations, call the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.

Annie Fellows Johnston (1863-1931) began writing as a child, but her writing did not become an economic necessity until her husband, William Johnston, died, leaving her the sole support of her three stepchildren. It was during an 1894 visit to her stepchildren’s relatives in Pewee Valley that Annie was inspired to pen “The Little Colonel,” published in 1895.
Its phenomenal success led to the publication of 11 additional volumes in the Little Colonel series, two paper doll books, and a child’s diary during the next 17 years. In 1911, she settled permanently in Pewee Valley, where she lived at The Beeches and wrote her autobiography, “The Land of the Little Colonel” (1929), published just months before she died.
Johnston received fan mail from all over the world – letters came from as far away as India and Japan – and children formed “Little Colonel Clubs” across the United States. Four years after her death, “The Little Colonel” movie, starring Shirley Temple in the title role and Lionel Barrymore as the “Old Colonel,” premiered in Louisville. Its release spawned “Little Colonel” dolls, clothing, games, cards, paper dolls, handkerchiefs and other merchandise highly prized by collectors today.

• For more information, visit www.LittleColonel.com or www.oldhamcountyhistoricalsociety.org. Or call the historical society at (502) 222-7115.

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