Miniature museum

Dolls highlight Little Colonel’s exhibit
on display in La Grange

Many dolls were handmade by local residents

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (January 2008) – Anne Cartwright’s parents got her hooked on dolls at an early age. This has been a fascination she has not been able to let go of throughout her adulthood.

Dolls Exhibit 1

Photos provided

Dolls make up a large portion of
the new exhibit now open at the
Oldham County History Center.

Dolls Exhibit 2

Cartwright, 64, is a member of the Little Colonel Doll Collectors of Kentucky. This club has several items on display in the current exhibit at the Oldham County History Center in La Grange. The exhibit is titled, “The Little Colonel: A Romantic Vision of Life Long Ago in Oldham County.” It opened Nov. 17 and will run through Feb. 16.
Many of the dolls in the Little Colonel exhibit were hand-made by Indiana resident Paulette Stinson. The Little Colonel Doll Collectors of Kentucky are an affiliate of the United Federation of Doll Clubs and one of three in the Louisville area.
The 15-member club Cartwright belongs to was formed in 1984. Monthly meetings are held in member’s homes, and certain topics such as doll jewelry are presented and discussed. Some members live as far away as Somerset, Ky., and Lexington, Ky.
Her parents, William and Mary Furnish, were members who used to hold meetings for the club in their home. They got Cartwright interested and she has been a member since 1993. Cartwright’s sister, Susan Hettinger, also encouraged Cartwright to join.
Most members collect antique dolls of some sort. Original Little Colonel dolls are hard to find, said Cartwright. That is why Stinson, a charter member of the club, began making them. In the past, “we have met and held workshops at her house,” said Cartwright.
Members have put their own creativity to use by not just collecting dolls, but in crafting Christmas ornaments. Cartwright said Stinson had received a shipment of bisque doll heads that they turned into unique doll-themed ornaments.
Members acquire collector dolls from antique doll shows, dealer organizations, antique stores and Ebay. Their interests range from antique dolls to modern ones, and they collect dolls from all over the world.
“I collect all sorts of things; dolls are just part of it,” said Cartwright. She has dolls from Japan, Africa and the Orient. She has many ethnic dolls from different European countries outfitted in the traditional dress of their country.

Eleanor Guderian

Eleanor Guderian

Her favorite doll of sorts was a felt horse her father made while recovering in a hospital from wounds received during World War II. Her mother passed on to her a set of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls that she cherishes as well. In addition, Cartwright is intrigued by mechanical toys, which she also collects.
The Little Colonel books and memorabilia are popular with today’s culture because “they are still very enjoyable for adults,” said Cartwright. “There is also the local aspect of it,” that many find alluring.
“We decided to have the exhibit because of the significant impact the Little Colonel had on Oldham County,” said Nancy Theiss, executive director of the Oldham County History Center. “The fascination locally is that the characters from the stories actually represent real people from Pewee Valley, including the Little Colonel, who was Hattie Cochran, and her grandfather, Col. Weissigner.”
The Samuel Culbertson Mansion Bed and Breakfast, located on Third Street in Louisville, has sponsored computer access to the first website about the Little Colonel. The address is www.littlecolonel.com.
The mansion was once home to brothers William Stewart Culbertson and Alexander Craig Culbertson, models for author Annie Fellows Johnston’s “Two Little Knights of Kentucky.”
The website was constructed by Steve Lock, one of the mansion’s business partners. “The website is wonderful,” said Cartwright. “It provides all sorts of information to get people more interested in the Little Colonel.”
Lock, along with Donna Andrews Russell, was also instrumental in organizing a Pewee Valley Driving Tour Guide, which can be purchased for $5 at the History Center.
“Our Pewee Valley Driving Tour Guide is fantastic. Many of the homes mentioned in the series are still intact,” said Theiss. The driving tour highlights the places frequented by Hattie Cochran and made known nationally by Johnston, as well as additional historical stops in Pewee Valley.
Included in the History Center exhibit is a recreation of Johnston’s writing room. “I thought it would make a nice setting because we had some of her personal items from her office, and I think people are always interested in seeing places where people create their ideas,” said Theiss.
On exhibit is Johnston’s writing stand where she would stand up and write because she often got tired of sitting for long periods.
“We are pleased with the exhibit,” said Cartwright. “It was well done.”
The February meeting for the Little Colonel Doll Collectors of Kentucky will be the driving tour.

• For more information on the exhibit, visit: www.oldhamcountyhistoricalsociety.org or call Nancy Theiss at (502) 222-0826. Many additional events take place in February.

Back to January 2008 Articles.



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