Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Colonial Life on the Frontier: Fort Wayne, Indiana 2019

Another week---another reenactment.  This time I ventured to Fort Wayne, Indiana at the replicated fort that stood there 200+ years ago.
I do keep quite busy in the reenacting world, especially this time of year.   It's my time away from the real world of the 21st century and I will jump on that train any chance I can.  We all need something like that, don't we?  Some folks go to bars.  Others head to sporting events.  Many are at the beach every weekend this time of year.  As for me I find myself wearing the clothing of the 1770s  (and sometimes the 1860s, as you shall see in next week's post)  replicating times past.
That's my solace.
Yeah, it's only reenacting but I like it...
Old Fort Wayne in Fort Wayne, Indiana
Here we are on a hot day in late July.
It's a bit of a drive from the metro-Detroit area to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  I would say roughly around three hours or so.  But the Revolutionary War reenactment held there makes the long, flat ride all very worthwhile.  Known as  "Colonial America on the Frontier,"  this event is very much one that many of us look forward to attending every year, for our surroundings add greatly to the appeal.
As we enter the grounds on which the fort sits, we are greeted by 
spinners and musicians, signs that the past is nigh.
Picture courtesy of Historic Fort Wayne 

Just past this musical entrance we found a woodworker, doing his trade:
We visited the wood worker's shop.

Applying his talent to the trade.
I always enjoy watching those whose talents lay in the past show 

their period skills.  I hope that the younger generation continues on.

Also showing skills of the past is...
...the blacksmith.
and the...
...tinsmith.

The tinsmith had his wares for sale right outside his door.

There is no great history lesson in today's posting.  It is, instead, a sort of scrap book of memories of just how much fun this event actually was.  Sometimes just showing photos can be a lesson in of itself, I suppose, for this Passion for the Past blog states,  "Thoughts and social history for the living historian." 
The 13th Pennsylvania march through the doors of the fort.
That's my son you see there with them.

Tony with my son Rob.
As members of Michigan's 1st Pennsylvania,
they fall in with Indiana's 13th Pennsylvania.
Brothers in arms.

Inside the fort a community of people seem to make it all come to life.

Having women and children add greatly to the
entire atmosphere.  I remember the days when
reenacting was strictly military with very few
women, children or civilian men included. 

I don't know who this young mother is, but she
certainly looked 18th century perfect.

Civilians and tradesmen now play a much larger role, giving the visiting public a better overall picture of times past.

Civilians and military inter-mingle.
Supposedly there is talk of independence.

A mother puts her 
little daughter to bed.
A Cheryl Crawford picture
Singing the little one
to sleep.
Another Cheryl Crawford picture




The Queen's Rangers

My friend Jackie, a long-time
Civil War reenactor, has really
been enjoying her time spent in
the 1770s as well and is honing
a personna for herself.
Picture by Historic Fort Wayne 
If you are familiar with Mercy Warren, then you will have an idea of the story Jackie plans to tell.

The kitchen of the old fort.

CarolAnne prepares food for the Queen's Rangers.

A courier rode in with word of the patriots claiming 
Independence from the king.  They gather to dispel any uprising.

One of the things I most enjoy at this event is the opportunity to read the Declaration of Independence to all the people of the area, in the same vein as would have been done in late July 1776 out there on the Indiana frontier.
Here we see General Jones  (who, at times, portrays General Washington),  announcing the reading of this declaration to the public.

And I was asked to begin....probably because I am loud and can 
gather the attention of everyone inside the fort!

"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people 
to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another..."

As we were reading, Britain's Queen's Rangers, who were none 
too pleased, monitored the orators closely.
A Historic Fort Wayne picture

A number of us were asked to read this most important of American documents, including reenactors...

...to modern folk...

...to even colonial women.

It was after we were done reading when the Ranger's grabbed us 
and kicked us out of the fort. 

General Jones as well.
I suppose we got off easy, for they could have
arrested us for treasonous activities.
I enjoy taking part in the public reading of the Declaration of Independence, which I actually do not take lightly.  So many Americans have never heard or read the entire document.  This may be their first time hearing it, therefore having (mostly) period-dressed reenactors doing the recitation may make it come alive.

After the reading  (and once I was allowed back into the fort)  I was told there were two little girls who were quite fond of Paul Revere,  and since I was introduced as the man during the Declaration reading, they wanted to meet  "me."
I asked them what did they know of my story, which they responded more correctly than many adults.  I then filled in the holes, so to speak, to give them a more accurate portrayal of my most famous of rides.  They really seemed to enjoy hearing that from me and they enjoyed meeting the man who was a part of the beginnings of the Revolutionary War.   And it was an honor for me to meet them,  for children who love history and are interested in the past are the ones we must water like a plant so that interest will continue to grow and flourish.
Paul Revere meets a couple of fans.
Their faces say it all.
I was truly honored.
Picture used with permission and taken by,
the young girls' father, Jason Arp

Movement of soldiers in the fort tells me the battle may be beginning soon.

My son desired to pick off one of the king's men...
...the one they called Louie, but he thought the wiser and did not.
(We'll see who gets my little joke here and who doesn't)

Because the weather has been so overly hot this year, the participation attendance has been lower than normal, so it was unfortunate that we did not have as many soldiers show up for battle.  However, those that did gave a good show for all who watched, and there was plenty of musket fire making the noise that they wanted to hear.
For the skirmish we showed the Continental army attacking a British outpost - no specific battle, so it was pretty much an overview, allowing the public to witness, in a small way, the sites and sounds of 18th century warfare.

My son, always a patriot, takes aim and fires his weapon.

Tony heads up the Michigan 1st Pennsylvanian unit.
I hope there is no gun powder in those barrels!

The Queen's Rangers fire at the 13th Pennsylvania.
The above photo of the 13th Pennsylvania taken by Jason Arp

After the battle had ended, scavenging for goods was common.

Samson's Historical was set up at the Fort, selling their
wares te reenactors and modern folk alike.

Besides clothing, Samson's Historical carries a wide
variety of accessories for the 18th century reenactor.

Just what are these ladies looking at?
"The School of  Venus, or the Ladies Delight, 
Reduced into Rules of Practice."  
Translated from the original French  (leave it to 
the French lol)  and published in England in 1680, 
this book was considered racy, lewd...
and today is hilarious. 
But still racy and lewd.
And the ladies had quite an interesting time reading it.
How well-known was this book in its time?  It's said that famed diarist Samuel Pepys recorded encountering the text  (in its original French)  in his bookseller’s shop in January 1668.  After initially protesting that he was  “ashamed of reading in it,”  Pepys eventually convinced himself that it wouldn’t hurt to look at it just once—on the general principle that  “a sober man”  should know about the  “villainy of the world.”
Titillated but true to his word, Pepys burned the book right after reading it.


I normally have a haversack over my shoulder to carry certain items I like to keep with me,  but I know  (and was also told several times)  that it was incorrect to have such an item on my person as a civilian, that a period wallet is what I should have in its stead.
So guess what I purchased at Samson's?
On the way back to Detroit we stopped at a Culvers Restaurant for a bite to eat - - yes, while in our period 18th century clothing  (per usual for us).  The stares and side-glances abounded, which we always enjoy.
The conversation between the cashier and myself went along these lines - -
He:  "Why are you dressed like that?"
Me:  "Why are YOU dressed like that?"
Cashier:  "I get paid to wear this."
Me:  "I don't.  I'm from 1776."
Cashier:  (laughing)  "Yeah, I can see that.  Pretty cool!"
He then took my order and, as he handed me the order number, he laughed again and said,  "Look at the number you got!"
Ah, fate!
'twas a good day indeed!
Many thanks to Robert Jones and all who volunteer at the old fort, for they always help to make sure we are all well accommodated and ensure the reenactors are happy.  I love the opportunities we have to reenact inside historic structures, especially here in the great midwest where such opportunities are not always readily available for this time period.
Here is something to remember upon visiting a historic encampment: please make sure you come up and speak with us.  We're not shy and love to talk history.  For the most part, the visitors that come to such events are true dyed-in-the-wool history people and, in my opinion, deserve to have such conversations.


Now, on an angry note, only one week after this wonderful event took place, a cowardly fool spray-painted graffiti upon the fort walls.
As was printed in the WPTA news:
Staff member Malinda Pagel says the vandals used black spray paint as a weapon,  tagging the side of the structure with the phrase  “no pride in native genocide.”
Pagel says a cleaning crew will attempt to use a process called soda blasting to remove the paint while causing minimal damage to the timber wall.  That process will likely begin Saturday morning.  Pagel says police have been notified and a formal report made.
Controversy has erupted recently, after city leaders declared July 16  “General Mad Anthony Wayne Day.”  Wayne, the namesake of the original fort,  led American troops in a campaign against the Miami and Shawnee tribes at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794.  The event underscores local ties to the country’s contentious and often brutal relationship with Native Americans.
The current fort is a recreation of the original.  Construction was finished just before July 4, 1976 and the history museum is operated by volunteers and Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation.
Let's think about this as a reasonable, rational 21st century human  (if there is such a thing anymore):  rather than vandalize and make yourself and cause look foolish, wouldn't it be better to speak to the staff and ask if maybe there could be a Native Day  (or weekend)  there to teach their side of the story?  There is plenty of ground and room to have a wonderful pow wow, and in that way the public can be taught the history of the Natives.
However, I don't believe it was a Native who vandalized the fort;  I believe it was some punk who feels the need to speak for others, maybe feeling upset that the others may not be speaking for themselves.  It wouldn't surprise me if he was an anti-fa type jerk.
I hope they catch him.  I hope he is so proud of the news he caused that he cannot contain himself  (or maybe herself?)  and will tell someone, and they will let the authorities know.
Yeah...I hope so.
Idiot.

Anyhow, that's it for me.
Until next time, see you in time.

To learn more about Old Fort Wayne, please click HERE


















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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Colonial Frankenmuth 2019: The Year of the Storm

July and August are pretty busy months for me for reenacting.  From the 4th of July through the end of August I seem to live in the past and reenact the present, for I participate in seven different events over the course of that eight week time period,  bouncing between the 1770s and the 1860s.
So be prepared:  there are more reenactments and living history events to be documented.
Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

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Preparing to leave for Colonial Frankenmuth

Powerful storms in...
...Hastings & Frankenmuth
Have we not had some crazy weather here in the Midwest so far this year?
A bitter cold winter with minus double digit temps.
A spring filled with rain - one of the wettest springs on record.
A summer heat like we haven't had in years, just shy of a hundred degrees multiple times.
And some pretty intense summer storms.
The weekend of July 20 and 21 was one such weekend where the actual temperatures approached one hundred degrees,  and then add to that a line of severe thunderstorms with a downpouring of rain and straight-line winds.  My son spent a night and a day at the Civil War event at Charlton Park in Hastings, Michigan, only to leave a day early due to the over-bearing heat, a barrage of mosquitos, and flooding conditions that occurred there.
Arriving in
Colonial Frankenmuth.
In the opposite direction of Hastings, up in Frankenmuth - home of Greta Van Fleet (for you contemporary rockers) - another reenactment was going on, only this one was of the Revolutionary War/French & Indian War variety.  Frankenmuth is a tourist town - "Michigan's Little Bavaria" - and is known mostly for its chicken and for its Christmas super store, Bronners, which is the largest store in the world, I believe, for carrying Christmas decorations.  So we have pretty much a guaranteed large visitorship.  And on the Saturday of the event, just like in Hastings,  a nasty storm - part of the same storm that hit Charlton Park - blew through and did some extensive damage to the belongings of a number of Frankenmuth reenactors;  canvas tents were ripped, blown, and some destroyed, tent poles were snapped in two, and even trees were downed, again due to the straight line winds.
I was not able to attend either event on Saturday, but I did make it to Frankenmuth on Sunday, along with good friends Mike & Jackie, and luckily the storms had all passed by then and we had sunshine, lower temps, and low humidity - picture-perfect weather.
For this week's post I will present a photographic report:
Most of the Americans were set up on a hill and caught the brunt of the storm,  though the British were in the lowlands and didn't seem to get hit quite as hard.

Joey, Chandler, and Ross.
Ooops--- - Joey, Richard, and Mike.

Michael Scott, who goes by the name Nodin  (which means "The Wind"),  is a Native American  who is a part of the Turtle Clan of the Sault Ste. Marie  (Michigan)  Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Nodin and Joey do some trading.
I enjoy when scenarios such as this can be set up

for the public to see the way historical trading
between the natives and the whites took place.
This needs to be done more often.

The doctor is in.

Dr. Tripp performed numerous surgical procedures.
I find the medical technology of the day fascinating and enjoy watching and listening to the surgeons at work.
And we think going to surgery today is scary---!

Colonial girls.
Too many believe that historical reenacting is only for us
old folks, but there are many, many younger people who
also take part, such as these two young ladies, 

which will ensure that it stays alive.

Idle hands are the devil's workshop, as the old adage
goes.  Mistress Baxter has no idle hands as they keep 
busy knitting.  Perhaps she is making warm items for 
the coming winter, even though it is still hot in July.


I always enjoy seeing this sort of accessory.  
What a great place for your apple jack!

Battles are almost a must at any reenactment,  and Colonial Frankenmuth was not a let down.  Seeing and hearing the flint-locks flash and fire is a real treat, even for those of us who get to see and hear such a thing quite often.  And one of the battles for this event (there are four battles total over the weekend), centered on one that took place during the French & Indian War.
The Battle of Carillon, also called the 1758 Battle of Ticonderoga, was fought on July 8, 1758, during the French and Indian War  (also known as the Seven Years' War).
It was fought near Fort Carillon  (now known as Fort Ticonderoga)  on the shore of Lake Champlain in the frontier area between the British colony of New York and the French colony of New France.
In the battle, which took place primarily on a rise about three-quarters of a mile from the fort itself,  a French army under General Marquis de Montcalm and the Chevalier de Levis decisively defeated an overwhelmingly numerically superior force of British troops under General James Abercrombie.
The French Army frontally assaulted an entrenched British position without using field artillery, a lack that left the British and their allies vulnerable and allowed the French to win a decisive victory.
The fort, abandoned by its garrison, was captured by the British the following year, and it has been known as Fort Ticonderoga  (after its location)  ever since.
This battle gave the fort a reputation for impregnability that had an effect on future military operations in the area.

Voyageurs & frontiersmen~

42nd Regiment of Foot. The Royal Highland Regiment

The Royal Highland Regiment:
"We survived the storm of 2019!"

Mr. & Mrs. Mann of the Queen's Rangers

Not a posed picture.
Well, kinda sorta not.
Seriously - - Mike had no idea that Joey was sneaking up behind
him with a hatchet.

Sons of the American Revolution – Detroit Metropolitan Chapter:
When the SAR comes out to our reenactments, they add so much.  I always enjoy seeing them come out to our events.  

Now the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) needs to come out, too, for we need all hands on deck to help get the history of our great country out.

Everyone survived the crazy weather and most tents and accessories survived as well, though maybe a bit battered.  But we are reenactors;  I, myself, was holding my tent down during such a storm about a decade ago when a tornado was within a mile of our campsite, so, yes, I've been through it as well.
The past must go on!
Time to head back...
Any event is only as good as those who participate and what they are willing to put into it.  By that alone Colonial Frankenmuth is a fine event indeed.  Walking about the camps throughout the acreage and speaking to the other reenactors is one of those things I enjoy, for it's in this manner I can get to know others, whether patriot or loyalist (lol).  Also, I am seeing more and more of my Civil War reenactor friends are joining the era of our country's birth and finding it much to their liking.  Not that they plan to leave the 1860s, mind you, but just another time to add to their list of traveling to the past.  That's one of the reasons why I formed Citizens of the American Colonies - for my interested Civil War friends. However, I am glad to find others joining as well.
And speaking with visitors can be one of the best parts of all,  and it's those guests who had never been to a reenactment before that I enjoy talking with the most, for they remind me of a wide-eyed child filled with wonder.  Well...most of them, at least.  Yeah, you also have those who think we're bat-s*** crazy for what we do and how we dress.
And that's fine, too;  they are a challenge and usually we can win them over to some extent.

I want to thank the Massachusetts
Until next time, see you in time.
Provincial Battalion, who are a top-notch French & Indian War unit run by Brent Kemmer, for they host this event.  Sometimes they do strictly F&I events while other times, like this Frankenmuth event, it's a mix 'n' match of F&I and Rev War.  Either way the public gets a fine demonstration of America's 18th century history.
The city fathers & mothers of Frankenmuth also make all of the reenactors feel welcome and have provided a delicious chicken dinner for the Saturday participants.
Each year Colonial Frankenmuth continues on to give the tourists that little extra that maybe they weren't expecting.  In this day and age, presenting history nearly anywhere we can is a good thing.


By the way - - -
the very top picture in this week's posting is a photo-shopped photograph.
All others are as you see them.


To read a bit on colonial everyday life, click HERE
To read about life on a colonial far, please click HERE
To read first-hand accounts on the battles of Lexington & Concord, please click HERE




















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