Friday, October 16, 2009

Wolcott Mill and the 2009 Reenacting Season

North of Detroit, in Macomb County, one of the finest reenactments takes place every year in mid-October. Known as Wolcott Mill (yes, an actual restored historic gristmill built in 1847 is on the grounds), this event is moving toward (and meeting) the goal of becoming a progressive event, and is striving to keep the farb out. It also highly encourages 1st person from the participants.

Unfortunately, this year we had an all-day rain - at times a down pour - during set up on Friday and, just like at the Jackson event in August, Wolcott became a mudfest. In fact, a couple of autos and trailers could not be moved until well into the day on Saturday, after the sun had come out and the land began to dry out.

Marching through mud at Wolcott Mill

Saturday and Sunday were sunny but very cool for this time of year, with temps only reaching the mid-40's during the day and dropping below freezing at night. Very November-like.
The evening found me participating in the lantern walk - my third year doing it - and it was a great success. I was very proud of the fact that six out of the 10 stops were 21st Michigan civilian members, the unit of which I am the civilian coordinator. How proud I am, considering how many units were at the event!

An 1863 insurance salesman - another 21st Michigan member!

But, that's what I strongly promote during our civilian meetings - to not be camp sitters but to get involved and show the visitors, through actions if possible, the everyday lives of folks from the 1860's.

21st Michigan member Doc Ramus (and his daughter) speaking about medical practices of the 19th century

I mention here and there in previous blogs about the "you-are-there" moments that some of us get every-so-often during an event. Well, this happened on this particular weekend while inside of Wolcott Mill where the church service was being held. The preacher waited patiently while the congregation was being seated in the old gristmill. It was a very cold morning and the temperature got down to 29, frosting the ground and tents up. Just before the service was about to begin I turned to look behind me and saw a young woman with her two children walk in to hopefully find a couple open seats. She was dressed as warmly as she could and, although I do not believe the intent was there, she did come off as a rather poor farm woman. Just at the moment she found seats for herself and her children, my peripheral vision faded and all that I could see was what I might have seen were it truly 1862. It was a 'moment.' No, not time-travel per se' - - just a moment. The neat thing is that my wife, for her first time, felt it as well.

Having tea with Michigan Soldiers Aid Society members

With the Wolcott Mill event now past, the 2009 reenacting season in Michigan has, for the most part, come to a close. Oh, there will be the small bits coming up: school presentations, the harvest ball, our period dress Christmas party, and the like. But, the big events are over til spring. It's sad...kinda like the day after Christmas when you know all of the fun holiday activities are over.
But, it was a very good season...quite possibly my best ever: I was able to hone my 1st person skills more than I ever have, I reenacted inside of actual period buildings as well as a make-shift post office, I was part of a film shoot, I saw the civilians of the 21st Michigan grow in their skills more than ever, and I have an article in a national magazine (Citizens' Companion). And this is up-and-beyond the regular reenactments, which were all pretty much top notch! I have also made more new friends this year than any other year.
I have lots of fond memories and some great photographs. And, I look forward, of course, to the 2010 season.

Tending a sick family member at the mid-19th century Sixberry House in Charlton Park, Hastings, Michigan

Shooting at scene for a Civil War documentary

A group image taken of a few 21st Michigan members that participated at Depot Days in South Lyon, Michigan

1 comment:

Mrs. G said...

I'm glad you had such a nice finale to your 2009 season, Ken!