|A sketch of my lovely wife and I|
During the first weekend in August I participated in a reenactment of a county fair in 1865 (as you may have read HERE) in which we had period games and contests and visited with President Lincoln. And now for the second weekend of August I found myself wearing clothing suitable to the 1770s and was able to watch the Patriots fight the Redcoats in the Revolutionary War as well as had the opportunity to visit with Benjamin Franklin.
Talk about American History time-traveling experiences!
Though I have been reenacting the Civil War for over a dozen years, I'm only in my second year as a colonial reenactor, therefore this was my second time attending Colonial Kensington.
And what a fine time I had!
First off, I must say that there's a connection all reenactors have - even for folks who may not do the same time period, there is still a connection.
Almost like an extended family.
|"Your servant sir."|
I have no problem doing this for Civil War due to the many experiences I've had while spending time in the 1860s, and now I am learning to do this in the 1770s as well. Yes, there are some differences. But anyone that knows me knows my style of living history - I like to immerse myself into the time I portray, to feel as if I am really "there." It's in this way that I can draw the visitor into my world of the past, hoping that when they leave they will have felt as if they actually spoke to someone from another time. I very much enjoy watching other reenactors from both eras do this, for seeing the many differing styles is a great learning experience for the newbie and the more seasoned.
|"Good day to you."|
At this year's Colonial Kensington I felt myself personally growing in confidence in presenting the era. I've spent a year "getting my feet wet," and now I'm wading in deeper waters. It's not that I don't know about the colonial era - that has always been my favorite time in American history and, as I mentioned, have studied for well over 40 years - it's just finding my way in this time period in the manner that I present.
Colonial Kensington is a wonderful event and considered one of the largest RevWar/Colonial reenactments in southern lower Michigan. It's held in beautiful Kensington Metro-Park out in Milford, and the surroundings of water and trees add to the note of authenticity. Visitors come by on foot or on bike, and sometimes even by way of canoe. There is a mix of French & Indian War and Revolutionary War reenactors, as well as a few who portray the local Michigan Indian tribes.
And, of course, civilians.
But even though it's based in Michigan, there is room for some of the more eastern period populace, such as Benjamin Franklin, to make appearances (my style is 1770s eastern/Boston as well, with hopes of morphing into Paul Revere).
As you shall see in the following photographs, Colonial Kensington is one very fine event, and my hat is off to the good people, such as Dave Marquis (see photo above right), that put this on. I am honored to play a part.
And to show you the quality of the reenactors, I appreciatively received a lesson in mannerisms and etiquette from the get-go:
Franklin pens a letter:|
to write and to speak like a colonial –
ideally, this is my goal, though I know
it will take time.
The back of the book also tells us that this series of lessons has been designed to help historical interpreters and reenactors better understand the language of the period and sound more like the persons they portray. Lessons contain grammar, vocabulary, and conversational etiquette for all levels of society.
Please allow me to be un-colonial for a moment and say "How cool is this?" Yes, I am very excited about learning some of the vocabulary style of the colonial period and plan to incorporate it into my presentations. It will be a slow process initially, and I will need to keep modern speech heavily flavored as to not turn any modern visitor off, but I believe the overall presentation should prove to be successful.
At least I hope it will be.
Either way, I have interspersed some of the eighteenth century jargon into a few of the photographic captions here and there in this posting.
By the way, if you are interested in purchasing this book for yourself (or as a gift), it is only available through the Colonial Williamsburg Store - click HERE for the link to the store where it should be available.
So, anyhow, why don't I show you all just how wonderful an event Colonial Kensington is by way of the many photographs I took while there.
Yes, just as I do at Civil War reenactments, I remove my camera from my haversack, snap a picture or two, then quickly put it back. If at all possible, I do not want to ruin visitor's impressions, you know.
Hope you like what I have here:
|Here we have a gentleman working on a pewter spoon. Pewter, along with wood, was among the most popular for making eating utensils.|
|Make sure you take care not to get hurt. This is one guy you don't want to have to go see!|
|Just the every day tools in the 18th century medical field. Yikes!!|
|As we moved about the village, we met many fine people wandering hither and thither, some with a purpose, others on a stroll.|
|"How do you do? How does your family all at home? And how does your father, old fellow?"|
Madam, if I may be so bold as to |
compliment you on your fashion."
|First Foot Guards Grenadier Company (with companions).|
|Off to squelch the rebellion. Well, they certainly will try, but I'm not sure if they'll be able to do it. The Americans are pretty steadfast and don't back down easily once you get them riled up!|
|Dr. Franklin didn't give a speech on any one subject; he, instead, did a Q & A with the public, allowing the audience to ask him questions and he, of course, providing the answers.|
I believe the following scenario has its roots in a true account of what has been called Benjamin Franklin's Treason (the following is from THIS site):
of the King's Regulars heard him speak
and began claims of sedition and treason.
Understanding the inflammatory nature of these letters, Franklin circulated them to his American friends and colleagues but on the condition that they not be published. Clearly in the public interest, at least from the point-of-view of American revolutionaries, the letters were published in the Boston Gazette in June of 1773 in defiance of Franklin’s request.
As you can imagine, the patriotic citizens of Boston were furious, and in May 1774 Hutchinson fled the colony back to England before he could be tarred and feathered.
In a letter to the London Chronicle, Franklin confessed: “…I think it incumbent on me to declare (for the prevention of farther mischief, as far as such a declaration may contribute to prevent it) that I alone am the person who obtained and transmitted to Boston the letters in question.”
However, he refused to say who gave him the letters.
a frightening sight to see this well-respected |
man about town being confronted by the King’s Army.
Of course, what would a reenactment of the RevWar era be without a battle?
And it was a fine battle at that, giving the patrons a fair idea of the types of maneuvers and tactics used and uniforms warn by the military on both sides of the pond.
|The American Patriots arrived on the green.|
|The Red-coated Regulars did not respond in kind.|
|But then neither did the Americans, who charged the King's Army.|
|As the skirmish commenced, the crowd was thrilled to see a reenactment of a Revolutionary War battle occur before their eyes.|
|The local Indians also got involved.|
|They did a fine job representing the Native Americans|
|I found it amusing that my son, a descendant of a Revolutionary War soldier, was in the Queen's Rangers Highland Company on this day.|
|It was great fun for him, for this was his first RevWar battle ever.|
Here is a short video clip I took of the battle. It centers on the Queen's rangers for that's where my son was.
And now for some post-battle entertainment. I'm only sorry I did not video these two - they were great!
|Hearing the period sounds of the fife & drum is akin to having a film soundtrack. It just seems to complete the picture.|
|Can you not just hear "Road to Boston," "Yankee Doodle," and other popular tunes of the day?.|
|My wife took time to go shopping at the traders/sutlers shops.|
And there you have it, our time-travel excursion to the era of our Nation's founding at Colonial Kensington. I had one terrific time, I must say.
Other reenactors who happen to be my Facebook friends tell me how surprised they are about how often I participate in events. I reply with, "I live in the past. I reenact the 21st century."
I was once told to watch myself or I may suffer from reenactor burn-out. But here I am, a dozen years-plus later, and nothing of the sort has overcome me. In fact, it's been just the opposite - it's on the weekends when there isn't a reenactment that I find myself going a little stir-crazy!
Yeah...I am a bit on the crazy side.
Until next time, see you in time.
am ready to give any assurance that nobody is better disposed to your interest
and service than I am, Dr. Franklin, or that wishes you more prosperous and
happy in your government.|
I wish you a good day."