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...

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.

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

To learn more about Old Fort Wayne, please click HERE

~   ~   ~


patriotsparade1776 said...

I haven't been to Fort Wayne for a few years, but you have me eager to be in attendance in 2020!

Doccinema said...

Thank you for your concern about Historic Fort Wayne, I too, a reenactor. (or retired reenactor, I did so from 1976-1998 when a kidney stone did the best of me). I also worked at "the Fort" during its early days. (Brian Dunnigan was the manager) I portrayed William Bailey, and my wife was Harriet Whistler (Sweetbreeze). We totally enjoyed those days and are saddened by the shape that the Fort property had deteriorated into. This is a marvelous facility and we had hoped more of Fort Wayne would have been behind the contribution. It is you the Living History personages that must keep this facility working. I hope that many would attend in the future so that this facility would not fall into more disrepair. Thank you for the memories as I spend many a day walking the gravel parade ground and outside land. Keep up the good work!