Friday, May 29, 2015

Greenfield Village's Civil War Remembrance 2015

I have been attending this wonderful event at historic Greenfield Village for over a decade now and I never tire of it. With this being the first major event of the season, I get to see many friends that I haven't seen in over half a year, and that's always a good thing. Since it's not only the first one of the season for most in this area of the country, it's also probably one of the more anticipated events, from the planning meetings back in February through lining up in our cars hours before they let us inside. Everyone seems to be filled with excitement clear up until our worn out bodies - especially feet! - are dragging while we tear everything down three days later.
It's all good moods though, you know? We're all just so very happy to not only be back in the world of living history, but doing it at historic Greenfield Village! Being allowed to camp and reenact amongst dozens of historic homes and buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries is as good as it gets.
Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so, as I have done in previous years, my review of Civil War Remembrance consist of a few hundred thousand words...
Hope you enjoy it!
Here is the annual group picture of members of the 21st Michigan. Unfortunately, a few of our membership did not get in the picture. It's awful hard to try to round up 80 or so members at an event like Greenfield Village, but I do my best. Maybe one year we will have an all-encompassing 21st Michigan family photo.

Our ladies love to sew, and they sew so much they can do it in unison!

This is my wife, Patty. She also sews. And crochets. And knits. But one of her most favorites of all crafts is spinning on her spinning wheel. She believes she spun for a total of around 12 hours during the three-day event. That's a dizzying amount of time spinning, don't you think?
Many, many visitors came by and received a hands-on history lesson on spinning wool into yarn. And that's one of the best parts about reenacting: allowing visitors to experience history in ways only reenactors can do!

Two of our lovely ladies. Jackie, the one on the left, does a wonderful first-person and oftentimes portrays one of my sisters.

Elaine has studied up on the occupation of operating a telegraph, and now enjoys explaining the process to the many visitors she receives.

This young lady is one of the finest seamstresses I know and has done numerous jobs for my wife and I. Here she is again, hard at work on another project. Yes, she can sew clothing of pretty much any era in time.

Mrs. Paladino has been reenacting for decades, and the quality of her presentations show. The best part is, she accepts new historical information and will incorporate it into her presentation rather than say, "Well, we've always done it this way." A sign of a true living historian.

My lovely wife and I. Yes, we are a patriotic couple aren't we? We're also grandparents. Want proof? Well... we are posing for a mock tintype with our grandson Benjamin at his very first reenactment! Oh! He will really enjoy spending time in the past with his nonna and papa!

Benjamin and his Nonna.

And here is our daughter posing with her nephew. We were so happy and proud to introduce him to our many friends as well as to living history!

There’s a little story behind this picture:
When Henry Ford restored the Eagle Tavern at his historic Village, he added on a very large dining area to accommodate, initially, students from his school during their lunch, and then, once the Village opened up to the public, the paying customers. As I have researched this tavern I’ve come to discover that when it was in operation during its heyday back in the 19th century, travellers dined in what is now a sort of visitor sitting room. What is really neat is that this room still has the original fireplace where the food was cooked way back when. But it also has hidden modernisms such as bathrooms and the kitchen attached.
So, being that we can no longer eat where the diners of 150 years ago did, I can, through the magic of Paint Shop Pro, at least give a little inkling of what it looked like when patrons of long ago did dine in the room. Yes, that's our waitress you see standing in the back.

Something occurred this year that Greenfield Village had not done in previous years: they opened up the Eagle Tavern to an after-hours period-dress reenactors-only evening of tavern life. This was definitely a highlight for nearly everyone who attended. Yes, I had my camera there, but kept it concealed and used no flash as to not ruin anyone's time-travel experience.
Some folks did a full-immersion and kept their conversations period-correct, though most just wanted to have a chance to visit in a unique historical setting.
Here is a description of what it was like at this very same tavern from one who was here 150 years ago: 
It was a very popular place and supported the finest ‘orchestry’ music in that part of the country, especially the violin…of whom was one Ray Anthony Niles, who was a pattern of old Beau Brummell of ancient times. He played the violin that charmed all his hearers, and helped to make that old tavern popular.”
Obviously, we didn't have Ray Anthony Niles playing the fiddle, but we, instead, had JJ, who played the popular tunes of the day, and that was the perfect touch that brought out the realism.
Then again, maybe it was Ray Anthony Niles...
Anyhow, the following is a quick-clip I snuck of our fiddler.
Seems like old times, doesn't it?

As this event is called Civil War Remembrance, Greenfield Village remembered the 150th anniversary of the death of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, by draping many of the buildings for mourning, as was done throughout the United States back in the spring of 1865. Here a young lady shows her grief over Lincoln's death by dressing herself in mourning clothing and posing at the courthouse where he once practiced law.

Yes, she and I both know that it was improper for a woman to dress in this manner to mourn for one outside the immediate family. We just wanted to take advantage of the photo opportunity allowed to us that we may not ever see again.

Unfortunately, I did not think to take pictures of all the building draped in mourning, though Town Hall was particularly striking.
A reenactor from the Sally Port Mess, an authentic living-history group based out of Historic Fort Wayne in downtown Detroit, came up with the idea of a welcome home celebration, where folks from the homefront stood and cheered our boys as they exited the train at the train depot, home at last after fighting many battles during the awful war.
It was very well done and many who participated said it was one of the best scenarios they had taken part in. I must agree - - it's wonderful when civilian and military can come together to recreate a scene in an authentic manner that happened a century and a half earlier in such a respectful way.
I was proud to be a part.
Townsfolk awaiting for the men to arrive

Many of the women could not contain themselves and wrapped their loving arms around their man as they marched to get mustered out.

150 years to the day that the men of the 20th Michigan were mustered out of the military, it happened once again...

Three Cheers!! (Photo courtesy of Lee Cagle)

We all listened as speeches were made of the bravery of these men. (Photo courtesy of Lee Cagle)

Tears of joy for some as they spied their loved one, while worrisome looks for others who did not see their boy in the line.

"Where is he? Why is it he is not here?"

Some fell to their knees in their embrace - it's been far too long since these boys have been home to see their loved ones.

A father holds his not-so-newborn son for the first time.

"My son is home, safe and sound! Praise the Lord!"

"Thank you, Senator Howard, for joining us in this celebration."
As you can see by the few pictures here, it was a well-done affair. My hat is off to Mr. bevard and all of the hard work he put into this.

On to more photographs showing Victorian life - - -
I really like this picture of Laura Nutt taken by Elizabeth Topping. It's almost like a Harper's Weekly sketch come to life!

Our neighbors for the weekend. Of course, if you've read previous postings of mine you had already met my good friends Beckie and Larissa. They are top-notch social historians and have participated in many immersion scenarios. Both, at one time or another, worked at Greenfield Village. In fact, Larissa still does. Oh, and that's Larissa's young baby boy sleeping in the wagon.

Meg (in mourning) and Jillian had asked me to photograph them in typical Victorian fashion, and little says Victorian as does a covered bridge & pond background.

Of all the pictures I took of Meg and Jillian, this one is perhaps my favorite.

Reflections of the way life used to be...

Greenfield Village always holds a Grand Ball for Civil War Remembrance participants, and I thought you might like to see a few of the photos from this year.
Lorna and Russ

This young couple became betrothed only hours before.

Stephanie and Meg

Allie and Noah

Patty, Larissa, and Heidi

Liz and Sophia

Laura and Robbie

Pam and Dave

My wife and I (photo by Beth Beley)

 The following two photographs were taken at the ball by fellow living historian Elaine Masciale. She has captured the essence of this evening that I have not been able to, and I thank her for the use of her photos.

And how about a video clip of the Grand March:

Back in the Village, we have a familiar face...the proprietor of The Victorian Needle:
Some of you may be familiar with the Victorian Needle, a blog mainly about women's period accessory needs (click link above photo). Well, Kristen had turned her blog and research knowledge into a full-fledged sutlery and now sells mainly period-correct jewelry for the Victorian woman.

It's quite an honor to be asked to set up shop at such a venue as Greenfield Village. Kristen received many compliments from customers.
Here we see my daughter (on the right) helping Kristen out.

As we prepared to participate in the Memorial Day/Decoration Day ceremony, I got the brilliant idea of photographing some of the lovely ladies of the 21st Michigan. And here is that picture. I am very proud of our group of ladies and gents (though we have very few civilian gentlemen) and of how seriously they take their living history.

These three ladies were standing just as you see them, and this photograph flashed right into my mind. Sometimes these things just happen.

The lovely Laura Nutt and Elizabeth Topping joined us for the weekend. It was wonderful having these two as part of our group, and I look forward to more events with them.

One of the most moving of all tributes I've seen is the Memorial Day/Decoration Day ceremony held on Memorial Day Monday. Tribute is paid to not only the Civil War soldiers, but to all military personnel who had died in all of America's wars.
Waiting for the parade to the Village green. This picture was taken through the back window of Dr. Howard's office window.

A few restful moments...

For the general public, the time before the parade is a fine opportunity to snap some shots of 1860s fashions. Here I am with my friend Dan.

Two battle-weary soldiers awaiting their time to go home to see their loved ones.

Senator Jacob Howard - no relation to the Doctor - at the Logan County Courthouse, where President Lincoln practiced law before running for office.

The soldiers prepare for the ceremony.

These are the lovely ladies who will play an important role in the Decoration Day ceremony, for they are the ones who will reenact the laying of the flowers at the graves of those who fought and died during the Civil War.

The part of the ceremony that never ceases to bring tears to my eyes is when all living veterans are called to walk out onto the Village green. I have never joined the military, something of which I think of often in regret, and these men and women are, in my mind, true American heroes. God Bless them, each and every one.

The wreath, signifying the grave of all American military who had died, is brought out.

And the ladies lay flowers at the foot of the wreath.

They had commented afterward how honored they were to take part in this ceremony.

This entire tribute brings it all "home" for me, and I was honored to also be a part of this ceremony: civilian men and women marched in the parade as well, as sort of "extras".
Showing the public that Memorial Day is more than heading to the beach and eating hot dogs & hamburgers is, to me, essential in helping to gain back our National Pride. And to honor those who gave their last full measure of devotion, from our founding Revolutionary War heroes through those who are serving today.
What an honor to be among such heroes...

There you have it. Just a few of the many pictures that I took (along with friends photos) to help give a general overview of this most splendid event. It seems that everyone I speak to that was there says the same thing: the best Greenfield Village ever.
And I believe it was as well.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And now, time for some blooper/out-take pictures that will hopefully bring a smile to your face.
“Let’s take a nice photo of you, two, okay?” I asked innocently, “no goofy faces or anything.”
Heh heh - - you would think they would know me by now.
“We’ve been bamboozled into taking a nice picture!” exclaimed Larissa.
“Ha ha ha!! I just can't help but giggle knowing this picture was taken under false pretenses!” said Beckie.

I was asked to take a nice picture of Beckie and her new dress. Afterward, I mentioned we needed to take a silly one. At that moment she did what you see here. I snapped the picture as she exclaimed, "Ah! There's an ash in my eye!!" Yes, there really was, so this is not a posed picture, but it's a great one. The benefits one can receive from the pain of others...

The prim and proper Meg & Jillian. I wonder if 1860s women were just as crazy? Something tells me they probably were...when no one was looking, of course!

All fall down. I love the expression on Jillian's face!

"Anthony! Woo hoo!! Anthony!! Here I am!!!"

"Ooweeee, this can't be happening! Me? You want to marry MEEE??"

I wonder if Matthew Brady had problems like this??

“Young lady! You get out of that tree now!”
“But mother, they made me do it. They dared me to climb this tree!”
“Us??? Why, we’re your sisters! We would never ask you to do such a thing! We are frightened you may fall and kill yourself!”

Cinderella's stepsisters 1865: Just what are they up to now? Hmmm...

Oh! Now we see...

“Poor little farm girl. She'll never find a beau in those rags!”
"I wouldn't be caught dead outside without a pair of gloves on. She looks like a farm hand!"
"Can you believe her?! That hat is so 1860!!"
“I knew I should've married that rich banker when I had the chance! Well, at least I have all the vegetables a girl could want.”

“Remember when we danced on the porch of Susquehanna last year, Jillian?”
“Yeah! That was fun! We should do it again – we can make it an annual thing!”
So, instead of the porch of Susquehanna, we danced in the grove of trees where we camped.

Yes, the members of the 21st Michigan are quite a group of living historians. And I love 'em, every one!

Until next time, see you in time...