Thursday, March 19, 2020

Attempting to Find Solace...March 2020

Attempting to find solace.
My personal solace,  outside of my family,  is living history and visiting Greenfield Village.  And I'm missing both.  No,  I am not placing our reenactments or anything like that above anyone's health.  This is just my way of working through and dealing with all of the insanity of the coronavirus to keep 
myself sane and cooled.  
And I can be a bit saddened as well,  can't I?
It's life changing.
But this is not a  "preachy"  kind of  posting - you know me better than that! - rather,  it is a bit informative on how this virus is affecting those of us who practice the art of living history.
By the way,  once again,  you will see a lot of my favorite historical house,  the Daggett breakback/saltbox, here in today's post....but there is a neat story behind it.

~  ~

I had high hopes for the month of March.  With the weather beginning to warm,  the sun setting a bit later,  and much less precipitation than last year,  plans were in place to wear my period clothing on three separate occasions this month.
Alas,  it was not to be.  Due to the coronavirus and the insane media coverage with all of the  *extreme*  fear-mongering it garnered  (and how much toilet paper can you fit in your car?),  two events were cancelled and another had to be rescheduled.
A small showing of what Samson's Historical
offers for 18th century reenactors at the 
Kalamazoo Living History Show.
We'll start with the Kalamazoo Living History Show  ("the largest,  nationally recognized,  juried show in the Midwest devoted to pre-1890 original or reproduction living history supplies,  accouterments and related crafts),  which really hit all of us in the hobby pretty hard,  for that's where many reenactors in this part of the country obtain their period clothing and related accessories.  It's a sort of  'gathering of the tribes'  (so to speak);  living historians representing numerous eras,  from the French & Indian War through the Civil War,  can be seen intermingling with each other,  talking history,  finding the perfect item that is needed for the upcoming season,  and,  especially,  newbies to the hobby trying to build their first kit.  So,  yes,  it is a real blow to have such a show cancelled.
Hopefully this whole coronavirus thing will be over soon and normalcy can reign once again.
However,  knowing ahead of time what I had hoped to buy really helped me out,  for I,  instead,  was able to purchase my must-haves on-line.  In fact,  each accessory was bought from the same vendor:  Samson's Historical.
But,  we will get to the accessories in a few moments.  First we need to  "set the scene"  on why I purchased what I did:
You see,  I have made the valiant attempt to replicate,  to some extent,  a bit of the interior of the Daggett Farmhouse,  which now sits inside historic Greenfield Village.  Oh,  believe me,  if I had the money I would build a total replication of this mid-18th century home - inside and out.  But,  alas,  that is not to be,  so I must improvise.
Now,  if the local visitors of Greenfield Village are  (or were)  also fans of the AMC TV series,  "Turn:  Washington's Spies,"  which told the story of  America's first spy ring,  the Culper Spy Ring,  (which was aired a few years ago),  then they may have noticed similarities between the Woodhull home and the Village's Daggett house.
The farmhouse  'set'  of Abraham and Mary Woodhull in  "Turn."
And,  just to show you how authentic this  "set"  is,  below is a 

similar-style photo taken of an actual 1750s saltbox/breakback 
farmhouse relocated and situated inside historic 
Greenfield Village in Dearborn,  Michigan:
Pretty cool,  eh?
Now,  if you don't already know,  "Turn"  was a show that I absolutely loved - still do - and for four years I watched it on AMC,  then I purchased the DVDs of each season,  and I have placed it at or near the top of my all-time favorite television shows.
No foolin'.
It was so well done in  *nearly*  every way:  from the script to the storyline  (not all historically accurate,  but still great historical drama)  to the clothing  (okay...for the most part)  to the amazing sets.  And given the fact that it is based around our early American history - the Revolutionary War! - makes it so much better!
But aside from the story itself,  the sets used in filming the show blew me away;  for instance,  Abraham and Mary Woodhull's breakback/saltbox house in Season One was perfect. 
The Woodhull saltbox house as depicted in  "Turn"...
And below we see another shot of the Daggett 

saltbox/breakback from 1750.
It makes me wonder if the house on Turn is real or truly just a 'set'? 
And if it is a set,  then they did a remarkable job.
Now,  let's take a closer look at the Daggett original:
By the way,  this home built by and once belonging to Samuel Daggett is,  perhaps,  my favorite house inside Greenfield Village.

Mary Woodhull sitting near her hearth in  "Turn,"  and below is a 
picture I took inside the Daggett House at the hearth.
The past comes to life in person and on TV.
'Tis a far cry from TV shows of old.
In another scene from  "Turn,"  we see the inside of a different colonial home,  not the Woodhull's breakback.
However,  it still bears a striking resemblance to the Great Hall 
inside the Daggett House in the photo below,  doesn't it?
One has to admit just how authentic these sets 
are in the TV show when compared to the real deal.  The 
designers truly went above and beyond in historic authenticity.
(By the way,  many thanks to Marlene DiVia,  administrator of a Facebook TURN page for extracting  the photos for me from the show.  I certainly do appreciate it!)

I have always been infatuated with the Daggett house,  and if I could live in such a structure,  I would.
But that is not to be.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,  as it is said.
So I decided to imitate portions of my favorite house inside my own home.  Since my living history presentations center from around 1765 through the 1780s - and since I do portray a farmer quite often  (it makes sense with my 18th century ancestors being farmers as well) - I thought I would have a bit of fun,  replicating a bit of my favorite historical home using my own living history accessories,  most purchased from a variety of vendors  (see link at the bottom of this post).
Or maybe I'm just going a bit crazy...
Because my home is a 1944 bungalow,  and the Daggett Farmhouse is an 18th century break-back/saltbox,  replicating it to any great extent would be virtually impossible to do.
Sooo....time to use the ol' noggin and see how I could sort of possibly bring Daggett into my own home.
If you recall,  in 2019 I wrote about how I was able to redesign some of our back  "gathering"  room,  giving a portion of it an 18th century feel  (click HERE).  Now,  it is not historically perfect in every way,  mind you,  but it certainly does give the desired effect I was looking for.
Susan tries out my antique walking wheel in the little colonial 
portion of my back room.
Portraying a colonial-era farmer means attempting to complete the period look I am striving for,  which means acquiring some of the everyday items I notice when I visit another 18th century farmhouse - Samuel Daggett's.  The curators of Greenfield Village have placed throughout the house items he and his wife,  Anna,  would have used during their time.  For instance,  in the buttery off the kitchen are shelves that hold a variety of interesting items:
Above:  shelves in the buttery of the Daggett House.
Below is my own replication:
I may not have everything,  but I think I got it pretty close.
And here are two more buttery pictures:
Showing the Daggett buttery from a bit of a different angle-----
and my replica:
The corner cupboard here is about 200
years old,  so my cool little accessories
actually work quite well here.
One more Daggett comparison:
This was a little set up inside the great hall of the Daggett House,
and here is my copy:

Again,  not exact,  but it works.
The items I own as seen in these pictures were purchased at a variety of places,  including Samson's Historical and other vendors at the Kalamazoo Living History Show,  the various gift shops at Greenfield Village,  Lehman's in Ohio,  and countless on-line searches,  including Amazon and Ebay,  to find just that one specific item.
I am not bragging here;  I am trying to show that  (1)  living history is much more than clothing alone,  and  (2)  if you would like to add to your living history - or bring a bit of history into your own home - it can be done,  and for not too much of an outlandish price,  especially if you spread it out over time.  It's actually quite easy and a lot of fun to do.
You see,  I've studied history now for over 50 years  (yes,  I am that old),  but it was when I became a living historian that I found myself really paying much closer attention to the smaller,  mostly background details that the more casual fan of history tend to overlook;  lighting apparatus,  walking wheels in the background,  type of chairback,  seeing kettles in the hearth or over a fire,  kitchenware,  drinking glasses,  type of writing implements...that's what will attract me to a movie,  a series,  or another living historian every bit as much as clothing.  I aspire to improve my impression with each new season,  for it is my hope that when a visitor enters my camp,  or  even,  to some extent,  my own home,  they feel as if they stepped out of the future and into the past.
Yes,  it definitely is  the little things like what you see here that'll bring history to life...
By the way,  if you had planned to attend the Kalamazoo Living History Show for specific items,  won't you consider purchasing them on-line?  Many of the dealers who planned to sell their wares there are offering specials if you order over the internet.  Click HERE for the page filled with links to the vendors.

~   ~

"The Patriots"

~Another cancellation we had was the patriot presentation of Benjamin Franklin,  Sybil Ludington,  and Paul Revere for the Sons of the American Revolution.
It was a difficult decision for the SAR to make  (though Michigan's governor  "helped"  quite a bit),  and Bob,  Larissa,  and myself were all saddened at the fact that it was not going to happen.  I do understand they had to postpone it,  but it still bummed me out,  for portraying Paul Revere alongside of Bob/Ben and Larissa/Sybil is such a great time.
On the plus side,  we are looking into rescheduling for sometime this summer or fall.

~   ~

~And yet another March sadness  (instead of madness)  was the rescheduling of the second annual  "Patriot's Day"  reenactment.  Originally to take place on April 18,  it will now  (hopefully)  occur on May 3.  That is,  as long as this corona-thing goes away.  
But,  at least there is somewhat of a possibility it can still happen...God willing.
Reenacting April 19,  1775
I will keep you updated.

~   ~

One thing that was not cancelled,  however,  was a gathering of around a dozen friends & members of my Citizens of the American Colonies living history reenactors group.
Since it was formed in 2015,  I've held annual period-dress meetings to discuss ways of improving our 18th century personas,  meet any new members,  to share clothing and accessory information  (given that the multi-hall Kalamazoo Living History Show is usually only a week or two later),  to speak on upcoming reenactments,  and now,  especially,  to hype up our Patriot's Day event.
Plus it's always a good time to just get together while wearing our period clothing.
And this year's meeting was well within the perimeters of what Michigan's governor said was allowable.
Twelve reenactors came to the meeting this year,  some of whom 
also are part of the Lac Ste.  Claire Voyageurs.
And I was very glad they came!
We also spoke on making sure we support the vendors who would have been at Kalamazoo but,  with the show cancelled,  will now be left with needing customers to come to them via the internet.  I told my guests to please spend the money they intended on the items they planned to purchase - and all were given a link to the page where they could locate what they were looking for.
We need our sutlers and vendors,  not only for clothing  (for many of us),  but for the accessories,  as you've seen in this post,  to help us keep the past alive.
HERE is the  "official"  page.
And HERE is a wonderful Facebook page where many of the vendors continuously post their deals.  And most are giving some sort of deal,  whether it is free shipping or something else.
Please support your vendor.
Those who have not been to my  (obviously not saltbox)  home 
before had no trouble figuring out which house was mine!
"All these bungalows look the same! I wonder which one is Ken's?"

"Um...maybe the one with the historic flags?"
And we had homemade chicken soup,  White Castles sliders,  fruit cake,  various cookies, scones,  shortbread,  and soft drinks.
A good mix of fine treats! 
I am not sure what the future holds for this coming year's reenactments.  At this point I have a great fear that most,  if not all,  of the spring and early summer events may be cancelled.  Yeah,  I am allowed to be disappointed if that does happen,  and I can & will complain.  Just remember:  when the time comes that I do,  it doesn't mean I don't have concern for my fellow man.  It will just be me venting. day soon I pray to be able to time-travel again...
I suppose,  aside from the accessories,  I can re-read a few of my older posts  (see links at the end of this posting),  work on new ones,  and continue to research from my personal library.
I don't know...God willing,  this whole thing will end sooner than thought...
Anyhow,  scroll down just a bit to see links to a large amount of my postings concerning life during the later 18th century.
Also,  remember to click HERE and HERE  for the pages I mentioned that are filled with links to the vendors.
Some of my 18th century favorites?
Why,  all of them!

Until next time,  see you in time.

~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~   ~  ~  ~   

~I write often about the Daggett Home.  There is simply something that pulls me to it like no other.  And it always has,  ever since I saw it for the first time back in 1983.  Now I always stop in every time I visit Greenfield Village,  even if it is just a quick walk through,  from the front door to the back kitchen/buttery door.  And while the Village is closed during the winter months,  I will drive along the road that runs alongside the Village,  and I can see it from my car.
It's like an old friend---a really old friend - that I enjoy visiting!
And writing about.~

Here is a collection of links to my blogs concerning everyday life in the colonies:
Diaries,  journals,  letters,  newspapers/broadsides,  remembrances...this is what I used to garner these very personal stories from those who were there - actual witnesses,  men & women,  of the Battle of Lexington & Concord.
Their tales will draw you into their world.

Sarah and Rachel: The Wives of Paul Revere
Paul Revere was married twice and,  between his two wives,  he fathered 16 children.
What I attempted to do in this post was to find virtually everything available about these two Mrs.  Revere's.  I think I succeeded - -

Unsung Patriots: The Printing of the Declaration of Independence
There is so much more to this most important American document,  from the idea to composing to printing - who is going to print this? - to delivery...oh yeah,  there is a lot more history to our Declaration than I ever realized!

Declaring Independence:  The Spirits of  '76
Something very special happened almost 250 years ago,  but is that story being promoted?
Come on a time-travel visit to colonial America during that hot summer of 1776 and learn,  first hand,  of the accounts on how we were making a new and independent nation.

Travel and Taverns
The long air-conditioned  (or heated)  car ride.  Motels without a pool!  Can we stop at McDonalds? I'm hungry!
Ahhhh....modern travelers never had it so good.
I've always had a fascination of travel back in the day,  and I decided to find out as much as I could about them.
I wasn't disappointed - - - I dug through my books,  went to a historic research library,  'surfed the net'  (does anyone say that anymore?),  and asked docents who work at historic taverns questions,  looking for the tiniest bits of information to help me to understand what it was like to travel and stay at a tavern in the colonial times.
This post is the culmination of all of that research.
Our country's founding relied greatly on the tavern.

Cooking on the Hearth
No stoves or fast food restaurants.  Everything made from scratch.
What was it like for our colonial ancestors to prepare,  cook,  and eat their meals,  and what kinds of food were available to them?  How did they keep their foodstuffs from spoiling and rotting?
If you have questions such as this,  I believe you will enjoy this post.

In the Good Old Colony Days
A concise pictorial to everyday life in America's colonies.  And I do mean  "pictorial,"  for there are over 80 photos included,  covering nearly every aspect of colonial life.
I try to touch on most major topics of the period with links to read more detailed accounts.
This just may be my very favorite of all my postings.  If it isn't,  it's in the top 2!

In the Night Time:  Living in the Age of Candles in Colonial Times
Could you survive living in the era before electric lights or even before the 19th century style oil lamps?
Do you know how many candles you would need for a year?
Do you know what it was like to make candles right from scratch,  or what it was like to visit your local chandler?
That's what this posting is about!

Revolutionary War History - Preventing Tyranny at Salem in 1775 
How Salem townsfolk pulled together and beat the British - a true pre-RevWar story that'll make you raise your fists and shout for America!

The Boston Massacre
The causes and tribulations that occurred on that March evening back in 1770.  Some say this was the spark the lead the colonists to unite against the British.
You be the judge.

Buried Treasure:  Stories of the Founding Generation
Interesting true tales of  everyday folk of the later 18th century,  including an interview with a soldier who was actually at Concord on April 19,  1775,  the powder horn of James Pike,  the true death-defying,  battle-scarred story of Samuel Whittemore,  runaway slaves & servants,  smallpox inoculations,  and Nabby Adams experience having breast cancer.
Quite a history lesson here!

It's the Little Things
Another post that touches on a variety of subjects,  such as Shadow Portraits, Bourdaloues, Revolutionary Mothers, and a few other interesting historical odds & ends.

A Year on a Colonial Farm
See what it was really like,  month to month,   for farm folks like Samuel Daggett and others as you spend all four seasons on an 18th century farm.

With Liberty and Justice For All: The Fight for Independence at the Henry Ford Museum
An amazing collection of original Revolutionary War artifacts on display for all the world to see,  telling the story of America's fight for Independence.  An original Stamp Act notification.  A letter written by Benedict Arnold.  George Washington's camp bed,  a coffee pot made by Paul Revere,  a writing desk that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson...yeah...this is some great stuff here!

The Extraordinary Story of Sybil Ludington
Some say her story is not true,  though history tends to side with our young female patriot.  Check out what I wrote in this posting and then decide for yourself if her own daring ride is true or just a fable.

Modern historians like to relegate Paul Revere as more fable than fact,  no thanks to Longfellow's poem.  But this man deserves his place in our history,  and rightfully so,  for his ride was as important as nearly any other occurrence of his time.
I have searched multiple sources to find the true story of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride,  and put it all here.
I think you just might be surprised at what Revere actually did.

William Dawes' Story
Supposedly,  this man was relegated to the footnotes of history due to his name being Dawes.   But he,  too,  has a story to tell of his ride as a partner messenger with Paul Revere.

Other riders who rode out on the night of April 18,  1775...and there were plenty more.  This was the 18th century version of the telephone...or messenger...or e-mail.

What many visitors don't realize is that inside these hallowed walls of history  (Greenfield Village)  there are three specific homesteads which are situated near each other,  and the long past inhabitants of  each of these historic 18th century houses played a role to some varying degree in the Revolutionary War.
This is their collective story.

This posting is geared toward the reader who has a basic interest in the average daily occurrences of  18th century citizens,  and thus,  will hopefully help to give an idea of more of what went on inside many colonial homes.  Thus,  as mentioned,  it is not a  "how-to"  guide,  but a "how they did it"  informational,  for it was a process every man,  woman,  and child  would be quite aware of,  even if  they didn't necessarily do it themselves.

Winter in the Colonial Days - A Pictorial
A modern picture album of winter life 250 years ago,  mostly taken at Colonial Williamsburg and Greenfield Village.  And,  yes,  there is history to be told as well.

A Colonial Harvest
It's the fall,  and that means it's time to harvest your crops.
Let's take a step back in time to see how this was done in the age of the founding generation.

A Colonial Thanksgiving
Aside from what we call the 1st Thanksgiving in 1621,  there is much more to the story in the formation of this most beloved American holiday.

To Drive the Cold Winter Away: ~ A collection of notations of surviving wintertime past - Colonial and Victorian~
Just how did our colonial,  and even Victorian,  ancestors survive in such harsh weather?  How did they stay warm in below 0 degree temperatures?  How did they entertain themselves on cold winter nights without radio,  TV,  or the internet?
This is how.

A Colonial Christmas
Read on to learn that,  contrary to popular belief,  many of our colonial ancestors - from New England to the South - truly did indeed celebrate this glorious holiday ...
...and how they celebrated
Oh!  Myths thought as truth can sometimes be so hard to change,  even with primary sources ~ ~ ~

A Colonial New Year's
In our modern era we think of the New Year's holiday as a time for celebrators to stay up extremely late,  getting stupidly drunk,  watching the ball drop,  and then gorging themselves on pizza,  chips,  and other snacks for 12 hours-plus while watching more football in one day than anyone does in an entire season.
My how times have  *somewhat*  changed...

Hallowe'en Through the Ages
This posting shows a varied celebration of Hallowe'en,  and interspersed throughout are snips and bits of Hallowe'en history and lore.  The many pictures and the historical information should hopefully bring what was  (and still is)  a children's holiday up to the level of adults as well,  for,  initially,  Hallowe'en was actually meant for adults.

Researching 18th Century History
Here is a collection of my favorite books in my library that I use,  seemingly,  on a daily basis,  especially when writing in this Passion for the Past blog.
Other people spend their money on sporting events and the like,  I buy books.

~   ~   ~

1 comment:

Leif Laufeyjarsen said...

I agree with you about the details. I occasionally buy historical objects or reproductions. I am very unlikely to reproduce the past (if such a thing is possible) but they definitely serve as reminders.
Also, one thing I enjoy about doing home tours is that I notice every detail of a house, which leads me to notice the details of other houses I visit. I am sure you get much more out of GV than others because you know what to look for.