Sunday, September 20, 2020

An Eyewitness Journey Through Michigan's Past: 1768

I've written about Michigan's past numerous times - see the links at the bottom of this post - but this is perhaps the most descriptive I've been able to note of its 18th century past.  Most of  the words herein are not all of my own - the details in the narrative come from someone who was there at the time and had kept a journal of his travels,  so this is a first-hand account of  what was actually seen in the 1760s.
Bringing the past - our past - to life.


As a youngster,  I grew up partly in Detroit - founded in 1701,  it is the city of my birth - and partly in a rural area north of that city,  near a village on the banks of Lake Huron known as Lexington,  Michigan  (named after the famous Massachusetts town)  where my grandfather had purchased a summer place,  and where I have even more and fonder memories than I do of Detroit.  
I had the best of both worlds - city and country.
While in Lexington I would often walk the beaches,  or,  on hot summer days,  I would float along the shoreline of this Great Lake in my inner tube,  and I would imagine how it may have looked back in the good old colony days,  with the local Indian tribes,  the forests,  the deep blue water...
Mill Creek in Lexington,  Michigan~
The path is on the left side.
A few beaches down is a creek known as Mill Creek that veins off the lake,  and along its banks was a tree-covered path that I used to follow as often as I could,  for it gave me the feeling that I was a frontiersman foraging new lands.  Because it was fairly remote,  with the only sounds coming from the running stream,  it was easy to imagine how it looked a century or more earlier.
As you can see,  my passion for the past was with me,  even as a child...
Anyhow,  as I followed this twisting,  winding path alongside of the creek I would run into an area we called The Spring Well,  which had the coldest,  clearest,  freshest water you ever had.
True spring water.
Fill those canteens up!

Then continued forward...or sometimes back to where I started.
It was all great fun for me.
Unlike too many kids today,  I can proudly say that the days of my youth were filled with such memories and adventures.

The original 13 colonies are well mapped and documented,  nearly to a  " T "  in most cases.  But 18th century settlements further inward - much farther inward - not so much.  Other than snippets here and there,  rarely does one read an actual description of what the upper midwest looked like back when our country was not yet a country.  
Jonathan Carver
What you are about to read came from the book  "Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America"  by Jonathan Carver.  According to the back of the book:
Born in Massachusetts in 1710,  Jonathan Carver joined the Massachusetts Colonial Militia at the age of 45 at the beginning of the French and Indian War.  He worked his way through the ranks  (including spending time with Robert Rogers and Roger's Rangers).
Following Britain's victory over France,  Carver decided to use the surveying and cartology skills he had acquired during his military experience to chart the northern plains in an attempt to find the Northwest Passage.
A classic of American travel,  Carver's kept a detailed journal account of his expedition to discover a Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean,  which became the focal point of his writing.  These writings of his travels is one of the earliest and best accounts of pre-Revolution exploration. He penetrated farther into the West than any other English explorer before the Revolution.
After failing to find money to publish his journal,  Carver went to London.  He left his wife and seven children never to see them again. Although his journal was received with praise and popularity,  he never received any money for his book and died in poverty...

So let's read a little of his adventures as he takes us to a place known then as New France,  but known now as Michigan:
November 1767 - Michilimackinac:
Michillimackinac,  from whence I began my travels,  is a Fort composed of a strong stockade,  and is usually defended by a garrison of one hundred men.  It contains about thirty houses,  one of which belongs to the governor,  and another to the commissary.  Several traders also dwell within its fortifications,  who find it a convenient situation to traffic with the neighboring nations.  Michillimackinac,  in the language of the Chipeway Indians,  signifies a tortoise;  and the place is suppose to receive its name from an island,  lying about six or seven miles to the north-east,  within sight of the Fort,  which has the appearance of that animal.
The winter setting in soon...I was obliged to tarry there till the June following,  the navigation over Lake Huron for large vessels not being open,  on account of the ice,  till that time.  Meeting here with Sociable company,  I passed these months very agreeably,  and without finding the hours tedious.
It's here where we will speak just a little about winter in Michillimackinac  (from the book Colonial Michilimackinac by the Mackinac State Historic Parks):
Throughout most of the long,  dreary winter months,  Fort Michilimackinac was ice-bound and cut off from communication with the main settlements of Montreal and Quebec,  and those who lived there were long without word from  "neighboring"  posts at Detroit and Sault Ste.  Marie.  Because of this desolate detachment filled with monotony,  it was not a popular post to be stationed at.
Both the Native peoples and the fort residence owned dogs.  Dogs were more than pets;  they were frequently used to pull small sleds during the winter.  When the lakes froze,  canoes were useless,  but dog sleds could go swiftly over the ice and snow.  Dogs even helped haul the massive amounts of firewood needed to keep the residents warm in the winter.
Winters were long and cold,  and the residents had to do a great deal of work just to stay warm.  They needed fifteen cords of wood  (a pile four feet wide,  four feet high,  and 120 feet long)  to keep each fireplace burning.
There was still time for fun.  A few of the residents knew how to play the fiddle,  and their music enlivened many an evening as people pushed the furniture back against the walls to make room to dance...

Now,  back to Mr.  Carver - - - 
One of my chief amusements was that of fishing for trouts.  Though the Straits were covered with ice,  we found means to make holes thro'  it,  and letting down strong lines of fifteen yards in length,  to which were fixed three or four hooks baited with the small fish  before described,  we frequently caught two at a time of forty pounds weight each;  but the common size is from ten to twenty pounds.  These are most delicious food.  The method of preserving them during the three months the winter generally lasts,  is by hanging them up in the air;  and in one night they will be frozen so hard,  that they will keep as well as if they were cured with salt.
In June 1768 I left Michillimackinac,  and returned in the Gladwyn Schooner,  a vessel of about eighty tons burthen  (archaic for  “burden”),  over Lake Huron to Lake St. Claire,  where we left the ship,  and proceeded in boats to Detroit.
This lake  (Huron)  is about ninety miles in circumference,  and by the way of Huron River,  which runs from the south corner of Lake Huron,  received the waters of the three great lakes,  Superior,  Michigan,  and Huron.  Its form is rather round,  and in some places it is deep enough for the navigation of large vessels,  but towards the middle of it there is a bar of sand,  which prevents those that are loaded from passing over it.  Such as are in ballast only may find water sufficient to carry them quite through;  the cargoes,  however,  of such as are freighted must be taken out,  and after being transported across the bar in boats,  reshipped again.
Map of Michigan in the 1750s.
Note Saganaum (Saginaw)  Bay
(click map to enlarge)
All these lakes are so affected by the winds,  as sometimes to have the appearance of a tide,  according as they happen to blow,  but this is only temporary and partial.
The fish in Lake Huron are much the same as those in Lake Superior.  Some of the land on its banks is very fertile,  and proper for cultivation,  but in other parts it is sandy and barren.  On its banks are found an amazing quantity of the sand cherries,  and in the adjacent country are the same fruits as those that grow about the other lakes.
A great number of the Chipeway Indians live scattered around this lake,  particularly near  Saganaum (Saginaw)  Bay.  On its banks are found an amazing quantity of the sand cherries,  and in the adjacent country nearly the same fruits as those that grow about the other lakes.

The river that runs from lake St. Claire to Lake Erie  (or rather the Straight,  for thus might be termed from its name)  is called Detroit,  which is in French,  the Straight.  It runs nearly south,  has a gentle current,  and depth of water sufficient for ships of considerable burthen.  The town of Detroit is situated on the western banks of this river,  about nine miles below Lake St.  Claire.
Almost opposite,  on the eastern shore,  is the village of the ancient Hurons;  a tribe of Indians…
The banks of the River Detroit…are covered with settlements that extend more than twenty miles;  the country being exceedingly fruitful,  and proper for the cultivation of wheat,  Indian corn,  oats,  and peas.  It has also many spots of fine pasturage;  but as the inhabitants,  who are chiefly French that submitted to the English government after the conquest of these parts by General Amherst,  are more attentive to the Indian trade than to farming,  it is but badly cultivated.
Map of Detroit 1763 - just five years before 
this narrative was written
Click to enlarge
The town of Detroit contains upwards of one hundred houses.  The streets are somewhat regular,  and have a range of very convenient and handsome barracks,  with a spacious parade at the fourth end.  On the west side lies the king’s garden belonging to the governor,  which is very well laid out and kept in good order.  The fortifications of the town consist of a strong stockade made of round piles,  fixed firmly in the ground,  and lined with palisades.  These are defended by some small bastions,  on which are mounted a few indifferent cannons of an inconsiderable size,  just sufficient for its defence against the Indians,  or an enemy not provided with artillery.
The garrison,  in time of peace,  consists of two hundred men commanded by a field officer,  who acts as chief magistrate under the governor of Canada.  Mr. Ternbull  (actually,  George Trumbull),  captain of the 60th regiment or Royal Americans,  was commandant when I happened to be there.  This gentleman was deservedly esteemed and respected both by the inhabitants and traders for the propriety of his conduct

Aside from his writings on a  1763 insurrection known as Chief Pontiac's Rebellion,  describing a Native American uprising against the British  (including the attacks on Fort Detroit)  just after the close of the French and Indian Wars,  this is where Carver's descriptions of Detroit ends,  and he begins his next observances as he moves toward Lake Erie and other spots eastward.
I plan to write about Pontiac's Rebellion in a future blog post.

As a historian,  these morsels describing times past are true gems.  When history is taught in school,  rarely does the teacher illustrate the environment in which those from the past are living.  Instead,  most educators tend to describe them using modern ideology.  Such an abomination!  To me,  it is of utmost importance to understanding the past in their terms,  not ours.  Rather than condemnation of our forebears,  we can,  instead,  understand their whys and wherefores.  Rather than placing our modern thought upon those from another time,  we can learn of their surroundings,  their fears,  their habitat...their a far off land,  the past is a foreign place.  And to fully grasp previous times one must view the full color picture,  and not just a few old black & white snapshots,  as what tends to be occurring today.
The photographs of Michilimackinac were taken in 
August 2020 by Larissa Fleishman.
Thank you for allowing me to use them!

Until next time,  see you in time...

For more Michigan history:
Finding the oldest structures in Michigan - click HERE
Stories on early Michigan - click HERE
When Thomas Edison rode the rails from Port Huron to Detroit - click HERE
Detroit,  from 1701 through the early 20th century - a social history - click HERE
A history of Michigan's Taverns - click HERE
Detroit during the War of 1812 - click HERE

~   ~   ~

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Late Summer Historical Fun

This has been one very different summer.  With no reenactments to be had,  it was a bit more difficult to immerse myself in the past.  I had to find new ways to do old things.  For instance,  if you recall,  there was a project I worked on locating Michigan's oldest structures,  all pre-statehood  (1837).  Naturally I had to photograph and write about each one I found - I posted my findings HERE.  And it was a fun adventure,  photographing the state's oldest buildings, but I also visited my favorite local open-air museum,  Greenfield Village,  which finally was able to open up its gates to the public on July 2nd.  A few of us very excitedly visited the Village while wearing our 18th century clothing to celebrate our country's birth on the 4th of July.  Tales of our adventurous Independence Day visit are posted HERE.
I have visited Greenfield a few times since.  The pictures you are about to see were taken from late July through early September.  Just being surrounded by all of that history----makes my heart leap:
The 1780 birthplace of William Holmes McGuffey.
I've gone to sites listing the oldest log cabins in the U.S.  

But this,  for some odd reason,  isn't on any of those lists.  A 
number of the oldest were also moved to other locations,  so that 
can't be the reason.  Considering the age of this one,  it is easily in 
the top ten.

Brought over from Chedworth,  Gloucestershire,  England we
have the Cotswold Cottage,  built around 1620.  It is the oldest
structure that has been placed inside Greenfield Village.

We are looking directly at the side of the forge.  The dovecote is 
center right with the barn far right.  And in the far-back center we 
see the living quarters - the cottage itself.  It is one of the most 
picturesque areas of Greenfield Village.

I was sitting on a bench in front of the ancient Farris Windmill 
near the Daggett House when I looked up and saw the image I 
have posted here.  Now I've seen this early 18th century 
Plympton House from this angle probably a thousand times or 
more,  but this one particular time it reached out to me in a 
different way.  
So I photographed what I saw using,  for the first time,  
my zoom lens.

Here is the full side view of the Plympton House taken with the
regular lens.  Built in the early 1700s,  this is the oldest American
structure inside Greenfield Village.
A little beyond we see the Susquehanna Plantation from
the mid-1830s. 

The 1750s home of John and Mehetable Goddings.
It is situated only a short walk from the Daggett House inside 
Greenfield Village.  At one time they would have period-dress 
presenters at each location,  and they would send visitors 
between the two to show rural life  (Daggett)  versus city life  
(Giddings) for comparison in clothing and lifestyle.
That was a wonderful history lesson.

For the time being,  due to the covid-chaos,  visitors are not allowed inside the historic houses that have period-dress presenters,  though many of the windows are open for photographic purposes.
Do you recall the couple of pictures I posted above of the red 
Plympton house?  Well,  I was sitting in the exact same spot when 
I looked to my right and saw this  *almost foreboding*  scene. 
Oh!  To have a house like Daggett...
So let's spend a little time at my favorite house,  shall we?
I have to chuckle a little,  for the Village presenters enjoy commenting on how I zip right past everything,  and I will hear them yell  "see you after Daggett,  Ken!"  as I scurry over the Ackley Covered Bridge to get to this old saltbox/break-back/lean-to first thing upon entering the Village gates.
Though they do not practice 1st person,  the presenters at the 
Daggett House,  like the presenters at Firestone Farm  (and a 
couple other structures)  do much of the work and chores that 
would have been done back in the day,  showing a history lesson.

With inside cooking-on-the-hearth not being done this year,  as 
would normally have taken place,  we are able to enjoy a 
compromise by witnessing an expansion of historical crafts 
and talents beyond what we've been used to seeing.

Jan was working on an interesting colonial-era project:
She was weaving tape by using a paddle loom.  Tape was an 
important part of a colonial wardrobe.  It was used to fasten and 
hold clothing in place.  For example,  tape could have been used 
to tie petticoats around the waist,  fasten the front opening of a 
short gown,  and even to secure an apron.  Paddle looms,  as you 
see in the picture below,  are ideal for making tape. 
No...not scotch tape! lol
Paddle looms are mobile and can be taken and used most 
anywhere.  They are notched to fit between the knees.  The warp 
threads in the weave can be tied to any stationary object so one 
can easily weave inside or outside.

Chuck has been honing his skills on the shave horse,  
utilizing the different wood-working tools of the day.

Wonder what necessity he is planning to make...?

And soon enough we see him making what I believe is a new 
ladle to help with the cooking.  He is using a draw knife to give 
the ladle its shape.

Emily is using the walking wheel outside in the soft breeze of a 
warm summer's day rather than inside the great hall.

Many modern folks don't always think of working in the garden as being all that special or even necessarily historical.  In fact,  there are some who might think talking about plants would be as exciting as a trip to the box factory.  However,  when you visit the gardens of the Daggett House  (or Firestone Farm),  the last thing you will be is bored,  for the presenters will tell you not only of its importance to the family for survival,  but you will also be very impressed by their knowledge of each plant and their many uses;  the wonderful workers really know their horticulture and are very impressive to listen to.  I have gained a strong interest in heirloom plants and gardening,  and,  aside from my own farmer grandfather,  I place the  "blame"  strictly on the many years I've been coming to Greenfield Village  (nearly 50!). 
Moving behind the house to the kitchen garden,  we find Gigi
not afraid of getting a little dirt on her hands.

The presenters love giving garden tours,  which are not
only interesting,  but helps us to appreciate how our colonial 

ancestors survived.

As a social historian and living historian,  I,  myself,  am always on the lookout to accent and improve my own  "past"  experiences,  presentations,  and impressions,  and I always tend to notice the many seemingly insignificant items in the background inside the home.
And then I ask about it,  hoping to see it in action.
From there I will search high and low to purchase a replicated version for myself!
I call it Daggett-izing  (click HERE to learn more about how I've been Daggettinzing my home).
A good  (and most recent)  example of this is my flax break.
It took me a few years to locate the kind I wanted at a reasonable price,  but for me patience truly was a virtue for it was well worth the wait.  When I posted about my latest cool acquisition on my Facebook page,  I wrote:  I know it's probably the least impressive thing most of you have seen,  but to me it is golden.
Yep---Ken is happy...even in this unbearing heat.
My flax break...finally!
Now all I need is some retted flax...which was also
pretty difficult to find.
Well,  on August 31,  I wrote on my page:
My flax finally arrived today!
I am as happy as you were when you got your smartphone or Apple watch------------
Yep---I am a happy man!
I am planning to prepare some flax for spinning soon.

Breaking and spinning flax
I already have a hackle/hetchel and am making a scutcher.
If you are interested in the textile arts of the 18th century,  please click HERE.

Now let's talk candles...specifically,  their usage on period drama TV shows.
We need to get one thing straight:  unless you were very wealthy and had money literally to burn,  someone living in the 18th century would not have multiple candles lit at the same time,  along with a lit fireplace...especially in the daytime.  Look at the scene in the picture many candles do you see lit?
I count I believe there is another lit behind Jamie's head.
No way!
Candles and candles and more candles - - all lit at the same time,  
often during daylight hours,  just did not happen in the 18th and 
even 19th century.  
Why oh why to period TV shows constantly do this?
Have you ever dipped candles or even used candle molds?  Have you ever boiled down  (rendered)  animal fat for candles?
Whether one uses tallow or beeswax,  making candles is quite a chore.  And purchasing them from the local chandler is not cheap----who has enough money to purchase and burn over a dozen candles a day?
For more about candles and living in 18th century darkness,  please click HERE.

If you remember back to this past Memorial Day,  my friend Joey and his wife Amanda held a sort of private mini-reenactment on his property to help offset the cancelation of the reenactments normally taking place over that weekend.  (click HERE to read about that).
Well,  he did it again for an end of summer send off:  Labor Day Monday at Joey's.
Firing up the brazer.
That's Joey on the left,  our host.
 Actually,  it was more of a simple gathering of  reenacting friends who felt the need to throw on our 18th century clothing and get out of the house!
I see Ken,  Jennifer,  and Richard the blacksmith.
We spent most of our time talking and catching up.
And eating food.
I like food.

Joey set up his tent in case of rain.
Joey's wife Amanda,  our hostess,  along with young EJ.

EJ's mom,  Jennifer.

Ken Roberts.
Though Ken reenacts the RevWar era,  I believe his
favorite time period just might be the War of 1812.

Two Kens.
We outnumbered them all!
Any chance I get - any excuse will do - to get me in period clothing,  and I'm there.  Especially in this,  the year of the non-reenactment.  Whether I visit an open-air museum such as Greenfield Village,  Mill Race Village,  or the Navarre-Anderson Trading Post,  hang out at Joey's,  or dip candles in my own backyard,  I will grab any opportunity to dress period.
If Our Good Lord is willing,  I have high hopes to attend and participate in a couple more upcoming autumn events - 18th & 19th centuries - mostly private  (no public allowed).
One can only hope...

And to end this week's posting - - - - -
Two years ago,  in September 2018,  a decently large group of 18th century reenactors grabbed an opportunity to travel out onto Lake Michigan in a ---get this---tall ship!  The Friends Good Will,  a replica of an 1810 square-topsail sloop,  sails out of South Haven, Michigan.
Friends Good Will
Friends Good Will is a working American reproduction of the historical Friends Good Will  (1811–1813),  a merchant square-rigged topsail sloop that was overtaken by the events of the War of 1812.  The British captured her in a ruse of war shortly after they captured Fort Mackinac,  and renamed her HMS Little Belt.  In British service she was armed with a 9-pounder pivot gun and two 6-pounder guns.  The Americans recaptured her during the Battle of Lake Erie.  She then served in the US Navy before the British destroyed her at the end of December 1813.
Heading out into Lake Michigan.
The current vessel was built in 2004,  at Scarano Boat Building,  Inc.  in Albany,  New York,  and was sailed by volunteers through Lakes Ontario,  Erie,  Huron,  and Michigan to the Michigan Maritime Museum,  in South Haven,  Michigan where she brings the area's history to life through educational tours,  day sails,  and school field trips.
Tony Gerring set this event up.
Nearly the entire passenger list was made up of 
period dress reenactors.

When you think about it,  this is a reenactment beyond what 
most have done,  and I am so sorry I had to miss it.

My son Robbie with Benjamin Franklin  (aka Bob Stark)

My son Robbie with his then friend, Heather.
She will soon be his bride...yes,  in real life!

Can you just imagine being on a ship as this and only seeing 
period dress people aboard?
For the very few modern-dress folk who were also out for the 

ride  only four or five),  it must have been a time-travel experience.

Such a ride none will forget.
I had a ticket for this experience but, unfortunately, I woke up that morning feeling pretty sick.  I have hopes to one day make it.
By the way,  there were various reenactors who took these photos,  including my son Robbie as well as Tony Gerring and Sue Hansen.
The information about Friends Good Will came from Wikipedia.

So that's it for this week.  There are a few interesting historical events coming up over the horizon,  as I mentioned earlier.  Autumn definitely looks brighter than the summer,  that's for sure.

Until next time,  see you in time.

~ Please click the links below for more of my blog posts about the later half of the 18th century:

If you are interested in the textile arts of the 18th century,  please click HERE.

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!

Living By Candle Light: The Light at its Brightest
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!

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!

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.

~   ~   ~

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Living History Photo Challenge for the Month of August 2020

Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say,  could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.

Billow and breeze,  islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good,  all that was fair,
All that was me is gone...

. . . . . . . . .

You know this song,  right?
Sure you do---it's the theme song from Outlander  (unless you don't watch the series---
but you should at least listen to the song,  for it is a beautiful one).
However,  what I have written above are the words from the original poem written in 1892 by Robert Louis Stevenson that the Outlander lyrics are based on.
I suppose what Stevenson originally wrote fits me much better than the version sung on the show.  (lol)
Yeah...I am certain of that...
When I participate in a reenactment,  whether it is a full-fledged bonafide event or only a few of us dressing period and visiting a place like Greenfield Village,  all that was  me - the 21st century me - truly is  gone.
That's what this hobby can do.
I hope these pictures convey that~

~   ~   ~

Meet the new month - same as the old month...
It is now September,  and of all reenactments that were listed to take place in 2020,  only one  "official"  local event is still on the books.  But I'm not necessarily doing this Reenactor Photo of the Day as a sort of protest anymore;  I'm doing it now mostly because I enjoy the heck out of  seeing past pictures and,  well,  judging by the kind comments I receive from my posts,  I'm not the only one liking them.
Included with each picture you'll find my own commentary as well as a little history lesson.
So,  as I wrote for most of August:
To brighten up the news feed and get away from all of the harsh and getting harsher doom & gloom of our modern time,  here is my daily Reenactor Photo for the Month of August: Doing it until whenever I decide to stop.
Now I ask my other friends in the hobby to post pictures with a small explanation on their own page.  And if you do,  please include your picture in my comments as well.
August 1
August begins with Lammas Day,  or Loaf Mass Day,  the day in 
the Book of Common Prayer calendar when a bread loaf baked 
with flour from newly harvested corn or summer wheat would be 
brought into church and blessed.  It's one of the oldest points of 
contact between the agricultural world and the Church.
Many colonial farmers celebrated the holiday  (or holyday,  as 
these special days of celebration or worshiping were called)  on 
August 1st,  which marked the first major harvest of the 
beginning fall season.  Even though it is still technically summer,  
August was also considered one of the months of harvest time.  
As such,  Lammas Day was a sort of Thanksgiving,  and so it 
remained for many colonial families until a national 
Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed toward the end of the 18th century.
On a colonial-era Lammas Day,  it was customary for the head of 
the household to bring to church for a blessing the first loaf of 
bread made from the new crop,  which began to be harvested at 
Lammastide,  which falls at the halfway point between the 
summer solstice and the autumn September equinox – roughly 
being today,  August 1st.  That loaf was then used as the center of 
the family’s Lammas Thanksgiving feast.
It is still somewhat celebrated in England and throughout the 
British Isles and elsewhere throughout the world,  though it is a 
forgotten holyday by most here in America.  A variety of Pagan 
religions also still celebrate Lammas Day.
In this picture you see an 18th century scene with me and my 
presenter friend Rebecca in the kitchen garden of the Daggett 
Farm House in Greenfield Village,  perhaps gathering summer 
harvest vegetables to add to the Thanksgiving feast.

August 2
I have an affinity for gristmills;  their importance in times past 
cannot be overstated.  I have multiple books on the buildings and 
subject and have studied them intently,  so whenever I see such a 
structure,  I try to get my picture - preferably while in period 
clothing - taken with it.
The photograph you see of me here,  taken at Crossroads Village,  
sort of coincides with yesterday's Lammas Day picture,  
continuing on with the summer harvest...but only around 90 years 
after yesterday's image  (lol).  You see,  by the 1860s,  Lammas 
Day was pretty much forgotten and no longer celebrated in the 
US,  though summer harvests,  of course,  continued on.  This 
means the farmer visited the gristmill to have his grain ground 
into flour by way of large,  circular stones,  and levying a toll,  
usually in kind,  for the service.
The founding father of Atlas,  Michigan,  was Judge Norman 
Davison,  who arrived here in 1831 from Livingston County,  New York.  He cleared the land and built a house for his family 
near the river on the site where the Atlas Country Club now stands.
Soon after Davison settled in this location,  many more settlers 
came to the town,  and it was here that he erected a gristmill in 
1836 - the one you see here.
At Crossroads Village you can still see how the process of 
grinding grain into flour was done in the 19th  (and even 18th)  
century,  for it is a working mill,  and one can then purchase Atlas 
Mill flour,  made right there on the spot.
Unfortunately,  I am very sad to say Crossroads Village is closed 
this year due to covid.

August 3
Every July 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,  and reading it at a reenactment may be their first time 
hearing it,  therefore having period-dressed reenactors doing the 
recitation may make it come alive and actually mean something 
more than hearing a mono-toned teacher read it in front 
of a history class.
And sometimes after we finish our recitation we may add a little 
scenario,  such as what we have done at Fort Wayne in Indiana.  
Upon completion of the oratory,  members of the Queen's 
Rangers grabbed me and the other readers and threw us out of the 
fort.  As they pulled me along I continued to yell about Liberty 
and Union!  Down with King George III!  Long live General 
Washington!  And with each shout I was yanked even harder until 
I was locked out of the Fort.
I certainly am missing our reenactments this year...

August 4
If you've ever been to Greenfield Village then you most certainly 
would have seen the Eagle Tavern,  built around 1831 in Clinton,  
Michigan.  The Eagle Tavern was close to being razed before Henry 
Ford rescued it for his historic village,  thereby preserving another 
piece of American history that would have been lost.
Ford felt early American pre-automobile travel history needed to be 
preserved,  for it showed everyday life of the average traveling 
citizen of the mid-19th century before the changes to come. 
The Eagle Tavern has the distinction of being the second structure 
brought to Greenfield Village,  only following the JR Jones General Store.
So in this 1st picture you see me at the tavern's original Clinton,  
Michigan site,  looking like someone from its era who planned to 
visit the old place but found that it had disappeared...with a 
historical placard left in its stead.
Just what are all these horseless carriages speeding 
down the road anyhow??
The second picture shows the ghost of the tavern in roughly the 
same spot where it once stood.
The third  (yes,  there are three pictures today!)  shows the tavern 
as it looks today inside Greenfield Village.

August 5
As part of our talk on historic everyday life on the farm,  Larissa 
and I bring along replicated artifacts to accent our presentation to 
help make it come alive.  I mean,  we are in period clothing,  so 
having items used during that time only makes sense.
What she is showing here is the cooking apparatus known as a  
"tin kitchen"  (more commonly referred to as a reflector oven in 
our modern times).  Now,  there has been some discussion on the 
internet on whether or not a tin kitchen is correct to the colonial 
period.  Through my research I have found multiple sources that 
point to a resounding  "yes it was."  More and more households 
were equipped with tin kitchens for roasting,  especially during 
the last half of the 18th century.  The cook would put the fowl or 
meat inside and then turn it so the open side would face the fire,  
using the small door in the back to baste and check on the food.
There are so many cool things like the tin kitchen that 18th 
century folks used that would surprise most 21st century people,  
who tend to think of them as quaint or even backward.  I've said it 
before and I'll say it again:  our ancestors were absolutely brilliant people.
Please contact us if you are interested in having Larissa and I 
come out to your reenactment  (like at the St. Claire Voyageurs 
encampment in the first picture),  school classroom,  library,  
historical society,  or wherever else to do a presentation  (as you 
see in the second picture of us at the Paint Creek Folklore 
Society,  a group in which period music is performed),  when this 
covid thing is over,  for we are ready,  willing, and able.

August 6
One of the very cool things a few of us get to do while reenacting 
at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne is take over a beautiful 19th 
century house.  Sometimes we will present in 1st person while 
other times we go into immersion,  such as during the Christmas 
at the Fort.  In this picture we are doing neither - - we are just 
sitting back and enjoying the old-time sounds of the fiddle as 
played by Pearl Jones.  With songs such as Goober Peas,  
Wayfaring Stranger,  Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier,  and even 
the more modern  (but period-sounding)  tune Ashokan Farewell,  
all are entertained,  may sing along,  and feel as if we are in a 
parlor setting from the 1860s.
To hear the sounds of the past bounce off the walls of the past is 
an experience in itself.
It is unfortunate that Fort Wayne will be closed for the rest of the 
year - all events for 2020 now cancelled.
Very sad indeed.

August 7
Obviously,  to me the best thing about being in Colonial 
Williamsburg was the immersion experience I received while 
wearing my period clothing.  As mentioned before,  I was in 
1770s clothing my entire stay there.  I was treated very 
welcoming,  was included in scenarios and made new friends,  
but most important were my surroundings - not just the historic 
buildings of the 1700s,  but the interpreters in period clothing,  
who were always ready and willing to strike up a conversation on 
nearly every past subject.  This is where it pays off to do a whole 
lotta research - not just on the Founding Fathers and politics of 
the day,  but on everyday homelife,  current events of the time  
(including little-known-to-modernites details---without jumping 
ahead in time---staying in the moment),  and speaking on or about 
the occupations of town such as the cooper,  chandlers,  carriage 
maker,  blacksmith,  printer,  cobbler, know, 
making conversations  "real."
This happened quite often for me during my 4 1/2 day stay at 
this amazing place.
Until...on the very last few minutes on our very last day just 
before hopping in our car for the journey home when I,  for the 
first time since we arrived,  changed into my modern clothing...I 
was then just another visitor as I walked to my car to leave.
Please understand, all visitors are treated wonderfully at Colonial 
Williamsburg,  but,  well,  I,  for those few final minutes,  became 
a tourist rather than a part of the town.
Can't wait to go back!

August 8I feel honored to be amongst some of the best reenactors in the hobby in this photo:  Dave Tennies,  Jackie Schubert,  and Dave Walker.
You see me here holding a carpet bag,  which was very popular 
among the men of the 1850s and 1860s.  As I would conduct 
business in town,  or perhaps may take a small trip out of town,  
my carpet bag/satchel was the perfect piece of luggage for me to 
carry items I may need in my travels or in my business affairs.
However,  after the Civil War ended,  men who carried carpet 
bags got a bad rap.  The newly-coined term  "carpetbagger"  
became a derogatory name for an individual from the North who 
relocated to the bedraggled South during the Reconstruction 
period  (1865–77),   for  Southerners accused the Northerners of 
using their opportunity as a means of preying upon the misfortune 
of the defeated South,  which actually did happen.
However,  since our reenactments all take place before 
reconstruction,  I have never portrayed such a person.
So---I find it funny  (and historically incorrect)  to be called a  
"carpetbagger"  while at a Civil War reenactment  (which many 
visitors and even reenactors do),  for the term was not even 
coined at the time.  While in Ohio I've even had a man portraying 
President Lincoln  (not our own Fred Priebe,  by the way,  who 
researches and knows better)  call me the term!  I went up to him 
and asked how he even knew about that word.  He looked at me 
confused,  and I said,  "Sir,  just a bit of information:  you would 
not have known to call me that.  You were dead,"  and walked away.
Ahhh...the importance of research.
Yes,  we take our hobby seriously.

August 9
There has not been an official historic reenactment here in 
southeastern Michigan in nearly a year,  and we're feeling it.  
Many of you may scoff and laugh at our  "plight,"  but for those 
of us who have this passion,  it is a real sadness.  So this is one of 
the reasons why I continue to do a  "reenacting photo challenge of 
the day"  that was supposed to end 126 days ago;  seeing all the 
great times I've had,  remembering all of the period activities I've 
done,  and thankful for all the wonderful people I've met helps me 
to work through this barren time.
This weekend would have been our Colonial Kensington 
reenactment - another that I never cease to have a fantastic time 
at.  And we're all sad knowing this year it is not happening.  Ever 
since forming my  "Citizens of the American Colonies"  
reenacting group,  Colonial Kensington is one event nearly every 
member shows up,  including my friend Rae Bucher,  who you 
see me with here.  I have known Rae for quite some time as a 
Civil War reenactor,  but I remember how excited she became 
when I mentioned that I was forming a colonial reenacting 
group,  and how she told me to  "count me in"  as a member.  I am 
honored to have such a person who studies and makes her own 
clothing and has done a few pretty amazing events-in-time on her 
own;  Rae actually went to the Fetes Galantes at Versailles in 
Paris in 2018,  as you can see in the picture on the right.  As she 
told me,  "At the Fetes,  my travel partner and I agreed on the 
feeling of being surrounded by ghosts the entire evening.  It was 
probably the closest I have come to actual time travel."
Yeah...that's it in a nutshell.
How so very cool.

August 10
Back in the day there was a wonderful reenactment held at the old 
Walker Tavern in Brooklyn,  Michigan midst the Irish Hills along 
Sauk Trail/US 12/Chicago Rd/Michigan Ave. 
Walker Tavern was an actual overnight tavern built about 1832 
and was a popular stagecoach stop throughout the rest of the 19th 
century.  In fact,  it was the next stop heading west from the Eagle 
Tavern,  now in Greenfield Village,  which was once situated in 
Clinton, Michigan along the same road  (but you can read more 
about these two taverns and their history in my latest blog post,  
which will be published either later today or tomorrow).
The Walker Tavern reenactment was cool for a few reasons:
1)  it was the first event of the season,  taking place in early May 
before Civil War Remembrance at Greenfield Village,  so it was 
sort of a prep event. 
2)  how often does one get to reenact in and around an authentic 
period building,  such as a tavern situated in the middle of what 
was once an old historic stagecoach trail?
Yeah,  that's what you are seeing in this first picture,  which I 
aged to give a more period look.
And 3)  though it had the battle scenarios,  as most of our events 
do,  sometimes the activities in civilian camp would be pretty 
interesting as well,  such as what you see in the second picture:  
bath house!  Yes,  and one could actually take a bath here,  if 
they so desired,  which numerous reenactors did!
The Walker Tavern Civil War reenactment is one event that 
is missed by many.  
I know I certainly do.

August 11
Many RevWar/Colonial reenactors should recognize the 
gentleman I am with here:  Mr.  Townsend himself of  Jas. 
Townsend - "retailer of quality reproduction 18th and early 19th 
Century clothing and personal accessories."
I always purchase my  'straight-last'  shoes from Townsend's  
("straight last"  meaning no right or left).  I've also boughten  
(yes, 'boughten'!)  numerous accessories such as period-correct 
lighting apparatus,  including the infamous Bettylamp and top-
notch tin lanterns,  sugar cone,  cutlery,  books,  and videos.  They 
also carry camping equipment,  pottery,  period coins,  and 
writing implements  (quills,  inkwells,  etc).
Plus,  he makes some of the best  "how-to"  period cooking 
videos  (and a log cabin building video as well),  and they can be 
found on You Tube  (see link below).
Between Townsends and Samsons Historical  (featured last 
month),  I can get nearly everything I need to survive in the 18th 
century  (also see in the comments below for links to some 
of the best sutlers).
For Townsend's You Tube video link,  click HERE
And for links to other surtlers:

August 12
If I see a horse,  especially at a reenactment,  I most certainly will 
ask if I can,  at the very least,  sit in the saddle for a photo opp,  
or,  for my biggest hope,  to be able to take it for a trot,  
which I've done as well.
Unfortunately,  for this picture,  which was at an 1860s event at 
Waterloo Farm,  it was strictly a photo opp.
Yes,  I do know how to ride a horse,  for Patty and I had taken 
lessons when we were DINKS  (Double Income No Kids)  and,  
like riding a bike,  you never forget.
So,  if any of my horse-owning friends will allow me to,  I would 
love to get back in the saddle again and go for a trot---
yes,  in my period clothing.

August 13
The circular arrangement of the above design was seen as early as 
October 17,  1777 at the surrender of General John Burgoyne at 
Saratoga,  New York.  Eyewitness Alfred B. Street alluded to our 
flag as it was first unfurled there:
"The stars were disposed in a circle,  symbolizing the perpetuity 
of the Union;  the ring,  like the circling serpent of the Egyptians,  
signifying eternity.  The thirteen stripes showed with the stars the 
number of the United Colonies,  and denoted the subordination of 
the States to the Union,  as well as equality among themselves." 
As for hair fashion:
The natural hair,  dressed up in the back in a queue (now known 
as a ponytail),  was often left unpowdered.  In fact,  powder for 
everyday wear was usually omitted as early as 1760,  and went 
out of fashion in the nineties.
So don't mind us,  for we  (Robbie,  myself,  Mike Gillett,  and 
Robert Jones)  are just queuing up in front of the flag.
Or maybe we're just men who follow 1770s fashion.
Either way,  we're definitely not queue balls,  that's for certain 
(though I am certainly heading in that direction - thank God 
for my cocked hat!).

August 14
We're going way back here---even before I began reenacting!
This was taken at Port Huron's Blue Water Festival in early 
August of 1988 at one of those old-time picture booths where the 
clothes fit over your own clothing and tied in the back.  Tommy 
was born only weeks earlier - yes,  that's he Patty is holding in her 
arms - and,  I suppose this could be considered our first  
"professional"  family photo,  and hung in our living room for 
years.  I remember saying to Patty that when Tommy got older 
we'd tell him that we were actually from the 1880s and somehow 
time traveled to the future.
*sigh*  We didn't do that...though 15 years later we were time-
traveling back to the past via reenacting.
You see,  even then...

August 15
No e-mail,  no texting,  no phones,  no way to keep 
in touch through long distance other than letter writing.  And the 
hopes that the letter would make it to its destination  
(hmmm...sounds familiar for today as well...).
And it's because of these letters,  as well as journals and diaries 
that were kept,  that we know so much about the everyday lives 
of the common man and woman of the colonial  (and other)  
periods,  for they wrote of everything in their close-knit world to 
keep the receiver  (or the reader)  up-to-date on their activities in 
their homes and towns.  I have more than a dozen books of letters 
and diaries/journals in my collection and never cease to find little 
bits of daily life information not spoken of in the more  
"academic"  history books,  which tend to concentrate solely on 
the  "great things"  (mostly politically)  our founders did.  Yes,  
knowing how they founded our nation is very important to know  
(obviously),  but,  to me,  just as important are the daily activities 
to understand the societal environment in which our ancestors 
lived,  including their daily work habits and chores.  Why did 
they believe and act the way they did - religiously,  morally, and 
environmentally?  How did the founders politics affect them 
personally,  if at all?  What did they eat for breakfast,  dinner,  
and supper?  How did they survive the cold/heat?  What did they 
plant and when...and how did they celebrate the harvest?  What 
tools did they use,  both for indoor and outdoor work and activities?
Sometimes just a line here and there can answer such questions - 
and the answers aren't always what we would expect them to be.
And this is how lives of long ago can be not only brought back to 
life by us living historians,  but can be more clearly understood,  
especially in the colonial period,  as you see me in here at Old 
Fort Wayne in Indiana.  These questions and answers are fewer in 
the 18th century than in later periods.  
The information is invaluable.

August 16
I absolutely love the lay out - the feel - of Crossroads Village up 
in the Flint area.  With the wood plank walkways,  the dirt roads,  
the wood fencing,  the plants everywhere - - it just exudes 
Victorian Americana everywhere you look - makes walking 
around a sort of immersion experience.
Every-so-often a few of us will don our 1860s clothing and make 
our way to this historic open-air museum just to take in the 19th 
century senses that surrounds us.
A change I would make if I could would be to bring in trained 
historical presenters to show more farm labor and more activities 
inside the homes,  such as cooking and cleaning,  to bring more 
life to the Village.
All's it takes is money,  right?
The train ride,  however,  is pretty darn awesome.

August 17
As a surprise to us all at the Uncle John's Mill Revolutionary War 
event, Citizens of the American Colonies member Charlotte 
Bauer presented herself as a boot black  (or shoe black),  and I 
was happily her first customer ever.  Bootblacks have long been 
the subject of nostalgia in American culture,  but the reality of a 
bootblack’s life was no quaint tale.  The art of cleaning shoes,  as 
poorly as it paid,  became a trade that kept working people one 
step ahead of poverty.
When she showed up at this event,  Charlotte found a spot right in 
the middle of the American camp and set herself up to make a 
little bit of survival money.
And it worked,  for numerous others also had their shoes and 
boots cleaned.

August 18
It was at the Clinton Grove Cemetery located in Clinton 
Township in 2011 when my ten year old daughter,  Rosalia,  and I 
did a cemetery walk together.  One of five stops along the tour,  
we portrayed father and daughter Adolph and Mildred Gutschow 
and,  because most people on these cemetery tours have never 
seen or heard of a youngster portraying a deceased child,  we 
were quite the hit.  People were very touched to watch and listen 
to my daughter as she told her story as ten-year-old Mildred,  who 
died in 1910 at the age of 11 of a stomach ailment,  while 
standing by  'her'  tombstone. 
It was done in a 1st person manner,  
which made it even more emotional.
I then would state to the tour groups that I hoped that no one in 
our midst had ever had to bare such a loss,  and tried to explain to 
them  (not from experience,  thank God)  just how heartbreaking 
it was for a parent to lose a child.  After one of our 17 (!) 
presentations/tours had ended,  one elderly couple stayed behind 
and came up to us,  and the woman,  eyes filled with tears,  
grabbed my hand and shakily said,  "I just wanted to tell you that 
we had lost a young daughter,  and you are so right - it's the 
hardest thing for a parent to go through.  What you and your 
daughter did for us was help to give us closure.  Thank you."
It brought me to tears as well.
Wow-----I didn't even know how to respond...
But,  it wasn't all so emotional...we actually had a little lightness 
as well,  like one time during an early part of the tour  my 
daughter forgot one of her lines.  After a brief moment trying to 
remember,  she - as Mildred - told the group  (totally off the 
cuff),  “Hey!  I’ve been lying in this cemetery for a long time!  
I'm allowed to forget!”
The people roared!
And then another small group came up a bit later and told us they 
were descendants of one of Mildred's siblings;  they thanked us  
"for being our ancestors."
That was cool in a very different way.
All wonderful memories.

August 19
The game of Checkers was played throughout 17th and 18th 
century Britain by members of nearly every class.  It is said that 
the game was called Checkers due to the checkerboard pattern on 
the game board.  However,  in later 1600s,  it became known as 
Draughts  (pronounced as  'drafts'),  because the game pieces 
were dragged or moved over the board,  and by the early 1700s,  
the name Draughts was in common use across all of Britain.  Also 
in the 1600s,  more and more people were immigrating to the new 
colonies in America,  and many brought the game with them,  
continuing to play it in their new land.  However, in the American 
colonies,  the game was still called it by its original name,  
Checkers  (or  'Checks').  Thus originated the divergence of the 
two names between what would become two separate countries.
So it was back to the 1770s I went once again where the good 
doctor and I had a close game of Checkers going...until 
something happened that neither of us expected:  I made a 
ridiculous move and he clobbered me with a six-man jump!  I 
congratulated him and gave him the ceremonious 
18th century high-five.
Yes, I lost,  but what a way to go!
The game board you see here I am quite fond of,  for a friend of 
mine,  who is a former East Detroit Schools co-worker,  made 
the checkerboard out of an old teacher's desk which was made of 
oak. Since the desk came out of one of the schools that I 
attended as a youth,  I like to think it may have originally 
belonged to a former teacher of mine - maybe it was in one of 
my classrooms.  You never know...but the game well made and 
it is of heirloom quality.
By the way,  the first known game of checkers was played in the 
city-state of Ur in 3000 B.C.
It is one of the oldest games still played today.

August 20
Civil War reenactment at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne.
I miss this.
I miss sitting  'neath a fly with family and friends,  having fine 
conversations with like-minded people,  watching the reenacting 
world go by,  and being immersed in another time and place.  
Even if the weather is not 72 degrees and sunny perfect,  there are 
few places I would rather be than where I am in this picture.
Here's to hoping next year we will be back to our normal and 
back to doing what we love:  being out and doing  "historical 
empathy exercises"  by putting ourselves in  "their"  place.
Amen and amen.

August 21
My friend and wonderful Greenfield Village presenter Rebecca 
and I pose for a picture in front of the former home of Samuel & 
Anna Daggett,  built around 1750  (though the house is depicted 
as 1760s). 
Employing a form of living history,  the interpreters who work 
inside Daggett are dressed in accurate period farm-style clothing 
of the mid-1700's,  and they work the house seasonally just as 
they would have as inhabitants from 250 years ago.  However,  
rather than present in 1st person,  as is done at such places as 
Plimouth Plantation,  the Daggett presenters remain in 3rd person 
while emitting themselves in a sort of you-are-there manner - it's 
in this way the presenters can verbally teach the visitor while sort 
of immersing them in the everyday life of our colonial ancestors,  
helping them to get a better feel for the time.
Sort of like being in the past and present at the same time.
As you know I will sometimes dress in my period clothing to visit 
my favorite home.  Why?  Because,  for me, I get so much more 
out of it.  And I will usually stay near the buildings of the time 
period my clothing depicts,  something I've been doing this for 
nearly 15 years.

August 22
An Afternoon in an 1862 Parlor.
There is a period during the winter and early spring months when 
there is so little going on for those of us who do living history.  
So on one particular early March day,  members of the MSAS  
(Michigan Soldiers Aid Society)  came over to our home to 
participate in spending an afternoon in an 1862 parlor.  We have a 
large period-appropriate room in our house,  and since 
opportunities to reenact in historical structures are months away it 
was only natural to take advantage of what was available.  It can,  
at times,  be very difficult for groups to stay immersed in another 
era for more than a few minutes without having the 21st century 
rear its ugly head;  usually modern-isms - current events,  
movies,  TV shows,  what have you - tend to sneak into the 
conversation to  "remind"  us that we are only living historians 
and not really in the past. 
But not this time.  We truly made the attempt to be  "there."
Conversations abounded on travel adventures,  news of the  
(Civil)  war,  and social issues.  There were parlor entertainments 
such as readings from poetry books and Shakespeare,  parlor 
games such as Wist,  as well as music,  as shown in this picture.  
Everyone joined in as we sang popular songs of the day such as 
Nelly Bly,  Hard Times Come Again No More,  Aura Lee,  Some 
Folks Do,  and Wayfaring Stranger.
For the most part the afternoon went very well  (yes,  there was 
another male there as well,  though he was not in this picture),  
until the  "spell"  was unwittingly broken later in the day.
The effort was there,  however.  And since this time I've had 
plenty more opportunities at immersion and 1st person,  all of 
which continuously improved.
It has become my favorite method of reenacting.

August 23
The 150th photo!
Reflections of--the way life used to be...yep,  that's what I'm all 
about.  And I have not been in my period clothing since July 4th - 
that's 49 days!---I believe that's a record for me,  and not one I 
want to repeat!  Usually it's not been more than two or three 
weeks...year  'round!
So,  yeah,  yesterday  (which happened to be August 22)  a few of 
us were biting at the bit just to get out in our 18th century 
clothing and visit a historic site or two.  Upon putting on my knee 
breeches,  waistcoat,  jacket,  cocked hat,  and buckled shoes,  
Patty asked me,  "How does it feel?"
I didn't have to answer.  She knew.
There were only four of us who went to Mill Race Village,  where 
today's reflective picture was taken,  and then two of us also went 
to the 1789 Navarre-Anderson Trading Post in Monroe 
afterward.  We had such a fine time at both locations,  for it felt 
very close to being at a reenactment.  There were even a few 
modern folks who came up to us and asked a few historical 
questions,  of which we gladly answered.
Yes,  we followed the 6 foot rule so no need to shake your 
finger at us.
No more will I go 49 days without having my time-travel experiences.
No more.

August 24
During a normal year Larissa and I spend a day up in Port Oneida  
(Sleeping Bear Dunes)  presenting as 1860s farmers during their 
annual fair:  "Every August,  the Port Oneida Rural Historic 
District awakens from its peaceful slumber and comes alive with 
activity true to the period when it was a community of robust 
settlers.  Visitors take a step back in time at the two-day Port 
Oneida Fair to experience life as it was in the late 1800s and early 
1900s."  We present at the 100+ year old Olsen Farm where the 
focus is on historic food preservation and cooking demonstrations,  
dulcimer music,  presentations of Victorian farm life  (that's us!!),  
and quilting & soapmaking.
This is one of our busiest of presentations,  for we do four of them 
in five hours.  And,  I must say,  we always pack the house  (so-to-speak).
Well,  it just so happens our good friend,  Heidi,  is also a part of 
the fair,  for she is the one who does the historic cooking 
demonstrations.  Yeah...we sneaked ourselves a couple of the 
treats she made...
We'll see you there next year.

August 25
History has always been my passion,  and I always tried to 
involve my children in it.  As they grew older,  each has taken a 
bit of the past with them in their own way.
And that makes me proud.
My son Robbie is pretty much the only one who has remained in 
the reenacting hobby and enjoys the experience every-bit as much 
as I do.  He does military,  as you see here  (1st Pennsylvania 
from the Revolutionary War),  and also does some civilian as 
well.  This is his opportunity to camp  "primitive,"  which I know 
he enjoys,  shoot guns  (who doesn't?),  and cook over an open 
fire.  He also constantly researches the past and is adamant on 
getting it  "right."
Oh, and he also met his fiance in the hobby.
Yeah...this is his thing...
As I said,  each of my kids have taken history unto themselves in 
their own way - what could make this man who has such a 
passion for the past more proud?

A slight change in my Facebook introduction here:
To change up the news feed to help get away from all of the harsh and getting harsher doom & gloom of our modern time,  here is my daily Living History Photo...
August 26
The weather can get mighty warm in August.  It did in the 1860s 
and it does today.  And yes,  we do get hot in our reenacting 
clothing.  So when up at our event in Port Sanilac,  sometimes we 
have means of cooling off that can't be done at most other 
reenactments;  here we are,  standing on the bluff which 
overlooks beautiful Lake Huron.  Our reenacting day was over so 
a few of us took the opportunity to head to the lake,  not unlike 
what would have been done 150 years ago.
Did we go down to the beach?  If so,  how was the response of 
modern people?
I suppose you're going to have to wait a few days to find out.
We did have a great time,  however.

August 27We are at the beginnings of the sestercentennial  (250th)  
anniversary of the Revolutionary War.  This year of 2020 was the 
250th of the Boston Massacre  (1770),  in three years it will be 
the 250th of the Boston Tea Party  (1773),  and in five years the 
sestercentennial of Paul Revere's famous ride and the Battle of 
Lexington & Concord will occur  (1775).
So last year I came up with a plan - an event - showcasing what is 
considered to be the 1st official battle of the American 
Revolution:  Lexington & Concord.  It took place at historic Mill 
Race Village and went wonderfully well.  Yes,  the living 
historians were smaller in numbers for our first time out,  but I 
believe it will grow over the coming half decade.
We did both battles as well as showed everyday life of 1775.
At the end of the day,  the redcoat reenactors,  unfortunately,  had 
to leave.  However,  those of us who portrayed American civilians 
and militia remained and were able to pose for a group picture. 
I have never received a round of applause before for putting on an 
event, yet these good people gave me one.  I am certainly glad 
they didn't see the watering of my eyes when they did.
I am so honored.  From the bottom of my heart,  I thank them.  
And I applaud them for bringing history to life in a very real way.
We had planned a second annual reenactment for this year.  I am 
sure I don't have to explain why it did not happen,  unfortunately.
Next year!
And if you are interested in a full account of our Lexington & 
Concord event,  please click the link at the bottom of this posting.

August 28
For a number of years at the Jackson Civil War event  (which was 
supposed to be this weekend,  by the way),  the hosts made 
wooden  "false-fronts"  for many of us in the special impressions 
area.  Since I portrayed an 1860s postmaster at that time,  I was 
one of the lucky few who had one.  I set up my tent behind the 
false-front then attached the fly as a sort of covering/ceiling, 
helping to give a sort of parlor feel to it.  It was there I would 
place my desk,  chairs,  a table,  and a few accessories.  If you 
look closely at the photo here,  you can see this set up.  When all 
six or seven false-fronts were being used,  it gave the impression 
of a small frontier town.
I don't remember who snapped this picture of me - a very cool 
nighttime photo, eh? -  but I was preparing the mail for the next 
day's pick up,  for many members of the reenacting community,  
mostly the ladies,  took time to write letters to the men in the 
military,   and they would base these notes from actual letters 
from the 1860s.  They would then drop them by my post office 
and I would make sure they got to the military camp for 
distribution there.  The soldiers would also write letters to their 
sweethearts and families,  many,  once again,  based on or copied 
directly from 1860s originals,  and they would give them to me.  The ladies then could come by the post office to see if they had 
any mail. 
I always made sure to have plenty of period-correct stationary on 
hand to keep it all authentic  (you can find anything if you 
search hard enough!).
I did this impression for nearly a decade,  and for much of that 
time  "postmaster"  was my nickname.
Ah...missing reenacting something fierce right now...

August 29
In my opinion,  reenactments have one main motive:
to teach the public about the past in a way they cannot get out of 

a history class;  to bring the words in the history books to life.
However,  there are a few of us who take this to a different level.  
Not above or below,  mind you,  just a few steps in another 
direction.  And that is where I mostly find myself - on this other 
sort of plain or  "manifest."  I greatly enjoy deeply researching of 
everyday life of long ago,  finding the little things that the 
common person of the past knew or did but most in the modern 
day know little about,  and then add that to my overall depiction 
and presentation of the past at a reenactment.  The ultimate goal 
of living historians is to have the visitor feel as if they are actually 
speaking with someone from another era,  not only by 
looks/clothing,  but mannerisms,  subject matters/speech,  the 
accessories displayed,  and in surroundings,  such as what you see 
in this photograph.  This was taken at the 1789 Navarre-Anderson 
Trading Post reenactment in Monroe. 
In looking at this picture,  there is nothing modern here whatsoever.
That's what we want.
For the most part,  this is the same common goal of most in this 
hobby;  this is what we keep striving for.  So visiting a 
reenactment can truly add flavor and color and bring life to those 
words in your history books.
By the way...there is a second motive for a few of us in this 
hobby:  to have a sort of sense of time-travel---to experience in 
the only way possible in our day and age the practice of going 
back in time. 
Oh,  now,  obviously not actually,  but just the sense of...because 
if you do it right,  it can be as close to actual time-travel as can be 
done in our day and age.  Examples are forthcoming in future past 
daily photos.

August 30
Beating the heat in 1863 - next stop---the Beach!
We were very hot,  and the beach was just a short jaunt from our 
Port Sanilac reenactment.  We just wanted to have fun.
And we did!
Remember the Photo of the Day from a few days ago,  where we 
were standing at the bluff overlooking Lake Huron?  Well here is 
part two to that picture:  some of the ladies actually did cool off on 
that warm summer day and ventured into the Lake,  romping and 
splashing a bit.  And do you see Meg on the far right in the above 
picture,  and jumping in the picture below?  
Yep---she is wearing the bathing fashion of the 
day she copied from an original.
Also,  at this time,  men and women would not have swum 
together - they would have been on separate beaches.
Ah,  but I was needed to keep them in line.
"Ladies,  we must head back to the farm.  There is milking to do,  
chickens to feed,  and holes to dig!"
Yeah...we have fun!

August 31
Sometimes we living historians enjoy doing different scenarios,  
based on historical occurrences.
It was a couple years ago at Detroit’s Historic Fort Wayne when,  
much to my surprise,  I found myself in an unfortunate situation:
a few members of the Queen's Rangers arrested me for being what 
they considered a treasonist Patriot.  As I stepped out of my house,  
was accosted by two members of the group,  one held a bayonet to 
my throat while the other pointed a musket to my chest.
They roughed me up a bit then sat me down at their headquarters 
where I was read the  "treasonous"  charges against me.  Of 
course,  being the honest man I am - and,  yes,  a proud patriot - I 
admitted to most of them.
And I also gave them attitude - - - - - -
For my punishment they decided to put me in front of a firing 
squad rather than death by hanging to make an example of me.
An honorable death indeed,  and at least it will be quick...
I stood bravely,  awaiting my fate...
Suddenly,  the word  "FIRE"  was heard and the guns blazed.
You know,  over the years I've seen many reenactors  "die"  on the 
battlefield,  but none at a firing squad.  So,  with all visitor eyes 
upon me,  I knew I had to make it a good one - I needed to make 
it realistic - so when the volley was fired,  I jerked and flung 
myself back.
Ouch!  It actually did hurt to come slamming down to the ground!
But I was told it was an excellent death.
And I somehow lived to tell the story---not bad for an old guy - - -
Covid-19,  the protesters,  the elections,  the rioters & looters,  the constant heat,  those who intimidate,  sadness,  accusers...this has not been the best year ever.  I've not seen such a time in my life,  and I hope it all ends soon.  It's all too much.
But here sits Ken,  making the attempt at his normalcy,  acting oblivious to it all as best as he can and planning for what might just be the best season of the year:  autumn.
Yes,  yes,  I know summer technically has three weeks to go,  and warm weather can stick around a bit longer,  but the changing of the leaves,  the earlier sunsets,  cooler days and nights...all are on their way.
That's one thing that makes me happy.
I have high hopes that I will still be able to somehow celebrate this season of fall in the past.  I have projects I'm working on...and when/if they come to pass,  you will see the outcome posted here.

Until next time,  see you in time.

To read more about our Lexington & Concord event,  please click HERE

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