Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A Day Out With the Voyageurs - Port Sanilac 2021

Three reenactments in three weeks,  with another coming up this weekend.
Boy!  This year is certainly making up for what we missed last year,  that's for dang sure.  
Oh,  and that ain't all - - - there are plenty more 18th century experiences on the horizon.  
It seems people are beginning to live again and enjoy all that was missed in 2020.
If you notice,  the description underneath the Passion for the Past title says:  "Thoughts and Social History for the Living Historian."   As I research,  I learn.  As I learn,  I like to share,  which is the reason for this blog.  I also like to put what I've learned into action.  Hence the pictures herein,  with tales of my participation in the reenactments.
Which is what today's posting is all about:  reenacting pictures with a little bit of historical information thrown in.
You see,  though I come out with them and am a member of their group,  I am technically not a Voyageur.  The Lac Ste. Claire Voyageurs do an amazing job in their presentations replicating Great Lakes fur traders,  missionaries,  and explorers that came to the Great Lakes region in the early 1600s and remained through the early part of the 19th century.  I very much appreciate their acceptance of me in taking part in their events,  even though I portray an easterner/New Englander.  However,  I must say that with that being the case,  much of our lives at that time did intertwine.
Back to Port Sanilac I went to participate with the Voyageurs once again at their encampment.

Being that Voyageurs specialize in the fur trade,  there were plenty of examples about
to show the visiting public.

The ladies enjoy sharing historic information...

Setting up blankets,  perhaps representing a Yankee peddler - a traveling merchant - who would travel to towns,  farms,  and homes,  carrying goods to sell,  whether on their back,  cart,  horse,  or by wagonload.
They may also bring news and gossip and maybe even mail to waiting villagers.

EJ,  a Continental soldier in the 1st Pennsylvania, 
took some time to clean his gun.

There was a nature trail set up with a sort of life size fantasy/fairy garden,  including trees with faces.
So,  even though it is far from,  shall we say,  correct  for living historians,  a few of us took advantage of  what they did and had some fun with it.
I'm going to go out on a limb,  here,  and say Mr.  Maple was a sap to Jackie's come on's.
(Can you just imagine the looks on the folks who actually lived in the 18th century upon seeing something like this while they walked in the woods?)

One end of the trail empties out to one of the two log cabins on site there at the Port Sanilac Historical Society open-air museum.  
After the Great Fire of 1881,  which destroyed a good portion of the remaining timber in the Thumb Area of Michigan,  many stalwart residents were quick to rebuild.  Henry Patten and his sons,  James and Elias,  built this little cabin from the trees left standing on their land near the long-forgotten settlement of Banner,  four miles west of Deckerville.  Some of those trees exhibited charring from the inferno.
For a bit of Great Fire history:
August and the first days of September 1881 were hotter than usual,  and the Thumb had had a rain deficit since April.  There were forest fires beginning in mid-August,  and on August 31,  a fire started in northern Lapeer County.  It destroyed several buildings in the towns of Sandusky and Deckerville in nearby Sanilac County.  On Monday,  September 5,  the town of Bad Axe,  in Huron County,  burst into flames.  Winds spread the fire to Huron City and Grindstone City.  The fire continued to spread through Tuesday and Wednesday,  September 6 and 7,  consuming most of Huron,  Tuscola,  Sanilac and Lapeer counties before finally ending.
In the 1970's,  the cabin was donated by Donald Medcoff and his mother,  Margaret.  Four generations of their family had resided in the log structure after the Patten family had moved on.  A Michigan State Bicentennial Grant aided in the funding to relocate and restore the Banner log cabin.  
The little building is furnished with donated antique items that would have typically been found in an 1880's-era settler's cabin.
Except when you have a couple of colonials outside of it,  for then the cabin can appear to be from the 18th century.  The general architecture of log cabins in the 18th and 19th centuries changed little. 

Tom portrays an 18th century doctor, including showing a variety of medicines and tools that would have been used.  He even did a few period-procedures,  such as blood-letting:
Jackie just was not feeling well, and could not
shake whatever it was she had.  So upon visiting
the good Dr.,  his diagnosis was she had tired blood
and needed to have that removed.
It was obvious she did not like the look of
the tool about to be used on her.

A cut to the vein with a fleam to release the bad blood.
An early theory for bloodletting was that there were four main bodily humors:  blood,  phlegm,  black bile,  and yellow bile.  An imbalance in these humors was postulated as the need for bloodletting,  purging,  vomiting,  etc.  Bloodletting was used to treat everything from fever and madness to anemia and debility.  
Virtually every known medical condition at one time or another
was treated by these methods

The blood dripped into the pan.

Hmmm...seems Jackie had a touch of the vapors.
She passed out,  but upon revival she was as good as
gold---better,  in fact!

This was a fine and relaxed event,  and I do appreciate the opportunity to interact with my Voyageur friends.  There were also many visitors who walked through,  so I was able to present a bit as well.
What helped greatly was the weather:  the week previous gave us high temperatures with high humidity,  but we had a wonderful break for this day.
Quite possibly I may set up my tent here next year.

Until next time,  see you in time.


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