Friday, July 29, 2022

Presenting Colonial Times in Frankenmuth and for High School Kids

July 9,  10,  and 11 were busy days in the past for me.
Saturday,  July 9 found me in 1862 at Charlton Park  (read all about that event HERE).
July 10 had me in Frankenmuth,  Michigan for the Rev/War - French & Indian War event,  and on July 11 - a Monday - I was back in my 18th century clothing for a school presentation.
It wasn't just any school presentation;  it took place at my summer employment job.
But more on that shortly.  Let's begin this week's posting in Colonial Frankenmuth,  where the temperature was hot...and muggy.  It started off pretty nice but as the day went on,  the temps and humidity climbed.
A sort of panoramic view of  American and British soldiers.

One of the battles took place at the bridge,  where the Continentals were crossing.

But the British seemed to have the high ground - a better position... you can see.
My good friend Ben Franklin was there with his daughter,  Sarah.
Okay,  actually this is Bob Stark with his daughter Abby.
Bob,  of course,  portrays Benjamin Franklin.
Though Abby does not  portray Sarah Franklin,  she does do presentations
on historic teas,  including the tea that was thrown into Boston Harbor
during the Boston Tea Party in December of 1773. 
Now,  I'm not a tea drinker,  but its place in world history - and in America's Revolutionary War history -  is solidified.  
According to researcher and historian Benjamin Woods Labaree, the tea that was tossed into Boston Harbor nearly 250 years ago was all loose tea because the colonists had no taste for tea bricks,  and tea bags were still 150 years in the future.
In Labaree’s well-researched book,  The Boston Tea Party  it says the three tea ships contained 240 chests of Bohea,  10 of Souchong,  15 of Congou,  (all black teas),  60 of Singlo,  and 15 of Hyson  (both green teas),  all produced in China.  The teas mentioned here can be seen in the photo below in the same order as written.
Bob,  or should I say,  Bob's daughter,  Abby,  was selling this very cool collection
of  Boston Tea Party tea at her father's Salty Lantern sutlery
.  Naturally,  I had to
get it to add 
to my American history collection of cool stuff.
So,  I did.
I love collecting Americana and American history almost as much as I enjoy "living" it!

Susan has her Carrot Patch Sutlery,  where she sells all things wool.
Yes,  she also spins yarn on her spinning wheel.

She has been teaching her boyfriend's daughter how to knit.
I love when I see talents being passed on to the next generation;  too many of our
young people have little-to-no knowledge of  the traditional crafts.

And there was axe tossing.
I did absolutely horrible this time around.
I need to practice...and practice some more.
I will be totally honest here:  it was miserably hot for me.  I've tolerated worse heat before,  but this time - this day -  it was intolerable for some reason.  At one point I felt like I was going to pass out,  but Abby saved me from that embarrassment by getting me some cold water.  It was at that point when I decided I'd best head back home.  It was unfortunate because I do really enjoy this event.  But,  yeah,  it was one of those rare moments where I felt I had to leave...and I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I normally do.  For this I apologize to all involved.
On the way home,  with the wind helping me to remain cooler,  we  (my son Robbie and I)  stopped at a local Frankenmuth air-conditioned diner on the outskirts of town - yes,  dressed in our period clothing - where I was immediately called George Washington.  I responded with,  "I appreciate the high compliment,  he being such a great man and all,  but..."  (I bowed)  "...Paul Revere at your service."  They loved it,  and showed us to our booth where Rob and I both proceeded to order the  "All-American Burger"  (as it was titled on the menu).
"Of course that's what you'd order!"  the waitress laughed.
It was very good. 

The following day was Monday,  and though school is out for the summer,  for three weeks in July I work for the Building Bridges Camp for autistic kids.  This is my fifth year doing this and really enjoy it quite a bit.  I work with high school-age kids,  and we have areas where they can do arts and crafts,  play in the gym,  cook,  work on pictures - drawing and painting and coloring - and go on field trips,  including to a horse farm,  the cider mill,  canoeing,  and numerous other places.  In other words,  this camp gives the kids experiences they might not otherwise have the opportunity to try.
Well,  it just so happens that this year Larissa & I were part of their experiences:  we did our Year in the Life on a Colonial Farm program for them.  We brought along many items in our combined historic collection,  including yoke with water buckets,  candles at various dipping stages,  scythe  &  sickle,  dinner ware,  flail,  flax,  cotton at various stages,  and other period items,  most of which we passed around.
I explained about writing by way of  quill and ink, 
and explained how oftentimes they would have to
even make their own ink.

Larissa explained the use of carding paddles after showing
the different stages of  processing wool.
Note the yoke & water buckets.

While we were in textiles,  I spoke on flax and showed
what it was - raw and after being processed. 
Now I did not bring my flax break - it would have made
quite a mess!  But they did notice the difference between the
hard raw flax and the softness once it was processed. 
We also had some flax thread that was spun at the cabin a while back.

Colonial dinner ware - what do you mean  'eat with the knife?'
Yep,  Larissa explained the differences in eating and table
manners from colonial times to modern times.

Larissa and I with our collection of period accessories.
Besides what I listed earlier,  I also see a butter churn,  a wrapped sugar cone,  
lanterns,  a hat for men and one for women...
quite a caboodle of colonial collectibles.
Though I was  "warned"  that the kids would be bored and difficult to keep attentive,  we most certainly held their attention!  Of course we did---we've been doing this for nearly a decade to such a variety of people,  from pre-schoolers on up to senior citizens.
In fact,  for the rest of the day the kids continued coming up to me and telling me how much they liked it and how much they learned.  One young man even brought in a feather he found while he was outside and gave it to me to  "dip into the ink and write with!"
Another told me I looked like I  "should live back then!"
My heart is full.
Well,  it just so happened that a couple days later our group went to the cider mill,  which is also a farm and grows a variety of fruits and vegetables.  While there,  the kids were able to pick summer apples,  raspberries,  and,  as seen in the picture below,  beans.
I was out there picking beans with the kids.  One of the teachers I was with
asked me,  "Did you hear that?"
"Hear what?"
I guess a student responded to another's comment about picking beans in the
summer by stating,  'weren't you listening to Mr.  Ken the other day?' 
How cool is that,  that they recalled when I spoke on summer harvest while
picking beans on this hot summer day?  You bet that made me feel great!
I like to think at least some of what we teach the kids during our presentations sticks with them.  It's us bringing a sort of museum to them,  and they do show their appreciation.  But to hear it in action,  well,  that just made my day.
And then we received this!
I absolutely love doing historic presenting.  If I could make my living doing this,  I most certainly would.  The past cries out to those who will listen.
And,  as you have just seen,  some truly are  listening.

Until next time,  see you in time.

 ~   ~   ~

Friday, July 22, 2022

Living History at Historic Charlton Park - Summer 2022

We've been through a lot,  we who comprise the 1860s Logan family.  We have been portraying this scenario for so many years;  I personally have been reenacting inside the Sixberry House since 2008,  only missing two years between then and now - 2019 due to illness,  and 2020 due to the covid pandemic shutting everything down.  It was in 2010 while at Charlton Park that I came up with the idea of creating an 1860s family,  where a few of us who work so well together in this capacity - oftentimes falling into immersion and 1st person - mostly as a Maryland family during the Civil War.  Our only time portraying southerners.  
It was in 2014 where I found my,  shall we say,  permanent  1860s family:  my friend,  Larissa,  reenacts as my wife,  Jackie my sister,  and Candy  (as well as Carrie/Agnes)  as our servants.  And over the years we've had various young ladies portray our daughters.
Here  'tis,  the 1858 Sixberry House,  which a few of us have called  "home" 
at least one day a year for over a decade.
It really does feel like our home.
We all returned once again this year to bring the past to life in our own living history way,  though we did not have  "our"  daughter along this time  (I suppose we could say she got married).
So here we are,  back as the Logan family,  and very much enjoying spending our time together once again.
That's Jackie on the left and Larissa on the right.

And in the top row in the back we have our two servants who have been
with us for years,  Agnes behind Jackie and Candace behind Larissa.
And these two ladies truly do act as our servants - they are amazing.
~Living History~
The definition for Living History is:  an activity that incorporates historical tools,  activities and dress into an interactive presentation that seeks to give observers and participants a sense of stepping back in time.  Although it does not necessarily seek to reenact a specific event in history,  living history is similar to,  and sometimes incorporates,  historical reenactment.  Living history is an educational medium used by living history museums,  historic sites,  heritage interpreters,  schools and historical reenactment groups to educate the public or their own members in particular areas of history,  such as clothing styles,  pastimes,  and crafts,  or to simply convey a sense of the everyday life of a certain period in history.
That last line there -  to simply convey a sense of the everyday life of a certain period in history...this is what we do.  In order to do this we work to bring back the visual,  the feel,  and the correct historical information  (as best in our knowledge).  
This just may be the most  "textbook Victorian"  picture I've taken yet.
Yep---bringing this mid-19th century house alive once again.
We spend countless hours researching every minute detail of actual history,  including clothing,  accessories,  hair,  lifestyles,  furniture,  and to a lesser extent,  language  (it's hard to do language properly without sounding Hollywood or silly/stupid).... 
Now,  to some this may seem like pretending...kinda sorta,  yeah...but in all honesty we are so much more than that.
We blur time...and we teach,  which is why we must be diligent in how we go about this whole concept.
I suppose the years of experience between all of us helps - we have learned what works and what doesn't. What fits and what doesn't.  What sounds silly and what doesn't.
And we continue to strive for what works,  and realize what doesn't.
One of the things we enjoy most of all while reenacting inside the Sixberry House
is that we'll get visitors,  such as Mrs.  Cummings and her daughter.  and fine
conversations will ensue.

We also went visiting,  too:
Larissa getting ready for our walk through town.

Strolling along the walk,  we came across Mr.  &  Mrs.  Carlson.
Mrs.  Carlson did a wonderful job portraying the Head Mistress of a
finishing school we sent our daughter to a few years ago,  if you recall.
(click HERE)

We also stopped by to see Mr.  and Mrs.  Assenmacher.
They had a new tintype taken of themselves in their home.

And Mr.  Beech,  photographer,  was the man who captured their image taken
with an authentic 19th century camera.

On the top we see another tintype taken by Mr.  Robert Beech.
This is of Mrs.  Frederick,  Miss Schimenti,  and friends.
I took the bottom picture here...

Word was getting around that there was to be a battle in our little town...
I think the double loaded powder - man!  was it loud!

The booming of the cannon sent folks a-scurrying,  including our own family members.

I don't believe I've seen better battle scenarios than what they do at Charlton Park.

The Union Cavalry showed as well.
I really like this photo - - we came out to watch the battle from a safe distance.
Now,  if we were truly watching an actual battle,  we'da been hiding in the cellar.

One of the best purchases I've made as a living historian,  besides my clothing  (obviously),  is a hand-cranked ice cream maker.  After years of watching the historical presenters at the 1880s Firestone Farm make ice cream every 4th of July - and wanting to taste some but,  of course,  not being allowed to - I found one on an on-line search and,  naturally,  bought it.  Lucky for me,  I was also able to procure a period recipe as well  (actually,  it's a combination of the same one that the folks at Firestone use as well as one taken directly from the Buckeye Cookbook,  printed in 1883)!  So now it's become an annual late Saturday afternoon activity to make ice cream while at the Charlton Park event.
This period activity has become a mainstay with my reenacting family,  and we make a pretty big deal out of it,  including inviting other reenactors to enjoy the period treat.  
The bucket is prepared with the ice,  rock salt,  and the cream.
Then we all take a turn to churn.

The youngest of the Schroeder children.

Another Schroder child is having a blast!

Mrs.  St.  John took a turn.

Peter helped out as well.

As you can see,  neighbors and friends from all over stopped by.

Freshly picked raspberries added flavor.
It looks like it's ready to serve...don't you think?

Visitors brought their own cups and bowls.

As Larissa put it,  we had a regular ice cram social!
This was a fine mid-summer's eve period tradition that we plan to continue as we did in years past. Even modern visitors still wandering inside historic Charlton Park Village enjoyed watching,  some hoping for a taste.  We were all being drawn into the world of long ago...through sight, sound, smell,  touch,  and taste.
Yeah...I believe we were there,  back in that summer of 1862.
Four of the Schroeder children...all growing up!
I am so glad they joined in our little party.

It had been since 2018 that we'd made ice cream at Charlton Park,  and, 
in my opinion,  as wonderful as our day was,  this was the hit: 
the toppermost of the poppermost.

Another group shot.
I would like to thank the kind folks at Charlton Park who allow us such opportunities in bringing the past to life in our own unique way.  I do hope they are pleased with our actions.
With all my heart I thank them for their trust in us.

Until next time,  see you in time.

I was not the only one taking photographs - 
Peter Miceal Kent and Ian Kushnir also took a few that I borrowed for this post.

To see a history of our bringing history to life at the Sixberry House,  please click HERE

~   ~   ~

Monday, July 11, 2022

Celebrating Independence Day 2022 Like It's 1776

What you are about to see shows a full weekend of celebrating America in a variety of ways,  from a small-town parade to historic Greenfield Village to historic Mill Race Village to my own hometown.
What a time we had!

~~~~~~~* * * * * * * * *~~~~~~

I believe I celebrated Independence Day more this year than I have since...well...since 1976!
For me it began on Saturday July 2 when my wife & I,  along with our two youngest  (who are both adults now)  traveled a bit north to the wonderful Village of Lexington  (Michigan)  specifically to enjoy their parade celebrating the holiday at hand.
In my youth I probably spent as much time in and around this wonderful place as I
did in my suburban Detroit city.  Lexington,  which was named for the
Massachusetts city where the Revolutionary War began, 
will always be my second home.
They've held this parade as far back as I can remember,  though it's been a few decades since we attended.  It is very typical of a small-town parade,  strongly localized,  but,  most of all,  fun.  I would much rather see a parade of this sort any day over the giant conglomerate-type parades major cities hold;  the smaller parades are far more intimate,  with a feeling of community.
When they played The Star-Spangled Banner,  everyone stood,  most men removing
 their hats and the majority placing their hands over their hearts.  Lots of hurrahs
and clapping after ward.

The local high school band,  tractors,  local politicians,  military veterans,  horses, 
wonderful makeshift floats,  and the scouts,  here,  carrying the American flag, 
all marched by.

I did not get the name of the company,  but there was one group who,  instead of
throwing candies,  they,  instead,  threw individually wrapped pickles!!
Then there were all of the firetrucks bringing up the rear,  sirens blaring  (and our
dog,  Paul Anka,  joining in by howling).  There was one firetruck who showered
the street with water,  and the young ones all ran to get splashed and soaked.

So there we were,  all patriotic and having a great time!

And what would a stop in Lexington be without a visit to one of my most favorite hamburger joints,  Wimpy's Place?  Not half as good,  that's for sure.  Jim, 
the owner,  has been running this diner since 1987.  Best burgers in the business!
Yep---this was a wonderful way to begin our long 4th of July Holiday weekend.

Next up for Patty and I was to attend,  for the first time in at least a decade,  the Salute to America special event at Greenfield Village.  This is an evening celebration of America's birth,  and the highlight for most that go is the concert performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra,  culminating with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture including live cannon fire to accent the final portion of this very popular classical music piece.  From there,  the fireworks extravaganza takes place,  comparable to any other illumination displays out there,  though not lasting quite as long.
Within the previous couple of years they changed the program up a bit.  Where it used to be you went into the Village and found a spot to sit and there you sat for the duration,  ending around 10:00,  now we could go in a couple hours earlier and roam about the Village,  which takes on a different look and feel in the evening hours.  The historic houses were not open,  mind you,  but they did have small vignettes placed in different locations throughout,  including the  "Summer 1943:  A Small-Town Wartime Homefront,"  which,  on the night we went featured my friend Jillian.
One of my favorite WWII models,  Jillian,
with one of my favorite drinks,  Coca Cola!
There were also vignettes of  "The American Obsession with the Lawn,"  "Summer of 1976 - A Bicentennial Picnic,"  as well as 1913 carousel ride and Model T photo opps.

Music was spread throughout the Village as well - all kinds of wonderful American music:
from 18th century fife and drum with the
1st Michigan Colonial Fife & Drum Corps to...
 ...19th century folk tunes with Neil Woodward and Ranka Mulkern to...

...19th century fiddle music featuring JJ Przewozniak to...

...turn of the century ragtime performed by Taslimah Bey to...

...traditional 1930s blues with Reverend Robert Jones to...

...old-timey string band music with Picks & Sticks to...
...19th century saxhorn musicians known as the Dodworth Saxhorn Band,  and old-time foot stomping Gospel music performed by The North Star Chorale.  This was all great American music,  which culminated at sunset with... 
...the Detroit Symphony Orchestra,  who performed until darkness and fireworks time.
A wonderfully diversified variety of music - a larger variety than what one can see most places - and all performed live.
For Salute to America,  Patty and I  "dressed period"  to help us get a little extra spirit of  '76  in us - - - that is,  we wore clothing appropriate to life in America for the Common Folk in the period that produced the Declaration of Independence.  My wife does not reenact nearly as much as she used to,  so I was as pleased as could be when she came out of our bedchamber  ready for an 18th century evening.
This is one of two similar pictures of Patty & I on the wood porch of the JR Jones General Store.  Yeah,  the store is from the 1850s,  but the architecture is not dramatically different from a store of a hundred years earlier.
The fun began right off the bat when we were inside the Village gift shop before the gates opened and a young man,  seeing the way I was dressed,  was very interested in me and asked me questions.
My friend,  Charlotte,  captured the moment I spoke with the
young man about history. 
 This was a very enjoyable experience.
The patrons really seemed to enjoy seeing colonial folk at such an event,  which,  aside from the fife & drum corps,  we were the only ones to be dressed in 1770s fashions,  and many took our picture  (of which we didn't mind at all).  
This picture of the two of us was taken while we sat on the
porch of the 1831 Eagle Tavern.  Again,  like the General Store, 
the look of taverns in the first half of the 19th century were not
very different at all from those built in the 18th century.

And here is one of my favorite pictures of my wife and I.
Thirty seven years married and we still act like young love...
(it's not acting...)

I actually did a little photo-magic with my Paint Shop Pro on this one, 
and changed it up a bit to give it a more colonial-flavored backdrop:

The house on the right - the red Plympton Home - was built in the early 1700s.  It was at this house that the brother of one of the men who rode with Paul Revere on the night of April 18,  1775 came to alert the sexton,  Thomas Plympton,  to let him know of the movement toward Concord by the Redcoats.
The house on the left was originally thought to have been an early 18th century home,  but through intensive research was found to have been actually built in the later 1830s.

Now for the picture of the night,  in my opinion:
I asked Charlotte if she wouldn't mind taking a photo of Patty and I
from behind as we watched the fireworks.
I am very pleased at the outcome.
This was such a fun time,  and I am so glad we went.  The changes made to the Salute to America event were all in the positive,  as far as I'm concerned.  They made a similar change to their Hallowe'en event as well,  and that,  too,  was by far for the better.
We made it home by 11:00 that July 3rd night,  and we were whipped,  though the excitement of the evening made it difficult to fall asleep right away.
But I had to get to sleep,  for I had another big day the next day:  the 4th of July itself!

Welcome to the 4th of July
Ever since a few of us have been heading to historic Mill Race Village to celebrate the 4th of July,  beginning back in 2017,  it has become our annual place to  keep Independence Day in a traditional manner.  Over the years we've had famous people from the Revolutionary era,  including Benjamin Franklin,  Betsy Ross,  and Paul Revere  (as portrayed by yours truly),  take part.  We even had George Washington join us one time.  The highlight of the day would be hearing Ben Franklin recite the Declaration of Independence.  
Each successive July 4th in those pre-covid years,  the number of reenactors who would come out grew.  Unfortunately,  due to covid,  4th of July 2020 did not happen at all.  4th of July 2021 was little better,  but only because a few of us made the trip to Mill Race on our own - nothing official was going on.  However,  there were a few dozen people who trickled through,  and the few of us who came out in our period clothing would speak to them and actually give presentations about our great American history.
Yeah...we still had a pretty darn good time,  and those we spoke to loved it and thanked us for being there.
Our great pleasure!
So this year of 2022,  with everything pretty much open,  we came out in full-force...and so did the visitors!  I don't believe I've seen as many visitors ever come out as I did this year.  After being told to stay home due to covid for two years,  and more lately,  were told to stay home due to extreme gas prices,  the people were ready to get out and celebrate!  They were ready to enjoy themselves like they haven't in quite a while!  They were tired of all the negativity and wanted to accentuate the positive!
And we were ready to help them eliminate that negative!
The crowd began pouring in right after the Northville parade.

The entire Village was soon packed - people were ready to celebrate and have fun.
They were ready to:
ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive,
e-lim-i-nate the negative,
latch on to the affirmative,
don't mess with Mr.  In-between.
And we tried to spread joy up to the maximum -
Bring gloom down to the minimum,
have faith,  or pandemonium
liable to walk upon the scene...
People from all over were there,  some new to this country,  some generational, 
and some just visiting from elsewhere.  But all were enjoying the celebration.

The couple that  "Captain America Kevin"  and I were speaking with were from Britain
and they wanted to experience an American 4th of July.  I don't think they were disappointed.  We enjoyed some banter and history - and I mentioned that I love
England because they'd given us The Beatles.
Smiles everywhere!

Though this picture does not show it too well,  I made a street of flags. 
I had placed six replicated historic flags along the road here.
Beginning on the left I have:
  the Pine Tree flag  (or the Appeal to Heaven flag)  from 1775
the orange Don't Tread On Me Gadsden flag from 1775
the Grand Union Flag from 1775  (has the British flag as its canton)
the Betsy Ross flag from 1776  (partially hidden from spectators)
the white Minutemen flag from Culpeper,  Virginia from 1775
the red Liberty & Union flag,  also from 1775
I only wish I had taken a better photo of them.  I was told,  and also saw,  many people looking at the flags and having their picture taken with them.  How cool is that?
I began collecting historic flags nearly two decades ago and have been purchasing them ever since.  I fly them at my house frequently,  which garners great conversations from passersby.

It was so good to see the many reenactors who came out and helped to make this Independence Day a memorable one for so many visitors and participants,  and I certainly appreciate each and every one of them:
Our three musketeers  (lol)  who headed up the musket firing
after the reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Betsy Ross,  on the right,  with her niece.  
Okay,  so it's not really Betsy and her niece - it's actually Christy and Jackie, 
and between the two of them they gave a wonderful history of Betsy Ross and
spoke on whether or not she may have sewn the infamous flag
that bears her name.

I was speaking with this young lady,  and through the course of our conversation she mentioned she loved Benjamin Franklin.  Her mother mentioned that there was an infatuation of a sort.  So,  I asked the girl  (and mom)  to come with me and,  well, 
 the look on her face when she saw the man who was obviously
 Ben Franklin was priceless!

Getting ready for the big day.
Can you imagine what it was like to actually be a part of that generation
 that produced such a document as the Declaration of Independence?

Members of the 1st Pennsylvania - Tony and my son Robbie.

~A Moment in Time~

On March 11,  1776,  General George Washington issued a General Order to Colonels or Commanding Officers of regiments of the Continental Army.  Washington's order directed these officers to select four men from each regiment who would form his personal guard.  
Chris and Matthew dressed as and spoke about George Washington's Life Guards.
That is Matthew's wife helping out  on the right.
Washington wrote,  "His Excellency depends upon the Colonels for good Men,  such as they can recommend for their sobriety,  honesty and good behavior;  he wishes them to be from five feet eight Inches high,  to five feet ten Inches;  handsomely and well made,  and as there is nothing in his eyes more desirable than Cleanliness in a Soldier,  he desires that particular attention be made in the choice of such men as are clean and spruce."
It was disbanded in 1783 at the end of the war.  On November 9,  1783,  Captain Howe received orders from General Washington to  "take charge of the Wagons which contain my baggage,  and with the escort proceed with them to Virginia and deliver the baggage at my house,  ten miles below Alexandria."
Six wagons filled with General Washington’s belongings,  but more importantly,  the official records of eight years of war,  were successfully delivered to Mount Vernon on December 20,  1783.  Upon his own retirement from the army in the summer of 1784,  Caleb Gibbs gathered together the official records of the Lifeguards.  They were secured in a trunk and stored at the Charlestown Navy Yard where Gibbs worked after the war.  Despite surviving war,  weather and constant movement,  the vast majority of the records were destroyed in a fire at the Navy Yard in 1815.

The day was filled with smiles...and wonderful  (though hot)  weather.

Minister Gerring attends to his flock.
Perhaps he is giving them direction on proper fashion-wear for ladies?

Before entering the Mill Race Village grounds,  Charlotte took some time to move
about the crowd of parade watchers lining Northville's Main Street,  helping and
guiding them with history lessons. 
Many of those same folk came to see us at Mill Race.

My son brought along his portable writing desk and quill & ink.
Anytime one can show bits of past life is exciting to the spectators
and is always a teaching moment.

Members of the Penn State Line marched and drilled,
much to the thrill of the spectators.

Some long-time reenactors~
Ken,  on the right,  has been reenacting since 1960!
At one point in his reenacting  "career,"  he portrayed Abraham Lincoln.

Finally,  12:30 came around and it would soon be time for the reading of the Declaration of Independence.
I always enjoy speaking
to the public.
Just as I did in 2019,  I gave a short sort of prequel before Dr.  Franklin's recitation of the Declaration.  It was a very quick overview on what lead us to declare independence,    including historical minutes about the different taxes  (the various  "acts")  of the 1760s and early 1770s),  and about the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party.  I spoke a bit about Paul Revere and the beginnings of the Revolution at Lexington  &  Concord,  and then of Thomas Paine's  "Common Sense."  I then touched on the writing of the Declaration,  including the committee of five who were putting it all together,   as well as the response from the people upon hearing it for the first time once it was finally printed and read in public on the 4th of July,  the 8th of July in Philadelphia,  the 9th of July in New York  (when George Washington heard it),  and elsewhere in the weeks following.  Probably the part of my speech I enjoyed the most was when I told of  how after it was read aloud to the public in various cities,  cheers for the new United States of America were had,  musket fire and cannon fire took place,  and church and school bells rang into the night.  However,  in New York,  after it was read to George Washington,  a rambunctious crowd of listeners meandered south on Broadway,  lassoed the large statue of King George and pulled on the rope  "until the two-ton statue capsized with a tremendous crash,"  And then on how it was carted in fragments to a foundry,  "where patriot women melted the lead,  ladled it into molds,  and soon sent the army 42,088 bullets."
There were a few whoops from the crowd on that one as well!

It was then that I introduced Dr.  Franklin to the crowd of modern visitors.
Bob Stark has been portraying Benjamin Franklin for nearly 20 years,  and he does such an amazing job.  Of course,  he has studied Franklin and his times intently,  so to bring the founding father to life is relatively easy for him.
Dr.  Franklin stepped out with a copy of the John Dunlap version of
the Declaration.  John Dunlap was a printer in Philadelphia and
was the first person to print this most famous of broadsides
under Franklin's watchful eyes.
Then the guest of honor took center stage and opened the broadside and began to read...
"In Congress, July 4, 1776.
A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America
In General Congress Assembled.
When in the Course of Human Events..."
He then began to roll the broadside up...but he continued to say the words that were written upon it!
He had it memorized!
Everyone was enthralled.
The fact that he has memorized the entire document is in itself pretty amazing.
And when he finished,  the crowd clapped...and then then I was able to galvanize the audience into giving three cheers for Dr.  Franklin...
...and then three cheers for the new United States of America...
and then the muskets began to fire...
...just like they did 246 years ago!

And from another part of Mill Race...more muskets!

...and another part of Mill Race!

These two lovely young ladies,  sitting upon the grass,  looking demure, 
took off a-running to the church and school house to ring the bells. 
Yes,  they are daughters of Liberty!
So,  with the musketry,  the church and school bells ringing,  and the huzzahs,  the patrons throughout Mill Race Village were all smiling and clapping,  for they were now witnessing and experiencing exactly what I had told them only minutes before,  about how the folks who lived in the period that produced the Declaration of Independence responded upon hearing it read for the first time.
They were celebrating like it was 1776!
Here I am with my two bell ringers,  Jennifer and Amy.
It wasn't until afterward that they realized their importance in the
historical way we celebrated.  To hear the bells a-ringing and the
muskets firing at the same time while people clapped and shouted
"Huzzahs!"  was a time-travel experience like no other.
I'm so proud!

A table was set up with various replicated historical documents
as well as a copy of the Declaration for people to sign.
This garnered quite a bit of attention.
They did a fine job in the lay out.
This is the Declaration that visitors could sign.
Many did.
Was this not the best way to celebrate  (unless one was in Philadelphia,  of course!)?
The Mill Race Village event ended at 3 that 4th of July afternoon,  allowing everyone to continue to do more celebrating at their own homes or,  perhaps,  at a party.  In fact,  all around my own home that night were fireworks of all kinds blowing off,  and I was in the middle of it,  making attempts to capture some of the brilliant illuminations John Adams had hoped future generations would have  (as he did write in a letter to his wife,  Abigail):
The sky in front of my house~
"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated,  by succeeding Generations, 
as the great anniversary Festival." 

In front of my house~
"It ought to be commemorated,  as the Day of Deliverance by solemn
Act of Devotion to God Almighty."

In front of my house on the night of July 4~
"It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade with shews,  Games,  Sports,  Guns, 
Bells,  Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of the Continent to the other..."

In front of my house~
 "...from this Time forward forever more."

And my own bunting on my porch with the glow of our front light behind it.

As you can see,  my Independence Holiday Weekend was filled to the brim.  Come Tuesday the 5th,  I was so tired...and walked like a 100 year old man.  Yeah,  I have lower back issues and sciatica,  but I didn't let that bother me.  Sometimes it's mind over matter,  and though I did pay for it,  it was well worth it.  As Carly Simon once sang,  "I haven't got time for the pain."  
And neither do I. 
You may have probably guessed,  the weather was absolutely perfect the entire three day weekend.  Yeah,  maybe a little warm for my taste,  but it didn't rain;  it didn't even cloud up until late in the evening of the 4th and the wee morning hours of the 5th.
No complaints from me - Providence was shining down upon us.
There is only one holiday I like more than Independence Day,  and that is Christmas.  Just everything about the 4th of July makes me feel happy,  proud,  patriotic,  and historic,  all at the same time.  And throughout this entire three-day weekend,  everyone we saw was happy,  smiling,  and saying  "Happy 4th!" 
I love it.
With the sestercentennial  (the 250th)  of  our nation's birth only four years away,  I like to think of this weekend as a sort of precursor of celebrations to come.  In fact,  I already have plans in my head on how we can celebrate in 2026.  But you'll have to wait a few years for that. 

Until next time,  see you in time.

I took a number of photographs here,  but I was not the only one;  many,  many thanks to all who did:  
B&K Photography  (you'll note their patriotic watermark in the bottom right corner of their photos)
Barb Baldinger
Christy Haradean
Jennifer Long
Richard Reaume

Other historical 4th of July celebrations I've had over the past decade:

The Glorious Fourth - 2012 was my first year where I began to celebrate Independence Day in a more historical and serious manner.  It's when I got the bright idea to wear period clothing and visit historic Greenfield Village.  
I am SO glad I began this tradition!
So here we are,  enjoying a Victorian  (1860s)  4th of July day at Greenfield Village.  What we did not realize until we left was the temperature got up to 101 degrees!  Yes, we were hot in all those clothes!  But what a fine day we had!

How I spent the 4th of July 2013 - This was my 2nd final year celebrating as one from the 1860s,  again,  at Greenfield Village.

Happy Independence Day! (Celebrating the 4th of July in a Colonial Way) - My first time celebrating this wonderful American Holiday as a colonial!  And friends came along as well!

Celebrating a Holiday Historically:  The 4th of July 2015 - Some phone posed pictures while a few of us roamed about Greenfield Village.  Even one of me as a tin smith!

Also from 2015  (and frequently updated thereafter):  
I've Come to Look for America:  Celebrating the 4th of July - I love seeing patriotism by way of the red,  white,  and blue,  so I went a-searching for it.  I was not disappointed. 

Celebrating Independence Day at Greenfield Village 2016 - Two time periods,  1770s and 1860s,  celebrating the 4th together.  Time has no boundaries.

The Spirits of '76 Continue: Independence Day 2017 - Our first time doing both Greenfield Village and Mill Race Village.  What a great time!

The Spirit of '76 Lives On With Citizens of the American Colonies: Visiting Historical Villages on Independence Day - In 2018 we,  once again,  went from Greenfield Village to Mill Race Village,  celebrating the Spirit of  '76 at both locations.  Oh!  What fun!

Independence Day at Mill Race Village: A Spirit of '76 Celebration - This celebration in 2019 was one heck of a historical 4th of July party.

Celebrating the 4th of July in 2020 - How we celebrated in the year of covid.

Oh---one more thing - 
Were you around during America's Bicentennial celebrations?
Then you will probably remember much - if not most - of this.
Then here's what you missed,  for it was a wonderful time to love history:
Celebrating America's Bicentennial in 1976

Information on George Washington's Life Guards came directly from THIS post


~   ~   ~