Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Ethan Allen Day - Ethan Allen Homestead

This past weekend, the girls and I attended our first “official” event of the 2019 season with Warner's Regiment. A few years ago, the State of Vermont declared June 23rd to be “Ethan Allen Day.” For those not familiar with Allen, he's a bit of a folk hero in Vermont for fighting back against New Yorkers who were trying to claim New Hampshire land grants, and also for the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in the days after the start of the American Revolution. His last home was in today's Burlington, Vermont, and the land has been turned into a small museum and education center.

The girls, harassing the museum exhibits.
 Since I was headed to the event as one parent with four girls, we opted to drive up the morning of the event, rather than the night before. We did take our tent, so the girls would have a place to relax out of public view, as well as a base of operations for things like diaper changes.

3/4 of the crew, taking a break.
For this event, the focus was to be on Distaff and civilian activities, with the military playing a smaller part. As such, there were other groups there demonstrating spinning, wood carving, flax preparation and other things. The men, women and children of Warner's also demonstrated sewing, knitting, games, and more. Overall, it was a very casual and relaxed atmosphere.

Relaxing in the shade.
About mid-day, the soldiers from the Regiment demonstrated some close order and open order drill. There is a popular myth that all Revolutionary War battles were men lined up in long lines taking turns shooting at each other in open fields, but the War in the northern theater was a bit different. We demonstrated how men would have gone about moving through woods and broken terrain.

Your humble author, defending The Grants.
Later in the afteroon, a couple of the men taught some basic drill movements to members of the public, who were given wooden practice muskets to learn with. While this was happening, a group of our Distaff members learned basic black powder and musket safety and handling. This was led by a couple of our female members who usually portray soldiers, but for this event chose to take part as Distaff.
Engaging with the public.
By afternoon, my children had hit their energy limits, so I gathered them all up and headed back home. The next morning, they were all still tired, so I returned to the Homestead alone to take part in Sunday's activities, and to retrieve our tent and equipment.

Distaff weapons training.
Sunday started with a short religious service by our Regimental Chaplain. I'm not much of a church-goer, but I really enjoy hearing a sermon while sitting out on the grass, under the shade of a tree, with birds and a breeze as a backdrop.

Sunday services.
The rest of the day brought more drilling and demonstrations, ending about mid afternoon. It was an excellent start to the “official” season.

Sisters strolling the orchard.
Nature girl.

Learning to fire.

Musket training.

Some 18th century gaming.
Projecting confidence.

"Make READY!"
Reflection and relaxation.
Out for a walk.

The "official" portrait.
Her fourth season.

The unofficial portrait.

* Photos by myself, Elaina Davis, Crystal Bailey, and Heather Kenyon-Haff

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Home and Hearth Living History Day - Ethan Allen Homestead

Farmer and Joiner, Swapping Stories
8 June, 1787

A pleasant day. G-- and I made our way North to the farm of Col. Allen where we found the House and Fields alive with Work and Laughter; Col. Allen is expected to take up residence this coming Fall and his People are well into Prepartations; Flax and Tobacco are to be found in the Gardens, well tended, and Craftsmen are preparing Furniture and Goods for the Family; a Hearty Stew was set before us for the Noonday Meal, which Illicited fond Memories from Myself and my Comrades also in attendence. Several of Us had served with Col. Allen before the War, then later under Hopkins with Warner whilst defending the Grants. Soldier's Stew is something well known to Us. We departed early Afternoon, as we had a Second Gathering to attend towards Evening.

Flax Breaking Demonstrations
A general call was sent out for volunteers for Ethan Allen Homestead Museum's first Living History Day of the season.  My daughter Gabriella and I answered the call, heading up to provide, if nothing else, a couple of able bodies.  We brought along most of our reenacting kit, along with some basket-making material.

Soldier with His Gear
We arrived just before opening, and the first few people we ran into were friends from our usual unit, Warner's Regiment.  One of my fellow soldiers had his kit laid out to explain his gear's uses, and our Captain had brought along his woodworking tools, spending the day portraying a joiner building a new bed for use on the 2nd floor of the Homestead.
The Kitchen, Vibrant and Alive

Inside the house, another volunteer was working to prepare food for visitors, using the Homestead's open hearth and bake oven.  The noon-time meal, which was absolutely delicious, was beef stew, bread, and switchel.  This brought on talks of what we may eat later in the season, once our Warner's activities start up in a couple of weeks.
Bread From the Oven
Gabriella, true to form, quickly hooked up with another volunteer who was outside with period games for children.  The Homestead was her first exposure to the world of Historical Reenacting years ago, and it was neat to see 11 year-old her conversing with visitors in the place where 6 year-old her first became interested in the past.

Joinery Work in the Yard
Before we left, another friend from Warner's arrived with his wife and son, so we were able to catch up a bit.  Past exploits of Warner's (recreated and original), local history, and modern families were all topics of discussion.  It was an incredibly pleasant and relaxing day.  We're looking forward to returning again in a couple of weeks.

New Bed in Progress

Friday, June 7, 2019

Inventory Day - Part 2

Several days ago, I posted in regards to taking inventory of my overall reenacting kit.  Basically, covering everything that I carry myself while portraying either a soldier or civilian during the American Revolutionary War.

The same afternoon as I took my personal inventory, I took a quick inventory of what we have, and need, for my wife and children.  My 2nd oldest daughter has been partaking in reenactments since she was six, so she's built up a pretty decent kit.  However, she just turned 11, and as children do, she's outgrown most of her things.  Luckily these can be passed along to the younger sisters.

The Ladies Collection.
From left to right, I laid out what we have for my wife and four daughters (my oldest daughter doesn't reenact with us).  Unfortunately, there's not a lot here, and we have a lot of work to do.

My wife started joining us at events last summer, so we quickly pulled together a basic kit for her, including a shift, petticoat, and jacket.  The shift needs to be fitted still, and the jacket needs to be finished.  She had a cap, but that seems to have gone missing.  She still needs stays, pockets, and under petticoat, apron, kerchief, and some sort of headwear.

Next is the 2nd oldest daughter.  This is actually her very first outfit that was made for us when she first started.  Petticoat still fits, and can be lengthened if needed.  The jacket is a bit tight, but may do for another couple of events.  Her apron is too short, but it'll do.  Again missing headwear.

The blue dress was her second outfit, quickly outgrown.  This will work for our six year-old.  She needs an apron and cap, but at least has shoes and a hat, unlike the others.

The next two gowns are borrowed for the little ones.  Basically we just need something to put them in so they are not in modern clothes.  Again, missing caps and shoes.  Once these are outgrown (probably this year), they'll be passed along to others in our Regiment.

On the plus side, we have eating gear for everyone.