History rewinds to 1811

Written by David Weaver, program developer for Vincennes State Historic Sites

muster_wabash_01On Nov. 7 and 8, Fort Knox II was transported back to 1811. The cannon and muskets are now silent, but to many it was a small look inside the everyday life of the men and women who would play a significant role in history. Fort Knox II was the staging point for then Indiana Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison’s army that marched on Prophetstown and fought the Battle of Tippecanoe.

muster_wabash_05For 11 years now, the Vincennes State Historic Sites have hosted a reenactment event to commemorate these men and women. There were plenty of skits and demonstration to suit many interests: Native American culture, a demonstration of 1812 weaponry, including cannons, a first person demonstration of a washerwoman, demonstrations of spinning and weaving, a battle each day, demonstrations of cavalry tactics by the Indiana Mounted Rangers, a gentleman’s duel and a ladies tea. 

For many, the highlight of each day was the patrol with Harrison’s troops, an interactive experience where the public is in the middle of a skirmish between the army and Native Americans. But this year, the icing on the cake was the beautiful weather — 70 degrees in November helped make Muster on the Wabash better than ever.

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More Than Just a Cup of Tea

Written by Angela Lucas, program developer at Vincennes State Historic Sites

vincennes_lydia_baconPart of preparing for a living history event like Muster on the Wabash, is seeing the world through the eyes of those you are portraying. I represent the women’s view of military life in 1812. My alter ego, Lydia Bacon, traveled with her husband Josiah from Boston to Vincennes in 1811. The journey took five months! She was 25 and more than 1,000 miles away from her family. Her only form of communication was the old-fashioned kind — snail mail! In our high-tech world, it is hard to imagine waiting four to six weeks to receive a letter from a friend or family member. With the push of a button we are connected in an instant to people around the globe. Not only were these ladies separated from their families, often they did not know if their husbands were alive or dead.

vincennes_fort_knox_teacupThe tea cup uncovered during a 2006 archaeological dig at Fort Knox II gives us a glimpse of life at the fort. In the midst of uncertainty, Lydia’s “social network,” Mrs. Ambrose Whitlock and others, centered around a simple cup of tea. It is certainly a privilege to pay tribute to these brave ladies from the past!

The 11th Annual Muster on the Wabash at Vincennes State Historic Sites is on Nov. 7 – 8. Admission is free; parking is $5.

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Celebrate Abe Camp Diary

Celebrate Abe Summer Camp took place at the Vincennes State Historic Site July 13 through 17.

Making butter.

Making butter.

Day One: The first day of camp is always an exciting day. The campers arrive full of wonder and, of course, energy. We have planned the week’s activities and they are anticipating them. Some of the campers know each other, some do not. This year we have two campers who are staying with grandparents in order to attend our camp. We are proud to see that a new generation is engaged in the quest for knowledge of our nation’s history. It is easy to pick out who will be the future historians, archaeologists, preservers of our story. It is also fun to watch as they gain a real understanding of what our forefathers endured and overcame. Today, the campers learned how to start a fire, grind corn and make cornbread. They also made butter. One of the campers commented that they would have starved if they had to go through all of this to get supper. I can’t wait to see what tommorrow brings! Continue reading

When is a dollar not a dollar?

When the year is 1838 and anyone can open a bank and issue their own currency!

Students from the South Knox summer program M2+ visited the Old State Bank at Vincennes State Historic Sites and learned the complications and pitfalls of Indiana’s early banking system. Students discovered the value of a national currency we can all count on!

Earlier this year, we had 8th grade students from Clark Middle School participate in a similar program. Students learned how our economic system progressed from the Barter and Trade system to the fur trade, where the settlers traded specific items with the Indians. Then Indiana began to use coin money, gold and silver. It was interesting to see their reactions as they saw the Pieces of 8 and thought about what it would be like to carry around all the coins and break them into pieces to pay for goods and services. The future entrepreneurs and investors then took part in an activity in which they were given paper money similar to the currency that was printed by the numerous individual banks of the early 1800s. They were told to go trade the bills with others.

Some students were given “inside” trader tips that certain bank notes would fail and others would increase their value. It was fun to see how the students caught on to the game and who the future “millionaires” might be.

vincennes_economic_02

Angela Lucas is the program developer at Vincennes State Historic Sites.

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Preparations for Celebrate Abe

vincennes_log_cabinGearing up for summer camp is always an exciting time for me. We “test” all of the activities and crafts we have planned to see how difficult they are and how much time it really takes to complete crafts. Last week, we made a log cabin using pretzels and icing. It was a fun and tasty day. Richard’s log cabin included waffle pretzel windows!

We have a lot of activities planned and there really will be something interesting and fun for all the campers! Just like the kids, each of us has a different day we look forward to.  I am really looking forward to taking the kids’ pictures in Civil War era clothing, and I was happy to see how well the daguerreotype case they will make turned out. I think it will be a great keepsake for them or — let’s face it — for their proud parents to have a memento of their child’s adventures!

Next week … we are practicing candle making! I can’t wait!

Celebrate Abe Summer Camp starts July 13. Space is still available, so sign up now!

Angela Lucas is the program developer at Vincennes State Historic Sites.

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