Good Morning Washington Co.

Just a reminder that Dues are due on or before February 28th. Many have already sent them in we are still waiting for a few more to do so. Remember dues are required for full membership only, Trial members do not pay dues. FAMILY $35.00…. INDIVIDUAL $25.00….Please make checks payable to “FSSSHA” and be sure to write “MILITA DUES” on the memo line.
Send to …
Washington Co. Militia
c/o Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area
1651 W. Elk Ave
Elizabethton, TN 37643

Also, People have been wondering if their checks have been received. Yes they are here and will be deposited together after the 28th. Then they should show as cleared.


Chad A. Bogart

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Letters To Representatives About Sabine Hill Visitor’s Center; Have You Done This Yet?

I wrote letters to all the representatives today to fund the Sabine Hill Visitor’s Center. I keep thinking that it’s like having a Dior gown and not being able to wear it. Have you contacted the congressmen yet? The budget hearing is this coming Monday.


The Kitchen

The Kitchen

Front door with copper  fascia

Front door with copper

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Trade Days Muster, FEBRUARY 14-15, 2015

That's how the militia felt this past weekend.

That’s how the militia felt this past weekend.

February is always an iffy month in Tennessee; some days are wicked, some days are spring-like. This past weekend proved to be the former in spades. There have been winter weather warnings for a few days before the event. They called for temperatures in the thirties by day and 3 degrees with windchill factors into the minuses. Anybody else would have had second thoughts about holding a muster in these conditions but we’re the Militia, descended from tough and hardy stock, iron men and women. A little snow and cold never stopped us before as it didn’t stop the Overmountain Men marching across the Roan. There was also the knowledge that Earl Slagle, God bless him rich and deeply, had gone through every cabin, filling in every possible place that was open with chinking material. Those that planned to stay overnight knew that we’d be warmer than we ever were before and with a full shed of wood, a semblance of comfort was achievable.

On Friday, Tony DeVault, myself and Kim set up our spaces for a long stay. Kim had a diamond fly under the trees outside the fort and actually slept there on Friday night. I worried about him but this mountain man knows what he’s doing.( He was persuaded to sleep in the Talbot House on Saturday; thank God he listened.) He also set up his outdoor smoker as he was planning to smoke six deer hides on Saturday. The Bennetts set up the Talbot House but they were smarter than us and day tripped it both days. Saturday night, Ethan and Scott Walling came and opened the Tavern so all but one of the buildings inside the fort were occupied. Friday night was cold, the sky was fully blanketed by clouds, but there was a luminosity that comes with a full or nearly full moon. It was eerie but beautiful and it was a cozy time for us, sharing food and stories. Before I went to bed I made biscuits and bacon for the morning and slept reasonably well except for getting up every few hours to stoke the fire. I could hear Tony doing the same, as I heard him at the wood shed every now and then.

Saturday was cold and clear, a good day for indoor activities. Lisa, Rachael and Susanna spent the day cooking and sewing, Tony was in the man cave doing woodworking, I cooked Saturday and did a wool processing demo on Sunday and of course, there was Ken with his hides. Many members came for the day including Ken Markland, Mel McKay, ,Bucky Claubaugh, Ronnie and Linda Lail, Donna and Doug Ledbetter, Earl Slagle, who had hand surgery right after he made things comfy for us, and daughter , Sarah, David (Who came after work) and Matt Simerly to name a few. It was especially nice to see Col. Bob McCrosky. He braved an irate wife to come out for a while to cheer us all on. He’s just gotten over pneumonia and Margie had every right to worry but Bob did come and we so loved it. Chad roused the militia to march from time to time, banging on the window saying “I mean it” (Mel: ” Militias don’t drill” as he laughed out the door, wooden musket over his shoulder). In spite of the bitter cold, there was a surprising number of people who showed up and while the wind whipped, Chad and the men did put on a fine cannon display each afternoon. For myself, I especially loved having the class from Milligan College who came, partook of chocolate cake and hot mulled cider and stayed a while. The professor was a very nice man, a country boy from west Tennessee, and he and Mel and Ken enjoyed a long conversation. I loved being in the cabin all day cooking and Mel, Ken and Tony made it ever so nice staying and talking. There was a lot of laughing coming through the door to be sure.

It was wonderful seeing Col. MCCroskey. Made my DAY!!!

It was wonderful seeing Col. MCCroskey. Made my DAY!!!

After everyone left, we combined our food and had a wonderful meal and then after all the clean up, the crazy ones resupplied themselves with wood for the night before we turned in. The acid test was going to be making it through the night, with blowing snow, and arctic temps. I made it really well through the night but began to notice that my nose was filling up. I ascribed it to the dry heat but around 2 :30, I woke with a raging headache and knew that stopped up nose signaled a head cold. DAMN!! Thinking about the frontier women, I figured I’d just “man on” as they say and do the best I could. everyone had speculated that we would have a very mean number of people on Sunday with all the advisories for them to stay indoors, but would you believe???? Shades of Field of Dreams- to paraphrase the famous quote “If you build it, he will come” to “if you’re crazy enough to be there, somebody crazier will come”. Sure enough, when Chad was conducting services in the Talbot House, here came two women, one cradling a hairless Chihuahua in a blanket. Throughout the day, people did come and enter the cabins to see what they could see, but when the coast was clear, most everyone but me went to the Talbot House for company. I didn’t want to share the wealth and kind of isolated myself so I wouldn’t share what no one wanted.At 3 PM, precisely, colors went down and by 3:10, I was on the road with my cabbage of a head to a nice warm shower and bed, Vicks on chest, box of tissue in hand.

You can say what you want about the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia, but the one thing that you can say the most is that this is one dedicated group of people who cheerfully keep alive the heritage of the area no matter what. Herodotus must have been looking into the future when he said “….these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.”

—Herodotus, Histories (8.98) (trans. A.D. Godley, 1924)

This is a close as anyone could be taking pictures. it was just too dang cold!

This is a close as anyone could be taking pictures. it was just too dang cold!

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To the Washington Co. Militia,

We need your help in securing a visitors center for Sabine Hill. Attached is a letter that lays out the need for the center. If you can, please contact your legislators and press upon them this great need. Time is of the essence! I would consider it a personal favor if you would take the time to read the attached letter and contact your legislators So we can give this wonderful historic site the attention it deserves.

Many Thanks,

February 12, 2015
Dear Friends,
FRIENDS OF SYCAMORE SHOALS NEEDS YOUR HELP!….As many of you know, the Tennessee Historical Commission is presently restoring Sabine Hill in Elizabethton, constructed approximately 1818 by Brigadier General Nathaniel Taylor and his wife Mary Patton Taylor. Sabine Hill has been considered the finest example of Federalist architecture in the state and the Taylor family, some of our most important leaders.
The stories surrounding this site and the Taylors include Native American occupation; a rich history regarding slavery; involvement in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, Civil War; the political history of Northeast Tennessee; and the Taylors as an economic powerhouse for the community. Not to mention – Sabine Hill sets at the entrance to Elizabethton.
You may have also seen a lot of work taking place there over the last several months. The restoration project will be complete sometime in 2015, but we were disappointed to learn that the Visitors Center that was to accompany this property was not funded in Governor Haslam’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget.
Without a Visitors Center, which would provide restrooms for guests visiting the house, a small exhibit & meeting area, and gift shop, we are very limited in what we can offer to the public at Sabine Hill.
WHAT YOU CAN DO….. BEFORE the week of February 23rd, please contact your legislators by mail and phone, asking them to support this project for FY 16. Their contact information is provided at the end of this letter.
The Tennessee Historical Commission will have their Budget Hearing the week of February 23rd to present their need to the State Legislature.
The project is labeled:
Sabine Hill State Historic Site: Visitors Center – Requested funding: $620,000.00
Tennessee Historic Commission Budget Code – 327.04
Below are listed some reasons as to the importance of funding the Visitors Center for Sabine Hill:
1. The comfort of our guests, employees and volunteers is of utmost importance. There are no restroom facilities in the historic house, so no person would be able to stay there for an extended period of time without having to drive somewhere to use the restroom.
2. Considering the amount of money that has already been invested in restoring Sabine Hill, it is not logical to not fund the Visitors Center project which is necessary for people to visit this site.
3. We have tentatively planned some wonderful programs for the site, but the absence of restrooms will completely prohibit their implementation. Examples of programs we CANNOT do include
Dining in the historic home, Historic re-enactments, Hosting School groups, and Tours
4. Visitors with varied disabilities will depend on interpretive information in the Visitors Center as the historic home is not ADA accessible. ADA accessibility is waived for restoration of historic property.
Office of the Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey
Suite 1, Legislative Plaza
301 6th Avenue N
Nashville, TN 37243

By Email
By Phone 615.741.4524 or Toll-Free at 800.449.8366 x14524 By Fax 615.253.0197
Senator Rusty Crowe
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 8 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
Staff Contacts: Jenny Ward or Logan Grant
By Email:
By Phone: (615) 741-2468 By Fax: (615) 253-0359
Representative John B. Holsclaw, Jr.
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 22 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243

Staff Contact: Davis Paine

By Email:

By Phone: (615) 741-7450 By Fax: (615) 253-0310
Representative Timothy Hill
301 6th Avenue North
Suite 23 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243

Staff Contact: Shawn Hatmaker

By Email:
By Phone: (615) 741-2050 By Fax: (615) 253-0298


Filed under NEWS and NOTICES, Officer Communication, OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES


Good Morning Washington County,

The February Muster featuring colonial skills and trades, is the weekend of February 14-15. Please let me know ASAP if you would like to present a particular skill, trade, or demonstration. Also let me know if you want to do a scheduled program so I can get you on the schedule. Thanks a bunch, and I’ll see you all soon.

Remember dues are due!!! $25.00 Individual and $35.00 Family. Make checks payable to FSSSHA (Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area)and mail to…
Washington Co Militia
c/o Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area
1651 W. Elk Ave. Elizabethton, TN 37643

Or pay me at the muster.

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Musings about Colonial Skills and Trade Days, February 14-15

The Tavern/Blockhouse: Beautiful but Freezing!

The Tavern/Blockhouse: Beautiful but Freezing!

Colonial Skills & Trades: Militia Muster at Fort Watauga
Saturday, February 14 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sunday, February 15 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Visit Fort Watauga and step into a colorful Revolutionary world. Reenactors portray a variety of characters, from hunters and farmers to land speculators and backcountry gentry. Walk among colonists and native people who share their pasts through talks, mini-dramas, and demonstrations of 18th century life.

Militia drill

Militia drill

When one goes to Fort Watauga as a volunteer, sometimes one can lose sight of the real drama that shaped our past in this part of the world. Speaking for myself, I get busy with staging one of the cabins which the rangers have generously allowed me to do and to stay in while I’m there (aka The Ramona Inn), figuring out what to have as a public demonstration, making sure things are as authentic as I can make them. I spend days figuring out what to make for meals for me and my friends, how to stay warm and every now and then, think how people must have lived in this spot two centuries ago. Jennifer , in her write-up about the next event , wrote about the kinds of people the public can expect to find in the fort, talking about their histories and demonstrating 18th century living skills. I ask myself periodically who these native people, farmers, back-country gentry really were and how the colonists, a group of very independent , self-reliant people, came together to form a prolific community which became cohesive then and still endures now. Every time I go to an event there, I review the history of the area and its people and this helps me to refocus on the two truly important things: the people who sacrificed their comfort, their sharing with family and in some cases, their very lives or that their children, and secondly, the ability to share this history with the people who come to visit in a way that is immediate and relavent. It was really the back country, the back of the beyond, claimed by a people a thousand years ago, in danger of losing their ancestral land, but still willing to trade and live with the new comers for the most part. It makes me wonder how natives and settlers coexisted and wonder about the feelings of those who sensed that their time on their ancestral ground would soon end. I find myself continually amazed by the strength or maybe the desperation of the settlers. It’s thought provoking that anyone, especially the women, could have survived here, must less thrived here, for long and it’s a testament to their ethnic character that they were able to hack out a living in this place. When the fort is very quiet and there aren’t a lot of people there, I stand outside listening to the night noises, look back into the cabin whose only light is a fire in the hearth, a candle and a lamp and wonder how anyone except the most hardy could have actually made it there. The area is manicured now and safety and convenience are nearby, but what did a woman see and hear then? It’s a thought I take with me when things get hectic during the day.dave sherry

In reminding myself of what went on here in the past, I came across this EXCELLENT book excerpt, written clearly and succinctly . It’s definitely well worth the read.

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The ubiquitious HAGGIS!

The ubiquitious HAGGIS!

This is not a militia activity but some of the members thought about doing years ago while sitting at the Tavern cuddling up to liquid refreshments. We’ve celebrated the bonnie Robert Burns for at least four years now and everywhere there’s a Scot or a Scot wannabe, at least for the night, people are performing the same thing. Here is a typical run through and description of what is involved in a Burns Night Supper: (from VISIT SCOTLAND)

Piping in the top table

At formal gatherings, it is traditional for the top table guests to be piped in. However, at a smaller and less formal gathering, you can play some Scottish music, traditional bagpipe music or your favourite contemporary Scottish band, and clap along to welcome your guests.


The selected Chairman or Speaker acts as Master of Ceremonies for the evening and welcomes the guests – the host of an informal evening usually takes this role. The Chairman introduces the top table and any other speakers and entertainers before reciting the Selkirk Grace:

‘Some hae meat and canna eat, And some would eat that want it, But we hae meat, and we can eat, Sae let the Lord be thankit’.

Piping in the haggis

The haggis is the crowning glory of a Burns Supper and, suitably, is piped in to an upstanding audience. Traditionally the chef carries the haggis in on a silver platter behind the piper and is followed by the person who will address the haggis.

The address to the haggis

The appointed speaker gives a dramatic rendition of Burns’ Address to a Haggis with a knife at the ready. After apologising for ‘killing’ the haggis, they then plunge the knife into the haggis and slice it open during the line ‘An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight’’ meaning ‘and cut you up with skill’. The recital ends with the platter being raised above their head whilst saying the triumphant words ‘Gie her a Haggis!’ to rapturous applause.

Toast to the haggis

The speaker then invites the guests to toast the haggis and everyone, including the chef, raises their glasses and shouts ‘The Haggis’ before enjoying a dram. The haggis is then piped back out to be prepared for dinner.

The meal

Spicy haggis, meat or vegetarian, is traditionally served with buttery mashed neeps and tatties and sometimes a whisky cream sauce.

First entertainer

The Chairman introduces the first entertainer who then performs one of Burns’ songs or poemssuch as A Red, Red Rose or Tam O’ Shanter.

The immortal memory

The main speaker is introduced and gives an enthralling account of Burns’ life. His literary prowess, politics, nationalistic pride in Scotland, faults and humour should all be explored to give the audience an insight into Burns’ life and works in a witty, yet serious way. The speaker concludes with an invitation to join in a heart-felt toast: ‘To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns’.

Second entertainer

More celebration of Burns with singing or a recital.

Toast to the lassies

A humorous speech written for the evening that gently ridicules the (few) shortcomings of women that aims to amuse both sides of the audience – ‘observations’ therefore should not be too cutting! Despite the initial mockery, the speech ends on a positive note with the speaker asking the men to raise their glasses in a toast ‘to the lassies’.

Third entertainer

More songs, recitals and music.

Reply to the toast to the lassies

The chance for a female speaker to retort with some good-natured jokes of her own, beginning with a sarcastic thanks on behalf of the women present for the previous speaker’s ‘kind’ words, before giving a lively response highlighting the foibles of the male race, using reference to Burns and the women in his life. Again, this speech finishes on a positive note.

Final entertainer

The last entertainer bravely faces a merry crowd for some final songs and readings.

Vote of thanks

A vote of thanks is made to everyone who has made the evening such a roaring success, from the chef and speakers to the guests.

Auld Sang Syne

A Burns Supper traditionally ends with the singing of Burns’ famous song about parting, Auld Lang Syne. Everyone joins hands in a large circle and sings the words together and at the line ‘And here’s a hand’, you cross each of your hands over to rejoin those standing on either side of you. masthead

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