If you are interested in marching in the Town of Unicoi Christmas parade…
Line up is at the Unicoi Funeral Home Parking lot at 1:30. Parade is at 2:00.
6 – 9 pm
The Historic John and Landon Carter Mansion
Broad Street Extension
Are you tired of the hustle and bustle that always accompanies this time of year? If so, step back in time to the 18th century and enjoy a colonial Christmas at the beautiful Carter Mansion. Join Colonel John Carter, the Carter family, and all their friends for a glimpse into simpler time, when Christmas was the grandest celebration of the entire year. In colonial America the Christmas season was celebrated as month long array of merriment and festivities signaled by caroling, feasting, dances, foxhunts, and the firing of Christmas guns. Christmas on the colonial frontier would have been much different though, with only the simplest of pleasures being offered by the humble backwoods settlers. However, in contrast, the Carters would have displayed an opulence only seen in the finest homes of Williamsburg or Philadelphia.
Spend a candlelit evening in the oldest frame house in Tennessee, decorated with bright greenery for the holidays. Enjoy music, hot cider, and 18th century interpreters as they transport you to a Colonial American Christmas. Christmas tours are available by reservation only. Tours begin at 6:00pm and a new tour starts every twenty minutes until 8:40pm. Please contact the park to reserve your tour time. Admission is $5.00 for Adults 18 years of age and above and is nonrefundable. Young people 17 years of age and under are free of charge, however a reservation must be made. All donations are graciously accepted and will go to support future programming at the Carter Mansion. We look forward to your visit for this one-of-a-kind holiday gathering! The Carter Mansion is located at 1031 Broad Street, Elizabethton, TN 37643.
For more information or to schedule your tour, contact:
Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area
War is Hell! For all the men and women who fought for our freedom and way of life, this was and is a true statement. On November 7 and 8,though, for us it was a WALK IN THEIR BOOTS through a time-warp into the past. In honor of veterans past and present, various groups in the region got together to portray the lives and hardships of those who fought in military campaigns from the Revolution, to the War of 1812, to the Civil War and World War I and II. On Sunday, the timeline continued and was teamed with the Harvest celebration inside Fort Watauga where the reenactors got together and shared a meal of Thanksgiving.
I got there early Friday morning to finish getting cabin 4 ready and raw materials stowed away for the cooking demo I was planning over the next two days. The weather was mild and cloudy but rain was coming and everyone knew it. Because of that, some of the groups, like the paratroopers from Knoxville, could not come and others had to rethink their displays. It was pretty quiet and a few people were there setting up but not many, not yet anyway. As the afternoon progressed, one could see camps being set up. The Civil War camp was impressive, an officers’s tent was attached and fly for the officers to meet to discuss strategies. There was also a hospital and the surgeon was discussing medicine of the time.
Over at the 1812 area, tables were set up for information and displays. The World War II camp was in the woods, German and Allied and a lone tent for the World War 1 doughboy. Earl Slagle set up a longhunter camp in the woods and Will Caldwell set up the tavern as a Tory stronghold. They were landlocked sailors, actually, protesting being pressed into service. I have to say at this point, of all the reenactors there, there were two sets that were the most poignant this year for me. One was Kurt Stevens, the Doughboy, walking around with his blanket over his shoulders, rifle slung over his shoulder, eating his soup ration. His impression was meticulous and I could just imagine a fellow as slight as him, stuck in a trench , miserable, doing the best that he could ,eating a thin gruel trying to keep his strength up, wishing it was his Ma’s home cooking.
The other was unexpected. Randy and Steven Knapp portrayed West Virginia coal miners involved in the Coal wars of the 1920’s. It reminded me that struggles were not limited to armies, foreign and domestic and these men truly suffered.
Saturday was WET; it could have been worse as it could have been cold and wet but even so, attendance was light. Everybody had a good time in spite of the rain and you could see all manners of activity in the various camps and inside the fort. You could hear laughter from the tavern, pots and pans clattering in the Talbot House, doughnuts frying and cookies and cider being served to the veterans in the Hillbilly Hilton and children playing games in the primitive cabin nearby. The Watauga Fife and Drum played throughout the day and you could hear the Civil War drummers in the distance.
Doug Ledbetter had a great display of Continental uniforms and the Doans completed the display with war weapons of the Revolution. Because of the weather, the World War II fellows moved their display to inside the visitor’s center. Also, the Seige of the Fort was canceled as it’s hard to shoot muskets in the rain, but the Civil War skirmish and WW II ambush went as scheduled.
Sunday was much better with the weather and everyone’s spirits were light. John Cornett was the tavern keeper and he poked his head in the tavern. The night before the sailors were grogging and singing shanties and were sound asleep. John woke them up saying ” you have one hour to turn this military flophouse into a respectable Colonial tea room.” CLASSIC!!!
Everyone who had a pot was cooking , preparing for the meal at noon and the rest attended church in the WW II camp.
After church, the Militia formed and drilled. I was amazed that they were actually in a straight line!!! Militia, being what it is, always forms rather crookedly. Later in the day, I heard the cannon booming. that always thrills the crowd.
At noon, the tables were groaning with food and the Militia invited all the reenactors present to share. It was a delicious meal and everyone socialized , swapped stories and enjoyed each other’s company.
After the meal, the Civil War boys encored with a skirmish and The Krauts were routed in the woods. How they did it on a full stomach beats me!
The weekend could have been a total bust but as it was, it turned out great! The public, though light both days, enjoyed the event and all honored those men and women who sacrificed so much for our country.
To the Washington Co. Militia,
I just learned that Nat Hyder’s father passed away today. Dr. Hyder leaves behind a great legacy. Many people were positively affected by this kind and caring man. Please be in prayer for Nat, Sherri and the Hyder family over the next few days.
To those who lived in the Eastern Appalachians in the last decades of the 1700’s, the Revolutionary War was a distant drumbeat being fought and stalemated somewhere up north. For these people, it was an echo in the mountains that surrounded their hard scrabble lives. For the most part, though there were others, these early settlers on the frontier were not English, per se, but came from the large Irish territory, the Ulster Plantation. These Scot-Irish whose ancestors where already displaced once, ignored the Royal Proclamation where George III promised the indigenous peoples that there would be no British subjects settling permanently west of the Alleghenies and dug out a tenuous life in the wilderness and lived as they wished.
The call of war sounded closer when the British decided to end the stalemate , invade the Southern colonies thus splitting the colonies and the resistance with the hope of ending the war. They banked on loyalists fighting along side the British soldiers. What they didn’t bank on was the ragtag group, these “mongrels”, “barbarians” , these “Backwater Men” as Major Patrick Furgeson disparagingly called them, who sometimes appeared in the low countries, who fought like devils with their strange Indian cries, who could fell a deer at 200 yards, who harbored rebels and their families in the depths of the mountains and lived to fight another day. The sound of war was made crashingly real when Furgeson,commissioned by Cornwallis to subdue the rebels on his western flank, out of frustration, threatened the leaders of this group by saying If the Rebels “did not desist from their opposition to the British arms,” he would “march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders and lay their country waste with fire and sword.” This enraged the leaders of these very independent people who mustered over a thousand men and set off on a 330 mile journey in a nine day march which brought defeat to the Tories and death to Furgeson. These men set off ,not to fight for a nation but to defend their cabins and farms and the mountain life they valued.
Every year in September, The Washington County Regiment , in conjunction with the OVTA (Overmountain Victory Trail Association) , holds its commemoration of the Overmountain Men’s gathering at Sycamore Shoals. This year it was held on September 25 through 27th. It threatened rain all weekend, so much so that the school day scheduled for Friday was cancelled. The day turned out sunny, however and the historic site hosted the Tennessee State Guard who were on maneuvers at the park. I didn’t stop for a head count but I bet there was a hundred if there was one, and It was really cool to see them mass together, so erect and so serious. The Watauga Valley Fife and Drum leading the way, the Militia, distaff members and the whole company of Guard participated in crossing the Watauga as the Overmountain Men did 235 years ago. Prior to the crossing, Steve Ricker told the story of the battle of Kings Mountain to a rapt audience and the Reverend Doak, played by George Cobb, gave that rousing sermon which rededicated the men and brought the men’s determination to a fever pitch.
After the crossing the Overmountain Men , followed by Representatives of the First Tennessee Regiment (War of 1812) and then the whole contingent of the Tennessee State Guard assembled in the ampitheater for a short program. It brought home that there has been a continuum of volunteer service protecting communities here and wherever they are needed for the last 235 years and that these last are the inheritors of a grand tradition. One member of the Guard sang the most beautiful rendition of the national anthem I’ve ever heard and there were speeches. Then three guardsmen were singled out for recognition for excellence.
The Guard, the OVTA and the National Park Service all had display stations at the visitors’ center and they stayed all weekend, providing the public with information and answering questions.
Saturday was another one of those days, threatening rain which never came. There was good traffic throughout the weekend where people came and saw various displays of 18th century living. one of the more interesting ones , I though, was Ken and Retha Reece’s display of trekking equipment and how one made pemmicin to take on trips. There were militia drills throughout the day and the crowd pleasing cannon demonstration in the latter part of the afternoon.
After the public left for the day, many of the members went to the burial site of Mary Patton who provided the excellent black powder for the Overmountain Men. She was remembered in a moving ceremony culimnating in a military salute and the pouring of black powder on her grave.
Sunday was less fast paced and more relaxed. Under cloudy skies, George Cobb preached the sermon explaining the references to the sword of Gideon and Macedonia. The park was lightly attended which was just as well as the militia got together for the first time, and actually was able to socialize.
I think the members were gathering their reserves to see the changing of officers in the afternoon. At 3 :30, Colonel Bob McCroskey stepped down as Colonel of the Militia and passed the baton to now Colonel Chadwick Bogart. It was very moving to hear Bob enumerate the accomplishments of the regiment over his six-year tenure, listen to his reasons for stepping down and read Chad’s commission to him and all assembled. Chad had tears in his eyes and he accepted the commission and praised Bob for his service, His first command , though, was to the distaff members as he bellowed ” you WILL Wear modesty cloths at ALL TIMES”. The verdict? Yep, he has what it takes as every woman looked down at her chest to see that her cloth was put on correctly.
It was a busy weekend, full of fun and emotion as the Washington Co. Regiment of North Carolina Militia, the OVTA and the TN State Guard met together to commemorate one of the most important events in the Up Country of North Carolina.
Just a reminder that the Unicoi Heritage Day event will be October 24th. With a school day on Friday the 23rd.
There was a bit of confusion among some of the members as to the date for the event.
I will send out more info regarding the school day as soon as I hear from the event coordinators.
Again this is an 1812 era event for us and we will be providing a program celebrating the end of the war of 1812 bicentennial.
To the 1812 era folks within our unit,
I have been contacted by the staff at Chalmette Battlefield in New Orleans with an invitation to return this January for the 201 anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans activities at the National Park.
I need to know ASAP if anyone is interested in attending. The dates are January 8 & 9. Friday being the School Day and Saturday being the public day. Please let me know if you are interested As soon as possible. Deadline for registration is OCT. 31.
Ed Note: Chad informs me that Old Christmas is Jan. 2-3.