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.
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.
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.