Tag Archives: 18th century

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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Filed under 2015 MILITIA ACTIVITY

OLD CHRISTMAS , Jan. 3-4 2015

1 Old Christmas_AutoCollage_30_Images

I’m sure others have their own opinions but of all the events we have or go to, my favorite is ,hands down, Old Christmas. Some would say that the weather is iffy; we sure do freeze our buns off most years, staring at each other shivering , asking each other WHY we are there in single digit weather. The bottom line  is that it’s beautiful and meaningful. Epiphany is the end of the joyous season of Christmas, celebrated by many on the frontier who made a joyful noise proclaiming Christ on earth. The Twelve Days of Christmas were observed in many areas of the world in the last half of the 18th century, including the fledging settlements on the other side of the line drawn with the Proclamation of 1763. Each cabin inside the fort was decorated to reflect the ethnicities of the people who originally populated what was then the frontier. Each host spent countless time making goodies as not only a taste of the season but also a taste of 18th century foods that the settlers would have enjoyed on that day. 10897776_633738270085016_8684771038130012338_n

mel et al


This year the weather was with us; as a matter of fact, it was in the low 60’s both days and come the public did! We were bombed on Saturday! The estimated thousand people who came both days experienced a Scottish first footing in the Tavern with Sammy and Tommy Fleenor making authentic Scottish tablet. The Bennetts (Lisa, Whorley, Rachael and Chenoa) and Suzanna Kulikowski did a beautiful job presenting an English Christmas with a delicious wassail, Queens Cake and assorted cookies. Tony DeVault decorated the primitive cabin to honor his Huguenot ancestry and provided a monster Yule log and gateau for an 18th century French Christmas. Since retiring from teaching, I went all out and made a German Christmas to remember. The tannenbaum was outside and the table groaned with German baked goodies from Stollen to Hartshorn cookies of all types and Three Kings Cake and mulled cider. Dan Akerblom, Scott and Ethan Wallen took the last cabin and turned it into a Dutch treat with wreaths, shoes outside full of gifts from Sinter Claus and Stollen and treats inside. After hours on Saturday, we had a monster shared dinner in the Talbot House and breathed, trying to get our voices back.

Many of our members came but were really busy sharing time between enjoying the event and packing trailers for their trip to New Orleans as the First Regiment East Tennessee Militia who fought under Jackson in the War of 1812. Most of the members left very early the next day so they could be there in plenty of time to set up and enjoy the area before the event starting on Thursday.

It was a wonderful event and a great way to start the New Year.

Thank you BECKY GARROU for the great pictures you and John took of the event. Her pictures made up the collage.

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by | January 13, 2015 · 9:38 PM

Fear In the Gut: MAY SEIGE, May 18-19, 2013

Native warrior assaulting the Fort.

Native warrior assaulting the Fort.

It’s mid July, 1776, and the settlers in the area are uneasy. They hear from Isaac Thomas who was tipped off by Nancy Ward, the Wise Woman of the Cherokee, that three bands of Cherokee warriors are descending on them along the rivers systems. John Sevier is alarmed enough to abandon the fort in Limestone he is in the process of building and gathers civilians and a garrison of seventy-five fighters at Fort Watauga. They don’t know when or where the enraged Cherokee will hit but they know that it will horrible. Can you imagine what those people are thinking? The fear in the gut twists at every crack of a twig, rustle of leaves. Two hundred people or so are corraled inside the fort but it is while the women are doing the laundry and milking their cows outside the walls, that the experienced warrior, Old Abram, and hundreds of seasoned warriors suddenly attack .

On May 18 and 19, the Washington County Regiment hosted the annual reenactment of this pivotal clash, Native against settler, culture against culture with survival and territory as the ultimate aims. It was a massive event by our standards; each year it grows. The close proximity of the Martin’s Station event has its merits as many people, especially sutlers, just move to the park and set up in what I would consider a mini-vacation state of mind. I got there Thursday evening to stage cabin 4 and already there were a number of members and others already set up, fires blazing and music playing.This year there were as many reenactors or more, 200, participating in this event. The sutlers were set up in their own little village and they were so varied in their wares: Ft. Vause Outfitters, Pumpkintown Primitives, OTTERS, Gary Carrol, Trader Bob, Bruce Roberts, Paul DeRosier, Carolina Threads, Louise Hausman, Wiley House Shoppe, & Roy Carter and Friends. It was a great shopping experience. What was impressive this year was the native camp which was moved from the river (poison ivy abounding) to where the long hunter camp used to be under the pines.It was a terrific idea on many levels, especially where the public could actually see them in all their glory and really appreciate their talks about weaponry and the Cherokee history . The fellows had built hogans and it was really something to see these fierce warriors painted and living ala natural. There were camps all over the place of all the others, our welcome guests as well. Capt. John Moss and the SC Rangers were there to give their support, the British group was there and our friends from Virginia and the Cumberland all were among our numbers.

On Friday, the Mars people gave a wonderful demo of historic chocolate, its origins, ingredients, importance in the 18th century, how it’s made and of course, samples of their WONDERFUL American Heritage Chocolate. Throughout the weekend, they actually shucked and roasted the beans, ground the stuff, mixed the spices and kept pouring.

American Heritage Chocolate is ADDICTIVE! Once you taste it, you must have more (and I don't even really like chocolate!)

American Heritage Chocolate is ADDICTIVE! Once you taste it, you must have more (and I don’t even really like chocolate!)

The weather was kind of iffy on Saturday with rain in the morning and there was a real question as to whether the battle at 1 PM would actually be able to be held. It would be certainly nonplussing if every one of the participants would say “Boom” or “Bang” rather than have their muskets fire but God was good and the rains stopped, to be continued after hours! I never saw so many members and guests as there were at the raising of colors. The militia was massive. Bob McCroskey almost got his hundred man march to Guilford in this one! The Kids’ Militia was particularly good with all the children marching in perfect unison, wooden muskets held proudly. Throughout the day, we were BUSY with the public, demonstrating various folkways, explaining the history, priming their pumps so to speak. Those of us inside the fort were literally buried under people for two days.



The battle was at 1 PM and boy, oh boy, was it something to see, better than at any other time before. Sterling and Adam were on the roof of one of the cabins, men were crawling all over the wall, the Natives were painted and really scary to look at and hear, Sharile was playing Robinson dousing the hapless Native with scalding water, smoke and fire all over and well over 2000 spectators over two days to watch all this! 268890_10200565341089877_1985225629_n

The auction was at 3 PM and there were hundreds of quality items . It took a couple of hours to do it; I’m sure Chad’s throat took a workout but in the end, we made $2400. Not bad at all! It was time to relax, gratefully and the BBQ was held in the auditorium this time as the Museum is now redone. On that note, the Governor was supposed to open up the new Museum on Friday but because of speaker glitches, this was postponed to a later date. Man, was I ready though! I took off from work just to see him, had on a pretty raggedy LIBERTY shirt, my grubby petticoats and apron.The graphic arts teacher at school made me six, yes you read it right, six lapel signs in 18th century script saying ” 18th century indentured:21st century teacher”. “Hi-Ya, Mr. governor, how are ya’?” The principal at school even promised to bail me out of jail if I ended up there. Anyway, after the BBQ we were allowed to go into the Museum, look at everything, see the video. It’s a real gem, I have to say; one of the best small museums I’ve seen. As the night deepened, everyone went back to their camps and one could hear mandolin, pipes, fiddle and laughter. It was such a homey, wonderful set of sounds.

It rained again on Sunday morning before dawn but my the time the sun was up, everyone could tell it would be a nice, if hot, day.Harry Jordan led the morning worship and his sermon, from the heart, was very uplifting and set the tome for the rest of the day.

Harry Jordan leading the Sunday worship

Harry Jordan leading the Sunday worship

After the service, the ladies put out a refreshing high tea for all the reenactors. Of course, the battle was repeated, better than even Saturday with the addition of the hapless Samuel Woods played by Sterling Curde, burned at the stake outside of the fort. One thing I really paid attention to was the public attendance. There were a lot of other things going on that weekend, festivals in Unicoi and activities in Johnson City , but tons of people took the time to come out and watch the drama unfolding of the May Seige. It was the highest attendance we ever had and they were appreciative, respectful and asked wonderful questions.

Time passes so fast at this event. It seems like it takes forever to come and just whizzes by to its conclusion. One feels the whole gamut of emotions from gut wrenching fear, to the joys and laughter of being together, old friends and new. May Seige 2013 was a resounding success!

May Seige  2013. Thank you doug Welsh and Retha Reece for the pictures.

May Seige 2013. Thank you doug Welsh and Retha Reece for the pictures.

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Filed under 2013 Militia Activity


The Tavern/Blockhouse: Beautiful but Freezing!

The Tavern/Blockhouse: Beautiful but Freezing!

February 16 and 17 marked the February Trade Muster, and it was not for the weak! It was cold enough to hang meat, temps in the twenties, and snowed the whole day yet there was a terrific showing on the part of the members and , from what I understand, the public. I wasn’t there on Saturday; too much for me with the head cold I was nursing but showed up on Sunday in civies. Bucky Clabaugh, Ken and Reetha Reece , Doug Walsh , whose pictures tell it all, Kim , all made it over the mountains. Doug Ledbetter came from Greeneville, the Bennets and Suzanna Kulakowski kept the Talbot House as warm as possible by cooking up a fabulous feast that the members shared after hours. I couldn’t believe it when I heard Earl and Jacob Slage, Doug , Kim and Chris Taylor were under the trees in the primitive area.One would think everyone would run for a roof, but then on the other hand, maybe it was actually warmer there with the pines breaking the wind and snow. I know that I didn’t name a fraction of the members that showed up; all I can say is that this bunch is POSTAL!

That's one way to get  warm; burn the whole thing down!

That’s one way to get warm; burn the whole thing down!

“It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day’s journey; and 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)

Almost sounds like us, rather than the Persian empire Postal Service.

There was so much going on at the fort all day long. Colors were at 10 AM, as usual and the fife and Drum played. I wonder if their lips stuck to the metal fifes like when some stupid kid sticks his tongue out and attaches it to a light pole in sub freezing weather? I think the men looked datrned good as they saluted.



Kim was smoking a bear ham. The ladies were cooking, and God knows what Chris was showing the public!
I'll show you mine, if you show me yours...."

I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours….”

The biggie was Bucky and Matt Simmerly making salt and Maple syrup. They had tapped their trees earlier and boiled down the eighty gallons of sap they collected down to about half. They worked all day getting it pancake ready.
When you think about it, Bucky was probably the only one who was warm!

When you think about it, Bucky was probably the only one who was warm!

From what he said, though, that night he went to pour the syrup into the two gallon jars he had and maybe a half gallon spilled over the table in the Tavern. I bet the ants will LOVE THAT STUFF when the weather gets warm.

Chad said that in spite of the extreme weather there was quite a crowd. that had to be gratifying to those who not only sacrificed their time but also their comfort this past weekend. After hours, Chad gave the intrepid a tour of the Museum. It’s almost done except for a few minor adjustments and I have to say, it’s SPECTACULAR!

Sunday was frigid after the temps took a dive to 13 degrees. When I got there, it was Colors and you could tell most were uncomfortable. Most of the members huddled around fires in the cabins and the public was conspicuous by their absence, except for one elderly lady who showed up for church service and a small family later on.

Suzanna, Rachael and Lisa: BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Suzanna, Rachael and Lisa: BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Ronnie Lail conducted the service and spoke as though he wouldn’t be back until Easter as traveling preachers would have done on their circuits in the day, He did a wonderful job!

Altogether, this is one muster where the members really suffered and it wasn’t for the weak to be sure. I was so proud to hear that , in spite of all they endured, the public got to see how things were done including coping with inclement weather back in the 18th century.



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Filed under 2013 Militia Activity


I should be writing about our September muster , how successful it was, how jammed it was with people coming in- estimating that the crowd was some between 600-700 in attendance on Saturday alone. All this will come in its time this week BUT  Doug Walsh took some pictures of the participants at Walnut Grove this past weekend which are, shall we say, priceless and worthy to be shared with the world. I’ll leave it for you to decide. (Doug Walsh took all these pictures. Thanks, Doug!)

More about FESTIFALL at Walnut Grove here:   http://www.goupstate.com/article/20121007/articles/121009680

The Four Stooges

John Cornett and Chris Taylor :”Set a spell!”

It wasn’t all jollification….

Redcoats make such good targets!



Serious British shooting!

We had many members go this this spectacular event!

Youthful industry

The Bennetts go exploring

At ease….

Who’se crying now! The power of numbers!

Looking at these guys would scare the junk out of me!

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Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area Presents:

The Overmountain Victory Trail Celebration

Saturday and Sunday, September 22 and 23

The Overmountain Victory Trail River Crossing

Tuesday, September 25

It was the year 1780.

The tide of the Revolution had turned against the colonists. The British, forced out of New England, gained new allies in the divided South and won victory after victory in a bloody civil war. Charleston had fallen, and American forces had crumbled at the battle of Camden.

But then the impossible occurred…

The frontiersmen of the western mountains began a long march, gathering an army along the way, from the highlands of Virginia to the hills of South Carolina. There, at a place called King’s Mountain, they destroyed an army and opened the way for the final American victory at Yorktown.

The route they took to from Virginia to South Carolina, we now know as the Overmountain Victory Trail. Come celebrate with us as we recreate the muster of the Overmountain Men, which occurred here at Sycamore Shoals over two hundred years ago…


TUESDAY, SEPT  25                                        OVERMOUNTAIN VICTORY TRAIL CROSSING

On September 25, 1780, the Overmountain Men gathered at Sycamore Shoals on their march to victory at King’s Mountain. Members of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association have recreated this historic journey since 1975, following the same route and timetable as their legendary forebears. Marchers will cross the Watauga River at the Sycamore Shoals, as the frontiersmen would have done 232 years ago.

Approximate time of crossing the river is 2:00 pm



10:00 – Militia Inspection & Raising the ColorsWitness the Washington County Militia fall in for inspection of arms. Hear the roar of muskets and rifles as the flag is hoisted for the day.

11:00 – Artillery Demonstration – Join members of the Washington County Militia for a look at firing an 18th century cannon!

12:00 – Trail Talk – Join historic interpreter Chad Bogart for a guided walk along the park trail as he recounts the story of the Overmountain Men and their historic gathering at Sycamore Shoals.

1:00 – Life on the Homefront – Join Miss Ramona for a look at the woman’s role on the 18th century frontier. See what

sewing project she’s working on today.

2:00 – Artillery Demonstration – Join members of the Washington County Militia for a look at firing an 18th century cannon!

3:00 – Militia Drill – View the Washington County Militia as they drill and hone their skills as defenders of the frontier.

4:30 – Camps Close to the Public – Join us tomorrow for another exciting day of life on the colonial frontier!


10:00 – Militia Inspection & Raising the Colors – Witness the Washington County Militia fall in for inspection of arms, and hear the roar of muskets and rifles as the flag is hoisted for the day.

11:00 – Worship Service – Feel free to join the militia for Sunday morning service held in the courtyard of Fort Watauga.

12:00 – Echoes of Revolution – Join the Watauga Valley Fifes and Drums for an exciting glimpse into the musical world of the 18th century.

1:00 – Artillery Demonstration – Join members of the Washington County Militia for a look at firing an 18th century cannon!

2:00 – Ladies Tea and Sunday Social – Join the ladies of the settlement for a delightful afternoon tea and catch up on all the “news” of the day. Hopefully the ladies will permit the gentlemen to attend as well!

3:00 – Camps Close – Thank you for joining us for a great day of frontier living history. Join us next time!


Open Hearth Cooking – Flintlock Musket & Rifle Demonstrations – Tavern Life – Militia Drill

Colonial Music – 18th Century Camp Life 

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Filed under 2012 Militia Activity

Venturing Weekend on October 12-14 and Camporee at Rocky Mount, October 5-7

The Venture Crew and All Militia members are invited to participate at a Camporee at Rocky Mount Historic Site on Oct. 5-7 . You can see details on the Venture Crew page above the heading picture. Check it out- sounds like fun!

There is also a Venturing weekend on October 12-14 hosted by the Sequoya council at Poplar gap park in South West Virginia. Details are on that page as well.


Filed under 2011 Militia Activity