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Festifall at Walnut Grove, 2012

 On Saturday and Sunday, October 6-7, we spent our days at Walnut Grove Plantation for Festifall. One of the most popular vendors was the toy maker. I bought a new linen cap that his wife made, and John bought the game of graces, a windmill, and a game seamen used to play called Shut the Box.

There was curiosity at the hay bale that intrigued these young ladies. Behind them you can see the musician playing a fife, what we would call a flute today.

 All around  the camp, the women had their hand work in their laps. Knitting, crocheting, sewing, and spinning was everywhere. We saw skeins of yarn, mainly yellow, brown, blue, and red, that had been hand dyed. These colors were popular during colonial times because the available plants and nuts to make them were in the yards and herb gardens.

Her smile about reading my book made my day!

This man was taking a break from his woodworking. He had a display full of both small and large pieces. Surrounded by spoons of various sizes and shapes, boxes, and small pieces of furniture, you can see the dough bowl he was working on.

Soap making was essential to colonial life. This lady showed both the process and the finished product. The iron pot was at a slow boil. Did you know that women made soap out of ashes?

 During these Colonial times, weaving was often men’s work. It took a lot of strength to pull the warp of yarn tight. As you can see, this couple had several small looms threaded to make sashes or belts.

 This silversmith was casting a pewter spoon when we saw him. Pouring molten metal into a mold was the first step. Letting it cool down for a few seconds, he then broke the mold and snipped off the drips around the edges.

I was totally surprised to learn that candle wicking was popular during these times. About thirty years ago, my mother and I made a lot of decorative pillows for our beds. Twisting the special thread around a needle either two or three times made a knot that became part of a pattern. It is like whitework embroidery. The ladies would have used the thread similar to the braided, cotton thread for candle wicks.

On Sunday, we arrived at the end of one of the church services. Some of the adults were standing, and most of the children had found a bench to sit on. It was a small group of all ages. What was so strange was to hear the pastor lead in a prayer that asked for blessing for the king of England and his family.

 A friend from Musgrove Mill offered to take our picture. A former pastor I knew used to say, “A little powder and paint helps a woman to look like what she ain’t.” I could have used a little lipstick.

Many were fascinated by the work of the cooper. He had buckets in various stages of completion. To learn more about a cooper, look at this site from Williamsburg.

The woodcarver taught this young lady how to carve a spoon, and she was obviously proud of what she did. From a piece of kindling we would use in the fireplace was crafted a spoon that could be used for cooking. Our colonial ancestors wasted nothing.

 On Saturday, this reenactor was making corn husk dolls with the children. On Sunday, she demonstrated the art of healing. During these days, the mother of the family would have knowledge of herbs and their healing properties. Often she was the only doctor a family would ever have. Not only did she provide medical treatment, she made oils, poultices, and mixed medicines.

We enjoyed all the music played Becky Cleland and Ben Seymour. Ben makes dulcimers and plays them beautifully. Becky plays the bones, pieces of wood that are clicked together in a rhythm that is easily caught. The Celtic tunes they sang as duets had children and adults mesmerized. You might want to visit their web site at

On both days, the battle fought between Bloody Bill Cunningham and the Patriots at Walnut Grove was reenacted. Once again, he was driven off before he burned the plantation. The rifles were loud, and some of the children put their hands over their ears. But this weekend was all about remembrance. We had the opportunity to celebrate our colonial heritage and see a battle that we read about in books come alive.

Those Scotch-Irish families that lived all across the Upcountry were firm in their beliefs that the land they built their houses on was theirs and not the king of England’s. They put their lives on the line and were considered troublemakers, just like the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Our unalterable resolution would be to be free. They have attempted to subdue us by force, but God be praised! in vain. Their arts may be more dangerous then their arms. Let us then renounce all treaty with them upon any score but that of total separation, and under God trust our cause to our swords.

— Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, April 16, 1776

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