Colonial Living History Day: Heroes and Homemakers
On February 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Salem Museum will take visitors back to the Colonial era in Southwest Virginia with a full day of living history. The event is free and open to the public. Donations are appreciated.
Colonial re-enactors will demonstrate trades and crafts that were essential in the era, and tell stories about the men and women who built a life on Virginia’s frontier and who are remembered for their heroic deeds. Colonial and British soldiers will each set up an encampment to give guests a glimpse into what each army endured during the Revolutionary War.
The Colonial Living History Day is held in partnership with Historic Smithfield, a pre-Revolutionary War estate located in Blacksburg. The day is generously sponsored by Richfield, a senior living and healthcare community named for the home of General Andrew Lewis.
Costumed interpreters from Historic Smithfield include a bullet maker, a spinner, a blacksmith, a lace weaver, and a seamstress hand-sewing a colonial dress, among others. Re-enactors will set up a Revolutionary War encampment to demonstrate what soldiers endured in their fight for Independence. Children can play some of the games that children played in those simpler times.
Colonel William Fleming’s battle sword will be on display, along with an updated exhibit about Salem’s General Andrew Lewis. Born and educated as a doctor in Scotland, William Fleming immigrated to Virginia and became a noted physician and statesman. Lewis is remembered for leading his troops to victory in the French and Indian War and Dunmore’s War. He also drove Lord Dunmore – the last British Governor – out of Virginia just days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, making it one of the first military actions of the Revolutionary War.
At 12:30 p.m., Colonel Lewis Ingles “Bud” Jeffries, a historian and direct descendant of Mary Draper Ingles, will tell the story of this important Western Virginia heroine. Mary and her husband William had settled in an area now part of the campus of Virginia Tech. Mary was abducted by the Shawnee during the 1755 Draper’s Meadow Massacre, along with her two young sons. They were taken to a Shawnee settlement on the Ohio River in Northeast Kentucky. After a few months, Mary escaped, but before she stretched an arduous journey on foot of more than 500 miles through a wilderness unknown to her.
At 2:30 p.m., April Danner, Director of Historic Smithfield, will speak on the relationship between Colonel Fleming and Colonel William Preston. A prominent Western Virginia Revolutionary War patriot, William Preston served in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War and is credited with saving George Washington’s life.
The Fort Lewis Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will have a display as part of the day’s events.
-Submitted by Frances Ferguson, Salem Museum & Historical Society Director