Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘American Revolution’

Fort Henry Days Celebrated Oglebay Park, West Virginia

For Henry Days Encampment at Oglebay Park

Fort Henry Days Encampment at Oglebay Park

After driving the scenic, winding, mountain roads of Oglebay Park, the scene changed to one resembling a Revolutionary War Camp. We had arrived at Fort Henry Days celebrating life as it was on the frontier in the late 1700’s. Fort Henry was built as protection from the Indians during Dunmore’s War and also used during the Revolutionary War. Originally it was called Fort Fincastle in honor of Viscount Fincastle, Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia. Later the name was changed to Fort Henry, to honor Patrick Henry, the Revolutionary Governor of Virginia.

Young settler makes a stem for his pipe.

Young settler makes a stem for his pipe.

A stroll through the grounds indicated there would be a variety of ideas to explore with people who were very knowledgeable regarding the war as well as life during that time. Everyone was camped in tents using only supplies and equpment that would have been available during the late 1700’s.  One family told of seeing deer grazing nearby and even having a red fox and her cub come into their tent.

Near the center of the encampment, benches had been placed to face a platform made of bales of straw covered with sheets of plywood. This was the spot for today’s presentations. Dan Cutler, dressed in Indian garb with a headdress made of antlers, portrayed Chief John Logan. This mild-mannered chief extended a wampum belt of friendship to the white man. His kindness shone through when he made a pair of beaded deerskin moccasins for a barefoot, little girl of the settlers.

Chief Logan displays a Christian peace offering.

Chief Logan displays a Christian peace offering.

Chief Logan told of the Indians’ struggles with the settlers at Yellow Creek after they had killed his brother and other female relatives.  Chief Logan, who by Indian custom had the right to retaliate for their murders, then raised a hatchet that had long been buried. His hatchet handle contained fourscore notches – one for each scalp taken in their subsequent attacks on settlers.

Later in the afternoon, Dan Cutler also portrayed Chief Cornstalk and told tales of the chief’s adventures at Fort Randolph on the Scioto River, where they floated quietly on rafts of driftwood to surprise the settlers. Having the standing of warrior was very important, but some felt it important for the young men to get an education. When the educated returned to their tribe, they were considered “good for nothing” …no longer warriors.

Chief Cornstalk told of the Ohio Company promising the land to the Indians, but then supporting the British and pushing the Indians off their promised land. He vividly remembered the first surveyor of the Ohio Company, George Washington, who didn’t even know how to read and write…according to Chief Cornstalk..

Alan Fitzpatrick, author of Indian legends

Alan Fitzpatrick, author of Indian legends

The grounds at Oglebay Park were filled with battle re-enactors, people depicting life of the times, and vendors selling wares. Under the pavilion were located Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution, Wheeling Area Historical Society, and authors selling their books. One of these authors was Alan Fitzpatrick, author of Wilderness War on the Ohio and In Their Own Words. His tales of life at that time are based on written records he has found. Anyone in that era who could read and write was very highly sought after with quill, ink, and tablet. There was also beautiful handmade Native American jewelry for sale…my Fort Henry Days’ remembrance – a thunderbird necklace!

Gallowglass musical entertainment

Gallowglass provides musical entertainment.

Member of the Wayward Companions plays a jawbone.

Member of the Wayward Companions plays a jawbon

Musical entertainment was provided by Gallowglass, a lively group playing and singing period music as well as old Irish tunes. There seemed to be a lot of drinking ballads in the mix.This group has been performing at Fort Henry Days for several years and their performance contained not only songs but humorous stories as well. Included in their performance were: Welcome Home, Nancy Whiskey, and several reels. A member of the Wayward Companions joined in on many of their songs by playing a bovine jawbone with a period bone toothbrush that he had brought from Gettysburg.

Dr. Jessica Fisher, dentist

Dr. Jessica Fisher, dentist

An interesting frontier dentist informed those gathered at her office about dental practices of that time.  Arsenic was one favorite remedy for a toothache. Their favorite mouthwash was a combination of mint or rosemary in orange water or rose water mixed with alcohol, of course. When someone died or was killed, their teeth were removed to replace those lost by the living. ..an early concept of “tooth implants”?

Indian Village for Reenactment

Indian Village for Reenactment

The culmination of the day was a Battle Re-enactment, unlike any I had ever seen before. This recreation told a true story, which was narrated over a loudspeaker. This event occurred back in 1782 at Sandusky, Ohio where the frontiersmen were attacking an Indian village. The natives were doing their normal chores with children playing in the cornfields. An Indian warning call was the sign for everyone to run for cover. They even set the cornfield on fire! Many were captured but some fled to freedom.

Fort Henry Memorial Wall

Fort Henry Memorial Wall

Not much is left of the old Fort Henry, but locals are trying to keep alive the memories. There is a granite Fort Henry marker in the parking lot on the right hand side just past Capitol Theater. A list has been started, but not complete by any means, of those who were in Wheeling at the time of the American Revolution. All these names have been placed on a wall, which is being displayed throughout the Ohio Valley. Should your family name be there?

Fort Henry Days are held the first weekend of September annually. Celebration is held in Oglebay Park at Wheeling, WV. Once you get to the park, signs will direct you to the activities. If you know of any names that need to be added to the wall or wish to display the Fort Henry Wall, contact the Fort Henry Living History board by email at don@feenerty.com.

The Old Mansion House Museum at Tu-Endie-Wei State Park

The Mansion House at Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Point Pleasant, WV

The Mansion House at Tu-Endie-Wei State Park in Point Pleasant, WV

A promise of “I will build you a mansion” resulted in the construction of this Mansion House at Point Pleasant, WV at the site of the first battle of the Revolutionary War. Back in1796,  Walter Newman built this log-hewn house – the first in the Kanawha Valley – so his wife would have a beautiful Mansion House when she arrived in Virginia.

While he waited for the arrival of his wife, the house was used as a tavern and also had rooms for weary travelers.  The cost for a room per night was fifty cents, which most considered highway robbery.

As you enter through the back door of the house, the gift shop and information center are right inside the door. There are helpful people inside to tell you information regarding the house and the people who used to live there.

Square Grant Piano

Square Grant Piano

Don’t let the appearance of the house fool you. Inside there are more floors and rooms than you might imagine. Four levels in all are present in this old house: basement, first floor, second floor, and attic. The side of the house where the gift shop is located was the original tavern.   As you go up a few stairs and down a few more, you arrive at the side where the family lived. This has been restored to its original nature with colonial and early American furnishings. Included in the parlor is a square baby grand piano, which was one of the cherished treasures early Americans brought over the Alleghenies. It seems likely that Walter Newman thought this was a necessity for his wife’s mansion.

Parlor where Daughters of American Revolution meet today

Parlor where Daughters of American Revolution meet today

Their former sitting room is today the place where the regular meetings of the Colonel Charles Lewis Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution are held. Colonel Charles Lewis and his brother,General Andrew Lewis, were both heroes of that long ago battle of Point Pleasant. In 1901 a branch of the Daughters of the American Revolution restored the house to its original style with the assistance of the citizens of Point Pleasant. Their goal was to preserve the way of life that was prevalent in the 1790’s on the Ohio and Grand Kanawha Rivers.  Today this Old Mansion is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Basement kitchen at The Mansion House

Basement kitchen at The Mansion House

Heading to the basement, you discover the kitchen! In high-status families, food was often prepared in the lowly kitchen, often located in the basement of the house. The fireplace for the kitchen located at this low level, most likely kept the rest of the house warm during the winter. A handmade braided rug rests in front of the fireplace with kitchen pans and tools hung nearby. The wooden rocking chair was placed near enough to gather warmth from the fire, and would have been used by visitors or the man of the house, as the women didn’t have much time to sit and rock. Then the food would be carried up to the first floor to be served in a more dignified room.

Four-poster bed over 150 years old

Four-poster bed over 150 years old

On the second floor were several bedrooms, probably those earlier used as the rooms rented to travelers, and later used by the family.  Here were small rooms for the children as well as a beautiful four poster bed, which is over 150 years old. An old-fashioned spinning wheel is displayed near the window.

Still going upward on even narrower steps now, you arrive at the attic where there is a large display of Indian artifacts, books and clothes from that era, plus other interesting objects. It is definitely worth the climb!

Today the Mansion House remains along the Ohio River as part of the Tu-Endie-Wei State Park. Daughters of the American Revolution are frequently on hand in colonial dress to give informative tours.

Mothman Hug

Mothman Hug

While in Point Pleasant, don’t forget to visit some of the area’s other interesting places. This is the place of the famous Silver Bridge Collapse in 1967. You will find a monument marking the spot of the original bridge as you walk the artistic Riverwalk with floodwalls painted with scenes of Point Pleasant history. Don’t forget to visit the Mothman statue and the Mothman Museum to learn more of the unusual and unexplained happenings in this town years ago.  You might even get a hug from the Mothman himself.

The Mansion House is located at Tu-Endie-Wie State Park in Point Pleasant, WV at the end of Main Street where the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers meet. The Mansion House Museum is opened May through October. Hours are Mon-Sat. 10:00-4:30, and Sun. 1:00-4:30. There is no cost, but donations are accepted.

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