The past weekend was spent as a Revolutionary War enactor. Our event was held at the Yates Tavern in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The link will give you much more history about the building. As a spinner, using a spindle wheel/bobbin winder that may be 200 years old, I was on the porch with a friend who was making tapes on a box or tape loom. It happens that her 4th and 5th great grandfathers were the owners/proprietors of the tavern. The Militia group to which I belong, encamped on the grounds.
I have always had an interest in history. After all, I grew up between America’s Historic Triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown, and Southampton County, the site of the insurrection of Nat Turner. And though I lived there and read history, I was not a particularly good history student and as a typical teenager, it might as well have been the Roman Empire on my timeline.
As I visit the Revolutionary and Civil War sites in the mountains of Virginia where I now reside, and have visited other sites on the Piedmont of Virginia, at my current age, I realize just how young our nation really is and how current those events are. My great grandmother, who died in her 90’s when I was 14 years old, was born just after the Civil War in rural North Carolina. I wish I had talked with her about her history. My paternal grandfather grew up along the train lines in Virginia for much of his childhood, in Crewe and Victoria. He did tell me many stories of his youth, he was a “bad” boy as he put it, putting out one of his eyes with a pen knife as a youth, riding the rails, and finally settling down with about an 8th grade education to raise two fine sons and build his own business. My paternal grandmother didn’t tell us much about her history, though as soon as her sons were grown, she entered the work world in banking, at an age when most women her age didn’t work.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know my maternal grandparents who were raised in the area in which I now live, an area ripe with history also. They both passed before and just after I was born. Though my mother grew up in this area, she spoke of the times she remembered and I heard none of the stories of her father’s home under the cannons on John’s Creek Mountain (our home is also on it’s flanks) just as fog rolled in saving the home during the Civil War. The remains of that pre Civil War era home that fell into ruins after a fire in the late 20th century was torn down just prior to our moving to this area. The old collapsing barn still survived until just a few years ago and I was gifted a signed print of that barn by a local artist.
Now I wish that I had pursued more of the personal history of my elders. Perhaps I should share more for our grandchildren, I have lived through many events in our country, a Presidential assassination, attempted assassination of another, first space shot, first moon landing, space shuttle successes and failure, Twin tower attacks, the Cold War, and so much more. These events will seem like ancient history to our grandchildren, but I can remember where I was and what I was doing for each of those events and more.
Now I go to the museums and demonstrate what we now consider crafts that were life skills for the people of the period.