Lecture: Lake Champlain as Battleground, 1609-1815

The Lake Champlain Basin Program will be hosting John Krueger, City Historian of Plattsburgh and executive director of the Kent-Delord House, for a presentation titled The Lake as Battleground: 1609-1815 on Thursday, March 1st at 6:30 p.m. in the LCBP office in Grand Isle, Vermont. This program is part of the LCBP’s Love the Lake speaker series.

John Krueger began promoting Lake Champlain’s history as a guide at Fort Ticonderoga in 1970. His talk will focus on Lake Champlain as a corridor for warfare, beginning with Samuel de Champlain’s exploration and the conflict of European powers for control of the corridor.

The talk will also cover the history of Lake Champlain during the Revolutionary War between the British and the American forces and their French Allies. Finally, Krueger will discuss the War of 1812 and the Battle of Plattsburgh, which secured peace between the British and American forces in 1814. A virtual tour of Fort Ticonderoga from the comfort of the LCBP office will also be included.

The LCBP office is located at 54 West Shore Road, just north of the Grand Isle ferry entrance on Rte 314. For further information, contact Colleen Hickey, LCBP, at (802) 372-3213.

Lake Champlain Indigenous Heritage Center Event

The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) will be hosting Dr. Fred Wiseman, Chairperson, Department of Humanities, Johnson State College for a presentation titled Lake Champlain Indigenous Heritage Center: A Future Possibility tomorrow, Thursday, February 23rd at 6:30 p.m. in the LCBP office in Grand Isle, Vermont. This program is part of the LCBP’s Love the Lake speaker series.

Following the 2009 Lake Champlain Quadricentennial, public discussion focused on what could be done to create lasting legacies of the Quadricentennial. One concept that emerged was the possibility of creating an Indigenous Heritage Center in the region. Professor Wiseman will discuss the political ramifications of Vermont State Recognition, and the existing artifacts, documentary and library assets that could contribute to the center. Wiseman will also present preliminary ideas about the siting, infrastructure and public mission of a proposed Center.

The LCBP office is located at 54 West Shore Road, just north of the Grand Isle ferry entrance on Rte 314. For further information, contact Colleen Hickey, LCBP, at (802) 372-3213.

Neil Godwin Speaks at Mount Independence

On Saturday, October 22, at 1:00 p.m., author Neil Godwin comes to the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell to talk about the subject of his acclaimed book, We Go as Captives: The Royalton Raid and the Shadow War on the Revolutionary Frontier, published last year by the Vermont Historical Society. Godwin will discuss the background of the Royalton Raid and some of the intrigues of the Revolutionary War in Vermont and the region. The event, the annual Robert J. Maguire lecture, is offered by the Mount Independence Coalition.

Godwin’s book is one of the most successful recent publications of the Vermont Historical Society and offers new insight on the Royalton Raid of 1780 and the Revolution on the northern frontier. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Doors open to the public at 12:30 p.m. The event is free. Donations are appreciated. Come enjoy a riveting afternoon. This is the last chance of the year to visit the Mount Independence museum, which closed for the season after Columbus Day.

The Mount Independence Coalition is the official friends group for the historic site and every year offers the Maguire lecture to present the latest and best research on the American Revolution or Mount Independence.

Mount Independence, one of Vermont’s state-owned historic sites, is a National Historic Landmark and is considered one of the least disturbed Revolutionary War sites in America. The site is located six miles west of the intersections of VT Routes 73 and 22A in Orwell, near the end of Mount Independence Road. Call 802-759-2412 for more information.

For more information about the Vermont State-Owned Historic Sites, visit www.HistoricVermont.org/sites. Be part of the conversation and join the Vermont State Historic Sites on Facebook.

Atlatl Championship at Mount Independence

Journey way back to the ancient past, before the invention of the bow and arrow, to experience how people the world over hunted big game by coming to the 16th Annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship September 17 and 18, 2011, beginning at 10:30 AM on Saturday and 10:00 on Sunday, at the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell, Vermont. The competition is based on the ancient hunting technique of using an atlatl (spear thrower). Atlatlists of all skill levels are welcome. Demonstrations of flint knapping, bow making, hafting stone points, fletching atlatl darts, cordage making with natural materials, and other aspects of Native American life will take place on Saturday. Food will be available.

Watch or participate in this colorful event, with exciting but friendly competition between novices, enthusiasts, and some of the best in the world, and from the young to young at heart. The event, co-sponsored by the Vermont Archaeological Society, is one of the highlights of September’s Vermont Archeology Month. The event, sponsored by the Chimney Point State Historic Site in Addison, is being held for the second year at Mount Independence due to the ongoing construction of the Lake Champlain Bridge.

The main competition is on Saturday from 10:30 to 3:30. Contestants test their prowess in using the atlatl to “hunt” mammoth, bison, and other “wild” game targets, shoot at modern day bulls-eyes in the International Standards Accuracy Competition (ISAC), and compete in a distance challenge. The atlatl is a shaped wooden stick that acts as an extension of the throwing arm, to hurl spears or darts with greater accuracy, energy, and speed. Winners in each category compete in a shoot out at the end of the afternoon for the title of Grand Champion. Call 802-759-2412 for an atlatl championship registration form or download one online. Competitor fee is $5.00 for each day.

An atlatl-making workshop ($65 fee) will be held September 16 from noon to 5:00. Pre-registration (802-759-2412) for the workshop is required. The Vermont Archaeological Society is offering a day long flint-knapping workshop both days, and on Saturday a hands-on demonstration of Northeastern pre-contact pottery making. To sign up for either of these, call 802-644-5675 or email [email protected]

On both Saturday and Sunday there will be showings of the film, Champlain: The Lake Between, at 11:30, 1:30, and 3:30. Sunday morning, starting at 10:00 a.m., is a smaller International Standards Accuracy Competition. Afterwards, at about 11:45, is a master coaching class offered by champion atlatlists for children and interested adults. Also starting at 10:00 are the flint-knapping and Woodland pottery workshops.

The site is open 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM. Admission for each day, including the museum and trails, is $5.00 for adults, free for children under 15.

The Mount Independence State Historic Site is located at 497 Mount Independence Road, six miles west of the intersections of VT Routes 73 and 22A, in Orwell. It is open daily through October 10 from 9:30 to 5:00. For more information about this event, call 802-759-2412.

Warren County: Rare Covered Bridge Talk Tuesday

This Tuesday, August 2, Jim Ligon will present a free program “Rebirthing Covered Bridges” at the Thurman Town Hall in Warren County (near Warrensburg).

Ligon, whose work for Alpine Construction has been principally centered around restoration and reconstruction of old covered bridges in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York, will talk about the work and the challenges of balancing historical authenticity with contemporary codes and materials. He will also display some bridge parts that exemplify historic craftsmanship, as well as treasures he has unearthed at bridge sites. A slide show of bridges he has worked on will run in the background as he speaks. Questions will be welcomed.

This free talk is presented at 7 p.m, at Thurman Town Hall, 311 Athol Road, Athol by The John Thurman Historical Society. Refreshments will be served. For more information call 623-2007.

Photo: One of Ligon’s projects, the Williamsburg, VT covered bridge, being rolled across the river after its restoration on land.

Soldiers Atop Mount Independence Event

It was 235 years ago this July that American soldiers began building one of the largest Revolutionary War fortifications in the country—on what would become known as Mount Independence in Orwell, Vermont. An event commemorating this anniversary and experience the Revolutionary War and the road to American independence will be held on Saturday and Sunday, July 23 and 24, as the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell, Vermont, presents the annual “Soldiers Atop the Mount” living history weekend. Dedicated reenactors recreate this exciting period in American history in an event that is fun for the whole family. Admission is $6.00 for adults and free for children under 15, and includes the museum and all activities.

The public is invited to visit the American and British tent camps, talking with reenactors whose units portray some of the actual units that garrisoned Mount Independence.

On Saturday, the camps open at 10:30 with ongoing demonstrations of camp life, a history scavenger hunt, and special children’s activities. During the day children and the young at heart can learn how to drill, visit the camps, attend Mistress Davenport’s School, and enjoy music from the Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife & Drum Corps. At 1:00 p.m. experience the artillery demonstration and at 2:00 p.m. witness the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence. In the afternoon see how the soldiers would have made fascines, bundles of wood used in military construction. At 3:00 p.m. is the narrated military tactical demonstration with military action encircling the audience.

On Sunday the camps open to the public at 10:00 and the history scavenger hunt is on.

At 11:30 or attend Mistress Davenport’s School, and experience the narrated military tactical demonstration at 1:30. The camp closes at 2:00 pm. At 2:30 site interpreter Paul Andriscin will give a short talk in the auditorium on the construction of Mount Independence. Call for details.

American forces built Mount Independence in 1776 and 1777 to defend New England and Lake Champlain from the British enemy in Canada. On the night of July 5 and 6, 1777, the Northern Department of the American Army withdrew from Mount Independence in Orwell and Fort Ticonderoga, as British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne sailed down the lake pursuing his plan to split New England off from the rest of the United States. Following the Battle of Hubbardton on July 7, the British and Germans occupied Mount Independence until November of that year.

Mount Independence, a National Historic Landmark, is near the end of Mount Independence Road six miles west of the intersection of Vermont Routes 22A and 73 in Orwell. It includes an air conditioned visitor center and museum and nearly six miles of hiking trails. It is open daily through October 10, 9:30 to 5:00. Call (802) 948-2000 for more information or visit www.HistoricVermont.org/sites.

Photo: American Revolutionary War Soldiers firing at Mount Independence. Courtesy Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.

Grand Opening of New Calvin Coolidge Exhibit

A new permanent exhibit that examines the life and times of President Calvin Coolidge will open August 6 at the 30th President’s state historic site and childhood home in Vermont.

The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation will host the exhibit’s grand opening on Plymouth Old Home Day at the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Gov. Peter Shumlin, Coolidge family members, and state officials will be among the honored guests at the opening of “Calvin Coolidge: His Life & Legacy” at the President Calvin Coolidge Museum & Education Center at 10 a.m.

“Calvin Coolidge embodied a respect for this beautiful state and the deeply-rooted pragmatism that present day Vermonters revere and endeavor to sustain,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin. “Visitors to Plymouth Village truly understand how this place shaped the man and why it remained so important to him throughout his life.”

“Calvin Coolidge: His Life & Legacy” will include interactive features, historic newsreels, a voice recognition station and a holographic image. The Division for Historic Preservation has worked closely over the past several months with Media-FX, a Montreal -based design firm noted for its innovative, interpretive displays.

The grand opening and Plymouth Old Home Day will continue with building tours and performances by pianist Abigail Charbeneau and the Green Mountain Brass Band. Also on exhibit this season is “First Pets: The Coolidge White House Animals,” which reveals the important role animals played in the private life and public image of the Coolidge family.

Plymouth Old Home Day, which dates back to the early 20th century, unites town organizations in a fun-filled festival of historic music, traditional craft and farm demonstrations, wagon rides and culinary treats. Activities will include:

* Old-time children’s games, apple head doll making with Susan Remington, Native American artifact tent from the Chimney Point State Historic Site

* Cart rides with Zandor the dog

* Wagon rides and sheep shearing with Fred DePaul

* Chicken barbecue and bake sale to benefit the Plymouth Volunteer Fire Department

* Home-style cooking at the Wilder House Restaurant

* Cheese making at the Plymouth Cheese Factory

* Vermont artisans – Fiber Arts in Vermont (demonstrating creative fiber arts – weaving, spinning, knitting, etc.), Heritage Weaving (rag rugs), Irene Ames (basket making), Carolyn Guest (silhouettes & fancy paper cutting), Marianne Fassett (paper quilling), Black River Academy Museum (chair caning)

* Old-time fiddler Adam Boyce

* Special exhibits by the Plymouth Historical Society and Vermont State Parks

* Vintage automobiles on display

Plymouth Old Home Day is the great opportunity to explore Plymouth Notch, considered one of the best-preserved presidential sites in the country. Twelve buildings are open to the public including the Coolidge Homestead, Coolidge Birthplace, general store, village church, cheese factory (still making cheese using the original 1890 recipe), and 1924 Summer White House office. An outstanding collection of early agricultural equipment is displayed in the Wilder Barns.

For more information about Plymouth Old Home Day and the grand opening of the new Coolidge exhibit, call 802-828-3051 or visit www.HistoricVermont.org/Coolidge

Battle of Hubbardton Anniversary Weekend

Vermont’s Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site will present a Battle of Hubbardton living history weekend on July 9 and 10 to honor the July 7, 1777, Revolutionary War battle, the only one fought in Vermont. More than 400 re-enactors will be on hand, making it one of the largest events at Hubbardton site in years.

During the Battle of Hubbardton soldiers from Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire fought in a decisive rear guard action to halt the British army and allow the main American army under Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair to withdraw southward to safety from Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence. Events at Hubbardton saved St. Clair’s troops and led to the American victory in October 1777 at the Battle of Saratoga, considered a turning point in the Revolutionary War and in world history.

The weekend offers activities for all ages and interests, including visiting the museum. Organizers expect a large contingent of re-enactors, who portray American, British, and German soldiers and their families. Vistor will be able to walk through their tent camps, see the tactical and artillery demonstrations, camp life activities, courts martial, learning how to drill, and guided camp and battlefield tours. Mistress Davenport will set up her popular school and storytelling. There will also be a children’s activity tent and many sutlers (the traveling shopkeepers of the time) will set up sutler row, with a colonial shopping experience for the public. Local groups will provide a food concession stand both days.

Saturday afternoon will include a military tactical on the slope of Monument Hill, weather permitting and the weekend highlight will be the battle on Sunday morning, with troops forming-up about 7:30 a.m. The extended tactical demonstration begins at 8 a.m. Around 9 a.m. the start of a symbolic Revolutionary relay across Vermont to Windsor’s Old Constitution House, will celebrate a 234th anniversary of Vermont’s Constitution. The modern relay will carry to the constitutional delegates in Windsor the news about the battle and withdrawal from Mt. Independence and Fort Ticonderoga.

The site opens at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. Sunday’s events start about 7:30 a.m. Admission each day is $5 for adults and free for children under 15. There will be plenty of nearby parking and a “people mover” from the parking area to the central location for those who wish to ride. The event is offered by a partnership of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, Living History Association, and the Hubbardton Historical Society with support from many other Hubbardton organizations and area Scouts and businesses.

The Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site is located on Monument Hill Road 6 miles off VT Route 30 in Hubbardton or 7 miles off exit 5 on US Route 4 in Castleton. Carefully follow the signs. The site is regularly open Thursdays through Sundays and Monday holidays through Oct. 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the Battlefield or this event, call 802- 273-2282.

Photo: British Rangers at Hubbardton in 2006. Photo courtesy Don Walker / 3rd New Hampshire Regiment.

Fort Ticonderoga Acquires Significant Papers

A donation of four important manuscripts describing the American attack on Mount Independence on September 18, 1777 was recently made to the Fort Ticonderoga Museum. The collection of four letters was drafted by American Brigadier General Jonathan Warner and relate to Colonel John Brown’s raid on Ticonderoga. The donation was discovered and organized by Dr. Gary M. Milan and made possible by the generous support of George and Kathy Jones.

After the American army at Ticonderoga was forced to evacuate with the approach of the British army under General John Burgoyne in July 1777, Burgoyne left a small force of British and German soldiers to garrison Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence as the bulk of his army pursued the American army southward. In mid September two 500-men forces were ordered to test the defenses of the two posts and on September 18, the forces converged on the sleeping garrisons.

These documents detail the actions around Mount Independence offering on-the-spot reports of the engagement. The beginning of the skirmish near Mt. Independence is described “Our advanc’d party met with a small piquet guard of the Enemy’s about 1 mile from their lines who after the first fire retired leaving around them a few tents, blankets, packs, &c”. A few minutes later “We…heard a brisk firing from Ticonderoga side… It is supposed by many that Colo Brown has got possession of the Batteries upon the large Mountain call’d Mount Defiance.” These documents shed new light on the only time that the two posts were directly fired upon in battle and the last military engagement to occur at Fort Ticonderoga in its final months as an active military post.

Illustration: Jonathan Warner by Joseph Blackburn.

Champlain Maritime Museum Native American Encampment

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will be hosting a Native American Encampment Weekend this weekend, June 25 & 26, that is expected to give visitors a Native American perspective on life – past, present, and future – in the Champlain Valley and across Vermont.

Members of the Elnu and Missisquoi Abenaki tribes, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk and Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation will gather will gather at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum for the annual celebration of the region’s Native American Heritage.

As in other years, tribal members dressed in garments like those worn by their ancestors over the centuries will demonstrate singing, drumming, basket making, quillwork and bead decoration, food preparation, and other life skills. This year official recognition by the State of Vermont was granted to the Elnu and Nulhegan on April 22, and other applications are pending. “A new dawn has risen,” said Nulhegan Chief Don Stevens. Video footage of the April 22 Recognition Day declaration and celebration will be screened during the LCMM event.

The Native people at the encampment are experts in living indigenous arts and traditions, which they expect to share, rather than sell. They have researched, reconstructed, or apprenticed to learn long-forgotten techniques and now are able to create outstanding beadwork, quillwork, basketry, pottery, woodworking and other items for personal use or commissioned pieces.

Cherished family stories and photographs provide the basis for a presentation by Koasek Chief Nancy Millette Doucet, who has recreated the clothing worn by an ancestor in the nineteenth century. The Koasek have also established a program to help preserve Abenaki as a living language. “I have been amazed by the richness and depth of the new cultural and historical information generated by the Vermont Indigenous bands in their research for applications for Vermont State Recognition,” says Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph. D., Director of the Wobanakik Heritage Center in Swanton. “This is a potential new stage in Vermont culture and history – for Native people to work on their own history and culture and then present the results.”

The weekend includes hands-on activities for children, a demonstration of the ancient art of twining textiles, wampum readings, singing, drumming, dancing, and documentary video about the region’s Native American heritage created by student Lina Longtoe.

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is located on the shore of Lake Champlain, seven scenic miles from historic Vergennes, Vermont at 4472 Basin Harbor Road, across from the Basin Harbor Club. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October 16, 2011. All event activities are included with museum admission, LCMM Members, School Family Pass Members, and children 5 and under get in free. For information call (802) 475-2022 or visit www.lcmm.org.

Photo: Chief Roger Longtoe and Vera Longtoe present a “Calling-in” Song.