The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Ellwood hosts look back to Colonial times
With the possibility of the U.S. government shutdown looming, this might be the weekend to enjoy a national park while you still can.
Locally, at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, a volunteer group has something special planned on Sunday.
From 11 a.m to 5 p.m., visitors to the park’s Ellwood Manor on the Orange–Spotsylvania line can travel back in time to when that home stood on the Virginia frontier.
Wondered what it’s like to be a blacksmith? Heft a long rifle? Weave fabric? Build a house from logs?
If so, the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield’s “Taming the Wilderness” event is just the ticket.
will have more than a dozen artisans and craftsmen from the region, coming from as far as Richardsville, Madison and King George, who will demonstrate those skills it took to survive on civilization’s edge in the early Colonial era.
These traditional artisans and frontier re-enactors will bring the grounds of Ellwood to life, demonstrating how people built and kept a home in such a remote place.
“This event has many things for all, young and old alike,” said Orange County resident Dan Nickelson, event coordinator for FoWB, the nonprofit whose volunteers maintain Ellwood’s grounds and interpret the 18th-century house.
“We’re encouraging families to come,” he said. “We’ll have a number of toys for children to play with, from tops to hoops to darts.”
The darts—made with corncobs and feathers—are thrown through a hoop hanging from a tree limb, Nickelson explained.
Adults can swing a blacksmith’s hammer, handle a black-powder rifle like those Daniel Boone used, weave on a loom, or try techniques used to build a timber frame house, he said Friday. The Westmoreland Longhunters will portray the frontiersmen who spent months roaming the forests and mountains in search of food. Orange resident Melondy Phillips will demonstrate how settlers tanned deer hides to make goods and clothing. “Tavern wenches” will discuss social life and etiquette on the road in Colonial days.
All the while, singer and instrumentalist John Tole of Evergreen Shade will provide period music to set the mood.
Throughout the day, FoWB volunteers will guide visitors through Ellwood’s rooms and Civil War exhibits.
The handsome, circa-1790 home was visited by the Marquis de Lafayette, America’s great ally during the Revolutionary War, served as a hospital during the battles of Chancellorsville and the Wilderness, and headquartered Maj. Gen. Gouvernour K. Warren—hero of Little Round Top—during the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864.
At 1 and 3 p.m., University of Mary Washington professor Gary Stanton will discuss period architecture, explaining how to date an old house, using Ellwood as an illustration. Listeners will learn about what small things like nails and plaster can reveal.
The annual event is free, though donations are welcome; proceeds benefit the Ellwood Restoration Project. Water, soft drinks and snacks will be available.
Ellwood is off State Route 20, one-third mile south of State Route 3. Look for a brown National Park Service sign.
Ellwood, which functions as the de facto welcome center to the Wilderness battlefield, is owned by the National Park Service.
ON THE NET:
Friends group: http://www.fowb.org
Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029