History Still Comes Alive at Fort Frederica

During our very short two months at Fort Frederica National Monument, Tom and I were out every weekend doing living history.  Unlike previous years when we had other volunteers with us, it was mostly just the two of us.  Sometimes we had a ranger out there with us and Jamieson came to weave two days.

Tom and Intern Greg

Nevertheless, history still came alive when Tom and I were outside doing our interpretations.  I cooked every week, which is never my favorite thing.  But people love to see hearth cooking and most days it was cool enough that people enjoyed standing by the fire.  On days I cooked, I fed all the rangers and volunteers who were working.  Usually that was eight people.  Some of the dishes I cook don’t stretch that far, so I stuck to stews and soups.

Tom and Jamieson makes musket balls

Brunswick stew, bean soup/stew, and chicken and rice soup were all eagerly devoured.  Everyone agrees that the Brunswick stew is my best dish, although it is not absolutely historically correct.  Brunswick stew originated in Brunswick, Georgia, and is a big staple on the menus around here.  I cook it so I can tell people about something very familiar.  The reason it is not historically correct is that tomatoes were not used in food until the 1800’s.  A tomato base is an absolute necessity for Brunswick stew.  In fact, it is the only thing all Brunswick stews will have in common.  I put pulled pork and whatever vegetables I have at hand in mine.

In addition to a soup or stew, I also make yeast rolls and a dessert.  I cheat on the yeast rolls by buying Rhodes rolls frozen dough.  But they look good rising and are delicious when baked.  They are Tom’s favorite part of any meal.  For the dessert I have made apple pie, honey cake, molasses raisin cake, orange cake and apple brown betty.  The apple brown betty was the favorite this year.  I was surprised that it was more popular than my apple pie, but everyone requested a repeat for the last meal.  It is easier and faster than apple pie, so I was happy to oblige.

Jamieson weaving

While I am doing the cooking, Tom tends the fire.  With the cooler temperatures this year, it has been harder to get the number of coals that I need to do my baking.  Having Tom tend the fire makes it easier for me to do the baking.  He hauls and chops wood, starts the fire with flint and steel, and keeps it going all day.  While he is doing that, he can also talk to visitors about the palmetto hut and being a British soldier at Fort Frederica.

When I am finished cooking and doing the dishes, I get out the spinning wheel.  Spinning was a “leisure” activity for a colonial woman.  At least she got to sit down while doing it!

On Sundays I do living history light.  I have been weaving and the only thing I get out is my loom.  People like to watch me weave and learn about how a loom works.  Compared to the work and heavy lifting of Saturdays, Sundays are relaxing.  Tom, on the other hand, continues to work hard by blacksmithing on Sundays.  I’m not sure which is more work, blacksmithing or tending the fire, but by the end of either day, he is tired.

Although I wish more people would join us doing living history, Tom and I are thankful for the opportunity to do our thing.  Seeing how something was done 300 years ago makes history come alive for our visitors.  We love seeing people respond to what we are doing.