When you hear the word reenactor what do you think of? My guess is that you see a uniform that belongs to a military group. That is not wrong, it is just not all encompassing. There is a growing number of reenactors who portray civilians. Why is that important? Well, it is important because there were more than just soldiers 100 years ago. Believe it or not most soldiers knew other skills and trades – much like todays soldiers. I wanted to bring a small group to your attention. It’s a civilian group that dedicates their interpretation of history to that of civilian life, each person takes and creates a world unto their own and when all those little portraits come together well its just amazing.
That group is called Frontier Living History. Why is this group worth mentioning and more so talking about? This group is a like minded group of individuals who came together with the idea that they didn’t fit the typical reenactor look and still wanted to be in the hobby. How can you not fit the typical look you ask? Well think back to my first question, what do you think of when you hear the word reenactor. Being a petite woman, I personally do not fit that form- heck I can barely lift a Brown Bess long enough to shoot it. Other members have stated that they are too old to be in the military for the era, and others still state that they have health concerns that prevent them from ‘falling in.’
All the displays and demonstrations that are done by this group are historically researched and done in the most historic manner possible. (Yes, Jay and I are part of this group.) Here is a contrast for you: when you walk into a military display they are all about the same, person cleaning gun, person shooting gun, person shouting orders… they are all slightly different but if you have been to one military camp you can say you have seen them all. When you walk into civilian camp, you are walking into a unique setting, stamped with its own quirks and while the same tools and equipment may be at each civilian camp – none are utilized the same.
Who, when camped with General Forbes on his march to Fort Duquesne got up and said, ‘oh I think I want to wear my green coat with red facings today’ Nope! Didn’t happen, you got up off your small bed and 1 blanket and put on your regimental that you were ordered to wear. In a civilian camp you see pretty dresses on women, you can see handsome suits on men, even the common suits of clothing were pretty awesome compared to the same wool coat your entire unit had to wear. There are options for civilians! Many, many options! When you walk into a camp or even a table display like Frontier Living History has at their upcoming event you can see how interesting history can be beyond the guns and smoke.
On Saturday, Frontier Living History will have a table display to help talk to possible people of interest for joining the group. We like the hearty discussions and teaching the public and yes, we still get questions like ‘is that a real fire?’ and ‘Is that tool sharp?” So, if you are interested you should come by and say hi. I believe that you will see at our table, spoon making tools, weaving and spinning items, and possibly even games!
We won’t be the only table there, and you will find armies from almost all American eras from Jamestown settlers to the Vietnam war. Do you need a hobby or want a new one? You are sure to find the right fit.
Links are below for both US AHEC and Frontier Living History if you want to read more about them!