Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Spirit of New Jersey History Fair

We celebrated the end of our first year of homeschooling by going camping with some friends!

The first stop of our weekend celebration  was The Spirit of New Jersey History Fair, which was just a few miles from where we camped :)

If you have been around here for a bit, you know how I we love history (yes, I think my exuberance has rubbed off on the fam! lol).  Allaire State Park is on the grounds of Mr. Allaire's company town.  I've lived here most of my life, have loved history and historic villages all of my life, and never heard of this place until now (gotta <3 homeschoolers that share cool stuff like this!).  We learned so much about living in a company town!  For instance, did you know that the US didn't have any solid form of currency until Lincoln was President?  Prior to that everything was gold and silver, shillings and the like.  But much of the money was printed by the wealthy landowners and company town owners (a company town is a town where there was a mill or mills, etc. and all of the residents worked there and lived in housing owned by the company (mill) owner.  The company or mill town money was only able to be "traded" in the town, you could not go to New York or Philadelphia and expect shopkeeps to take this money, as it only had value in the mill town.  Of course, we learned in Williamsburg that people were paid in silver and had that silver turned into spoons by the silversmith.  Isn't history fascinating?  I could go on and on...

This history fair occurs every year, but I only found out about it this year from other homeschool moms.

The idea is that every historical museum, archive, re-enactment company, etc. will be represented.

When I heard that history buffs would set up tables, I thought we would by-pass this area.  But, it was right near where we parked, so we meandered through on our way into the village.  Turns out, it was one of our favorite parts.  These folks have a passion for history and have amassed large collections of artifacts that all have a (hi)story and they are excited to share the stories.  Love it!

We heard Ben Franklin and Molly Pitcher speak.  A had a vested interest in Molly as she read a biography on Molly Pitcher for our Biography unit at the beginning of our homeschool year.  She loves the story of how when Molly went to collect her husband's pension they told her they would not give her her husband's pension money.  They would give Molly a pension based on her own merit of saving the lives of many soldiers and risking her life by bringing them water on the battlefields.  I get a little burst of pride in being female at that story--so glad my girl gets it too!

The girls got to see what chores would have been like in the 1830s.
Makes cleaning your room not seem like such a bad deal, doesn't it?

There was music EVERYWHERE.  Seriously, a spring day with bluegrass music--does it get much better?

We saw an 1864 baseball game!  Fun!

And an 1820s small village wedding.
The girls got front row seats!
They were so excited!

We got to see what working life would have been like in an 1830s company town.
b-barn raising
c-plowing (kids got to try this!)
d-cool shoes
e-quilting bees
f-cooking over an open fire :)

We saw the townsfolk just hanging out ;-)

The girls sat and had their silhouettes done.
I think we are going to frame them!

It was an awesome day!
A fantabulous weekend!