Taking a journey back through time to 1775

10/09/2016 11:02 AM |

The Southold Historical Society took the town on a journey back to 1775 this past weekend by transforming its museum complex into a Revolutionary War encampment with the help of the 3rd NY Regiment of 1775, a nonprofit historical organization.

“This is a bit of living history,” said society director Karen Lund-Rooney. “It’s a way to connect to our past and, seeing that we have a lot of children here, we’re really connecting to our future as well.”

Ms. Lund-Rooney said it had been her goal to bring the group to Southold since she became director about a year ago. It became reality with help from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, a Hampton Bays organization that provides grants to historical societies to support events or programs. A grant from the foundation helped fund the weekend event, Ms. Lund-Rooney said.

About a dozen “soldiers” showed off their tents, demonstrated how to cook over firewood and performed rifle demonstrations at the museum complex Saturday. (Events planned for Sunday had to be canceled because of rain.)

For those who played soldiers, interacting with the children is a favorite part of the experience. Andrew McClain of Southampton is commander of the 3rd NY Regiment and his job over the weekend was to greet families as they arrived and write the children’s names on replica shillings with a quill pen.

Mr. McClain said he likes to try and make the kids laugh, while also giving them a little history lesson.

“I think it’s important to know where you came from,” Mr. McClain said. “There were actually men from Southold in the 3rd NY Regiment that fought in the Revolutionary War.”

Nathan Corwin of Riverhead, a sergeant in the 3rd NY Regiment, said he has a personal connection to the soldiers he portrays because his ancestors were members of the regiment.

Mr. Corwin has been participating in the group for about 25 years. A local land surveyor by day, he said his favorite part about the group is the escape from reality and the historical aspect of what they do.

“You get to see the way people lived hundreds of years ago,” he said. “When we do this, we do it as authentic as we can do it.”

The soldiers sleep in their tents overnight and eat only the food they prepare over a fire.

Families from across Long Island and New York City attended the weekend event.

Donna Burrell of Baiting Hollow came Saturday with her husband and two children. She said it’s great that the historical society could offer the event for free.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for every child,” Ms. Burrell said. Her 10-year-old daughter Genevieve added that she loved the experience.

“It’s really fun and you learn so much,” she said.

John Tramontana from Southold also stopped by Saturday with his family. He said it was something different to do and convenient because it is so close to home.

“I thought it was neat that the kids learn that part of the revolution took place here,” he said. His son Jay, 11, said his favorite part was that the soldiers gave lessons on their weapons and showed how they used to have to load their guns.

Ms. Lund-Rooney said she was happy with the turnout and excited to see that all of the children — and even the adults — were interacting with the soldiers and engaging in conversation.

“I just want to thank the community for all of their support,” she said.

More events are in the pipeline, she added.

Next June, the historical society plans to host Founding Families Weekend, during which local families will be invited to research their history and listen to some lectures. Another event is planned to recognize the 100-year anniversary of World War I, which lasted from 1914 until 1918.

Ms. Lund-Rooney said she hopes the encampment event, which she plans to reprise next year, helped draw more local people in and connect them with the historical society.

“We are right in the heart of Southold, we want the community to come in, see our exhibits, see what we’re all about,” she said.

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