In all of their combined years of historical re-enactment, Clay Kilgore and Bryan Cunning share a favorite account that is fairly recent.
During the annual Whiskey Rebellion Festival in July, when a re-enactor took the oath of allegiance, thereby abandoning his fellow objectors, the crowd jeered at him.
“They were yelling, ‘Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!’ They were getting so into it,” said Kilgore, executive director of Washington County Historical Society. “That’s the type of thing we can do here.”
“Here” is the Frontier History Center in Washington Park, where on Aug. 10, guests of an open house toured the blockhouse, fort and outbuildings that are part of the 18th-century living experience.
“I love museums, but here, you get to be a part of it,” Kilgore said.
The historical society started efforts to create the space early in the century. They secured a long-term lease with the city of Washington for 21 acres in the park, and constructed a fort, including a blockhouse and blacksmith shed.
Named in honor of former historical society president Fred Schneider, who died in 2010, Schneider’s Fort is an example of the approximately 45 blockhouses that were once located throughout Washington County. Kilgore said it doesn’t replicate any specific structure, but incorporates common elements from them.
The blockhouses, used by groups of families to defend themselves against Indian raids, were effective protection for frontier families.
“We don’t know of any in Washington County that failed,” Kilgore said.
With events like Ghastly Tales Oct. 6 and 7, and Twelfth Night in January, the society merges history with entertainment.
During the October event, interpreters will recount ghastly tales of the history and haunts of the Pennsylvania frontier. In January, the public can experience period-accurate refreshments – including rum punch and spiced whiskey tea…