Event takes visitors a step back in time

August 14, 2005|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL


The view from Rock Hill Farm, just south of Welsh Run, is all mountains, trees and fields. Few signs of civilization are evident.

It was the perfect setting Saturday for the Conococheague Institute's first Colonial Farm Faire.

Gay Buchanan, a member of the institute, said the group wanted to plan "events rather than meetings to get people to our site. We have a lot to offer to educate people."

The Conococheague Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of the cultural heritage and natural history of the area around Conococheague Creek.


A Pennsylvania historic marker to recognize Pawling's Tavern was unveiled at the fair. It will be erected later near the intersection of Williamsport Pike and Milnor Road.

Dagworthy's Company of the Maryland Forces, a group of French and Indian War re-enactors, provided several demonstrations. Cheryl Puckett of Garrett County, Md., knitted a winter cap, while Debra Carbaugh of Hagerstown repaired the sleeve of a shift, an all-purpose garment of the period.

Carbaugh's husband, Trent, displayed the weapons and equipment that a Maryland Forces soldier in the French and Indian War would have used, such as playing cards with moral tales, a toothbrush made of pig bristles and cow bone, and two combs, "one for making you pretty and one for getting rid of bugs," he said.

The presence of the Maryland Forces was appropriate at a Pennsylvania fair.

"Nobody was sure if this area was Pennsylvania or Maryland," Carbaugh said. "We're pretty sure they patrolled in this area."

Melanie Desmond and daughter Lizzie, 13, demonstrated the spinning of flax into linen thread. Desmond wore a dress of blue linen from Ireland made from a 1760 pattern,

Linen was an everyday fabric, used to make linings, clothing, towels, feedbags and other items, Desmond said. If she spins all day, she can fill a bobbin with 300 to 400 yards of thread. A man's shirt of the type worn in the late 1700s uses 8,000 to 10,000 yards, she said.

Cousins Megan Painter and Katelyn Malena, both 5, watched Desmond spin flax.

"It looks like sheep hair," Megan said. The girls were accompanied by Megan's mother and brother, Ruthie and Ryan Painter of Waynesboro, Pa.

David Hornbaker of Mercersburg, Pa., a collector of Indian arrowheads, or points, used a tool with a copper tip to create a point from a piece of obsidian.

The Indians used either a copper tool or a deer antler, he said.

The fair continues today, with lectures including "Early Frontier Churches" by Calvin Bricker, "A Day in the Life of a Colonist" by Dr. Terry Musselman and "Lenape Lifeways: Introducing the First People of Pennsylvania" by Carla Messinger. Demonstrations of flax spinning, basket making, chair caning, weaving, pottery, quilting, bobbin lace making and antique farm tools also continue. Colonial music and activities for children will be provided, and food is available.

Organizers hope the fair will become an annual event.

If you go

What: Colonial Farm Faire

Where: Rock Hill Farm, home of the Conococheague Institute, 12995 Bain Road, Mercersburg, one mile southwest of Welsh Run, Pa.

When: Today, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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