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Wagon train teaches about 18th-century life

May 16, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A handful of people gathered Saturday near the Hager House to learn a little about the 18th century -- including bonnet-making techniques and practices in personal hygiene.

Gaela Shoop, a Hager House recreation assistant, said the history lesson was held in conjunction with the National Pike Festival, an annual event that re-creates the way pioneers migrated across the American west.

About 25 horse-drawn wagons shoved off Saturday morning from Clear Spring and followed U.S. 40 into Hagerstown. The wagon train rolled into City Park and past the Hager House about 2:30 p.m.

The procession is to end today in Boonsboro.

While dozens of people gathered near the pond at City Park to meet the wagon train, others congregated closer to the Hager House to make bonnets and listen to Shoop tell them about the way people lived in the 1700s.

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"They rarely bathed," Shoop said. "Most people had fleas and lice."

Shoop said it was uncommon for people to bathe back then because the layer of filth that collected on the skin was believed to protect them from bugs and disease.

Weddings often occurred in the spring, she said, when people took their first bath of the year.

Because 18th-century women wore several layers of clothes that were hard to remove, they often burned to death when their skirts were set ablaze by cooking fires, Shoop said.

"It was one of the leading causes of death," Shoop said.

Stephen Buchanan of Scotland, Pa., said he attended Saturday's event, in part, because he likes the "simple life."

"Women today shouldn't have a complaint in the world," he said.

The Hager House was the home of Jonathan Hager, Hagerstown's founding father.

Today's wagon train schedule



o 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. -- Breakfast offered by West Hagerstown Lions Club for donation.

o 10 a.m. -- Wagon train departs traveling east on Wilson Boulevard onto Alternate U.S. 40.

o 10:30 a.m. -- Stop at Ravenwood Lutheran Village on Kenly Avenue. Train travels through Funkstown to Alternate U.S. 40 to Boonsboro.

o 12:30 p.m. -- Wagon train stops for lunch at the Auction Square Complex in Boonsboro.

o 1:15 p.m. -- Wagon train departs.

o 1:30 p.m. -- Wagon train ends at Shafer Memorial Park in Boonsboro. Depending on weather, wagon train will circle for 30 minutes before disassembling.

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