NEW HAVEN — New Haven Elementary School students, as well as local residents, took a step back into history Friday when Heritage Day was conducted at the school.
Although it was the school’s third year for the event, it was the first year it was open to the public.
Members of the West August Volunteers taught about animal trapping and the Civil War, as well as blacksmithing and working a 100-year-old telegraph. Those attending could also taste apple butter and bacon cooked over an open fire.
“I cooked bacon for 500,” said Whitney Metcalf, a member of the Volunteers. Deep fried over the fire, she said she went through more than 20 pounds of the crispy meat.
Red Dog Monroe told the story of a man who started out as a trapper, showing many animal pelts of what the man would have caught during the time period. He said the man later joined the Union Army as a soldier, while demonstrating the century-old telegraph he might have used.
Thad McClung, of Hamlin, demonstrated the forge, showing his blacksmithing skills. He brought along sons Ayden, 11, and Sawyer, 4, as his helpers. Ayden spoke about melting pewter in the forge to around 500 degrees to cast the toy soldiers he offered for sale. The McClung family has appeared on The History Channel three times, including Kevin Costner’s “Hatfields and McCoys” mini-series.
The Volunteers also included a more local member, Joe Smith of Point Pleasant, who showed the art of making buckets. Smith showed the children how the wood was shaped in earlier times. He even threw in a little math lesson as the students tried to figure the radius to determine the bucket size.
Monroe said the Volunteers visit about a dozen schools a year, but attend many festivals and events.
“We’ve all been doing this for over 20 years,” he said.
Members of the Heritage Farms Museum and Village in Huntington, the Volunteers appear there the first Saturday of each month during “Way Back Saturdays.” They will also have a living history camp at the Pumpkin Festival in Milton, Oct. 1-4.
Monroe said the Volunteers work hard to keep their clothing and props authentic to the period. The clothing is all handmade. Monroe added he strives to use products made in West Virginia, including his tents.
Monroe described his trip to New Haven as “wonderful,” with a “good crowd.” Thad McClung said the day was “amazing.”
“The students were extremely well-behaved and attentive to what we were doing,” McClung added.
In addition to the Volunteers, Bob’s Market and Greenhouses Inc. of Mason was on hand preparing apple butter. Doug Riley of the West Virginia Humanities Council’s “History Alive” portrayed Stonewall Jackson.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.