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Step back in time to the wild frontier days of Hanna's Town

Shirley McMarlin
| Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
West Hempfield Elementary student Luke Krebs tried a Colonial-era tug-o-war game during a May school field trip to Hanna's Town. Games and toys from the late-18th-century will be featured during the historical site's Fall Family Day on Oct. 28.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
West Hempfield Elementary student Luke Krebs tried a Colonial-era tug-o-war game during a May school field trip to Hanna's Town. Games and toys from the late-18th-century will be featured during the historical site's Fall Family Day on Oct. 28.
A volunteer discusses Colonial-era games during a May field trip to Hanna's Town for West Hempfield Elementary students.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
A volunteer discusses Colonial-era games during a May field trip to Hanna's Town for West Hempfield Elementary students.
Volunteer Augie Nicholai talks to West Hempfield Elementary students during a May field trip to Hanna's Town, where Fall Family Day is scheduled for Oct. 28.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Volunteer Augie Nicholai talks to West Hempfield Elementary students during a May field trip to Hanna's Town, where Fall Family Day is scheduled for Oct. 28.
The Proctor's Militia fires off a field cannon during a June Colonial Court re-enactment at the Historic Hanna's Town, where the annual Fall Family Day is set for Oct. 28.
Kyle Hodges
The Proctor's Militia fires off a field cannon during a June Colonial Court re-enactment at the Historic Hanna's Town, where the annual Fall Family Day is set for Oct. 28.
Re-enactors with Proctor's Militia give a muzzleloader firing demonstration during 2013 opening day activities at Historic Hanna's Town, where Fall Family Day is scheduled for Oct. 28.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Re-enactors with Proctor's Militia give a muzzleloader firing demonstration during 2013 opening day activities at Historic Hanna's Town, where Fall Family Day is scheduled for Oct. 28.

Travel back to frontier times on Oct. 28 with the Westmoreland County Historical Society during the annual Fall Family Day at Historic Hanna's Town.

Visitors can explore the reconstructed site, consisting of a Revolutionary War-era fort and Hanna's Tavern/Courthouse, three vintage log houses and a shed that houses an authentic late-18th-century Conestoga wagon.

The day also will feature an encampment and weapons demonstration by members of Proctor's Militia, a craft activity, 18th-century toys and games and a blood-curdling tale told during a cemetery walk.

Refreshments will be available and the museum shop will be open.

Make sure to take time for these can't-miss activities:

Craft-making

Necessity was the mother of invention on the frontier. Children had to amuse themselves with whatever was on hand.

Girls and their mothers would make dolls from ordinary household materials like wooden utensils, yarn, buttons, rags and cornhusks.

Family Day visitors can join Joanna Moyar, the historical society's education coordinator, to make a Colonial-style doll of their own.

‘The Curse of John Trotter'

It's a tale worth telling around Halloween — and a true one, at that.

Take a walk to the old cemetery at 2 p.m. to hear about the hapless Sgt. Trotter, a camp aide to Gen. Anthony Wayne, also known as Mad Anthony Wayne for his fiery temperament and fondness for the bottle.

One day in 1792, Wayne found Trotter absent from duty and commanded three officers to find him and execute him for desertion.

Facing the firing squad, Trotter called down a curse from Psalm 109: “May my accusers be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.”

According to Pennsylvania Haunts & History , the curse worked:

All three officers were tormented afterward by ailments both physical and spiritual.

Wayne died four years later. His body was disinterred from its original grave at Fort Presque Isle and the flesh was boiled from his bones, which then were buried in different spots around the state.

Trotter was buried in Penn Hill's Beulah Presbyterian Cemetery, where he is said to lie in peace.

Weapons demonstration

Join members of Proctor's Militia at 3 p.m. for a demonstration of 18th-century weapons.

Revolutionary War-era arms included muzzleloading flintlock muskets with bayonets, cannon, long rifles, pistols and swords.

The re-enactment group, a regular participant in Hanna's Town programs, is named for John Proctor, sheriff of Westmoreland County when the troop was formed at Hanna's Town in 1775 to defend the western frontier. The troop's full name was John Proctor's Independent Battalion of Westmoreland County Provincials.

The modern-day militia works to further education in the lifestyles of its predecessors, circa 1750 to 1794. Members use traditional 18th-century skills and crafts in making their clothing and kit.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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