Re-enactors to fire cannon, display frontier skills at Compass Inn
Visitors to historic Compass Inn this month will see demonstrations of past frontier skills representing such 18th-century trades as the gunsmith, blacksmith and midwife.
Members of Proctor’s Militia, a local re-enactment group that portrays a Revolutionary War-era militia unit of the same name, will camp at the restored 1799 Laughlintown stagecoach stop the weekend of Aug. 17-18. They will present living history programs that recall the early years of European settlement in Western Pennsylvania.
Famous figures such as George Washington and Daniel Boone weren’t the only ones who helped lay the foundation for today’s United States. “It was thousands of common people who worked and loved and died in this area,” said Scott Henry of Greensburg, captain of the modern Proctor’s Militia — also known as the Independent Battalion Westmoreland County Pennsylvania (I.B.W.C.P.). “They deserve to be remembered as well.”
While the group is in residence at Compass Inn, Henry will demonstrate the process of gunsmithing, carving ornamentation on a wooden stock as he constructs a facsimile of a Virginia-style flintlock rifle that was in common use during the 1760s. The group will display period-authentic muskets and fowling pieces for comparison.
“These guns are not just reproductions,” Henry said. “They’re real firing guns that I hunt with. I will be using them to feed my family this fall.”
Period blacksmithing and leather-working techniques will be on display, along with cooking methods.
During the Revolutionary period, midwives were relied on to assist with childbirth and women’s medical issues. Melissa Makofske, who interprets a midwife of that era, will display a birthing chair, salves, herbs and tools used to make various remedies.
Proctor’s Militia will present military drills and plans to fire a reproduction of a King’s Howitzer cannon. The small artillery piece was used in such conflicts as the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers, near present-day Toledo, Ohio, where Gen. Anthony Wayne led U.S. forces in a victory over a confederation of Native American tribes.
“It was a short-range, large-caliber, utilitarian type of gun that was very useful on the frontier in this area,” Henry said.
Proctor’s Militia plans to participate in the annual Flax Scutching Festival, set for Sept. 14-15 in Stahlstown, and Fall Family Day, scheduled for the last weekend in October, at Historic Hanna’s Town in Hempfield.
The historic militia group was formed May 16 1775, at Hanna’s Town, Westmoreland County’s first local seat of government, and served during and after the Revolutionary War, defending Western Pennsylvania settlers against British and Native American foes.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .