Historic Handsell to host Living History Presentations

VIENNA — Visitors to Dorchester County’s largest living history event will enjoy hands-on interaction with a variety of activities on Oct. 12 at the 9th annual Nanticoke River Jamboree at the historic Handsell site near Vienna.

submitted to dorchester banner/nhpa
In the kitchen at Handsell, Jerome Bias of the Slave Dwelling Project will be demonstrating activities from a 19th century plantation kitchen while discussing life as an enslaved cook.

Designed as an event for families, the Jamboree will feature open-hearth cooking as experienced by African-American slaves, displays and hands-on demonstrations by Native Americans who once lived on the site, and crafts of early European settlers who built the house at Handsell hundreds of years ago.

In addition to displays and demonstrations by people in period dress, this year’s Jamboree will showcase model boats crafted after historic vessels of the Chesapeake as a tribute to Dorchester’s 350th Anniversary and the Smithsonian Waterways Exhibit. Examples include native dugout canoes, skipjack, deadrise oyster boat, crab scrape, log canoe and skiff among others.

“The Jamboree is a way to take people back in time, to partake in a fun variety of historic skills and craft activities that African-Americans, Native Americans, and European settlers engaged in during three centuries in America,” said Midge Ingersoll, a trustee and president of the Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance (NHPA), which owns and maintains Handsell.
Handsell honors three cultures that made up its history: Native Americans who lived in a sprawling Chicone Village at the site, European settlers who built the house at Handsell around 1770, and African-Americans, who worked as enslaved and free people at Handsell. The Jamboree’s purpose is to educate visitors through living history presentations.

In the kitchen at Handsell, Jerome Bias of the Slave Dwelling Project will be demonstrating activities from a 19th century plantation kitchen while discussing life as an enslaved cook. Dontavius Williams will be performing “The Chronicles of Adam,” an interpretation of life as an enslaved person of the 19th Century. Noah Lewis will portray “Ned Hector,” a revolutionary war soldier. Nearby, Roberta Perkins, a “laundress,” will be discussing 19th century life as an enslaved woman, recently freed, for the family at Handsell.

Living history interpreter Rachel O’Connell will demonstrate many favorite 18th century activities such as: trapball, croquet, Game of Graces (hoop toss), Shut the box (dice game), lawn bowling, mirror box, Newtons Inertia toy, tablecloth pull trick, friction tug o war, bed of nails, and singing wine glasses.

Antique doll specialist Carolyn Hoiler of Crisfield will display and discuss early period dolls. In addition to the new performers, traditional crafts people and living history interpreters will also be exhibiting at the Jamboree as they explore life in the 18th and 19th centuries. This year there will be more craftspeople than ever and will include basket weaving, wood lathe turning, doll making, spinning, rug-hooking, wool dyeing and broom making.

Representatives from the Pocomoke Indian Nation, the Lenni-Lanape of Delaware, Hermann Jackson of the Nanticoke of Delaware and Nause Waiwash Band of Indians as well as Handsell’s own Village Volunteers will explore many life skills of the Native people who once lived at Chicone. These demonstrations include fire-making, weaving, pottery, chipping of implements, and techniques used for the building of the longhouse. These demonstrations occur in the Chicone Village (longhouse, garden and work shelter) and are ongoing through the day.

Drew Shuptar-Rayvis, a new addition to the Jamboree family travelling from Conneticut, whose traditional name is Pekatawas MakataweU (Black Corn) is an Algonkian living historian of the 17th and 18th century of Accomac and Pocomoke descent. He has interpreted Algonkian life for a multitude of institutions, and will be interpreting late 17th century Pocomoke life on behalf of the tribe for the Jamboree. Acclaimed flutist Ron Warren will be entertaining visitors with his mystical native-inspired music throughout the day.

Handsell is located on the site of the pre-historic Native Village at Chicone, later set aside as an Indian Reservation (1721-1769). Today it is a State and National Register Listed Historic site, held with a Maryland Historic Trust Preservation Easement on a Maryland Scenic By-Way and listed on the Michener Chesapeake By-Way and John Smith Historic Water Trail.

Partner organizations for the 2019 Nanticoke River Jamboree are the Harriet Tubman UGRR Visitors Center and State Park, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, and the National Park Service. Business sponsors include NRG Energy, Healing Hands Animal Hospital, Dorchester Center for the Arts and Chesapeake Country 106.3 FM.

Food and beverages provided by Little Bitta Bull Food Truck. Admission is $5, children 12 and under are admitted FREE. Gate opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m., Oct. 12.

Handsell is located at 4837 Indiantown Road, 1 ½ miles north of Rt. 50, near Vienna, Dorchester County.

For more information go to www.restorehandsell.org or www.nanticokeriverjamboree.com. Interested historic craftspeople can call 410-228-7458 or email restorehandsell@gmail.com.

Facebook Comment