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Second Overmountain Institute set for early March

John Thompson • Jan 28, 2020 at 11:04 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The staff and the friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park are preparing for the second installment of “The Overmountain Institute.”

It will take place on the weekend of March 6-8.

Like all the programs presented by Sycamore Shoals, the program’s goal is to portray the region’s rich cultural heritage. The Institute gives participants the chance to get a closer, more in-depth look at life on the 18th-century frontier, with a focus on the area known as the Watauga Settlement in the 1700s.

The Institute will include participation from several skilled heritage interpreters, living historians and expert craftsmen who will bring life in the 18th-century Watauga settlement to new light through a series of demonstrations, workshops, seminars, and hands-on activities. The intent is for visitors to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the lives, hardships and accomplishments of the early settlers and Cherokee who called this area home over two centuries ago.

The weekend activities kick off on Friday, March 6, at 7 p.m. with an after-hours presentation titled “Finding Ourselves on the Frontiers – An Evening with Captain James Robertson.” Chad Bogart will portray early settler and militia leader Robertson, with a first-person account of experiences in the Watauga Settlement as told by the man who would later be known as the Father of Tennessee.

Bogart has presented living history programs and historic character demonstrations at over 60 local, state, and national historic sites for the past 23 years. He serves as the museum curatorial assistant at Sycamore Shoals. A reception and light refreshments will follow the presentation.

Saturday, March 7, will be filled with six presentations, each an hour long, on unique aspects of life in this area over two centuries ago. Skilled heritage interpreters will present life on the 18th-century frontier. Saturday’s presentations include the following:

• “Skrimshaw – 18th Century Powder Horn Art” presented by Steve Ricker. Ricker is well known for his fine handcrafted powder horns, hunting bags, knives and other 18th century accouterments. He will share the age old skill of scrimshaw, the beautiful scrollwork, engravings, and carvings done in bone, ivory, or horn.

Ricker is from Greeneville and serves as the interpretive program director for the Overmountain Victory Trail Association.

• “Betty Harper – Frontier Midwife” is presented by Emily Burns. Burns is from Richmond, Ky., where she works as an 18th century foodways interpreter at Fort Boonesborough State Park. Burns will portray Betty Harper and will share the skills and travails of a frontier midwife.

• “Men of Measure – Surveying in Colonial America,” presented by Mel Kent. Kent is a resident of Fort Mill, S.C. After 20 years of Civil War reenacting and a move to South Carolina, he started reenacting the colonial period in 2009.

Since he discovered surveying, he has found a period vocation that satisfies all his interests in history, science, and antique shopping for period equipment. Kent will explain the equipment and techniques of the colonial era surveyors.

•“Frontier Fashion – Basic Attire of the late 18th Century,” presented by Melodie Daniels. How can we really know what our ancestors wore? Using a variety of primary sources, Daniels will present a display of 18th-century reproduction clothing for gentlemen, ladies, and children. Daniels is a homeschooling mom from Limestone who has a passion for history education and all things 18th century.

•“Overmountain Melodies – The Music of the Frontier,” presented by The Sons of Liberty. Brothers Daniel, Noah, and Joshua Smith, from Jonesville, Va., began reenacting and playing the music of the 18th century in 2014. They have a 10-year background in classical violin performance and offer a unique sound enriched by their dynamic arrangements of traditional American songs.

•“Nathanael Greene – The Southern Campaign” presented by Taylor Osborne. Osborne is from Hickory Ridge Living History Museum in Boone, N.C., where he serves as a historic interpreter. Taylor will portray Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene and give his perspective of the Revolutionary War in the South.

The Overmountain Institute is designed to engage all five senses. As part of the Saturday experiences, participants will be treated to an 18th-century-inspired lunch cooked over the open hearth, which is included in the ticket price. Guests may also pack their own lunch or dine in one of the nearby restaurants.

Sunday, March 8, may be the last day of the institute, but it will not be short of activities. The day will begin at 11 a.m. with a frontier worship service held within Fort Watauga. The rest of the day will be dedicated to ongoing demonstrations, displays, talks and presentations of daily aspects of colonial frontier life.

The Overmountain Institute is limited to 50 participants. The fee to attend is $50 per individual and covers all three days of activities and an 18th-century-inspired lunch on Saturday. To register go to liberty.ticketleap.com/omi2020/.

The Overmountain Institute is sponsored by the Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park and the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia.

The Overmountain Institute

Schedule of Events

Friday, March 6

6 p.m.: – Doors open

7 p.m.: – “Finding Ourselves on the Frontiers” – An Evening with James Robertson

A first-person account of experiences in the Watauga Settlement as told by the man who would later be known as the Father of Tennessee.

Presented by Chad Bogart, museum curatorial assistant, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.

8 p.m. – Reception.

9 p.m.: – Close.

Saturday, March 7

9 a.m. - “Scrimshaw” – Powder Horn Art of the 18th Century: presented by Steve Ricker.

10 a.m. - “Betty Harper” – Frontier Midwife: presented by Emily Burns.

11a.m. - “Men of Measure” – Surveying in Colonial America: presented by Mel Kent.

Noon - Lunch Break

1p.m. - “Frontier Fashion” – Basic Attire of the late 18th Century: presented by Melodie Daniels.

2 p.m. - “Overmountain Melodies” – The Music of the Frontier: presented by the Sons of Liberty.

3 p.m. - “Nathanael Greene” – The Southern Campaign: presented by Taylor Osborne.

4 p.m. - Close.

Sunday, March 8

11 a.m.: - Frontier worship service.

Noon to 4 p.m.: - Ongoing presentations, displays, and demonstrations of 18th century frontier life.

4 p.m. - Close.

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