Sycamore Shoals to hold Overmountain Institute next month

Johnson City Press • Feb 11, 2019 at 10:53 PM

ELIZABETHTON — In its continuing effort to portray frontier life in Tennessee in the 18th century, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park will be unveiling a new program in March that has been named The Overmountain Institute.

The intent of the new program is to give participants the chance to get a closer, more in-depth look at life on the 18th century frontier, with a focus on the Watauga Settlement.

To accomplish this goal, the state park will be partnering with some of the region’s most skilled heritage interpreters, living historians and expert craftsmen.

Their skills will be displayed through a series of demonstrations, workshops, seminars and hands-on activities. Through their presentations, it is hoped the audience will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the lives, hardships, and accomplishments of the early settlers and the Cherokee.

The weekend activities kick off Friday, March 8, with an evening presentation titled “The Campaign to Kings Mountain,” presented by Steve Ricker, interpretive program director for the Overmountain Victory Trail Association.

Ricker’s authentic appearance and unique delivery transports listeners back in time as he gives a first-person account of the journey of the Overmountain Men and their decisive victory at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

Saturday, March 9, will be filled with six one-hour presentations on unique aspects of life in this area over two centuries ago. Sycamore Shoals often hosts these heritage interpreters, who present life on the 18th century frontier in such a way that participants cannot help but feel as if they have actually touched the past. Saturday’s presentations include the following:

• “Nancy Ward – Beloved Woman of the Cherokee,” presented by Jackie Fisher, who serves as the park manager for David Crockett Birthplace State Park in Limestone.

Fisher will portray the life of Ward, who played such a pivotal role in the relationships between the Cherokee and early settlers. Fisher will also demonstrate more about the role of women in 18th century Cherokee society.

• “Medicinal plants and herbs” will be presented by Elizabeth and Michael Hardy. Elizabeth is an educator and Michael is an author and historian from Crossnore, N.C. The husband-and-wife team will share knowledge that the early settlers and natives possessed of the healing properties of native plants and herbs.

• “Attakullakulla – Cherokee peace chief” will be presented by Robert K. Rambo. Attakullakulla, also known as the Little Carpenter, played such a pivotal role in Anglo-Cherokee negotiations. Rambo is from Cullowhee, N.C.

• “A Frontier of Color,” will be presented by Carol Jarboe. Her first-person presentations are some of the best in the living history community. She can be found sharing a myriad of topics from indentured servants and laundry techniques to resurrectionists and 19th century British aristocracy.

At this event, she will be instructing on natural dyeing with plants available to the area.

• “Faith on the Frontier” will be presented by the Rev. John Frank Jarboe. He can usually be found portraying “Parson John,” an itinerant minister delivering the Sunday sermon at various weekend living history events. He will be sharing the importance of faith to the frontier people and the impact it had in the early settlement days. Frank and Carol Jarboe are from Woodburn, Ky.

• “18th Century Blacksmithing” will be presented by Will Vogt. Perhaps no one was more important to a frontier settlement than the local blacksmith. Settlers depended on the smith to repair wagon parts and farm implements, fashion hardware, shoe horses and many other tasks.

Vogt demonstrate his talents and talks about this essential member of the community. Vogt is from Limestone, and is the manager of Graysburg Forge.

Sunday, March 10, 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 in the confines of Fort Watauga and will be presented by the Rev. Jarboe.

The rest of the day will be dedicated to ongoing demonstrations, displays, talks and presentations of daily aspects of colonial frontier life. Programs include, but are not limited to, 18th century music with a special presentation by the Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corps, black powder manufacturing, candle making, 18th century beverages, firearms and weaponry, butter making, lard rendering, natural dyeing and much more.

The Overmountain Institute is limited to 100 participants. The fee to attend is $50 per individual and covers all three days of activities. To register, visit www.liberty.ticketleap.com/omi2019.

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