Past and present converge during weekend-long celebration of America’s pioneer spirit –
Story and photos by Patricia Beech –
Ralph and Patricia Alexander last weekend hosted the eighth annual Adams County Heritage Days Festival at the John T. Wilson Homestead in Tranquility.
The event sponsored by the Heritage Days Association honors the life and contributions of Adams County philanthropist John Thomas Wilson, who by the time of his death had given more than half a million dollars to charitable causes, including the building of the county’s Childrens Home. In addition to his humanitarian work Wilson was also a Civil War hero, an abolitionist, a statesman, and a merchant.
“A lot of work goes into preparing the festival,” said organizer Angelena Newman, “It takes nearly a year to plan, and it’s a group effort, we all try to bring our talents to the table.”
Sitting atop a bluff in Tranquility, Wilson’s colonial home, which he named “Prominence”, overlooks the quiet intersection of Ohio 32 and Route 770. During the festival the lawn of the stately home is transformed into an early American frontier-style gathering place by history re-enactors from the Grassy Run Society in Williamsburg. Amid white canvas tents and open camp fires, skilled artisans, dressed in period clothing, greet visitors and share their knowledge about life on the early American frontier.
“We coordinate our efforts with the members of the Grassy Run Society and the Adams County Historical Society (ACHS) to make the festival a fun, educational experience for kids and adults,” said Newman.
Visitors are encouraged to participate as period crafters demonstrate the techniques used by early settlers to create the goods they needed on the primitive Ohio frontier. Yarn spinners, weavers, gourd crafters, blacksmiths, quilters, and many others create a vivid image of the challenges pioneer families faced during the western movement across the United States.
Speakers for the event included Lindsey Willman from the Ohio Brush Creek Herb Guild and John Martin of the Ohio Gourd Society. Entertainment was provided by the Adams County Liberty Band.