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2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
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New Hampshire Sunday News

Sunday, July 8, 2001
Manchester, New Hampshire
By Roger Amsden, Sunday News Correspondent

Re-enactors offer close-up of Revolutionary days
   The historic Webster site in Franklin provides the backdrop for a
   portrayal of Colonial life.

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Ebenezer Webster would have felt right at home yesterday at the two-room frame home on Punch Brook Road in 1779.

Camped on the lawn at the state historical landmark were members of the New England contingent of the Sons of the American Revolution(*), dressed and outfitted as 18th-century militia members. Inside the home, members of the living history project at the Daniel Webster birthplace were busy making a chicken stew, applesauce and biscuits in the open hearth fireplace.

Webster, who fought with Rogers' Rangers during the French and Indian War and later in George Washinton's Army during the American Revolution, knew all about the militia.

By virtue of his status as a colonel in the New Hampshire Militia, he was in charge of musters in his hometown which was then Salisbury. In fact, the piece of land on which he built the cabin where his famous son, Daniel, was born Jan. 18, 1782, was granted to him as a result of his service during the French and Indian War.

And, as a rebel against the English crown, he also would have been familiar with the sentiments and sense of purpose that motivate the militia re-enactors who gathered here yesterday.

Sharon Ann Burnston, director of the Daniel Webster Birthplace Living History Project, talks about the American Revolution with Richard Wright of Londonderry, John Bradford Towle of Milford, Conn., and Hans Jackson of Derry.
Photo by Roger Amsden.

Richard Wright of Londonderry says he is proud to be the descendant of Revolutionary War soldier John Wright Jr., who lived in Dunstable (now Nashua) and served along with his brother at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 and at the Battle of Bennington in 1777.

He said John outlived all of his children and died in the poor house, which was located at the current site of the Nashua Country Club, and was buried in a small cemetary near the old Fletcher Paint Factory in Nashua.

Researching his family's history has enabled him to locate and visit every piece of land owned by his family from 1640 to the present, giving him a unique perspective that he has been able to share with his own children.

Hans Jackson of Derry, state president of the John Stark Society of the Children of the American Revolution, counts three Revolution War soldiers in his ancestry: Reuben Jackson and Pliney Kellogg, who both served with the 8th Massachusetts Regiment, and John Curtis, who served with the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment and survived the rigors of Valley Forge and fought in one of the decisive battles of the war at Saratoga.

John Bradford Towle of Milford Conn., said he was recruited into the Sons of the American Revolution because he was a member of the Mayflower Society from his Bradford lineage. And when he joined the SAR, he joined as a descendant of Jonathan Towle, a private from Hampton who also fought at the Battle of Saratoga.

The militia re-enactors say their main goal is to help teach a new generation of Americans a sense of the historic and remarkable things accomplished by the American Revolution.

"We want to keep alive an understanding of what life was like at that time and how these men changed the world by what they did when they fought for independence," says Lee Gerlander of Toland, Conn.

While they work to keep alive that flame, others at the Daniel Webster Birthplace look to keep alive the memory of what daily life was like in the late 18th century.

Gina Gerhard of Hill demonstrates how a spinning wheel works as Conner
and Erin Jackson of Derry and Leah and Hannah Cheney of Webster watch.
Photo by Roger Amsden, from the Telegram.

A group of volunteers led by Sharon Ann Burnston of Epsom conduct a living history program every weekend at the Webster birthplace, cooking, spinning wool, making candles and playing games that would have been popular at that time.

She said the Franklin Historical Society sponsors the program, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. She has enlisted volunteers for the program over the Internet.

For a gallery of photos from the Militia Muster 2001 click here.

* For more information about the SAR, visit their site, The New Hamsphire Society of the Sons of the American Revolution at
Members of the NHSSAR Colorguard participated at this event.

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