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The Union Leader

Monday, July 21, 2003
Manchester, New Hampshire
By Roger Amsden, Union Leader Correspondent

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For some, re-enactments are the best teachers
    Battle in Franklin: Militia Muster Day at the Birthplace is an action-
    packed history lesson.

Stephen Gove, a former resident of North Sandwich who now works at a historic site in Tennessee, and Andy Cheney of Webster, say they hated history in high school.

But both say that all changed once they became familiar with historical re-enactments such as the Militia Muster day that was held at the Daniel Webster Birthplace next to Punch Brook yesterday.

"It's resurrected my interest in history; I just love it now," said Cheney, who was dressed in a militia costume from the late 18th century and carried a muzzleloading musket with him.

He said he has attended six or seven musters a year for five years and is always learning now things about history and his heritage.

Gove, who is back in New Hampshire visiting friends and family, said he usually works on weekends but still manages to get to a couple of musters each year.

"I hated the way history was taught in high school, and it wasn't until I learned real history by taking part in these events that I could really appreciate it," says Gove.

He read about the upcoming muster last week and decided to liven up his vacation by donning his militia uniform and bringing his muzzleloader to the event.

Members of the Chase Taylor Militia aim their muskets during the Militia Muster day at the
Daniel Webster Birthplace in Franklin.
Photo by Roger Amsden.

Evelyn Auger of Sanbornton, who helped form the Chase-Taylor Militia group three years ago, said she enjoys making period costumes for the historic re-enactors.

"That's the attraction for me, creating something that looks like what people wore 200 years ago," she said.

"It's a lot of good family fun," said Bill Starck of New Hampton, whose entire family is involved in the re-enactments. "The boys get to play with guns, and the girls get to wear costumes and play games that kids used to play years ago."

His wife, Pat, said she loves everything about the musters and re-creations of an older, simpler era.

"It's a way of life, of looking at things from a different perspective," she said.

She added that the re-enactments provide an opportunity to introduce young people to guns in a safe manner and under close supervision.

Victor LeCourt of New Hampton said his wife, Debra, found out about the Chase-Taylor militia from a community newsletter.

"It seemed like a crazy idea at first, but we decided we needed a new hobby and now we can't wait to get to these gatherings," said LeCourt.

And people can't wait for Debra to show up, either.

"She's the open-fire cooking expert. Without her, we'd all starve," said LeCourt.

Lance Wilson of Nashua and Douglas Damm of Braintree Vt., were dressed in period costumes.
Photo by Roger Amsden.

Those taking part in the muster agreed that Daniel Webster's father, Ebenezer, would have felt right at home at yesterday's muster at the two-room frame house he built on Punch Brook Road in 1779.

Ebenezer Webster, who had fought with Roger's Rangers during the French and Indian War and later in George Washington'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 had been in charge of musters in his hometwon, which was then Salisbury. In fact, the piece of land on which he built the cabin where his famous son, Daniel, was born on January 18, 1782, was granted to him because of his service during the French and Indian War.

The Webster birthplace has living history programs conducted every weekend by a group of volunteers led by Sharon Ann Burnston of Epsom. The volunteers cook, spin wool and make candles, while children play games popular in the late 18th century.

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