Local history comes to life at Lowe-Volk
By Matt Echelberry
There was a tent where jewelry, plants and indian decorations were sold, as well as a cobbler station where a re-enactor showed how metalworks would have been made in the 18th century. Tomahawk throwing was also offered for those interested. The Richland County Museum had a station where homemade butter and other foods could be sampled to provide patrons with a taste of the past.
American Indian Roger Moore spoke during two sessions throughout the day and two live reenactments were shown about the ambush and capture of Colonel William Crawford in 1782. For the reenactment, the audience walked into the woods and watched as Crawford and his men were assailed by Wyandot Indians in waiting.
The audience was then led out of the woods to a small clearing, which became the site of Crawford’s torture and murder.
When the gauntlet was demonstrated, the children in attendance that day each received a thin stick and were divided into to lines. Josh Dyer, a naturalist at Lowe-Volk, ran between the two lines so the kids could hit him in the legs with their sticks, as Crawford would have been forced to do.
That evening, a lantern tour was offered from 8–10 p.m. Patrons were led through the woods by a re-enactor holding a lantern and stopped in certain spots to meet some familiar faces from the reenactment. First, two indians gave a dire warning that they would protect the woods from white intruders.
Further up the trail, Simon Girty talked about his life as a colonial soldier and then a prisoner-turned Indian with the tribe that went on to torture Crawford. Girty explained that he did everything he could to save Crawford, but would have had to take his place in order to do so, because the Wyandots wanted to spill the blood of a white man that day.
Next on the tour was William Crawford himself to enlighten the audience with a context of the reenactment. “Crawford was at the right place at the wrong time,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s a recurring theme in the Crawford story.” He was tortured to death for a crime he did not commit, but some of his men were at Gnadenhutten the day of the massacre.
On the final stop of the tour, some early settlers sat around a fire talking until some Indians came to kill the men and take a woman captive.
“This is the way life was like back then. You never knew what was waiting for you in the trees,” one of the Indians explained.
Living History Day was filled with education and entertainment that highlighted the historical significance of the area, albeit filled with tragedy.