Saturday, September 27, 2008

Field Trips in History

American Romanticism, ushered in by author David Fenimore Cooper, has currently swept The Sinclair School of Fine Arts. Yesterday we brought our imaginations to a whole new level as we traveled to Fort William Henry on Lake George, and then on to Fort Edward to visit the Old Fort House Museum.

I'm not necessarily a hardcore fan of romanticism (typically not at all my favorite.) Well, all right, I do like that sappy Austen stuff (that's chic flic romanticism at its best), I loved reading The Scottish Chiefs, and pretty much anything Dickens penned intrigues, but still, I would not consider myself a fan of romanticism. (Do you suppose I am delusional?) One thing I know for sure: I absolutely relish the history of colonial America. And our current study of The Last of the Mohicans gives me plenty to enjoy.

The story of Hawkeye and the Munro daughters is set in August of 1757. Here we were, one month and 251 years later, traversing the same territory, viewing the same dramatic skyline from the foot of Lake George looking northward, standing atop the fortress parapet. Our Indian tour guide pointed to the west. "Right over there, just beyond those trees, was the French line. Montcalm's troops filled those forests." I imagined the coolness of the nighttime cover followed by the mist of the morning as it moved across the lake with the sun's rays dispersing the shadows. What fateful movement that proved to be.

Our characters' travels began a bit further south at Fort Edward. The fort's structure is no longer standing, but the town itself boasts great history. We found ourselves finishing our day's tour of this region at the Old Fort House Museum.

Totally charmed, I could have remained there for some time, lost in imaginative thought after discovering the rich history of this particular home. Built in 1772 by Patrick Smyth, this dwelling, once an Inn, was twice frequented by George Washington himself, once as he traveled north to attend to some duties and again on his return (could it have been a trip to Fort Ticonderoga? One can imagine!) A simple upstairs bedroom had been home to a freeman who was captured and sold as a slave. He won his freedom 12 years later with the help of a lawyer from Schenectady who learned of his plight. His interesting story is recounted in his book, 12 Years a Slave. (I will be ordering that one today!) Timbers from the original fort had been confiscated from the ruins to build the foundation of this historic home. As we toured the various rooms our hostess identified a portrait of a local citizen alleged to have murdered his wife, explained the use of artifacts dating to the 1700's, and told the saga of Jane McCrea and other local citizens whose lives were fascinating simply because they had lived their lives right here in this community, this "once upon a time wilderness".

History is God's story woven through the ages, one life tied to another, strung upon the frame of this world's loom. We live, we die, some for a shorter season than others, but in reality we all are but a vapor. Still, what we do touches the future. We are a thread in the tapestry.

May my life be used by His Hand for wonderful purpose. It is dedicated to Him.

3 Comments:

Blogger thisrequiresthought said...

you related it so gloriously!

I am much too lazy to post about it, so I'll just link to you!!

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