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Joshua Thomas
Mikaila Roberge practices tin piercing, creating a heart.

Joshua Thomas
Asa Handy practices tin piercing.

Joshua Thomas
The Young Pioneers practice military drilling. Behind them, Site Interpreter Dave Klock jokingly fired a musket when the boys were told to fire theirs.

Joshua Thomas
Rachel Zuttardi waits to defend the fort against "attackers".


Young Pioneers get in touch with history

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - Updated: 4:28 AM


C-S-E Editor

ST. JOHNSVILLE -- Last week, from Tuesday through Thursday, a group of 15 kids gathered at Fort Klock, and, dressed in their best period regalia, participated in numerous tasks that accurately brought them back to a time when the fort and surrounding land was newly settled.

Activities included military drilling (marching and formations), woodworking (creating beater sticks to church butter), wheat thrashing, weaving, spinning, tin piercing, musket ball making, the creation of s-hooks and horseshoe nail rings, and fireside cooking, wherein Young Pioneers created their own meals, one day preparing an example of a simple meal, and the next day preparing chicken fricassee, which would've been a celebratory dish.

Volunteers and members of Fort Klock Historic Restoration led demonstrations each day, holding workshops wherein kids learned about herbs and flax (utilizing herbs found in Fort Klock's extensive garden), and the creation of colonial clothing.

In the afternoon Thursday, a demonstration taught the young pioneers how to start a fire with steel, a flint and charcoaled cloth. The steel striker used on the flint to catch the char-cloth was a replication of an original piece that Historic Fort Klock Member Skip Barshied found in a dig by the Palatine Church, which he had copied.

During Thursday's meal preparation, the kids made corn bread -- an annual staple -- but cooked it in a way they never have before. As Site Interpreter Darla Klock had read in a historical book that in the 18th century, there were no baking dishes, bread or cake would've been baked on a layer of maple leaves, which were collected and kept all winter.

Thursday, the maple leaves lined the bottom of the dutch oven, where a large circular loaf of cornbread cooked.

The Young Pioneers program has been taking place at Fort Klock for over 20 years (this was the 22nd or 23rd annual event). While participants pay a small fee, the event is not held for fundraising purposes. The goal is to educate the next generation about the area's history with hopes that they'll further preserve it in the future.

"We believe that these kids we teach here today are the future of Fort Klock," said Site Interpreter Dave Klock, explaining that he hopes the kids who participate each year will come back in the future to become members of Fort Klock Historic Restoration.

Many of the kids enjoy the program so much that they come the following year as apprentices, helping to teach the new Young Pioneers.

Each year, as part of the program, the participants march in the Fonda Fair parade carrying a banner. The parade, held the final day of the fair every summer, was rained out last year, though this year, Klock said he's crossing his fingers in hopes that good weather will prevail and the kids will be able to participate.

Joshua Thomas - This year, for the first time, the Young Pioneers baked corn bread in a dutch oven using a layer of maple leaves.

Joshua Thomas - Grayson Lapi eats chicken fricassee on Thursday afternoon.

Joshua Thomas - Young Pioneers gather for a chicken fricassee lunch Thursday.


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