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Linda Kellett - John Wannamaker of Ontario dances with Revolutionary War-era re-enactor Deandra Maynard of St. Johnsville during the colonial country dance in the Dutch barn at historic Fort Klock Saturday night. The dance was the final event in a season-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the organization.

Linda Kellett - Fiddle player Olof Jansson, traveling clavichordist Ron Burch and recorder player Marilee Urbanczyk, members of the 18th century music ensemble Liaisons Plaisantes, listen as caller Garry Aney of Cooperstown gives costumed dancers instructions.

Linda Kellett - From the left: Deandra Maynard of St. Johnsville, Jennifer Stanley of Ilion, and Nitza Maynard of St. Johnsville.

Linda Kellett - From the left: St. Johnsville resident Don Bellen; his twin sister, Diana Swartz of Fort Plain; his wife Cathy Bellen, and his sister, Anita Smith, historian for the town and village of St. Johnsville.


Fort’s 50th celebration draws to a close

Thursday, October 04, 2012 - Updated: 9:15 AM


C-S-E News Staff

ST. JOHNSVILLE — Bundled corn stalks, fragrant hay bales, soft light, the chill of a rainy autumn evening, costumed re-enactors and colonial-era music set the stage for the final event of the Fort Klock Historic Restoration’s 50th anniversary celebration Saturday night.

On hand for the well-attended colonial country dance at the 1750 fortified homestead were members of the 18th century music ensemble Liaisons Plaisantes, caller Garry Aney, and several dozen colonial and Revolutionary War history buffs, who glided in time with the music across the wide, uneven floor of the Dutch barn.

Aney said colonial country dancing differed from the square dancing that followed it in that its paired participants danced in long lines. Square dancing, on the other hand, consisted of quadrilles — eight people dancing in a closed, four-sided configuration.

Among the dancers in attendance was a red-uniformed member of the King’s Royal Regiment for the Province of New York.

A descendent of British loyalists who at one time lived in the New Jersey area, the Ontario, Canada re-enactor said he, like members of the Klock family and many of the Mohawk valley’s early European settlers, was a German Palatine.

He said, “I’ve been coming down here to the valley for 24 years. I was here in the summertime and got to the Nellis Tavern. I had a great tour. A local friend asked me if I was coming down to Fort Klock because I’ve been here for the Interrupted Harvest.”

The costumed guests who invited him included Deandra Maynard, her mother, Nitza, both of St. Johnsville, and Jennifer Stanley of Ilion.

Nitza said, “Deandra started here when she was 8 years old.”

As their interest in Revolutionary War-era history grew, they joined the loyalist Claus Rangers re-enactment group. They now take part in events with members of the 1st Tryon County Militia.

Also present for the colonial dance was Young Pioneer Reese Battisti, 10, who came dressed in period knee britches in the company of his parents, Darin and Kera Battisti, and his sister, Quinn.

A first-year participant of Fort Klock’s Young Pioneer program, Reese said his favorite part of the living-history day-camp was the war re-enactment. He said. “We learned how to march in the correct way and to turn correctly when we were walking.”

Like others present, Reese was whisked away to the dance floor for a lesson in the ancient dance form, too.

Melissa Caponera, chair person of the 50th anniversary committee and secretary of the Fort Klock Historic Restoration, said, “This is the last event of our 50th anniversary of being open to the public.”

Other events that have taken place throughout the season included the opening day tribute to active and former members, including Lawrence Don, Ronald Hudson, Duane Groff, Alan Edmunds, Kay Offenborn, Paul Flanders, Daniel Nellis Jr., Alice Edmunds, James Morrison, Anita Smith, Geraldine Nellis, Vincent Wikoff, Frances Mattis,Bob Hudson, Fredrick Wagner, Barbara HoJohn, Helen Nellis, Willis “Skip” Barsheid, Robert Lord, Donald Oakley, Eugene Wagner and Arelene Wagner.

At that time, members of the founding Tryon County Muzzle Loaders also received plaques, she said.

The group also hosted its annual Strawberry Festival on Independence Day, with exhibits of period clothing, antique restoration, a display depicting the history of lights, and more.

The last day of the historic site’s current season is Columbus Day.

Linda Kellett - Ames resident Sara DeSalvatore, head of education at the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, and 10-year-old Reese Battisti, a participant of this summer’s Young Pioneer program at Fort Klock, practice country dancing with members of their group.


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