Glimpse into pioneer life


(Posted Sept. 26, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

It was all about the old days at the Madison County Historical Society’s Annual Pioneer Days held Sept. 24-25 in London.

Addley Stokes, 8, of London gives “bumble puppy” a try with the guidance of Milly Byrd, 8. In this old-fashioned game, different points are assigned to the holes in the board. The idea is to roll a ball onto the board in hopes of the ball landing in one of the holes. The person with the most points wins. Stokes is a third-grader at St. Patrick School in London. Byrd is the daughter of J.T. Byrd, president of the Madison County Historical Society.
London resident Casilyn Meadows tries throwing a tomahawk at a wood block target. “It was a lot of fun. I learned I had more strength in my arms than I thought I did!” she said. This year marked the first time that Meadows, Damian Waggoner, and their daughter, Ceanna Waggoner, attended Pioneer Days. All three tried tomahawk throwing and visited the other booths and displays.
Damian Waggoner (right) and his daughter, Ceanna (center), tried something new: tomahawk throwing. Ceanna managed to hit the wood block target, splitting the playing card pinned to the middle of the block.
Doug Sweet, a member of the Darby Creek Archaeological Society, shares information about Native American tools, such as axe heads, grinding stones and spear throwers, to Will Walker and Izzy Whiting who recently moved to London from Dayton. Sweet collects Native American artifacts and makes replicas of tools and weapons from the Paleo era to the Fort Ancient era. The Darby Creek Archaeological Society meets regularly in London.
Chuck Bailey, president of the Darby Creek chapter of the Archaeology Society of Ohio, talks about the Native American artifacts he has on display at the Madison County Historical Society’s Pioneer Days. Listening are London Mayor Patrick Closser and his son, Maddox, and his wife, Melissa.
Max Bauman, a member of the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society, was one of two blacksmithing enthusiasts who manned the blacksmith shop at Pioneer Days. He got his start in blacksmithing 46 years ago when he volunteered as a high school freshman to take part in a pioneer-themed event at his school. As an adult, he apprenticed in blacksmithing for six years at Ohio Village on the grounds of the Ohio History Center in Columbus.
Pioneer Days visitors Tina and Liam Garcia, 11, of London talk with historical reenactors Christine Shamblin of Westerville and Connie Bechtel (far right) of London in the Kitchen House log cabin. Shamblin and Bechtel are good friends who have been reenacting and making period clothing for many years.
Arin Bechtel helps to tie Polaris Coombs’s shoe during a break at Pioneer Days. This year marked the first time Coombs has volunteered as a reenactor for the event. She helped Arin’s mother, Connie Bechtel, in the Kitchen House log cabin on the Madison County Historical Society grounds. Arin has volunteered as a reenactor in the past.
Della Weidel of Jamestown arranges items from her Friendship Farm and Calendula Shoppe businesses. She was one of the vendors selling pioneer-era inspired goods. Her top sellers are lip balm and goat’s milk soap. She raises the animals and plants that produce some of the ingredients for her items, and she follows 18th century practices and recipes whenever possible.
Visitors who approached Della Weidel’s tent smelled her goods before they saw them. The aroma was swept into the crisp autumn air.



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