Posts Tagged ‘House in the Horseshoe’

The annual lighting of the state holiday tree in Raleigh, ornament making in Asheville and a demonstration of military life on North Carolina’s western frontier in Statesville are just a few of the opportunities for fun and discovery you’ll find this weekend with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Here are 18 suggestions to help you make the most of your weekend:

1. Join Gov. Pat McCrory for the state tree lighting and holiday festival at the State Capitol in Raleigh Thursday.

2. Learn how Christmas was celebrated by Civil War soldiers and sailors at home and in the field at the CSS Neuse Interpretive Center Saturday in Kinston.

3. Meet historical figures from the Lower Cape Fear region and hear some seasonal stories from the area at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Southport Friday as part of the town-wide Winterfest celebration.

4. Explore two of Raleigh‘s iconic landmarks-the Executive Mansion and the State Capitol-decorated for the season and open for tours throughout the weekend.

5. Make a holiday ornament Saturday at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial in Asheville.

6. See how soldiers braved the harsh winter on North Carolina’s western frontier Saturday at Fort Dobbs in Statesville.

7. Attend an authentic candlelit service at the ruins of St. Philips Anglican Church and explore how American colonists celebrated Christmas at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson’s 18th Century Christmas Saturday in Winnabow.

8. Enjoy a concert of classical Christmas selections by Mozart, Bach and others Saturday in Chapel Hill.

9. Spend a festive holiday afternoon with Duke Homestead in Durham Sunday, as part of the site’s Victorian Family Christmas.

10. Delight in the sights, sounds and tastes of Christmases past with music, hearth-baked food, children’s activities and special tours at Historic Bath Saturday.

11. See Iron Man 3 Friday as part of the N.C. Museum of History’s Starring North Carolina!film series in Raleigh.

12. Celebrate the season with Historic Edenton, which will be hosting caroling at the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse and the annual James Iredell House holiday “groaning board”throughout the weekend.

13. Experience the spectacle of a colonial Christmas at Tryon Palace complete with fireworks, fire-eating, magic tricks and meetings with military re-enactors representing 300 years of history throughout the weekend in New Bern.

14. Hear the music and taste the food of an 1897 Christmas in Fayetteville at the Museum of the Cape Fear’s Holiday Jubilee Sunday.

15. Tour the stately buildings at Historic Halifax decorated for the season Saturday.

16. Join Alamance Battleground in Burlington for dulcimer music, refreshments and musket firings as part of its annual holiday open house Saturday.

17. See 18th century craft demonstrations as you listen to period music and sample seasonal treats at the House in Horseshoe’s holiday open house Saturday in Sanford.

18. Take a family-friendly tour of the Small Treasures exhibition at the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh.

Check out DCR’s calendar for more information on these and other events, and a enjoy a great North Carolina weekend!

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Sec. Kluttz watches re-enactors in action

Cultural Resources Sec. Susan Kluttz was just one of the more than 6,000 people to attend last weekend’s re-enactment of the Revolutionary War skirmish at House in the Horseshoe between Carthage and Sanford.

The re-enactment—ranked among the top 20 events in the Southeast—has long been known for its flaming cart demonstration and musket fire, but this year the Secretary got to see how the event has positively affected the community and so many poeple in it.

Sec. Kluttz with a group of re-enactors

Among those Sec. Kluttz met at this year’s event were:

  • Justin Spatz, now a teenager, whose first interaction with the event was as baby when his re-enactor parents dressed him in period garb. Spatz has stayed involved with the site, and was a re-enactor this year,
  • Otis Earl Colvin IV who married his wife Cheryl at the 2011 re-enactment. They brought their newborn son Otis Earl Colvin V to this year’s event,
  • Pat Montgomery, who was manager of the James K. Polk Historic Site in Pineville during the 1960s, and who has portrayed the skirmish’s Loyalist commander David Fanning for many years; and
  • Lee County commissioner and re-enactor Kirk Smith, who has long been involved with the site.

That’s not to say that the re-enactment itself wasn’t impressive. The number of re-enactors was in line with the number of people involved in the actual fighting (about 50). And for the first time in several years, the re-enactors were able to stage the “surprise attack” that occurred during the actual skirmish where Loyalists stormed the house from the cornfields that still surround it today.

A re-enactor demonstrates the use of a “queen.” The tool has been called a microwave for the 1700s. Basically, people would leave the ball side of the chain in the fireplace to keep it hot. When they needed warm water, they would take the ball and drop it into the water to heat it.

The Secretary also saw some of the important ways that history is preserved by the site. She saw a “queen,” the 1700s equivalent of a microwave (see the sidebar for an explanation), and a re-enactor who still knows how to make cording for dresses and corsets in the traditional way using a lucette. Sec. Kluttz also saw the actual bullet holes made in the house as a result of the skirmish. They’ve often been called “the most famous bullet holes in North Carolina.”

If you missed the re-enactment this past weekend, have no fear! The site will offer an exhibit of photographs from its past re-enactments this weekend as part our statewide 2nd Saturdays series. You can also click here to see some images from the Sec. Kluttz’s trip and here for more background on the history of skirmish.

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The Web site for North Carolina Historic Sites  “invites you to open doors into the past.”  But near the Moore County town of Carthage at the House in the Horseshoe, you don’t even have to open the doors to be transported back to the reality of the Revolutionary War in North Carolina.  The house still has some mighty large bullet holes in it—especially visible around the back door.

back door

Bullet holes are visible around the back door at the House in the Horseshoe.

On July 29, 1781, the house’s owner Phillip Alston and a small band of patriot militia were besieged there by Tories (forces loyal to the king) under the command of David Fanning.  The attack occurred in the early morning hours and, trapped in his house, Alston ordered his men to barricade the doors and windows.  Fanning posted his men along a split rail fence outside the home and, for several hours, the men exchanged fire with no side gaining a real advantage.

As her house was being riddled by bullets, Temperance Alston, Phillip’s wife, was level-headed enough to hide her children in the chimney, standing them on a table so that their bodies were behind the brickwork.  Just as Fanning was considering retreating, his men found a small wagon in Alston’s barn and he ordered it loaded with hay and set afire with the purpose of pushing it into the house.  In an effort to save the lives of everyone in the inside, Temperance cautiously stepped out and negotiated a surrender.


A scene from one of the reenactments at the House in the Horseshoe in 2011.

This year is the 33rd annual commemoration of the skirmish at the House in the Horseshoe, with a full scale reenactment each day: Saturday Aug. 4 at 4 p.m., and Sunday Aug. 5, at 2 p.m.  There will be also cannon demonstrations, presentations of period crafts and trades, colonial games, and traders selling 18th century replica wares.

This is a fantastic opportunity to be up close to the action—but not so close that you have to put your kids in the chimney!

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