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Fort Meigs' '08 activities to bring history alive, focus on old-time skills

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Dan Woodward, an education specialist at Fort Meigs, shows the display case where the letters of William Johnson are on exhibit. Johnson was a soldier who survived Dudley's Massacre in 1813 in what is today Maumee.


Fort Meigs has a busy year planned for 2008.

The activities begin this month with a Woodland Indian Skills Workshop.

Artisans and re-enactors will show how things were done in the frontier days and earlier. The displays will include original beadwork and quillwork from the private collection of Mike Slaslinski of Saginaw, Mich.

Hands-on instruction will be offered during the workshop, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 26.

Mike Berciwiz will share his knowledge of primitive weapons and flint knapping, the process of making stone tools.


Woodward stands next to the case that holds the Johnson letters, which were addressed to his wife, Mary. The letters will be on display for this year, at least, and are on loan from the Ohio Historical Society.


Brian Jensen will demonstrate appliqu beadwork, and Peg Kellins will show how to finger-weave. Tammy Spillis will show her expertise with natural fibers and dye plants.

The Saturday session will cost $35. Specialty workshops will be held the following day from 1 to 4 p.m. The Sunday sessions include materials and instruction and cost $38 for finger-weaving a sash, $25 for making woodland pottery and clay effigy pipes, and $50 for making a set of center-seam elk hide moccasins.

The workshop is co-sponsored by Smoke and Fire Co., a Waterville shop that sells historical re-enactors' gear. Participants in the Sunday specialty workshops must preregister with the store.

The schedule of special events:

•Hearthside Cooking Class will be held April 5. Experience life in an 1812 kitchen.

•Yesteryear's Essentials: Material Culture for War of 1812 Re-enacting Conference will be April 19-20. Speakers will discuss period clothing and fashion.

•War on the Homefront: 1000 A.D. vs 1813, on April 26-27, will feature Viking and War of 1812 encampments.

•Drums at the Rapids: Miniature War Gaming Conference, May 16-17, will feature epic battles on a small scale from the Gallic Wars to World War II.

•So You Want to Be a Soldier? Held May 17-18, the event will give an overview of what it was like to be a militiaman in early America.

•First Siege 1813 and Memorial Day Commemoration. Re-enactors will stage the 1813 battles at Fort Meigs. There will be musket and artillery demonstrations.

•Muster on the Maumee, June 14-15, will show how the common soldier has evolved from Roman times to the present.

•1813 Independence Celebration, July 4-6, Re-enactors will celebrate the national birthday with cannon firings, demonstrations, and hands-on activities for children.

•Drums Along the Maumee, July 26-27, will feature fife and drum corps from across the country playing martial music from the 1750s to the War of 1812.

•Frontier Skills Weekend, Aug. 23-24, will offer demonstrations of blacksmithing, coopering, tinsmithing, and other historic skills.

•A Day of Remembrance: 100th Anniversary of the Fort Meigs Monument, Sept. 6, will commemorate the obelisk in the fort that has stood watch for a century. There will be plenty of historical re-enactors.

•Garrison Ghost Walk, Oct. 17, 18, 24, and 25, will feature 1812 guides showing the fort's spookier side.

•The World at War: Miniature War Gaming Day, Nov. 1, will have the War of 1812, World War I, and World War II fought in one room.

•Holiday Open House, Dec. 14, will have re-enactors on hand to celebrate the holidays.

For more information on these events, consult the fort's Web site at

The letters of William Johnson, a soldier who survived Dudley's Massacre in 1813 in what is today Maumee, will continue to be on display for at least part of 2008.

The two letters, to Johnson's wife, Mary, tell her he is in good health and misses her, and mention his pride in defending his country.

Dan Woodward, an education specialist at the fort, said they are on loan from the Ohio Historical Society.

The letters have been popular with visitors. "They're kind of unique. We've never had any letters before," he said.

Contact Carl Ryan at:,

or 419-206-0356.

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