Expect two days of colonial crafts, tavern tours and more.
Campers garbed in breeches, cloaks and tri-corner hats will soon be seen blacksmithing in tents along the North Branch of Timber Creek.
Scattered on the lawn of the Gabreil Daveis Tavern, the historical reenactors will emulate similar scenes that once unfolded on the site nearly 260 years ago when colonists would dock their boats in the weaving waters and trek up hilly shores that are now known as Gloucester Township.
The campsite, which will be pitched by 22 members of the Garden State Black Powder Association, is one of several attractions residents can experience at the Gloucester Township Historic and Scenic Preservation Committee’s 2018 Spring Open House and Revolutionary Weekend — the official kickoff to the tavern’s season of tours, which runs through December.
The free event, scheduled for April 21 and 22 at the Gabreil Daveis Tavern, will encompass a series of colonial crafts, chores, games and activities, specifically geared toward children.
“It’s really important to us to get the kids interested in local history,” said Sharon Mickle, president of the committee. “Living here, you don’t know the facts about where you live — who was here before us, who tread on the grounds that we’re walking on. Right in your own backyard, you can find an arrowhead in Blackwood.”
For the second year, the annual event, which started a few years ago, has invited the North Jersey-based Black Powder group to host 18th century pastimes for kids, including minutemen drills and marches.
For $1, children can purchase a few tickets for lessons on tomahawk throwing, primitive archery and more.
For the first time, children can build muskets and participate in bead making.
“(Black Powder) brings (history) to life for people and live it while they’re here,” Mickle said. “They loved the interaction with the public last year. They just said the day was very unique here in Gloucester Township. The children loved it. They paid so much attention to the kids.”
Set to the sounds of cannon demos and scents of campfire cooking, attendees can explore revolutionary-era remedies and herbs while wandering the timeless tavern — a Gloucester Township institution.
Throughout the weekend, members of the committee will host abbreviated versions of the tavern tour. By just focusing on the first floor, ideally, visitors will be enticed to return throughout the rest of the season.
“it’s amazing how many people didn’t know this was here,” said Stephanie Roberts, vice president of the committee.
Roberts and Mickle say tours will be catered to the various audiences.
Some residents say they’ve received tours from William F. Schuck himself — the last resident of the tavern who, after serving in World War I, lived in the home from the late 1920s to 1976.
However, the majority of attendees will have been born well after the turn of the 20th century.
“You can see the little wheels turning and they’re thinking,” Roberts said. “It’s very important that children understand how rich this is in history. And, I think, when you give tours like this, and they can see things, it will spark an interest in them that will maybe last them a lifetime as far as living and loving history.”
While several attractions, like the tour, are returning, this year, some new elements are being implemented, like a special salute to the six veterans who lived in the tavern — all of whom served in either the Revolutionary War, Civil War or World War I. Last year, American Legion members folded 48-star flags that were found in the upstairs bedrooms of the tavern.
Behind the tavern, Schuck’s grave peacefully lies on the creek, which is where the American Legion will conduct a flag folding this year to not only recognize the veterans of the household but present service men and women.
The weekend of festivities sets the stage for the rest of the season, which not only includes special-themed tours, like Local History on the Lawn, but also the 2018 South Jersey History Fair. The Gabreil Daveis Tavern event will welcome nearly 30 local historic organizations on Saturday, May 19.
“The open house, I think, provides a lot of interest and a lot of fun to try to open the minds of people to want to learn more about they’re local history,” Mickle said. “It shows the roots of the township, and the roots of this township starts with the creek.”
The spring open house will take place on Saturday, April 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
To make a donation to or sponsor the Gloucester Township Historic Preservation Fund, please contact (856) 228–4000 Ext 3249 or email email@example.com to receive an application.