A volunteer at Indian King Tavern Museum, Haddonfield resident Natalie Reenock always felt the pull of the colonial era.
“For me, even though it wasn’t anything I studied in school, Revolutionary War history has always been something that drew my interest, learning all about that time period, so (my volunteering) fits in nicely with that,” she said.
“Cheryl (Squadrito, media contact for the Friends of the Indian King Tavern Museum) and I have been friends for a very long time and she encouraged me to join the board somewhere around 2008 or ‘09, and then I got into volunteering,” she related during a phone conversation with The Sun.
As Washington’s crossing of the Delaware is to the war with England, Reenock’s personal tale of arriving to the Garden State is a familiar one: having grown up in the Lehigh Valley, she eventually decided to migrate to the opposite side of the river due to certain needs for living space.
“We lived in Philly, I was about to get married and found that New Jersey was a better fit financially,” she said. “After we had our daughter, we moved to Haddonfield for the school system and for the charm of the town which attracted us and has kept us here.”
Reenock said that once she was welcomed to the IKTM board, it wasn’t a prerequisite to don the clothing of the late 1700s, but she took to it anyway.
“Most people on the board don’t volunteer or give tours,” she revealed. “But I really enjoy it. It’s a great, visual way to bring history to everyone. And it’s more impressive when you deliver a message from a period of time and you don the period’s clothing and get into the whole thing.”
Reenock is involved with tours of the tavern, but due to her day job, her attendance is mostly limited to big event days.
“I wish I could have more time to volunteer over the last three to four years because of taking care of my kids and work. Maybe some time in the near future I can give back more. But for now, it’s just when the big events happen that I volunteer at Indian King,” she lamented.
The big event coming up on Saturday, June 1 involving Indian King Tavern is the yearly “Skirmish,” when dozens of Revolutionary War re-enactors play out the events that occurred leading up to, and including, the Battle of Monmouth. The battle recreation itself is centered on Kings Highway, but Redcoats and American soldiers, spies and sympathizers can be seen throughout the downtown area. Look for further details in an upcoming edition of the Sun.
“Skirmish is my favorite. Absolutely, hands down,” Reenock said when asked if she had a favorite IKTM event. “My second favorite are those Friday nights when the tavern is open for the candlelight tours, especially in December. It’s something that’s a little more quiet than Skirmish, which is very much loud and crazy and busy.”
Reenock is grateful that the borough has committed so thoroughly to keeping the memory of one little corner of one place in the midst of military upheaval, even if it lacks star power of other locales.
“It’s a wonderful piece of history, and I’m happy Haddonfield has decided to preserve it to the best of their ability. Hopefully it will be there for generations to come so they can see what life in their town was like in the 1770s,” she said.
“People are sometimes disappointed that nobody famous came there, no ‘George Washington slept here’ plaque. They can go to Philly, to Independence Hall. But it’s a standard tavern, a normal place to go and there’s value in that because you can get a better sense of what normal life was like in a normal town.”