HILLSBOROUGH — History repeated itself this past weekend as the 6th Annual Living History Event transformed four sites in Hillsborough.
The four locations included President Franklin Pierce’s homestead, historical reenactments at Jones Road, hands-on history at the historic center and music and discussions downtown. A short trolley ride took visitors to the sites or self-guided tours of many historic buildings.
The festivities kicked off as Gen. George Washington dedicated a tulip tree from his Mount Vernon estate at the homestead of President Franklin Pierce Saturday morning. Pierce’s house was open for tours while a harpist played. Visitors could try their hand at floor cloth stenciling and the spinning wheel.
Participants crossed the old double-arched Jones Road Bridge to find fields covered with white tents along the battlefields. Reenactments from the French and Indian War, and the Civil War engrossed spectators as well as an 18th-century field battle complete with muskets and cannons.
Visitors were welcomed into the campsites and tents of the soldiers to see how they lived. Shops sold wares such as pottery and tin ware; a shoemaker demonstrated the trade.
Civil War re-enactors with the 5th Mass. Battery looked forward to the event.
Jim Foote from Hampstead said: “I do this for the historical fun of it. I’m too old to fight with a musket so I work the cannon now.” Bob Duffy of Nashua provided historical facts to the audience during the Civil War battle in his period-correct uniform and said, “This is my hobby,” he said. “The Civil War is something I can do after the encampments. I have books and maintain my equipment.”
Katie Fiorella was dressed in a brown hoop-skirted gown with a delicate trim at the Civil War camp.
“This is a lot of fun,” she said. “For me it’s about remembering and helping to educate the public. They are so willing to learn.” She is with the 6th Maine battery.
Under a big white tent, the 2nd South Carolina String Band played while people sat on bales of hay enjoying food authentic to the period.
Dean Malissa visited many of the sites, portraying Gen. George Washington with an uncanny likeness. He engaged the audience with stories of events and battles leading up to American independence. Malissa is the sole portrayer of President Washington at the first president’s Mount Vernon estate in Virginia.
Downtown Hillsborough was loaded with hands-on activities for children such as sewing a flag with Betsy Ross or leaning how to churn butter, make ice cream or soap and write with a quill.
Eight-year-old Aden Henry from Hillsborough said: “I made soap, butter and ice cream, and I liked to wash the clothes,” he said. “The carriage ride was fun.”