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Published: October 24, 2006
Over the span of more than a decade some 350 years ago, the woods of North America witnessed the clash of two great empires — England and France. Historic Deerfield will explore the lives and legacies of provincial soldiers forced to fight in that epic struggle through a three-day symposium titled “Steal Not This Horn: The Material Culture of Conflict During the French and Indian War.”
Inspired by the current exhibition “Engraved Powder Horns from the French and Indian War and American Revolution: The William H. Guthman Collection,” the weekend event taking place November 10–12 will focus on rare surviving equipment — from muskets to powder horns — that reveal both the technical and cultural aspects of what some have called “the war that made America.”
“Sometimes the most personal expression in the soldier’s kit was his engraved powder horn,” said Philip Zea, Historic Deerfield president. “When elaborately carved by a skilled comrade, the powder horn became the artist’s vision of the soldier’s world.”
Powder horns record words and images that range from the poetic to the practical. The title of the symposium includes part of a typical message set in simple verse that is found on several horns, including the Zebulon Waterman horn created at Lake George, N.Y., and dated October 24, 1758, that reads “Steal Not This Horn For fear of Shame: For on it is The / Oners [owner’s] name.” Clearly meant to ward off would-be thieves, the phrase speaks to the realities of living in encampments with hundreds of strangers from diverse ethnic backgrounds, geographic regions and socio-economic levels under battle conditions and often hundreds of miles from home.
Zea will kick off the weekend with a lecture Friday night titled, “Revealing the Culture of Conflict: The William H. Guthman Collection of Engraved Powder Horns.” One of the few indigenous art forms of early America, engraved powder horns carry a wealth of personal history lessons about the owner and the carver. Both men were usually soldiers pressed into near anonymous service to the British crown in North America.
Carver John Bush will receive special attention. Master horner Lee A. Larkin will present, “An Analysis of the Engraving on the Powder Horns Attributed to John Bush,” as well as a demonstration titled, “How did John Bush do that?” His presentation will be augmented by a lecture from R. Scott Stephenson on “The World of John Bush.”
While engraved powder horns will remain a central focus throughout the weekend, guest lecturers from around the country will explore a range of topics related to the soldier’s world and the basic equipment carried to keep themselves fed, warm and protected. Professor Fred Anderson from the University of Colorado at Boulder will deliver the keynote lecture, “Of Arms and the Yeoman’s Son: The Social Contexts of Warfare in Eighteenth Century New England.”
Wallace B. Gusler will present, “The Hunter and Provincial Soldier: Their Use of Powder Horns and Other Equipment.” A talk titled “From Brown Bess to Basket Hilt: British Arms in the French and Indian War” will be given by Erik Goldstein, curator of mechanical arts and numismatics at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Attendees will enjoy a reception Friday, November 10, among the engraved powder horns at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life. On Saturday, Zea will lead a walking tour of “Deerfield in the 1750s.” That night, there will be a Tavern Night party in the Hall Tavern complete with full dinner and entertainment. Sunday will start with a continental breakfast, followed by a “Show & Tell” session and optional tours of Eighteenth Century collections and historic house museums, including the Ashley House, Allen House, Wells-Thorn House and Dwight House.
Registration is $150. Members of the Friends of Historic Deerfield pay $125 per person. Colonial reenactors attending in Eighteenth Century dress pay $95 per person. Registration includes: Friday Flynt Center reception with beverages and light hors d’oeuvres; Saturday box lunch; Saturday Tavern Night with beverages, full dinner and entertainment; Sunday continental breakfast and an All-of-Deerfield Admission Ticket.
Space is limited. A small block of rooms at the Deerfield Inn is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional accommodations are available in the area.
Details and downloadable registration forms are available at www.historic-deerfield.org/StealNotThisHornSymposium.html. For information and to register contact Dorrit Turner at 413-775-7179 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attendees can also register to attend a dinner at the Deerfield Inn on Friday night for $40 per person. Guests over 12 can join attendees at Tavern Night, as well as receive an All-of-Deerfield ticket allowing them to explore the village for two days, for just $40 per person. Guests under 12 are complimentary.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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