EARLEVILLE — This past weekend, Mount Harmon Plantation offered visitors the opportunity to step back in time, if only briefly, and talk to the residents of the stately manor on the banks of the Sassafras River.
The Open Air Colonial & Artisan Market Faire, held Saturday and Sunday, focused on the time when the sprawling plantation was owned by James and Mary Louttit, after purchasing Mount Harmon in 1760.
Historical actors stayed in character allowing visitors to ask questions about life in southern Cecil County more than 260 years ago.
Jane Pease played Mary Louttit, who sat next to her dear friend Elizabeth Bayard, played by Cindy Palmer. Across the table Corky Palmer portrayed Stephen Bayard, seated next door to Daniel McMahon, playing Silas Campbell.
“Mr. and Mrs. Bayard live in Bohemia Manor,” Mary Louttit (Cindy Palmer) made sure to point out.
In this act, Mary Louttit was a widow, having lost her husband. Silas Campbell was a single gentlemen in search of a wife.
“He is looking for a wife with money,” said Palmer, playing Stephen Bayard.
However inside the mansion house another set of actors were seated in the parlor portraying a younger Mary and James. Each answered questions — in character — about daily life, Colonial American politics and about the lavish decor.
Around the grounds outside the mansion, more re-enactors plied the trades of the day. Gina Gerhard from Princess Anne, Md. worked with a heckling to process flax for making linen fabric. The hackle was a cluster of square nails that Gerhard drew the fibers through. She showed her audience how every part of the process is used, even the material left behind in the hackle.
“It’s called ‘tow’ and I treat it like wool,” Gerhard said. She explained that it got its name because of the color. “It’s the same color as a tow-headed child.”
Nearby Vivian and Emma Limbeck were busy with close work. Each sat in low chairs and made dorset buttons. In colonial times a dorset button was made by cutting a sheep horn into thin rings and weaving thread around the circle to create a button.
“These would be used for clothing on men’s coats or ladies’ shifts,” Vivian Limbeck, also from Princess Anne, said,
Barb Christie from Frederick, Md. offered clothing for sale including a unique item made specifically for women. Shaped like a large teardrop, it would be tied around a woman’s waist under her top skirt.
“The skirt would have a slit and you would reach in and place things in your pocket,” Christie said, showing the purpose of the bag.
There were wooden toy guns and other fun including a wooden top at the For Woodness Sake shop run by Tish and Rich Schuman from Hartly, Del. Tish worked the retail side, showing customers how to make the top spin, and also pointing out the many uses for other items made by Rich, who worked nearby.
Rich Schuman was busy turning a chunk of sugar maple into a wooden spoon.
“I use all green wood,” Schuman said as he pared shavings away with a draw knife to reveal the fine detail of the grain. Although most wood turns the same, he said sycamore takes a bit longer.
Back at the retail shop, Tish showed a couple several spoons made by Rich. There was a debate over the purpose of the potential purchase. The lady was heard saying: “Am I going to be able to use it or is it going to hang on the wall?”
Mount Harmon Plantation will host its annual Paper Chase Nov. 14; a fundraiser inviting horse and rider to the grounds. For more information on the historic property, its events and opportunities to join Friends of Mount Harmon or volunteer go to mountharmon.org.