Dutch colony re-enacted on banks of Connecticut River
By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Thu., Jul. 14, 2011
A 17th century Dutch encampment sprang up for two days on the banks of the Connecticut River at Goodwin College, as re-enactors played the role of early traders and settlers. The Half Moon, a 1609 replica of explorer Henry Hudson's ship, was docked at the college and open to the public for tours July 9 and 10.
The encampment was intended to show what life might have been like in Hudson's day, when English, Dutch and French settlers were exploring America. The settlers traded with friendly Indian tribes and often engaged in warfare with rival colonies and hostile tribes. Hudson was an explorer for the Dutch East India Company, and voyages like his provided valuable commodities from the New World to Europe.
The Half Moon arrived at Goodwin College on July 5, after a week-long voyage from New London to East Hartford, piloted by students from Connecticut River Academy, an environmental sciences high school located at Goodwin College. The students learned to navigate using the tools of Hudson's time, which were also on display at the encampment.
The encampment included tools produced by woodworkers and iron smiths, and examples of daily life such as children's games. Shari Crawford demonstrated a game called “shinny,” which used tree limbs shaped like clubs to hit a small ball. “It's kind of like field hockey,” Crawford explained.
Nick Reynolds, 15, showed visitors how to walk with stilts. “It’s not that hard, once you get used to it,” he said.
Re-enactor Jim Cassidy displayed various muskets and arms that were typically used by settlers. He wore a bandoleer with small wooden flasks that would have contained gunpowder. “These arms were used to protect the colony,” Cassidy said, adding that he jumped at the chance to re-enact this period in history. “This is unusual to do such an early colony. The Half Moon is a beautiful ship,” he said.
Cassidy and other re-enactors were members of the Society of the 17th Century, a group that specializes in Colonial American history.
Mary Muckenhoupt, who was demonstrating candle-making, said group members make their own costumes and other artifacts to have a feel for what life was like in those times. “It's a way of living history,” she said.