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French & Indian War Commemoration 250 Years
2006 NEWS

Historic Site Begins Master Planning
December 13, 2006

STATESVILLE - Fort Dobbs State Historic Site will launch its master planning process with a public forum on Tuesday, January 30th, from 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.. at Gardner Webb University Statesville Branch. The purpose of the meeting is to receive public comment regarding development and utilization of the site. The public input will be used by the Strategic Planning Committee during a yearlong master planning process to chart the site's future. The forum is open to the public and all interested parties are encouraged to attend.

Charles Page, President and Senior Facilitator of Cool Spring Center, will moderate the session. A graduate of Davidson College and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Page brings with him over 33 years in facilitating and community work in the region.

Experience Christmas on North Carolina's Colonial Frontier at Fort Dobbs
December 5, 2006

STATESVILLE - Thrill to night firings of muskets and swivel guns and the warmth of bonfires from 6-8 pm, Sat., Dec. 9th and 12-4 PM Sun., Dec. 10. Experience a nighttime, mid-winter French and Indian War encampment at the fort and join in the evening revelry of songs and entertainment. Sunday's programming will include a Divine Service at 12:00 PM with the reading of the Articles of War, military activities and drill, and musket and artillery firing.

Christmas for most of the inhabitants of Western North Carolina in the 1750s would have passed by like any other day. To strict Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, the holiday would be accompanied only by the usual religious observance as it was not mentioned in scripture. For the soldiers stationed at Ft. Dobbs, it would probably have been a similar story. Regardless of whether or not they celebrated Christmas, the people who lived on North Carolina's colonial frontier 250 years ago would have all been concerned with keeping warm, making sure they had enough food and maintaining security during wartime.

December's programs will highlight how soldiers coped with the cold in wartime on the frontier. In the winter of 1755-1756 the fort had not yet been constructed and soldiers were forced to live in tents or perhaps even brush shelters. Programming explores how soldiers kept themselves alive and fulfilled their duty guarding the frontier of North Carolina.

During the evening of Dec. 9 , visitors will have a chance to experience what a military camp at night was like once dark fell. Bonfires will warm the air as they listen and can join with soldiers singing popular songs of the mid-18th century, some that bring to mind loss and loved ones and other humorous tunes as well as patriotic ballads defying their French and Indian enemies. The night will be illuminated with musket and swivel gun firings. Seeing the trail of flame exiting the barrel of weapons at night will give the visitor a new appreciation for the firepower brought to bear on 18th century battlefields.

Fort Dobbs Alliance Becomes Friends of Fort Dobbs at Membership Event
August 28, 2006

STATESVILLE - The Ft. Dobbs Alliance was renamed Friends of Ft. Dobbs by a unanimous vote during its third annual membership event at Ft. Dobbs State Historic Site Tuesday, August 22. Approximately 90 members and guests attended the shrimp boil held under the picnic shelter at the historic site.

According to Membership Committee Chair Sandra Gordon of Cornelius, the name change "more accurately reflects the purpose of the organization and resulted from thoughtful discussion among board members." The Friends of Ft. Dobbs serves to support the vision of the Ft. Dobbs State Historic Site "to educate all citizens of North Carolina and beyond on the history of the fort and North Carolina's role in the French and Indian War (1754-1763). In particular, the Friends support the fort's education programming and interpretive development including the reconstruction of the 1756 fortification through memberships and private fundraising efforts.

Gordon also reported that the organization currently has 616 members, exceeding the 2006 goal of 600. The business for the evening included the presentation of board of trustee officers for the 2006-2007 year. The new officers are Chandler Bryan, chairman; David Pope, vice-chair and treasurer; and William Pope, secretary. Members voted to renew the terms of Shelly McElwee, Louise Hunter and Tom Alexander. Marsha Cornelius of Mooresville was tapped to fill a board vacancy and received a unanimous vote of approval

Ft. Dobbs Historic Site Manager Beth Hill reported on the past year's accomplishments including outreach to 50,000 attendees at events, festivals, exhibits, conferences and classroom presentations. The accomplishments also included securing funding for archaeology, an addition to permanent staff and the reopening of the site for daily visitation.

Dr. Walter Edgar, professor at the University of South Carolina and director of the Institute for Southern Studies, was the evening's featured speaker.

Historian Walter Edgar to Speak at 2nd Annual Shrimp Boil
August 16, 2006

STATESVILLE - The Fort Dobbs Alliance proudly announces that southern historian Dr. Walter Edgar will be the guest speaker at the not-for-profit support group's 2nd Annual Shrimp Boil and Membership Meeting. The event will held at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, August 22 at Fort Dobbs.
    A renowned historian and author, Edgar has written and edited numerous books including South Carolina: A History and Partisans and Redcoats: The Southern Conflict that Turned the Tide of the American Revolution.
    Edgar graduated from Davidson College in 1965 with an A.B. in history. He received his M.A. (1967) and Ph.D. (1969) from the University of South Carolina. After receiving his Ph.D., he entered the United States Army where he served a two year tour (including one year as an advisor in Vietnam). In 1971 he was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship by the National Historical Publications Commission and assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens (a South Carolina political leader during the Revolutionary War) at the University of South Carolina. From 1971-1976 he served as editor of the South Carolina House of Representatives Committee on Historical Research. He joined South Carolina's faculty in the Department of History in 1972, was promoted to associate professor in 1976 and professor in 1982. In 1995 he was named to the Claude Henry Neuffer Chair in Southern Studies. He was named director of the Institute for Southern Studies, an interdisciplinary program of the university's College of Arts and Sciences, in 1980. During the 1986 academic year, he was Visiting Professor at Middlebury College and Historian-in-Residence at the Sheldon Museum, Middlebury. Since 1997 he has also served as Director of Graduate Studies for the University of South Carolina.
    All members and prospective members of the Alliance are welcome to attend.

Reenactment of Soldiers' Preparations for French and Indian War
August 7, 2006

STATESVILLE - See how 18th century North Carolina soldiers prepared for military campaigns during the tumultuous years of the French and Indian War (1754-1763) August 12-13 at Fort Dobbs.
   From 10-4 on Saturday and 10-2 on Sunday, visitors can thrill to colorful reenactments of provincial soldiers drilling and firing with muskets and artillery, marching, guarding, cooking military rations and living in a mid-1700s military camp on what was once an isolated military post located on North Carolina's western frontier. Other living history programs scheduled for the weekend include a Sunday morning worship service and period music. The program is free and open to the public.
   The garrison weekend program will help prepare the fort's historic interpreters for participating in the Ft. Loudon 18th Century Trade Faire, scheduled September 9-10 in Vonore, Tenn.
   Ft. Loudoun was also a French and Indian War fort which the colony of South Carolina built in 1756 to protect the Cherokee from French attacks. Today, the two forts are among only a handful of French and Indian War forts in the U.S. and are collaborating in the 250th anniversary commemoration of the French and Indian War through the year 2013.

Ft. Dobbs State Historic Site Reopens for Tours
June 30, 2006

RALEIGH - Significant community interest spurred the N.C. Division of State Historic Sites to open Ft. Dobbs State Historic Site in Statesville for tours beginning Tuesday, July 11, 2006.
    Historic interpreters will be available to lead public tours at 10:00 am and 2:00 PM each Tuesday through Friday. Ft. Dobbs is North Carolina's only French and Indian War (1754-1763) state historic site.
   Since 2003, Fort Dobbs has been under redevelopment and open only for special events and by appointment. Upon hiring a new historic interpreter for Ft. Dobbs, it was determined that public interpretive programming could be offered on a daily basis. The site will continue undergoing development while plans for reconstructing the 18th century fort are made.

Historic Interpreter Introduced at Fort Dobbs
June 30, 2006

RALEIGH - Ft. Dobbs proudly introduces historic interpreter Matthew Keagle of Charlotte. Originally from Vermont, Keagle has worked in historical interpretation and programming for the past five years at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Mass., Colonial Williamsburg and Historic Brattonsville in McConnells, S.C. He is skilled in presenting such historic trades as shoemaking, tailoring, farming, blacksmithing, milling, pottery making, wigmaking and even apothecary, a profession which in the 18th century, combined doctoring and drug/remedy making and dispensing.
   Keagle holds a bachelor's degree (magna cum laude) from Cornell University in 18th century living history and historical interpretation. Besides interpretation, he has developed and planned public programs and reenactments. For the past ten years, he has been involved with reenacting such periods in American military history as the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the American Civil War and the 1830's, when many small communities in the US relied on local militias for self-defense. Drawing on research and his reenactment experience, Keagle recreates his own clothing, footwear, headgear and equipment, enabling him to craft highly accurate impressions of historical figures.
   Keagle is already developing interpretive programs about the French and Indian War for schools and other groups that visit the site. The interpreter also guides volunteers who interpret the provincial soldiers stationed at Ft. Dobbs 250 years ago. Hopes are that Keagle's continued research will uncover more information about the soldiers garrisoned at the fort, the civilians that took refuge there and the structure itself. His proven attention to detail combined with an understanding of the broader life and society of the 18th century will provide a remarkably comprehensive view of history for visitors to Ft. Dobbs.
   Ft. Dobbs State Historic Site's educational programming is supported by the not-for-profit Ft. Dobbs Alliance.

Archaeology and Cub Scout Camp Planned Week of June 19-23
June 16, 2006

STATESVILLE, NC - Early American patriot, diplomat and inventor Benjamin Franklin once said, "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." Next week, archaeologists and local Boy and Cub Scouts will try to prove this adage at Ft. Dobbs State Historic Site in Statesville. June 19-21, the site will publicly showcase an ongoing dig in a 560 sq. ft. area where archaeologists, assisted by volunteers and local Boy Scouts, will be looking for remains of the 18th-century fort. As part of the 19th annual Cub Scout Day Camp, from June 19-23 more than 300 Cub Scouts will also be at the site of the former French and Indian War fort, enjoying outdoor activities and studying the fort's geology, archaeology and history.
   NC Historic Sites Director Keith Hardison said, "We hope that the experiences these youngsters have at Ft. Dobbs will not only encourage them to learn more about our state's rich history but will enhance their ability to think critically about world events, both past and present. We are pleased to host such an outstanding group of local students."
   Planned since last winter, the archaeology dig will focus on searching for remaining architectural details of the fort including a surrounding ditch, soil stains and/or partial remains of wooden support beams, field stone foundations and fence lines or palisades (a fence of stakes forming a defense barrier). Local volunteers, as well as a group of local Boy Scouts working on archaeology merit badges, will help by screening excavated soil for artifacts during the three-day public part of the dig. In return, the archaeologists will outline typical scientific methods (such as detailed mapping, photography and artifact analysis) used in their field and present hands-on demonstrations for the Scouts.
   Assistant State Archaeologist John Mintz said, "We also hope to recover other artifacts that can help us reconstruct daily life at the fort. These might include fire pits containing charred animal bones; fragments of ceramics, gun parts, buttons, etc."
   Public Archaeology Director Ken Robinson from Wake Forest University, Dr. Larry Babits from East Carolina University and other archaeologists from the Office of State Archaeology will be on hand to supervise and analyze any findings made during the dig. Also a military historian, Dr. Babits researched and wrote a comprehensive study last year on the archaeology that had been done at the site since the 1960s. The archaeological research being undertaken, which will continue for some weeks, is being funded through a joint Ft. Dobbs Alliance and NC Historic Sites partnership.
   For nearly two decades, the annual Cub Scout Day Camp held at Ft. Dobbs has focused on a theme; this year it is "Prehistoric Planet". The week's activities will offer learning, fun and friendship for 301 Cub Scouts, a staff of 65 adult volunteers and 33 older youth Scouts. Its highlights will include woodworking, archery, sports and team building. Each activity a Cub Scout successfully completes during the camp will enable him to advance within the scouting program.
   Campgoers will also have a chance to view various vehicles on display at Ft. Dobbs including a medical helicopter, fire truck and army vehicles. The special geology, archaeology and the military history classes presented by the site's staff will include a lesson on how to perform a 1756 drill exercise done at the fort and military tactics of 18th century colonial warfare.

Digging History: Final Archaeology at Fort Site Planned for Spring 2006
March 2006

STATESVILLE, NC - After almost 30 years since the last excavation, Fort Dobbs will hold the final excavation of the fort area this spring before beginning reconstruction of the 1756 fort.
   Led by archaeologist Ken Robinson, Director of Public Archaeology, Wake Forest University, the dig will include a team of archaeologists from Wake Forest and the Office of State Archaeology. Supporters of Fort Dobbs, including Fort Dobbs Alliance members, will be invited to participate in certain components of the archaeological work.
   The excavation area will extend from the inside of the open "cellar" pit westward to a point 10-20 feet west of the extant ditch that is part of the outer perimeter of the fort. The excavations will include much of the 100 foot long excavation area and will cover at least 560 square feet.
   Archaeologists will seek to determine the western post holes, palisade and ditch features of the fort. Soil samples will help differentiate previously disturbed soils from natural subsoil.
   Funding for the archaeological research has been made available through a partnership between the Fort Dobbs Alliance and the Division of State Historic Sites.

Snake Fence Distinguishes Site
March 2006

STATESVILLE, NC - Many thanks to Adam Weber, Todd and Stacy Holden, Tall Bear, Greg Jones and Scott Hill for building the snake fence that now beautifully surrounds the front of the fort site. The locust split rail was purchased through a grant from the Department of Cultural Resources.

Boy Scouts Donate $900 to the Fort
March 2006

STATESVILLE, NC - The Iredell County Boy Scouts, Gemstone District, recently donated $900 to the Fort Dobbs Alliance. The donation was presented to Beth Carter, Historic Site Manager, by Bill Hicks, Dave Nagy and John Elliot, Gem Stone District Executive, Boy Scouts of America.
   The Boy Scouts collected the donation during the fall camporee held at Fort Dobbs in October 2005. Fort Dobbs and the Cub Scouts are planning for the summer day camp to be held in June.

Cruel Conflict that Led to Revolutionary War and Building of Fort Dobbs is Focus of PBS TV Special
January 2006

RALEIGH, NC - What if the French had won? This is a question North Carolinians may ask when they watch the exciting, new PBS two-part special on the French and Indian War entitled "The War that Made America," premiering Wednesday, January 18 and 25 on WUNC-TV.
    The conflict played out on several fronts both abroad and in the American colonies, including North Carolina. Two hundred fifty years ago, it became a battleground in this pivotal conflict over control of the American colonies, which pitted the French against the British.
    Near Statesville, Ft. Dobbs State Historic Site recalls where in 1756 a block house fort and palisade was built on what was then the colony's western frontier to protect local colonists from Indian attacks encouraged by the French.
   Today, the archaeological remains of the colonial fort that served as the official North Carolina frontier headquarters recall the only French and Indian War fort constructed by North Carolina's colonial government. Here North Carolina provincial soldiers commanded by Capt. Hugh Waddell stood watch and in 1760, fought off a Cherokee attack. Though the fort was abandoned soon after Britain won the French and Indian War, today plans are underway to reconstruct it.
   Though now overshadowed by the American Revolution of two decades later, the French and Indian War actually set the stage for America's emergence as an independent nation. Historians argue that it truly was "the war that made America," one that taught a raw Virginia lieutenant colonel named George Washington—then a British army officer—bitter, battle-scarred lessons he later used to lead a ragtag band of American citizen soldiers to victory against the world's most powerful military force, the British army.

Fort Dobbs Receives $2,000 from Wachovia Corporation
January 11, 2006

STATESVILLE, NC - A $2,000 contribution has been given to the Fort Dobbs Alliance from the Wachovia Corporation through the Wachovia Foundation.
   During a recent "Director's Challenge" event held by the local Wachovia board of directors, board member David Pope won the opportunity to select a non-profit organization to receive a $2000 donation. He selected the Fort Dobbs Alliance.
    Pope currently serves on the Fort Dobbs Alliance Board of Trustees and has been an instrumental supporter of the fort. He recently donated shingles for the long hunter tri-face shelters that are currently under construction at the site. The building's construction will be interpreted this spring during special event programming.
   Dave Fechtman, Market President, Wachovia Bank, N.A. Statesville Community Banking, remarked, "I was happy to see Mr. Pope's selection of the Ft. Dobbs Alliance, given that I am also personally a member and believe in the benefits it brings to our community."
    With a mission to build strong and vibrant communities, improve the quality of life, and make a positive difference, Wachovia recognized that the Fort Dobbs Alliance and Fort Dobbs State Historic Site, through efforts to preserve and interpret the fort, are vital in accomplishing Wachovia's goals as a strong community partner.
   The donated funds will be placed into a special fund for 2006 educational and special programming.


Fort Dobbs • 438 Fort Dobbs Road • Statesville, NC 28625 • 704-873-5882

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