Story by Lon Tytell
The Young Historians from Golden Hill Elementary and S.S. Seward Institute in Florida have immersed themselves in unlocking the history of their village under the guidance of Joan Kissinger. Their recent endeavor is a year-long project to replicate the interior of the Green House, located at 13 Bridge St. in Florida. The Young Historians will recreate a general store, a one room school house and a keeping room based on their research.
A keeping room was a common room in a colonial house and was used for multiple purposes. The room kept the wool warm so it could be spun and it kept the family warm when they slept there on winter nights, giving it the name keeping room.
The students washed, primed and painted the walls, swept out the three areas, washed items for display including dishes, glasses, pots, etc., found in basement closets. They also sanded the wood covers for the scrapbook each of them will be keeping to tell the story of what they have accomplished as Young Historians.
“The children will actually see and experience what historic places actually were and understand why they were necessary and how and why things have changed over time. While emptying a closet, some of the young historians found an old ice cube tray that had a handle to lift up to loosen the frozen ice cubes. They were completely puzzled,” said Joan Kissinger, the advisor to the Young Historians Club.
Kalynn Parker, a member of the Young Historians, said, “I learned that the Green House has been in Florida for four generations, from the 1840s when the house was built. I have been washing the walls of the Green House. I love helping and being part of this fantastic club. I have learned so much about the history of Florida, my home town.”
Another club member, Luke Young, is a seventh grader at S.S. Seward Institute and, along with his father, Mike, has been a Revolutionary re-enactor for a year. As re-enactors, they dress as members of the 42nd Royal Scottish Highlanders, nicknamed the Black Watch. The Youngs wear a waist coat, red jacket, hose stockings, a bonnet with ostrich feathers and carry a brown Bess rifle with bayonet. They hang a pick and whisk brush around their neck to clean the powder pan and wear a cartridge bag, haversack and canteen. The jackets are Venetian red, a color chosen because it was the cheapest dye in the 18th century.
As re-enactors, the Youngs spend their weekend living life as it would be in the 18th century and engaging in mock battles. They have participated in re-enacting the Battles of Long Island, Brooklyn and Harlem Heights. They also travel out of state for more Revolutionary encounters, including a recreation of the crossing of the Delaware by George Washington and his troops.
“I always had an interest in history. Reading about it is one thing, but actually being a part of it is just unbelievable. As a Young Historian, I learned about the history of the Florida residents,” said Luke Young.
“History has always been a passion of mine. American Revolutionary history was not taught in British schools. Therefore, when I came to the U.S., there was a lot of history to explore. I was lucky enough to have a son equally excited about history. Honestly, I do it for him because it is so important that we do not forget the birth of the U.S. It is also important to understand there were two sides in this conflict. Our living history gives everyone the opportunity to see how life was in the 18th century,” said Mike Young.
Kissinger summed it up best saying, “In my opinion, the Young Historians and others with such enthusiasm for history are the future of historic preservation in our community.”
Funding for this project comes from Society members’ donations and from an annual fruit sale. Anyone wishing to contribute artifacts to put on display in the Green House can call 651-5483.