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‘Indiana Territory’ characters all set to return next year

‘Indiana Territory’ characters all set to return next year
‘Indiana Territory’ characters all set to return next year
Portraying Jonathan Jennings, Tom Chapman of Charlestown signs the Constitution of the State of Indiana during a reenactment Saturday afternoon on the First State Capital grounds. Waiting to sign the document is Gordon Barnett of Oakland City. (Photos by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

A slight breeze ruffled the 1815 U.S. flag Saturday afternoon next to where Brian Cummings sat.
Cummings, a 16-year-old from Middletown, Ohio, didn’t pay any attention to the slight reprieve from the sweltering heat as he repaired a rabbit skin he’d purchased about a month ago.
He was in Corydon for the first ‘Indiana Territory Festival: The Making of a State,’ a 2-1/2-day festival that replaced Old Capital Days and Old Settlers Day events. The one tell-tale sign that indicated Cummings wasn’t living in Indiana sometime between 1808 and 1825 ‘ the period the festival showcased ‘ was the digital camera he used to take pictures for the Pioneer Times, a Web news magazine about reenacting and living history.
Cummings said he became interested in reenactment only 10 months ago. The following day he was ‘killed’ in a duel when festival organizer Nathan Logsdon shot him.
‘We have more reenactors than camps,’ Logsdon said Saturday afternoon as everyone made their way from the First State Capital to the festival site along the south bank of Little Indian Creek and east of the Grand Trails RV Park on South Mulberry Street.
With temperatures in the low 90s during the holiday weekend, some reenactors opted to participate in the events but not camp overnight, Logsdon said.
The only activity on state property was a reenactment of the signing of the Constitution of the State of Indiana. Jonathon Jennings, portrayed by Tom Chapman of Charlestown, called the meeting of the delegates to order inside the old limestone capitol. At the suggestion at one of the delegates, they moved outdoors, just as the representatives of the people of the territory of Indiana did on the 29th day of June in 1816 during the convention in Corydon to sign the constitution.
Logsdon is hopeful next year’s festival will take place on the town square, just as the preceding Fourth of July festivals have.
‘We’re definitely trying our best to get it on the square next year,’ he said yesterday.
Regardless of where it’s located, the reenactors are ready to come back next year.
Charles (Chuck) White, who was here with his father, Ernest White of Huntington, said they will bring their Indiana Territory Militia and a replica cannon next year. The father and son fired many a round from their 1795 Springfield Musket and Blue Ridge Tennessee Long Rifle.
Another father and son team was Gordon Barnett of Oakland City and Gordon Barnett II of Grayville, Ill. Their business, White Buffalo, included tomahawks, knives and atlatls. They showed their skill at throwing tomahawks and atlatls to visitors.
Flora Cummings, 79, of Jeffersontown, Ky., spent the weekend making real butter from whipping cream.
Besides demonstrations, there were character portrayals. Squire Boone (Mike Rumping of Bethel, Ohio) talked about himself for about 50 minutes. He was accompanied by his wife, Jane (Nancy Rumping).
Boone told how ‘injun troubles’ kept them pretty busy and he ‘watered Kentucky soil with my blood too many times.’ He also talked about his more famous brother, Daniel, whom he tracked twice in the wilderness ‘without a map,’ much to his older brother’s dismay.
William Henry Harrison (Stephen Harrington of Corydon), who became the ninth president of the United States, told how he named the town Corydon after a favorite song. Harrison was the first president to die in office, in 1841, only 32 days after he was elected.
Roger Gleitz of Corydon played Dr. Benjamin Adams, who came to Corydon from Louisville in December 1814. In addition to offering medicinal treatments, he was a circuit riding Methodist minister.
Logsdon said he was pleased with the turnout for the first festival, although ‘there’s no way to count; they kept coming and going.’
Plans are already underway to form a committee to put next year’s festival together. Logsdon, who has been encouraged by positive feedback, said he will announce the date for the meeting in the next few weeks. He’s already received commitments from the Harrison County Arts Council and the Historical Society to help.
Next year’s festival will be ‘at least twice the size’ of this year’s, he said.