Keeping up with the time travel theme after RenFest adventures… now to experience Texas in the 1830s!
Web site link: Pioneer Day at Jesse H. Jones Park
Description: Via web site – “Volunteers and re-enactors demonstrate settler life in Stephen F. Austin’s colony during the 1820s and early 1830s. Old-fashioned crafts, demonstrations, and period re-enactments bring the homestead to life.“
Location: Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center – 20634 Kenswick Drive, Humble, TX 77338
Hours: Open the second Saturday of November, 10 am – 4 pm.
Fee: Free admission.
Food: Lunch combos and smoked jerky for sale. I didn’t investigate too closely.
Bathrooms: Located by the Nature Center building/parking and adjacent to the Homestead/Indian Village.
Contact Them: 281-446-8588
Other: If you missed Pioneer Day this year, you can at least reserve a group tour of The Redbud Hill Homestead and Akokisa Indian Village on a Wednesday or Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Photos & Feelings
Me, I’m not really a “do-er” at events like this. I’m more of an observer and learner and explorer in the mental sense. Personally, I experience far more with my eyes and my ears than I do with my mouth or feet.
But I totally watched everyone else do cool stuff, and it was great! Like getting their picture taken on a covered wagon in costumes made available especially for the photo op ($2 for a print or use your own camera for $0).
And saw about a dozen people of varying ages and strengths play tug-of-war in a power struggle with a giant rope.
And witnessed the throwing of tomahawks and shooting of arrows.
And admired visitors dressing up in bonnets handmade by volunteers who were also busy crafting dolls, making soap from lard, prodding campfires awake, demonstrating games reminiscent of the simpler days, like tree-hung ring toss…
There’s also a petting zoo a hop and a skip away from the nearest parking lot. Of course, only an easy opportunity to bond with animals can make the most active kind of participant out of me…
Hay rides take you to and from the homestead. We arrived so late that these were no longer offered, but the walking trail to the site was definitely manageable. MaiTai wanted us to stop at every sign post along the way so we could read him fun facts about the park’s native trees.
We also arrived just after the war scene finished (it’s meant to be the big show-stopping event of the day). We hadn’t planned to watch it anyway as I heard it’s too loud and violent for most young children, so no sour grapes about missing out.
We got lots of pics. MaiTai made sure of it. Here he is reminding us with his “Take my photo!” gesture to never stop taking pics.
And again, just in case we forgot…
Redbud Hill Homestead
Per the web site: “Jones Park has attempted to construct this homestead as the early settlers would, using their methods and tools, such as an axe, drawknife, froe, wedges, mallet, and adze. The result is a family home in the wilderness, complete with a log cabin and outbuildings, root cellar, split rail fence, and kitchen garden.”
(Read more about the Homestead here).
The first vendors we met played the role of apothecary salesman. They explained how we shouldn’t trust them, they’re swindlers, and will do whatever they can to sell their customers on the “next big miracle cure.”
People in the 1830s were so desperate for relief from their ailments that they usually fell for the tall tales delivered by these crook “medicine experts.” Here, examples of the sort of tinctures and remedies pushed by the salesman before getting outta dodge.
Merriwether Wild Edibles (Dr. Mark Vorderbruggen) identified wild edibles for us. I hoped the spiky one with red berries was a variety of holly (my name). Alas, twas just some impersonator holly-wannabe plant…
A good deal of serious conversation was devoted to whether or not The Designated Dad and I wanted to erect some kind of pioneering residential structure of our own. To live in a log cabin frankenstein-ed together with hay and mud and hopefully some kind of door, but whatever’s easiest…
Because, you know, fresh air and the simple life and meals cooked fresh over a smoky evening fire pit. What delight! What purity! (And all the things I’m sure people enjoyed before iPads).
No mention of modern conveniences like plumbing and electricity and nail clippers. But in any case, we’re still deciding.
Volunteers getting their historical accuracy on…
We learned that making soap the old-fashioned way requires patience, more than anything. The pioneers would spend continuous hours stirring the vat of lard, then would sometimes enhance its aroma with herbs like rosemary, let it cool and sit for months (was it four? Six?). Thankfully, the pioneers weren’t too anal about bathing frequency. For them, a once-a-month cleansing on Wash Day (for bodies and clothes) was good enough.
You can learn more about the on-site replicas of a clay bread oven, smokehouse, root cellar, chicken house, pump well, barn, woodworking shop and more in the Homestead link above.
Akokisa Indian Village
Per the web site: “The Akokisas were skilled at making dugout canoes from cypress logs and used them on nearby waterways for fishing and transportation. They were also noted for their excellent hide tanning skills, especially bearskins, and their use of native plants for medicinal purposes.”
(Read more about the Village here).
MaiTai pretended this palmetto/grass-thatched roundhouse (called a hut) was his home. The room inside was his kitchen. He cooked invisible nom-noms for me on this here log, which also doubled as a seat upon which to rest while indulging in what I presume to be a grand Indian feast.