Franklin Countys First News

Civil War Living History Weekend at Norlands on June 22 and 23

A sutler at past rally for Norlands.

LIVERMORE - The Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore is hosting its 7th Civil War Living History Weekend on June 22 and 23. This family-friendly event features a wide variety of demonstrations, exhibits, and engaging activities remembering the activities of the Civil War. It is co-organized by the 3rd Maine Company A and 15th Alabama Company G to benefit Maine’s premier living history farm and museum.

The Norlands is a 445-acre museum and working farm that is the ancestral home of the Washburn family. While no actual battles took place at Norlands, the historic site has a real connection to the Civil War. The Washburns from Livermore were one of the nations’ most influential political families of the 19th century and had a hand in transforming the nation at the time of the Civil War. Israel Washburn, Jr. was elected as governor of Maine in 1861 and quickly became known as Maine’s little-known giant of the Civil War. He sent more troops per capita than any other northern state. His younger brother Elihu was instrumental in getting Abraham Lincoln elected to the Presidency. Samuel served in the U.S. Navy and was Acting Master of the ironclad gunboat, U.S.S. Galena, when it sustained fire on the James River. Samuel was wounded in the hip, an injury that caused him pain the rest of his life. Their sister Caroline married Freeland Holmes, a doctor from Foxcroft, who volunteered with the 6th Maine Regiment. Freeland died in 1863 leaving Caroline as a widow with two small children. These are just a few examples of how the family influenced and were impacted by the Civil War. Hear more about the Washburn’s remarkable achievements and how the War affected their lives, and those of their Livermore neighbors, during Rally for Norlands.

Union and Confederate military and civilian reenactors from across New England will be camped on the grounds. Walk through the encampments to experience what life was like for soldiers. Cavalry units are also planning to attend. Living historians will scrimmage with replica weaponry and perform drilling and firing demonstrations. The 6th Maine Battery will fire their Parrott Rifle/cannon. A full-scale battle scenario will be staged each day on the hay fields of the Norlands (2:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday). There will be ongoing presentations in the surgeon’s tent and in the field hospital after each battle.

Throughout the weekend, guests may take a horse-drawn wagon rides, see blacksmithing demonstrations, tour the elegant 1867 Washburn family home, and play old-fashioned games. Schoolmaster Hiram Briggs will be lead lessons in the one-room schoolhouse. Visitors may participate in an old fashion spelling bee at Noon and 4pm on Saturday and again at Noon on Sunday. Guests also have the opportunity to try on period clothing in the historic dress-up tent. On Sunday at 11am, Charles McGillicuddy of the 3rd Maine will lead a historic church service in the 1828 meeting house.

History exhibits and demonstrations of traditional crafts take place on Norlands’ picturesque front lawn. Participating vendors include Agno3 Lab Tintype Portraits with Cole Caswell, BaahHummbuzz Farms with Karen Shumac, Caning by Pam Lanyon, Creative Basketry with Diane Wheeler, Jay Historical Society, Malbons Mills Blacksmith Shop with Dick Tessier, Mary Dillingham-Burnt Meadow Daughters of the American Revolution, Minot Historical Society, musician Neil James, Shaky Barn Farm Gardens with Bonnie Brown, Spinning Demonstrations with Marjorie Cormier & Friends, and Tophat’s Sutlery.

A special feature this year is that at 5 p.m. on Saturday, visitors may witness a real Civil War Era Period Wedding in the Church and celebrate the newlyweds during a Pig Roast and Gala Country Dance following the ceremony. The wedding is a fundraiser for the Norlands, organized by Boothby’s Orchard & Farm Winery and Shaky Barn Farm Gardens of Livermore and the wedding couple, Megan Dood and Taylor Stevenson.

Limited tickets are available for the Pig Roast that will begin around 5:30 p.m. The supper will include barbequed pork and chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, cornbread, and pie. Since this is a catered affair as part of the wedding, tickets must be purchased by June 17. There may be a tickets available the day of the event, but don’t miss the chance to be a part of this unique Civil War-themed wedding reception! All proceeds from the wedding and pig roast directly benefit the Norlands. Tickets are $23 and $15 for ages 12 and under. To purchase tickets for the pig roast, visit or call the Norlands at 207-897-4366.

The Gala Country Dance begins at 7 p.m. Join in a lively dance with twirling hoop skirts, uniformed reenactors, and fiddlers of The Racket Factory. The dance is free with the purchase of a supper ticket or general event admission; otherwise it’s $6 / $4 ages 18 and under.

Some additional presentations scheduled during the Rally include:

Under the Dress: Victorian Secrets on Saturday at 1 p.m. See how clothing construction and wired undergarments created the distinctive Victorian silhouette. Presented by Carolyn Lawson, member of the 3rd Maine and Norlands’ Board of Trustees.

Maine at War: From Bladensburg to Sharpsburg on Saturday at 11:30am. Historian, journalist and publisher of the weekly blog, Maine at War, ( Brian F. Swartz will give an illustrated talk on his newly released book, Maine at War Volume 1. He’ll share the important role Maine played during the Civil War - from Jonathan Cilley’s fateful duel at Bladensburg in 1838 to the explosive battle between the Rebels and the Yankees at Sharpsburg, Maryland in late 1862.

The Washburns & Their Neighbors in the Civil War on Saturday at 1 p.m. Several of the Washburn brothers held positions that influenced the War and several of their Livermore neighbors served and lost their lives. In this presentation, Willi Irish, Norlands’ Director of Interpretation and Training, will share original letters, photographs, diary entries and military records that reflect how the War affected life in Livermore, Maine.

Guided Nature Walks on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Visitors have the chance to step away from the conflict of war into the peace and quiet of the forest. Guided by Maine Master Naturalists Anthony Underwood and Lynda Fournier, walk on a historic carriage trail and explore the trees, ferns, flowers, and living creatures along the trail. One trail leads to two peaceful reflecting pools. In 1903, William Drew, the youngest of the seven Washburn brothers, took advantage of a natural spring to build the pools, under the cover of several massive pine trees. The other trail leads to the Overlook, in which Mount Washington may be seen on a clear day. Plan for 1/2 mile round trip, with slight inclines. Wear sturdy footwear. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Food: Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful grounds. On Saturday, the Jay-Livermore Falls Lions Club will sell hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries. On Saturday and Sunday, some vegetarian and gluten-free lunch and snack items will also be for sale, while supplies last.

Admission: The event opens at 9am each day. Tickets will be sold the day of the event, or may be purchased online through the Norlands’ website. Daily and weekend passes available. Members of Norlands enjoy 20 percent off admission rates. Bring your membership card. The daily rate is $13 adult ($10 members); $7 ($5) for children age 12 and under. Free for ages 5 and under.

Parking is in the field, across the street from the church. Enter the event at the admission booth located behind the church.

Pet Policy: For the safety and comfort of all animals and visitors, there are no dogs or other pets allowed on the property during Rally for Norlands. Service animals are the exception.

For more details and the schedule of activities, and to purchase tickets online, visit the Norlands website: visit

The Norlands is located at 290 Norlands Road in Livermore.

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