Michilimackinac Secrets and Scandals: Histsory Revealed

This new themed weekend will present visitors with a variety of programs focusing on some of Michilimackinac’s lesser known history. Each program will examine an aspect of the Michilimackinac’ past that caused the original residents to gossip and share secrets with one another. All special programs and events included with regular admission to Colonial Michilimackinac. A Mackinac Parks: 125 event!

Michilimackinac Secrets and Scandals: Histsory Revealed

This new themed weekend will present visitors with a variety of programs focusing on some of Michilimackinac’s lesser known history. Each program will examine an aspect of the Michilimackinac’ past that caused the original residents to gossip and share secrets with one another. All special programs and events included with regular admission to Colonial Michilimackinac. A Mackinac Parks: 125 event!

2020 Archaeology Wrap-Up

Lead seal stamed with the mark of the Compagnie des Indes.

The second half of the archaeological field season had similar themes to the first half (see the first half recap here). Again, the most interesting artifact came from the central root cellar. It was a lead seal stamped with the mark of the Compagnie des Indes. The CDI was a French colonial enterprise chartered by the king. The seal would have been attached to a bolt of cloth or other textile imported by the company. It dates to between 1717 and 1769. This, combined with the stratigraphy (layers of soil) surrounding it, indicates that this cellar was in use during the French occupation of the house (mid-1730s to early 1760s) as well as during the later British occupation.

Possible French wall trench.

During the final week of the field season, we saw the first possible evidence of the north wall of the house. It is a strip of gray sand cutting through gold sand. In other units of the southeast rowhouse, the French house is a few feet narrower along the north wall than the British house, but has a porch, which the British house does not. The square the possible trench appeared in is the deepest in its east-west row (the row 210 feet south of the water gate), so it remains to be seen if it extends to the east and west. We do not expect to find the British wall trench and French porch joists until we open the row of squares to the north (the row 205 feet south of the water gate). After the excitement of removing the deep post in the first half of the season, we did not find the bottom of any more squares this summer. We opened the final two squares in the 210 row in the second half of the season. The easternmost is currently at the modern/colonial interface. The westernmost is in the layer of rubble created during the 1781 demolition of the fort. As was the case elsewhere in the house, there were a variety of ceramic sherds present. These included a fragment of a creamware handle, possibly from a pitcher, and a fragment of a polychrome tin-glazed earthenware teacup, similar to one found late last season.

Site packed for the winter.

We have now packed the site for winter and returned to the lab. Watch for a blog post in late winter to see what we learn as we clean and research this season’s finds.  

Hidden Histories: The Grenadiers’ “Mutiny” of 1780

As part of the Mackinac Parks: 125 festivities, we want to explore elements of Colonial Michilimackinac’s history and culture that are not currently well-represented in interpretive programming and exhibits. This walking tour/discussion will focus on the Grenadiers’ “mutiny” of 1780, and will be led by historian(s) from Mackinac State Historic Parks. This is a free event.

Gardens and Good Things to Eat

Everyone loves a good meal, including the historic residents of Michilimackinac! Join historic interpreters to tour and help maintain the fort’s gardens, assist with running the outdoor bread oven (and taste the results!), watch meals cooked over an open fire, and learn more about the unique food cultures of Michilimackinac’s French, British, and Native American residents. All special programs included with regular admission to Colonial Michilimackinac. A Mackinac Parks: 125 event!

Schedule of Events:

9:30 a.m. Musket Demonstration
10:00 a.m. Gardens of Michilimackinac Tour
11:00 a.m. Artillery Demonstration
11:30 a.m. Indigenous Food and the Fur Trade Program
12:30 p.m. Cloches and Compost: 18th Century Gardening Techniques Program
1:30 p.m. Musket Demonstration
2:00 p.m. 18th Century Botany and Art
3:00 p.m. John Askin’s Garden Program
3:30 p.m. Artillery Demonstration
4:00 p.m. Breadmaking and Oven Demonstration
5:00 p.m. Gardens of Michilimackinac Tour
6:00 p.m. Soldier’s Food Tour
6:30 p.m. Musket Demonstration

Hidden Histories: Marriage and the British Army

As part of the Mackinac Parks: 125 festivities, we want to explore elements of Colonial Michilimackinac’s history and culture that are not currently well-represented in interpretive programming and exhibits. This walking tour/discussion will focus on marriage and the British army. and will be led by historian(s) from Mackinac State Historic Parks. This is a free event.

Michilimackinac’s Artillery

Over the past few years the staff at Mackinac State Historic Parks has diligently been adding reproductions of Michilimackinac’s artillery throughout the site to provide visitors an accurate representation of what the site looked like in the 1770s. Join Curator of History Craig Wilson as he takes us for a tour of Michilimackinac and its artillery.
 

Archaeology Update

Trade ring with what can be interpreted as a “V.”

Halfway through the archaeology season we have found some interesting artifacts, the end of some features, and more questions.

Cufflink, or sleeve button, with an image that could be a classical or religious figure. 

The root cellar in the southeast corner of the house has yielded exciting artifacts for several seasons. This summer began the same way, with a button and part of the bone handle from a knife. Now some horizontal planks are appearing, possibly evidence of a wood floor. We tentatively identified a second root cellar in the center of the house late last season. This still seems to be the case. Several interesting artifacts have come from this area. The first was an intact engraved brass “Jesuit” trade ring.

Iron breech plug from a flintlock muzzleloader. 

The design can be interpreted as the letter “V,” the Roman numeral “V,” or something more abstract. The second part was part of a cufflink, which would have been called a sleeve button by its eighteenth-century owner. It has a glass or rock crystal set with an intaglio bust. The bearded man could be a classical or religious figure. More research will be done on this piece over the winter. The final artifact, so far, was an iron breech plug from a flintlock muzzleloader. It blocked the end of the barrel where it connected to the wood stock. It was discarded because the tang broke off. It is only the fifth gun part found in the house. We are eager to see what else this area has in store for us.

Interior post, located about five feet below the colonial surface. 

For six seasons, we have been excavating around a post in the interior of the house. We have finally reached the bottom, six and a half feet below our datum, probably about five feet below the colonial surface. It is sitting on a flat rock. Located near the southeast root cellar, it could have been a structural support for the rowhouse unit. Given its depth, it could also be a remnant of the first (1715) fort. We are exploring both possibilities. What will the second half of the season hold? Stay tuned to this blog and the MSHP social media channels to find out. If visiting Mackinac is in your plans for the summer, come out and visit the site in person. We are excavating in the middle of Colonial Michilimackinac, and work will continue daily (weather permitting) through August 22.

What’s Growing in the Garden? Lovage!

   While lovage is not seen much in gardens today, our ancestors would have likely been familiar with this useful plant. It appears in gardening books, cookbooks, and medicinal recipes dating as far back as the Roman Empire. Today, we grow it in the gardens at Colonial Michilimackinac.

Lovage sprout in April.

   Lovage tastes something like a cross between parsley and celery, with a very strong flavor. All parts of the plant can be used for a variety of recipes. The dried seeds are delicious when they are used like caraway in breads or cakes. The roots can be chopped up and added to soups, the stalks are delicious when candied, and the leaves are great in soups and salads or with cheese and eggs. In addition to being used as a food, medicinal recipes claimed that lovage could help with hysteria, reduce freckles, cure stomach aches, and even help with bladder issues.

   This perennial just started to make its way out of the earth in April. Those little sprouts are now 5-7 feet tall and tower over every other plant in the garden. The flowers draw pollinators, which are incredibly beneficial to the garden. We are using lovage in our foodways programs, so stop by and see this interesting and valuable plant. Visit our website for more information, and be sure to check out Mackinac Associates, a friends group which makes many of our activities, including the gardens, possible.

Michilimackinac at Work: Labor and Trades

Michilimackinac was a hardworking community in the 18th century. Voyageurs, blacksmiths, laundresses, clerks, and soldiers all plied their trades at the fort, employing both skilled and unskilled labor. Join the interpretive staff as they demonstrate a variety of tasks that made up the world of work at Michilimackinac in the 18th century. All special programs included with regular admission to Colonial Michilimackinac. A Mackinac Parks; 125 event!