7:30 pm (Berwick Academy)
In a talk celebrating the Berwicks’ 300th anniversary this year, blacksmith/gunsmith Steve Woodman will describe the perpetual shortage of firearms in Colonial Maine, the men who tried to alleviate the shortage, and the methods they used.
Seventeenth century Maine had a gun issue far different from today's. Guns were a basic necessity for hunting food in the wilderness and defense in a time of warfare between Native Americans and European settlers. And the problem was that too few weapons were available.
Sponsored by the Old Berwick Historical Society, the talk will begin at 7:30 pm on Thursday, February 28, at Berwick Academy's Jeppesen Science Center on Academy Street. The public is invited and refreshments will be served.
“Among those living in our area, there were always more people needing firearms than there were weapons to arm them,” Woodman explained. “With low supplies and great demand, a number of men worked to keep as many guns in working order as possible.”
His talk will explain who these men were and the conditions they worked under. He will also describe the types of work they did and display examples of their labor.
Woodman’s lecture is part of the Old Berwick Historical Society's 2013 series of talks, walks and historical events tied to the 300th anniversary of the Berwicks’ existence as an independent town. Events will include lectures, tours and public programs focused on the history of this area of Maine and the Piscataqua during the 1600s and 1700s.
In 1713, the old town of Berwick – comprising today’s Berwick, South Berwick and North Berwick -- was founded when it separated from Kittery. The anniversary series is made possible by member donations and by grants from the Maine Humanities Council and Kennebunk Savings.
An exhibit called “Berwick Begins” is now on display in South Berwick Town Hall, and a new archaeology exhibit will open next summer at the society’s Counting House Museum.
Since trading a hatchet for his first antique gun at age 11, Woodman, a native of Lebanon, has studied, repaired, restored and reproduced firearms used in America from the 17th through the 19th centuries.
A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, he trained as a Russian Morse Code interceptor and served in Viet Nam in 1965 and 1966. He then served in the Maine Army National Guard from 1973 to 1977.
After earning a B.S. in American History from the University of Southern Maine around the time of the United States bicentennial, Woodman and a friend formed the Sanford (ME) Militia Company and participated in reenactments throughout the Northeast until 1981. After apprenticing for two summers at Strawbery Banke Museum he worked full time as a blacksmith from 1972 to 1978.
Entering the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in 1979 as a sheetmetal worker, he participated in the Blacksmith Apprenticeship Program. He then re-enlisted on active duty with the New Hampshire Army National Guard and served 13 years as a recruiter and 5 years as Personnel Sergeant at the New Hampshire Military Academy, retiring in 2001 with over 27 years of service.
Woodman has apprenticed with Everett Byrd, a master antique furniture restoration specialist, has been active in 17th and 18th century living history events, and has been involved in several archeological digs with Dr. Neill De Paoli and Dr. Emerson Baker.