(Counting House Park)
An outdoor "living history" presentation of a colonial encampment at the time of King William's War in the late 1600s will be held on Saturday, August 24, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday, August 25, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, at the Counting House Museum and riverfront park.
"This is a family event for all concerned", said Paula Bennett, program chair of the Old Berwick Historical Society, adding that the re-enactors will travel here from around New England and eastern Canada.
The society is sponsoring the event to coincide with the 300th anniversary year of the establishment of Berwick, comprising the towns of South Berwick, North Berwick and Berwick of today.
Bennett said the participants, led by veteran re-enactor Ken Hamilton, will demonstrate arts and crafts, regulation musket drills, cooking, camp life, and colonial children's games. Historical reproduction artifacts, including many depicting Native American folkways, will be on display throughout the site.
"This is an easy and fun way to teach history because the public will witness the sights, smells and sounds of the era," Bennett added.
The program is free to all ages and presentations will be held rain or shine. Counting House Park on Liberty Street, along the Salmon Falls River, is a spot known for generations as Quamphegan Landing.
Inside the Counting House Museum, visitors can see a new archaeology display of household utensils and other artifacts actually used at the homestead of Humphrey and Lucy Chadbourne, who operated a mill and raised a family in South Berwick in the late 1600s. Their house was believed to have been destroyed in 1690 during a conflict known as King William's War, when French and Native war parties attacked English settlers in the area of today's South Berwick, then known as Quamphegan.
Among the other homes believed destroyed in such a raid was that of Thomas Holmes, whose mill stood at Quamphegan Falls near the site of the living history presentation.
"We will interpret a military flying camp as well as the Native fur trade, fishing and hunting culture of the 'half Indianized' French and 'half Frenchified Indians," Ken Hamilton explained.
He said today's South Berwick and Rollinsford, NH, on both sides of the Salmon Falls, were once a Wabanaki or "East/Dawn Land" center for seasonal habitation, fishing, and canoe travel. English colonization and settlement forever altered the traditional access and use of this important area.
During the late 1600s and early 1700s, the English residents of the Berwicks, then called Newichawannock, adapted to a world dominated by a struggling economy, food shortages, rumors of Wabanaki and French attacks, militia call ups, and life in garrison. Wabanaki and French forces attacked Berwick on several occasions, the most devastating taking place in 1676 and 1690.
“European wars between the English and French then gave the displaced descendants of the original Native families the opportunity to ally with the French and retaliate against the loss of this important part of their original homeland and its resources (critical during fish runs, canoe routes and portages, etc.), and avenge grievances against the vulnerable, remote English settlements and habitations,” Hamilton said.
As a natural water/canoe highway system, the area's connecting rivers, lakes and bays made Quamphegan both a natural/automatic target and "pit stop" for French invasions and raiding parties, especially when the rivers froze. French raiders were accompanied by "local" Native guides.
Raids on our area in March 1690 and on Haverhill in August 1708 were led by a Frenchman named Hertel de Rouville. Retreating French and Native raiders from the Haverhill attack set up a rear guard counter ambush on pursuing militia at the Salmon Falls bridge.