Photo is in the outdoor kitchen, l. to r. Jan Long, Waltraud Hornick and Vernee Peterson (Photo courtesy of Michelle Phillips.)
l. to r. Dale Corey, Will Reynolds, Jay Hatfield, Nathan Poe, Anne Simmons, Marc Robinson, Eric Robinson, Allan Phillips, Jan Long, Waltraud Hornick and Vernee Peterson. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Phillips
On 16 April 2022, the Warren Heritage Society and Colonel James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution cosponsored a Colonial Patriot Day at the Balthis House, the oldest house on the oldest street in Front Royal. Also participating was the French and Indian War Foundation and a vintage blacksmith, covering the early part of history in what is now Warren County.
Melanie Gregory of WHS coordinated the events throughout the day and Waltraud Hornick and Vernee Peterson of the WHS prepared a meal of pork stew and corn fritters on the fireplace in the outdoor kitchen. They used the same techniques as the colonists in the backcountry of the Virginia Frontier. At this time, cooking was done exclusively on wood-burning stoves and fireplace hearths, both of which radiated intense heat. An outdoor kitchen, kept the heat, the smoky smells and the risk of fire out of the main house. The hearth was level with the floor to allow for cooking ease. Dutch ovens with a grooved lid were the main cooking vessel. These pots were placed on the hearth floor on top of a bed of hot coals. The same glowing coals were then spread evenly onto the pot lids. Game, beef and pork were often cooked on a spit over the open fire. Kettles were suspended over the fire from a metal swinging arm.
There were several presentations given by the members of both groups on the Balthis House, colonial equipment, blacksmithing, cooking demonstrations, muskets and safe firing procedures. The house is a rare surviving example of a two-story wood frame Federal-style townhouse. The house has many architectural elements salvaged from other houses of the same era that were demolished, and includes appointments of furnishings of the period. The original section is three bay and the house was expanded to its present size in the mid-19th century. Also on the property are the outdoor kitchen, playhouse, general store, smoke house, Ivy Lodge, Belle Boyd Cottage and WHS Archives.
Front Royal was a prosperous center of wagon manufacturing, serving the westward expansion of the US. The Balthis family were successful blacksmiths and in mid-19th century, had additions built on the original house. A small blacksmith's shop has been built as a recreation of the time. Jay Hatfield, worked hard in the blacksmith shop forging and shaping metal. He gave several presentations on the different kinds of equipment that he made.
All of the buildings were open with demonstrations and presentations at all locations. At the end of the day, the Colonel James Wood II Chapter provided a musket salute, firing three rounds in honor of all patriots. Participating for the SAR were Sean Carrigan, Dale Corey, Allan Phillips, Nathan Poe, Will Reynolds, Eric Robinson and Marc Robinson. In addition, French and Indian War Foundation members Dale Corey, Eric Robinson and Marc Robinson provided demonstrations and incite into the French and Indian War era on the Virginia Frontier. Jan Long and Elizabeth Cagle dressed in colonial attire, adding to the atmosphere with Jim Heflin, (retired archivist) and SAR compatriot adding insight and information about the history of the county