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Brigand's Grove 2011 Page Menu:     1   2   3   4   E       Next>>

Brigand's Grove 2011 - Charlestown, IN

John Woodall
Photo: Kate w/ Mission's camera
Mission milking a goat. Seriously.
Introduction. The Journal of the Mercury Ship's Surgeon Mission as he ventured forth with a small party of pirates to Brigand's Grove in Charlestown, Indiana during a long journey far from the sea (where they belong.) This is sort of like the journey that Surgeon's Mate Lionel Wafer made with his privateers (or pirates, depending on who you ask) as they trekked 600 or more miles across the Isthmus of Darien (or Panama for those of you who don't know your history). Here Wafer's knee was burned to the bone by someone drying his gunpowder, probably with a match or something similarly stupid, resulting in Wafer's living for several months among the natives where he got so comfortable that he let them tattoo him (something everyone who wants to believe that pirates had tattoos points to as proof, despite the fact that it is one of only two or three period instances of such behavior.) Wafer finally snuck back onto the privateer (or pirate) ship dressed as a native. They didn't initially recognize him partially because of all his tattoos (again suggesting it was abnormal). Yep, the Brigand's Grove trek was just like that. Except for the part about the 600 miles. And Panama. And the burning. And the tattoos. OK, it was nothing like that. Although there were some Indians. At the grove our Mercury pirates met other brigands who had apparently been shifted through time or something because many of them were not from the Golden Age of Piracy. (Also not like Wafer.)

John Woodall
Photo: Kate Bagley
The John Work House. (It's haunted. You should go there and look for ghosts.)
Chapter 1st. Of the curious route to arriving; the John Work House; observing the camp; not finding the crew ("Everyone's lost but me!"); going down to check out the creek with Jay; some photos of the creek, many of which did not occur on Friday, mainly inserted to fill out this chapter; chatting with event organizer Nathan Logsdon; meeting fellow Mercury crew member Iron Spike; settling down to yarn with him and Larry Burns (who is nothing like the character in M*A*S*H) and the final arrival of some people I knew from our crew.

Brigand's Grove was the emergency back-up location of what used to be Pirates of Paynetown. As you know from the 2009 and 2010 PoP Surgeon's Journals, I enjoyed the family atmosphere of those events. I was been quite curious to see what Nathan Logsdon has been doing with his bit of re-enactor paradise in Charlestown, so I decided to make the trek out and see what I could see. Just like Lionel Wafer trekking across Panama. (OK, OK, I'll stop with that now. It's just so weird to be going to a certifiably land-locked location to be a pirate. Well, if you don't count the creek, of course. More on that later.)

Route to John Work House 1
Photo: A Nervous Mission
When creating a Brigand's Grove, this is just the sort of road you'd want.
When I checked the map to the John Work house on MapQuest, I could immediately see that the road there was going to be one of those quaint (by which I mean 'narrow and twisty') routes. In fact, I didn't know the half of it. I took several photos of the journey there for you readers, despite the fact that I really wanted to have both hands firmly glued to the wheel. The route wound through the forest with steep drop-offs on one side and large embankments on the other. (None of these photos capture this very well, but from then you can at least get the driver nervousness flavor (which is a bit like an unripened grape.) from them.) I expected to hear strummed banjo chords at any moment. (Presuming you can strum chords on a banjo.) Nevertheless, I eventually came safely across a valley filled with off-white canvas on the right and a sign announcing the presence of the John Work house on the left, so I pulled in there.

Road to JW House 2
Photo: Mission
Pinball off the left bumper...
Road to JW House 3 Photo: Mission
Pinball off the right bumper...
Road in front of John Work House
Photo: Mission
Pinball arriving at the target!

Someone poked their head out of one of the upper windows of the House and inquired with a great deal of ill-concealed concern if I was here for the re-enactment. I said I was. He told me that I needed to go down and register and gave me instructions to do that. I'd have liked to look around the house, but I think this poor soul would have keeled over from exhausted nerves had I done that, so I went down and registered, parked, and wandered towards the campsite. It was a lot of wandering. The site had a large no man's zone, bordered on one side by police tape and on the other by a split rail fence. It was nice because it kept the traffic out of the way of the camp and made the pictures look better, but I cursed it every time I had to go to my truck. Once in camp, I saw people still setting up, some in period garb, others not. What I did not see was anyone I knew. (I suspect some regular readers of this Journals might be surprised to learn this, but I'm actually kind of shy.) So I decided to go to the John Work house and check that out as I had initially wanted.

The encampment
Photo: Mission
The view of the the encampment from the no man's zone.
Folks setting up camp Photo: Mission
Folks setting up camp.

The path to the house was opposite the camp. It went up the hill to the John Work house and was guarded by mugwumps, as you can see in the photo below center. Now those of you who know what mugwumps really are will be taking umbrage at this point. (Go ahead, take all the umbrage you want, it's nasty stuff.) For whatever reason, giant rolled up balls of hay look like something that J. K. Rowling would have called 'mugwumps.' In fact, I have called them this since I heard the term in high school politics since I am just like J. K., except that I don't have billions of dollars or respectable author credits to my name.

The path had been nicely cleared and strewn with wood chips by Nathanael and his volunteers and was a bit of a hike, but not unreasonable. I should note here that I was wearing my street clothes while thinking this including my tennis shoes. This is important because on Saturday we all learned that the flat leather-bottomed period shoes do not work well on wood chips. Not at all. In fact, wood chips act like oil when they come in contact with period shoes, so this will be the only time you will see me talking about taking the nicely cleared, wood chip-strewn path.

Visitors looking up at John Work house
Photo: Mary Lyons, Channel 11
Visitors look in dismay at the hill to the house.
Hay in front of path to John Work HousePhoto: Mission
Mupwumps guarding the path.
Path to John Work house with woodchips Photo: Mission
A look at the tricksy wood chips

Once we all got into our period shoes on Saturday and tried them on the nicely cleared, wood-strewn path, we agreed to take another path, one without so many wood chips, which was about twice as long. You can see this path below left. There you will see Nathanael and Andrea Logsdon's son Pip with his grandma leading him down towards the camp.

Pip and his grandma on the long path
Photo: Mission
A long, period-friendly path to the house.
Pip & grandma on the path 2 Photo: Mary Lyons, Channel 11
Picking up belongings after a slip?
The John Work house in the trees Photo: Mission
The John Work house (Haunting, isn't it?)

You may have noticed that I keep referring to the John Work house as being haunted. I am doing this to keep Nathan on his feet. See, people keep coming out to the house to look for ghosts. Why? I have no idea. I imagine one of those lame-brained ghost hunting shows or websites announced that the house must be haunted because... get ready for it... it's old. Whatever the reason for it, all sorts of loonies keep showing up in the middle of the night to ghost hunt which means poor Nathan has to post or be the night watchman for the house. So I'm yanking his chain here. Having been around the house for the entire weekend, I can safely state that I saw no sign of ghosts. Then again, I've been told I cannot see ghosts because I don't believe in them. The logic here is simply scintillating (by which I mean 'non-existant.')

Upstairs bedroom John Work house
Photo: A Mission
One of the upstairs bedrooms - quit yawning
Up at the house, the guardian who had poked out the window now seemed to be happy to see me now that I had registered. He invited me to poke around the house. So I did. Other than my now relieved companion the place was empty, so I snapped several photos that were so dull that many of them won't appear here.

Nathan and his volunteer crew had clearly done a great deal of work removing all manner of modern stuff from the house. It had been used by the ranger of the Boy Scout Camp up until 1989 and unoccupied since that time. The original house was built in 1811 and from what Nathan later told me, each resident added new stuff -inside and out- over time. Nathan explained that after they had removed all the stuff that had been added to the walls of one of the downstairs rooms, it had grown by eleven feet in each direction!

Stairway John Work house
Photo: Mission
The stairway & bathroom entrance.
John Work house stiars 2
Photo: Kate Bagley
A more creative view of the stairs and the landing.
John Work house stairway detail
Photo: Kate Bagley
Stairway Detail.

The path down to the creek
Photo: Mission
The path leading down to the creek.
Back in the camp I espied a group of the Great Lakes River Pirates coming from out of the woods that included Jay Henderson, whom I knew slightly. So I asked them what was back there and they told me it was the path to the creek. I decided to go see it. Jay and someone I don't know went along with me. They stopped at the skiff that was laying about halfway down the path and proceeded to talk about things of which I knew nothing, so I proceeded to the creek to take photos of it.

You know how some people can capture wonderfully artistic photos of a beautiful location? I am not one of those people. I tried, honest I did, but A peaceful creek full of rocks, surrounded by trees
Photo: Mission
Rocks in a creek. Yep. Trees too.
when I examined them on my computer, they mostly looked like rocks in the creek surround by some trees. Still, I can't have said all that an not included any of them, so I picked my favorite, which appears at right. See? Rocks in a creek. Surrounded by some trees. Hum.

Fortunately some other folks decided to come down and appear in my photos to make them somewhat more interesting. These included Nathan and Andrea Logsdon, their son Pip, Chris Anderson (I think), Brandon Scott and Jessie Dickenson. I had been hanging around on the roots of a tree which were reaching into the water. My goal was to get a river's eye view shot (which isn't actually interesting enough to post). As a result, they didn't see me at first. This allowed me to take "slice of life" photos. This facet does not make them any more interesting, however. Eventually Pip spotted me and come over and started climbing about on the most precariously balanced large rock that he couedl find near me. He was perfectly happy to use me as a support. Here I thought kids had better sense than adults.

Mission reflected in pool.
Photo: Mission
The Patrick Hand Hat wearer reflection shot.
Close up of Pip grinning
Photo: Mission
Pip trusts me. (!)
The group by the creek
Photo: Mission
Chris, Andrea, Nathan, Jessie & Brandon

Marcus Cain Fishing in the creek
Photo: Kate Bagley
Marcus Cain fishing in the creek.
Even with them in the photos, they're not exactly dynamic, so I am going to filch some other creek photos that were taken later in the weekend and stick them in here to make this chapter appear to be more interesting than it really is. Of course, I always...well, nearly always... ask permission to use the photos, so I'm not exactly stealing them, but the point is that these photos are out of the correct time continuity. I didn't actually see some of these people at all on Friday. I am still going to post them here, however. You purists can either skip them or grin and bear it.

One of the great questions on every guy's mind upon seeing a creek such as this is, 'Can I go in the water?' You can't ask this question directly or else your guyhood is somehow in question, so you approach it from the side, sneaking up on it. For example, while we were down at the creek, I heard "How deep is the water?" ("Four or five feet at the deepest.") and "Is the bottom slippery?" ("Not very.") No one went in while I was there, but when Tom Sawyer (aka Brandon Scott) and Michael Bagley (Huck Finn) were at creek side, Tom waded right in. Huck naturally followed.

Brandon wading in the water
Photo: Kate Bagley
Brandon wades on in. (There's something comical
about him s holding slops up.)
Michael follows Brandon in
Photo: Jessie Dickenson
Seeing Brandon has made it OK, Michael
tried it, ankle deep
Michael wading, holding up his slops
Photo: Jessie Dickenson
Then he waded in. (Pretending to
hold his slops up, but not really.)

Once you're in the water, you can proceed from concern about getting wet or slipping and boldly move towards the most salient feature therein - the huge chunks of rock that appear to have fallen into the stream from the wall opposite. Michael/Huck fully assumed the role of a brigand and hid behind one of them to wait for any passers by. (Which means he must wait for Brandon, as everyone else was too sensible to go in the water.) It's been a while since I've done a rollover effect (because editing photos to try and make them match is such a royal pain in the arse). However, I there is one below! If you place your pointer over the photo below right, Michael will pop up for you. You can do it over and over again, so be sure to enjoy that.

Michael hiding behind one of the rocks
Photo: Jessie Dickenson
Michael playing a sneaky brigand.
Michael pops up on roll-over
Photo: Jessie Dickenson
See Michael pop up! Place your mouse on the image! Go ahead! Try it!

Of course, once you've gone that far, you have to do the most dangerous thing possible. Here it was climbing on the large rocks sitting in the middle of the creek. First Michael/Huck tried it, and then Brandon/Tom had to try it and (naturally) and make it a bit more dangerous by climbing up onto one of the rocks sticking out of the wall opposite (below right).

Michael climibing one of the rocks
Photo: Jessie Dickenson
Michael climbing
Michael looking down at Brandon
Photo: Jessie Dickenson
Michael looking down on Brandon
Branding pointing
Photo: Jessie Dickenson
"You can do this! I did!"
Brandon on an outcropping of rock
Photo: Jessie Dickenson
Brandon as Tom Sawyer

panel
Photo: Er-um...
MAD Mag, June 1990, page 5, Mort Drucker (art),
Stan Hart, writer, "Bleak for the Future Part II"
All right, enough of that! We now return you to the normal Friday time line. (I hope that wasn't too confusing. Well, I really don't care that much, but I thought I'd say that because I sound concerned.) Having spent more than enough time taking photos I secretly knew wouldn't be interesting enough to use (yet I still taking such), I followed the group back up from the creek.

The group who were hanging around the site wasn't too large at this point, so I was able to spend some time chatting with event organizer Nathan. Nathan in casual clothes
Photo: Mission
Nathan: casual.
(Usually the event organizers are so busy running around trying to get everything together and keep everyone happy that they don't have much time to chat. Or breathe.) Nathan told me that at the time the John Work house was built, the area where we were camping used to the be the largest town a day's ride from several other larger Indiana towns, making it a hub of activity for the surrounding areas. John Work diverted the creek and built a mill on the river. Over time, several other businesses built up around Work's mill including a sawmill, a lime kiln,a powder mill, a training ground for horses and a distillery. Nathan explained that he hoped to rebuild the area and some of the buildings to create a community cultural center. As I have mentioned in other Journals, he is in the process of making the John Work house a re-enactor-friendly site. His store Taylor Rose Historical Outfitters is located in one of the large rooms downstairs and he is planning to use one of the upstairs bedrooms as a meeting place and the other to house a library of books related to period information and re-enacting. He also keeps a blog of his progress on the house.

Friday Night in Larry's Site
Photo: Mission
Iron Spike, Larry and I yakking the night away.
After we had talked for a while, he introduced me to fellow Pyracy Pub and Mercury crew member Iron Spike. I had never met Iron Spike, despite the fact that we're from the same pretend pirate ship. He and I started talking and eventually wound up under Larry Burns' canvas fly talking about this, that and everything in between. Larry has been a revolutionary war re-enactor since 1977 and was a member of the NWTA (Northwest Territory Alliance.) Iron Spike was from Missouri, near St. Louis and had been involved in re-enacting for quite a while, having gone from RevWar to Viking to everything in between. It was one of those discussions that went on for hours and while translate badly for the Journal because they are so wide-ranging.

I did learn about a group of folks who were derisively called 'Walnuts' because they had taken an article written by well-respected 18th century re-enactor Mark Baker a little too seriously. Baker said that people would have used walnuts to dye worn and shiny clothing to make it blend in to the environment better. Some of the people involved in his era of reenactment read this and decided it was gospel, so they dyed everything they wore with walnuts. Baker himself tried to set them straight, but there's no contraverting such behavior.

Mark and Jennie Gist showed up after we had been there an hour or two and the conversation continued until we all decided to call it a night. I trekked through No Man's Land back to my truck and reflected on what a pleasant night it had been.

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