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Dey Mansion Encampment Day Engages Visitors on Colonial Life

Updated: Apr 15, 2018

An overcast day didn’t dampen the spirits of history lovers as the Dey Mansion celebrated its annual Washington's Encampment day on July 23. Re-enactors, dressed in authentic period garb, shared their knowledge of everyday life in colonial days. A highlight of the event came when men dressed as members of the New Jersey militia, and representatives of the red-coated 42nd Royal Highland Regiment/The Black Watch and their scouts, conducted marching drills and fired their muskets during a mock battle on the lawn of the Dey Mansion.

Mark Worthington of Montclair, working as an 18th century blacksmith, taught the tricks of the trade to his young apprentice, Matt Behnke of North Haledon.

Astute, well-dressed re-enactors, including Karl Grogaard of Sussex; Bob Shanahan of Annendale; Alex Pena of Montville, and Samantha Vogeley of Middle River, MD; and Raoul Mallalieu of Ho-Ho-Kus interacted with encampment visitors. They discussed tensions and hardships that existed in New Jersey towns during the Revolutionary War years. One insightful observation came during an informal, outdoor presentation by Mallalieu, who said the Revolutionary War, in many ways, was akin to a “civil war,” especially in northern New Jersey. Because 18th century villagers in the Pompton and Preakness region (today’s Passaic County) were outspoken for or against the American independene movement, this turmoil pitted colonial patriots against British loyalists—turning neighbors, business associates and family members against each other. Mallalieu said daily life was rampant with gossip and rumors, as people knew where their fellow citizens stood on the issues of the day. This tension also translated into war-time espionage, as some village residents served as spies, informing British army officers about the local movement of food, commercial goods, and munitions.

While outdoor encampment activities were taking place, inside the Dey Mansion several women re-

enactors were demonstrating precision skills and crafts from the 18th century, such as Mayra Petretti of Wyckoff, who was engaged in “bobbin” lace making. Other crafters inside the mansion included weaver Lois Macknik of Allendale, a New Jersey fiber artist for over 30 years; and rug/blanket maker Maurizia Hulse of Wanaque.

Situated at wooden tables near the all-day camp fire, colonial chefs cooked up a sumptuous meal of pork loin, peach and onion stew, while medicinal herbs used during colonial times were on display, featuring glass containers of lavender, ginger root, rosemary, lemon balm and marshmallow yarrow.

For more photos from the event - check out the Dey Mansion Events & Programs page.

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