With the firing of an 18th-century-style flintlock rifle and the cooking of old-style food over hot coals, members of the Jacobsburg Historical Society opened the Boulton Historic Site for the 2011 season.
The local historic site is the home of the John Joseph Henry House Museum, the Pennsylvania Longrifle Museum and the Nicholas Hawk Gunshop.
Your first stop when visiting the site is, or should be, the Henry House, which is also used as the historical society's office. The house was built by John Joseph Henry for his wife, Rebecca, and is furnished with belongings of the Henry clan -- best known for opening a gunsmith business in Nazareth in 1779. The belongings were collected from 1823 to 1989.
Behind the Henry House, in the summer kitchen, volunteers Carolyn Flemish and Bobbie DiGerlando cooked old-style food over hot coals during the season opener Sunday afternoon. The smell of corn bread, venison stew, bacon and snickerdoodles (a type of cinnamon-sugar cookie) filled the air.
“They used to have a separate building to cook, so it wouldn’t heat up the house,” DiGerlando explained, “... and to keep from burning the house down.”
As you continue your walk behind the Henry House, you'll come up to the Nicholas Hawk Gunshop. According to Lyndsey Brown, director of the historical society, Nicholas Hawk was an early American gunsmith whose shop was originally located in Gilbert (Monroe County).
In 2003, the gunshop was donated to the historical society, and was carefully disassembled -- piece by piece -- and reconstructed on the rear lawn of the Henry House.
Today, the shop displays longrifles of the era and is also utilized as classroom space -- longrifle-building classes are held by members of the American Longrifle Association.
Dave Ehrig, an author of several books including Muzzleloading for Deer and Turkey, demonstrated the loading and firing process of an 18th-century-style flintlock rifle.
“[Longrifles] were absolutely vital in the Revolutionary War,” Ehrig said as he loaded black powder and a patch into the barrel.
Ehrig went on to explain, among other things, that the longer the barrel of the rifle, the straighter soldiers could shoot, and that saliva -- as a lubricant -- counteracts the gummy residue left by black powder.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Jacobsburg Road, members of the public admired a variety of antiques at the Pennsylvania Longrifle Museum. The museum has guns, swords, compasses, clocks and uniforms all on display, and the walls are decorated with an entire timeline of the Henry family.
The new season also brings a new exhibit to the museum.
“We have a new Civil War exhibit -- items from Bob Newell’s private collection,” Brown explained, adding that Newell, a member of the society, is well-versed in the Henry family and its Civil War-era guns.
The two museums and the gunshop are at 402 and 403 Henry Road. For more information on the Jacobsburg Historical Society, visit www.jacobsburg.org.
The John Joseph Henry House Museum will be open on select Saturdays and Sundays from May 1 to Oct. 30.
The Nicholas Hawk Gunshop is open on the last Sunday of each month from 11am to 4pm, and year-round by appointment.
The Pennsylvania Longrifle Museum is open noon to 4pm Saturdays and Sundays for the duration of the season. Admission to the museum is $3 for non-member adults.
Director Lyndsey Brown would also like to extend a very special thank you to Tighe Nostrand of Friendly Tree Service of Bangor for the volunteer work his company provided for the society in preparation of this event.