ROCKTON — This year’s The Gathering, hosted by Macktown Living History, will see 56 demonstrators and close to 600 visiting students.
The theme for the historical re-enactment event is Commerce Comes to The Rock River Valley. The event will be held from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. April 28 and from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. April 29 at Macktown, 2221 Freeport Road. There will be free parking, period foods such as root beer and sarsaparilla in addition to many period crafts.
The weekend will bring history to life as visitors learn how commerce and trade began in the area. Guests will have the opportunity to meet traders, trappers, voyageurs and Native Americans and will learn about early American frontier life from 1650-1850. Admission is $8 for adults, $15 for two adults, $20 for a family, $5 for students and seniors and free for children under 6 years old, said volunteer Linda Sonneson.
The Stephen Mack House will be filled with the Mack family and the newly-remodeled Trading Post will be filled with the newly-added merchandise with tales from volunteer Bob Kocher. The Native American village will be full of teepees, wigwams and other period-appropriate items. Special guests to the event include Ben Franklin, mountain men and roving fur traders.
Sonneson said the Mack house will feature a rocking mammy’s bench on loan from the Indian Agency House in Portage, Wis., circa 1832. The little bench includes a spot for mom to keep busy as a baby naps. Sonneson said when Mack died, a rocking mammy’s bench was found in his inventory. Some of Hononegah’s beads will also be available for viewing, courtesy of the Roger and Judy Bates family.
Macktown was founded in the mid-1830’s by Stephen Andrew Mack Jr., and his wife, Mary Hononegah. In prosperous times, Pekatonic boasted of the Mack’s two-story home and store, a furniture store, a school room, a shoemaker’s shop, a tavern, a trading post, fur trapper’s cabins, and other homes belonging to the population of 200 to 300. A ferry and bridge traversed the Rock River.
The Winnebago County Forest Preserve District, which owns the land on which Macktown and the trading post once sat, and the Macktown Living History Education Center have undertaken plans to restore Macktown to its 1830 - 1846 historic condition using a master plan by Sheaffer Land Architects.
On Friday volunteer Deb Perry was eagerly awaiting the event. Perry said Macktown is still scouting for Hononegah and Stephen Mack re-enactors. In order to bring more attention to Macktown, Perry said re-enactors are discussing being on-site every Sunday during the summer from 1-4 p.m., although the final details are still being worked out.
This summer will bring many renovations to the Native American village. Mats have been purchased through a grant from the Stateline Community Foundation to cover floors and walls or wigwams and Eagle Scout Christopher Bax of Roscoe will be building wood benches and an outdoor kitchen covered with evergreen boughs.
“It’s a shady way for the ladies to be cooking in the summer,” Perry said.