ROCKTON—May will be a busy month at Macktown Living History, 2221 Freeport Road. Volunteers at the site have organized an array of educational and experiential workshops and fun activities to give people the chance to be creative and to work with their hands.
Organizer Connie Gleasman said Macktown had a big and successful fiber event in early May three years ago. Because Macktown is trying to avoid big crowds and follow state safety guidelines as it’s under the auspices of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve, Gleasman said the site will host some smaller fiber-related classes.
“We wanted people to think of it as a fiber weekend,” Gleasman said.
On May 8, people can learn how to make a Great Lakes style twined bag with instructor Kelly Schott. The workshop is from 11 a.m.—2 p.m. The workshop cost is $30 per person for non-members and $25 for members. Registration and payment is required. People will learn the basics of twining and use natural plant fibers in the construction of a bag, traditionally used from the Midwest to the East coast. People should bring scissors, and the instructor will supply fiber, pins, boards and handouts. Online payment can be made at macktownlivinghistory.com.
From 1—4 p.m. on May 8 people can learn to make a spider web rose sampler quilt square in a class taught by Cathy Grafton. Participants will learn to create a small sampler of silk ribbon stitches using the spider web rose, lazy daisy, French knots and ribbon stitch. The small piece can be used as a wall piece, turned into a pillow or added to clothing. The workshop is $35 for non-members and $30 for members.
Then, the Second Sunday event will be held on May 9 from 2—4 p.m. featuring weaving. People will see a demonstration of how to weave a scarf on a loom. Admission to all Second Sunday events is free of charge.
Upcoming 2021 Second Sunday events will include carpentry in June and heritage and Native American gardens in July. Those are always the second Sunday from 2—4 p.m. and are free to the public although donations are always appreciated.
“I’m excited about weaving. The instructor comes highly recommended and she will have a loom set up so that she will demonstrate and people will be able to try their hand at it,” Gleasman said.
The annual Macktown Gathering won’t be taking place this year as it’s a large gathering. However, Gleasman said there are activities people can do outside and in smaller numbers and feel safe.
A prehistoric archaeological artifact identification class is also coming on May 22 from 1—4 p.m. People will learn the history of how things were created and learn how to locate and describe them in proper notes to help preserve history. Dr. Rochelle Lurie who is an archaeologist and avocational archaeologist Peter Czyzewski will be the instructors. People will learn about archiving items such as pottery shards, hammers, axes, arrowheads or any items they might find after digging in their yards. The class is free to members and $15 for non members.
For more information on events or the site visit Macktownlivinghistory.com or visit it on Facebook.
Macktown was founded in the mid-1830’s by Stephen Andrew Mack, Jr., and his wife, Mary Hononegah. Macktown, then known as Pekatonic, represents a time and place of change on the Illinois frontier when the fur trade collided with a progressive world.
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 200-300. A ferry and bridge traversed the Rock River.
Following Mack’s death in 1850 and the destruction of the bridge in 1851, the Macktown settlement area failed to thrive. The northern part of the settlement prospered and officially became known as Rockton in 1846 or 1847.
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.