This past weekend I participated in my first Civil War event of the season; an immersion event at Hopewell Furnace in Elverson, PA. I had been wanting to participate in this event for awhile and had assumed that I would portray a working class member of the town. But, when my husband, Vince, mentioned portraying Lancaster citizens visiting the town on business with the Furnace, I loved the idea. Both of our families are from Lancaster, PA, so portraying visitors from Lancaster seemed perfect. We portrayed William and Mary Heitshu, wealthy Lancastrians of the 1860s. Mr. Heitshu owned a hat shop in Lancaster city, and Mrs. Heitshu was from a prominent family that owned a local iron furnace.
We were not able to find any pictures of the Heitshus, but knowing their position in society, I was able to draw on period images from Lancaster taken of people of similar wealth to get an idea of how William and Mary Heitshu may have dressed. Because I didn't have time to make a new dress just for the event (but oh, how I would have loved to reproduce an original dress with provenance in Lancaster, PA), I finished trimming the green silk bonnet that I had made in Millinery class while at Carnegie Mellon.
My newly completed green silk bonnet. To complete the buckram bonnet that I had made in a millinery class, I added sheer ivory flowers between the my handmade ribbon flowers and gathered ivory lace to the interior sides of the bonnet brim. I'm very happy with the way the bonnet turned out!
My mother, Nancy, portrayed Mrs. Geiger, the stepmother of Mary Heitshu. And her friend, Audrey Trussell portrayed a friend of the family.
We could not leave Hopewell without having our image made by the talented Jim Peiffer. I chose to have our picture captured by the romantic brook that babbled through the center of the town. The perfect end to a perfect day.