History comes alive|During Heritage Days, students experienceancestors’ lifestyles

Published 10:11 pm Friday, October 9, 2009

Lifestyles & Features Editor

BATH — Hundreds of Beaufort County Schools students revisited the lifestyles of their ancestors this week during Bath Heritage Days.
The event, hosted by the Historic Bath State Historic Site, ran Monday through Thursday.
Bath Heritage Days is a local tradition going back approximately 20 years, according to Bea Latham, historic interpreter and assistant manager of the Bath site. Each fourth-grade class in Beaufort County’s public school system is invited to participate.
Along with site staff, volunteers Gaylon Ambrose, Gary Sullivan, Stacy Kempf and Jay Hardin offered lessons in how people of the Colonial period lived and worked.
“Beaufort County students are introduced to North Carolina history in the fourth grade,” Latham said. “This is a good way for them to see and have hands-on experience with things they learn about in the classroom.”
This year, special emphasis was placed on the legacy of former Bath resident John Lawson, who wrote a detailed account of life in this area in a book titled “A New Voyage to Carolina,” published 300 years ago.
Lawson was a naturalist, explorer and surveyor general for the Lords Proprietors. He traveled the Carolina colony between 1700 and 1701, keeping a complete diary of his findings that was later made available in book form. Lawson was killed by Tuscarora Indians in 1711 while exploring the Neuse River.
Kempf, representing the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, exhibited pelts from animals that Lawson would have encountered during his travels, Latham said. Ambrose and Sullivan introduced the students to the chores of finding suitable drinking water and grinding corn for flour, while Hardin showed how wood was cut for use in building fires and constructing homes. Quill-writing and rope-making techniques also were demonstrated.
“This gives them a taste of some of the chores Colonial people had to do for survival,” Latham said.
Approximately 600 students from throughout Beaufort County took part in this week’s event. They also got an added lesson in the hardships endured by their ancestors.
“Even though we always hope for perfect weather, the children have gotten an idea of what it was like to work when the weather is chilly, wet and windy,” said Latham, referring to weather conditions earlier in the week.