By Dave Warner
In April, the Herkimer Home State Historic Site kicked off its 2023 season with a ‘Sugaring Off’ event in Little Falls. The Home hosted the festivities as visitors learned about the traditional sugaring skills around General Nicholas Herkimer’s colonial manor in the scenic Mohawk Valley.
If you’ve never been there, construction of his residence on the colonial frontier was completed around 1764. General Herkimer’s place in history was assured in 1777 when he assembled 800 militiamen, supported by 60 allied Oneida warriors, and marched to defend Ft. Stanwix against a British siege.
Considered a significant turning point in the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Oriskany fought on August 6, 1777, has been described as one of the war’s bloodiest battles. Although wounded in the leg, Herkimer kept command during the fierce combat. After the battle, he was carried home, where he died ten days later from complications following the amputation of his leg.
Michael Roets, the site manager, said, “We’re getting ready to open up Memorial Day weekend. We’ve been working this winter on a bunch of new living history initiatives. We should have a working blacksmith here throughout the summer, mostly on weekends.”
He also said that they’re going to do some farming demonstrations. “We’re going to be opening some gardens and improving the formal garden in front of the house with some 18th-century appropriate flowers.”
Roets thinks the most significant change will be the living history demonstrations. “It used to be one of the mainstays of the Herkimer Home, and we’re trying to get back to that.”
One of their new employees, Edward Heinrichs, who had worked at Fort Ontario for years, will lead the events. “He’s been working on the fortifications around the house, and he’s also working on creating that blacksmith shop and demonstrations,” Roets stated.
They are also looking for volunteers who would like to work with Heinrichs, so if you are interested, call (315) 823-0398. Roets said that Heinrichs is well-versed in getting people involved in living history events.
“He works with them to get appropriate clothing and footwear, and he also has the ability to train people on how to do 18th-century crafts. We’re really looking to get more volunteers to work with him,” he stated.
The Home is also gearing up for the Raid Along the Mohawk event as they did in 2021. “That event will be the first weekend in September. It will be 100+ soldiers camped on the site along with their camp followers doing their demonstrations and some of their battle scenarios.”
“That’s the big thing that we’re doing, but we’ll also do a commemoration event of General Herkimer’s death, which we do every year. The DAR chapters come out, and numerous local chapters support that. Just honoring and remembering General Herkimer and all the other militia that fought at the Battle of Oriskany with him. We typically do that the weekend following August 6th,” he said.
For more information, visit https://parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/14/details.aspx.