Living History

JOHNSTOWN – The Johnson Hall State Historic Site came to life Saturday with talk of troubles in the Ohio country and grievances over trading during the first part of the reenactment at an event commemorating the 240th anniversary of Sir William Johnson’s death.

Death and Diplomacy: The 240th Anniversary of Sir William Johnson’s Final Council, Death and Funeral.

More than 40 people came to the hall for the event, titled Death and Diplomacy: The 240th Anniversary of Sir William Johnson’s Final Council, Death and Funeral. The day included a reenactment of the third day of the Diplomatic Council with Sir William Johnson and the Six Nations, including the exchange of wampum belts between the colonist and Native Americans.

Using the original minutes of the meeting, about a dozen people helped bring to life the council and the announcement of Johnson’s death on that day in 1774.

Martha Smith of Johnstown came out to the event to see the activities that were taking place. She said she is hoping to come back to take part in the funeral procession Sunday to see the funeral customs of the time.

Jeffrey Smith of Gloversville said he has been interested in the council since he was young.

“When I was younger, I had seen the painting of this council and I always thought it would have been fun to be there,” Smith said.

Smith said he loved seeing the reenactment and thought it was well done.

Spectators could also converse with one of the many reenactors dressed in Colonial or Native American dress.

Blacksmithing demonstrations, Native American songs, a temporary camp and reproduction wampum belts were all on the grounds. Johnson’s house was open to the public as well.

The event will continue today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will include a funeral procession for Johnson to St. John’s Church at 1 p.m.

According to a program handed out at the event, the public is encouraged to participate and asked to wear a black ribbon or band on the left arm. Following the procession, a funeral service will be delivered by Father Thomas Pettigrew using an original sermon delivered July 13, 1774.

Parking for the event is at Johnstown High School. A shuttle service will operate between the two locations.