Clay History Camp 2012

Posted on July 9, 2012

Clay History Camp 2012

The week of July 9, 2012, seven girls and seven boys  from around town made some wonderful memories,  Under the direction of Cindy Redhead, chairman of this year’s History Camp, and nine volunteers and helpers, they were kept  very busy for five days learning about the Civil War as it related to Clay.

The first day they learned what Civil War soldiers needed when they went to battle – uniforms, equipment and food.  In the log cabin, they were told  how women were involved from staying home and doing their husband’s, father’s  son’s or brother’s work  plus their own jobs, to actually being spies  and masquerading as men to be soldiers.  They were assigned either a blue or gray shirt.

The second day was at the Railroad Station learning about the part trains played in the war.   After learning how important the Morse code was in the War, they practiced by interpreting a message which was rally a famous saying of Abraham Lincoln. Using the railroad lantern they made, they marched in the dark pretending they were escaping slaves.

Wednesday was off to the District 5 one-room school house where they were instructed in how it would have been to learn with eight grades in one room, plus some stories from some who had attended one.  After learning a slave song which was sung by the escaping slaves, they made a picture of the little and big dipper which were the slaves’ guides to finding freedom.  Using a map of the slave routes through New York, they measured the distance between known safe areas on the way to freedom in Canada.  A bag race followed with blue against gray.

Thursday at the Pine Plains Cemetery they made rubbings of tombstones of Civil War soldiers and researched their ancestors.  They toured the cemetery and learned about different types of stones and family names around Clay.  Actually the children were asked to find the tombstone with an American Indian on it.  Then they played quiet games under the trees at the Cemetery.

The last day was a tour of the old Weller barn, learning about farming and the difficulty of keeping the farm going during the War.  Bringing in their own family trees that they had compiled at home, they researched on the internet for their ancestors.  The Camp ended with a cookout and playing games tug-or-war with blue against gray. 

The boys and girls learned, as the Southern and northern soldiers had learned, that they were all the same no matter what color shirt they wore.  They have many memories to keep with them for a long time.  Everyone wants to come back next year!


Dorothy Heller, Historian

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