News Column

History set to come alive in Laughlintown

July 18, 2014

By Tom Lavis, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

July 18--JOHNSTOWN -- Step back in time as the Compass Inn Museum in Laughlintown gives visitors a chance to experience what times were like during the Civil War.

The museum is offering a family-friendly way to learn, experience and participate in Civil War events firsthand during a living history weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

Pennsylvania played a key role in the Civil War, which by war's end claimed as many as 750,000 soldiers and freed 4 million slaves.

An encampment of dedicated re-enactors will conduct realistic events, demonstrate soldier and civilian activities, don period clothing and explain the culture during the Civil War years.

"While we will not have battle re-enactments, people can come and learn about the many different aspects of the war and gain a better understanding of the time and sacrifices that were made," said Roberta Smith, museum executive director. "We will have demonstration tents, people in uniforms, period weapons, as well as personal items taken into battle that encompassed the essentials of daily living."

People will have the opportunity to visit with Carpenter's Battery, an artillery unit for the Confederate States Army and members of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, Pittsburg Rifles, to learn about life in the 19th century.

"Carpenter's Battery, which was also known as Stonewall Jackson's artillery, will bring a cannon and explain how it works and what battles in which it was used," Smith said.

Since the early 1980s, the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves has been a living history re-enactment unit portraying a Union infantry regiment of the American Civil War.

A costumed ladies auxiliary will talk about the Sanitary Commission, a formidable group who solicited and donated hospital supplies such as quilts, medical supplies and bandages.

"We also will have a special exhibit, 'The Civil War and the Ligonier Valley,' to enlighten patrons," Smith said. "Visitors will see a soldier's trunk, canteens, women's dresses of that era and actual letters."

There also will be hands-on activities for children and tours of the museum.

In 1799, Phillip Freeman built a rest stop in Laughlintown for wagoners and drovers taking their animals to market. The log structure, later known as the Compass Inn, became a destination point for stagecoach travelers. It now houses the Compass Inn Museum, a location on the National Register of Historic Places.

Smith said the restored facility is completely furnished with period pieces.

"Visitors can tour nine rooms, including the common room, serving kitchen, ladies parlor and six bedrooms," Smith said.

The 90-minute tour includes the original inn, and three reconstructed outbuildings: a cookhouse, blacksmith shop and barn, all completely furnished with period pieces.

"We will have a blacksmith on hand for the living history weekend," Smith said.

Hours for the event are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Cost of admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors age 62 and older and $6 for students ages 6 to 17. Children younger than age 5 are admitted free.

Information: 724-238-6818 or visit http://www.compass

Tom Lavis covers Features for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Tom LavisTD.


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Source: Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, PA)

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