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Back in time

Students learn about Civil War during Royer Mansion living history weekend

May 17, 2008
By Wendy McCardle,
WILLIAMSBURG — A group of Williamsburg Elementary School sixth-graders stepped into the original front parlor of Royer Mansion Friday afternoon and went back in time almost 150 years.

The students — split into small groups — explored the Civil War era through five stations set up around the 1815 home’s property.

At the first station, Civil War enthusiast Robert R. Hileman Jr., president of the Colonel Crowther Foundation, stood in front of a display of memorabilia from the local military legend and leader of the PA 110th Regiment.

Hileman, an accountant and author of two books based on more than 60 letters written by Crowther to his family during the war, said he especially enjoys giving presentations to children.

‘‘They are very responsive to what we have to tell them,’’ he said. ‘‘I love talking with young people. It makes my day.’’

At the next station, Jared Frederick, who has written and illustrated several books, shared information on young people’s work and play in the 1860s, as well as the role of writers and artists during the war.

‘‘Right here’s the 1860s laptop,’’ Frederick said while knocking his fingers against the hard cover of a sketchbook. ‘‘They were some pretty tough times, and I think it’s important to learn from it.”

The final three stations were outside, where Union and Confederate re-enactors and women in period clothing talked about weapons, soldiers’ belonging and the role of women at home.

Karl Long of Huntingdon elicited a few squeals as the Union medic stood before some once-used tools — including a saw and different-sized knives — and explained anesthesia, amputation and infection.

‘‘Civil War medicine is one of the most important things to come out of the Civil War,’’ Long said to a group of students.

Teacher Angela Lower, a descendant of the Royer family, has been to several of these events for students.

‘‘I thoroughly enjoy coming here,’’ Lower said. ‘‘It’s a great learning experience for the kids.’’

For more information on the Colonel Crowther Foundation, visit For more information on Royer Mansion, visit

Mirror Staff Writer Wendy McCardle is at 946-7520.

Article Photos

(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Karl Long of Huntingdon describes what life was like for a Civil War surgeon to Williamsburg Elementary School students (from left) Shannon Burket, Hayley Butcher, Alyssa Bowmaster and Sarah Poplaski Friday afternoon at Royer Mansion.

Fact Box

Royer Mansion will host a living history and crafts weekend today and Sunday featuring:
* Juried Crafts Show, presented by the Blair County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsman, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
* Civil War demonstrations, displays and food, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Upcoming events at the mansion include:
* Royer Community Yard Sale, heirloom plant sale and Royer’s Repast-a (spaghetti dinner), June 7.
* Teddy Bear Picnic, July 19.
* Halloween events with Patty Wilson and Scott Crownover, Oct. 17 and 18.
* Royer’s Christmas luncheon, Dec. 13 and 14.

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