Living History February 2006

By Dana Schmidt Premium

San Juan Capistrano, California


Mission Accomplished

Join the Mission San Juan Capistrano Feb. 11 for its annual Lincoln Celebration. The event commemorates Honest Abe’s life and his role in returning the mission to its original owner, the Catholic Church.

While most Americans were concentrating their energy and resources on the Civil War, Southern Californians were fighting their own battle to reclaim the mission, which the newly independent Mexican government had seized in 1833. After that conquest, ownership of San Juan Capistrano changed hands several times. But in 1853, a Catholic bishop registered a claim to the mission’s old church, clergy residence, orchard and vineyard, asking for the property to be given back to its original owners. Finally, just a month before his assassination in 1865, President Lincoln signed documents that returned the mission to the Catholic Church.

At this year’s presidential birthday bash, you’ll witness a Lincoln look-alike and other characters re-enacting the celebrated deed signing. See Lincoln-era memorabilia, listen to the fife-and-drum corps and view the Lincoln documents.

The event is free with paid admission to the Mission San Juan Capistrano, which costs $6 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and $4 for children ages 4 to 11. Call (949) 234-1300 or visit <> for details.

Anderson, Texas

Giddy Up!

In 1834, English immigrant Henry Fanthorp built his home in what’s now the Lone Star State. Within the next several decades, Fanthorp added rooms to his house, which served as a stagecoach stop, post office and small general store. You can travel back in time to the Stagecoach Days Feb. 11 at Fanthorp Inn.

Ride on a bright-red, replica 1850 Concord stagecoach, tour the restored hotel, listen to the sounds of the Star of Texas Dulcimers, hear cowboy poetry and see period re-enactors.

Admission is $1 for Texas State Parks Pass members; for non-members, it’s $4 for adults and $2.50 for children 12 and under. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call (936) 873-2633 or see <>.


Manteo, North Carolina

Re-Creating Roanoke

Immerse yourself 1860s life at the sixth annual Civil War Living History weekend Feb. 18-19. The festival commemorates the 144th anniversary of the Battle of Roanoke Island, when the area fell to Union forces. At the event, you’ll see Union, Confederate and civilian re-enactors perform artillery demonstrations and drills. You also can experience musical performances and period activities such as blacksmithing, rope making and woodworking, plus leatherwork and crafts.

Entry is free with general admission to Roanoke Island Festival Park, but a $5-per-family donation is suggested. For more information, call (252) 475-1500 or go to <>.

Other North Carolina historic sites, such as Fort Fisher near Wilmington, will mark the anniversaries of their defeats by Union soldiers near the end of the Civil War. Jan. 14 at Fort Fisher, you can see fireworks, historical re-enactments and an interpretation of the Civil War battle and surrender. Call (910) 458-5538 or visit <> for details.

Alexandria, Virginia

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Commemorate the father of our country’s 274th birthday in his hometown at this annual citywide bash. Highlights of the George Washington Birthday Celebration Weekend Feb. 18-20 include open houses at local museums and historic places (such as the George Washington Masonic Memorial, right), a Revolutionary War encampment, an 18th-century birthday banquet and ball, a 10K race and a parade.

You can tour the historic home of John Carlyle, one of Alexandria’s founders and first landowners; learn about Washington’s hometown at The Lyceum, Alexandria’s history museum; view exhibitions and historic firefighting equipment at the Friendship Firehouse Museum; and visit Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, where Washington enjoyed the hospitality at least twice. Additionally, you can witness authentic Revolutionary War-era skirmishes.

If you don’t get your fill of the first president in Alexandria, continue on to his home, Mount Vernon <>, to partake of Washington’s favorite breakfast (“hoecakes swimming in butter”), and attend a wreath-laying ceremony followed by musical performances.

Log on to <> for phone numbers, admission prices, event times and other details.

Baltimore, Maryland

You Look Mahhh-velous

Explore the fashions of your Jewish ancestors at Hello Gorgeous! Fashion, Beauty and the Jewish-American Ideal, an exhibition hosted by the Jewish Museum of Maryland now through April 16, 2006.

The exhibit highlights contributions Jewish-Americans such as makeup maven Estée Lauder (born Josephine Esther Mentzer) and jeans innovator Levi (Loeb) Strauss have made to the cosmetic and fashion worlds. Many other Jews were leaders in the garment industry, trend-setting department stores, fashion houses, cosmetic companies and Hollywood.

You’ll see vintage gowns and accessories, religious garments, sewing machines and a never-before-displayed machine for giving permanent waves to straight hair.

Admission costs $8, or $4 for students with a valid ID. For more information, visit <> or call (410) 732-6400.
From the February 2006 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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