Charter Day: A Pennsylvania Tradition

News photo by Harrison Long Linn Heitland and Dave Schaeffer pose for a picture outside the Boone House. Both volunteers are dressed in traditional colonial costumes in order to take visitors back to the 18th century.
News photo by Harrison Long Andrea Toaso from Trooper poses for a picture in the Boone house. Andrea and her family came to the homestead for the day to get out of the house and enjoy the warmer weather.

All across the state, parks and museums were open, free of charge, to commemorate the signing of the land grant William Penn received from King Charles II of England for the territory now known as Pennsylvania. The Charter Day celebration was held Sunday, March 9, which marked the annual event. In Berks County, the Daniel Boone Homestead celebrated by welcoming families to walk its property and observe many demonstrations and volunteers dressed in colonial costumes. Although the day is meant to celebrate Penns acquisition of the Pennsylvania territory, the homestead presents its visitors with a wide variety of crafts and displays essential for life in the time of Daniel Boone.

An estimated 850 visitors were anticipated to have come to the homestead for this notable event. Despite a frigid 45 degree temperature and muddy conditions, scores of families came out to observe this annual celebration. Many of the days events were geared toward children, such as the candle making, exhibited by Barie Miller, and a display of colonial toys.

Another facet of the day was a history of the Boone house as well as a tour of its elegant colonial rooms. Many of the rooms were set up as though they would have been over 300 years ago. Several volunteers were stationed throughout the house explaining the responsibilities men, women, and children had on a daily basis in a house like the Boones. There were even baking and wool spinning demonstrations.

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Down the gravel path from the Boone house stands the black smiths work station which was also in full operation for the days events. In addition to the black smith exhibit, around the corner was a musket making demonstration. The craftsman, Kevin ODonnell, allowed spectators to view the musket making process, from the very beginning to the finished product. As a marksman himself, ODonnell was also able to educate visitors about the history of the weapon, the steps involved in discharging the musket, and how essential it was for life on the homestead. Interestingly enough, he said that especially in this area, many of the gun makers had their own style and mark they would brand on the guns which would then be passed down through their apprentices. These distinctions were what separated the colonists muskets from the mass produced rifles the British soldiers used in the American Revolution.

Above all else, Charter Day at the Daniel Boone Homestead takes visitors back to a simpler time through the colorful costumes worn by its volunteers, their excellent knowledge of the time period, and the serene setting in which the homestead rests. As this event occurs every year on the cusp of spring, it is a great opportunity to get out of the house with the whole family, especially after a long winter.