History lessons from the 1800s (May 23)

May 22, 2009

The good news is that freelance work is picking up lately … and the corresponding bad news is that this labor of love that I call STL Free For All hasn’t been updated quite as frequently as I’d like. But before I go blow up the inflatable pool for the kiddos and call it a week, I wanted to let you know about two history-centric events coming up this weekend.

The first, on Saturday (May 23) marks an attempted run for freedom by a group of slaves who set out from the home of Mary Meachum. The group, which included three slaves belonging to prominent St. Louisan Henry Shaw (of Missouri Botanical Garden fame) tried to cross the Mississippi from St. Louis’ waterfront 154 years ago. Part of the group, including Shaw’s slaves, was ultimately unsuccessful; you can find out what happened during a 2 p.m. costumed re-enactment. There’s a commemoration event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the crossing, which in 2001 became Missouri’s first national Underground Railroad site.

To get there, take Interstate 70 to the Adelaide exit and go east (toward the river) to Hall Street. Turn right and continue on Hall Street a quarter of a mile to Prairie (look for the large Riverfront Trail sign). Turn left on Prairie and follow it through the floodwall to the parking area. Obviously the river is high right now, there will be a little less space than usual for parking. If you need more info, call 314.602.4808.

Another notable historic re-enactment this weekend is at the Faust Park Historic Village. During the last two weekends of May, June and July there will be costumed actors and artisans demonstrating the lifestyle of Missouri settlers from about 1840 to 1888. Visitors can see the progression in architecture (from log cabins to brick homes) in 10 structures, as well as hear about the fortunes of the homes’ original inhabitants. The event takes place on the third and fourth Saturday and Sunday of May, June and July from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, log onto the St. Louis County Parks Department’s homepage.

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