CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Even though the 1800’s are years behind us, the knowledge from that time period can still benefit our futures. Including for the youth, something kids in Coles County experienced. Two groups of Jefferson Elementary School students took a field trip back in time, seeing how life used to be.
On Wednesday, the Five Mile House Foundation invited students like Keeley Hussion and Parker Cobb to the now restored vintage home. Residing just outside Charleston, the fourth graders witnessed a variety of old-time traditions. Including how to cook on an open hearth and forging a knife from scratch as a blacksmith.
The visit on Wednesday, which also aligned with the day the house was built from the federal government in 1837 by Levin Cartwright, is part of the annual spring school program. But the Five Mile House also hosts a fall festival, annual BBQ and auction and summertime open houses that feature a Living History program.
During the trip, students like Keeley and Parker also participated in period dances inside of a barn restored from 1880. Overwhelmed by the simplicity of tasks from the time period, the students attentively listened and soaked in the history. For Keeley, it gave her a newfound appreciation on life as it is now, even as a kid.
“Always be grateful for what you have and never take anything or anyone for granted. Or never take anything for advantage cause people when they were our age they didn’t have anything like this. They didn’t have phones, electricity, nothing,” says Keeley.
That’s one of the many important lessons Tom Vance, President of the Five Mile House Foundation, hopes each student takes home with them to their families. Vance, who also participates in the Living History program, has been around since the Foundation was formed in 1999. But his love for history and kids never faded away.
Vance isn’t the only invested member of the Five Mile House Foundation. His volunteers make each experience possible as they portray individuals from the 19th century, including himself, during the Living History program. From spinning and weaving yarn to baking Johnny Cake, a sweet corn bread treat. No matter the activity, kids walk away with unforgettable memories.
“I think the most exciting part about today was that we got to see how people actually cooked in a kitchen, and we got to see what they used to eat and stuff,” says Parker.
The Five Mile House is still developing their programming, says Vance. He’s also hoping they can expand their outreach to other nearby schools. Right now, due to a shortage of volunteers, the only groups of students visiting are from Jefferson Elementary School. But he says they will work to cater to more kids.
To learn more about the Five Mile House Foundation, click here.
You can support the organization and its programs by clicking here.
To volunteer for the Five Mile House and their Living History programs, click here.