'Frontier Voices' uses living history, drama to tell the Fort Augusta story
SUNBURY - The governor of Pennsylvania will be in Sunbury Saturday to take part in a dramatic performance during Fort Augusta Day activities at Hunter House. The free presentation of "Frontier Voices: the Story of Fort Augusta" will begin at 11 a.m.
Gov. Robert Hunter Morris will join eight other 18th century Pennsylvanians whose efforts culminated in the erection of Fort Augusta in 1756 and prevented a threatened French invasion of the Susquehanna River Valley.
Morris, who was deputy governor of the Pennsylvania colony from 1754 to 1756, will be portrayed by living history interpreter Murray Strauser of Sunbury.
"It was Gov. Morris who ordered the fledgling Pennsylvania military to recruit and send a special regiment deep into the forested mountains along the Susquehanna and to build the fort," said Northumberland writer John L. Moore, who drew upon many first-person accounts in writing the script.
"Our drama shows how a newly organized and poorly equipped regiment of Pennsylvania soldiers bravely marched into territory held by hostile Indians," Moore said. "We're fortunate that two long-time re-enactors belonging to Burd's Company of the Augusta Regiment - Capt. Alan Hackenberg and Lynn Otto - will portray Col. William Clapham and Major James Burd, respectively."
Other members of the Augusta Regiment will perform in several scenes throughout the hour-long outdoor presentation, which is sponsored by the Northumberland County Historical Society.
Other cast members include: Ken Troutman as historian William A. Hunter; Toni Gearhart Rice as Sister Esther Fry; Mike McWilliams as the Rev. Charles Beatty, chaplain of the Augusta Regiment; Connie Tressler, as Mary Shippen, step-mother of Captain Joseph Shippen; Dixie Gavason as Sarah Shippen, sister of Captain Shippen; Dave Ramsey as The Belt of Wampum, an Iroquois leader; and Barbara Spaventa as Betty Armstrong.
Moore will serve as narrator, and Brad Becker will perform historical military drumming.
In case of rain, the production will take place in a large tent.
All Fort Augusta Day activities will take place out of doors Saturday on the grounds of Hunter House, the society's headquarters, which occupies the site of the old fort. The address is 1150 N. Front St., Sunbury.