Homeschooling was the way I was educated for most of my educational career. My favorite subject was history and part of the reason that I enjoyed it so much was we took field trips and made the places and times in our history books come alive!
When I was around 12 we started volunteering at the Hans Herr House the oldest house in Lancaster County (built in 1719), PA. I was too shy to do tours, but I sold tickets and souvenirs. As I got older I was trusted to go and open the house and grounds by myself. I loved this! In the cool of the early morning I would walk quietly around the grounds with my giant key to the house and daydream. In the quiet I loved to imagine that I was living back in the mid-1700’s after the Hans Herr House was built.
We didn’t just do the tours. There were several times during the year when they had special demonstration days and we would help out with those too. Snitz Fest was one of my favorites as I loved apples. (I am not a fan of banana apples though!) This was when the place was hopping with volunteers and visitors.
The Hans Herr House was not the only structure on the property. There is a working apple orchard, a smokehouse, a bake oven, a blacksmith shop, a kitchen garden and various other displays. I helped out with the bake oven a couple of times, but my favorite place to help was with an older lady who demonstrated making butter. Churning butter on top of a table so people could see was not easy, but the samples of fresh made butter were phenomenal!
Lunchtime was also popular with me because all the volunteers got some still hot sausages from the smokehouse. I don’t think I have ever tasted anything so tremendous. I would also visit the house where they were demonstrating making gumbis–a layered casserole with cabbage, sausage, apples, and ham. Sounds weird, but it was so delightful!
I was delighted when I was loaned an outfit to dress up like someone from the 1700’s. From my odd white cap on my head all the way down I don’t think I ever wore something so comfortable. The clothes were adjustable back then so you could wear them until they wore out! There were slits in the skirts so you could tie your pocket (the size of a purse) around your waist and always be able to reach it.
I often think about the Hans Herr House and I had an opportunity to visit again one cold November day in 2010 with my mom and small daughter. The bathroom in the gift shop was as cold as I remembered it and my daughter delightfully ran around the grounds just like I used to. The Hans Herr House is a bit of history that has been making memories for almost 300 years and is well worth a visit!
Photos courtesy of my Mom, Susan. Thanks Mom!