Breaking News

Thousands of school students from across the state and the southeast attend the annual Frontier Days at Fort Toulouse/Jackson Park in Wetumpma. Reenactors from across the country bring life to the western frontier of the United States from 1700-1820. Photo by Kevin Taylor
Thousands of school students from across the state and the southeast attend the annual Frontier Days at Fort Toulouse/Jackson Park in Wetumpma. Reenactors from across the country bring life to the western frontier of the United States from 1700-1820. Photo by Kevin Taylor

Visitors take step back to days of the Frontier

Published 4:29am Monday, November 4, 2013

Visitors can step into the area’s past this week as Alabama Frontier Days returns to Fort Toulouse/Jackson Park in Wetumpka. Attendees will see reenactors bring to life the days when Alabama was the western frontier of the United States (1700-1820).

“The history of this National Historic Landmark serves as the backdrop,” said Ned Jenkins, archaeologist/living history coordinator at the park. “Authentically costumed reenactors will demonstrate what life was like at Fort Toulouse/ Fort Jackson and adjacent Indian villages.”

Jenkins said French Colonial Marine musket volleys, cannon fire and fabric spinning and dying will be among the demonstrations in Fort Toulouse.

“In the nearby Indian village and hunting camp you will see food preparation, archery, blow guns, flint knapping, storytelling and stomp dancing,” he said. “The blacksmith shop will be alive with making tools used by early settlers. You can meet Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett at Fort Jackson as military militia and U.S. Regulars drill and demonstrate their daily life.”

Other attractions throughout the park will be bagpipe and drum players, a magician, jugglers, strolling balladeers, a music camp and period merchants. Frontier and modern foods will also be available.

“We expect well over 10,000 school kids,” said Jim Parker, park director. “We hope to have lots of folks here.”

The event has been a November staple for 19 years, especially for students – most from around Alabama, but some from neighboring states. And, approximately 3,000 other guests attend – most of those during the weekend. Guests observe the lives of the settlers, soldiers and Native Americans who once populated the site.

Park personnel have been busy preparing for the onslaught of visitors, which will average 3,500-4,000 a day.

“We’ve been really busy – it’s always a little crazy getting ready for it,” said Parker.

The forts were built inside the present-day park area – two by the French (Fort Toulouse, 1717-1763), and one by the English (Fort Jackson, 1814-1819).

Fort Toulouse was a permanent French outpost north of Mobile, and a strategic point in the South during the French and British struggle for North American lands. Its purpose was to keep the British out of the region and disseminate French policy among the local and populous Creek Indians.

A village of French soldiers with their families grew up around Fort Toulouse. The Alabama Indian village of Pacana was situated about 100 yards from the fort. This village was located on a long-used series of village sites dating back to 100 B.C.

Fort Jackson was constructed during the Creek War campaign of the War of 1812 on the old site of Fort Toulouse. Building began only three weeks after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, and it was at the new fort that the Treaty of Fort Jackson was signed on Aug. 9, 1814 to end the Creek War.

According to the treaty, the Creeks ceded 15 million acres to the United States government, opening most of what is now Alabama to settlers.

After the treaty-signing, Andrew Jackson floated down the Alabama River with his army and subsequently captured Pensacola from the Spanish. Shortly afterward he defeated the British at New Orleans. Fort Jackson continued to be occupied by the U.S. government  until 1817 when it was decommissioned.

Frontier Days will begin Nov. 6 and continue through Nov. 10. Presentations will be ongoing from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Admission is $6 for students and $7 for adults. Children under six are admitted free.

For more information, call 334-567-3002 or email ftedu1@bellsouth.net.

Editor's Picks