To Live History

This post written and copyrighted by Doris McCraw







What is it like to live history? There are numerous ‘towns’ and ‘ranches’ that allow visitors to watch living history. Some of the more famous are Colonial Williamsburg and Plimoth Plantation. In Colorado there is  Rock Ledge Ranch. There are those who recreate historic battles from the Revolutionary War on.

then there are people who take on historic character. I know Ben Franklin (Christopher Lowell), Theodore Roosevelt (Don Moon) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (Richard Marrold). Of course there are those who are unique to Colorado history.  Pearl DeVere, the Cripple Creek madam who died of an overdose of laudanum, Poker Alice, a poker player  in the Old West, Wm. J. Palmer founder of Colorado Springs and his wife Queen and James Burns, the Cripple Creek magnate who was one of the owners of the famous Portland Mine on Battle Mountain near the town of Victor, Colorado.

Theodore Roosevelt The Bad Land Years

All the people who have this passion to pass along history, to create characters as in the living history sites or to research and bring to life people from the past, do so to keep the stories alive. From the period correct costume to having the facts straight, to them the best way to remember the past and learn from it is to relive it and share it.

I too have this passion for history, be it the early women doctors, the labor wars in Cripple Creek/Victor or the founding of Colorado Springs and Colorado, I want to share the wonderful information I find. I also have made it my mission to bring the life of Helen (Hunt) Jackson back to public consciousness. For over twelve years I have researched and performed as this amazing woman. For me and those others who have this passion it is not an option to not do this. We live history because we don’t want to lose history. History is the stories of our lives. As writers we tell stories, as historic characters we do the same. As I prepare to take part in the “Think You Know History” series, I want to share the passion to live history.


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Below is the link to my non-fiction piece on the first state film commissioner in the United States included in this book.

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18 thoughts on “To Live History

  1. Doris, I love that you do share what you know, and I thank you and people like you. I enjoy seeing all the recreations. They come alive. I used to have a shop on an island between WV and OH where I painted and framed the paintings. It was fun. I dressed in period, colonial style clothes. People loved watching me paint, and when my husband could he would do his wood carvings there too. I have also met some interesting characters, such as Abraham Lincoln, and other famous people of that era. Thanks Cher’ley


    1. Thank you. I have always felt the best way to share history is to share the passion and joy it gives you. The shop sounds like so much fun, and wood carving, I love it. Doris


  2. We are similar souls, Doris. For many years in the ’70s and early ’80s, I portrayed a Confederate infantryman with the 26th North Carolina. I also was a member of a Confederate cannon crew, the wormer. I have a tintype of us and some Yankees with a cannon taken by a Lancaster, Ohio, re-enactor who portrayed a photographer. In it, the cannon lays destroyed, with Confederate and Union dead arrayed around it. I’m one of the dead. In battle re-enactments, we’d “blow up” the caisson and capture the cannon, but take some casualties, of course. The crowds loved it.


    1. I agree Mike, we are kindred souls. To me the best way to learn history is to experience it whether as a re-enactor, or speaker. The audience also, I believe, learns more also. It becomes real and immediate for them also. Doris


  3. “We live history because we don’t want to lose history” — GREAT LINE, DORIS! WOW!! Good for you and best to you as you bring that history to life! Hope I can watch one of your performances soon.


    1. Thank you Gayle. It is going to be a great series running from June through September. I show up on June 26 as Helen, but hope to catch some of the other folks. Doris


    1. Sherry, it is exciting. My hope is that by hearing the words of these people it will make it more exciting, real and easier to remember.

      I also don’t understand not caring about where we came from . Doris


  4. Love this post Gayle. I, too, love living history. I worked at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas for a time and loved dressing in the period represented and telling visitors about life in the 1800s. I also do Civil War reenactment with my brother and his wife and I often play the fiddle or dulcimer. Again, it’s such a pleasure to explain the way of life during the Civil War years. But my all-time favorite is taking my children (then 8 and 9) to a Railroad Robbery reenactment. There was no thought of danger as we clambered into the old railroad car and started down the track. All of a sudden there was shooting as cowboys mounted the steps and robbed the passengers of their valuables. It was the highlight of our trip, especially for my son, who wanted to be a cowboy. I think there’s a little of the child in all of us and dressing the part is fun, as well as recreating a period or person we don’t want others to forget!


      1. Linda,

        Thank you for sharing your memories. This is what we who do this hope for when we tell the character stories. Helen is a passion as Teddy is my friends. We have been bringing these historic characters to life for a number of years. For me it is over 12.

        I also forgive you…Grin. Doris


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