New Sotterlee Project members are quietly doing their work preserving history in area


On a snowy March Friday, volunteers (from left to right) Caleb Richardson, Jed Brooks, Abby Comfort and Scott McElhaney work to clear brush at the Flint Creek Facility, readying it for the New Sotterlee Project’s upcoming King’s Cup competition. Photo by Lauren M. Wilson.

Originally published April 8, 2013.

Preserving history is a business its members are quietly doing.

The New Sotterlee Project is a non-profit organization that is doing work in Huntington County, in the surrounding areas - and across the globe.

But, most Huntington residents probably don't know who the group members are or what they do.

J.H. Northrop, director of the organization, says members stay, "hidden - low key."

The group is small, and has only just begun making big developments in the area.

In the fall of 2012 the organization acquired a 41.59-acre plot of land, where volunteers have been working on fair-weather days ever since.

The land is situated near the Historic Forks of the Wabash, at the intersection of U.S.-24 and Ind.-9, on the south side of the Wabash River.

Throughout the last few months the goal has been to clear brush, but soon much more will be happening at the new location.

The New Sotterlee Project intends to conserve history.
According to its website (www.newsotterlee.org) the group "is devoted to creating archival materials, available to the general public, for preserving the methods and ways of our ancestors and providing education of the interactions of various cultures in North America and Europe in historical times."

The group focuses primarily on 18th century history.
Locally, this means hosting events like the upcoming "King's Cup" competition.

The event will be held at the new acreage, which is the group has named Flint Creek Facility.

It will take place Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will include a myriad of competitions such as: musket and pistol shoots, blade competitions such as single stick and ax/knife throwing, artillery shooting and a Cavalry Salle D'Armes.

Participants in the competitions will appear in period garb appropriate to their persona.

The King's Cup Competitions take place quarterly.
Also in the works is an 18th century living history weekend, held on May 18 and 19, at Benack's Crossing at Potawatomi Wildlife Park in Tippecanoe.

The weekend will include demonstrations of 18th century life skills in military camps, re-enactments of infantry and cavalry engaging natives through prairie and woodland, cannons and purveyors of 18th century goods.
Throughout the past few months the group has held workdays and asked volunteers to help prepare the Flint Creek Facility for the summer months.

For now this means doing some dirty work - such as clearing brush.

Eventually, the real developments will begin and the plans include focusing on colonial life and architecture of the past.

Northrop says in the long-term the organization hopes to recreate a French-Colonial farm including a post-Milanese equestrian farm, a wooded camp, program field and training sites.

The focus on the French ancestry is not unordinary for the group, yet Northrop says some may be surprised to hear it.

He says around 1760 the Wabash River was lined with French farmers, but their legacy was erased when troops moved in on the land.

"It is a big section of our regional history," he adds.
The board of directors makes most of the calls for the direction of the projects underway.

Northrop says they work with individuals from England, France, Germany, Sweden, Ukraine and Russia.

The advisory panel and council have a lot of "internationals involved," Northrop says.

Many developments will spring forth once the Flint Creek Facility is completed, such as events offering "focus programming, to teach lifestyles, customs and language," says Northrop.

The interpretive side of the New Sotterlee Project - The Kievskii Cuirassiers - is an educational interpretive group that focuses on training people and horses in the way solders were taught in the mid-18th century.
This includes horsemanship - Classical Equitation - classical weapons work and classical martial arts.
Other interpretive aspects include a quarterly outdoor education program, which Northrop says will teach history and culture as well as skills such as hunting and trapping.

Right now the main focus is finding "relevancy to the community," says Northrop.

As the new site develops and current projects continue to move forward, Northrop says he hopes to deliver "history to the masses."

It's all about "giving it a hook," he notes.

In the future, he says, he hopes to see the project bring money into Huntington County by hosting a renaissance faire and developing occupancy.

We are "programming and participating," he says.

For more information about the New Sotterlee Project, visit itswebsite at www.newsotterlee.org.