Throughout the school year, as we learn of opportunities that might especially appeal to the needs or interests of gifted students, we’ll pass them along here. Be sure to check back!

UPDATED Feb. 13, 2018


The Salem History Museum has a special event coming up that may be of interest to you and your children. SHM is hosting a living history day on Saturday, February 24 from 10-4, focusing on life in Western Virginia in Colonial times. They are expecting nearly 20 costumed interpreters, many from Historic Smithfield in Blacksburg. In addition to Colonial and British Revolutionary War soldiers, they will have a blacksmith, a tinsmith, a bullet-maker, a lace-weaver, a spinner, and a seamstress. They will also have children’s games from the era.

See below for more details.

Western Virginia’s Colonial Heritage

Colonial America often conjures images of people and places in Williamsburg and Virginia’s Eastern shores, but lesser-known patriots from Western Virginia also played an important role in the Revolutionary War and the founding of this country. In February, the Salem Museum invites the public to learn more about General Andrew Lewis, Colonel William Fleming, and Colonel William Preston, and what life was like in Western Virginia in Colonial times. All events are free and open to the public.

Salem Museum Speaker Series
William Fleming, Colonial Hero: His Sword and Story
Monday, February 19 at 7 pm

The Nancy Christian Fleming Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution holds custody of two rare and significant artifacts of Western Virginia’s Colonial-era history: the battle sword of Colonel William Fleming and a delicate needlework sampler stitched by his wife, Nancy Christian Fleming. Both objects date to the mid-1700s.

The Chapter will present the sword and sampler to the Salem Museum & Historical Society. Both objects will be on loan to the Salem Museum, and displayed in an exhibit that includes the story of Fleming’s friend, General Andrew Lewis.

The program is free and open to the public. Donations are appreciated.

The program includes a talk by Pamela Draper, Chapter Historian, and Caroline Wehner, the Chapter’s Regent, about the life and impact of Colonel William Fleming and his wife, Nancy Christian Fleming who was a member of the family for whom Christiansburg is named. Born and educated as a doctor in Scotland, William Fleming immigrated to Virginia and became a noted physician and statesman. He served as a surgeon with George Washington’s Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War (1754—1763), and was later wounded leading the Botetourt County militia at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. Unable to continue military service, Fleming served as a Virginia senator and briefly as governor. He was also a delegate to the 1788 convention which ratified the U.S. Constitution.

The event is generously sponsored by Richfield, a senior living and healthcare community named for the home of General Andrew Lewis. Refreshments will be served, provided by the Fort Lewis Chapter DAR.

Life on the Virginia Frontier in the 1700s
Colonial Living History Day: Heroes and Homemakers
Saturday, February 24 from 10 am to 4 pm

Learn about the men and women who built a life on Virginia’s frontier and who are remembered for their heroic deeds. Costumed interpreters and demonstrators from Historic Smithfield and others will visit the Salem Museum to immerse Museum guests in what life was like in Western Virginia in Colonial times.

The program is free and open to the public. Donations are appreciated.

Meet a bullet maker, a spinner, a blacksmith and a lace weaver, among others, and watch what it takes to hand-sew a colonial dress. Re-enactors will set up a Revolutionary War encampment to demonstrate what soldiers endured in their fight for Independence. British soldiers will be on hand, too. Children can play some of the games that children played in those simpler times.

At 12:30, Colonel Lewis Ingles “Bud” Jeffries, a historian and direct descendant of Mary Draper Ingles, will tell the story of this important Western Virginia heroine. Mary and her husband William had settled in an area now part of the campus of Virginia Tech. Mary was abducted by the Shawnee during the 1755 Draper’s Meadow Massacre, along with her two young sons. They were taken to a Shawnee settlement on the Ohio River in Northeast Kentucky. After a few months, Mary escaped, but before her stretched a strenuous journey on foot of more than 500 miles through territory unknown to her.

At 2:30, April Danner, Director of Historic Smithfield, will speak on the relationship between Colonel Fleming and Colonel William Preston. A leader of westward expansion and a prominent Western Virginia Revolutionary War patriot, William Preston settled in present-day Blacksburg and established Smithfield as his home. He was elected to the Virginia colony’s House of Burgesses in 1765. He served in both the French and Indian War and American Revolutionary War and is credited with saving George Washington’s life. He also aided in the fight against Lord Cornwallis and the British in the Carolinas. Preston’s descendants include governors, senators, presidential cabinet members, university founders and presidents, and military leaders.

Colonel William Fleming’s battle sword will be on display, along with an updated exhibit about Salem’s General Andrew Lewis. Lewis is remembered for leading his troops to victory in the French and Indian War and Dunmore’s War, and driving Lord Dunmore—the last British Governor—out of Virginia just days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, making it one of the first military actions of the Revolutionary War.

The Fort Lewis Chapter DAR will have a display as part of the day’s events. The Colonial Living History Day is generously sponsored by Richfield, a senior living and healthcare community named for the home of General Andrew Lewis.