History comes to life in June

Trinity Church, Oxford kicked off the month with costumed demonstrations of historical figures buried at the church who spoke about their lives and the church during the American Revolution and more.

Historian Debbie Klak, dressed as a colonial woman, demonstrates how beggars were expected to bow to women on the street.

Plenty of historical figures, from a soldier trusted by George Washington to the father-in-law of Betsy Ross, roamed the grounds of Trinity Church, Oxford on June 1 for the church’s first history day.

The church hosted a community day where history aficionados were treated to mini lessons of times gone by, delivered by costumed reenactors as they made their way around the historic church property and graveyard.

Kyle Sammin as John Lardner, who fought under George Washington’s command in Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown. Washington himself invited Lardner in the boat that crossed the Delaware River Christmas night in 1776.

About 75 history buffs enjoyed the tour, said Ginny McCracken, co-chairperson for the church’s historical committee.

“Northeast Philadelphia is never included in the category of ‘historic Philadelphia.’ Here at Trinity Church, Oxford, are the earliest Swedish families, the Quakers from William Penn’s Fleet and native Americans,” she said. “It is here in Northeast Philly that this history and spirit lives.”

All money raised went toward basic operational costs, McCracken said – “Churches are struggling nationwide, Trinity Oxford is no exception,” she said.

Some of the tours started by meeting Mary Swift Keen (1726-around 1750), who sailed away from Bristol, England with her brothers. Tourists listened to her story of how she was married in the 1700s in the very church they stood.

Keen guided the way to other historical figures positioned around the property, who included Abraham Duffield, who served as lieutenant of the Light Dragoons for Philadelphia during the fight for independence, and Benjamin Cottman, who was the only vestryman to serve the church before and after the American Revolution for 37 total years.

Chuck Tucker as Benjamin Cottman (1737-1812), who served as a vestryman for Trinity Church for 37 years, and is the only one who served both before and after the American Revolution.

More history this month

June is an active month for the history community in the area. Pennepack Baptist Church recently marked its 331st anniversary in a celebration that included tours, worship and an open house. On June 19, Northeast Philadelphia History Network will host its monthly meeting at the Byberry Friends Meetinghouse, 3001 Byberry Road.

On June 12 at 7 p.m., All Saints Episcopal Church will host a demonstration called Chemistry in the Graveyard, although it’s not a love story. The tour will give a live demonstration showing how gravestones are washed once they become run down and hard to read, including an explanation of the chemicals involved. The tour will also discuss the lives of people prominent in the field of science and chemicals.

“It’s where science meets history,” said Debbie Klak.

Jason Sherman dressed as Abraham Duffield, who was lieutenant of the Troop of the Light Dragoons for Philadelphia. Duffield was born in Frankford in 1746.