HOPEWELL, Va. — Children discovered that it was possible to have fun before television and video games during Emma and George Days at Weston Plantation.
The two-day educational event hosted by the Historic Hopewell Foundation Inc., exposes students to life during the Civil War through the eyes of Emma Wood Richardson. The then-12-year-old Richardson kept a journal of her experiences, the words of which are used to bring her experiences to life for visiting children.
Richardson lived at the plantation from the fall of 1863 to the spring of 1864 to escape the Union Army's forces in Hampton. The Wood family rented the house from sea Capt. Charles Nelson. It was originally built in 1789 by William and Christian Gilliam as part of a 400-acre plantation with up to 30 slaves.
The name of the program was changed from "Emma Days" to "Emma and George Days" in 2010 to emphasize the fact that the program was for boys as well as girls. George was Emma's younger brother.
On Tuesday, the first day of the event, the children did arts and crafts activities, such as making spinning tops and painted silhouettes of Abraham Lincoln. The children also saw a demonstration of Civil War weaponry by enthusiast Dick Hoagland. They sampled food from the era, such as ginger cookies and cucumber sandwiches.
Today, the group will receive a tour of Weston Plantation and learn more about toys and everyday objects Emma would have used.
Ten-year-old Campbell Irby said that the program whetted her appetite for history.
"I am definitely coming back next year," she said. "You get to learn about people who lived before you were born, so it's interesting."
Irby found that she had some similarities with Emma.
"I keep a journal too," she said.