On Saturday and Sunday, October 13th and 14th, the town of Madbury celebrated its 250th anniversary. The days’ celebrations included food and craft vendors, informational booths, and a historical reenactment, all of which helped unite the community over the town’s significant role in the American Revolution.
“Madbury played a key role in something called the Powder Major, where gunpowder was stolen from the Loyalists in Newcastle, New Hampshire, and hidden at what is now Powder Major Farm in Madbury. This same gunpowder was later used in the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was a key battle in the fight for independence,” said Amy Avery, a member of the Madbury Community Club. The reenactment pictured above served to highlight the town’s past, which Avery believed was an important part of the day. “Not many people know about that, so events like this one draw attention to this part of history,” she said.
Joan Sundburg, one of the event’s organizers, agreed. “This is the only town in the country with the name Madbury, which in and ofitself shows significance. It’s also the only town I know of with such a unique shape, since it was originally formed as a parish and is perfectly wedged between Dover and Durham.” She continued, explaining the benefits of the weekend’s realistic set-up, pictured above. “Since the town and its battlefields are actually older than the [American] Revolution, it’s been very rewarding to see the historics of today come together for everyone. The community involvement has been truly amazing.”
The days’ main highlight included a reenactment of a battle from the Revolutionary period, which was led by reenactor Ed Murphy and his company, pictured above cooking their dinner for the night. “We see a whole range of different perspectives while reenacting, and it’s a lot of fun to portray real people from history,” said Murphy, who plays Loyalist Sergeant Andrew Rickley reenactments. “Getting people out to learn is obviously the main goal, especially since there’s so much rich history in the area,” he added.
Oyster River High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society also joined the days’ festivities, with volunteers working at the Madbury Community Club booth serving hot cider and trail mix to community members. “Volunteering at the celebration was such a positive experience and seeing everyone’s smiling faces as they greeted their community members was very welcoming,” said Anastasia Szymanski (‘19), pictured right. “I met a lot of new people and I learned a lot about the history of the town. Seeing the reenactment was definitely the highlight of my day, it was super obvious that everyone put a lot of hard work and time into making everything go smoothly.”
Pictured above, the battle scene from the reenactment was not only a highlight for community members, but for actors as well. “The crowds that come to these events are very supportive and they really fuel our mission. We saw so much of that support today, which is both unifying for us and the community,” said Murphy, who is standing on the far left while leading his Loyalist troops. Avery agreed, noting the main goals of the weekend was, “bringing the community together through this reenactment to show pride for where we live and to celebrate the past.”
Alongside the reenactment, historical booths added to the ambiance of the day. “Having only lived in Madbury for a short time, I never knew about the some of the town’s stories,” said Shawna Godbout who also helped to organize the event. “Being able to see some of those events come to life and understand more about the history of the community has been great,” she concluded. The reenactors, one of which is pictured above, shared similar sentiments about bringing 17th century Madbury to life. “We stay as authentic as we can through using period-specific equipment and clothing to really portray the events that happened here,” noted Murphy, whose group even went as far as to camp in burlap tents on both Friday and Saturday night.
In addition to experiencing the event’s authenticity, those in attendance got the opportunity to come together and share ideas over their a celebration of their town. “This event was particularly important in Madbury because we have such a small community,” said 93-year-old resident Lorraine Morong, pictured sitting. Besides being one of the past weekend’s attendees, Morong was also present at the town’s 200th anniversary celebration. “I’ve seen a whole new range of people and ideas here fifty years later, which is important because days like this give us all a chance to get caught up on history and learn more about each other. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be here for the 300th anniversary,” she added, laughing.