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During Colonial Fest, the Isaiah Thomas press will be used to print Nike Vapormax Bred copies of a few interesting historical documents. One is the version of the Declaration of Independence printed by Thomas on July 17, 1776, just weeks after the completion of the original document. Allen said that his team found a copy of Thomas' original from a centennial celebration in 1876. "We reset that type, we've duplicated the original printing down to the typographical errors," he said.
to take his mind off of studying for his chemistry final exams at Brigham Young University. "I needed a diversion, so I started making furniture for my wife," Sheetz said. The first thing that the would be woodworker made was a storage chest. "All I had was a chisel, a hammer, a hand saw and a plane," he said. "I chiseled the dovetail joints by hand."
After securing the safety of his press, Allen said, "Isaiah Thomas actually went to Lexington, assembled with the militia on the Lexington green, and fought in the Battle of Lexington."
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a step ahead of the British army and just days before the outbreak of war.
Once he'd gotten started, Sheetz, a chemist with Provo City Water, couldn't stop. His interest in woodworking eventually blossomed into a part time home business, American Handcrafted Caskets and Coffins. For Sheetz, Colonial Fest is almost like a holiday. "I set up my workbench with a bunch of tools and I just make stuff," he said. Whatever comes to mind.
Rogers said that Paradise almost certainly suffered from some form of mental illness. "So many times we think of people from that era as not having the same problems that we deal with today," she said. Rogers likes telling stories that reveal connections between early Americans and 21st century Americans. "We're not that different now from what we've always been," she said. Visitors to Colonial Fest can experience that for themselves.
an old style sewing machine," Sheetz said. "I use it to turn things, like spindles or chair legs."
The group began with a set of plans from the Smithsonian Institute, but the project quickly evolved. The Smithsonian plans had been created by researchers who carefully disassembled a historic printing press brought to America from England in 1850. Benjamin Franklin had been briefly employed at the shop in London that originally housed the press, so it had been called a Benjamin Franklin Press for years.
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The Isaiah Thomas press also will be used to print copies of the form that was used for Thomas' indenture, when he became an apprentice printer at age 7. Thomas was indentured at such a young age because his father had died young, leaving the family in desperate circumstances. Under the terms of his indenture, Thomas was required to learn to read, write and do basic math. His master was required to provide a suit of clothing for Sunday wear, and one for weekday doings, upon his release.
A storyteller at Colonial Williamsburg for seven years before relocating to Utah, Rogers is participating in Colonial Fest this year for the first time. While at Colonial Williamsburg, she enjoyed telling stories drawn from the lives of actual 18th century inhabitants of Williamsburg. One such inhabitant, Lucy Ludwell Paradise, was an associate of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams before spending the final years of her life in an asylum.
"It was in England until 1850," Allen said. "If it printed anything about the colonies, it was probably anti American."
The printing press idea started with Gove Allen, a professor of information systems at Brigham Young University. "For years, we haven't had a printing exhibition at the festival," Allen said. Earlier this year, Allen visited Crandall Historical Printing Museum in Provo to ask about the possibility of borrowing a printing press for Colonial Fest.
Among the things Sheetz has handcrafted over the years are some of the tools that he brings to Colonial Fest. "The last couple of years, I've brought my foot treddle lathe. It has a large flywheel and a foot treddle like Adidas Maroon Hoodie Men
During the indenture, Thomas was forbidden from playing dice or cards, or frequenting taverns. Stories like Thomas' are what make colonial history especially fascinating to Sharon Rogers.
Once upon a time in America, that was how things got made: by hand, using a few simple tools. That's the spirit that Sheetz and others will revive for a few days next week at SCERA Park in Orem when Colonial Fest invites visitors to step back in time to 18th century America. Colonial Fest, one of the few non Provo outliers of America's Freedom Festival at Provo, is a free living history event, a colonial village that includes everything from chandlery (candle making) to calligraphy.
Colonial Days celebrates American heritage in Orem
Allen began to assemble a team of artisans. "Everyone I asked said, 'Yes, I want to participate,' " Allen said. "They were all very excited to be part of it."
Hence, the functional press visitors to Colonial Fest will see, assembled by Allen, Sheetz, Loren Allen, Michael Mendenhall, Paul DiFrancesco, Phillip Hinckley and Nate Johansen, is a properly pro American independence Isaiah Thomas Press.
A pressing issue
For 2013, Sheetz's self taught woodworking expertise figured into another key element of Colonial Fest. He's part of a team that built a working colonial printing press for the event.
Instead the team turned to photographs and notes supplied by historian Jeff Groves of Harvey Mudd College in California. Groves' materials had been compiled as part of his own project to build a replica of a historical press owned and operated by 18th century printer and publisher Isaiah Thomas. Thomas, publisher of the widely read Massachusetts Spy, moved his press from Boston to Worcester (where it remains intact today) Adidas Sweatshirt Rose Gold
"I was looking at the press and I thought, 'You know, it doesn't look like it would be that hard to build one of these,' " Allen said. "They made them in the 1700s. Surely we can do that today."
Visitors to Colonial Fest might even witness an old fashioned labor swap. "We have a blacksmith right around the corner," Sheetz said. "If he needs a handle for something, I'll make one for him. If I need an awl, or something else made out of metal, he'll make that for me."
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