Once a month, Madison Leader, a Deshler eighth grader, turns into a pioneer girl from the 1840s. She loves reenacting the past as a living history volunteer at Litzenberg Memorial Woods in Findlay. A farm girl in real life, Madison has discovered that some values — like hard work — transcend time.
As part of our effort to spotlight exceptional area teens, we talked with Leader about her love of history, pioneer life and staying away from Twitter.
You’re pretty atypical for a teen — most are more into Facebook than history. When did your love of history start?
I’ve always liked the pioneers. I’m a big fan of Laura Ingalls and Little House on the Prairie. I also have the American Girl doll Felicity. I like how the pioneer women dressed so modestly.
What role do you play at Litzenberg?
My name is Anna McClintock and I’m a neighbor girl of the McKinnis family who live at the homestead. My role changes, but I’ve helped bake a rhubarb pie in the kitchen, sew a quilt, and work in the woods at maple sugaring time.
What do you wear?
I wear a chemise, three petticoats, dress, apron, day bonnet, socks and boots or black ballet flats. I made the dress and apron myself.
What’s the funniest question you’ve been asked while in character?
Somebody asked me where our dishwasher was located. My reaction was: “What’s a dishwasher?”
What has your role taught you?
I’ve learned to quilt. I’ve also learned that kids had to work hard and they respected authority more in those days. Women didn’t have as many rights at they do now — they couldn’t even vote. People were also more
social. They relied on their neighbors and helped each other out.
Do you think you could adjust to living like a pioneer in real life?
I probably could. I’m not into Facebook or Twitter and I don’t have a cell phone, so I wouldn’t miss that stuff like other kids. But on the other hand, it gets really hot and uncomfortable in the clothes you wear. And the pioneers only took a bath once a week.
What’s your real life like?
I live on a large farm. We have sheep, steers, pigs, one dog named Sam and about a half a dozen cats. I have two brothers and two sisters and I am the oldest. I have a lot of responsibilities at home, including babysitting and household chores like cooking and dishwashing. In the summer, I help my Dad bale hay.
What are your hobbies?
I like to sew and knit. I’m currently making a sundress for my friend. I’m in 4-H and I raise a lamb each summer for the fair. I also love to read, especially romance novels.
Litzenberg Memorial Woods at Hancock County Parks, 6100 U.S. Route 224,
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