- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

SOLITUDE, Ind. (AP) - Julia Kingery passes Solitude Old Pioneer Village every day on her way to school, but she never knew what was there until Monday morning.

Kingery, 11, visited the village with her Mount Vernon Junior High School sixth grade honors English class. Built by retired history teacher Jerry King, the village consists of about 13 wooden structures reflecting time periods ranging from the early 19th century to the 1940s.

Julie Kissinger, Mount Vernon sixth grade language arts teacher, took 25 students to the village to help teaching standards “come alive.” Before arriving at the village, students researched Solitude’s history to develop a character. The field trip’s purpose was for students to experience Solitude in the late 1800s and early 1900s and use it as the setting to write a first-person historical fiction narrative.

“We’re here to learn about the importance of place in our story,” Kissinger said, “and how place develops our character because the place shapes who our character becomes. … You’re trying to experience life like your character would have experienced during this time.”

Dressed in period clothing, Kingery spent Monday “walking in her character’s shoes.”

“I’ve learned a lot of important stuff,” she said. “And how hard it was for people to live in the late 1800s.”

Kingery’s characters are based off actual people she read about in an old newspaper article, including a member of the Solitude 9 baseball team. She enjoyed learning more about the village.

“It seems really peaceful,” she said. “Running all the time for life, it gets kind of stressful. But this just seems like a really peaceful atmosphere.”

In 1978, King built the first log cabin on the corner of the 30 acres he and his wife, Marsha, own in the Posey County community of Solitude. The structures, built using vintage materials and construction techniques, include homes, a one-room schoolhouse, a 1942 general store with working cash register, cooking shed, church, tool shed and a functional outhouse. Depending on the size, each building took between six months and three years to build.

King said the community helped make the village possible with donations, cheap logs and past students lending a hand.

“I wanted to keep this village alive,” he said. “And I’ve always been nuts about log cabins anyhow.”

Every October for the past 15 years, the Kings give tours to “hundreds and hundreds” of student groups. Some family and friends have gotten married in the church, which is Jerry King’s favorite building.

On Monday, Mount Vernon students baked bread at the mill, made jump ropes the old fashioned way and made a pie over the fire.

Using a stove to heat the house was a surprise to Malea Plough. The 12-year-old noticed many other things that were different in the late 1800s, including using only chalkboards at school, and knitting or sewing clothes instead of buying it at the store.

“It would have been a lot harder, for sure,” Plough said. “But I think it’s really nice out here.”

Matthias Gates had fun making rope, but said he “failed epically” at sewing. Gates, 12, said there would be good and bad things about living in the late 1800s.

“Children had to work no matter what every day,” he said. “But they probably had a lot of kids to play with. And the outhouse is bad. I would probably play a lot of baseball.”

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Source: Evansville Courier & Press, https://bit.ly/1Hdw38u

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com


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