NEOSHO - Standing tall in tanned buckskins, Russ, "Rooster" Mitchell appeared to have stepped out of the 1840's as he participated in the annual History Alley event at the Newton County Historical Museum on Saturday. Held in conjunction with the annual Neosho Fall Festival, History Alley showcases the past with hands-on, living demonstrations of the way things once were done.
Rooster and wife, Ann, are part of the Missouri Fur Company of Waco, Missouri and brought their period tent to be part of a recreated mountain man camp at the event.
They may look the part of an 1840's fur trapping and trading couple but they're as modern as anyone and it's not an actual company.
It's a living history non-profit group and members enjoy spending time at events such as History Alley or at any of many rendezvous held in various locations in the area and in the nation.
They portray 1840's living and it's something near and dear to members. Both believe the life skills they demonstrate are important and need to be kept alive, handed down fro one generation to the next.
"If something happened and electricity went off the grid," Rooster Mitchell said. "I could survive but could you? Could the young folks?"
Some of the skills the Mitchells and other living history re-enactors demonstrated including how to start a fire with a flint and steel, blacksmithing, dutch oven cooking, tomahawk throwing, and more.
"It's living history," Mitchell said.
Over the years he and his wife have been participating, they've seen numbers in their group grow and ebb. It seems particularly difficult to find younger people who are interested but neither plan to stop trying
In fact, the Missouri Fur Company is hosting a rendezvous, something trappers, traders and mountain men held back in the day to sell or trade furs and to replenish their supplies.
The event will be held October 20 and 21 near Waco, Missouri.. Mitchell indicated there would a number of events including shooting matches, archery competition, and a cast iron skillet throwing competition for the ladies.
"I'll have signs out," Mitchell said.
Waco is located off Highway 171 in Jasper County about 14 miles west of Joplin.
"I'm not much good around city folk," Mitchell said but indicated will be in his element any time he's portraying the life of the 1840's.