Nanticoke River Jamboree returns, with historical upgrades


VIENNA, Md. – Community members and artisans gathered at the Handsell house for the annual Nanticoke River Jamboree on Saturday.  The event is dedicated to restoring the “Handsell” House and shedding some light on the deep history that intertwines Native Americans, African Americans, and Europeans.

“There’s all different facets of lifestyles that went together and merged to create the American experience that we know today,” says Midge Ingersoll, a trustee with Nanticoke Preservation Alliance.

The old ivy-covered brick building located in the middle of what is known as “the Indian town,” isn’t just a historical landmark, it’s also host to the annual Nanticoke River Jamboree; showcasing multiple cultures. “We made an important contribution to who and what you are now, to this country being here,” says an actor with the jamboree.

Edward Hector was an African American soldier who fought in the revolutionary war. The actor who plays Edward, also known as ‘Ned,’ says he wants to bring lesser-known history to light. He says George Washington was a general of some of the most integrated armies, and America would not see one again until 1940.

“That means it would take over 150 years before black and whites could be in the same unit fighting the same enemy,” says Hector.

Hector represents how American history and African history are one and the same, and organizers say that stands for all cultures that have intertwined on this land. “We want to encourage this to be a home for all people to learn about the black story to learn about the Native American story and tell them about the settlers,” says Ingersoll.

Since taking a year off during COVID, the Nanticoke preservation alliance had time to renovate the Handsell house and the surrounding area. Such as adding a porch, and dedicating a memorial to the Handsell enslaved community. “So that’s something whether in Dorchester, whether you’re in Salisbury or Baltimore, you’re going to benefit from that,” says Ingersoll.

Organizers and characters from the jamboree tell 47 ABC, they hope this enlightening aspect of history is something families can pass on for generations. “Irish, African, German, French, Spanish, men, women, Jews and Gentiles. All of us combine together to make one people. Americans, us, our power has always been in our diversity,” says Hector.

Those with the Nanticoke preservation alliance also tells us, their goal is to keep improving the house, growing the event, and keep researching the stories to tell community members.

They’re also planning what’s called a ‘fireside chat’ during the winter season. The event will have speakers versed in quilting, 19th century cooking, or even basket weaving.

If you want to learn more about the alliance or the event, just head to their website.

Categories: Local News, Maryland