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March Program: "The Spirits of the Signers" feat. Dill's Tavern

Updated: Apr 2

By: Dylan Bowman, HAHS Board Member

March 27, 2024

Murray Small and his spirits. Photograph by Dylan Bowman.

Historical Spirits & Delicious Patriotism

Last night may have been one of the most successful Society programs that we have had in recent memory. Murray Small of Dill's Tavern in Dillsburg, PA, came as our night's presenter, dressed in colonial garb to give guests to the evening's program the full experience.

And then the guests came pouring in...

Both new and familiar faces arrived together in droves, excited at the prospect of a historical spirit tasting at the Society, including several members of the Friends of Fort Halifax, some of whom were also dressed the part in their colonial reenactment attire.

As Bluetooth colonial music played quietly in the background of a room filled with Americans standing to say the Pledge of Allegiance, I couldn't help but smile. What a way to start off a program entitled, "The Spirits of the Signers," than to say the Pledge of Allegiance to colonial music...I do believe my patriotism was exploding out of my chest. I think George Washington and the rest of the Foundering Fathers were smiling from above.

Then the guests were seated, and another pouring began...

Guests enjoy the showmanship and spirits of Murray Small. Photographs by Dylan Bowman.

Tasting History

At its core, the Spirits of the Signers event as enacted by Murray sets out to give tasters a sampling of the wines, brandies and whiskeys that our very own Founding Fathers (particularly those who penned and signed the Constitution of the United States) drank.

"Really?" you might be thinking, "How on earth do we even know what they drank? At best, it's only guessing."

Well, that's where minds can be blown. Just after the Constitutional Convention finished signing the Constitution on September 17, 1787, they crossed the street to the City Tavern in Philadelphia and threw a party. And the tavern keeper wrote down what each member ordered.

Murray proceeded to describe the intricate and altogether incredible histories of the seven spirits that he and the audience had before them. Upon flights, and in proceeding order in strength, the spirits consisted of three wines, a brandy and three whiskeys, all of which would give tasters a window into what our Founding Fathers and the signers of the Constitution had drank 250 odd years ago.

Guests enjoy the showmanship and spirits of Murray Small. Photographs by Dylan Bowman.

An Evening to Remember

As the evening went on, I knew it would be one for the history books of the Society; attendance had reached 46 guests, and the building was packed to the gills. I swear, I couldn't even get a good photo that captured all the smiling individuals present.

Guests, both new and old to the HAHS, laughed and chatted, caught up and introduced themselves to one another over refreshments (which included the non-alcohol based hit "shrub"...a colonial drink of which recipes can easily be found on the Internet and purchased commercially) enjoying the tales, humor and knowledge of Murray Small.

We thank Murray and Dill's Tavern for their willingness and time in presenting the Spirits of the Signers to our community. We highly recommend you visit their channels on Facebook and their website, as well as their main building as they are nearing completion on renovations, readying their business for the making of their own brandies and whiskeys. It is a piece of living history you WON'T want to miss!

Visitors enjoy refreshments and time talking with one another after the program. Photographs by Dylan Bowman.

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