The Whiskey Rebellion tale just wouldn’t be complete without someone being tarred and feathered.
And, that’s just what happened recently when crews filming a new television series for the National Geographic Channel came to the area to do a show on the Whiskey Rebellion.
Clay Kilgore, executive director of the Washington County Historical Society, said he was contacted by the producers of “Diggers,” a new series starring metal-detecting buffs “King” George Wyant and Tim “Ringy” Saylor.
The show follows Wyant and Saylor around the country looking to put their detectors to work to unearth pieces of history. The series is set to debut in 2013 on the cable channel.
Producers asked Kilgore to direct them to some of the hot spots in the area associated with the Whiskey Rebellion. Kilgore, a local historical guru, said he was more than glad to oblige as he took the hosts to such sites as the Cook-Holcroft House in Finleyville, Lobinger House in Laurelville, Neville House in Bridgeville, and Kinder’s Mill in Deemston.
Of course, no show on the Whiskey Rebellion would be complete without a visit to Bradford House in Washington, and a final stop at the historical society’s Frontier History Center in Washington Park.
“They were interested in re-enacting some scenes for the show,” Kilgore explained. “And, I said ‘How about a tarring and feathering?’”
According to Kilgore, the show producers thought he was joking. But, Kilgore explained to them that a re-enactment of rebels tarring and feathering a tax collector is done each year at the Whiskey Rebellion Festival.
The idea fit perfectly with a portion of the show where the hosts make a bet on who will find the best artifacts. In this case, the loser was Saylor.
So, early the morning of Sept. 22, Kilgore arranged for the event, providing an angry colonial crowd of re-enactors, a large pile of feathers for the tossing, and a huge metal pot full of chocolate sauce as real tar was definitely out of the question.
Crews then filmed the shouting crowd standing around a wooden platform where a hog-tied, half-dressed Saylor stood while the “tar” was poured over him by Kilgore.
“The show gives us an opportunity to promote an event in American history that is unique to Southwestern Pennsylvania yet affected the development of the nation as a whole,” Kilgore explained. “Our hope is not only to find artifacts but to have sites cataloged and documented and then added to the national register.”
While artifacts were found during the filming here, “Diggers” is not releasing what they were nor where they are found. Instead, they are using those artifacts as bait to get area residents to watch the show when it airs next year.