Last updated: December 05. 2013 4:48PM - 800 Views
JOE SYLVESTER jsylvester@timesleader.com



April Nafus, Tunkhannock, and Mackenzie Salmonsen, Kingston, decorate the tree at the Swetland Homestead, where re-enactors are portraying Swetland family members and others during Christmas 1863. The Luzerne County Historical Society is holding its annual Christmas Candlelight Tours at the historic site this weekend.
April Nafus, Tunkhannock, and Mackenzie Salmonsen, Kingston, decorate the tree at the Swetland Homestead, where re-enactors are portraying Swetland family members and others during Christmas 1863. The Luzerne County Historical Society is holding its annual Christmas Candlelight Tours at the historic site this weekend.
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IF YOU GO

What: Christmas Candlelight Tours at the Swetland Homestead

When: Tonight, 6-8; Saturday, 1-5 and 6-8 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

Where: 885 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming

Cost: $6 adults; $4 children; children under 5, free; historical society members receive $1 off admission

More info: 570-822-1727, extension 3



It’s been almost 150 years since Christmas was celebrated during the Civil War.


But at the Swetland Homestead this weekend, it’s 1863 all over again.


It’s a Civil War Christmas at the historic site in Wyoming, where the Luzerne County Historical Society is holding its annual Christmas Candlelight Tours. The tours of the original farmhouse built in 1803 - and the rooms added in the 1860s - began Thursday evening and will continue through Sunday evening.


The tour times at the Swetland, located at 885 Wyoming Ave., are tonight from 6 to 8; Saturday from 1 to 5 and 6 to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.


Members of the 143rd Pa. Volunteer Infantry Civil War re-enactors will be there, said Mark Riccetti Jr., the historical society’s director of operations.


He said visitors will learn about what Christmas was like during the Civil War.


Costumed interpreters will recreate a Civil War Christmas. Visitors will tour the kitchen where food is prepared in the open hearth, and visit the dining room, which is set up for the holiday meal. Others in costume will be decorating the Christmas tree in the parlor. The tour will include an upstairs bedroom, decorated for a child’s Christmas.


Guests will learn about the Christmas traditions of that time and enjoy refreshments and Christmas music.


“The house will be decorated in the traditional style,” he said. “We’ll be on hand as the Swetlands.”


Riccetti will portray George Swetland, great-grandson of Luke Swetland, one of the original settlers to come to the Wyoming Valley from Connecticut in the 18th century.


According to local history, Luke Swetland took part in the Battle of Wyoming in 1778 and later joined Sullivan’s Expedition against the Indians after having been captured by Indians. He also helped build the Forty Fort Meeting House.


The Swetland Homestead has been open for tours since 1958 and the Christmas tours have been going on for well over a decade, Riccetti said.


“But this is the first time we’re doing this particular one,” he said.


And this year, the tours have a sponsor - Michael Valenti’s Restaurant in Exeter.


“We don’t normally have one,” Riccetti explained.

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