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 The Pioneer Times   April - June 2006

Boone Station
By Jim Cummings

Athens, Kentucky - The Kentucky State Park System has a new jewel in it's crown of historical state sites. And like all of the state parks in Kentucky when you get off the beaten path - you see history. And Boone Station is no exception.

Boone Station sets approximately 3 miles off of interstate 75 in Fayette County not far from Lexington. Boone State lies in a beautiful lush, green valley with rolling hills on both sides.

The park has approximately 47 acres and looks like a postcard . While there you can picture yourself walking the hills and meadows of Ireland or Scotland.

It is no wonder Daniel Boone wanted to resettle there, with his family and close friends.

In December of 1779 during one of the coldest winters on record. Daniel Boone wanted to make the move from Fort Boonesborough, a place that he had founded and helped to build. His fellow settlers had named the fort for him.

It was so cold in Kentucky in 1779 that the Kentucky River which ran alongside Fort Boonesborough was frozen solid. It is said that turkeys froze on their perches and fell to the ground and that much of the wildlife died from starvation.

Tempers were running high in Fort Boonesborough since the court-martial of Daniel Boone. This had stemmed from an incident when Boone surrendered himself and his men making salt at the Bluelicks to the Shawnee. Daniel Boone himself, when captured was adopted by the Indian Chief known as Blackfish.

After several months of captivity Boone escaped and made his way back to warn the inhabitants of Fort Boonesborough of an impending attack. But when he returned he found that it was not the same Boonesborough that he had left.

His wife Becky had feared him for dead and returned with his children to North Carolina. Of the other settlers at Boonesborough some greeted him warmly while others thought Boone had become a traitor and a coward. Some wanted him punished for the surrender, especially those that had relatives among the saltmakers.

Some saw what Boone did with the saltmakers at Bluelicks as right and others did not. Boone figured that to fight the Shawnee there would bring about a complete massacre of the men because they were all completely surrounded and outnumbered. What Daniel was thinking (and we can only speculate) is that their only chance was to try a later escape from the Indians and make their way back to the fort at Boonesborough. And some did and some did not. Boone only knew that to take a stand there at the Bluelicks would mean certain death.

Colonel Richard Calloway and others did not see it that way and charges were brought against Daniel Boone and the court martial ensued. But Boone was found not guilty and promoted to Major. After the trial some still felt Daniel Boone guilty and the bitter feelings were evident.

Boone being the man he was and being and not wanting to cause a rift among the settlers decided to leave the fort that he helped to found in favor of a piece of land that had been earlier surveyed along the Kentucky River. This new station to which he moved his family became known as Boone Station. On December 25 of 1779 after a meeting of the land commission Boone began the exodus from the fort at Boonesborough. He took approximately 30 family members and friends with him on that very cold day. For the rest of the winter they lived in half faced shelters and faced all of the cold and hardships that the Kentucky winter threw at them. When spring came they began to build cabins and a stockade.

And now 226 years later we pay tribute to Daniel Boone and the stouthearted men, women and children who believed in him and followed him. Their attitude must have been "if it's good for Daniel Boone it will be good for us."

On July 15, 2006 history was made again with the help of the Kentucky State Parks System. Park Manager Phil Gray, and Living History Coordinator Bill Farmer were joined by park staff and about 35 re-enactors as they portrayed Boone's family and friends at the site. Members of the nonprofit Fort Boonesborough Foundation were also on hand selling drinks.

Photographs of the event are available on both this web site at Boone Station Event and at

If you want to experience and feel the beauty of the land Boone moved to. Stand where he stood and look out over the rolling hills at Boone Station. Go for a visit to Boone Station. You can envision what the station might have looked like in 1779 as they began to build there. You can picture in your mind the beginning of cabins and a stockade to provide protection from Indian raids. The settlers planting fields and milling around at their 18th century tasks with children underfoot. And just maybe as the park system continues to develop this land these sights will become a reality. And some day soon with a little imagination you might just see Daniel Boone ride up and give you a big 'ol Boone welcome.

Visit your local library or go online to learn more about Daniel Boone. Hundreds of books have been written about Daniel Boone but some of the best are: Daniel Boone, By John Bakeless and Daniel Boone by John Mack Faragher. Also plan a visit to Fort Boonesborough just a few miles south of Boone Station.

Fort Boonesborough Launches New Web Site
and Message Board

By Jim Cummings

Continued from front page of web site......

The Fort web site will be a continually growing and progressive site - it will not be static. The site will be informative and educational- with education being one of the primary reasons that the site was developed.

Another key element of the site will be The Fort Boonesborough message board. This will keep the public and re-enactors informed as to all the happenings and coming events at the fort. It will also act as a pulse in the community to let the interpreters and historians see what the public enjoys the most.

This site will keep a positive theme on history and items related to the 18th century. A key part of the site will be a page entitled “The Fort Boonesborough Gazette” that will keep viewers to the site up to date and informed on breaking news in and around the fort.

The site will have pages devoted to the annual re-enactment of the Siege of Fort Boonesborough, The Memorial Weekend Trade Days, and other photo pages. In addition there will be a gallery called The Photo Post where visitors to the fort can post their own photos.

Other aspects of the park such as The River Museum and the Campground will also be there in addition to the latest museum project being spearheaded by curator Jerry Raisor on obtaining a new painting for the museum.

Photos such as this one entitled “In Defense of Fort Boonesborough” will appear regularly on the web site.

Not only is the website designed for the Living History program at the Fort but it is also designed as a place where re-enactors can come to express their love of history. Just as the fort is a place to go to hone their persona and live in the 18th century so too the website is a place to discuss and share information on those topics and the best way to portray 18th century life.

.The site is sponsored by The Fort Boonesborough Foundation a non profit group, who has the foresight and dedication to provide this much needed avenue of communication to the fort. The Fort Boonesborough Living History Website is a step into the future to link us with the past.

Women on the Frontier

By Jim Cummings

Well it happened this weekend again. I had too much fun at Fort Boonesborough. If you couldn’t attend “Women on the Frontier” you missed a great time.

There is nothing better to me than to go to an historical site and see and hear living history interpreters “do their thing” by telling the story of pioneer America. And there is no place better than in the heart of Kentucky - at Daniel Boone’s first fort at Boonesborough.

This week they had special help which augmented their own historical interpreters. “Women on the Frontier” gives women re-enactors a chance to tell their story of 18th century life.

As a photojournalist, a student of history and a re-enactor I love to watch and document the actions and reactions of not only the re-enactors but the men, women and children that want to learn more about the past.

Fort Boonsborough - with it’s great historical significance and its central location is a place where many people start. With Living History Coordinator Bill Farmer and his wife Anne to welcome you, its like coming to a home away from home. They can transport you back into the 18th century when your ancestors might have walked these same steps as they came through the Cumberland Gap and on to Fort Boonesborough in that pioneers quest for land - lots of land. Daniel Boone led many settlers into this land as did James Harrod who made his way by water down the beautiful Ohio River from Fort Pitt (present day Pittsburgh).

“Women on the Frontier” consisted of women re-enactors telling the story of those early women at the fort. Experienced re-enactors present were Krista Graves, Cincinnati, Ohio; Melanie Kuntz, Salem, Indiana; Elishia Ballentine, Montgomery, Alabama; Kathy Cummings, Prospect, Kentucky and Karen King Scales of Frankfort, Kentucky. In addition to the fort staff who regularly show spinning, weaving, doll making, gardening and other frontier skills the re-enactors talked with the public about the work load of a pioneer women. It’s one thing to see someone work at the loom - but engaging folks in conversation about how long it took from growing flax to spinning and weaving to sewing the garment is another. Many visitors to the fort were amazed to learn that most pioneer families had upwards of 10 to fifteen members and clothing them all would have been a full time job. 

This weekend was also about storytelling. All of these well read women could and did relate stories of the early days on the frontier. The visitors to Fort Boonesborough walked away from their visit not only seeing the fort and it’s artifacts and period furnishings but with a wealth of knowledge from a woman’s point of view. 

In frontier times a woman had to know how to do everything. Even dig a grave and bury her child. This was one of the stories related this weekend.


Three Indians approached a small cabin in a clearing . The mother whose name was Sara and the older children were working in the fields a little distance from the cabin. The father was away hunting and the smallest child was napping in the cabin.

Sara sees the Indians approach the cabin. She drops the hoe she is using and grabs the rifle at her side and begins to run. Her screams alert the Indians who are inside the cabin ransacking through the belongings. When Sara sees the Indians in the doorway her eyes pass over the belongings she has hoarded over her lifetime. They are only kettles and pots and a bit of food - but her baby is inside. And then she sees what she has feared most. To her horror the last and tallest Indian is carrying her child. 

Sara’s screams fill the air. She tries to run faster and faster but her legs seem to move like lead. Her only chance to save her baby is the rifle in her hands. She stops and lifts the heavy rifle. Her breath is ragged from the running and her arms are shaking with the effort. It’s not that she has never fired this rifle before - for she has. Many times on the frontier when her husband has been away she has hunted for their dinner and cleaned it and cooked it. And more. But now with sweat running down her face and mingling with the tears she is fighting against - she knows what she has to do. As she takes aim - her finger on the trigger - cramps. Her entire body now is beginning to tense and she is shaking like a leaf.

She hesitates for a moment - for she is about to take a human life - but it is his or her baby’s life she tells herself. She hears her other daughters screaming behind her with the horror of it all while her son is saying shoot him Momma, shoot him - don’t let him take the baby.

The trigger is pulled, the spark from the flint flashes the powder in the pan. There is a blast that sounds as the powder and the ball race down the grooves of the barrel. Her eyes and throat are filled with the black powder and she is blinded for a second. She knows she had only one chance. The Indian and the baby are both laying silent on the ground.

Sara and her son Chris race toward them. The other girls hang back in fear. She tugs at the fallen Indian’s body to no avail. With her son’s help they finally manage to free the baby. It is then that her worst fears are realized. Her shot was straight and true. The Indian is dead but the force of the shot has pitched him forward and he has fallen on the baby - crushing and suffocating the life from her. Fate is cruel and life for a pioneer family is hard.

But Sara knows what she must do. She and her son take turns digging the grave. Her grief is deep but life must go on. She has other children to care for and the Indians might be back at any moment. It is 15 miles to the nearest station and they must make that before nightfall. She doesn’t know when or even if her husband will return. She wraps the still little body in a blanket of linsey woolsey. She and the other children are weeping silently now. Chris is trying hard to be a man - but he is so young. He gathers a handful of dirt and is the first to sprinkle it on the open grave. She murmurs a low prayer and gathers her other children about her. If they don’t make the neighbors station by nightfall they will have to hide in the woods until morning. It is time to go. Time to move on.

This story was retold from a story in a book by by Dale Van Every. There are many such stories of early pioneer life, not only of the hard times but the good times as well. Hope this story encourages you to seek out more stories from the library, the internet or your local book store.

Wilderness Road State Park - Martin’s Station - 2006

Hats Off to Martin’s Station

By Jim Cummings

My hat is off to Billy Heck and the great people at Martin’s Station. They take pride in what they do, and they executed a great three day living history event at Wilderness Road State Park. All re-enactors that participated should also be proud of a job well done.

When you go to Martin’s Station in Ewing Virginia you are just 8 or 10 miles from the Cumberland Gap where Daniel Boone led the early pioneers into the great land of Kentucky. They opened the gates to this new land of the west.

Billy Heck and the visionaries at the Virginia State Park System have made Martin’s Station the place to go. Anyone who is a re-enactor, history teacher, professor or just a lover of history should plan a trip to Martin’s Station. If you want to step back in time to the late 18th century - this is the place.

The staff has taken pride in keeping this place as authentic and realistic as possible. During the re-enactment you must be juried - that is (for those of you who are not re-enactors) judged and reviewed in your period clothing before you can participate in events at the park. 

Captain Joseph Martin portrayed by Billy Heck parleys with the Indians from the rampart of Martin’s Station.

Martin’s Station is just over the Virginia State Line. When you pull into the park and you see Martin’s Station sitting at the base of the Cumberland Mountains in the Powell Valley you are transported in time. The green mountain backdrop, the robin egg sky and the wind blowing over stuffed giant clouds you feel that you could reach out and touch them. The scent of the fires of settlers preparing an early breakfast greeted us. It just made my mouth water to get a waft of frying bacon, cooking in an iron skillet and home-brewed coffee.

Then as your eyes drift down through the valley you see the settlement built much as it would have been by Joseph Martin and his men. Our ancestors left the surety of family and friends in the east to break out to a new and better life in the west. They followed in the footsteps of Dr. Thomas Walker, Joseph Martin and that pied piper of pioneers -

Daniel Boone. They followed him because he promised them a land of milk and honey. in this new territory.

In the early morning light the sun with it’s yellow gold tones shining upon the station and it’s outlying cabins the logs have a yellow cast. The site of the purple and yellow wild flowers mingle with the greens of the mountains and the silver gray of the split rail fences. Arriving at Martin’s Station is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Enjoy the re-enactment photos
 and see what you missed.

At that very moment I have to say I was “Martinized!” I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

We set up our camera gear early along one of the split rail fences. Soaking it all in, talking to old friends and making a few new ones.

I hope our photos give some of the depth and beauty of the place, but I’m no Ansel Adams - the man who had the greatest gift of capturing landscapes.

It is a must see place. And while you on the road you can see The Cumberland Gap National Park, Pine Mountain Kentucky State Park, and the rebuilt cabin of Dr. Thomas Walker. Whether its a day trip or a vacation there is no shortage of history in the area.

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