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 The Pioneer Times   January-March 2004

February 2004

Kentucky Revolutionary War Re-Enactors Promote Living History in Frankfort

by Jim Cummings

From The Painted Stone Settlers (Left to Right) Jack Luttrell, Donnie Brooks, Helen McKinney, Kathy Cummings, Harold Raleigh, John Hafling, Todd Bitler. With John and Ben McKinney (kneeling)

The Kentucky Historical Society, the Kentucky Association of Museums, and the Historical Confederation of Kentucky sponsored Kentucky Museum and History Day on Thursday, February 26th in the capitol rotunda. Among some of the attendees were The Filson Club of Louisville, Ashland-the Henry Clay Estate in Lexington, Renfro Valley, White Hall in Richmond, The Belle of Louisville, and The Coal Mining Museum. Industries were also represented with museum groups from hemp, tobacco and bourbon.

The Lewis and Clark Bicentennial and the Kentucky Civil War Historians were on hand to promote their parts in this historical timeline.

And what would an historical event be without the appearance of Kentucky’s Historian Laureate Dr. Thomas D. Clark. Mr. Kentucky, himself at 101 was spreading his wonderful gifts - a warm smile, a soft voiced word and a firm handshake.

As a history buff it is still amazing to me how little the public knows about Kentucky history and the parts played by Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia in the Revolutionary War. George Washington owned land in Kentucky. Christopher Guist charted the Ohio and the Falls, and of course George Rogers Clark advanced the war on the western front. 

 So we, as 18th century re-enactors did our part in making Kentucky’s history a little clearer and stronger to those attending and stressing the important role that Kentucky played in this young nation’s history.

The Painted Stone Settlers and friends did a great job in spreading the message of history. They spoke to legislators and the public alike, along with the professionals from the other museums and historical groups. The re-enactors draw attention by their dress and then proceed to tell all, who they represent, and what their plans for the future are.

They urged the attendees of the Kentucky Historical Society, the state officials and the general public to support outdoor living history drama’s and the gruops that put them on - often at their own expense with little help from other groups.

Unlike many of the professional museum folks who were there, the re-enactors took time away from jobs and businesses to promote living history. And they speak on behalf of re-enactors everywhere in promoting living history and events.

Link to Photo Page for Museum and History Day


Dr. Thomas D. Clark

Dr. Thomas D. Clark was on hand for History and Museum Day in Frankfort. At the age of 101 this Kentucky Historian and treasure of the bluegrass was doing what he has spent a lifetime doing - promoting Kentucky. Although his books will be forever in print if you have the opportunity to meet him, look into his eyes and shake his large hand, take the time for it. It is an experience you will long remember.


The Light Infantry Company
71st Infantry Regiment

Mike Nagy, Paul Peterson and Dave Phipps and their 71st Infantry Regiment gave classroom and practical training to new members and their invited guests from the Butlers Rangers from Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Peterson and Nagy and the 71st have put together a great program that covered everything from the front to the back of the cannon with emphasis on safety, safety, safety.

Their written text is as good as it gets. A lot of work and forethought went into the manual. It is direct and right to the point - no double talk.

Their explanations were clear and easy to understand. The 71st Light Infantry Regiment are pros at what they do. Most of the members are retired military.

After classroom training that lasted three hours we broke for lunch. After lunch it was on to the firing range. Each crew went through several dry runs on the cannons in a step by step procedure with an emphasis on safety.

Since this was the first firings of the season both cannons were tested with double loads of powder. While the entire crew left the field the cannons were fired to test for any stress cracks in the barrels. This procedure was done before any live rounds were fired.

After the stress tests both the Butlers Rangers and the 71st Regiment were ready for live firing.

Both units were very professional about what was about to begin, the tension was very high.

Mike Nagy brought out four wooden targets - shaped like humans and painted in Continental uniforms. From a distance they liked very life like and added to the cannon training.

Also on the sight was a block house built by Dave Phipps. Believe me when I say the 71st knows how to do it right!

I was able to take still photos and film live action from the block house which gave it an even more realistic feel. Over forty rounds were fired by the two cannon crews and targets fell.

If your group is thinking of purchasing a cannon or needs to make a living history event more realistic you can’t go wrong by giving the 71st light infantry a call. For good advice on Cannon training or to appear at an event - this outfit is first class.

Link to Photo page of the cannon training day.


Daniel Boone
Goes to Frankfort

HJR 7 was passed by the Kentucky House of Representatives on Friday February 20, 2004. The resolution provides for a name change for Kentucky Hwy 25 E from Corbin to the Cumberland Gap.  Although previously the highway from London to Hazard was known as the Daniel Boone Parkway it’s name was changed in 2003 to the Hal Rogers Parkway. Many people protested the name change including several descendants of Daniel Boone.

Representative Yonts, Daniel Boone and House Speaker Jody Richards.

Representative Brent Yonts from Muhlenberg County authored the resolution to name 25 E the Daniel Boone Wilderness Road Highway. To call attention to this resolution Representative Yonts dressed in Period Clothing and appeared on the House Floor with Harold Raleigh of the Painted Stone Settlers portraying Daniel Boone. Also present were two Boone descendants who had taken an active interest in this resolution.

Discussion became lively when several representatives quizzed both Yonts and “Daniel” on his early trips to Kentucky. Many representatives later stopped to speak to Raleigh as he left the chamber floor - mostly conveying their own genealogical links to the famous Boones.

Raleigh has portrayed the Boones before, although he usually portrays younger brother Squire. He has appeared in several History Channel productions including Boone and Crockett - Hunter Heroes. He also portrays Squire Boone in the Native

 Sun Production of Daniel Boone and The Westward Movement an award winning film made for the visitor’s center at Cumberland Gap State Park.

Although Daniel Boone himself served as a legislator it was prior to Kentucky’s statehood in 1792 - therefore making him a Virginia legislator from the county of Kentucky.

They Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk


by Jim Cummings

Three Eastern Woodland Indian Re-Enactors - Jack Luttrell from Kentucky, Todd Bitler of Ohio and Jeremy Turner of Indiana got together early this spring and tanned three huge buffalo skins.

This trio of friends are like brothers, and they want to feel, smell, eat, drink and live like the Eastern Woodland Natives of the 18th century that they portray at re-enactments throughout a six state area.

Each re-enactor got their own buffalo hide from a commercial butchering house. They met at Jack’s house in Kentucky to begin the process of tanning. They cleaned and scraped, scraped and cleaned until the flesh was off of the skins. They then took them to a nearby creek to wash them before stretching them to dry.

Luttrell, Bitler and Turner

All three men remarked to me that this was one of the hardest things they had ever done. When the skins were wet each one wieghed over 300 pounds and it took all three to handle each one. And these guys are not weaklings. Jack said with a grin (and this is a direct quote) “It might be a while before we do this again.” 

These three are serious and dedicated re-enactors. Jack Luttrell co-produced The Warrior’s Path - a three hour “how to video” on portraying a native persona and making many of the needed clothing and gear. (Link for more info on The Warrior’s Path.)

Todd Bitler from Ohio is making all of his knives, tomahawks, accessories and clothing. Todd is a very talented individual and an accomplished re-enactor who is extremely well read and has researched extensively on what he is doing and saying.

And then there is Jeremy Turner. When you look at Jeremy in full dress it is like stepping back into the 18th century. When he get’s into character it is chilling. Jeremy also gives talks to students and organizations when he is not occupied at his full time job of firefighter. 

When these three get together at a re-enactment things start to happen. There is electricity in the air. And when you throw a native re-enactor named White Turtle in the mix - watch out, you are in for a real treat.

More About Pirates of The Carribbean

by Kathy Cummings

In January I first ran the story below of Old Dominion Forge and The Pirates of The Carribbean. At that time I thought I would connect with Kyle Willyard of Old Dominion and get some more information. But as sometimes happens in re-enacting circles our paths just weren’t crossing as I had planned. But this weekend at the Revolutionary War Encampment at Locust Grove I had time to sit down and talk to Kyle and his wife Laura.

And as the saying goes the rest of the story.


The Willyards

I asked Kyle how it all came about. And actually it is a simple story. The power of the internet. Kyle simply checked his phone messages and there was a call from a movie producer. Not sure if it was legit he called back. The two played phone tag for a while and finally established the fact that they were looking for period reproductions for a Disney movie called “Pirates of the Carribbean.”

The producer had researched on the internet and come across the Old Dominion Forge website. Kyle credits the fact that he had just recently purchased a new digital camera and updated all the photos of his work on the site. “If it hadn’t been for that,” he said “they probably would have passed my site right on by.” But instead via photos, and emails and phone conversations the pieces were made and shipped to the location.
So now you know ... the rest of the story. Look for Old Dominion Forge next month at Manskers Station.

Pirates, Swords, Movies and More

A recent visit to the website of Old Dominion Forge brought another link to the time of Pirates and Swords. Kyle Willyard, prop. has on display on his site some of the items made for the movie Pirates of the Carribbean.

An assortment of swords and knives made for Pirates of the Caribbean.

A collection of boarding axes and hatchets made for Pirates of the Caribbean.

For more information


Heart Felt Creations Class

by Kathy Cummings

On Saturday March 27th Cindie Etienne of Heart Felt Creations gave a class in felt hatmaking. This chance for re-enactors to make a period correct hat was an unforgettable experience.

Starting from carded wool and finishing with a felt hat took the group about three to four hours. Few of the six attendees had any idea of the work involved. Most had seen Cindie and her husband Bob at various events.

Cindie explaining the process

 I first came upon them at Mississinewa last fall. But I had trouble deciding to part with my money and wasn’t sure I would wear the hat. Now I don’t know why I ever hesitated. When we saw Heart Felt Creations again at E’town in February, Cindi told us that she teaches classes and each participant leaves with a finished hat. What better way to step back into the 18th century than with a hands on experience. Click here to link to Heart Felt Creations web site and learn more about their products, classes and their experience in teaching and pioneer skills.

Working with the carded wool.

Forming the drying felt to a hat mold

Wetting and forming the wool to the pattern.

And rolling and more rolling

Rolling the wet wool as it begins to felt.

Clowning around...

With the finished product (left to right) Jim Cummings, Kevin Raleigh, Harold Raleigh, Annette Gish, Shane Holiday, Larry Gish, Kathy Cummings and instructor Cindie Etienne.


Re-Enactors Present
“Men of the Middle Ground”

by Jim Cummings

The Clarksville Historical Society in Southern Indiana hosted “The Men of the Middle Ground” on March 10, 2004. This program featured two well known living history re-enactors, Richard Geary of Clarksville and Gordon Garrett of Finchville, KY.

In this program the two re-enactors portrayed two early volunteers of General George Rogers Clark’s Illinois Regiment. 

Gordon Garrett of Finchville

Rick Geary of Clarksville, IN

The interpretation featured a description of Clark’s winter march on Vincennes and the capture of Fort Sackville and Henry Hamilton known as “the Hairbuyer” for his practice of paying Indians for the number of scalps they brought him from raids in Kentucky.

The men also talked about the early settlement of Clarksville - made up primarily of Clark’s soldiers after they returned from the Illinois campaign.

The interpretation also included the weapons, accouterments, food, clothing and trade goods that were here in the 18th century.

Both of “The Men of The Middle Ground” were featured as Re-enactors of the Week on this web site in 2003. (Click here to link to Past Re-enactors...)

Richard Geary is responsible for the living history re-enactment of The Pigeon Roost Massacre in June in Lexington, IN. This event is hosted by the Scottsburg Historical Society and Museum and The Old Settlers Committee. This year re-enactment will be on Saturday June 19 at 2:00 PM

Gordon Garrett is also part of Woodland Frontier Productions the group that produced The Warriors Path - a three hour video production on portraying an Eastern Woodland Indian. Many of the “how to” projects in this video series are demonstrated by Garrett. 

The Clarksville Historical Society that invited Geary and Garrett to speak deserve a mention too. They are a group that likes to shake things up. They are a goal oriented group that knows how to pursue those goals.

They seem to have the four main ingredients for a good historical society. First - the love of history. Second - the leadership to move forward. Third - the desire to motivate people and Fourth - the passion to achieve those goals.

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