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 The Pioneer Times   April - June 2005

May 2005

Martin’s Station at Wilderness Road State Park
Ewing, Virginia

by Jim Cummings

Ewing, VA - One of the best places to be for 18th Century Re-Enactors and people who like Pioneer Living History is Martin’s Station at Wilderness Road State Park in Virginia just 10 miles from the Cumberland Gap.

Martin’s Station was built by Joseph Martin in the 18th century and became the last outpost before entering the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. Those men like Daniel and Squire Boone who opened the western frontier, led many pioneers through this region. Although the Boones later found fame in Kentucky they also suffered their share of sorrow.

The Virginia Park System and Billy Heck and his group of dedicated folks and volunteers put on a great event. Re-Enactors from a five state area stage a great performance. To all involved a great Huzzah for a job well done.

If you are involved in re-enacting or just love living history and you have not been to Martin’s Station it is a must for your list of places to see. The fort was built the old fashioned way - by hand, using all hand tools and back breaking blood, sweat and tears by a mostly volunteer workforce of dedicated men and women.

New this year (it opened last October) was the visitor’s center where a film entitled The Wilderness Road Spirit of a Nation is showing. It was produced by Native Sun Productions, a well known film maker of historical subjects. Producer and director Gary Foreman is a re-enactor himself, as is Producer Carolyn Raine. Both were on hand to greet visitors.

Included in the film were many well known re-enactors, many of whom were present for this weekend’s Re-Enactment of The Raid on Martin’s Station. 

And don’t forget while your in the area to check out these other historical spots. The Cumberland Gap NHP where you can see and walk the Gap as the Boones did. Also nearby is the quaint town of Cumberland Gap, TN. Back in Kentucky there is Pine Mountain State Park with it’s breathtaking views of the mountains. The Dr. Thomas Walker first cabin in Kentucky and also the overlook are also on the list.

Click here for more pictures of the Gap taken last October.

June 2005


A Frontier Wedding at Fort Boonesborough

Brenna McDougle and Mitch Iles are wed

Story and Photos by Jim and Kathy Cummings

Step into the past with us and experience a wedding as it might have been at Fort Boonesborough in the late 18th century.

Historical accounts tell us that Jemima Boone and the Callaway sisters, Betsey and Fanny were all married within months of their capture and close escape from Indians in 1776.

So when long time re-enactors Mitch Iles and Brenna McDougle decided to marry, a period wedding was their choice and Fort Boonesborough was the place.

With over 50 re-enactors and 250 others made up of family and friends and visitors to the fort including news media the ceremony took place in a tree shaded area behind the fort.

The Iles decided on Fort Boonesborough as the site of the wedding for the history, location and the ambiance.

The staff of Fort Boonesborough including Phil Gray and Bill Farmer were the gracious hosts on this happy occassion.

Members of the Boonesborough militia were also in attendance and helped provide the wedding feast.Historical accounts of weddings at the fort tell us fiddle music and watermelons were the order of the day. Last Saturday was no exception as Daniel Boone (Steve Caudill) had the watermelon chiling in the spring.

The bride wore a polanaise gown hand sewn by she and her mother. (White gowns did not become fashionable until the 19th century.) The bride even wore shoes for the occasion. Just like the original settlers of Fort Boonesborough Brenna usually goes barefoot. The early settlers saved there shoes for special occasions.

The wedding began at 3:00 o’clock was open to the public and was followed by slices of watermelon served by Bill Farmer. The wedding feast itself was private and began after 5:00 o’clock when the gates of the fort closed to the public.

Fort Boonesborough State Park does an excellent job in bringing authenticity to the out of state visitors and the people of Kentucky. Since Kentucky was a stepping stone to western expansion it is appropriate that the Fort interprets history as it happened.

To experience early Kentucky history stop by Fort Boonesborough. You may not see a period wedding every day but there are always plenty of events on the schedule for young and old alike. Click here for a schedule of events and walk in the footsteps of Daniel and Squire Boone, Simon Kenton and Chief Blackfish and others.

If you couldn’t attend the wedding in person click here to see the photo page of this event.

June 2005


Old Settlers
Lexington, Indiana

By Jim Cummings

Link to Pigeon Roost Photos

Previous Year Photos

Lexington, Scott County, Indiana - Small town USA

What does a small town in Indiana that was established in 1802, have in common with the large metropolitain cities such as Indianapolis, Louisville and Cincinnati. It’s simple. Nothing!

Lexington sets about 38 miles northwest of Louisville, KY and due west of Madison, Indiana at about 18 miles and about an hours drive or 60 miles south of Indy.

It is one of the oldest established towns in Indiana and at one time was destined to be a large community and in 1813 Lexington was one of eight towns being considered for the territorial capital. But as fate would raise it’s ugly head, Lexington lost it’s bid for greatness and the town picked for Indiana’s Capital was Corydon, 30 miles west of Louisville.

But Lexington got the runner up prize in 1820 it was chosen to serve as the county seat of Scott County. By 1860 Lexington was a thriving, growing town. It had great people that had already settled there and the population was about 500 with more coming in.

Lexington had great plans for growth and prosperity for all. They boasted of great land to be had and farming and industry. The town had the room to go either way or both.

At one time Lexington had several stables, doctors, one of Indiana’s first newspapers, three or four blacksmiths, a train station, school, grist mill, woolen mill, saw mills, a barrel heading and stave factory, a tannery, a bank, three hotels, five churches, a shoe factory and a small college.

Lexington held the county seat in Scott County for several years. But time marches on and other developments started to happen both west and east of Lexington. At one time during it’s glory days people going toward Cincinnati had to travel through the town and on to Madison.

But in 1871, there was a new kid on the block so to speak. It was the new town of Scottsburg which was laid out and a new court house built there. All of the records of Scott County were moved from Lexington to Scottsburg.

The folks of Lexington and Scott County Indiana awaiting the Pigeon Roost Re-Enactment 2005

Transferring the county seat caused tempers to flare for a long, long time, and talking to some descendants and heirs in the area one realizes there are still a few hard feelings.

And as you can imagine industry and people started to leave Lexington and relocate to Scottsburg.

But Lexington might have the last laugh after all. With the removal of the county seat and most of it’s businesses and people, this little community has become an emerald in the crown of Indiana.

The biggest product that Lexington, IN produces today is clean air, plenty of clean air, lots of green forrest, green valleys, clean running brooks, a great elementary school and a magnificent park. It also has historical buildings, a great fire department, and did I mention the best thing of all - it has peace and quiet.

June 2005


Lexington Indiana, Part II         by Jim Cummings

Old Settlers Days Since 1882 or Longer

Lexington, IN is a quaint little midwestern town located in southeastern, Indiana. It boosts of many historical happenings throughout it’s history. But every June they put on a community gathering that has been going on forever. Or according to local historian Joe Gibson at least 123 years if not longer. During a recent interview with Mr. Gibson he informed me that it may have been going on longer than previously though.

If you want to know the history of Lexington, Indiana, and Scott County, Joe Gibson is the one to talk to. He is a man that loves his family, his town and the history of both.

Joe Gibson is a barber by trade and has a shop in Scottsburg, which has been there for years. And by the very nature of his business Joe has gathered stories, tips and lots and lots of local history. He could fill up volumes if he ever had the time to write it all down.

But Joe Gibson wears many hats. he is a care taker of the local Lexington cemetery which is one of the ways he keeps in the historical loop of the county. According to Joe there are both revolutionary war and civil war era soldiers buried in the cemetery.

In addition to this, Joe takes care of the local park and I think he farms a bit too. He is also a great family man, and Joe Gibson has served on the Lexington Volunteer fire department for over 30 years. If that is not enough Joe Gibson is a driving force behind Old Settlers Days. And with his historical background the festival has taken on a decided historical feel as Joe is always willing to help promote the history of his hometown and Scott County.

One Saturday re-enactor Rick Geary was in the barber shop waiting to get his hair cut. As it often does the topic of conversation in the barber shop that day turned to history. Joe was talking and cutting and talking and cutting. And Geary being a history buff was soaking it up like a sponge in a bucket of soapy water waiting to get into the conversation.

When talk turned to an actual event, an Indian Massacre of 1812 that had happened in the area, Geary’s eye lit up, his ears raised up, his nostrils flared out and he began to stutter and stammer to enter the conversation.

The massacre that was the topic of conversation was “The Pigeon Roost Massacre in 1812.

Re-Enactor Rick Geary

 It is said to be the first volley and uprising of the War of 1812. Twenty three men, women and mostly children were massacred without provocation. And all but a couple of men were armed.

The attack was vicious, brutal and terrifying for all. The settlers had only been tending their fields when the attacks occurred. This massacre was never forgotten.

Rick Geary could not wait to call me up and tell me what had transpired in the local barber shop that day. It was then that we first talked about a re-enactment of the Pigeon Roost Massacre being tied in to Old Settlers Days.

I thought it was a great idea and we decided to bring it up at a meeting of The Painted Stone Settlers. of Shelby County, KY. We brought it up for a vote in 2002 and it passed. To coin an old phrase “the rest is history.”             

At this years re-enactment we had about 50 re-enactors attending from as far away as Michigan. It was remarkable that out of those re-enactors at least 14 had been named Pioneer Times Re-Enactor of the month and at least 10 more will possibly be in the coming years.

It is this high caliber of Re-Enactor that attends Pigeon Roost that make it such a great event. Add in the children that portray roles and it doesn’t get any better than this. With a group like this any re-enactment looks good, and seems realistic.

The Pigeon Roost Massacre is a one day event but the fun lasts all weekend. The kids even have a great time at the modern festival.

Next year’s plans include expanding the re-enactment to encompass some other historical happenings in the area. This is always an easygoing event and it is great for all re-enactors from the newbys to the seasoned re-enactors and especially if you have children involved in re-enacting. It is a proven fact that children who are re-enactors are more outgoing, get better grades in school and always know their history.

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