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 The Pioneer Times   January - March 2006

Historical Ball at the Frazier Arms Museum

By Viriginia Tucker

The night was cool and windy as I walked into the Frasier Historical Arms Museum on January 21, 2006. It was the 2nd Annual Ball organized by the Frazier Museums Re-enactors department. We had been planning the Ball for over 6 months and were very excited about the event finally coming to fruition.

The doors opened at 6:30 and as you entered the museum you heard music from the past. It was a nice transition from the current days music. You were greeted by one of the museum’s re-enactors and directed to the Ball on the 4th floor. When you left the elevator at the 4th floor you stepped into the past.

Virginia Tucker looks over the crowd from behind the silent auction table.

There were soldiers from the civil war and civilians dressed in fine suits. They were accompanied by lovely ladies on their arms, dressed in an array of beautiful gowns that provided a rainbow of colors that twirled around the room to a variety of music from both the 18th and 19th centuries. The band, Skip Jack played music that set your toe to tapping and gave you the urge to find a partner so that you could join the many other couples on the floor. Many times during the evening you could see as many as 4 double lines of couples learning a new dance under the tutelage of Crissy Davis Camp. She taught with an air of easy assurance and made sure that no couple was left feeling unable to accomplish the individual steps of the many different dances taught. The other members of Skip Jack were Robin Loeffler on dulcimer, Todd Morgan on fiddle, Deborah Thompson on banjo and Jeff Keith on guitar.

Not only were the16th, 17th, and 18th centuries represented, but the early 19th and 20th centuries as well. Ladies and gentlemen of the Regency period in their fine array of dresses and suits mingled with a few frontier settlers. We even had a few couples in current clothing who had seen the museums re-enactors dancing a Reel just that morning on a local television station, and decided to attend. The past centuries were well represented and we hope to see even more attending the event next year. The museum also ran a silent auction which did well and brought additional funds to the ongoing and growing re-enactors department.  

We will start planning next years Historical Ball at our next meeting and I am sure it will grow even more than the 170 people that attended this year's event.

You may also want to contact the Frasier Historical Arms Museum and make a tentative reservation for next years event as I am sure it will be even larger and will be sold out long before the 2007 Ball’s date.

Looking forward to seeing you there next year.

Virginia Tucker


Winter Trek and Camp at Fort Boonesborough

By Kathy Cummings

Join Daniel Boone for a winter weekend at Fort Boonesborough on January 27th -29th. Steve Caudill (who portrays Boone at the Fort) decided that although it may be cold the last weekend of January re-enactors are hardy souls. The Boonesborough militia regularly meets the last weekend of each month at the fort but had no scheduled event for January. So Caudill jumped in and started inviting a couple hundred of his closest friends.

Bill Farmer assured us that re-enactors are alway welcome at the fort and the fort will as always provide firewood, water, restrooms, ice, access to showers. etc.

Steve is organizing a Saturday morning trek to the historic site at Lower Howard’s Creek. The preserve manager Clare Sipple will lead a private tour, to see the spectacular water falls, mills, Martin house, grave yards and the ruins of this historic settlement Steve says “you talk about going through a time warp?? when you see this place untouched for 200 years you’re just not going to believe it, I guess there’s no where in this part of the country like this.”
The trek will start from Halls on the River Restaurant at 9:00 AM and should wind up back at Hall’s around noon. For more information about the settlement at Lower Howards Creek go to

In addition to the trek Steve is organizing a Saturday Night Feast. for more details contact Steve at

Photos from the website at Lower Howard’s Creek.

Look for follow up photos and feature stories after the event. For more information contact us at or 502-228-3746.

Remains of the Martin House (above) and the mill (below.)


The Trek on Lower Howard’s Creek

January 28th 2006

Saturday January 28th dawned clear and balmy. It was hard to believe it was January. Thirty eight hardy souls gathered in the parking lot of Lower Howard’s Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve. We were met by our guide Clare Sipple. Clare is the executive director of LHCNHP. Her knowledge of the history and geography of the area was unbelievable. She filled us in on the background of the area and we were off. No words could describe the beauty of the land. It was like turning back the clock.

The valley around Lower Howard’s Creek had been a bustling industrial area in the late 1700’s. Industry was dependent on water power in that era. The valley was home to settlers, mills and more. Then just as suddenly as it had sprung up - it was gone. In the early part of the 19th century steam power came into being. The railroads flourished and water power was no longer necessary to run the mills. The remains of one mill and a large stone house are still standing. For more about this trek and the wonderful nature preserve at Lower Howard’s Creek - Click Here.


Last of the Fireside Chats for 2006
Was a first for Steve Caudill as Daniel Boone

By Jim Cummings

Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky - Fort Boonesborough wrapped up the fireside chats series this past weekend with a great performance given by Steve Caudill of Winchester, KY.

Caudill gave his first person interpretation for the first time of Daniel Boone and his capture by Shawnee Indians while making salt with other Fort Boonesborough pioneers at the Lower Blue Licks in 1778. Boone and his party of saltmakers were then taken prisoner and marched north across the Ohio River. Eventually they were even taken to Detroit to face the British Gov. Hamilton known as “the Hairbuyer.”

Hamilton wanted to buy Boone from the Shawnee Chief Blackfish who had captured him. It is said that Hamilton offered Blackfish 100 pounds of silver for Daniel Boone. But Blackish refused the offer and even Hamilton was taken aback and surprised at the offers rejection.

While in Detroit Boone was treated well by the British and Governor Hamilton. Boone knew that the reason for the kindness was because Hamilton hoped to obtain information about Kentucky’s forts and their manpower. But Blackfish took Boone back to Chillicothe and adopted him as his son. Boone stayed and lived among the Indians for 4-1/2 months learning their ways. Boone learned of their strengths and weaknesses and the locations of their towns. When he thought it was safe he stole a horse and started back to Kentucky.

Boone traveled about 160 miles back to his home at Fort Boonesborough. The horse only lasted about two/thirds of the way before he was too exhausted to go any further. With Blackfish and the Shawnees behind him Boone went the rest of the way on foot.

But when Boone arrived back at the fort his troubles were not over they were just beginning. There were many well wishers to welcome him home but his wife Becky was not among the.

Boone rushed into his cabin but found it empty. As Boone sat on a bench in his cabin in complete bewilderment his younger brother Squire entered. When Boone shouted “So where are Becky and the children,” Squire hung his head and replied “we all thought that you were dead this time for sure, Dan’l and Becky and your family went back to the Yadkin. She couldn’t stand the loneliness and grief no more.”

Daniel then began to recount to his listeners of the capture and his life with the Shawnees, his adoption by Chief Blackfish, and his meeting with “Hairbuyer” Hamilton in Detroit. As the story goes some in the fort started to talk of Boone’s being too friendly to the Shawnees and the British. Words like disloyalty and treason where heard throughout Boonesborough.

Boone then spoke of his capture and the humiliation and indignity of being stripped naked by the Shawnee women - to be washed and scrubbed in a cold stream with sand and stones and nettles - to erase the stench and ways of the whites.

Caudill with the emotion of a Mel Gibson or a Daniel Day Louis pulled it off. He had the audience where he wanted them - with him in 1778. With Caudill’s background as a black powder shooter, a re-enactor and a sutler he was very convincing and professional.

He confided to the audience after his performance that this was actually his first performance completely in first person as Daniel Boone. And he was very natural and convincing. His own natural Southern drawl added to his performance.

I had talked to Steve before the performance, and asked him if he was nervous. He looked at me with some sweat starting to run down his forehead and said. “Yea, just a little. But a second later he was asking, “Hey Jim, is the house packed?” Spoken like a true actor. So I just said” Yea Steve, good luck and break a leg.”

Caudill did play to a full house and a standing ovation. Then before he did a question and answer session he thanked his family, his wife Stephanie and his children for all their help and support. He also introduced his mother, father, brother, uncle and grandparents. He also acknowledge the help and support he has received from the Fort staff- Park Manager, Phil Gray and Living History Coordinator Bill Farmer when they choose him just about a year ago to portray Daniel Boone at the 2005 Siege of Boonesborough. He also thanked the Fort Boonesborough Foundation for all the work they do in keeping the fort in the forefront and the spirit of Daniel Boone and the early pioneers alive.

There was one final surprise for Steve Caudill when a gentleman during the question and answer period stood up to say how much he had enjoyed the performance and then proceeded to tell the audience that he was from the Kentucky Humanities Council. Also in attendance Saturday night were other performers that had appeared at the Fireside Chats. Danny Hinton appeared last week as Dr. Thomas Walker. And seated in the front row were Mike and Nancy Rumping who portray Squire and Jane Boone.


Fireside Chats at Fort Boonesborough

Mel Hankla performs as Simon Kenton

By Kathy Cummings

I have seen several of Mel Hankla’s performances but never have I been more impressed than Saturday night February 11, 2006 at Fort Boonesborough State Park. Hankla appeared as Simon Kenton for the February Series of Fireside Chats.

A recent article in the Lexington Herald Leader led to a full crowd. Listeners came from Lexington, Louisville and beyond. The crowd were definitely history buffs. Sometimes an audience will be present, not really sure about what they are going to hear. Not so last Saturday. The blockhouse at Fort Boonesborough was packed with people who had come specifically to hear “Simon Kenton.” .

Hankla, who says he changes each performance just a bit according to the audience - was completely at home here. All the subtlety’s of his masterful performance were picked up by the crowd. In the question and answer section after the performance it was obvious that this was a crowd well versed in Kentucky history and they knew a lot specifically about Simon Kenton.

Hankla has been with the Kentucky Humanities Council for over 12 years. Most of the performers are kept for a two year run. Hankla is one of the few to not only repeat his run but he has been renewed and has stayed on even adding another performance as George Rogers Clark.

The crowd in the blockhouse

Checking out the display items

Not only did his performance bring questions but the small display that Hankla brought with him also received a share of the questions.

There will be two more performances in The Fireside Chats. February 18th will be Danny Hinton as Dr. Thomas Walker and on February 25th Steve Caudil will perform as Daniel Boone. That performance has already sold out.

Park Manager Phil Gray holds a rifle built in the 1780’s


Dr. Thomas Walker
 at Locust Grove

A Trek Through the Heart of Kentucky

By Helen E. McKinney

Due to the written records of their epic 1803-1806 expedition, historians have labeled Lewis & Clark the “writingest explorers.” But had it not been for Dr. Thomas Walker and his journaling efforts detailing his 1750 trip into Kentucky, a large piece of history would have went unrecorded forever.

“Dr. Walker was a man of many talents and had numerous accomplishments in many fields,” said Danny Hinton. Hinton is on the current roster of the Kentucky Humanities Council’s Chautauqua performers as Dr. Thomas Walker.

Hinton, 58, portrays a slightly older Walker at age 65, during Walker’s 1780 survey of what is now the Kentucky-Tennessee state line. He has been reenacting since the 1970s, but not until the last 10 years or so did he take his interest more seriously.

Hinton recently portrayed his persona for the Afternoon Lecture Series at Louisville’s Locust Grove, the historic home of the Clark and Croghan families. He has given 13 such performances since September 2005.

Walker was closely associated with the Clark family, both families having been reared near each other in Virginia. Walker was born on January 25, 1715 in King and Queen County, Virginia. He attended the College of William and Mary and studied medicine under his brother-in-law Dr. George Gilmer.

The Loyal Land Company was founded on July 12, 1749 with Walker as a leading member. The company received a grant of 800,000 acres in what is now southeastern Kentucky and appointed Walker to lead an expedition to explore and survey the region in 1750. Two years later Walker became head of the Loyal Land Company. 

Walker considered this exploration a failure. Had he gone another day’s journey west, he and his party would have found the land they sought. But what he didn’t realize was the profound effect his tales of Kentucky would have on men like Daniel Boone. Although Walker was not the first white man in Kentucky, he was “the first one to keep a record of it,” said Hinton.

Walker was physician to Thomas Jefferson’s father, Peter. Peter Jefferson had spent much of his life exploring and surveying, and this fact may have influenced and deepened Walker’s love for exploration. So great was their bond that Jefferson appointed Walker as executor of his estate before he died. Along with three other adults, Walker was appointed legal guardian of Peter’s son, Thomas, until age 21.

 “Personally, I think his greatest contribution was his influence on Thomas Jefferson,” said Hinton. Walker became Jefferson’s guardian when Jefferson was 14 years old. In his lifetime, Jefferson would become a great supporter of exploration efforts in an attempt to broaden knowledge of the boarders of the United States.

Thirty years after his first jaunt into Kentucky, Walker conducted a boundary line survey between what is now Kentucky and Tennessee, to extend the border between Virginia and North Carolina westward. This was accomplished in 1780, during the turmoil of the Revolutionary War. At age 65, most men today would not have thought of making the eleven-month trip, mostly by foot.

A fiery Patriot at heart, Walker served his country and his home state of Virginia well. He was a delegate to the House of Burgesses and a trustee for the town of Charlottesville. He was also influential in his dealings with Native Americans.

In February 2001, Hinton gave his first performance of Walker at Madison County, Kentucky’s Fort Boonesborough State Park. To prepare, he had to search his character thoroughly. Finding himself drawn to Walker, Hinton decide to do further research.

Since then, his primary sources for information have been Walker’s journal, Daniel Smith’s journal of a 1780 surveying trip, numerous articles from the Filson Club and the Kentucky Historical Society Quarterly. He and his wife have also traveled to Charlottesville, VA and Colonial Williamsburg, VA.

When not reenacting, Hinton is a toolmaker, employed at Integrity Mold & Die in Mt. Vernon, KY. “I have always loved American History and always had an interest in how it would have been to live back in this time period,” said Hinton.


Steve Caudill aka Daniel Boone receives write up in The Winchester Sun

On Saturday January 21st The Winchester Sun wrote a feature article on their local police detective Steve Caudill. Caudill is the re-enactor who took on the role of Daniel Boone this year at the re-enactment of the Siege of Boonesborough 1778 at the fort. Caudill was born and raised in the area and has been with the Winchester Police Department for 20 years. His family ties go back generations to the area around Strodes Station and Fort Boonesborough. Caudill has been shooting a flintlock rifle since his youth when he and his family would compete at the NMLRA shoots at Friendship, Indiana. The step he took into re-enacting just a few years ago was an easy one. “I’ve always had the gear and clothing,” he said and have always hunted “in 18th century style.” Attending re-enactments along with trekking just brought it full circle for Caudill.

Caudill as Boone

The article in the Winchester Sun keyed in on the DVD produced by Graphic Enterprises and filmed live in September at Fort Boonesborough.



Fort Boonesborough to Host Fireside
Chats in February

Fort Boonesborough will host “Fireside Chats” in February. Each Saturday night during the month will feature a different performer.


The month starts off on February 4th with Mike and Nancy Rumping and their portrayal of Squire and Jane Boone. Although Squire was less well known than his older brother Daniel, the Rumpings bring Squire and his many accomplishments to life in their 45 minute portrayal.

FEB 11

Mel Hankla will appear as Simon Kenton. Thinking he had killed another boy in a fight over a girl, Simon Kenton fled west from Virginia at age 16. He was wrong—he had only knocked his rival unconscious—but the incident launched him on a life of high adventure. He soon arrived in Kentucky, where he carved out a remarkable career as an explorer and frontiersman. A compatriot of Daniel Boone and George Rogers Clark, Kenton was a legendary Indian fighter, and became Kentucky's self-appointed welcomer-in-chief. From his post in Mason County, he personally greeted many early settlers as they arrived in what was then the far west.

FEB 18

Lucky for us, Dr. Thomas Walker kept a journal. That's how we know that he and five companions left Virginia in March 1750, entered Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap on April 13, 1750, and returned to Virginia three months later, much disappointed. A politically well-connected physician, Walker was also a land speculator,. He led the first organized English foray into Kentucky in search of farmland ripe for settle-ment. Never quite making it out of eastern Kentucky into the Bluegrass, he found only forested mountains teeming with game.

Walker considered his Kentucky exploration a failure, but it paved the way for Daniel Boone nineteen years later, and count-less others after that. Walker himself returned to Kentucky sever-al times, most notably in 1779-80 as head of the surveying party that extended the Virginia-North Carolina line—the southern border of our future Commonwealth—to the Mississippi River. By that time settlers were streaming into Kentucky, and the unspoiled wilderness Walker first saw would soon be lost forever.

February 25th

Steve Caudill will portray Daniel Boone on the last Saturday of February concluding the month of fireside chats. Caudill was named as the fort’s Daniel Boone for the 2005 re-enactment of the Siege of Boonesborough For more information about Caudill as Boone see the story above.

A Taste of Frontier Fare will be served between 5:30 and 6:30 with performances beginning at 7:00 PM. Reservations are required as seating is limited. Adults $10.00 Children (12 and under) are $5.00. All proceeds go to The Fort Boonesborough Foundation.

For more information or to make reservations please call Fort Boonesborough at 859-527-3131 (8:30 - 4:00 Mon - thru Friday) or email

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