Fort Boonesborough
Kentucky History Award

Winner of 2 History Awards From the Kentucky Historical Society

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THIS WEBSITE FUNDED BY THE FORT BOONESBOROUGH FOUNDATION

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Frank T. Barnes Collection of Ironwork

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Last year a member of our interim staff mentioned to me that he had heard mention of a large collection of ironwork that was available from a museum in Massachusetts. After contacting the source of this information, I received contact information for the curator of the Scottish Rite Museum and Library in Lexington, Mass.

After some communications by e-mail and phone, I received a book, "Hooks, Rings, and Other Things", by Frank T. Barnes. The book is actually a catalog of the iron collection, and lists 1,368 records of items in the collection.

Frank T. Barnes spent forty years collecting ironwork dating from 1680 to 1860, and a few items dating to later dates. There are indeed "hooks and rings" in this collection, but even better are the hundreds of "other things"!! There are numerous items that I have never seen before, except in catalogs, or in photos here and there. The table of contents in the book lists fourteen different groupings of items such as Animals, Architecture, The Farm, Hardware, Industry, Military, Hearth and Home, Lighting, and more. There is a line drawing/sketch of each item along with details, descriptions, dates, locations, etc. Many have detailed anecdotes about the specific item, including repairs, adaptations, and re-purposed applications.

This is the largest single collection that I have ever seen personally, and our friends group, the Fort Boonesborough Foundation now owns the entire collection. Mr. Barnes left his collection to the Masonic Museum some 13 years ago, and that Museum was seeking a non-profit organization that they would deem suitable as a recipient. The Foundation has agreed to a loan of the collection to Fort Boonesborough, and we will have various parts of this collection here at the fort on exhibit as time goes on. If you have an interest in ironwork/blacksmithing, antiques, material culture of times past, or you just like "really cool old stuff", you need to get a look at this collection.

By Bill Farmer

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Bill Farmer shows Foundation members the Iron Collection for the first time.

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The original Fort Boonesborough was built by Daniel Boone and his men in 1775

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