Fort Boonesborough
Kentucky History Award

Winner of 2 History Awards From the Kentucky Historical Society

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Missed out on activities and photos on the Fort Boonesborough Living History Website. All stories and news that have appeared on these Gazette pages are available by using the buttons above.

Living History Interpretation
of the Settling of Boone Station

By Bill Farmer

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Photo by John Bramel, PHOTOSOURCE/Photography Services

Shelley McClanahan, in the role of a Kentucky frontier woman, recently drew water from the spring that still runs strong at boone Station, near Athens, in southern Fayette County. Daniel Boone, his family, relatives and fellow settlers- 15 to 20 families in all - settled at boone’s Station beginning in 1779, after departing Boonesborough.The relocation from Fort Boonesborough to Boone’s Station ushered in a new but little known era of the well known frontiersman’s life. On July 15, State of Kentucky Parks Department personnel and volunteer re-enactors will usher in a new era of historical interpretation at Boone’s Station by staging a re-creation of the settlers’ arrival at the site. 

In July of this year, on the weekend of the 15th - 16th, we will host an encampment at Boone Station in Fayette County. The event will be a living history interpretation of the settling of the Station by Daniel Boone and members of his family in 1779. The station lies about six miles to the northwest from Fort Boonesborough on Boones Creek.

We are in the process of developing this tract of land as another Historic Site in the Kentucky Parks system. There have been plantings of cane and native species of trees. Future  plans call for       extensive  re-introduction of trees that would have been present in the 18th century. Interpretive trails are being designed to provide access and information for visitors to the site.

Boone, with his immediate family, numerous relatives, and others, left the Yadkin in the middle of September. Here is a bit of what John Mack Faragher had to say concerning Boones Station in “Daniel Boone, the life and legend of an American Pioneer”.

Welcome to this site

By Jim Cummings

Welcome to the first issue of the Fort Boonesborough Gazette WebNews and it's home on the fort Boonesborough Living History web site and message board.

One of the driving forces behind this website is to bring living history to the forefront in Kentucky.

When most people think of living history in Kentucky they think of the Civil War and give little thought to Kentucky and it's Pioneer past and it's history during the Revolutionary War. Pioneer heroes like Daniel Boone, and his younger brother Squire had the courage to travel the unknown. Simon (Butler) Kenton, Dr. Thomas Walker,  James Harrod,  George Rogers Clark, and many more populated this state. And not to forget the brave women that followed them into this land of milk and honey.All lost loved ones and faced devastating hardships.

The Fort Boonesborough Gazette will not only give the pionners side but that of the Native Americans as well. Because both the natives and the pioneer thought theyhhad a right to this land of Kentucky the land of milk and honey soon turned to be the "dark and bloody ground."

The web site and The Fort Boonesborough Gazette will be informative and progressive to interest both adults and students, educators and historians and most of all the re-enactors that make living history possible. Without the early settlers and pioneers that came through Kentucky the western movement may have had a drastically different outcome. This land along the Ohio Valley could have come under French or Spanish rule and the United States could have stopped at only 13 states. 

If you have information that you would like to contribute please submit information to editor@fortbooneboroughlivinghistory.org. If you simply want to share your own views on a particlar topic try the message board, moderated by Living History Coordinator, Bill Farmer.

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The 1779 migration to Kentucky was the largest to date and one of the largest ever on Boone’s Trace over the Cumberland Gap. “We began our journey all afoot, except the women and small children”, one man wrote, but many people, men, women, and children alike, walked the entire way. The husband of one poor young couple walked barefoot, his wife beside him with a baby at her breast, leading a single mule loaded with their meager possessions. The Boones and Bryans were considerably better off. Billy Bryan packed his property on twenty-eight horses, led by slaves; Boone had about a half dozen packhorses, on which he had strapped kettles, tools, and even a butter churn. His wealthy kinsman James Carter, a colonel in the Rowan militia, gave Boone two small swivel guns for the defense of the new settlement he planned, and these were packed on a strong horse. But after struggling over the gap the horse died of the strain. “This misfortune put the wits of Boone to work to devise a way to proceed with his burdens,” remembered one friend along with the party, and he built a device he called a “truckle,” something like an Indian travois, with which he attempted to haul the swivels, but they proved too heavy and he was forced to cache them along the trace. Boone was never able to retrieve these cannon, but he never forgot them, and as late as 1817 he and his son Jesse were still trying to retrieve them.

At one river crossing the company found the waters running high and fast, and Boone directed them to wait. The next day the women remained anxious about crossing, but impatient with the delay, Jemima cried out that she would lead them across. Riding double with a young girl, she plunged into the water. Her horse had nearly reached the opposite bank when, frightened by some floating drifting wood, it threw its two riders. “A loud scream went up from the women,” an emigrant later wrote, “but immediately they came to the surface and we seized them and bore them to the shore. The little girl was badly strangled, but Jemima seemed to enjoy the misfortune.” She laughed as the men carried her ashore. “A ducking is very disagreeable this chilly day,” she declared, “but much less so than capture by the Indians.”

The party arrived at Boonesborough in late October of 1779. Little of the damage inflicted during the siege had been repaired and the settlement remained a small, disorderly cluster of stockaded cabins. It was “a dirty place, like every other Station,” one settler wrote, and another British traveler that summer compared its stench with the one that arose from the gutters of Edinburgh. The Bryans immediately went on to resettle Bryan’s Station on the Elkhorn River. Boone had no intention of remaining at Boonesborough, where he felt scorned, but he had to await the proceedings of the land commission, which arrived there in December. After it had approved his claim, on Christmas Day, Boone and a number of kindred families led their packhorses and dogs across the frozen Kentucky to a site where he had previously raised a cabin and made a crop of corn in anticipation of claiming the land for himself. The watercourse had become known as Boone’s Creek, and here at the intersection of several buffalo traces, six miles northwest of Boonesborough, he planted his new settlement of Boone’s Station.

They constructed “half-faced camps made of boards and forked sticks” in which to dwell during the first winter. There was already more than a foot of snow on the ground when they arrived, and the weather, in the words of one of the land commissioners, was as “severely cold as ever I felt it in America.” It was the beginning of what was known afterward as the Hard Winter. Livestock froze to death and game starved; wild turkeys, too weak to move, died on their perches and tumbled into the snow, but according to Daniel Trabue, they “weaare too poore to eat.” Hunting was difficult, for the cold made it “impossible to load our Guns.” Many settlers, “like to have starved to death,” one settler remembered, and Trabue reported that a number of people” did actuly Die for the want of solid Food.” It was certainly a hard winter for the families in their huts at Boone’s Station, but Boone had brought an ample supply of corn from North Carolina, which he “divided even to his last pone with the newcomers,” and brought in an adequate supply of game. There was a sugar grove nearby, and with the coming of spring the women and children hastened to make maple sugar to augment the meager diet. “The poor miserable buffalo would come to drink the sugar water,” one of Boone’s nieces remembered, and they “could hardly drive them off, they were so poor. “Meanwhile, the men “erected cabins and stockaded them, with port holes,” as protection from Indian attack. Boone and Rebecca may have lived for a time at the fort, but according to descendants, they soon moved to a cabin several miles southwest on Marble Creek.

His departure from Boonesborough and his relocation in the woods fueled talk that had begun in North Carolina about Boone’s antisocial behavior. Years later one old man told a tale of a visit he had made to Boone’s Marble Creek farm when he was a boy in the early 1780’s. As he and his father ride up to Boone’s “hut,” they see the “old backwoods hunter” sitting on his porch, “dressed all in leather,” and surrounded by his dogs. He hails them to come on, and while the boy plays with Boone’s two young sons, the men chat about “how many deer, buffalo, and bear Boone had killed that day.” Boone asks the distance to their place. About seventy miles, the man replies. “Old woman, “ Boone calls to Rebecca, “we must move, they are crowding us.” This folk image of the “old backwoods hunter,” however, had little in common with the real-life Boone of the early 1780’s, the head of a growing and influential clan, an aspiring landowner and businessman, and a respected leader of frontier society.

Those interested in participating in the July event at Boones Station can call the fort at 859-527-3131 ext 216, or e-mail to ftboone@bellsouth.net for additional information and registration. We hope to have an interesting and informative event to introduce the site to reenactors and to the general public as well.

Click here to go to the Boone Station Page

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

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