Fort Boonesborough
Kentucky History Award

Winner of 2 History Awards From the Kentucky Historical Society




New Interpretive Programs for 2010

New interpretive topics and programs have been added for the 2010 season at Fort Boonesborough. Several additional and important parts of Kentucky’s early history will be featured, including First Person Character Interpretation of Daniel Boone, Early Distilling and Whiskey Production in Kentucky, Slaves and Free Blacks on the Frontier, Indentures and Apprentice Contracts to 18th C. Tradesmen.


Josiah MacMillan, a native of Liberia who came to America three years ago will be the primary interpreter of the Slaves and Free Blacks on the Frontier program. Liberia, on the west coast of Africa, has a long history of association with slavery. This interpretive program is new to Boonesborough, and to Kentucky State Parks. Slaves were present with Daniel Boone and approximately thirty axmen who cleared a path to the Kentucky River and the site of Boonesborough in 1775, and continued to be a vital part of changing the “howling wilderness” of western Virginia into the Commonwealth of Kentucky during the last quarter of the 18th. Century.

By 1790, the time of the first “federal” census, there were over 12,000 slaves in what is now Kentucky. A very large part of the work of clearing land, raising cabins, planting crops, and tending livestock, was accomplished by slaves. Slaves also worked at a variety of skilled crafts, such as blacksmithing, woodworking, spinning, weaving, brick making, building, rope making, and several others.

Josiah MacMillan

Scott New, who portrays Daniel Boone for the Kentucky Humanities Council, will be adding a number of new interpretive programs this 2010 season as well. He will expand the first-person character portrayals of Boone, which are scheduled throughout the day in varied locations, and posted by “broadsides” and handbills each morning. He will also present programs, as a historian, on a wide variety of themes and topics concerning the 18th. Century frontier. Program titles include “Boones Trace and the Wilderness Road”, “Daniel Boone – Man vs. Myth”, Kentucky during the American Revolution”, and “A Guided Walking Tour of the Original Fort Site”.


Bob Caudill talks about distilling in Kentucky


Scott New as Daniel Boone addresses a group of School children.

Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey wasn’t always “Bourbon”, but the history of distilling in early Kentucky began right here in central Kentucky, and another new interpretive feature at Boonesborough tells the story. Bob Caudill, a Winchester native, grew up on the site of Strode’s Station, another frontier site begun shortly after Boonesborough. With a lifelong interest in Kentucky history, and continuing research into the early days of Boonesborough and the surrounding countryside, Bob is well suited to presenting the story of distilled spirits on the Kentucky Frontier. The thousands of gallons of whiskey, who made it, how it was made, the process of shipping down-river to New Orleans, and the specific things that make whiskey “Bourbon”, are all interesting items to learn about at the Fort.


Larry MacQuown. gunmaker

The gun maker’s shop in the fort is a good place to discover the processes of learning a trade in the 18th. Century. Whether by Indenture, or Apprenticeship, the variations in contracts and agreements varied widely. Larry MacQuown interprets the building of flintlock guns, and has researched the various means of learning the gunsmith’s trade in the 18th Century. His shop also includes an amazing piece of 18th century machinery called a rifling bench, used to cut internal, spiral grooves in rifle barrels for improved long range accuracy. Come try it out as an “apprentice”


At left detail of the new rifling bench

All of these are in addition to our ongoing daily presentations of 18th century life skills and tasks required for life on the Kentucky frontier. The Fort also features the Transylvania 18th century store, the Museum Store, and a great collection of 18th century artifacts in the Blockhouse Museum.

(Far right) Those presenting new interpretive programs at the fort got a chance to speak to Dr. Ellen Eslinger of Depaul University who’s main area of study is the Kentucky Frontier.


New Interpretation Program at Fort Boonesborough

Early Kentuckians quickly learned that getting corn to market was an arduous and time consuming task. But it was a more profitable operation when the corn was converted to liquor. To that end, Fort Boonesborough has added a still for interpretive purposes.

 “It was such an everyday part of frontier living,” says Fort Manager, Bill Farmer, “that including it here seemed only natural.” Funded by the Fort Boonesborough Foundation the new equipment arrived earlier this month and will be on display during the Siege Weekend.

Scott New Returns as Daniel Boone in 2010

Scott New will return to Boonesborough this year to portray Daniel Boone. Says Park Manager Phil Gray “Having Scott here as Daniel last year was a huge plus.  The land office was a fantastic success, giving visitors to Boonesborough a first person interpretation of purchasing land in 18th century Kentucky.  We will continue that interpretation this season as well as other first person interpretations with Daniel Boone.” The fort opened for the 2010 season on April 1.”And, continued Gray, “we look forward to welcoming visitors and of course seeing the reenactors that add so much to our interpretation.”.

The programs featuring first person portrayals of Boone will be centered on specific dates and occurrences during Boone’s life at Boonesborough during the revolution.


Successful 2010 Fireside Chats

“The chats were great this year, and the weather was kind to us.” Those were the overall comments of Foundation member Elizabeth Chalfant.  Each Saturday night in February a Guest Speaker and a meal of “Frontier Fare” are served before an open fire in the Fort Boonesborough Blockhouse. All of the 2010 speakers have appeared at the chats in past years but that had no effect on the number of visitors that attended as two of the chats sold out weeks before the event. “It a great winter series, a chance to get away from the February doldrums, have dinner, a performance and support the Foundation at the same time” said Park Manager Phil Gray.

Click Here for more stories and photos of the Fireside Chats

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


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