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Bryan’s Station
August 15, 2007

Photos by Jim Cummings



from McClung’s Sketches of Western Adventure as reprinted in Noble Deeds of American Women 1855

At the siege of Bryant’s station near Lexington, Kentucky, in August 1782, the water in the fort was exhausted; and as the nearest place to obtain a supply was a spring several rods off, it would require no small risk and, consequently, no common intrepidity to undertake to bring it. A body of Indians in plain sight, were trying to entice the soldiers to attack them without the walls, while another party was concealed near the spring, waiting it was supposed, to storm one of the gates, should the besieged enter out. It was thought probable that the Indians in ambush would remain so until they saw indications that the other party had succeeded in enticing the soldiers to open engagement.

The position of things was explained to the women, and they were invited to each take a bucket and march to the spring in a body. “Some, as was natural had no relish for the undertaking, and asked why the men could not bring water as well as themselves, observing that they were not bulletproof, and the Indians made no distinction between male and female scalps. To this it was answered, that the women were in the habit of bringing water every morning to the fort; and that if the Indians saw them engaged as usual, it would induce them to thinnk that their ambuscade was undiscovered; and that they would not unmask themselves for the sake of firing at a few women, when they hoped, by remaining concealed a few moments longer, to obtain complete possession of the fort; that if the men should go down to the spring, the Indians would immediately suspect something was wrong, would despair of succededing by ambuscade, and would instantly rush upon them, follow them into the fort, or shoot them down at the spring.

“The decision was soon made. A few of the boldest declared their readiness to brave the danger, and the younger and more timid rallying in the rear of these veterans, they all marched down to the body of the spring, within point blank shot of more than five hundred Indian warriors! Some of the girls could not help betraying symptoms of terror; but the married women, in general, moved with a steadiness and composure that completely deceived the Indians. Not a shot was fired. The party were permitted to fill their buckets, one after another, without interuption; and although their steps became quicker and quicker, on their return, and when near the fort, degenerated into a rather unmilitary celerity, with some little crowding in passing the gate, yet not more than one-fifth of the water was spilled, and the eyes of the youngest had not dilated to more than double their ordinary size.”

The monument built in 1896 is beginning to show it’s age. The various sides of the structure have different inscriptions.

 Shown here ia a front panel inscibed “To the Men that Defended the Fort” with a list of names. Visable behind it on another section of the monument “In Honor of the Women of Bryan’s Station” with their names.


Portraying the Women of Bryan’s Station

By Kathy Cummings

One of the things that drew me to re-enacting the time period of the Revolutionary War in Kentucky were the roles that women played in this history. As the above piece declares - Indians made no distinction among scalps - neither men, women or children. And one of the stories that fascinated me the most was the story of the Women at Bryan’s Station.

The spring at Bryan’s Station is today located on private land. Although I had seen illustrations of the monument built in 1896 I really doubted that I would ever see the actual land. But as the 225th Anniversary of Bryan’s Station and the Battle of Blue Licks approached plans were underway to hold a ceremony there. I have to give special thanks to Linda G. Morgan, event planner who spearheaded the effort. She worked with the owner of the property and the DAR to enable us to visit this spot. Special thanks to Anne Farmer and the women interpreters of Boonesborough, who I joined on the long walk to the spring.

As a re-enactor every one hears things like “being in the moment” and “walking on hallowed ground.” There are many such phrases that describe the feeling. And all I can say is that the feeling of walking down the hill at Bryan’s Station 225 years to the day that those earlier women had walked it - was undescribable and that none of those phrases did it justice.

There are many who would say that the spring had changed - that we were going to a monument not the actual spring. There are those that say being in front of an audience would spoil the moment. They were all wrong. I could not hear all of the speeches and songs that were taking place at the DAR ceremony below. I only knew that we would be cued when the speaker said to the assembled audience “now close your eyes and imagine ...” and we were to start down the hillside, buckets and kettles, gourds and all.


Click here to see a special video clip from this event.


Today a house sits at the top of the hill were a fort once stood.


Usually behind the camera I took this opportunity to have my own photo taken at the monument.


DAR Members arriving at the site.


The commemoration ceremony.


Even the high 90+ degree temperatures did not stop the DAR members who were also eager to visit the site.


Posing for photos with the guests.


The conclusion of the story of the Women of Bryan’s Station is the Battle of Blue Licks. Just like the early militia who came to help defend Bryan’s Station and moved on to follow the Indians - we too followed this Wednesday event with a Saturday & Sunday Event at the Battle of Blue Licks. Click here to see those photos.

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