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February 2011

The Fireside Chats at Fort Boonesborough

By Kathy Cummings


Seated for “Frontier Fare”


Park Staff Bill Farmer and Phil Gray make introductions

The Fort Boonesborough Foundation opened the 2011 Fireside Chats with a portrayal of Daniel Boone. The Chats are held each Saturday in February and feature a first person interpreter, musician, or other entertainment with an 18th century flare. The performance is preceded by dinner , called “A Taste of Frontier Fare” cooked over an open fire in the fort blockhouse.

Then the tables come down, seating is rearranged and the performance begins.


Daniel Boone - Scott New

What would an event at Fort Boonesborough be without Daniel Boone? Fort Boonesborough has in residence their very own Daniel Boone. Scott New is also a part of the Kentucky Humanities Council, Chautauqua Series. New has been performing as Daniel Boone for over 13 years. He currently works full time as an interpreter at Fort Boonesborough along with his schedule of Chatauqua performances. Prior to this he has worked at both Colonial Williamsburg and at Wilderness Road State Park in Ewing, Virginia.

No matter how many times New portrays Daniel Boone he claims never to stop learning. There are always new facts coming to light and as such the portrayal of Boone is always evolving. And visitors never tire of hearing about the famed woodsman who played such a pivotal role in Kentucky’s history.

Click Here for a Newsreel of the performance.

Mad Anne Bailey Receives Rave Reviews
by Jim Cummings

Fort Boonesbourough, KY

On Saturday night, February 12, 2011, The Fort Boonesborough Foundation hosted the second in a series of Fireside Chats. This week’s first person performance of “Mad Anne Bailey - White Squaw of the Kanawha Valley” was performed by Suzanne Larner Dennis of Indianapolis, IN.

And wow - did she knock this one out of the park. It was one of the largest audiences ever according to Foundation Board member Elizabeth Chalfant. “We could not have been more pleased with the crowd and the performance,” said Chalfant.

Mad Anne Bailey was born Anne Hennis in Liverpool England. She came to this country with her late father’s military pension. Rumors over the years claimed she came as an indentured servant, or was kidnapped, but Dennis’s performance clearly dispels those thoughts.

She worked as a governess and then married Richard Trotter and had a son. Like most, Anne thought she would live out her days with hard work and a full life. But life doesn’t always go as planned. Her husband was killed by Shawnee Indians and his body mutilated beyond recognition. The only thing returned to Anne was his hat. And this is when the “madness” began as Anne started on a rampage of desperation and revenge stemming from her loss.

Suzanne Dennis gave a strong, very strong performance. I have seen this portrayal several times before as part of a live audience and also during filming of the DVD project. But no time was her emotion more apparent, and her delivery more “on.”

Not only did she have tears in her own eyes but members of the spellbound audience did as well. The story of Mad Anne Bailey is a compelling one and Dennis received a standing ovation. Following that she took questions and examined the fact that Mad Anne was also known as a storyteller and that in her research it was often hard to tell fact from legend.

With a final thanks to the Foundation, Dennis finished by mentioning that part of her speakers fees go to The Purefinder Fund and The American Widows Project.


See a clip from DVD

See a Newsreel clip of the performance


Waiting to go on


An introduction by daughter Katie Rose (right) and friend, Hannah.

An 18th Century Doctor visits Fort Boonesborough

By Jim Cummings

On February 19th The Fort Boonesborough Foundation held it’s third installment of the Fireside Chats.

The evening started with a bowl of brown beans cooked over an open fire and served with all of the trimmings. It was one of the best of “the Frontier Fare” meals - maybe because I love brown beans.

With stomach’s full, there was time for a brisk walk outside in the balmy evening air, or a stop at the Transylvania Store. Then at 6:45 everyone was seated and it was showtime.

And what a performance it was. Albert Roberts portrayed an 18th century doctor. And “Doctor Albert Roberts” was quite the humorist. He doesn’t bill himself as a humorist - but he should as he brought a ton of laughter to the blockhouse.

He begins by talking about and demonstrating the tools of his trade. You could see the audience begin to grimace a bit as he described some of the procedures. Some even begin to gasp or turn away. That’s when Robert’s humorous side takes over.

Robert’s knows much about the 18th (and early 19th century). He asks for audience volunteers to help him with his demonstrations. I’ve seen his presentation several times at different venues - but it seems Fort Boonesborough brings out the best in these performers.

His favorite subjects are children. They are up to try anything and can easily laugh at themselves. He also asks for a “Surgeon’s mate” and received help from Larry Ginter - both a re-enactor and member of the Foundation. It was the surgeon’s mate who had the job of holding down the patient in the days before anesthesia. Again Robert’s humor surfaces as someone in the crowd asked about anesthesia. With a completely straight face, the good doctor, quipped that he had never heard of this fellow called Anesthesia - did he live in these parts.

It was a clever way to teach - and touch on some of the more indelicate subjects associated with medicine. I was laughing so hard that it brought tears. He covered topics like musket ball removal, brain surgery (from being whacked with an Indian war club) broken bones and early dentistry - which simply put - was the removal of teeth.

His question and answer period was also quite lively as the audience had quite a few questions. Unlike some of the other first person performers - who answer questions about the person they portray Albert Roberts is asked everyday questions about surviving illness in an age before “modern medicine.” It is hard to fathom with the knowledge of germs and hygiene that we have today that the Doctor gave his instruments only a rudimentary cleaning - mostly to combat rust.

If you have a chance to see “The Doctor” Albert Roberts, it is definitely a top program. His schedule is available at his blog Tempus Fugit . Both he and last week’s performer Mad Anne Bailey will be appearing at Blue Licks State Park on March 12, 2011.


See a newsreel clip of “The Doctor”
Albert Roberts.

Click here for Newsreel


Albert Roberts “The Doctor”


Pleasant weather for February


After dinner the tables come down...


...and surgery begins.

Andrew Montour
Warrior and Interpreter
 Speaks at Final Fireside Chat for 2011

By Jim Cummings

Andrew Montour (Sattelihu) stepped from an earlier time period of the French and Indian War (also known as The Seven Year’s War) into the fourth and final fireside chat at Fort Boonesborough for 2011.

The Fireside chats are in their 5th season and are sponsored by The Fort Boonesborough Foundation. This year’s chats, like the previous years were all well performed and well attended. A glance around the audience confirmed that the chats continually bring new guests to Fort Boonesborough.

Montour was of mixed parentage (French and Indian) and gained fame as an interpreter. He mingled with the likes of a young George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, British General Edward Braddock and Indian Agent Sir William Johnson.

Bill Hunt who portrays Montour is with the West Virginia Humanities Council and their speakers program History Alive! Montour spoke English, French and at least seven native languages and Hunt performs with a decidedly French accent. His performance was passionate and had a firm base in history. But despite being converted to Christianity, Montour was still a warrior.

The newsreel piece linked to this story shows this personal duality when Montour raises his arms and chants a war cry. Several of his descriptions of Indian life and especially battle practices were authentically gruesome. His translator services were often paid for in land or land grants and this side of him reflects his white heritage. All in all it was an interesting look at a man, who’s unusual character warranted him a place in the history books.


See a newsreel clip of Bill Hunt as Andrew Montour.


Andrew Montour takes center stage.


Frontier Fare for this evening was Kentucky Burgoo


Foundation member John Morgan opened with an 18th century sing-a-long.


Foundation member Jackie Ginter serves German chocolate cake.

Additional clips of all the fireside chats can be seen at

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