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Women on the Frontier at
Fort Boonesborough

June 6-7, 2009

Photos by Jim Cummings

Women on the Frontier is about learning.......


Kathy Cummings (right) kicked off the morning with a special dedication of the weekend to the late Colleen “Hester” Gilbert who attended the 2008 Women on the Frontier. She then introduced Kristi Heasley (left) who used documents from her own ancestors inventories to help her “decide” what to bring to Kentucky. Kristi then presented her findings in an excellent first person presentation entitled “A Woman Comes to Kentucky.” 


Presentations then moved to the half face shelter behind the fort where Berni New (with the aid of husband Scott) talked about life in the colonies. Berni touched on the civility and gentility of our 18th century counterparts - in such things such as how the various classes addressed each other with bows and curtseys. And on the more serious side women’s rights under colonial law - the rights of married women as opposed to widows. One of her underlying themes was that as colonials we were still living under the laws of England - and that even in the backcountry social and legal norms existed.


Michelle DeEsch spoke on working with leather at her Saturday presentation. On Sunday she offered “hands on” and the scissors and needles were flying as women tried their hand at making moccasins.


Cindy Northup drew from the work she has done on 18th century language that appears on her Colonial Backwoods Message Board. It was enlightening and entertaining to hear the origins of phrases - and what our ancestors would have sounded like. She called Parson John a “gluepot” an 18th century term for a preacher that marries folks and “sticks them together.”


Jay Kell loves to find the original and the obscure in his research. Involved in living history since he was a young child he shared some of his favorite pieces. Settlers asking in letters back home to please just “send some things.” One account tells of a women who was often alone on the frontier for days at a time who was overjoyed to receive “one needle” from a fellow passing through.

Women on the Frontier is about experiencing...


Laura Willyard shared her cooking expertise and knowledge to visitors and re-enactors alike which culminated in a wonderful dinner on Saturday night.


Bill Farmer shared a small part of his knowledge in “All Things Natural.” If you have never had a chance to hear Bill do this talk it is well worth it.


Although you can barely see Debby Jenkins in the photo above that’s pretty much how her day went. There were so many people gathered around her to learn about “Firing a Flintlock” that we scarcely saw her.

and about sharing that knowledge and skills....


Paula Reasoner’s talk on Native life was held in the native camp. Paula got to not only present to the assembled women but was filmed by the crew from Hinton’s Living History that was on hand for the weekend. More about the filming - below.

Larry McQuown and his horse April also rarely got a break. From young lady re-enactors to visitors the girls flocked around April. As an added feature Bev Simpson and daughter Cami brought side saddles - so the girls could have a true 18th century experience .

Women on the Frontier is about skills....


Started three years ago by Larry Wilcher, the skills course is about putting all the weekend’s learning together. Women sign up in two divisions. A girls division of 14 and Under and a Women’s Division.


This year’s course was designed by Scott Heasley and Michael Fields and special thanks to them and also to Jim Green who helped them manage the course.


Elizabeth Huxford chooses what items to take on her “journey.”


Get firewood, fill a pail of water, name the workings of the gun, identify plants and herbs and start a fire with flint and steel. Simple if you managed to hear all the speakers. And don’t forget you are being timed - so run from station to station. Although the little girls had the speed advantage (why is it 87 degree temperatures don’t seem to bother them) while the adult women seemed to have the “knowledge” advantage.


Filming at the Fort

Darby Hinton who played Israel Boone on the 1960’s Daniel Boone TV series staring Fess Parker has some new projects in the works. He was on hand with a film crew and several members of his family. Hinton’s Living History has the Hinton family visiting historic sites to learn about both the sites and the people of the time period. So Women on the Frontier was the perfect time for the Hintons to head to Fort Boonesborough. Shan and daughter India can be seen participating in Women on the Frontier while Darby and son Ryder looked on.


Darby Hinton


Shan Hinton


India takes a lesson from re-enactor Debby Jenkins, while mom, Shan looks on.


Rolling cameras always bring an added note of excitement to a site. So special thanks to the Hinton family, and producer Gail Calloway and crew for joining in at Women on the Frontier. Their presence also brought the event to the attention of some non re-enactors who registered and participated in the weekend.

Special feature...


Check out these websites to learn more
 and and


The highlight of the weekend was the Saturday afternoon performance by Carol Jarboe as “Maggie Delaney - Indentured Servant.”


There was scarcely a dry eye on the hillside in front of the half face shelter as Carol gave another outstanding performance. Her first person narrative touches on the darker side of life early in our country’s history. Click here to see a newsreel of “Maggie” from this February’s fireside chats and watch for news on an upcoming DVD of Maggie Delaney.


Good times, good friends
 and the ‘good word’...


Rosanne and Martha Gordon led the group in some 18th century hymns, while Parson John (Frank Jarboe) conducted the service.


From Kathy Cummings...

It’s become a tradition to assemble for a photo on Sunday afternoon. It’s hard to believe that only 5 re-enactors attended this event in 2006! It was great to see the many folks involved. Families, children, women by themselves and so many mothers and daughters that are making this an annual tradition. Hats off to all the demonstrators, performers and of course the staff of Fort Boonesborough.

I would like to personally thank the newcomers, the people that traveled long distances, the women that jump from the Civil War (with all correct clothing just for this event) so they can round out their 19th century personas by learning the skills of their mothers and grandmothers. Hats off to the 4H moms that drove from central Ohio to give their daughters a taste of the 18th century. Thanks also to Darby and Shan Hinton who added another dimension to the weekend. And thanks to my re-enacting friends Kristi, Michelle, Paula, Laura, Debby, Cindy, Jay, Martha, Rosanne, Michael, Scott, Jim, Larry, Frank and Carol and all the others who I called upon to put together this spectacular weekend. 

And a final thanks to the Fort Boonesborugh Foundation. By providing meals and concessions they free us from the need to cook and watch our fires on this weekend - so we have time to listen, learn and visit. Barb Disney headed their group this weekend and did a marvelous job. The Foundation also sponsored the “Goody bags” we gave to the registered women filled with information about life in living history.

And picture taking this weekend fell entirely to Jim Cummings. He did a great job. And although I wanted to use the individual shots (above) so I could put names and faces together - I have included them all in the traditional slide show below.

Click Here for Slide Show

Women on the Frontier 07 Women on the Frontier 05
Women on the Frontier 08 Women on the Frontier 06
Read  A Frontier Travel
 Account from  2007

Link to the Fort Boonesborough Living History Web Site for more from Women on the Frontier


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