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Women on the Frontier at
Fort Boonesborough

April 28-29, 2012

Photos by Jim Cummings


By Kathy Cummings

Women on the Frontier was in it’s eighth year in 2012 and took place earlier in the spring, moving from June to April. This year’s theme was Food, Fiber and Forage.

Event volunteer and Fort Boonesborough Foundation member Kristi Heasley teamed with Fort Manager Bill Farmer for much of the programming.

The morning started off with planning the trip to Caintuckee. Heasley had amassed a selection of goods in front of her camp. Women discussed the options of what would have been absolutely essential when making the trip from the colonies to the frontier. How to pack it, what to carry and trying on packs to imagine what kind of weight a women would have carried in addition to small children.

Later in the morning the exercise was extended when participants met out behind the fort. Interpreters Scott New and Danny Hinton had horses and goods so the discussion could continue. In addition to what you could carry what could your horse or horses carry. A person’s station in life was also considered when talking about the trip to Caintuckee. Although most of the earliest settlers were not wealthy people - there were some that were and had the options of many horses or slaves to help with goods. In these cases decisions of what could make the trip were based on the difficulties of the trail.

One of the most noticeable additions to Women on the Frontier was the enthusiasm of visitors as participants. Families, school teachers and couples all had heard of the event and came to participate in addition to the re-enactor women and their families.

The afternoon brought a walk through the woods near the fort. Bill Farmer discussed the natural goods found in the woods - covering the forage part of the program.

Guest speaker for the event was Maggie Waterman with her program “Undressing the Colonial Lady.” Again visitors and re-enactors filled the blockhouse. Waterman discusses a women’s wardrobe by taking off a piece at a time of the many layers an 18th century woman wore. She also expanded her regular program a bit by discussing how a “lady might have landed on the frontier.”  Most of the women and families that made it to Kentucky came by choice for a better life. But on rare occasions love or life situations brought some unlikely characters to this land. She portrays a women that lost family members to Indian attack and works as a governess to support herself. She struggles to hold on to her “lady’s clothing” for pride and vanity - even though it is apparent to her that it is not practical for the rough life. 

Time for cooking, learning to build a good cooking fire, jerk meat and using the conditions at hand to provide a meal gave participants a chance to move around the fort and learn at their own pace. An improtu session with Mike Murphy the fort’s woodworker was especially good.

The weekend ended with door prizes, suggestions for next year and a recap of the weekends events.


Faces of the Women on the Frontier 2012

Thanks to the re-enactors who provide such interesting personality studies for our cameras. Click here for slide show.


Faces of Visitors to Women on the Frontier 2012

For the first time ever, photographer Jim Cummings included faces of the visitors because they were as intently focused on the sessions as the re-enactor participants. Click here for slide show.

If you didn’t get a chance to purchase a Women on the Frontier T-Shirt - you can still place your order



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




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