Fort Boonesborough

Winner of 2 History Awards From the Kentucky Historical Society


Kentucky History Award

Fort Opens for the Season
April 16, 2014

Hours of 9-5, Wednesday's through Sunday's

The first event of the season is
Women on the Frontier, April 26, 27.

The weekend is designed for women but everyone’s welcome to come along and look over the iron collection, visit with the salt maker, and the interpreters in the cabins. Learn More....

The Fort Boonesborough Foundation is hosting an evening program on April 26 in conjunction with Women on the Frontier weekend. The gates will open

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Eva Lail

at 6 p.m., frontier fare dinner will be served in the tavern, and Bonnie Strassell will present the life of Eva Lail, pioneer woman at 7 p.m. in the orientation building. This was one of the fireside chats canceled due to bad weather during Feb.

Reservations are a must, space is limited, price is $15 per person, children under 12 are $5. Call the office to reserve your space, 859-527-3131.

Learn more about the program...

2014 Fort

 Campground Schedule


Teacher Field Trip Resources

Fort Hours and Admission Prices




Kentucky Humanities Council

Changes to improve interpretation at Fort

From Bill Farmer


First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your past attendance and participation in the events held here, especially the 1778 Siege of Boonesborough. We know that without the help, support, and participation of those involved in Living History, such events would be impossible to present. I am writing to you now to ask for your cooperation in making changes to improve interpretation at Boonesborough. We are seeking to make our interpretation, especially during special events, more historically accurate and specific to the time and place of Fort Boonesborough, and we are beginning with the Siege, the largest and most historically significant event on our calendar.


The 1778 Siege of Boonesborough was an important battle of the American Revolutionary War. It serves as a reminder to everyone of the great efforts made, and hardships endured by the early Settlers, Surveyors, Farmers, Militia members, Traders, Hunters, Trappers, Scouts, and others. The Native Americans who were involved had to endure many hard times and much loss in their efforts to keep their hold on the rich hunting grounds of Kentucky. We should all be determined to honor all of these people from our history by presenting their story to the best of our abilities.

In the past the main focus of the event has been the battle. While it will continue to be the central feature of the event, we want to show visitors more of the related history about the elements of life on the frontier in the times leading up to the Siege. This should include the push for settlement of Kentucky, the founding of Boonesborough, the Transylvania Company, land acquisition, land speculation, life skills on the frontier, conflict with Indians, and the various groups coming to Kentucky at the time. The Native American side of this story should be interpreted specifically to inform and educate visitors about their efforts to protect and preserve the land they had hunted on for generations, and their wish to maintain their lives and culture as they desired.

To accomplish this, we would like to have areas, groups, and individuals presenting these various interpretations in different locations in and around the fort during the weekend. This will help visitors understand and learn about the variety of people and the social and material culture. Some possibilities might include a camp of Militia members, Families coming to find land, Surveyors, Hunters who are hired to provide meat for the fort or for those who do not hunt, Trappers, Land Speculators, Packhorse men with goods to trade, Military veterans coming out with land grants earned for their service, and on and on. Interpretation and demonstration of such topics, all relating to the people, the time, and the place of Boonesborough 1775-1783, will make the event more accurate, meaningful, educational, and enjoyable for all.

New Event Guidelines will be posted, and will be in effect by the time of this years’ Siege. Please read all sections to familiarize yourself with changes that may affect you. We sincerely want to make the information and demonstrations presented at the fort more historically accurate, and more closely related to the time of Boonesborough from 1775 to 1783. This also means that the things people see and hear will be even more likely to be taken as “the way things were”. So the effort must be made to have only those types of clothing, camp equipment, guns, cooking utensils, tools, and gear that may have been seen here in the 18th century days of Boonesborough.

More and more these days the term “re-enactor” is becoming a term that most accurately applies to those in Military units or associated with Military events. In most cases these individuals are attempting to “re-enact” a battle or other event that a particular unit in history was involved in at some time in the past. They know the weapons used, the camp gear, details of the uniforms, the units involved, who was in command, the field of battle, and on and on, in great detail. Granted, there are times when a particular non-military event, hunt, exploration, settlement, capture, or other activity that is documented to have occurred is used as the basis for a special event. It seems it can be more accurate to refer to such an event as a Living History Interpretation of that earlier occasion than a re-enactment. In order to accurately re-enact something, we have to know exactly what was done, by whom, with what, at what time, in what location, and so on. While we know that a Siege occurred at Fort Boonesborough, and we do know quite a bit about who, when, and what happened, we still don’t know enough to say that we can accurately “re-enact” the entire event. We can, however, provide and present an accurate; fact based “Historical Interpretation” of the Siege, as historical interpreters or interpretive historians, rather than re-enactors.

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Fort Manager - Bill Farmer

The following was written some time ago by Paul Daiute, a man in Maine who is a Living History Interpreter. This is his personal outlook on the issue and importance of historical accuracy, and his commitment to do the best he can to live up to the task. I think it presents a commendable goal for any person, or Historic Site, to improve what they are doing by presenting the documentable facts about the particular event, place, person, skill, clothing, camp, tool, or other topic being presented. I’m including it here with his permission, as something to consider. I would ask that each of you read this with an open mind, and decide if you might agree with the principles presented.

Paul C. Daiute wrote: "I would want 50 interpretive historians before I’d want 150 re-enactors. I would want to educate 10 spectators, rather than thrill 200 spectators, who go away ignorant. I would welcome the constructive criticism from one scholar before the applause of an unknowing and ignorant crowd. From my head to my toes, I’ll toss the gear that is deemed anachronistic. I will dance to the tune that good research plays, all the while knowing that the dance may change at any second. We must all follow our own compass and go our own way, in the morning we look into the mirror and should be able to look the man in the eyes that looks back. I will follow and respect the rules set by any historic site, I am privileged to stand there, and humbled to tell my ancestors
stories. Peace be with you all, Paul”

My personal thanks to Paul for the use of his thoughts here, and thanks to each of you for your consideration.
William E. Farmer

If you would like to participate in events that are more history oriented, and site specific, or if you have comments or suggestions, please e-mail to .

Women on the Frontier 2014

April 26-27, 2014

At the closing of last year’s WOTF event, Kristi Heasley, who organized the event, asked the group for ideas for the 2014 weekend. The main point seemed to be fewer topics, but more details and in-depth coverage of the topics.

The Women on the Frontier event this year will present more detailed information and interpretation of methods and skills used in the production of various types of fibers, and the processes used to create cloth for clothing and various other items. While no specific hourly schedule has been set as yet, we can give a general idea of what may be expected this year. For example, on the topic of weaving, we may include peg looms, rigid heddle looms, triangle looms, and others. Other items relative to the main Fiber theme that are being considered include carding and blending, knitting, felting, heritage sheep breeds, a presentation including 18th century sheep herding, frontier breeds of sheep, history of sheep in America, sheep dogs, and more.

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Another presentation will cover wool products, and will include lots of items available for sale. The processing of flax to produce linen, wild sources for fiber, dyeing with items available on the frontier, and the process of salt making by Jim Bordwine of West Virginia, are also demonstrations we want to include. For our visitors and for WOTF participants between presentations, there will be ongoing interpretation through our regular programming of other things such as woodworking, candle making, soap making, blacksmithing, powder horn construction, surveying and land acquisition, and flint and steel fire starting. To register as a participant, You may do so on- line at e-mail to or call 859-527-3131 x216

Fort Positions Open for 2014

From Fort Manager - Bill Farmer

We have three open positions at the fort for this coming season. One will be in the ticket office handling admissions, reservations, etc., and two will be for interpretive positions since we will not have a couple of people returning who worked last year. These two positions may be for anyone who has an early trade or craft skill relative to the last quarter of the 18th century, and especially to early frontier Kentucky. Blacksmith, leather worker, tinsmith, basket maker, seamstress/tailor, musician, potter, gardener, cook, primitive skills such as hunting, trapping, tomahawk, flintlock guns, fire starting by flint/steel and friction or lenses, wildcrafting skills (use of natural plants/trees/materials), wilderness survival skills, or others. These would be topics related to the lives of people coming to Kentucky at the time of Boonesborough.


Frank T. Barnes Collection of Ironwork


Last year a member of our interim staff mentioned to me that he had heard mention of a large collection of ironwork that was available from a museum in Massachusetts. After contacting the source of this information, I received contact information for the curator of the Scottish Rite Museum and Library in Lexington, Mass.

After some communications by e-mail and phone, I received a book, "Hooks, Rings, and Other Things", by Frank T. Barnes. The book is actually a catalog of the iron collection, and lists 1,368 records of items in the collection.

Frank T. Barnes spent forty years collecting ironwork dating from 1680 to 1860, and a few items dating to later dates. There are indeed "hooks and rings" in this collection, but even better are the hundreds of "other things"!! There are numerous items that I have never seen before, except in catalogs, or in photos here and there. The table of contents in the book lists fourteen different groupings of items such as Animals, Architecture, The Farm, Hardware, Industry, Military, Hearth and Home, Lighting, and more. There is a line drawing/sketch of each item along with details, descriptions, dates, locations, etc. Many have detailed anecdotes about the specific item, including repairs, adaptations, and re-purposed applications.

This is the largest single collection that I have ever seen personally, and our friends group, the Fort Boonesborough Foundation now owns the entire collection. Mr. Barnes left his collection to the Masonic Museum some 13 years ago, and that Museum was seeking a non-profit organization that they would deem suitable as a recipient. The Foundation has agreed to a loan of the collection to Fort Boonesborough, and we will have various parts of this collection here at the fort on exhibit as time goes on. If you have an interest in ironwork/blacksmithing, antiques, material culture of times past, or you just like "really cool old stuff", you need to get a look at this collection.

By Bill Farmer


Bill Farmer shows Foundation members the Iron Collection for the first time.


Foundation Launches New Fund Raising Raffle


The Fort Boonesborough Foundation is pleased to announce a new raffle to support programing at the Fort with a selection of items donated by wonderful craftsmen to support Fort Boonesborough State Park.

September 20, 2013 to September 28, 2014

See close up photos of each item and buy tickets online.

Plan Your School Field Trips


Information for Teachers including curriculum resources for planning a field trip to Fort Boonesborough is now online. In previous years teachers could request the information but as of 2013 all of this information about how to get the most out of a field trip to the fort is available here. Click here to see video clips, curriculum materials, information about attending on the Friday before Siege Weekend and our special November School Days and other options.

Check out the Fort Boonesborough Gazette pages for past front page stories from this website

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

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