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On Boone's Trail: Unveiling of new Daniel Boone statue


"This is important. In a time when many towns are abandoning their history and heritage, it is refreshing to see a town actually embracing it . . . Though I will probably not visit Barbourville, Kentucky on a regular basis, when I am in town I can point to that grand statue and say, "I was a part of that!", even though my part may have been small. It was a fun day of History for the Adair County Militia! . . . Thanks to Gary Pike for getting me included and thanks to the nice folks of Barbourville for treating us "Flatlanders" with such appreciative respect." - KEN HILL

By Ken Hill

Once in a great while one gets the opportunity to be part of something they can tell their grandkids about. Such was the case on Friday, August 24, 2012 when I was invited to attend the unveiling of the new Daniel Boone Statue in Barbourville, KY.

I have been involved in 18th Century reenacting for about two years, and I owe much of my success to Richard Phelps for igniting my spark of interest, and to Gary Pike for helping me to build that spark into a flame. Along my "Pilgrim's Journey", I have learned and re-learned much about the history of Kentucky and the movement of folks from the Colonies into this region.


Everyone knows Daniel Boone came through the Cumberland Gap and then began guiding others on that same journey. I never really understood the barrier created by these mountains until I visited the Wilderness Road State Park in Virginia. Standing in the park, which has an exact replica of Martin's Station circa 1775, one can clearly see the limestone cliffs which caused many to turn back.

Boone thought there had to be a way through, and he found it in the narrow Gap caused by a meteor striking the earth thousands of years earlier in what is now Middlesboro, KY. Virginia's remote western county of Kentucky would never be the same. No longer did adventurers have to trek north to Fort Pitt and then navigate the treacherous Ohio River with unfriendly Indians at every bend.

Boone was memorialized in many books and manuscripts, but modern Americans know him best from Fess Parker's portrayal of him in the popular television series in the late 1960's. Although I still love these shows, most of the portrayal is not correct. There is no record of Boone wearing the "coonskin" cap he is now universally credited with. In fact, most men of that time frame adorned themselves with cotton, wool, muslin, and other natural fabrics. Leather was used for leggings to protect them from briars and thorns, but rarely for complete outfits. Imagine wearing leather on a rainy day! Animal skin hats and clothing only became popular during the Western Fur Trade in the 1830's.

Among Boone's many exploits was the blazing of the Wilderness Trail through several Eastern Kentucky Counties, including Knox County. Knox County and the City of Barbourville have embraced Boone's historic contributions to their area by hosting the longest running festival in the state - The Daniel Boone Festival. The people of this area have a true understanding of Boone's importance, and three years ago they set out to memorialize him permanently with a statue in the middle of town. With lots of hard work, fundraising, and planning, their dreams were realized with the unveiling of the statue.

Having attended the Daniel Boone Festival and participated in the primitive camp and reenacting events for over twenty years, Gary Pike was invited to bring a few like-minded friends and fire a volley of flintlock shots as the statue was unveiled. Richard Phelps and I were the lucky ones chosen by Gary. What an honor!

After making the two hour drive we received a heartfelt welcome from fellow "Longhunters" and event planners. A few last minute clothing checks and flintlock adjustments and we were off to the town square. Standing in the warm morning sun, we struck our best poses in the background while local dignitaries and State Politicians made obligatory speeches.

Just before the grand moment of the unveiling, we were directed to form three firing lines, and a short time later the long rifles were blasting smoke and black powder into the air over the courthouse. Then, the blue covering was removed and there stood the Bronze Boone; looking similar to many of us with a longrifle and wide-brimmed hat. A fitting tribute to a great adventurer!

The re-enactors were then treated to refreshments and many "Thanks Yous" from local citizens and public officials. Each of us was given a commemorative medallion with a likeness of the statue.

I capped off the afternoon by assisting WYMT Mountain News with anon-camera interview about the importance of the event. The Journalist/Interviewer was amazed that we had driven over two hours to attend this small town event. When questioned about this on camera I said simply, "This is important. In a time when many towns are abandoning their history and heritage, it is refreshing to see a town actually embracing it".

Though I will probably not visit Barbourville, Kentucky on a regular basis, when I am in town I can point to that grand statue and say, "I was a part of that!", even though my part may have been small. It was a fun day of History for the Adair County Militia!

Thanks to Gary Pike for getting me included and thanks to the nice folks of Barbourville for treating us "Flatlanders" with such appreciative respect. - Ken Hill

Ken Hill not only brought the "Granddaddy of All Adair County Fish Fries," to Hardscratch, he's a frequent contributor to ColumbiaMagazine.com. Enter Ken Hill in the search box to read posts to ColumbiaMagazine.com. A classic read for anyone who wants to run a country diner or county store is: How we got rich in the country store business

Most or all of his stories are on his store's website: Hardscratch General Store. - ED WAGGENER

Most recently, he was a big part of a successful benefit drive which exemplified how the Glens Fork Community takes care of its own. It was the best of -The Adair County Way: a drive which was run with all the openness and accountability people have come to expect, here, of such drives. Letting people know where the money came from and where the money was spent. In this case: 100% of the gross receipts went to the beneficiary!



This story was posted on 2012-08-27 04:08:56
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Adair Countians at the unveiling of Daniel Boone Statue



2012-08-27 - Barbourville, Knox County, KY - Photo By Innocent Bystander.
Ken Hill, Gary Pike, and Mr. Richard Phelps Flatlanders from Columbia, Adair County, KY, took part in the unveiling of the Daniel Boone statue in Barbourville, Kentucky, on Friday, August 24, 2012.

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